The following entries are available for this year:
Another day booked off work and I'm back at the Devil's Dyke. The weather forecast suggested moderate north-westerly in the morning, but at 10am the air was still. A hang glider was rigged in the Paddock but there was no pilot. A few paragliders ground handled their canopies but there wasn't enough wind to launch. Today would be a waiting game, so I decided to go for a short walk.
By noon things were starting to happen. Around 20 paragliders were in the air, all floating around the minimal lift on the pub spur. Steve B was now returning to his glider (that glider in the Paddock) so I popped over to say hello and help him prepare his glider. Unfortunately the conditions were still light resulting in a few paragliders landing below the Paddock then a short while later inflating their canopies ready to fly again. This is not the sort of thing you want to launch a hang glider into. A friendly paraglider pilot shouted down to those paraglider pilots informing them of their error, but I'm not really sure it had an effect.
Steve eventually launched, but due to the number of paragliders and limited lift band he was shortly heading to the bottom landing field. When there he was caught out by the shadow of the barn and whacked into the ground. He quickly moved around so the rest of us could see he was okay. I drove down to pick him up (a lift that he'd later return).
When I returned to takeoff the wind was looking more promising so I rigged my glider and launched (camera attached again).
Now it's been a while since I've flown in heavy paraglider traffic so my adrenalin levels were up. As expected the lift band was narrow, but oddly it was also thermic with the northern end of the spur working well. That said, I couldn't really get above ridge height. All was going well until a low airtime paraglider pilot turned directly in front of me forcing me to dive and turn out of the way (see stills sequence below). This then put me too low and too far out so I decided, 'Better to fly another day', and headed for the bottom landing.
The above sequence of images shows what happened. I am flying north towards the paraglider (ridge on my right). I slightly nudge further right and the paraglider turns through 180 so that we are both flying in the same direction. I assume ridge overtaking and decide to pass ridge side of the paraglider. At that point the paraglider continues his turn towards the ridge cutting me off. I then dive under the paraglider, turn left away from the hill and decide to land.
After flying through some interestingly lumpy bits of air I rounded out and did a perfect no step landing (although reviewing the video footage I think my flare was a little early). I wasn't by myself, a few paraglider pilots were also in the bottom landing field and eventually, after a bit of haggling I negotiated a lift back to the top with them.
After recovering my glider back to the top, I stopped for a late lunch then decided to fly again. The wind was now noticeably stronger so I opted not to fit the video camera. Some of the paraglider pilots were now grounded so the airspace was much clearer making my launch a much less stressful experience.
As it was now much later in the afternoon the sun was getting low making it exceptionally difficult to spot other air-traffic. After gently soaring back and forth for 10 minutes the wind started to drop off again. I had barely got about ridge height, so once again the bottom landing field beckoned. On arrival my flare was far better timed and I again performed a perfect no step landing. That concluded the day as daylight was diminishing. Was it a day worth taking as holiday, well I flew, of course it was!