Freesteel Blog » Hang gliding Austria Expo 1990

Hang gliding Austria Expo 1990

Thursday, August 9th, 2012 at 8:46 pm Written by:

Even older photos have been unearthed, this time in the form of strips of negatives which I cut up and mounted into slide frames to trick the scanner into accepting them as legitimate.

The only way I could identify the year was from this photo on the right where it was spelled out with bier bottles.

At least this time we do have some records in the Austria Expo 1990 logbook:

13/7/90 | Journey out – Team Cavalier | Mark D, Francis, Peter S

I set off at 1.30pm on Friday. Drove to Cambridge to pick up Julian’s hangglider and found problem no 1 – the roof rack provided didn’t fit on the Cavalier. Fortunately I found an ancient roof rack in my parents’ garage which I managed to bend to fit (It was so rusty it wouldn’t adjust). Proceeded to Dover picking up Francis & Pete en route. Second problem appeared sometime after Dover – the car was drinking stacks of oil. Since lifting the bonnet to fill the oil up involved taking the hangglider fastenings off we had a rather trying time. Arrived eventually at 9pm Saturday evening, absolutely knackered. God, did I enjoy the beer in Hildas.

Neither I nor Mark S had gone to a place like this. After almost two weeks phoning up and hunting around for some sort of hang-gliding instruction, we finally realized that we were going to have to do it ourselves and take our lives into our own hands — with or without a parachute.


Mark taking off from the lower ramp

26/7/90 | Hanggliding | Mark S, Julian, Olly, Keith

Team Wings: Mark S, Julian.

Support crew : Olly (photographer), Kieth (chauffer), Wook’s car.

Finally made it at 11am to the Loser hut. I unfolded my wings and flew from the ramp. The ground flops down in ripples like a table cloth, stacked up with trees; your shadow skates across it and becomes out of focus. Unaware of quite how much 800m in height meant distance wise, I hovered the whole time above the landing field in Altaussee, the houses and trees refusing to get any bigger.

When we packed the hang-glider and drove back up, it was Mark’s turn as pilot. He was watched and photographed by a passing landrover load of cavers. Olly stayed in the landing field afterwards and got bored because we delayed for two hours and bought lunch in Loserhut as the air was too rough, turning umbrellas insideout and blowing other people’s food onto my plate. Tried to set off again at 3:30, but this was made difficult by a crowd of 50 spectators all getting in the way, making me nervous and heckling me as I tried to carry the glider up the road to the ramp. The air was rough, damn rough. Afraid the glider would disintegrate above the forest. The lake is simply beautiful to glide across at plus 500m. Mark did the final flight of the day and waved at some children on the beach, who waved back. When he began packing, he discovered what had gone ping! during the rigging in the car park prior to the flight: a rivet had disappeared.

T/A 15 minutes each.

This model of glider (an Atlas) was so old it didn’t even have free floating cross-tubes. They were braced directly to the keep at a junction box, with two uprights that were way too skinny as well as being, ahem, slightly bent from previous messed up landings. The battens were held in by velcro when they weren’t slipping out. And we were flying in a stirrup harness, which is like an apron with a bar on a string that you press your feet against so they don’t dangle down stupidly.


Julian on top ramp with Jeremy at the nose

2/8/90. | Hanggliding | Julian

Team Wings : Julian, assisted by Jeremy, not assisted at all by half the caving club, distracting, telling me to get on with it, admiring its aches and strains and cracks. Couple other pilots in carpark keeping well away and mumbling things about parachutes. On account of it all, had a shit take off and the glider started to disintegrate: battens springing out, left wing flapping noisily as a helicopter.

So decided to land as I was so awfully high. Jeremy kindly let me have another go. Picked up another hang-glider pilot and gave him a lift to his car whereupon he placed 40 shillings in payment on Rover’s front bumper.

This time the audience was smaller. A couple of young men with gliders on their car drove up as I was rigging, thought that the wind was shit, the glider was shit and they didn’t want to see any more of it. A couple of paragliderists were also walking all the way back down Loser, not flying, muttering something about kamakazees.

Which all goes to show it’s bullshit because I had a great takeoff, great flight (little rough the air though), got scared to go any higher when I looked for an instant down at the nose of Loser, so followed Rover along the road for some way. Some little muscles in my shoulders suffered in agony to make flying possible after a while, so I slipped off and landed. On my feet. Ground zero.

T o/g 1/2 hour

Those were the days.

1 Comment

  • 1. Mark replies at 19th August 2012, 7:18 pm :

    Those were definitely the days, my we looked young and completely ignorant of the risks we were taking!

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