It all started with a testing amount of bad weather, it rained from my departure and for two days after my arrival however it remained pleasant, or at least warm, most of the time.
I visited a friend in Slovenia from last year’s adventure enjoying a moment with him and the deep beauty of the Soca Valley, one of the earth’s truly magical places. It was so nice to feel myself back in this place so peaceful. Good too to fill the car with cheap Slovenian diesel.
On the first day of the competition we had an 0830 briefing, there was an excellent run through the weather conditions and finally the order to go up the hill.
Once there it was a free for all to find space and rig. I stayed quiet and as much in the shade as I could to be deliberate and thorough with my rigging. I decided no cameras so I would be fully concentrated on the flight.
After rigging there was a pause while the task was debated.. it seemed ambitious and was received with groans. I decided to attempt half the course.
Soon there were the first launches so I got dressed and clipped in joining the middle queue with the nicest exit.
There was a fight in the queue between a rigid pilot and another king posted one. The ridged pilot won and then blocked takeoff so I moved to the southern one. A steep cliff launch.
My angle of dangle rope untied so I lost my place and had help to fix it. Some very diligent help to re clip and check then I launched.
I flew directly into lift and climbed up to at least 6500 maybe more. I had two quick problems. First I could not understand my new vario and it’s task navigation. I had plenty of time to test it but no weather. Second I pulled the end off my water and dumped the lot in the little gap in my zip wetting my crotch… I had to smile as the view was so beautiful.
I decided to navigate the course from memory and so started out at 1615. The first turn point I reached via cloudbase.. utterly fantastic. I returned over takeoff and approximated the second still effortlessly high.
It was now I was among maybe 50 other gliders, it was fine, everyone was seen to be looking and flying well. I was excited and ready to fly into Slovenia.
Loads of the fastest pilots were returning as I pushed East, it was fantastic to see them so fast and so close.
I pushed too much towards this turn point nearest to Kobarid eventually making the turn a little too low. This was the beginning of my unravelling.
On returning I got below the ridge and had to scratch among the rocks.. This I did with a calm heart and found lift eventually returning to the clouds.
My last memory is of looking at some gliders ahead watching their lines and their progress towards the takeoff area. But for me this is profoundly the last memory.
I was high and East of the gap in the ridge between Italy and Slovenia.
The next moment in my mind is in a dark room in a hospital being moved and scanned.. being transported.. injected and fed with air. I was disorientated until Tuesday.
I have no returning memories of what happened.. none.. nothing.. not even dreams.
It is the following Saturday while I write and I am still in hospital with a broken back and rib and a strange mental process.. very forgetful and random.
Tomorrow with some luck I will go home where after some time maybe I will come to understand what happened.
The strangest flight yet.
[UPDATE – 27/07/2012 – I am back in the UK, resting, feeling an odd disaffection with my thinking processes but in the main I am fine, just sort of disbelieving that my adventure could have gone so wrong. However at the same time I am aware that it means nothing, that things happen in life and there is no narrative that implies that I will be hurt every time I go away flying. This is not historically true in any way. I guess the thing that makes this difficult is not knowing why it happened or what I did wrong – I am not able to reflect on ways to do it better – in many ways the GPS trace seems fine – my mistake seems to have been to bleed distance into the landing field when I was losing altitude. A schoolboy error if ever there was one, stupid really. Other aspects of my trip were lovely, more than lovely so really I expect that later in time I will be happy that I am ok and that things went ok…]
[UPDATE – 29/10/2012 – I was signed off from physiotherapy today, the last official word on this experience. I feel ok and was told that everything is in line and ok – I am in good condition. In the last days I have a new glider – a Wills Wing T2 154 – lets hope that I give her an easier time.]
[UPDATE – Jan/2013 – My massage lady at work told me during my first massage of the new year that I was more “present” – she revealed that she and a couple of the girls in the office had been looking out for me as when I returned from Italy I was seen to not me here… spacy… actually I rather like this in a couple of ways – yes I was spacy I was aware that I was having trouble processing things – but I also like that others were looking out for me too – it feels comforting and makes you know that you are not alone really almost ever. If I am honest I am not the same from before – I feel different inside me in a little way – in my writing I make strange word replacements… some of my senses feel different and my thinking is a little muddy but also a little quirky – all these things may however only be an illusion – but whatever – I dont care so much as I still can fly… :-) ]
[THEORY – I have often taken time to wonder what happened when I was making my approach on this flight. I think the first mistake is that I turned for my finals far too high for a restricted field. Seems that I made a correction half way to cope with this.
The GPS data points indicate that I had a ground speed of about 45kmh most of the way in but rather than slow the last datapoint indicates over 60kmh. I have reviewed other peoples tracklogs and found that Davide overflew the village earlier, got some weak lift there and then returned to cloudbase via the SE spine.
My thinking is that if the village was releasing thermals then maybe one released on my approach and it pulled in the air from the landing field creating the tailwind that was reported to my by a pilot who watched on the ground.
Alternatively I ran out of field and simply pulled in to reach the ground before the houses and flew accelerating into the ground. I am not so happy that I cant remember but these are my theories.]
Images of my landing place:
Data: 28/07/2012 0.02
Scusa il ritardo nel rispondere.non parlo l inglese.
L’incidente è avvenuto perchè : campo corto in discesa e soprattutto vento da nord cioè da dietro quindi nella fase di stallo il delta era molto veloce.
1) barra colpisce la terra
2) corpo e testa colpisce montanti chiglia e infradosso ribaltando il delta.
Dopo il tuo atterraggio, ne sono atterrati altri 3 piloti ed anche loro hanno fatto il tu stesso cresc (incidente) riportando meno danni fisici però.
Spero che sia stato di aiuto nel decrivere l accaduto pur molto sintetico. Non farti problemi a chiedere se hai altri dubbi.
Ti saluto guarisci presto e subito di nuovo in volo!!!
ciao scott !
[One last thing… This is screenshot from Google Earth showing my line in orange and Manfred Ruhmers in white – I flounder around on the ridge – he simply misses it out skirts round takeoff in good air and climbs on the next windward face and hes off…