The Dyke.

Finally, finally for me at least I was finding myself rigging on The Dyke, I almost could not believe it and almost chose to do other things, due to the forecast light winds I expected a wall of paragliders and a difficult single shot at getting up and so felt for a while that the day might be better used cycling or gathering bits for camping next week.

The scepticism followed me right up till I felt the air on launch, nothing about it said it would not work and so rigging became a joy, I remembered what I had once taken for granted, the thought I would fly soon infected me with the same.

Feeling at home…

The light winds made my run extend down the hill a little more than normal but take off was fine, the air was ok and the traffic was nothing at all like I had feared.

Soon finding lift I was soon feeling happy Id stay up, the lift was a little drifty, more than you would have thought given the forecast and meaning it took a little chasing to keep in the core.

Taka about go get going.

I made cloudbase ok, loving the cool haze and whispy embrace, but at the same time my time this day was conflicted and I had to be on the ground to pick up children and collect camping stuff and so while I did not explicitly make the decision to land I tool a line along the front looking for a thermal for which there was no cloud only to find nothing at all and have to make a decision to land before I went below the top.

Heart rate during this flight

My approach was marginal and in the gradient at the back of the bowl field full of Pride campers. I kept lots of speed, brought on more and had a great landing.

John Birchall clipping in to go…

Chatted to a few people while de-rigging, watched as the clouds turned perfect and lamented being on the ground.

But got on with my day picking up a little early making dinner and being part of family life…

I great day.

middle of the week

It originally looked like a post cold frontal day but that was not to be as the front sort of curled up and escaped stage right into the North Sea leaving us with murky milky looking air and thin top cover.

I had the day and so after some breakfast at Cote I got off to the hill not forgetting anything at all which is progress this year.

No one was up when I arrived, which rather made me wonder if I had made a good choice, but, a day laying about in the grass was better than facing Thameslink trains and so nothing could go wrong.

Takeoff was a bit iffy – I ran hard but felt nothing most of the way – only towards the fence did I get a kick and off I went rather abruptly but thankfully.

Not much going on at all really – the air felt weak and there were not so many thermals so nothing to write home about – however, I was in the air and that in itself was enough to bring a smile as really I was never in any danger of having to take a bottom landing.

The best part of the flight was following a pair of Red Kites out front together with Youngy to find the best line of lift of the day up to 1660amsl

Landing I opted for the bowl field as the worst feeling air all day consistently was in front of takeoff and so I took the bowl option and no problems.

a rare flyable day

Driving away from a flyable hill is one of the things in life that just does not feel right, driving away with vigour feels perverse especially when I have not flown since November.

It was that time and moving flat that took my basebar to the corner of the garage and then not to the hill that first time out in a while, an understandable mistake, lucky for me it fitted with the character of the air, meaning a later takeoff was better than an earlier one. Lucky me.

Nerves had me wait for a little at launch to gather myself and be ready to go, once away however it just felt good, simply good, nothing complicated, just really nice to be back in the air.

Ridge soaring is like flying comfort food, easy, contained, simple but so satisfying, add a few easy thermals and it becomes quite tasty too.

After flying out to the A27, using up my height looking for something out front, I returned to the hill in dead feeling inert air, compelling a landing.

My landing was great, nice approach, the right heights, the right feeling and the right ending.

When my glider settled on my shoulders and I walked back in I had a very easy smile…

D..D..Dyke

It was on but it was freezing, the first day scraping ice off my car to get going and the first day with more than 2 layers on in fact 4 layers were about enough.

I was weak taking off, let it get in the air too early and got slapped around a bit but the rough westerly air. Flying was quite lumpy and physical with only a small period when things were calm and I could relax and take in the view.

The remarkable thing about the flight in that wind was taking 3 attempts to land – overshooting twice before an untidy crosswind landing in the paddock.

Nice to have a little fly all the same.

Chilly November

Sometimes you can see a good flying day ahead of time, with this one I had been thinking about it for a few days ahead, looking forward to a fly.

Winter soaring days can be some of the best, reliable conditions with nothing better to do than enjoying what you are doing – flying – we are so lucky to be able to pack a few things in the car and find yourself flying an hour or so later.

The air was cool, not cold, it had some thermals in it and came to life for a while ending with the most amazing sunset.

My last flight once I got up a little and could relax I took some time to let the whole sense of now seep into me and landed with a deeply felt smile running through every cell in my body.

Fantastic.

Edgy

Thinking those thinking of Beachy were over enthusiastic I toyed with the idea of cycling there. Right up until we woke early enough to sit out having a cup of tea to see it had become a peachy Beachy day.


It took about an hour to grab my glider and go, driving up seeing Dave Matthews 1000ft above launch glinting in the sunshine.

Rigged ready,  no time for tea and a chat,  as the day was weakening all the time,  I got clipped in and launched.


What a stunningly beautiful day. I’d forgotten just how peaceful it is to fly from the coast over the cliffs, the infinite views out to sea, become like a dream.

The landing was a bit wonky, too fast too much energy then a mushy turn that dropped me out the sky, I was lucky to get away with it.

Great to see everyone while I packed up to get off and cook Sunday roast.

familiarity

Sometimes it is the familiar things that feel the best, driving up this morning I was not put off by the low cloud because I knew that the forecast brought us some sunshine between the grey and the rain later.

It all went in a smooth and convivial flow, rigging chatting waiting and then flying worked a treat. In the air, I was happy and content, aware of how beautiful the coast is and pleased to be doing quite well.

My landing, however, was not so elegant, unwanted lift on an already high approach left me a lot to do which translated into speed which wanted be to overshoot which I did not want to do which brought me in on my belly on the downslope from which we launch.

Later I would talk politics and otherwise catch up with Steve Cook chatting and catching up with others later too…

A student would end up up a tree meaning a later flight would be stopped by helicopter being in the bottom field. Never a dull day flying, I hope that the student is ok now…

Gasthaus

It was rather desperate after driving all day to get to the Dolomites during a reasonable day at Bassano to then find it unflyable had left us all a bit broken in spirit.

a bit wintery at launch in the Dolomites the day before

We had this one last desperate chance to fly and so we took it booking into a new hotel and driving again to Levino Terme.

We ate more Italian food together and then drove up to the take off place together with its Gasthaus. It was here in the end that I would spend the best moments of the trip and have a panini and wine after my slide down to the landing field.

We had been waiting after rigging, having a coffee and chatting sort of waiting for things to get better only to start to feel it rain. I was left thinking how bad it would feel derigging in the rain so I clipped in and ran off. Found a little patch of lifting air and circled in it for 15 mins or so then left to land before the rain really arrived in the valley.

After driving back up the hill I found a moment of contentment in the Gasthaus with a fire nice food and a little wine.

The next day I drove home.almost a week early.

Pove del Grappa

Finally, a little flight, since arriving it’s been raining and so even this small chance became our best chance.

I clipped a windsock pole on launch and never really made any headway meaning I was the first to land.

The landing was great, good, low and fast with a no step flare, I was very happy indeed.

Later we ate pizza together at the landing place.

twice

It was a little like diving in a swimming pool, leaping off the top at its steepest part aiming to get ahead of my glider what was rolling off back to the car all on its own. I was too knackered for this I thought.

I had had some sort of complicated idea about rigging some way to easily carry my glider but in the end, it was a slog just like any other time I have flown Caburn, this time I alternated the harness and the glider meaning that really I went up it twice.

I rigged far back under the wind gradient meaning when I got to launch I questioned the sanity of it all as it was howling.

In the end, I went in very good air among a throng of swift’s managing to keep the nose down and run a fair bit, felt very physical, I shot up to a few hundred above.

The flight itself was fine, exactly what I expected, some lumpy ridgy air and a few thermals some birds and my internal clock that seems to want to land after an hour.

I zoomed down the railway track at 70mph and pretty much landed at the same place as last time, it was a good one, lumpy and active but good, this, in the end, was the whole point of flying at all – to land and take off – its been too long without any flights. Again.

Friday off…

Because it was on at the Dyke.

I almost could not believe it, almost could not believe how few people were out on a beautiful day, too windy for many paragliders too which made the day much easier.

Shame the air was not so good, windy on the hill enough, nice clouds but not nothing really to get excited about in fact it was quite scratchy but better than sitting at work looking out my window at a brick wall.

My flights were ok, launching was good flying felt better after a few rusty feeling moments at first, my first landing was a dream but my second not so great – getting down to ground level both times I overshot with massive ground speed saw the paddock field simply whizz past beneath my feet, a bowl field landing was scrappy and untidy.  I would have liked another flight but the conditions seemed to switch off so I had lunch chatted and packed up to go home and make dinner for everyone.

Nice to be flying…

desperate

After what feels like far too long a time where there have been too few good days, meaning when I saw it was going to be on at Caburn I really did not feel that I had a choice but to take some air.

Parking up it felt too windy for any flying to be fun but Matt was taking a tandem student up and Mr Magic offered to help carry up so in the absence of a viable excuse off we went.

Sure enough, it was windy on top but after a grey start to the day overcast and heavy feeling misty clouds it had cleared to a beautiful sunny day. Mr Magic took off first and once I had roped a jogger into taking my nose I got off too, the air was good – going alone would have been fine but its always best with some help.

The flight was lovely, my new hang height felt much better and so the whole thing was comfortable leaving me to really enjoy watching the glider in front.

All the while we were up however the air was slackening off, in the end after an hour I sped off for a landing after all I need the practice.

In the end, after scaring a few cows and getting turned towards the river I made a really nice landing. Great to be back. The cows came back too while we were derigging causing some consternation.