Firebird UK  
[ Home ]  [ About the Flying Circus ]  SIMON'S BLOG  [ Articles ]  [ Contact Us ]  [ Vintage gliders ]  [ Shop ] 

Beer Head Cruise

21.5.17: A short flight at Beer Head before the wind went way off the hill, using a stock secondhand glider - a Litespeed RS3.5. This was Carl Wallbank's glider when he captained the British Team to the World Championships in Florida, and it really does go! It has a very clean sail and is bristling with carbon fibre components.

The RS doesn't have the lighter handling of the later RX's, but I reckon there is still an advantage to be had in outright performance. There is also a distinct price advantage - the RS being something of a bargain - particularly when you consider all the carbon packed into the sail! Check this glider out in the secondhand hang gliders section of this site! Part-exchanges always considered.

Woolacombe Sunshine

19.5.17: Friday off, because it is raining in Luppitt and sunny at Woolacombe. Soarable, too! It was not an epic day, but certainly was most pleasant. I had a couple of hours, and lucked into enough lift to get me to cloudbase. Mind you, 'base was only 1200 above take-off. Still, it was a very pleasant flight, and a great way to end the working week.

Sea Breeze non-event

2.4.17: Two days flying on the trot? Remarkable!

We went aerotowing,and everyone who took off in the middle of the day was able to climb out to cloudbase. Conditions weren't as good as the sky suggested, though. There was a forecast for the sea-breeze to come in, so when I reached base I decided to be adventurous, and try to fly to the sea breeze, and along it as far as I could. It didn't work. After leaving my original climb I only found one other area of very light lift.

No worries, it was immensely enjoyable to climb out from 1000ft ato to base at about 3250'

Hey! There are a couple of syndicate shares open to be purchased if you want to join us - call me!

April Fools!

1.4.17. Ten hang glider pilots drove through cloudy and wet conditions to trust in the forecast for a flyable day at Woolacombe. And it worked! By mid-afternoon we were soaring the wave above a bank of orographic cloud, over a thousand feet above take off. The lift was copious, spreading out to sea and all around the bay.

I left my camera at home (durrr...) but Jeremy Soper has kindly provided these glorious shots. Non-pilots should check-out the "Glory" - his shadow surrounded by a circular rainbow.

This was a day to savour... winter is over.


It's been a long, slow winter, with grey skies and high winds. That is, a bad one!

It is about a year ago that our broadband speeds suddenly slowed dramatically, and became very much less reliable. Strangely, this was immediately after the then-Prime Minister announced that people in rural areas "didn't really need fast broadband"! I suppose it was a way of introducing a new policy.

Our neighbours at the Otter Brewery needed a better service, and were prepared to make the investment to bring fibre across our valley, They kindly asked whether we would like to join in the scheme for a reasonable fee, and we have jumped at the chance. In a few weeks, we may, once again, have a decent service.

Not Much Flying....

14.1.17: When the flying is a bit thin, we all look to other things to fulfill our interest in flying - or to replace it temporarily. In my case, one such distraction is radio-controlled model aircraft, and over the winter I have been slowly fettling this 8' span ASW28, scale motor glider to get it ready to take to the air. All it needs now is a careful adjustment of the C of G, and then there will be nothing for it but to try and fly the beast. I wonder whether it will fly?


29.12.16: A sunny day drew quite a lot of pilots to Beer Head in the hope of a little flying, and that is all we got - but what a great day out in December. Good company with some fun banter while we waited for the wind to pick up. I grabbed about 20 or 30 minutes of pleasant flying during a good spell (that is me on the green Skyman glider) but then went down when it dropped off abruptly. No matter, the walk back up the cliffs through the jungle is always fun in itself.

Another Grand Day Out. Roll on 2017 - let's hope for lots of good times.


When I can't fly my hangies or paragliders I like to fly radio-controlled aircraft - usually motorised sailplanes or scale warplanes. Just lately I have been flying this lovely Minimoa, which has a span around 6 feet. At first it felt like a bus, and I think it is too heavy to thermal effectively on anything other than strong days, but now I'm really enjoying trying to fly it in a manner appropriate to the original aircraft. It is majestic in the air. May be for sale soon - I have other things to fly. Want to learn? I may be able to help!


23.12.16: My last job before the Xmas break was to strip and rebuild a carbon Litespeed RX. These things are so gorgeous - and a delight to work on!

Lanzarote, third flight

The third and last flight on the trip was at El Cuchillo, a tricky little site with typically unforgiving surroundings. I was lucky with my timing, and climbed out in what may have been the best thermal of the day. But I then managed to lose the lift while zipping up my harness and making a radio transmission when at 2500 feet!

After floundering around for a while and losing quite a lot of height, I decided to fly to the rim of a volcano in the hope that it would trigger another thermal. That failed, and soon I was finishing my Lanzarote trip with a landing in between two volcanoes!

What a great winter holiday! Thanks to Paul, Colin, Darren, Steve and Peter for making the trip asuch fun!

Lanzarote, second flight

Next time we went flying (we had a day riding motor bikes off-raod in between) I did the Famara run again. This time it was much windier at altitude, and rather a lot of orographic cloud that needed to be negotiated. When I finally got to the Mirador end of the ridge I was able to fly out to sea under the cloud and almost reached the island of Graciosa.

The return journey was slow, and slightly nerve-wracking because the wind had certainly strengthened, and it is a long way back to an easy landing area. The glider performed fine, but penetration was limited. It was only after landing that I realised this is a 21 year old design, so it was actually doing an excellent job. Another lovely flight!

Lanzarote revisited

It is fifteen years since I have flown in Lanzarote, so when the chance came to go back on a trip flying with the lads from Norfolk, it was a no-brainer. Paul "El Cuchillo" Leary put the whole deal together, and it was a very enjoyable week in good company.

The first flying day resulted in a very pleasant trip along the Famara run. I was lucky in that Carsten Zuelch, a customer who lives in Germany, had offered to lend me a glider he keeps in LZR, a Bautek Sunrise. It handled really well, and climbed like the proverbial dingbat. It wasn't the fastest hang glider, but that didn't hamper my enjoyment of this most spectacular route.

Back to Top