The following entries are available for this year:
This was to be my first flight in a very long-time, in fact it was the first for 2005 (bad weather and other commitments had all conspired to stop me flying!). As I approached the hill along the A27 from Brighton, I glanced up towards the top of the hill expecting to see fellow free fliers. To my surprise, not a sole, and I was convinced that I'd had made a bad judgement. As I pressed on I arrived in the Bo Beep car park to see additional gliders still firmly placed on the vehicles that had driven them there. After vacating my car and walking to take-off I'd realised that the wind strength was far greater than I had thought, hence the reason for everyone else not rushing around to get airborne (that'll teach me for consulting the Devils Dyke weather station - it reads a lower than actual wind speed in a North Easterly wind as it's in the lee of the hill - lesson for next time!).
The forecast was for the wind to ease, so I opted to wait it out with the other social pilots. The hill was particularly busy as the British Heart Foundation had arranged a charity walk across the South Downs. Later I would find this to cause a minor problem on my top landing approach!
Just over and hour later the wind dropped off and additional gliders arrived. Like the sheep on the hill, as soon as one glider was removed from the car, the others followed and headed to the rigging area - mine included.
It wasn't long before I was airborne and unlike my usual flights I found that I was able to easily maintain height. The first 5 minutes I was remembering how to fly (it had been a while!). The sky was now clear and some very punchy thermals were blowing through. The more experienced pilots exploited these and were able to escape the ridge and disappear into the blue yonder. This left the entire ridge and bowl to myself and one other pilot. I decided now that I was going to stay up easily and decided to fasten my pod, securing my legs within. On pulling the wrong leash I discovered that my ankle had become wrapped up in it, trapping it firmly. This meant that a landing would either be an ungraceful belly flop or a one legged hop!
I decided whilst I had height and wasn't planning on an immediate landing, to attempt to un-tangle myself. If anyone had been watching me from the ground they'd probably be wondering what the hell I was doing as one leg popped out and tried frantically to free the other. Note to brain, looking at your feet whilst in the prone position is very scary; the ground is above your head and you realise there is absolutely nothing beneath you! At one point I believe one of my hands was also involved in the untangle process, but after my glider performed one or two unexpected manoeuvres, I decided to concentrate on the flying. It was at that exact instance my foot became free!
The rest of the flight mainly consisted of beats along the ridge trying to catch thermals which I did with minimal success. At one point I observed a buzzard or some other bird of prey soaring 100 feet beneath me and for a brief moment I convinced myself that I had out flown it - if only I had had a camera mounted on the glider!
After 40 minutes I decided to attempt a top landing (this would be my fourth if successful). My approach brought me across the Bo Beep car park following the track easterly towards the bowl. As I turned into wind for the final approach I observed that a landing here would undoubtedly be on top of someone (the before mentioned British Heart Foundation walkers - lots of them). With safety in mind and not wanting to mount a walker I decided to track further towards the bowl and it was at that time a huge lump of air picked up one wing and almost turned me through 180 degrees. A timely weight shift soon put amends to that and I was now on my way down. I lowered my undercarriage (my legs) and performed one of my best top landings to date (even if it was a bit of a walk back to the car!).
I was now done in, hungry and sun-burnt so decided to call it a day and headed home! But what a good day it was!
|Flight Type||Hill Launch|
|Glider||Aeros Target 16|
|Launch Date/Time||26 Jun 2005 / 00:00|
|Flight Duration||0h 45m|
|Comments||Quite strong wind, thermic but unable to make good use of it. Top landed heading sideways as I came in!|