ST. HILAIRE DU TOUVET 26.9.19: Just back from a trip to the legendary Festival of Free Flight at St.Hilaire with Vincent Masi. We drove down there, which was the usual delight - French D roads are wonderful, as is French countryside. The Festival was a great experience - certainly the biggest trade show I have been to. I met quite a few people that I hadn't seen for a good few years, and did a little business, too.
I was slightly disappointed that there were no hordes of cheap used hang gliders for sale, and more so that there were not many fancy dress outfits to match the ones seen on videos, but some of the air displays were excellent. All in all it was a great experience, well worth going!
SLOVENIA September: I was very fortunate to spend a week paragliding in Slovenia with the reprobates from the South Devon Club. It was a fantastic trip - with my final flight being my best, skying-out on a little flight down the Soca Vally. My paragliding skills are legendary - in that they aren't very special, but on this occasion I even did a perfect landing by the cafe in Kobarid!
RETURN TO BOSSINGTON 24.8.19: A small group of pilots ventured out to Bossington on a half-chance, and two of us got to fly. Me on the Cure (I really need some paragliding practice before a trip to Slovenia) and Bob Kirby on the remarkable 17kg Flex hang glider. I had about 40 minutes, but was so disorganised that I didn't have a camera. So, a library picture taken from a hangie! A nice view of the once-great hill, now being overtaken by gorse.
TWO DAYS IN ONE WEEK!
|12th and 15th August: Managed to grab a couple of days at Wooly in one week, and both were really good, with thermal available on the first day, and pleasant conditions on the second - with the sky to myself. Luxury!|
EN B OR EN C? 16.7.19: Surely not two days on the trot? I decided to take an EN B Skyman Cross Country, and was surprised that it went almost as far as had the EN C Cure, but not with quite the same panache. I had to work slightly harder, but the results were similar. The Cure is more nimble, but that wouldn't appeal to a newbie - the Cross Country would be a better choice for them, without doubt.
Two brilliant days - photos to follow!
Two Epic Days Paragliding! 15.7.19: Took the Cure to Beer Head and found the best conditions for years, cruising accross the Gaps, past Sidmouth and on around the headland to Ladram Bay. I turned back earlier than some, 'cos I've been there before, but the Cure was going like a train and I just had to hang on. The photo is taken on the far side of Sidmouth. Beaut!
|6.7.19: Garry wanted to know whether I thought the better choice for the day was Woolacombe or Bossington, and then said OK, we are going! I felt obliged to join them. |
Bossington was wonderful, as usual. I took the Malibu, because it is light, simple and fun, and because the top landings are now tighter than previously - unless you like climbing through gorse bushes. There was smooth lift everywhere and, although there was only 700 feet to be had, the Malibu took me far enough upwind to be able to catch this unusual view of our historic flying site.
I owe a lot to Bossington.
THE 18 YEAR GAP
|1.7.19: Took my rather nice Moyes Max to Woolacombe for a test flight prior to sale. After flying it I knew it was a lot better than nice! It carried me all over the place. What a lovely day.|
When rigging the glider I noticed a keel sticker showing that I gave it it's first test flight out of the factory, eighteen years before to the day! That was a memorable flight too.
Fish and chips afterwards with Andy and Kevin. Who could ask for more? Well, Phil could - less than a week later he bought the glider.
|20.6.19: A good forecast drew nine or ten hang glider pilots to the Woolacombe super-site, but the wind wasn't playing ball. It was 45 degrees off the hill, which can result in a nasty choppy flight with little available lift. After a couple of hours Jonathon Powell decided to go anyway, rather than waste a day off work, and found it both smooth and quite lifty.|
So, seven or eight months after I collected this gorgeous Calypso from Rachel's parents house, I finally got to fly it. Mike Lavender, the former keeper, had looked after it extremely well, and it is a credit to him. However, you never really know how good a glider is until you take off. As soon as my feet left the ground I know that it was spot-on, and Voytek's photo shows that I was immediately able to relax and flash a happy smile at him.
It was very interesting to compare the Calypso with the much later Sport 2 that I flew last month. I suspect that it was slightly heavier in roll purely because I was hanging too high above the base bar, which is very easily rectified. That apart, there is very little difference. What a gem of a glider! Thanks Rachel.....
|5.6.19: Suffering from a nasty cold born out of hay fever, I decided to clear the head by going to Woolacombe. I had a lovely Calypso to fly, and the forecast looked perfect, so I was surprised to find very little wind. |
No problemo! I had my paraglider in the car, so popped on my summer flying suit (it being June) and headed off into the wild blue yonder. Had a very pleasant hour enjoying the gorgeous views, and then noticed that I was feeling rather chilly. Landed and packed up, then headed home to a hot bath. Felt rough for a few more days, but it was worth it!
Woolacombe Outing 27.5.19: Snatched a brief hour or so above the rolling hills at Wooly. I reckon it must be about 8 months since I flew here, so it was a blessed relief to find the conditions rather peachy. I chose to test-fly my stock secondhand Wills Wing Sport 2 (the medium size one) so can now sell it with total confidence. It is in great condition, but also flies very nicely. An excellent first, second or last glider!
A DAY OF MIXED BLESSINGS 4.5.19: Voytek and I went to North Hill, which hardly ever works - let alone in the spring. While others were blown out, we both had some good flying. I got to 1400 feet in one gentle thermal, but it was a bit windy, and changeable. After an hour I was suddenly below the height needed to reach a distant top landing, so was grateful for a scrappy little thermal that I managed to employ to good effect. I squeaked in on top for a perfect landing, but Voytek wasn't so lucky, and was soon making an approach to the bottom landing fields. He found a tailwind on his final approach, and very quickly ran out of landing options. He was lucky to come away from the resulting "arrival" still alive - if not kicking. The glider fared less well.
LUNCHTIME VISITOR 2.5.19: Just about to have my lunch, and the doorbell is ringing. It is Michel Carnet, who just happens to be passing.
Michel was a multiple Champion in various forms of flying: World, European and British Champ (I think) in Hang Gliding, Paragliding and Paramotoring. I always thought him something of a genius, but he is also good fun to be with, so it was a memorable lunchtime. Come back soon, champ!
FLYING AGAIN - Wooohooo!
|28.4.19: At last! The forecast suggested it might be a reasonable flying day, if not wonderful, so Voytek and Dave dragged me off to Bossington. Having had such a difficult winter, these two took great care of me without making it obvious that they had concerns. I took my Malibu2 so as to minimise hassles and risks. As it turned out, I felt just fine, and was entirely up to par, but at times like this it is good to have friends.|
Immediately after take-off some unseen force lifted me straight to 1100 feet above take off, which was the best height gain to be had all day. When the others took off the lift just switched off and we were generally swanning about 500-700 feet up. I flew for 1.5 hours, and then the sky was darkening, so I decided to fly back to the tricky little landing area back at the car park. more lift arrived, and suddenly I was at 1000 feet and flying around to try to find a bit of sink.
Another advantage of flying the Malibu was highlighted when I made a feather-soft landing in just the right spot. Bring on more of this, please!
JEZZER NEWS! Jeremy Soper wanted to start the year with a competition, so forsook the UK weather (as you would!) and went to the Guatamalan Open. What's more, he used a borrowed glider, and won!
On 13.4.19. Jeremy took my stock Litespeed RS3.5 (yes, you could buy it!) to the Malverns, and flew 140+kms to the coast - literally a cross-country, because he flew from the Welsh border to the western coast. Had he entered some of his earleier flights, he would have won the UK Winter XC League, but who cares? The lad is a legend - already!
A NEW OLDIE
|March 2019: Tony Bnden asked me whether I would be willing to give a home to his old Birdman Firebird S, rather than it going to the tip. I was happy to oblige, but when I saw the condition of the sail I started thinking it might be worth having a flight on it. |
Unfortunately a mouse had got into the bag at some point, and one wing tip bears the marks, but it remains a glider that deserves to be preserved.
|March 2019: Well, the oncologist reckons I have five years left, but I'm banking on a lot more than that. The good news is that I'm feeling very much better than I was, and am having lots of varied treatments designed to defeat the cancer.|
I'll be flying again as soon as the weather co-operates, so let's not dwell on the bad stuff any longer! Many tharnks to all those of you have been supportive and caring, now let's just get on and enjoy the good times....Roll on Spring and Summer!
No News.... 16.1.19: The plan was that I should be catching a plane to New Zealand today, en route to a month of riding around the North Island on Georgie's Suzuki Freewind. It hasn't worked out like that....
I had been feeling rather under the weather for a couple of months, so decided to visit the doctor for the first time in, perhaps, 20 years? I reckon I have a virus of some flu-like variety, but he took a blood test which suggested some issues that needed addressing, and the upshot is that instead of beaches and mountains I'm booked in for hospital visits to have some tests and checks....
There hasn't been much flying around these parts (UK winters are not normally conducive to good flying) so I don't seem to have missed a lot. I'm hoping to be back in the air soon, and rolling up in New Zealand at the next available opportunity.