Freesteel Blog » Between the clouds

Between the clouds

Friday, June 20th, 2014 at 7:35 am Written by:

First flight since getting back from Austria at Llangollen. It’s a purely enjoyable waste of my time, which is why I need to rationalize my workload to make room for some essential projects that are more productive and useful. (Note: The dirty secret in our society is there’s not much overlap between productive and useful work and paid work.)

The flying is just clean fun. Not at all scary now. In fact, I wasn’t scared to bomb out on my first flight when the winds were too light for even the paragliders to soar. I got off in a thermal, circled close to the trees to about 80m above take-off, and then drifted down to the bottom field where I discovered that following the instructions in the manual on how to land in zero wind actually works:

The traditional method of landing in light or no wind calls for a sharp, aggressive flare at precisely the correct moment. This technique works fine when done correctly, but it’s not easy to get the timing just right. Flare too early and you will climb, and then fall with the nose pitching down. Flare too late and you won’t get the nose up enough to stop your forward motion, and the glider may nose into the ground as you run into it from behind.

[We recommend] a combination of a “crescendo flare” and a run out of the landing… [B]egin your flare by smoothly accelerating the rate at which you push out on the bar. At the same time, draw one leg forward, put a foot down, and start to run as hard as you can. This run should be very much like an aggressive take off run – your body should be leaning forward into the run and you should be driving with your legs. The difference here is that while you are leaning into your run and driving forward with your legs, your arms are extending fully from your shoulders, pushing out, and what feels like upwards, on the control bar in an accelerating, “crescendo” flare.

Ah, that old “traditional method” phrase, which means “doesn’t work”. Must use that more often in other applications. Sometimes we use the phrase “the classical method”. It strikes a political balance of telling someone they’re completely wrong, but they shouldn’t feel ashamed they were wrong because everybody used to do it that way.


I packed up, began walking up the hill only to be given a lift by some paraglider who had driven down specially for me. Very kind. No one was flying yet. I fetched car, put glider on roof, drove back to top, carried over and rigged. The turn-around time was a little over 2 hours, which is about how long I estimated we’d need to wait on the hill for conditions to improve. I saw the one visiting hang-glider into the air (another Sport 2), and then got away myself.


There was a low cloud-base with very weak thermals, but I got there. I even busted through one layer of clouds into a gloomy gap between them and was at the top of the stack for most of the hour. It was dreamy.

Meanwhile, at work, we’re still mucking around with a year of improvements to Adaptive Clearing. I remember I was going to do a little write-up on how we do toolpath re-ordering in Adaptive Clearing. It’s very simple, but probably more worthwhile to do when I’m no longer debugging it some of the problems created by it. Things just keep getting more complicated.

Update: Here’s the quickly edited video.

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