A Day of Two Halves

Summary of flying for Saturday 25 May 2013
Total Hours0h 24m
Best Height Gain550 feet
Total Flights2

There was a buzz about this weekend and as the weekend approached, the decision on which site to fly had been actively debated on the On Tour e-mail thread. The general consensus was Firle as the wind was forecast to be a moderate NNE in the morning backing to a light NNW in the afternoon. Despite some reservations about the chosen site, I headed to Firle.

My glider was still sodden so I rigged it in the lee of the reservoir to dry it out in the breeze and sunshine. Luke definitely had the right idea and had arrived early and was doing well on his rigid. However, as the flex wings launched, it was apparent that staying up was going to be a challenge.

I decided to maximise my flying opportunities by launching there and then. It was light and I had to fly close into the hill to maximise on lift. Occasionally little punchy thermals rolled up the hillside but I failed to make consistent use of them. With each bit of lift there was also an equal amount of opposing sink so to maximise my chances of staying up, I turned and slowed the glider when in lift, then in sink, I accelerated the glider and moved out of it as quickly as possible. This technique kept me up for around 10 minutes, but barely above ridge height. However, as I looked down I saw other hang gliders in the bottom landing field and after one badly timed turn in sink, I was below the ridge and destined to join the others at the bottom landing.

I successfully maximised my glide across the bottom landing field and landed some considerable distance from the road. After I hauled my glider back to the road I packed up. The wind had now veered to a north west, so when everyone headed off to the Dyke, I decided to follow...

The Devil's Dyke

The advantage of not short packing my glider when I left Firle meant I was able to rig it quickly at the Devil’s Dyke. However, by the time I was ready the wind had dropped and no-one was flying. I decided to wait for the next thermal cycle to roll through and gamble on staying up when it did.

After 10 minutes stood under my glider, clipped in at the front of the hill, I felt a slight breeze. As I looked upwards I saw some cumulus clouds that had built overhead and decided to launch. My vario beeped and I slowly climbed which triggered another hang glider pilot beneath me to launch [John Mc.]. It was hard to find a consistent climb, but eventually I found something and worked my way to 600 feet above take-off. I noticed a buzzard circling below me and it wasn't long before it circled around me and continued upwards. Sadly, I was unmatched in performance and was unable to follow!

The shadow of the cumulus clouds cast on the ground below started to dissipate and the lift began to reduce. I decided it was time to land. Several hang gliders had already bottom landed but I had just enough height for a top landing. To maximise my chances of an uneventful landing, I headed to the large field behind the bowl. A few others had already landed there; it's a much easier landing than the Paddock in my opinion!

After I had safely touched down it was time for a much needed ice-cream. Shortly afterwards, the paragliders took to the skies. Pleased with the fact that I had flown two sites in one day and made the best of the conditions, I headed home.

Flying Log(s)

TypeHill Launch
DateSat, 25 May 2013 - 10:30
GliderAirBorne Sting 3:168
Duration00h 11m
CommentsNNE-N, and the wind dropping. Maintained for a while then had to bottom land.
Height Gain0 ft
Total Hours58h 34m

TypeHill Launch
DateSat, 25 May 2013 - 13:30
GliderAirBorne Sting 3:168
SiteDevil's Dyke
Duration00h 13m
CommentsNW, 5-15 mph. Thermic cycles. Launched into a cycle. Thermalled for a while, flew with a buzzard, then top landed when the lift cycle stopped.
Height Gain550 ft
Total Hours58h 47m

Total Flying Statistics

The total flying statistics up to and including 25 May 2013:

Total Hours58h 47m
Longest Flight1h 20m
Gliders Flown4
Unique Sites Flown20
Best Height Gain3,000 feet
Total Distance30.2 km
Furthest Flown13.4 km
Total Flights235
Hill Launches109
Winch Launches105
Aerotow Launches21