The following entries are available for this year:
It had felt likes ages since I last flew. The British summer had been more like a monsoon and with that, no flying opportunities. Friday's weather forecast was not that different, north westerly winds for Sunday but heavy showers to accompany it! Fortunately, Saturday's weather forecast was quite a contrast, still north westerly, but no rain!
Sunday morning's weather forecast confirmed yesterdays and I phoned a fellow pilot to let him know I'd be heading to the Devil's Dyke. After loading my car and driving to the Dyke, I arrived to see conditions were a little weaker than I expected. 5 paragliders floated around takeoff indicating that there wasn't a great deal of lift, but there was something brewing!
In the past I had never really considered how much of a tourist attraction hang gliding and paragliding activities could be. During the set-up of my glider, several members of the public asked if they could have their photographs taken with the rigged gliders - something that myself and fellow pilots were happy to do.
Eventually I was rigged and waiting to takeoff. By now, the Devil's Dyke was getting very busy with members of the public setting up picnic spots in the take-off area. It must have had something to do with the exceptionally nice weather we were experiencing!
After finding a gap I successfully launched and easily soared to around 200 feet above takeoff. A short while later I hooked my first UK thermal and climbed to 577 feet above takeoff before loosing it. As far as I could tell, I was top of the stack. Looking down at all the other hang gliders and paragliders beneath me, I noticed that they were all heading towards the top landing, but being that much higher I thought I would connect with lift again shortly. Famous last words!
Moments later I was at ridge height with just myself and a paraglider scratching for any available lift. All other pilots had recognised the signs of a dead cycle and top landed - not me! For 5 minutes I beat back and forth, flying as gently as I could. I would find myself at ridge height then sink halfway down then slowly climb again. Eventually I got too low, and opted for safety, and headed for the bottom landing field.
Unfortunately for me, there was still some dry looking crop about 4 feet deep covering most of the bottom landing field. The little area set aside for hang gliding and paragliding bottom landings now contained 3 strategically placed pieces of farm machinery. I couldn't see a realistic safe approach to the 'proper' landing area, so opted to land as close as I could, but somewhere a little softer!
A perfect flare later and I was down. Looking back towards takeoff I could see that the lift had returned and everyone was making the most of it. I packed my glider (I now fly with my glider bag and packing) and walked back up to takeoff.
On arrival it was clear that the good weather had resulted in everyone heading to the Devil's Dyke (that's the problem with a popular tourist attraction!). After a 15 point turn I was able to get my car out of its parking space and drive down to recover my glider. On return to takeoff, the parking situation was beyond control; there was no way I was going to get parked, so I gave up and headed home. That was a real shame as it looked fantastic for flying!
A few days after this entry I learned that there were two accidents at the Devil's Dyke later in the day. It appears the conditions became quite a bit rougher with one paraglider landing badly breaking a leg and another crashing behind the pub sustaining a possible broken back. That pilot was air-lifted to hospital.
|Flight Type||Hill Launch|
|Glider||Aeros Target 16|
|Launch Date/Time||29 Jul 2007 / 00:00|
|Flight Duration||0h 26m|
|Comments||Strange day. Very buoyant air in cycles. Gained good height in a good cycled then failed to top land when it switched off and bottom landed in the crop. Bottom landing field mostly unavailable due to the amounts of farm machinery left in it.|