Sat, 6 Dec 2008

1Target 16 : Devil's Dyke (H) Duration: 00:35, Gain: 108 ft, Distance: 0 km, Took off from paddock. Soared main ridge, crossed Pylons topping height up when I could. Almost got to Truleigh, but decided not because there were many paragliders at that end. Came back to the Dyke, belly top-landed in a cowpat.
2Target 16 : Devil's Dyke (H) Duration: 00:22, Gain: 98 ft, Distance: 0 km, Took off from the bowl (where I landed previously). Conditions dropped off more, ended up bottom landing (Flared too early, landed heavily bending my first upright slightly). Home for a new one.

An Eventful Day at the Devil's Dyke

It's a weekend and the forecast is north westerly at 12-15 mph; the Devil's Dyke is going to be chaos! What the hell, I'll go and see what's happening. After my last flight I decided that I was hanging way too high so I'd dropped my hang position by about 8 inches. It would be interesting to see what difference this would make.

Flight 1

Luckily the predicated chaos wasn't as bad as I was expecting. There were both hang gliders and paragliders on the hill and the Truleigh run looked to be on. The wind was more north of north-west so I decided to launch from the Paddock. Steve C assisted me as it was quite a crosswind takeoff. The launch was successful and I immediately crossed the bowl to get to the north facing part of the ridge. I found some lift in the bowl, but it wasn't until I crossed the first spur when I found some more reliable lift.

I gradually worked my way westward along the ridge, topping up as much height as I could in each bowl. It didn't really feel that lifty and I don't think I managed much more than 100 feet above the ridge. I was slowly moving away from the safety of the bottom landing field and the infamous pylons were getting closer.

I think crossing the pylons is psychological; I've only ever crossed them once and I was determined to repeat this. The wind had a westerly component in it so moving west along the ridge felt painfully slow. I now had around 150ft clearance from the top cable of the pylons so I started my crossing. It felt like ages! Slowly but surely the cables passed beneath me. I was across! I now quickly looked around to see what my bottom landing options were if I needed them. I concluded that if I needed to, the Sky Systems landing field was an option, and probably a few more beneath me. Anyway, I thought to myself, "don't go down, just concentrate on staying up and topping up wherever I can". It's amazing what a bit of determination and concentration can do!

I was now slowly getting closer to the transmitters on Truleigh hill. A number of paragliders and hang gliders had already passed me and Truleigh hill was starting to look busy. With that thought in my mind, I was happy to stay where I was and slowly work my way back to the Dyke.

Eventually, I decided it time to return to takeoff; it would be a good opportunity to practice a top landing, something that had eluded me this year. Heading east along the ridge was fun. I now had a bit of tail wind and my speed across the ground was much increased to that flying in the opposite direction.

After a bit of height topping up in the main bowl, I headed into the large landing field just behind the bowl. As I turned into wind the glider started coming down quickly; well I'm committed now. Somehow, I managed to swoop down very close to the ground, ground slide through a cow-pat (yuk), pop the nose up a little and land on my feet. It wasn't graceful and I was now covered in cow-shite! Nice!

I unclipped, dropped the nose and headed for a bush to relieve myself. I then walked into the paddock to have a quick chat with the other pilots, get some feedback and tips for the Truleigh run. The wind was now dropping and more and more paragliders were taking to the air. I decided to return to my glider and launch again.

Flight 2

My glider was still flat in the large landing, just behind the bowl. This would be an ideal place to launch from considering the wind was very northerly. After solo erecting my glider onto its A-frame and clipping in, I walked towards a good launch spot. Without realising it I stepped into another very slippery cow-pat. My left foot immediately slid left and I almost went face-down. If this had continued I'd probably have popped the nose of the glider, most likely ground looping it. It didn't look at all graceful and was probably quite a spectacle to all the spectators watching. I quickly recomposed myself ready for launch.

The launch was a non event and like my earlier flight, I headed for the north facing ridge. It was noticeably lighter and the increased number of paragliders made it difficult to top up my height. After 20 minutes of difficult scratching and a wall of paragliders in the lift band, I knew I was destined for the bottom landing field. I didn't mind this as I wanted to see what difference my new hang position would make.

My landing approach was perfect, wings level and into wind. I started to slow the glider then, for some reason which is still unclear to me, I felt what I thought was the right time to flare. I flared aggressively but unfortunately this launched me and glider 20 feet into the air. Holy crap! My brain kept repeating, "don't pull in, don't pull in"! I held the wing above me as it rapidly began parachuting down. I think the right wing descended slightly faster than the left. I was able to get my feet on the ground, but my legs simply gave out on impact, the right wheel and upright then took the remaining energy. End result, slight bend in right upright and my pride compromised! Damn, I'd had this glider for ages and this was the first time I'd damaged it!

Looking behind me, I wasn't the only victim, 2 more hang gliders couldn't scratch into the top landing. The first repeated my performance and the second belly flopped. The bottom landing field was now full of pilots with bruised egos!

After walking back to takeoff, I recovered my car, returned to the bottom landing field where I gave a lift to the 2 hang glider pilots and a paraglider pilot that had also joined us. The wind was even weaker now, so no more flying, not that I could with my damaged glider, so it was back home to fit a new upright and check over the glider. Poo!

Flight Details

Flight TypeHill Launch
GliderAeros Target 16
SiteDevil's Dyke
Launch Date/Time6 Dec 2008 / 00:00
Height Gain108ft
Flight Duration0h 35m
CommentsTook off from paddock. Soared main ridge, crossed Pylons topping height up when I could. Almost got to Truleigh, but decided not because there were many paragliders at that end. Came back to the Dyke, belly top-landed in a cowpat.

Flight TypeHill Launch
GliderAeros Target 16
SiteDevil's Dyke
Launch Date/Time6 Dec 2008 / 00:00
Height Gain98ft
Flight Duration0h 22m
CommentsTook off from the bowl (where I landed previously). Conditions dropped off more, ended up bottom landing (Flared too early, landed heavily bending my first upright slightly). Home for a new one.

Flying Statistics to Date 6 Dec 2008

Total Hours :
20h 47m
Longest Flight :
1h 05m
Glider Models Flown :
2
Sites Flown :
10
Best Height Gain :
1,056 feet
Total Distance :
0.0 km
Max Distance :
0.0 km
Total Flights :
65
Hill Launches :
63
Winch Launches :
2
Aerotow Launches :
0

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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