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OBLIGATION.



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.




AND, FINALLY!



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.....




PARAGLIDING!



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.


Vintage Outing



In November I made a trip to the Midlands, after Rachel offered me a couple of old hang gliders for my Vintage Collection. The gliders belonged to her late father, and had to be disposed of now that his house was being sold. The descriptions and photographs that she sent me were not conclusive, but I was pretty sure that one was an early Chargus glider, and the second an Airwave Calypso.

A quick glance inside the bags was enough - a pair of very tidy gliders, a Chargus Vega 2 from about 1976, and an Airwave Calypso from around 1990. I'll post photos of the gliders soon. Rachel was very relieved that they were going to be looked after by somebody who would care for them, and might even be willing to fly them.


NORTH HILL EPIC



27.10.18: A cold and windy northerly forecast can only mean one thing around here: North Hill! The truth is that the site doesn't often work, because the Bristol Channel can alter the wind direction and strength. RASP is a good indicator, though, and five hangies believed it.

The wind was adequate, and smack on take-off, so we all were airborne before long. The ridge itself is about 4 or 5 miles long, but at the westerly end there is a tempting view across Porlock Bay - the Bossington Gap! In 1976 Brian Wright talked of crossing The Gap and I thought he was kidding, but a few years later I was the first pilot to make the crossing, on an Airwave Magic 4, and repeated the trip many times thereafter. It had been many years since my last crossing, though, so when I was climbing strongly in sea thermals on October 29th, it was a no-brainer!


I was flying a Rio 2 (it is for sale on my used glider page - hint, hint!) which is a very lovely glider, but not endowed with the best glider angle. In fact, I got 2500 feet amsl, so it wasn't a big problem, and then I went on towards the west, heading for Countisbury. (The picture below is looking back across the gap to Bossington).

If I'm making all this sound slightly heroic, don't be fooled! Jeremy Soper had flown more than twice as far as me on his Litespeed. Oh his way back, though, his plans were scuppered by a hail storm, so he landed at Countisbury. I found the hail well before getting to Countisbury, so turned around and tried to get back over the gap, into wind. Brett Wright had already been to Countisbury and then scooted back over the gap on his Litespeed, but he said the last bit was tricky. The Rio did well to start with, but couldn't hack it as we got nearer to Bossington, so I turned back to land at Porlock Weir. The landing was so perfect that members of the public came up to congratulate me - the end of a lovely day!



 
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