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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!


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.


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!

October In Algodonales

24.10.18: Just back from ten days in Algodonales with the South Devon club trip. The weather wasn't the best, but I had five or six flights to boost my confidence on a paraglider. The Cure is a great wing - plenty of performance allied to lots of in-built safety - and it looked after me very well.

The views at Algo are always stunning, as you can see from the top picture. Personally, I am not keen on the crowded take-off sites. The picture below was taken on a non-flying day at El Bosque, where there is only room to lay-out one or two canopies at a time. You can imagine the queueing when it gets half-soarable!

On one rather strong day on a similarly small sight we witnessed scenes of carnage as pilots (sometimes either guided or under instruction!) were thrown off a tricky take off. Three were dragged off to one side and smacked into a rock formation, but still the queue pressed forwards. Later, three consecutive failed take-offs resulted in gliders roosting in the trees, but still the hordes can forward like lemmings. Quite remarkable! My glider stayed in the car that day.

Three of our party of five chose to fly, and all showed composure and competence. This is James Bull, who quietly pulled out of the queue when things were rorty, then got off later in better conditions. Common sense comes in useful at times....

Don't get the wrong impression, though. Despite these unnecessary pressures and the relatively poor weather, I had quite a lot of really enjoyable flying, and there was plenty of space once in the air. The highlight for me was a late-in-the-day flight to goal (we had left our car on the "wrong" side of the mountain) which entailed climbing out in very weak lift. We were helped by a large group of about 20-30 vultures who showed us where the thermals were. Flying with these masters of warm air currents was always a delight, they being so polite and considerate whilst flying in company with rank amateurs.

Flying apart, it is also most enjoyable sharing time with the S.Devon mob. Roger, Chris, James and Robin were great company. "Col-leccio", that well-known SDevon intellectual and fitness freak, was on good form too, keeping our brains engaged and bodies toned at all times. As you can see:


9.10.18: Yet another flyable day at Beer, but this time it was warm and sunny all day. I was busy - demoing a used Calypso for a prospective customer and then flying my Cure demo to get a bit of airtime before going off to Spain for some flying.

The Calypso looked great, and flew every bit as well. I did the milk run to Sidmouth and back, and then top landed to chat to the customer. He just marched up and said "I'll take it!"

By the time I had got the Cure ready the wind had dropped off and people were going down. Resigned to my likely fate I took off anyway, and proceeded to stay up until the very last people were walking off the hill. What a lovely day!

My mate Mark Turner (who actually worked at the Flying Circus for a while) came out with his gorgeous Firebird Eagle 2 and took this stunning photo, which just about captures the feel of the day.

Flat Beer

4.10.18: The forecast suggested Beer would be clagged in, but reports came in that it was looking flyable, so I left the office and nipped down there with my paraglider. It was worth the effort, but much of my flight to Sidmouth and back was a bit restricted - wedged between the cliff tops and the rather low cloudbase. At times there was a band of only about 150 feet where I felt comfortable.

Later it improved, and at one point I had several 360's in a very nice thermal....until the cloud intervened. Gliders were looming out of the gloom like ghosts (believe it or not, there is one in the picture above) and after an hour I was beginning to feel rather cold. Time to break out the heated gloves, perhaps?

A Quickie....

25.9.18: With a busy day in prospect an improving forecast convinced me to shift a few things around, in order to get to Beer Head. I zoomed down on the motor bike with the Cur on my back, and managed to get about 40 minutes very pleasant soaring. Then it was a matter of scrubbing off the height to land, packing the kit, and rushing back home for an appointment I couldn't change.

Getting down wasn't easy, because there was copious lift under the clouds that were streaming in off the sea. If only I hadn't had to go home!

Desert Dreams

19.9.18: At this very moment Ollie Chitty is competing in the Santa Cruz Flats comp in the States, and is right at the top of the placings. The temperature over there is in the 40's, and Olly said he was so pleased to have taken the SMFC Speedsleeves that he won for his second place at the British Nationals in France. They're keeping him relatively cool. Go Ollie!

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