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.

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.

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…

un volo un po’ lungo

Takeoff sometimes is blocked for a while with people not sure enough to launch, this was the case today, in a deeply ironic twist the waiting person, worried that it was nil winds launched after a dusty pranced through the setup area turning a glider over and ruffling a paraglider pilot.

I just ran after her – my launch felt however marginal as I skimmed the ground only by a few feet but entered the air and made better use of it this time.

IMG_20160622_174358724_HDRThe first few steps on my journey were good feeling – lift was strong – I felt confident and so I made progress – right up till it did not and I became stuck slowly sliding down the hill. Each failed attempt came at a cost so when I felt I was on my limit to getting back I went for it on a long hill hugging glide only just making it to camping with enough to make my approach and no more.

Landing was messy but ok.

Later I my car would go off and retrieve everyone else and I would then drive up to get the cars and find a dutch paraglider pilot walking down so it was nice to give him a lift.

The day was much better later – the mistake was to launch early after yesterdays short window…

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XC Flight 220616 Greifenburg: 46.759427, 13.119783

peaceful

The plan had been to compete at the Slovenian Open – itself me responding to Gerolf’ suggestion after seeing I had signed up for the Austrian Open, that conversation resulted in me joining his class and the weather helped us decide to go in the opposite direction to Slovenia of which this is only the first step.

IMG_20160620_164704153_HDRI am happy going toward home so I know that I will make my crossing in time without worries so it feels in that that there is some poetry to these changes.

IMG_20160621_112049814_HDRLess poetry however was in this flight – in fact it was only a slide down the hill but it was a return to a place I love – Austria – there is something about it that is really peaceful feeling – more than I can really articulate in words – I feel it deep inside me – a kind of sense of belonging – hard to explain…

IMG_20160621_130333Returning to the starting place let me relax up there and make some drawing – embed myself in that place alone and with my thoughts.

cloudy start

After a night kept awake by the rain waking up with everything feeling damp it was so unlike a flying day so it was rather disbelievingly that I drove off to see the others.

1465979683785We talked a lot about cake, about what we would do because the day was so wet, in the end we visited one takeoff place, then another and then back to the first, where when we got out the car it was wet – again – it was only getting out the car that one last time that suddenly it felt good.

Scott-in-fog

Noma-undersurface

Noma flying at Lijak.

I think when a thing is not expected then it is better – and if it then turns out to be good it is amazing – today was amazing.

not this amazing - but this is the view back from the furthest point out

not this amazing – but this is the view back from the furthest point out

Pizza later in Gorizia was the same.

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XC flight Lijak June 2016 : 45.884273, 13.842087

short but sweet

Seeing that the day would be good and feeling none of the anxiety that has been plaguing me for goodness knows how long I found was happy loading everything up and getting ready, happy and excited.

The day was a bit windier than I was anticipating once I arrived, which meant that I took my time getting ready, took my time rigging, talked too much, procrastinated. In the end I felt some of that anxiety return so I took more time and had a cup of tea.

Then it was ok, got ready and went, making a nice launch, struggling a little to find a way into my harness but other than that I was happy enough. The air was not however all that active, I had seen that it was cycling and guess I was in a sink cycle so I tried to hug into the ridge. That was difficult a little with quite a few others doing the same so in the end I slid out the lift and on my way to the bottom field.

I made a nice fast approach bubbled up a little at the end but made a big flare and landed, it was ok in the sense that I ran through and let the nose roll over and touch the ground, great because I was so much happier doing this with my new Rotor harness – it is a dream landing with that thing.

The banter in the bottom field was happy and full of chat – a really nice day however short my flight was.

freedom

A lovely flight feeling free and easy all day, a feeling I have been missing for so long now, in the air, on the ground, among all the others, it was just beautiful to find myself with this way after all this time and effort.

The flight itself was ok, my launch felt sloppy and I then struggled to get my feet into my unfamiliar harness. However once I was established I felt comfortable. The new hang loop with a shorter drop left me feeling natural and comfortable.

My plan was to do a few flights so I would practice my landings and launches so later after only 10 minutes flight time when I was returning to launch for my first landing I flew along the path out in front I happened to blunder into a nice climb and so that idea just went right out the window.

The air felt nice and active but I was a bit tense and out of practice making it so physical I actually broke into a sweat, which unhelpfully also steamed up my goggles :-) Later I would feel a little nauseous and so I went to land rather than risk feeling ill in the air. Obviously I need to get out more… :)

My landing was in rough and turbulent air but it was great to feel such easy authority over my glider. My new Rotor harness is just exactly what I needed, it has in its own way saved my flying – thank you so much Rotor… amazing.

Streat Farm

Again I did not give this weekend much forethought, it was only Ozzie mentioning it in passing on Friday night that got me looking having thought it would be too windy.

Seeing it north I decided to have a go at a new launch to the front of our aerotow field. It felt like the right day so I got ready and went.

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The wind was on and blowing nicely having checked the bottom landing field and rethought the site for a different wind directions that I was used to here I started to rig.

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Launching was like an elevator – no step – just straight up – all I did was think to go and I was gone, I’ve flown this ridge a few times on XC flights but it was nice flying it on a soaring day – me together with about 6 sailplanes.

A little later however and slightly confusingly when I returned over my car it was surrounded by people the looked like they were trying the doors leaning against it I was really worried what was going on so I came in to land in a bit of a panic – fully crosswind but ok… they all ran off when I shouted after them… as it turned out… well it was innocent and not what I thought… that’s all I’m saying… :-)

Now my glider was the wrong side of the fence and I was flustered, however some walkers came and helped me get back to takeoff and so off I went for a second flight. This time the conditions felt weaker and I was much more at ridge height.

I did however try out the character of each bowl and enjoy the novelty, to me, of this ridge – really enjoy the peace and the nicely changing light before I came in to land in rough leaside rotor, I felt that I landed in a rushing downdraft so maybe the aerotow field is not the place to use in these days.

Really enjoyed it – a lot – sat for a while with a cuppa and some brownies before I went off to help Oz with his Phantom.

A great day.

Postscript - 30 Aug 2016 - on Alamy Image Library
Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 17.01.08

this guy took…

hang-gliding-at-devils-dyke-on-the-south-downs-uk-DR5JDC

…this photo :)

odd feeling

I so much love my flying, I am not sure what started it, what got me to post that letter back in 1987 but there is something about flying that is in my blood. It was so good to find a forecast I was able to take advantage of, not stuck in a cupboard photographing boxes like last time. It was great to be around the other pilots again to chat and laugh talk and listen in many ways that was the best part of the day.

flying

I did in fact fly, it took me a while to come to it but I did do it. Not sure why it took me so long to get clipped in but it did and that’s that.

feeling

My vario was not working, it took a while to notice but it was cutting out every 30 seconds so there was no continuity at all with its illustration of the air. I thought to land but realised there was not a lot I could do so once I had thought to ignore it and to enjoy where I was – the views over the channel and the crisp clarity of the air I was happy a lot.

fingers

Screen Shot 2013-11-10 at 20.06.04Sensing the air is interesting without the beep beep of your vario painting its picture, you are left with the feelings and the accelerations here and there to tell you where is good. I was able to recognise entering thermals weak as they were but found it more difficult while turning. I had to look to the horizon and trust I was going up. Intuitively however I was happy I was in tune with the air enough on this a simple soaring day. The experience was a good one so maybe I will stitch it off next time.

data

I dont however like the discontinuity I have now with my flight data, I did not bring my backup GPS for the first time thinking it to be superfluous but in fact it would have been vital if this had been a task. Navigating too would have become impossible or a feat of memory so I should think of efficient ways to record a task so I can cope with instrument failure and still be able to have a go.

Screen Shot 2013-11-10 at 20.04.41Later we would sit in the pub and drink a beer, I listened to Steve Cook and Mark Watts discussing flying that in itself made the day as it was. The oddness will pass, its cause is an irrelevance.

Adventure flying

Today I had to get over the sense that yesterday was so good that I was again worried I may do something stupid because I thought I was like a hero… sometimes nerves always find a way to win.

Screen shot 2013-08-21 at 14.42.04I was cautious at launch and waited till I was able to see something to fly to, no one pushed me, but I think they were about to but there are no prizes for being the wind dummy.

Launch was fine and I established in lift quickly so the game was on. I again flew back into the mountains and progressed to the east. I again became stuck waiting to climb to cloudbase ready to make the crossing, I had to be patient but became frustrated when one of the other pilots climbed up through me, I got to a point some way from base and just went for it.

I connected well on the other side near a quarry high in the mountains, I could feel the presence of the ground and the affect it had on the air, I tried and tried eventually finding lift, strong lift back to base.

FlyingItaly-30I then made the most amazing ridge crossing of these new mountains welded to base, chilled by the clouds and amazed I was experiencing this wonder.

The next crossing was not so easy and I did not connect well with the other side, I began to slide down below the trees and had to unzip to be ready to land.

Gerolf came on the radio telling us all he had truncated the task early, I was a little confused at first. I am managing to be patient in lift and then find a way up – I think to chess night and Steve Cooks advice it really works.


Screen shot 2013-08-12 at 21.31.29

I found some lift on my way to goal enough to make it guaranteed I would get there, I took this far too high, almost all the way to base and then made myself a little sick winding off the height, Gerolf later said it was an embarrassing final glide, and that I should have tried to fly home.

Landing was better but not great however in and aesthetic way rather than a safety way this time – so a good improvement.

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XC Flight on August 12th: 46.845430, 13.342517

patience

Spending a day up on the Downs, in what was the hottest day of the year, was fantastic… if slightly exhausting..

Aerotow_Plumpton-1070158The tug during my launch was slightly down on power, I had a slight tailwind meaning I was in the trolly for a lot longer than I am used to, when I released then had to pull in low descending to almost ground level before normal service resumed. After this I had a nice smooth tow however but am mindful that I was lucky not to be hit by any bad air while I was slow and vulnerable.

Aerotow_Plumpton-1070159Once delivered to 2000ft I noticed a sailplane cruze past and went for his cloud, it worked a little but not convincingly which is when I saw Dave Matthews in what looked like a better climb downwind from me.  I took off to find him, he had had exactly the same thought. Looking back I should have spent much more time establishing myself in the flight before darting this was and that looking for something better.

Not knowing that I then made the assumption that he was off somewhere interesting so I followed him. While doing so I spread out so we were flying different air and judged my glider against his which was interesting. I also picked out a target cloud upwind from the aerotow field towards Kingston. Again looking back following another pilot whoever they are is not about the air and that disconnection is a massive risk likely to put you on the ground. My attention was up in the clouds and with Dave so I missed, or chose to ignore, that I flew out of range of the landing field.

Dave at this point turned back, I made a choice not to follow as I was committed to my cloud so I kept on to test my choice.

Screen shot 2013-07-07 at 14.36.39It gave me only zeros, which was great but not great enough to distract me from my predicament, very few of the fields below me were nice to land on the one I liked the best was downwind and behind some HT power lines, this distraction and the very slow drift I had in the zeros was not a great situation, I was worried when I should have beed concentrating on the lift I had. I am happy I landed safe but at the same time upset that I was unable to focus 100% on the lift I was in however indistinct.

In the end I was not happy enough to decide to commit to the field and overfly the powerlines when I had plenty of height making a safe upslope landing without a crop and with plenty of space. I was personally disappointed however in not having the mental calmness to stick with the zeros when I had them even if it had taken an hour to drift back a few minutes was pathetic really.

Slightly hard work to carry out however especially in that heat, but I was happy with having tried and with sticking with my choices rather than play follow my leader and learn nothing.

Screen shot 2013-07-07 at 14.38.15However those who flew only an hour later than me found amazing air… I think the worst choice had been to launch early in fear of the sea air…

While we all laughed in the pub later though I felt happy as it was a full day and a good one – aerotowing is brilliant for that and I love it.