Sat, 25 Jul 2009

1Target 16 : Mendlesham (T) Duration: 00:07, Gain: 868 ft, Distance: 0 km,
2Target 16 : Mendlesham (T) Duration: 00:06, Gain: 892 ft, Distance: 0 km,
3Target 16 : Mendlesham (T) Duration: 00:05, Gain: 925 ft, Distance: 0 km,
4Target 16 : Mendlesham (T) Duration: 00:06, Gain: 925 ft, Distance: 0 km,
5Target 16 : Mendlesham (T) Duration: 00:07, Gain: 950 ft, Distance: 0 km,
6Target 16 : Mendlesham (T) Duration: 00:01, Gain: 90 ft, Distance: 0 km,
7Target 16 : Mendlesham (T) Duration: 00:30, Gain: 2508 ft, Distance: 7 km,

Simply Amazing!

Keith, the local tow coach and winch operator on the day was insistent that I take his GPS and air-map; just in case I connected with something on tow, after all, it was looking unlikely that he'd get the opportunity to fly today. I must admit, I hadn't even considered the possibility of a cross-country and to be honest, the mere thought of it made me nervous. I'm not local to Suffolk so I don't know the area - I've always blindly followed my TomTom for the 120 mile trip to the winching site so the idea of flying a cross country here and the thought of landing in the unknown terrified me! Still, Keith was very insistent and fully briefed me. In hindsight this must have been coach intuition!

My fifth tow of the day was a miserable failure; my gloved hands managed to double release shortly after takeoff ending that flight abruptly! A short while later it was time for launch number 6.

Dan on his Target
Dan on his Target
Dan flying his Target and is off on his very first XC flight.
25 Jul 2009

At launch we'd observed a pattern and concluded that the best probability of connecting with a thermal during tow was shortly after the breeze at launch dropped; most likely the result of the previous thermal passing through. So there I was, my Aeros Target resting on my shoulders, Mike on the radio and Keith and John the other end of the runway on the winch. The wind dropped and a shadow enveloped the runway, I lifted my glider, checked the windsock and instructed "All Out". A short while later I was pulled forward, my legs accelerated my glider and I was lifted off the ground.

The tow up was very smooth, however at around 700ft I felt like what I can best describe as an upward surge in the glider and a springy like tension in the towline. I decided to get off so waggled my legs and released. To my surprise, my vario continued to beep! It felt like there was pressure under the left wing, not much, but definitely something there so I slowly turned left. The vario continued to beep so I eased the bar out and the vario responded by increasing the pitch of its beep. My glider felt a bit like it was on auto-pilot, I gently held the bar in my hand and simply let the glider go where it wanted to and that was up!

Strangely I find it hard to recall the next few moments, possibly due to the amount of concentration, but when I heard my vario yelp a squeak like its never done before in free flight I realised I was going somewhere - I guess I'd found the core of the thermal I was now orbiting! The vario was now reading 1,700ft and for the first time I looked down. Yikes, I was high my first time at such an altitude in the UK! I was also being blown downwind at quite a rate.

XC
XC
My very first cross country flight.
25 Jul 2009

I don't know if it was simply fear of flying away from the familiarity of the winch field or guilt for leaving Mike without a launch crew but I didn't want to be going into the unknown so I turned up wind and attempted to head back. The wind at 1,900 feet ATO was considerably more pronounce than that at the surface and my Aeros Target didn't feel like it was moving upwind, in fact, I think I was flying backwards! The decision to go XC was made for me!

I turned tail and as luck would have it, my vario started beeping again. As before, I began orbiting until ultimately I slipped out of the side of the thermal. My altitude was now reading 2,508 feet, a personal best! I could see the coast in the distance, the big white nipple of Sizewell nuclear power-station (Keith said I had to avoid that!) and the flat patchwork Suffolk countryside beneath me - I could feel a grin on my face!

Now I fully understand why some people worry about their first cross-country; my only thought now was where was I going to land and I became fixated on this. During my downwind dash I'm sure I missed several opportunities to climb further. I passed the village of Debenham at 1,900 feet and eagerly scanned the ground for somewhere to land. I spotted a golf course, but I quickly passed that; I was now at 1,300 feet. Earlier Keith had told me that green fields are better than yellow ones; unfortunately the ones beneath me were all yellow! In the distance, next to a line of trees I spotted a green field and with luck, I saw there was a road next to it! My landing field was chosen!

At 1000 feet above chosen landing field I started circling, checking for power lines and assessing wind direction. I also had a B plan, the adjacent field (yellow), probably wheat! At 400 feet, I started my downwind leg; at 200 feet I turned onto my base leg flying along the tree line bounding the eastern boundary of the field. At 100 feet I turned into wind and aimed for the first third of the field. At 20 feet, crap! This crop is higher than it looked from 1000 feet; broad-bean plants! At 4 feet, after flying just above the crop bleeding off speed I flared, dropped down nicely between the crop and landed on my feet - no steps! Perfect! Now, where the hell was I?

A few comments from others there on the day re my first XC (taken from the SCFHGC Forum)...

Very lifty, pleasantly bumpy with long extended flights being the order of the day. In Dan's case his long extended flight meant past the next village. He did try to make it back to T/O bless him 'cos he knew I had a line all ready, but no launch crew. Great to see him disappear into the distance (no really) and to see the grin on his face once retrieved.
Mike Lake
Possibly the best thermic day ever, and, wind straight down the runnway, nearly every tow had a good chance of hooking up with a lift. danh working on his thermalling, finally clicked and very smoothly climbed out. but as it was his first ,XC can be forgiven for not making the most of it but @7K and a safe landing and setup, will have broken the myth of leaving the field.
Keith Matthews
Cracking Day, I think everyone went home with a big smile on their face, and as ever, plans for next time. Everyone was well chuffed for Dan, he really did try and make it back to the field, but we were all rooting for him to go for it.
John B

Flight Details

Flight TypeWinch Launch
GliderAeros Target 16
SiteMendlesham
Launch Date/Time25 Jul 2009 / 00:00
Height Gain868ft
Flight Duration0h 07m
Comments

Flight TypeWinch Launch
GliderAeros Target 16
SiteMendlesham
Launch Date/Time25 Jul 2009 / 00:00
Height Gain892ft
Flight Duration0h 06m
Comments

Flight TypeWinch Launch
GliderAeros Target 16
SiteMendlesham
Launch Date/Time25 Jul 2009 / 00:00
Height Gain925ft
Flight Duration0h 05m
Comments

Flight TypeWinch Launch
GliderAeros Target 16
SiteMendlesham
Launch Date/Time25 Jul 2009 / 00:00
Height Gain925ft
Flight Duration0h 06m
Comments

Flight TypeWinch Launch
GliderAeros Target 16
SiteMendlesham
Launch Date/Time25 Jul 2009 / 00:00
Height Gain950ft
Flight Duration0h 07m
Comments

Flight TypeWinch Launch
GliderAeros Target 16
SiteMendlesham
Launch Date/Time25 Jul 2009 / 00:00
Height Gain90ft
Flight Duration0h 01m
Comments

Flight TypeWinch Launch
GliderAeros Target 16
SiteMendlesham
Launch Date/Time25 Jul 2009 / 00:00
Height Gain2508ft
Flight Duration0h 30m
Comments

Flying Statistics to Date 25 Jul 2009

Total Hours :
25h 28m
Longest Flight :
1h 05m
Glider Models Flown :
2
Sites Flown :
13
Best Height Gain :
2,508 feet
Total Distance :
7.0 km
Max Distance :
7.0 km
Total Flights :
104
Hill Launches :
68
Winch Launches :
36
Aerotow Launches :
0

Total Flying Statistics

Total Hours :
96h 29m
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 :
288
Hill Launches :
158
Winch Launches :
106
Aerotow Launches :
24
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