A Sunset Delight

Summary of flying for Tuesday 10 September 2013
Total Hours1h 00m
Best Height Gain484 feet
Total Flights1

It's not that often when you have an unexpected flight that proves to be one of those you'll remember for special significance. In this case, it was flying until a fiery red sunset at the Devil's Dyke, but it almost didn't happen!

Having quit my job and working out my notice period, my allowance on holiday was non-existent. Tuesday looked to be a great day at the Dyke but the wind strength was forecast to increase with gusts up to 30 mph expected by the evening. Unfortunately for me, that was the time I’d arrive having had to work a full day in the office.

As I expected, I arrived at 5:30 and the wind gusted as predicted (7-25 mph on my anemometer). All but two of the pilots, John and Paul, each flying rigid wings, had packed up. Based on the wind conditions I decided not to fly, so my glider remained on top of the car. I watched John and Paul launch on their rigid wings, when Miles kindly pointed out that the wind had eased; something I had been completely oblivious to! Flyable conditions had arrived!

Soon afterwards my glider was rigged, checked over and I had clipped in. Chris T. kindly assisted my launch which was appreciated as the wind was still a little choppy. The wind strength was still towards the high end, so as I took to the air, I moved forwards slowly.

Below 200 ft, the wind was pretty rough and I only flew the pub spur. I was able to keep up with the rigid wings in terms of height, but due to their superior glide and sink rates, they penetrated forwards and explored both the Truleigh ridge and the air out front while I remained over the pub.

As the sun began to set I spotted a kestrel and decided to follow it around the sky. Needless to say, this little nimble sky god flew circles around me but I enjoyed the moment.

When I reached my highest point of the flight, just shy of 500 feet, the air became silky smooth. The wind was strong and I held the base bar back to my shoulders to maintain position. I was neither going forwards, backwards, left, right, up or down, I was fixed in the air for several minutes admiring the sun as it sunk towards the horizon and threw shadows across the landscape below. Beautiful!

As I looked below I watched Paul head to the large top landing field and land. Shortly afterwards, John landed in the paddock and I was left alone in the sky. As the sun neared the horizon, I decided to land so I wouldn't be packing up in darkness, however, getting down proved to be a little challenge!

The wind strength was still strong and as I positioned my glider over the bowl to set-up for a top landing, I climbed which made the top landing field unobtainable. After several attempts, I decided to allow the glider to drift further behind the bowl. From there I was low enough ready to dash to the top landing field. However, with a significant westerly component in the wind I expected rotor from the earthworks. Not knowing what the conditions would be like over the paddock I decided to make a test pass at 100 feet. With a few bumps here and there, the only issue was the wind strength. With sufficient bar pressure, I was able to penetrate forwards and go around for an actual landing attempt.

For my final pass, I lost height using the same method as rehearsed earlier, then headed towards the back of the paddock. As I turned into wind, I slowly descended and gently touched down. All the other pilots were now in the pub so I walked my glider to the edge of the field, dropped the nose and admired the fantastic sunset from the top of the Devil's Dyke. Beautiful!

Flying Log(s)

TypeHill Launch
DateTue, 10 Sep 2013 - 18:15
GliderAirBorne Sting 3:168
SiteDevil's Dyke
Duration01h 00m
CommentsNW-WNW; gusty (10-22mph) and rough below 300ft ATO. Smoothed out higher. Top landed in paddock as the sun began to set.
Height Gain484 ft
Total Hours61h 26m

Total Flying Statistics

The total flying statistics up to and including 10 Sep 2013:

Total Hours61h 26m
Longest Flight1h 20m
Gliders Flown4
Unique Sites Flown20
Best Height Gain3,000 feet
Total Distance30.2 km
Furthest Flown13.4 km
Total Flights239
Hill Launches113
Winch Launches105
Aerotow Launches21