The following entries are available for this year:
North easterlies appeared to be the theme of the recent forecasts so without knowing if permission to fly Swanborough had been granted, I headed to Bo Peep. On arrival I could see a hang glider on a car roof and one paraglider in the air. It felt strong and the wind was heading off to the east later. I thought Swanborough would be the better site so returned to my car and checked my emails hopeful that permission to fly Swanborough had been granted. It had, so I drove the short distance to Swanborough where I found the majority of the hang glider pilots readying their gliders.
With an engagement at 4pm I was eager to get rigged and into the air. John Barratt was out with the school with CP pilots about to embark on their first soaring flights so I was keen not to get in their way. After some difficulty slotting my outward left leading edge into place after short-packing, I was ready to fly.
Luke kindly assisted me to takeoff, performed the hang check and set me off into the sky. Conditions were strong and the lift was marginal with the north facing sides of the bowl working best. I was sharing the air with 2-3 other hang gliders. It was certainly scratchty with an average ridge soaring height around 200 feet above takeoff, but sometimes I was scratching at ridge height or just below!
Occasionally, patience was rewarded with small thermals and I was able to make height gains to around 700 feet above takeoff. At this height the thermals seemed to either break apart, or I was blown too far over the back to make it back to the front of the ridge forcing me to leave the thermals. This ultimately put a cap on the height gains I was able to make.
After 20 minutes I observed some of John's students readying their gliders below me. Not wanting to get in their way, I scratched across to next bowl to the north. This bowl and the adjacent bowl are much smaller than the main Swanborough bowl, so I spent the majority of my time carefully beating back and forth in this area. Ozzie joined me for a short period of time on a school glider, but for the vast majority of the flight, I had this area all to myself to play in. In fact, I spent so much time here I decided that perhaps it should be called Dan's Bowl as everyone else stayed in the main Swanborough Bowl. Several times I was able to follow the contours of the hill around to Kingston village and, as experienced in the main bowl, was able to catch the odd thermal giving me much needed height top-ups.
After enjoying an hour throwing the glider around my hands were numb with coldness. After scratching around at ridge height I was able to gain height for a top landing, however, Swanborough is always full of surprises! As I turned to set-up my landing approach I knew I was high, so headed over the back a little further than normal to compensate for this. With the accelerated air flow across the top of Swanborough, I very quickly cleared the top landing field and was now over the field behind it. Turning into wind my speed across the ground ceased and I began to drop from the sky. The barbed wire fence separating the two fields now looked to be my chosen landing spot. Recalling my previous barbed wire incident, I was keen not to repeat this. Fortunately the gate between the two fields was open so I focused my gaze there (e.g. look at where you want to go, not what you want to avoid!). The glider and myself successfully passed through this opening and safely touched down in the top landing field (albeit, a little further back than normal). Nicos was on my nose almost instantaneously which I very much appreciated as I was no longer able to feel the fingers in my hands.
As soon as I was warm it was time to pack the glider away so I could make my 4pm appointment. Annoyingly, as soon as I lifted my glider on my car, the clouds started to dissipate and the sun broke through. The sky now looked epic! Damn it, it was time to go!
|Flight Type||Hill Launch|
|Glider||AirBorne Sting 3:168|
|Launch Date/Time||29 Mar 2013 / 12:40|
|Flight Duration||1h 10m|
|Comments||Cold with occasional thermals ato around 700ft. School soaring flights and top landing through the gate|