|Conditions||20-25 mph NNW; post frontal.|
|Glider||AirBorne Sting 3:168|
|Height Gain (ft)||1220|
|Max Climb (fpm)||9|
An Epic Day With a Not So Epic Landing!
25 September 2010
The week leading up to this weekend was suggesting two potential days of flying but as the weekend neared, the forecast wind strength was on the increase.
Arriving at the Dyke I spotted Chris T already flying, having just returned from Truleigh Hill. There were also other local pilots readying their gliders, a refreshing sight to see the hill full of hang gliders! The wind was strong and blowing from north of northwest. I quickly set about rigging my glider and was soon ready. Eager to get some more Dyke video footage, I attached my camera to my helmet and headed to the launch area. Nicos was directly in front of me and a watched him launch then followed him into the air.
Probably due to the greater efficiency of the Sting (and not my piloting skills), I quickly gained at least 100 feet more altitude than Nicos as we both headed to the north facing ridge, both heading towards Truleigh. After topping up my height a couple of times I crossed the Pylons and continued to head west. It seemed to take forever to reach Truleigh Hill and it was quite a scrape as I eventually arrived at ridge height.
The Truleigh Run
Personal video log of me flying the 'Truleigh Run' at the Devil's Dyke. An epic flight, with a not so epic landing!
Truleigh Hill seemed to be working well and its bowl shape seemed to be sucking in all the little thermals that were forming. For the first time during ridge soaring, I realised that the beeps coming from my vario were signalling the presence of a thermal. As I had Truleigh Hill all to myself, I decided to practice some ridge thermalling and started a series of left hand 360's. I was able to keep the vario beeping throughout most of them but due to the wind drift had to leave the thermal to make it back to the front of the ridge. Once back at the front of the ridge, I repeated the entire process. Soon I was over 1,000 feet above takeoff and my continuing 360's, acting as beacon, attracted sail planes and hang gliders alike.
With the extra air traffic in the vicinity I started heading east back towards the Dyke. I managed to lose all of my height gain in the process, however, just before I was back in the Dyke bowl, my vario squeaked and I immediately connected with another thermal. Straight away I started a series of right hand 360's (Dyke rules) and as something literally clicked in my head, I starting to build a mental picture of where this thermal was. Getting carried away (pun intended) I drifted over the back with this thermal, reaching a maximum altitude of 1,220 feet above takeoff. As the thermal seemed to fizzle out I decided I was high enough to glide back to the Dyke top landing, so, with my VG on, my toes pointing I started my upwind glide back to the paddock.
After what seemed like an eternity of gliding upwind I was almost there, but I was almost out of height. The earthworks were just in front of me and I had lost all of my height. It instantly became obvious that if I continued on this track, I'd be landing in the ditch or just on top of the earthworks – both were undesirable. Unfortunately, it was too late and my only option remaining was to do a quick S turn to ensure I'd land behind but clear of the earthworks. Pulling on speed I set-up my landing then at around 10-15 feet above the ground I hit the inevitable rotor and crashed hard on the deck. After a quick check of my own person I realised I was okay, but the left upright had cleanly snapped in two. Damn! Oh well, that's what you get for being stupid! In hindsight I should have landed well back in the large field and dismissed the paddock landing option. I could have flown again if I'd done this, but having no spare upright with me concluded my flying for the day.