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1.12.17: I'm just back from a flying trip to Lanzarote with Paul Leary and his merry band. It says a lot for these guys (2 x Paul, Darren, Steve and Niall) that they were very merry despite the fact that the flying was very ordinary. So much so that I haven't yet managed to find any good flying photos. Mind you, we did fly. I had four flights, which is four more HG flights than I have managed in the last five months in the UK! It has been a truly rubbish summer.

We did try quite hard, ignoring many of the other delights that Lanzarote has to offer (beaches, bikes, Manrique and volcanoes). The photo above shows Paul's van beating a path to a possible new take off. It would have been very flyable, but when we got to the top the wind was over the back.

Our trip started badly for me. The glider I was to borrow had a ripped sail, and when I went to fly another glider I elected to adjust the hang point. I really don't know why I did that, and to make matters worse I actually contrived to move it in the wrong direction. All this resulted in a glider trimmed miles too fast, resulting in a very unpleasant flight to the bottom landing. After that, things got slowly better, and by the end of the trip I felt almost current.

If the flying wasn't exceptional, the journey certainly was. Bright, warm weather on this most amazing island makes for a complete change from UK winters, and is thus really good for the soul. Thanks Paul!

Sand and Stone

16.11.17: I had five paragliders to service today, and two of them came with some unwanted baggage. One had been to the Dunes de Pyla, and I was able to get a pound of the finest French sand out in a few minutes. Another had been to a stony beach somewhere, and the trailing edge was holding the makings of a small rockery. Quite apart from being very bad for the sail cloth, a glider that is carrying such an additional load isn't going to ground handle as well as the designer intended.

Another Beer outing

1.11.17: After a week spent mostly preparing to the end of my financial year, it was really great to get out of the office on a pleasant day. Beer Head doesn't always give the conditions suggested by the weather forecast, so I took the Cure on the back of the motorbike, so as to be sure of getting some form of adrenaline-hit, even if it didn't prove flyable.

Actually, it was flyable all day, but did get a bit sketchy after about 3pm. Most of us flew to Sidmouth and back, with a few of the earlier arrivals crossing the Sidmouth Gap. Hazy sunshine illuminated the whole event, and it was gratifying to get some flying at this time of year - it is so easy to imagine this might be the last day for a while. Pictures to follow...

Phantom Progress

Several people are waiting for a flight report on the Phantom, but I haven't flown it yet. There was an issue with the flaps, which turned out to be a simple matter of a misplaced cord jammed on an adjacent pulley, and I'm waiting for a really good flying day at Woolacombe before committing aviation. I hope...

Clouds at Beer Head

14.10.17: Light wind, off the hill, heavy orographic cloud cover and no sunshine - it doesn't sound like the recipe for a good flight. But I took the BGD Cure along to Sidmouth and back, so it was actually rather good. There were two hangies and about six or seven paragliders flying, and we all had a lot of fun.

These photos are rather drab, aren't they? If you look closely there are hang gliders in each shot, and I rather enjoyed the trek down the ridge and back, glad I was flying a glider that would be easy to land if the wind dropped off, and easy enough to walk back to the car. I wouldn't have flown the whole ridge had I been on a hangie. At about 3.30 the wind did indeed die, and a couple of people landed out. Fortunately, I'd already top landed.

Dad of Soperman!

No sooner was the ink dry on my sponsorship contract with Jeremy Soper than he hit me with the biggest news in hang gliding - his Dad is learning to fly! Having watched his wayward son embark on his flying career, and helped to rig the glider often enough, Mr.Soper was already half way there. They went to France for his first lot of lessons. Now we know where Jezzer got his indomitable spirit....

9.9.17: I was invited to join the South Devon club's annual trip to Slovenia, and found myself in with a great group of guys. We had a good few days of flying, and although the weather wasn't epic, I enjoyed the experience immensely. The BGD Cure demo glider I took with me looked after me very well, and went really well, too. People kept remarking how great it looked, too. I didn't take any flying photos, so you'll have to make do with one of the holiday snaps with James and Tim, and one of a scenic take-off shrouded in orographic fog at 3000feet! We waited, and in the end all managed to get off through gaps as they came wafting through.

Sea Breezes

31.8.17: There was a chance of sea breezes at Bossington, and I really needed to get some airtime on the BGD Cure before the trip to Slovenia. But the weather was also ideal for a trip to the beach, or a bike ride - so should I take a chance on flying? In the event, I did all of them! Rode the bike to Bossy, didn't find any wind so had a flight to the beach. That was so cool - apart from the walk back to the top....

26.8.17: I just did a deal which involved me buying in an Aeros Phantom rigid wing. It seems like a good idea to try a rigid, because a lot of people love them. I have been totally loyal to my Litespeeds for 18 years, and it seems high-time to try to something different. It is going to be a few weeks before I can even get to rig it, let alone fly it, but I'm looking forward to the new experience.

Deal, No Deal

Nipped out of the office to grab another flyable day at Wooly. It was work, honest!

The plan was to sell one glider and buy another, but things don't always go to plan, and only one of the deals worked out. Not a problem! The really good thing is that the sun shone, and although the wind was about 45 degrees off the hill (and the forecast), three of us flew.

I had another go on my BGD Cure demo and, although the wind was stronger than I would have liked for the take-off, the flying was lovely.


13.8.17: The forecast for Beer Head worked out well, and I got a lot of work done in the three hours I had available to fly. A potential customer tried two gliders he is thinking of buying, and I flew a couple of gliders and harnesses which I could fly in Slovenia in September.

It was great to get back on a paraglider after having done almost all hanging this year. I need more airtime if I am to feel at all confident in my BGD Cure, but I'm sure it will be a lot better when I fly it next - with a smaller harness that is better set-up!

As usual, the Beer/ Branscombe cliffs provided some gorgeous views - yet another day to savour.


12.8.17: Windy at Wooly, but there were quite a few hangies out enjoying the conditions. There were plenty of clouds rolling in off the sea, and most of them were generating lift. Cloudbase was only 1000 feet, but it was enough to let some of us tour around the bay and well out to sea.

There were three low-airtime pilots flying, and also a returnee having a tandem flight with Same Jeyes of Fly like a Bird. He loved it, and will soon be signing up for a refresher course, I suspect.

Peak holiday period, so traffic was bad, and the car park on Marine Drive was packed. Not that Brett Wright was bothered - you can just see him coming along the ridge from the north.


July 2017: This year's Eurotour took in Mayerhofen in Austria, Monte Cucco (above), Schio and Bassano in Italy. The flying wasn't epic by the standards I enjoyed there 30+ years ago, but it was way better than anything I seem to find in the UK these days. Two weeks of flying, camping, driving and laughing.

Many thanks to Garry and Colin for the organisation, and Vincent and Jeremy for the company. A great trip - and wonderful weather!

The highlight of my trip came at the end of a tiring flight at Monte Cucco. Approaching the bottom landing field with insufficient height for an easy glide home, I found some bouyant air over the town of Sigillo. That meant that I was probably going to reach the field OK, so I detoured over a factory with a shiny roof and lucked into the best climb I have had in years! Smooth and strong, the thermal lifted me 5500 feet, so I was able to land back at take-off and drive the van back down to collect the others.

While we were at Cucco the Italian Hang Gliding Championship got underway, so there were some pretty extreme pilots and gliders present, including World Champions Alex Ploner and Christian Ciech. Both looked very, very impressive and Ploner eventually won. We were impressed how well the Italians flew so confidently in raather windy conditions. Cucco take-off area does seem very friendly when it is windy, and they had it nailed.

As always, my wonderful Litespeed RX did everything I want in a hang glider, including shrugging off some scary turbulence. It is great to have a glider that you can really trust to look after you, but I've just agreed the sale of my wing, so expect to be finding something different in the next few weeks. Perhaps not very different.....

For a variety of reasons, we didn't all get to fly at every site. Young Jeremy Soper displayed a commendable desire to fly as long and as far as possible at every opportunity, and is surely a force to be reckoned with in the future of UK hang gliding. The rest of us old dogs just took the days that seemed to offer good and pleasant flying, and were each rewarded with some memorable flights.

When rigging for our last day at Bassano, I found a crack in one of my upright fittings, and elected not to risk it breaking in flight, unfortunately missing out on Gary's best day of the hols. You can't win them all..... Roll on the forthcoming paragliding trip to Slovenia with the South Devon Club. I really must do more paragliding!

Still, this was another great flying trip, and I feel that this photo sums it up rather well:-

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