Sat, 21 May 2011

1Sting 3:168 : Mickfield Hall (T) Duration: 00:08, Gain: 800 ft, Distance: 0 km, Cross wind; took Said place. Tow was rough low down but it smoothed out above 400ft ATO.
2Sting 3:168 : Mickfield Hall (T) Duration: 00:07, Gain: 1000 ft, Distance: 0 km, Similar to my previous tow. Enjoyed some lift as I set-up landing approach.
3Sting 3:168 : Mickfield Hall (T) Duration: 00:01, Gain: 0 ft, Distance: 0 km, Cable snap low down - not very pleasant as happened at worst possible time.
4Sting 3:168 : Mickfield Hall (T) Duration: 00:26, Gain: 2516 ft, Distance: 13.4 km, Good tow and released straight into a thermal. Worked this well and landed 13.4 km away. Andy H collected me!

XC Day

Everyone was expecting an epic day and the sky was starting to look good as Jim and I arrived at Mickfield, the tow site for the day. It was a busy day too, all the XC hounds were there eager to hook into something and get away and it wasn't long before a long helmet queue had developed.

My first mission of the day was to move my hang point forward a notch. After some initial fiddling this was achieved and I was ready to fly. Jim had again accompanied me to Suffolk and was keen to continue his winch endorsement, but like before, needed to share my harness and Koch release. I vaguely joked that I wouldn't be off on an epic XC so sharing my harness wouldn't be a problem.

By the time I was ready the air had become pretty active making launching an activity for the non faint hearted. Said was ahead of me and after several blustery moments opted to stand down freeing up the line for the next pilot, me!

Tow 1

As I was positioned and attached on the towline, I knew exactly why Said stood down - the air was lively! Timing my launch was critical as the air was gusting and moving around a 90 degree window. Eventually that moment came and I was off. The first 40 seconds of the tow were rough, but upon climbing upwards of 400 feet things seemed to settle down and I was able to relax for the remainder of the tow. I released around 800 feet then began my mission to find a thermal.

There were certainly thermals around, but they were broken and proper lumpy ones. By that I mean I was able to slice through them but by the time I'd turned, I'd dropped out of them and was confronted with the sink that follows. Still, I was able to extend my flight for an additional 4 minutes before landing.

Take-off
Take-off
Start of the XC via static winch at Mickfield Hall in Suffolk.
21 May 2011

Tow 2

My second tow was very similar to my first, the only exception was upon hitting 700 feet above takeoff I must have flown through a powerful thermal. Steve was driving the winch at the time and he'd backed well off as I was kiting out, but from my position, I felt such immense pressure on the towline that I decided to ping off before something broke! Fortunately nothing did, but by the time I'd released I was unable backtrack and final that booming thermal! Still, like my earlier flight. I extended it with the usual scattering of 'bullet' thermals as I slowly sank towards launch.

On Tow
On Tow
Looking down the tow cable shortly before release.
21 May 2011

Tow 3 (or not quite)

I'm not entirely sure this counts as a flight, but as I took off (my feet did leave the ground), the tow cable snapped. Thank god I kept my nose down! I overtook the towline and parachute, flared and gently touched down at the edge of the field. This was probably the worst time for a weak link or cable to fail, so I was pleased with how I handled it.

Tow 4 (THE XC)

After my previous launch had come to an abrupt halt I was back at launch and thinking third time lucky! Conditions were still lively and there was a degree of reluctance from the others to take the next line. So, as I was still ready to go, once the line was repaired I was clipped to it and ready for the off!

A Thermal
A Thermal
Shortly after release from the winch cable, I connect with the first thermal.
21 May 2011

It was probably the smoothest tow of the day and with a stiff breeze blowing, I reached 1,200 feet above takeoff before releasing. At that point my vario continued to beep and I knew there and then that I had a very good chance of going XC. I now had to concentrate on staying in the lift and after several orbits with the vario continuing to beep, I was sure I was off. With 1,700 feet between me and everyone down on the ground, I relaxed, waved goodbye to everyone below and continued my orbit of the thermal.

As I continued to head upwards and further downwind I had a moment or paranoia as I wondered if I had my GPS and phone with me (earlier my phone was almost destroyed when my hydration pack split open drenching it), but I didn't care, I'd been awaiting for another XC opportunity for a while and it had come today!

As I passed over the Mendlesham hanger I was nearing 2,000 feet and my vario was still beeping. I'd worked out earlier that if I followed the A140, this would keep me clear of any airspace restrictions until Norwich (not that I thought I'd get that far, but it was worth checking just in case!). After Mendlesham I was venturing into the unknown - I really don't know my way around this part of the country!

I soon hit my maximum height of 2,516 feet above takeoff when I eventually lost my thermal. After zipping up comfortably into my harness, I pulled on the VG and started my downwind glide. On my way, I again bumped into some small thermals and I was able to top-up a little and continue my northwards journey across the Suffolk countryside.

The High Point
The High Point
Shortly before the highest point of the flight, 2,500 feet above the ground!
21 May 2011

At one point I saw a small propeller aircraft pass to my right at the same height as myself then I spotted what looked to be an airfield in the distance ahead. Paranoia again kicked in and I quickly checked my air map to ensure I hadn't strayed off course. There on the map was a blue circle with a cross in the middle - it was a disused airfield, no problem! I had proved to myself that I can in fact read an air map while flying!

Where to Land?
Where to Land?
Getting low now and time to find a safe landing field - there's one just up ahead of me!
21 May 2011

After some more gliding and one or two rough broken thermals, I was starting to get low (1,000 feet) and started scanning the ground for somewhere suitable to land. It looked like there were plenty of rape seed fields below and the ones that weren't flourishing in rape seed were littered with pylons or smaller electricity polls. No ideal then! I then spotted a nice looking field up ahead. It was easily within reach and for a moment I decided it was possible to go further, but Mr Safety kicked in and I opted for its safety and proximity to a main road (the A140 I'd been following).

Landing
Landing
The landing field selected, here I am on my final approach.
21 May 2011

After a successful touchdown I walked my glider along the tramlines to the edge of the field where I de-rigged, found my position with a GPS and phoned my coordinates through for a retrieve.

I had now beaten my previous personal best of 7 km and managed a 13.4 km flight.

Flight Details

Flight TypeWinch Launch
GliderAirBorne Sting 3:168
SiteMickfield Hall
Launch Date/Time21 May 2011 / 11:00
Height Gain800ft
Flight Duration0h 08m
CommentsCross wind; took Said place. Tow was rough low down but it smoothed out above 400ft ATO.

Flight TypeWinch Launch
GliderAirBorne Sting 3:168
SiteMickfield Hall
Launch Date/Time21 May 2011 / 12:30
Height Gain1000ft
Flight Duration0h 07m
CommentsSimilar to my previous tow. Enjoyed some lift as I set-up landing approach.
Track LogDownload (KML/KMZ)

Flight TypeWinch Launch
GliderAirBorne Sting 3:168
SiteMickfield Hall
Launch Date/Time21 May 2011 / 14:30
Height Gain0ft
Flight Duration0h 01m
CommentsCable snap low down - not very pleasant as happened at worst possible time.
Track LogDownload (KML/KMZ)

Flight TypeWinch Launch
GliderAirBorne Sting 3:168
SiteMickfield Hall
Launch Date/Time21 May 2011 / 14:45
Height Gain2516ft
Flight Duration0h 26m
CommentsGood tow and released straight into a thermal. Worked this well and landed 13.4 km away. Andy H collected me!

Flying Statistics to Date 21 May 2011

Total Hours :
47h 45m
Longest Flight :
1h 15m
Glider Models Flown :
4
Sites Flown :
20
Best Height Gain :
3,000 feet
Total Distance :
20.4 km
Max Distance :
13.4 km
Total Flights :
199
Hill Launches :
94
Winch Launches :
91
Aerotow Launches :
14

Total Flying Statistics

Total Hours :
95h 58m
Longest Flight :
2h 25m
Glider Models Flown :
5
Sites Flown :
21
Best Height Gain :
3,000 feet
Total Distance :
67.9 km
Max Distance :
13.5 km
Total Flights :
286
Hill Launches :
156
Winch Launches :
106
Aerotow Launches :
24
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