Check out this interesting interview with Juan Jose Diaz, a prominent Paragliding pilot from the Dominican Republic.
Pichón, you are one of the most experienced pilots in the DR, however you are very young. How long have you been flying? Yeah, I started flying solo when I was about 12, so… about 14 years.
Many pilots know you as Pichón, Who gave you that name? Simon, the pilot who taught me to fly, because I was very young. At first when I went to fly clients were always surprised by how young I was.
Tell us, how were your beginnings in free flight? Before paragliding arrived in the country, I was already inspired by the thought of flying. My brother Francis made a “paraglider” and we tried to fly, but he never flew. One day we saw a paraglider on the mountain and knowing what it looked like, we improved our attempts, but we still couldn’t fly. Francis, who was older, approached Simon, who was the first to bring the glider to Jarabacoa and did the course.
When he had his glider, I took it with me to learn how to blow it. Because I was too young, I was 11 years old, they wouldn’t let me fly and I didn’t have money to pay for the course.
I started to approach Simon’s school, I was rejected many times, but I insisted and stayed helping the students. Until one day, when I was about 12 years old, Simon offered me to fly and I said “well, I can’t miss this opportunity” and I flew out of Guayabo. When I had about 8 flights, Simon gave me permission to use the glider whenever I wanted.
I would take one of those trucks that go to the mine and go to the mountain to fly from there. Sometimes I would go with Odalis and Alonso, who also started flying around that time.
And now, why do you fly? As I say, since I was a child I was drawn to fly, now I know better how to do it, besides it is a job I like, I enjoy it very much.
What moment would you highlight from these years of flying? When we started the new school, knowing that I was going to work with colleagues who are real pilots, I know they have experience because they were taught by me.
Which one would you like to forget? Thank God I’ve never had an unpleasant moment flying, I never exceed what I don’t know.
Let’s talk about teams, of all the wings you’ve flown, which has been your favorite, and why? The SOL Kangaroo 3, because of all the sails I’ve flown, it’s the one that plans the most, the one that gives me the most security. Once I met it I understood it well and I can do almost everything I want with it.
Many people ask if paragliding is safe, what would you answer them? Yes, safer than a car. It’s like I said, paragliding is not extreme, we make it extreme. Once you have the experience you respect it, if you respect it everything will be fine.
Finally, in the last Fly-In, you came first. What are your expectations for the Fly-In Barahona? Actually I am not interested in winning, now I am more focused on supporting the school, Hawk Paragliding, I am interested in letting the world know that in Jarabacoa there is a school with quality, which will continue to grow because everything that is done well, ends well.
We wish you the best. Thank you very much for sharing a little bit of your story with us, and for putting your experience at the service of Hawk Paragliding School every day. It is an honor to have you on the team.
Images: External Sources
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