I screamed like a girl…

Sometimes things happen when you least expect them too, they are necessarily confusing and after if you are lucky they leave you wondering what on earth happened there…

Now I have thought a little about it I realise that I was bitten hard by a very benign set of circumstances. While flying I learn a lot by quietly listening to others, observing them thinking about what’s best and then trying these things out, in this case my conclusions in error conspired to back me into a very risky corner indeed…

Listening to people talk about glider efficiency for example, comparing sink rates, stating the most altitude attained each flight as a badge of efficiency and skill, stating that flexies only glide best with arm fulls of VG… all that and my Wills Wing T2 being so good flying comfortably with plenty of control even with arm fulls of VG.

Further generalised comments that people fly too fast on the ridge, me feeling like I wanted to fly at the correct speed, feeling I was one of those flying too fast, so I invested a vario with a pitot tube and was flying it for the first time this weekend.

All these things meant that I thought I was doing well, that I was doing well and often above most of the other pilots so I was thinking it was all working.

However so it turns out I was slowly teaching myself to fly right on a dangerous knife edge, an edge I crossed on this Sunday afternoon, resulting in me falling through the air both me and my glider confoundingly out of control.

Just to add a bit of spice once I realised I was out of control I went to deploy my reserve, thought it was my last chance, flailed about, grasped the handle, pulled but felt it slip out my fingers… leaving me to watch the ground coming up thinking – bollox –

My glider now all on its own then gently flew off away from the ridge into safety, into space, the moment was over, I and it was ok. 

Seeing the ground and waiting to hit it actually felt like a moment of calm clarity – maybe at that point I relaxed and let the glider fly… maybe it was then that I was saved.

I love my Wills Wing… it let me learn a long list of important lessons in that moment, left me free to tell the tale…

I felt the glider suddenly yaw, bank and slip in a weird way, I instinctively opposed that vigorously then hung on as it all went a little mental for what felt like ages. I had stalled and entered a spin, a witness on the ground told me that he watched what looked like a wingover but one that left me diving fast towards the ridge soon disappearing out of his view. Not good, he thought.

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Once it was all over, flying confused and worried that I was still on this knife edge into the void I looked over my wings looking for damage or a rigging error I could see nothing wrong. I felt the air was nice and lifty still even well out in front so I gently returned low to the ridge and thought to continue my flight.

While doing this I checked my harness which is when I saw that my failed attempt at deployment had in fact removed both pins and partially opened the reserve container. By this time I had gained enough height to top land, so very gently I made a direct approach worried I may have a deployment so keeping movement to a minimum but happy to have another nice landing with my new Rotor harness.

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this post was made into an article for Skywings

Later I would re-closed my reserve container – pack away my gear all the while reflecting that I had been extraordinarily lucky. I am not at all sure I would have survived the impact had I hit the hill on my closest pass.

Ill now take time correcting my previous assumptions, practice deploying my reserve, we all should do that more, a lot more. At my closest approach to the ridge, feeling like I was buggered, I freely admit I did scream a little like a girl. I defy anyone to do differently.

The rest of the day was quiet, even unremarkable.

Click here to read a very interesting article about this subject.