Still Grounded - But Not for Much Longer!

Summary of flying for Saturday 17 May 2014
Total Hours0h 00m
Best Height Gain0 feet
Total Flights0

Almost two months on and I'm still grounded. Due to the economic downturn in the European Union, the strength of the Australian Dollar compared to the UK pound is making AirBorne spare parts prohibitively expensive and in turn, problematic repairing my AirBorne Sting 3. The fact the UK distributor for AirBorne has wound up his business, is testament to this.

My glider initially went to John Barratt of South Downs Hang Gliding where it was fully inspected and repairs made (top knuckle, heart-bolt and straightening of a couple of under-surface battens). The critical damage was to both uprights and the right leading edge; this needs a complete replacement and unfortunately, John was unable to source parts. To affect this repair and have the glider re-assembled ready for flying, I delivered my glider to Avian in the Peak District. Avian is the only remaining manufacturer of hang gliders in the UK and is run by Steve Elkins. Through discussions with Steve, I learned he had just enough 7075 tubing to repair the leading edge. It's not going to be much longer before the glider is going to be returned in an airworthy condition!

Visiting Avian was an interesting experience and whilst there, I was able to catch a glimpse of a new advanced intermediate glider that Steve is designing. I believe it will be named the 'Puma'. Steve allowed me to take a few photos of the glider's air-frame (but not too close up because it's still currently at prototype stage). Ironically, I learned that a fellow pilot from the Southern Hang Gliding Club has also bent his Sting and faced with the challenges of sourcing spares, has decided to upgrade to the Puma when it becomes available. So, I'm sure the following photos will be of interest to him.

The Puma will be aimed at advanced intermediate pilots and an initial inspection of the airframe reveals that this is likely to be a light and advanced wing. The outer leading edges are constructed from carbon fibre, hinting that this will be light in roll and on the shoulders when ground handling! Pitch stability is provided by sprogs, a pair on each side. I can't comment on the sail as the glider was naked, but Steve assures me that the sail is ready! I guess it won't be long before I'll be reading more about this wing in an up and coming edition of SkyWings.

I myself have also been contemplating a replacement to my own Sting. Various factors have been behind this, but primarily, the increased problems of sourcing spares and difficulties of aerotowing (although that was remedied with the 50:50 bridle set-up - click here for more). Since the day of the crash I had considered that perhaps the glider may have been a write off; fortunately it wasn't, but I did start contemplating a B-plan - a replacement glider! There are very few gliders on the second-hand market, so perhaps it may be time to purchase my first, brand new wing!

In discussion with John Barratt I asked about a Wills Wing Sport 2; this was my second choice when I purchased the Sting 3. However, John commented that with my skills, I might be better opting for something a little more advanced and recommended a Wills Wing U2. Ironically, I had been considering this myself and with two UK importers for Wills Wing, sourcing spares in the future (should I need to), should not be too problematic. I had also considered the Aeros Discus, but confess to not being entirely confident with this when I learned of the difficulties Nicos had sourcing spares for his (he had a similar crash to me). Also, with the current troubles in the Ukraine the Discus became my clear second choice!

With the purchase of my replacement car now put on hold, I had the green light for a new glider. Phippsy (Graham Phipps) of Cloud9 Hang Gliding and Paragliding was top of the list as a Wills Wing importer. After a good discussion with Graham, I placed the order for a custom coloured U2, mainly to match my new harness! I'm now awaiting delivery in late July, early August; hopefully to coincide with my family holiday in Cornwall!

Flying Log(s)

DateSat, 17 May 2014 - 00:00
CommentsI visit Avian to get my glider repaired and while there catch a glimpse of a new glider being developed! Oh, and I ordered a new U2 160 from Wills Wing!
Height Gain0 ft
Total Hours69h 59m

Total Flying Statistics

The total flying statistics up to and including 17 May 2014:

Total Hours69h 59m
Longest Flight1h 27m
Gliders Flown4
Unique Sites Flown20
Best Height Gain3,000 feet
Total Distance30.2 km
Furthest Flown13.4 km
Total Flights252
Hill Launches126
Winch Launches105
Aerotow Launches21