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The flying beach towels

Sunday, May 25th, 2014 at 6:54 pm Written by:

Like I was trying to make a very lame joke about the 80 Germans hang gliding competitors getting their gliders spread out on the deckchairs before the english person has woken up, but their launch window was 11:30am, which meant they all flew off and got out of the way before I was even thinking of being ready.

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I wanted to wait till the middle of the day when thermals were more reliable and required less expertise. Fat lot of use that did. Bombed out slowly in 44 minutes.

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I was the only hang glider in the bottom landing field. What an idiot. I packed up quickly, carried it over to the taxi rank, and then waited for an hour for a few more people to fill it. I bit my fingernails till they bled and texted frustrated expletives to Becka on the phone. The competition pilots were starting to land from having completed their 100 mile round trip task of the day. I was nearly crying. Back up top at 4:20, I was the only glider rigging in a completely empty field. Have to slow down and not make an assembly error. That would look even more stupid.

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Much happier. Straight up to cloudbase. Then, as the evening shadows set, I found some very weak lift on the south side of the valley and stayed up till 7:45pm as the last glider in the sky. No one seemed to care or notice. Not even Tom who could have taken a picture of my crappy landing had he looked up from his book.

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In the morning we decided to go do Frouenbach Canyon, rated as the best in Austria. One look at the terminal cascade and Tom said This is not going to happen. Must be the meltwater from the snow as there has been no rain.

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I went up, watched all the German pilots take off, then went at 1:20 and bombed out even more spectacularly through horrendous turbulence, not even making it to the landing field. Luckily one of the race organizers mistook me for a competition pilot and gave me a lift back to camp after telling me that I was “a very bad man” for landing in the field of uncut grass when I should have been up high.

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Here we go again. Straight up to cloud base and over to any mountain peak I chose. Is it me, or is it normal to be stunningly crap half the day, and then do brilliantly at other times? No one else seems to have this.

Then, later, it rained, and got ugly. I headed for the large backup field on the other side of the river and got picked up by a gust on the base leg of my approach and dumped into a ploughed field. One of the German pilots there came and shook my hand, for marking a thermal for him that he desperately needed to complete the competition task. Didn’t have anything to say about the landing. The competition only is all that matters to competition pilots.

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