November Northerlies

Summary of flying for Saturday 23 November 2013
Total Hours0h 53m
Best Height Gain0 feet
Total Flights2

I arrived at Firle around 10am and was surprised by how light the conditions were - it certainly wasn't what the forecast had suggested. There were many hang gliders on car roofs and not much effort was going into moving them into the field ready to be rigged and flown. Northwards of Firle was clear evidence of a low inversion and with a high pressure system overhead and very moist ground, the air wasn't really wanting to lift. However, the November sun was shining and I was convinced this would energise things!

As usual, Luke's enthusiasm meant he was in the air scraping the ridge just as the conditions began to improve. It wasn't long before the field became crowded with pilots rigging their gliders. Owning a flex wing, I certainly had an advantage to those with rigids and was soon rigged and stood at the front of the hill waiting to join Luke. A couple of paraglider pilots had already launched and with the prospect of more hang glider pilots to follow, I launched before the sky became too crowded.

The air wasn't particularly buoyant but there were November thermals; small awkward punchy ones that occasionally kicked the glider around if you caught the edge of one, but if you persevered with them, they rewarded you with 300-400 foot height gains. In fact, what challenged me most, was finding space in the increasing traffic to exploit these bubbles of lift. At one point, Luke thermalled one core, I another and a rigid wing on another. We almost all converged but due to good airmanship and a keen look-out, the situation was managed.

That bests described my first flight, up and down in thermals and a need to keep keen eye on the traffic. A couple of times I tried pushing towards Firle Beacon, but each time I started to glide over the plantation, I hit sinking air and retreated back to the safety of the known ridge lift. After close to 30 minutes, and with more gliders taking to the air, I decided to top land to give those who had just launched an opportunity to fly and myself a rest. Considering the poor lift, I was surprised how strong the wind was and as I top landed, discovered it difficult to penetrate forwards and landed further back than I had intended.

After lunch I noticed the wind had started to drop. I decided on one last flight before I had to dash off for a family commitment, so took to the air one more time. The sun had lowered in the sky and it wasn't as buoyant as earlier, but still the odd cluster of thermals came through allowing me to make reasonable height top ups. Those on rigid wings were now gaining the full advantage of their performance and I believe Miles looked to be upwards of 1000 feet towards the Beddingham bowl.

Time had ticked on and it was time for me to land and depart. After a successful and non- eventful top landing (Firle is great for top landings), I packed up and headed for home.

Flying Log(s)

TypeHill Launch
DateSat, 23 Nov 2013 - 12:00
GliderAirBorne Sting 3:168
Duration00h 27m
CommentsN; 15-20mph. November thermals. Reasonable climbs, but thermals rough and punchy. Top landed.
Height Gain0 ft
Total Hours64h 40m

TypeHill Launch
DateSat, 23 Nov 2013 - 13:00
GliderAirBorne Sting 3:168
Duration00h 26m
CommentsN; 15-20mph. Similar to earlier flight. Top landed as it felt like wind was dropping off.
Height Gain0 ft
Total Hours65h 06m

Total Flying Statistics

The total flying statistics up to and including 23 Nov 2013:

Total Hours65h 06m
Longest Flight1h 20m
Gliders Flown4
Unique Sites Flown20
Best Height Gain3,000 feet
Total Distance30.2 km
Furthest Flown13.4 km
Total Flights246
Hill Launches120
Winch Launches105
Aerotow Launches21