|Conditions||NW-W 5-15? mph|
|Glider||Aeros Target 16|
|Height Gain (ft)||216|
|Max Climb (fpm)||7 fps|
Thursday 16th October 2008
A New Personal Best!
I'd been watching the weather forecast all week and Thursday looked like it might be on at the Devil's Dyke. So, I pencilled in leave for Thursday afternoon and when the inevitable reports of hang gliders flying at the Devil's Dyke came in on Thursday morning I confirmed my leave and left work destined for the Devil's Dyke.
Somehow I was efficient and managed to arrive at the Devil's Dyke around 1pm. Steve C and Dave M were flying, but for the wind strength (which was strong) there didn't appear to be a great deal of lift. I unloaded my glider and rigged anyway as the forecast suggested the wind would drop off later, so when it did I'd be ready.
A short while later Dave M landed and Steve C disappeared somewhere over the back. Dave's words best described the conditions as uninspiring. We then spent the next hour sat on the hill trying to decide what the weather was doing, one minute it was a howling westerly, the next a smooth gentle north westerly. The sky looked fantastic with cloud streets stretching to the horizon, but getting to them appeared to be all but impossible. Whilst we were waiting Chris flew back and forth but never really getting much more than 200 feet above takeoff until ultimately he top landed.
By around 2:30 pm everyone was grounded but the wind felt weaker so I decided to launch. I was expecting a sled ride to the bottom, but as I took off I found it quite easy to maintain and climb. Normally I find flying the Devil's Dyke quite smooth but today, the weird conditions resulted in quite a few rough moments (all the bouncing around in the video below).
After 20 minutes of being wind dummy I was joined by 3 and shortly later a 4th pilot. We all shared the same lift in front of the Devil's Dyke pub. The bowl mostly turned out to be a no go area (must have been the westerly component in the wind) with most height gains being made at the northerly end of the spur. I maxed out with a height gain of 216 feet, not especially great taking into account the wind and epic looking sky!
At one point I managed to pass over the top of Dave M with quite close proximity on his Litespeed but he had only just launched and I'm pretty sure he was above me for the remaining duration of the flight.
After around 40 minutes I was starting to get tired (all that rough air) so opted to top land. Now I don't know if it was nerves from my previous landing there some months earlier that put me behind the pub, but I simply couldn't get the glider in a position that I felt confident to attempt a top landing. Each time I manoeuvred the glider I lost too much height (all my turns were made away from the hill). Watching other pilots I noticed they adopted a different approach, but today, I didn't feel that confident to attempt it. There was also a chap flying a kite in the large field at the back which put me off that option.
Ultimately the landing decision was made for me as the lift seemed to drop off. I spent considerable time maintaining at the tree line but never able to climb out but inevitably, I landed at the bottom (perfect on the spot landing). It wasn't a lonely affair however, as two other pilots also joined me (but their landings were not quite as elegant).
So to conclude, it was certainly an interesting afternoon. I set a new personal best of staying up for over an hour (my longest fight to date) and captured it all on video (well most of it, the flight lasted longer than the camera's battery!).
A Rough Day at the Devil's Dyke
Another film from the air. This time I mount the camera in a new position. The flight was pretty rough but unusual for me, lasted over an hour - that was longer than the life of battery in the camera, so no actual landing in this video. To view the hang gliding log entry for this day of flying, click here.
Events Later That Day
To say the day was interesting doesn't quite cover it. After packing up and setting off for home, Dave's perfect summary of the conditions and the events that then followed: "So, it was crap. Lots of wave-influenced howling gales, followed by calm, followed by howling gale, followed by the PGs coming out, followed by...you guessed it, ...and back, and up...ooh er!"
For the uninitiated a poor paraglider pilot mistook the lull as being ideal paragliding conditions so after launching was somewhat alarmed when the wind picked up sending him backwards into the trees. The following is the paraglider's report of this event:
A very exciting afternoon flight was had at the Dyke today. Turned up around 16:30 and was quickly joined by half a dozen others. Four of us were quickly in the air only for the wind to pick up equally quickly. Windy John and Stu T made it back on top and Dave N bottom landed. That just leaves me pinned in front of launch about 150' ATO with 1/3 bar. Now the wind is really getting a move on and I want down! Big ears, slowly down but also going back slowly, now 3/4 bar, arrived over launch and let off bar and ears. Now it's Golden Shot time I've been up, and down, forward, backward and now I'm going backward and sideways. I flew across the gravel car park and was thrown into a tree at virtually ground level, another nice blast of wind and I was pulled up about 6' and jammed into the branches. Shot. Many Hands held on to me while I unclipped and climbed down.
Now I have to get a glider out of the tree 30' up and I suppose this is where you find out if you have any mates in the club. No worries; time now is 16:55 (my watch stopped at this time because something pulled the winder out on impact) two handsaws and a length of hosepipe to use as a rope and all of a sudden the tree was full of monkeys sawing and pulling. 1 1/2 hrs later and it's on the grass in the dark and we're pulling the twigs out of the lines, only damage seems to be 6 tabs pulled out. One of the guys helping, (not a paraglider or hangy pilot) was in the tree when his false leg fell off and landed upright in the grass below! He weight shifted onto his good leg until he had to go home, bonkers, you couldn't make it up.