The following entries are available for this year:
After last year, could I really get a flight in February? Driving south towards the Devil's Dyke revealed the fickle nature of the recent snow. Some areas showed no evidence and others an abundance of it.
As the South Downs came into view they looked glorious with a dusting of snow. For a moment I wondered if I could get all the way up to the Devil's Dyke, but the road was clear. As I arrived at the car park a number of hang glider pilots were rigging.
The wind felt strong confirming my earlier call to Windy reporting a 13-20 mph wind from north of northwest. I decided to sit the early flights out for a bit hoping it would drop off a little.
Wandering around I noticed Johnny Carr was there with the very same Sting 3 : 154 that I'd seen at Swanborough last year. It was also the very same glider that was tested in the recent SkyWings review. Johnny had just sold it to someone upgrading from a Target. Great, I could share some thoughts with him a bit later!
Eventually the cold got to everyone and they retreated to the pub for a warm drink. At this point I was ready to fly, the wind felt strong but good for a go, so I raised my glider, clipped in, performed a self-hang check and walked the glider to a suitable takeoff.
I spent a few moments getting the wings level then I accelerated the glider and launched. The wind was probably slightly north of northwest but most of the lift was either in the bowl or the northern spur of the Devil's Dyke pub. I didn't venture onto the Truleigh ridge as each time I ventured that way I was hit by lumps of not so particularly nice air! However, the views of the South Downs more than made up for this. The day was warming and most of the fields were thawing out and loosing their white sheen. The north facing ridge, now cloaked in shadow as the sun lowered, still retained an icy covering, and from 200 feet up, it looked great!
After 30 minutes of beating back and forth another pilot joined me. Glancing down into the takeoff area I could see others emerging from the pub and returning to their gliders. I decided I'd try a top landing in the paddock and I put the memories of my previous near disastrous attempt at this in the back of my mind. I distinctly remember Ozzie's advice from last time, "Keep you eyes on where you want to land" and as I turned downwind, crossing the fort and turning back into wind I did just that. Finally as I did a final adjustment I noticed two young children crossing the landing field. There was a chance I'd over-shoot as I was a little high, so I shouted "Heads ups!". It did the trick, everyone was now aware of my approach.
I pulled the bar in as far as I could and the glider came down nicely. I then gently eased out a little and my feet gently came to rest on the ground. Blimey! I'd forgotten how much easier top landings were compared to nil wind bottom landings!