Sat, 28 Jan 2012

1Sting 3:168 : Firle (H) Duration: 00:25, Gain: 290 ft, Distance: 0 km, Enjoyable boating around in established flight pattern. Top landed.
2Sting 3:168 : Firle (H) Duration: 00:30, Gain: 350 ft, Distance: 0 km, Sky to the north looking grey. Flew to Firle Beacon for the first time then returned for a top landing.

Firle Beacon

After my shoulder injury from last year keeping me grounded, I was desperate to get back into the air. I'd been to the Devil's Dyke some weeks earlier with the intent to fly, but with the strong conditions and my rustiness, I thought better of it.

Arriving at Firle early afternoon the conditions were looking good with a scattering of hang gliders along the ridge and not a single paraglider in sight; the perfect conditions for me to blow the cobwebs off. I quickly unloaded my glider and carried it to the lee of the reservoir where I rigged it ready to fly.

Clipped in and hang checked, I stepped from the shelter of the reservoir into the true wind strength. I worked my way to the front of the hill and with a few paces, I was airborne. It wasn't one of my stronger launches, but I was up and slowly penetrating forwards. Most of the other hang gliders were off to the left, so I headed to the right where I quickly climbed 100 feet and joined the established flying pattern.

The conditions were pretty smooth, with a few broken thermals popping through. Some hang gliders had made it as far as Firle Beacon, but this meant crossing the plantation (a wooded area) something that I hadn't done before. With 200 feet between me and the ridge top I decided to give it a go. As soon as I approached the plantation I hit sink so retreated back to the main bowl to top up height.

The sky was getting busy now and I could see more hang gliders lining up to launch below. I was high enough to top land so I flew over the car park, turned back into wind and gently touched down. I then ground handled my glider back to the reservoir where I parked it and enjoyed a cup of much needed hot coffee.

After 10 minutes recuperating (I'm getting old) and the sky to the north looking a little grey, I decided to squeeze one more flight in. With assistance, I ground handled the glider back to takeoff where I once again took to the air.

During my recuperation I had spoken to Nicos regarding crossing the plantation with the intention of heading to Firle Beacon. Apparently, there isn't that much to it, so with 200 feet in reserve, I decided to go for it. There was definitely an easterly component in the wind so heading towards the beacon was slow progress. With that in mind, I pulled on VG and slowly started heading easterly along the ridge. My vario periodically emitted a happy beep giving me confidence that I wasn't going to go down into the trees. When I hit the next bowl I connected with some more reliable lift and climbed to a more comfortable 300 feet above the ridge. I passed a couple of other hang gliders returning then eventually arrived at the Beacon itself. It's at this point the ridge turns 45 degrees to face a North East wind, so I decided not to push on further. Below I watched a farmer on a quad bike and two dogs herding sheep - quite an interesting thing to see from the air, the patterns reminding me of videos I've seen of starlings flying in tight formation.

I was getting tired and the sun was low, so I turned tail and headed back to launch. The return journey was much quicker and I arrived with plenty of height. After a couple of short beats along the ridge, I was down to 200 feet so decided to head for the top landing field. My timing was perfect, three of us took completely different approaches, all headed for the top landing. On the ground, other hang gliders had just landed, so picking a clear spot to land was necessary. The wind was still strong, so as I turned onto final I descended without moving forwards and gently landed.

I was assisted back to the rigging area where I dropped the glider and concluded the day. A fellow hang glider pilot commented that the landing area was busier than Gatwick Airport! My body was now aching from muscles that I'd not used in a long time, but the feeling of being back in the air more than compensated for this. A great start to 2012 and good to know that my shoulder held out without problem.

Flight Details

Flight TypeHill Launch
GliderAirBorne Sting 3:168
SiteFirle
Launch Date/Time28 Jan 2012 / 14:00
Height Gain290ft
Flight Duration0h 25m
CommentsEnjoyable boating around in established flight pattern. Top landed.

Flight TypeHill Launch
GliderAirBorne Sting 3:168
SiteFirle
Launch Date/Time28 Jan 2012 / 15:00
Height Gain350ft
Flight Duration0h 30m
CommentsSky to the north looking grey. Flew to Firle Beacon for the first time then returned for a top landing.

Flying Statistics to Date 28 Jan 2012

Total Hours :
49h 11m
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 :
206
Hill Launches :
96
Winch Launches :
95
Aerotow Launches :
15

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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