Saturday, May 28, 2005

Suffolk Coastal Floaters part Deux

I made another visit today to the Suffolk Coastal Floaters hang gliding airfield, I have formally joined the club as a non flying member till I get my hang glider Club Pilot rating.

They were having their AGM today, I though I'd get there early to see a bit of flying before we retire to the local public house for the meeting.

Unfortunately the weather was not on my side again, the sky was perfect, but there was the issue of the winds which varied anything from 5MPH to 22MPH.

I arrived at the airfield where Richard Hunt was already waiting, hoping things would improve, but unfortunately after about one hour, we decided the wind was not going to die down, so we left for the meeting place. I did however get a change to have a good look around the hangar where the member's hang gliders are kept.

The meeting itself went well, and at about 20:45 I left to begin the 1.5 hr journey home but didn't get home till almost 23:30! There was no traffic problems on the way, I just missed my turning of the M25 (junction 23), and didn't realise it until I got to junction 16 for Heathrow.

The next day turned out to be a better day for hang gliding, and about 33 flights were made. I didn't go, as I had to go to church.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Blown out!

As forecast by the weather masters, the wind was too strong for any hang gliding training today, so I wasn't surprised when I called the Green Dragons flight line and was told it was off.

I've booked Wednesday 1st June for my next hang gliding training.

I need to get my head round weather forecasting so I can better predict which days will be more likely to be flyable as I need to book my days off work 1 week in advance.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Twice Lucky?

Looking at the weather forecast, it doesn't look likely that I'll be able to have a hang gliding lesson tomorrow, the winds look very strong.

Being the UK, nothing is cast in stone, so we'll see in the morning.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Enter the dragon

Nothing to do with Bruce Lee, this is all about hang gliding.

Having had to endure 4 lesson cancellations over almost as many weeks, the British weather finally decided to give me a break.
Having called the flight line and confirmed that the weather conditions were suitable, I set off on the 1.5 hour journey to the training site via the M25 motorway.

On arrival I was welcomed by Andy Shaw the Chief Flying Instructor at Green Dragons and Trainee Instructor Eddie, there were 2 other students already there, with 2 others expected so we settled into the waiting room and watched a flying video. I later found out I was the only hang gliding student, as the others were learning to paraglide.

At 09:30 with no sign of the other 2 students we began the paperwork (I had to fill in a new student task book, but since I had photocopies of my Lejair training, Andy was able to have a rough idea of where I was supposed to be), followed by a safety briefing.

I chose a helmet and harness, picked up the Stubby hang glider and walked the long road (200m) to the training hill. This was the first time I had single handedly carried a hang glider, and it was the beginning of a morning of hard work. While Andy cleared the field of some obstacles see picture, I rigged the hang glider and performed my daily inspection (SWANK), Andy joined me later checked I had performed my inspection properly, asked what my pre-flight procedure was and I replied 'Will Geordie Have His Cat Abroad'. Once I had convinced Andy I knew what I was talking about, we went through a site briefing and the local weather conditions.

My first training task of the day was ground handling as I was not confident I could handle a glider under normal UK windy conditions.

I then proceeded to practise my hill launch techniques which was none existent as most of my flights had been tow launched. While pushing the glider up to the middle of the slope where I had been launching from, the wind flipped the glider over (didn't you start the day ground handling?), and had to wait for Andy who was teaching one of the Paragliding students to help me put it upright, he then gave me a few tips on keeping track of the wind direction and making sure the nose is always into wind.

By noon I had picked up the correct launch techniques, and Andy was happy to let me fly the glider, but first I had to get the glider up the hill (this is the bit I don't like), the last 50m was steep, and I couldn't move the glider (well I had been trying to out run the glider earlier perfecting my hill launches), so Andy kindly stepped in and helped carry it the last 50m where I again practised some more ground handling before taking of on a 15 -20 sec flight down the hill. I had a second flight from near the top of the hill, the wind by now was getting a little variable, and I had to wait around a bit before finally taking off for another 20 sec flight. The flights themselves were event less, and I was happy to know I hadn't lost any of my pitch or direction control skills, and the landings were very easy in the 5-10 mph winds.

It's time for a lunch break now, so we took an hour to eat and re-hydrate, hoping to be back on the hill around 14:30, however this was not to be as the conditions got worst being very termic, winds were much stronger and it remained so till about 18:30 when I left, I had waited that long because Wednesday was winching day for the Green Dragons Club, and was going to take the opportunity to have some tows in the evening.

I've now booked Monday 23rd for another training session, and am looking forward to working with Andy or one of his other instructors weather permitting of course.

one of Green Dragons' hang gliding training sites 

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

A fine Tuesday morning

I woke up this morning to a nice sunny day, clear skies with some scattered clouds. The UK metrology office website had forecasted scattered showers in the south eastern part of the UK where I would be training, but looking out of the window, I thought they had got it wrong.

Made my preparations, (lunch box, fly kit etc), and waited for 07:00 hrs to give the Green Dragons flight line a call.

At 07:05 I called the number it was ringing (normally goes straight to voicemail with the dreaded 'unsuitable weather' message so I had hopes it was 'ON' today), the duty instructor answers and I ask 'I was just ringing up to check if my hang gliding lesson was going ahead today'. Over the phone came the reply 'Un-fortunately the wind is not right, so all training is cancelled'. A check on the weather website shows an average wind speed of 10mph gusting to 17mph (so beyond trainee pilots).

With that I take my flight bag back upstairs, swap if for my briefcase (lunch box as well) and drive to the tube station where I catch the tube for work.

A fine day it turned out not to be.

ALUTA CONTINUA! The quest for a hang gliding Club Pilot rating continues British Weather 4 Shola Determined 0

The next training date is fixed for Wednesday 18th May at Green Dragons.

Friday, May 06, 2005

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Tuesday, May 03, 2005

May Bank holiday weekend

The weekend beginning Friday April 29th heralded 3 days of good weather, and while I was not able to go visit the Suffolk Coastal Floaters due to family commitments, I was constantly looking up to the sky and checking out those nice cumulus clouds thinking someone in a hang glider or paraglider will be having fun out there.

In the meantime I'm trying to keep myself motivated by reading about other people's free flying adventures on the internet.
I've also been watching a lot more programmes on the Adventure One satellite channel.