Freesteel Blog » Nearly broke my beautiful glider

Nearly broke my beautiful glider

Monday, May 6th, 2013 at 11:48 pm Written by:

The Long Mynd hang gliding site is sort of on the way to LLandrindod Wells where we were going to bury grandfather’s ashes. He once owned a shop in Church Stretton nearby and talked about the gliders up on the Long Mynd in the early 1960s when he was out rambling. So it seemed like a good idea to go there and take advantage of the westerly wind.

Unfortunately at a wind-speed of 20mph, it was a bit breezy, so there were not many gliders there, even though it was a bank holiday. None of the pilots were local; the locals can pick better days when it’s going to be more fun. This was going to be a gale-hang. Two people had flown. Now it was my turn, having delayed until one of them had landed and could tell me the conditions (quite smooth).

Everyone had Wills Wing gliders similar to mine, not the fancy topless kind.

I had a good time — except for the landing. Actually, the landing was fine, it was the 3 seconds before it that weren’t so good. I should consult an instructor to work out what happened and whether the harness configuration needs thinking about.

I don’t know what I’m doing. At least the camera tells me my posture is terrible. You’re supposed to pull your weight sideways to turn the glider, but it looks like my legs go the other way half the time, which means I’m simply twisting and not shifting my weight anywhere. The picture shows me that the VG cord makes a difference to the flex of the wings, though I’m too insensitive to feel it because I can’t even tell the difference between turbulence and crap flying.

Also, this new flight computer doesn’t make much sense. I can plug it into an air speed indicator, and it thought I had already taken off due to the wind speed of 20mph, which was roughly the speed of the glider. When I pulled the bar in it could go up to 30mph.

The top graph shows that I immediately rode the rising air up to 350m above take off, then straight-away bombed back down before anything else happened. This coincided with my brief excursion north along the ridge in the right hand chart. Having lost all this height so quickly, and hated it, I hung out over the take off area for the rest of the flight, not wanting to risk going anywhere else again. A sailplane buzzed up and down the ridge below me. Much later another glider joined me, rising to my altitude in no time. It went along the ridge to the left and then back towards me, and was a lot more interesting to watch than my boring flight, according to Becka.

I want to go somewhere one day so I don’t just have map scribbles. But I don’t have the guts or the skill. I get all these notions when I’m on the ground, but it completely falls apart as soon as I take off. I’m sure there something obvious I’m missing out on. It’s like I’ve learnt the wrong shape of the air.

We stayed in a nice B&B on Saturday night, then in a not so nice hotel on Sunday night with the rest of the folks. Becka headed off early Monday morning for a scary caving trip in Pool Park with its heavy steel padlocked lid over a 100m entrance pitch (she dropped the padlock) on a nasty dry 9mm rope. Too scary for me. They call it a fear of heights, but it’s actually a fear of falling. The height is not a problem if you are flying, just as the depth of water doesn’t matter if you are floating. But if your hands are tied together and you are wearing lead ankle chains, then water gets really scary. I caught a lift to Cambridge for the day, and expect to be on a train home tomorrow night.

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