The following entries are available for this year:
It's not that often when you have an unexpected flight that proves to be one of those you'll remember for special significance. In this case, it was flying until a fiery red sunset at the Devil's Dyke, but it almost didn't happen!
Having quit my job and working out my notice period, my allowance on holiday was nonexistent. Tuesday looked to be a great day at the Dyke but the wind strength was forecast to increase with gusts up to 30 mph expected by the evening. Unfortunately for me, that was the time I'd be arriving having had to work a full day in the office.
I arrived at 5:30 and indeed the wind was gusting as predicted (7-25 mph on my anemometer). All but two of the pilots, John and Paul, each flying rigid wings, were packing up. Based on the wind conditions I decided not to fly, so my glider remained on top of the car. I watched John and Paul launch their rigid wings when Miles kindly pointed out to me that the wind had eased; something I was completely oblivious to! Flyable conditions had arrived!
Soon afterwards my glider was rigged, checked and I was stood at launch. Chris T kindly assisted my launch which was appreciated as the wind was still a little choppy. The wind strength was still towards the high end, so as I took to the air, I wasn't moving forwards particularly fast.
The air below 200 ft above takeoff was pretty choppy in places and I only flew the pub spur. I was able to keep up with the rigid wings in terms of height, but due to their superior glide and sink rates, they were able to penetrate forwards and explored both the Truleigh ridge and out front.
As the sun began to set I found a kestrel and decided to follow it around the sky. Needless to say, this little nimble sky god flew circles around me but I enjoyed the moment.
When I reached my highest point of the flight, just shy of 500 feet above takeoff, the air became silky smooth. The wind strength was strong, so I held the base bar back to my shoulders to maintain position. I was neither going forwards, backwards, left, right, up or down, I was fixed in the air for several minutes admiring the sun as it sunk towards the horizon and threw shadows across the landscape below. Beautiful!
As I looked below I watched Paul head to the large top landing field and land. Shortly afterwards, John landed in the paddock and I was left alone in the sky. As the sun neared the horizon, I decided to land so I wouldn't be packing up in darkness, however, getting down proved to be a little more challenging!
The wind strength was still strong and as I positioned my glider over the bowl for a top landing set-up, I found myself climbing out making the top landing field unobtainable. After several attempts I found that flying behind the bowl allowed me to sink low enough ready for a dash to the top landing field. However, with a significant westerly component in the wind, this area proved to be a bit bumpy due to rotor from the upwind spur.
Not knowing what the conditions would be like over the paddock I decided to make a test pass at 100 feet above the paddock. With a few bumps here and there, the only issue was the wind strength. With sufficient bar pressure, I was able to penetrate forwards and go around for an actual landing attempt.
For my final pass, I lost height using the same method as rehearsed earlier, then headed towards the back of the paddock. As I turned into wind, I slowly descended and gently touched down. All the other pilots were now in the pub so I walked my glider to the edge of the field, dropped the nose and admired the fantastic sunset from the top of the Devil's Dyke. Beautiful!
|Flight Type||Hill Launch|
|Glider||AirBorne Sting 3:168|
|Launch Date/Time||10 Sep 2013 / 18:15|
|Flight Duration||1h 00m|
|Comments||NW-WNW; gusty (10-22mph) and rough below 300ft ATO. Smoothed out higher. Top landed in paddock as the sun began to set.|