My preparation for the next task starts as I land and pack up. Having a routine and method of packing that streamlines your launch procedure the next day removes a distraction… I would like to think I could unpack and gear up blindfolded on launch. The same items get stowed away and packed in the same order… kind of boring if you consider yourself a ‘free spirit, living in the now’ type 😉 However, the way I like to see it is as an ‘act of mindfulness’, where I only do the task at hand and do it as accurately and carefully as possible knowing it is a reassuring action that removes stress when I open my pack again the next day and everything I need to refill or recharge is at the top comes out and goes back in the same spot.


When I get back to camp I refill water, charge instruments and repack any food straight away… it means If I want to have a couple of beers I can do it knowing I’m already good to go for the following day It removes stress. I get to enjoy the evening knowing I’m prepared and ready for the morning.

This is all valuable to me because I am truly competing for fun… I want to have a cool time, with cool people and getting rid of distractions means there is more time for laughing! When I get to launch the next day it frees me to observe the weather, the launch, how the day is shaping up, instead of wondering if I have packed something or where I might have put it.

I carry all my gear with me and it goes in the same vehicle with me to launch… ‘A fool and his pack are soon seperated’ a great Platoon Sergeant taught me. Befriend everyone- trust no-one. It’s your gear, your responsibility and no one else will give a shit if you are standing on launch without your gear!

 ‘A fool and his pack are soon separated’, Befriend everyone- trust no-one. It’s your gear, your responsibility and no one else will give a shit if you are standing on launch without your gear!

It has taken hours of adjusting and playing with my gear to get it configured the way I like. Changing things by increment and testing by flying builds preparedness. There can be a tendency to try to compensate for a deficit in one area by getting ‘doodads’. Adding complexity like additional flight computers, pieces of equipment you haven’t tried, radios or clothing you haven’t flown in before creates stress. I have tried to strip out as much gear as I can. If I haven’t used it after a while I question its value. Even so there is still quite a lot… Flymaster, Kobo, iPhone, Delorme inReach, UHF and VHF radios and a battery pack… all need to be charged and ready and need to be in a position they can be utilised.


I carry first aid gear- I carry it to use on me if I am injured. My expectation if you are injured is that I will find bandages etc on you that I can use. I don’t intend to use my limited resources on your compound fracture and then go flying without bandages. Selfish… you bet! This is an individual adventure sport. I’ve got everything in a pocket clearly labelled on my flying vest.

Am I carrying it for an emergency? Is it still the right gear?

Am I carrying it because I might get cold? Can I even put it on in flight?

Is this food that I thought might be good and haven’t touched for weeks?

Once you have your cockpit and gear stowage sorted it is another thing that you can stop worrying about in flight. I know I function best when I have a priority task and I actively dismiss distractions. It’s easy to get distracted, especially if something is digging in, rubbing or flapping around and you can’t quite reach it.

How you layout your gear and ready yourself on launch sets the tone for the days flying. Often our window of opportunity to launch at a good time can be short and a bit rushed. Being able to recognise the opportunity before it goes away is a huge advantage. There is a reason why there is an ordered launch… it is often best to launch early and if you are ranked well you get a priority. That might mean that the open window is worth using too. Being comfortable in getting into your gear quickly and ensuring legstraps are done up can make the difference from looking real cool… or not.


Being familiar with your instruments and putting in a task is critical to finding your way around the course. Being on launch and asking someone to use their preparation time to put in a task for you isn’t going to earn respect. Check each others task and look for mistakes… missing a turn point or getting the radius wrong can mean reaching goal or not, and human error is easy.

Practice putting in tasks by inputing all of last years tasks. Get familiar with how to do it, amend it, cancel it and change it and you’ll enjoy that 15-30 minutes before launch a lot more.

By now you’ve probably realised that I haven’t talked about doing anything except getting to launch so far- preparation of yourself, your gear, understanding why you are even there is, in my mind fundamental to having a cool time. You’re paying to be involved in a comp, to get value for money you need to be able to enjoy it.