Falling: By Brett Hazlett

Wednesday 21 October, 2015
Brett Hazlett. Photo: Andy Busslinger

Brett Hazlett. Photo: Andy Busslinger

A year ago this October Canadian competition pilot Brett Hazlett had an accident while launching from Babadag in Turkey. A year on he re-lives what happened next, and takes us step by excruciating step through his painful recovery. The goal: to fly again

I am lying on the steep slopes of a six-thousand-foot mountain in Turkey, in intense pain, struggling to breath, unable to move.

How did I get here?

I’m writing this from my hotel, headquarters for the Paragliding World Cup event in Disentis, Switzerland. All this feels so long ago. Today was the first task. What a task!

I’m doing well. My life is better than ever. This last year, though, was difficult.

I was at the Paragliding World Cup Superfinal in Denizli, Turkey. After a week without flying, yet another cancelled task. We went to Oludeniz to enjoy the beach and free-fly. I intended only to take a few photographs of the bay and enjoy the cool coastal air.

I was frustrated, dehydrated, and feeling time pressure. The bus leaving for Denizli would leave in an hour. Launch conditions had deteriorated. For some time it was blowing down, steadily. I moved to the other side of the mountain, to launch from a turn-around in the highway, but into the wind.

Past the shallow highway was a cliff. The exit past the cliff had obstacles: a tree on the left and a rock outcropping on the right.

The wind became light, perhaps 3km/h. I went for it, got airborne, but missed the exit, hitting the tree on the left with my body, past the edge of the cliff.

Falling. Just one thought in my mind: Not like this.

Read his full account in Cross Country Magazine 165 (Nov 2015).

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