Saturday, December 09, 2006

Frozen, just for one.

It's been over 6 weeks since I last flew my hang glider, so I wasn't going to give up the chance to fly today when the weather turned out to be flyable.

It was cold, but the wind was light, and only slightly off the runway. The only thing that I didn't like was the muddy fields. Rain had fallen overnight and the fields were still water logged, so it meant we had to make sure we landed on the 15m wide runway or else we ended up in the mud!

After waiting for about 6 other pilots to get towed in the air, it was finally my turn, as usual I was little nervous as I waited for the winch to get ready, I gave the go ahead, took a few steps and was airborne, about 100 feet in the air I went to release the first line so the second line could tow me higher, but the line broke, so it was a very short flight. The second flight was much better, as I got to about 1500 feet, the highest I had been on tow, and I had a great flight.

I wanted more, so I launced a 3rd time, but again the line broke at about 150 ft, so I decided to call it a day.

If you don't quite understand what tow launching a hang glider is like, look at this Video, which should make it more understandable. Notice the parachute attached to the line drop a few feet as the pilot rises in the air, that is the first line being released, as the grass was wet today, the weak link (a safety feature on the line), tends to break much easier than when it is dry.

Talking about videos, there is still time to vote for my hang gliding video to get on US TV. Please take the time to register and give it a greenlight, getting the clip on TV would help with the publicity of my challenge.

It looks like today was the last day I would fly this year, as my Saturdays will be taken up getting the Christmas shopping, so I'll wish you all a happy Christmas, and hope to see you all in the new year.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Flying high in the US.

I will be if you help to get my hang gliding video on national US TV by giving it a greenlight.

Registration is required, but the details taken are minimal.

Friday, October 27, 2006

11th Flight and the BBC

My last hang glider flight was on Saturday the 14th October 2006. The forecast for the day was light winds straight down the runway, with clear skies overhead. I was thus looking forward to increasing my number of flights, so far I had 10, 7 from my independance day visit, and 3 from a visit a week later.

I also was planning to take some video footage of me flying, so I was bringing along a cameraperson to capture the moments on video.

By the time I had got my 2 children that were going with me ready, picked up the cameraperson, it was past 1:00pm in the afternoon, thus I didn't get to the airfield till 3:30pm. On arrival at the airfield, the weather was not quite as forecast, the weather people got everything right, except it was very overcast, which meant no thermals for the advanced pilots, and there were quite a lot of pilots that turned out that day, so it was taking long for everyone to get a hang glider flight.

It was almost 4:30 pm before I finished rigging the hang glider, checked it out and it was my turn to fly. The launch was pretty un-eventul, I enjoyed the short flight but ended up landing slightly crosswind, and on the wrong side of the field, so my cameraperson missed the landing.

After waiting for another 30 minutes or so, it was time for my second flight, I launched, as the winch pulled me up in the sky, I released one of the lines attached to the glider, so I could get higher, but both lines gave way! I wasn't high enough to do a circuit, so I just landed at the other end of the runway. It was getting dark now due to the heavy cloud cover, so I knew it was time to call it a day. I was disappointed, as I had only managed one decent flight. I just hoped I had enough video footage to put together a nice film for the BBC.

A few days later, I was able to review the footage, and put together a short film about my hang gliding activities which I submitted to the BBC, so the day was not totally wasted. I'm also putting together a different film, also about hang gliding which I will submit to a US TV station.

A copy of the video I submitted to the BBC is on YouTube, you can view it below.

For those of you that don't have access to YouTube, try the version posted to Google.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Hang Gliding Blog Hijacked!

Having had my hang gliding blog for over 18 months, I was disappointed when recently while updating one of my flying blog posts I found out I could no longer update or post to my blog url.

Over the last 3 weeks I have been trying to get to help me, but all to no avail.

The last stroke came yesterday when someone finally made a post to my old hang gliding blog url (some of you might have received the feed update by email).

I have moved my hang glider diary and amended the feedblitz feed so you should only get my hang gliding updates from now on.

As for my hang gliding adventure, so far I have had about 9 short free flights as an independent tow launched hang glider pilot. I'm hoping to be out this Saturday hang gliding weather permitting, and will also have someone shooting some video footage for me so I can put together a short clip for an American internet TV station.

I still have some more work to do before I'm ready for my third and final hang glider training course which will see me converting to powered hang gliding. If all goes well, this autumn/winter will be enough for me to gain the required experience, so I'll be ready by early 2007.

I'll keep you updated, so for those of you that don't check here regularly, why not use the subscribe option on the right so you can get email notification of hang glider updates.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Hang Gliding Independence Day

Rigged Airwave Calypso hang gliderThis is about my first few independent solo hang glider flights at my gliding club the Suffolk Coastal Floaters hang gliding club on Saturday the 9th of September.

The weather forecast for the day suggested a moderately strong easterly wind, so it looked like a fair day to get in air, and for the first time totally be pilot in command, no gliding instructor telling me what to do. Obviously the club has coaches who look out for new members, and guide them through their early flights, so I wasn't on my own nor would they allow me to fly if conditions were not suitable for my skill level.

I arrived at the Mendlesham flying airfield shortly after midday, and had to wait for other members to arrive (I was obviously keen)! Two hours later everything was set up, and I had rigged and fully checked my recently acquired Airwave Calypso aircraft. By now I was feeling apprehensive and nervous about the whole thing. I was flying with people who I'd never worked with before, and the hang glider was also new to me! A few of the more experienced pilots had already had a flight, and the report was that the air was smooth, so I was advised now would be a good time for a flight. I moved my glider to the launch point, carried out my pre-flight checks, hooked up the towline to the my chest bridle, had a briefing from one of the coaches, and was ready. I informed the launch marshal to ask the winch to take up slack on the line, went into the hold position, checked my wings were level, and ordered 'All out' to begin the launch. Within a few seconds I was in the air, but things weren't going well as the glider was off the towline veering left, and I wasn't on top of things, so the winch operator cut off all power, and I came in for a landing. I probably got to about 40ft on that one! The coach came over to explain that I had dropped a wing just as I launched, hence the direction problem.

There was still a lot of runway left, so we decided to launch from where I had landed. This time I got off well, and was rising in the air, but I was struggling with the glider to keep it pointed at the winch. I got to about 100ft or so, and decided to release the top line, went for the release hit it, and the glider veered off to the right, I noticed the loss of tension on the line, so I knew I was in for another landing. The line was still attached to my glider, so I released it. This time I had a longer glide down to the ground. Analysis was that I was flying too fast (probably due to that fact that I was tensed up, and thus all my correction movements were exaggerated. I now faced a long carry back to the launch point, which was about 150 metres or so. by the time I was almost there I was totally exhausted, and was very grateful to Paul a fellow pilot who offered to help me with the final 20 metres. I had a long rest, while I mulled over what had gone wrong, and the words of encouragement from all the pilots around who could see from my face that I was disappointed.

Airwave Calypso Kingpost with BHPA red ribbonOne and a half hours later I was ready for another flight. I was still nervous, but knew what I had to do, and this time I got in the air, and had my first complete flight. I was still tense, but not as when I started, and by the time I released my glider from the tow line, and was free flying, I could relax a bit and start to get acquainted with my glider. A few minutes later I was on final approach to land, a pilot shouted 'pull in', I responded and landed without any problems.

I went on to have 4 more flights, all of which went without incident, the last one of which I specifically requested even though the winch man was about to pack up for the day. I was now happy with the glider, and just need to gain a bit more confidence in the launch process, as I still feel a bit nervous each time I hook the tow line onto my glider.
I am now looking forward to many more days of flying as I gain airtime and experience in preparation for the next milestone of my hang gliding adventure challenge.

To see how hang gliders are towed into the air at the Suffolk Coastal Floaters Gliding Club, play the video below.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Hang Glider flying in the Air!

Hang Glider Training in Norfolk

Tuesday the 22nd saw me going to Norfolk to meet up with my hang gliding instructor Tony Webb who normally returns to the UK in the summer, and trains hang glider pilots from his Norfolk base.

I had not flown a hang glider since December 2005 when I got by club pilot hang glider rating, mainly because I didn't have a glider of my own, so the trip was to refresh my skills, but I also wanted to take the opportunity to do a chest bridle conversion, as this is the type of release method used while tow launching a hang glider at the Suffolk coastal floaters hang gliding club where I will be flying from next month.

After a 2 hour drive from London, I arrived at the Fransham farm airfield from where the hang gliding tuition is conducted. After saying hello to Tony Webb, I met Rona, completed the necessary paperwork and was ready.

The first task as always is to rig (prepare for flying) the hang glider, perform the daily inspection of the aircraft to make sure it is airworthy, and there is nothing that requires attention or would make the aircraft un safe to fly.

On completion of this task, I put on a hang glider training harness which has the chest release fitted, carry the glider over to the launch point, where Tony briefs me on the new method of attaching the tow line to the pilot, and the differences it will make to my flying. I am now ready for my first flight which is a low level (20ft) flight to get me used to the chest release as well as remind me how to fly a hang glider. I hook myself into the glider, perform my pre-flight checks, Tony then attaches a single line to my chest via the bridle, I pick up the glider on my shoulders, level the wings and tell Tony I'm ready, and he tells the winch operator "all checks complete, take up slack", the line tightens a bit, I call to Tony "Stand By" which he relays to the winch, the line stops pulling, I check the wings are still level, the hang glider nose is at the proper angle of attack and the wind direction is still correct and call to Tony "All Out", he relays, the line starts to pull, I keep the hang glider control bar pulled toward me as I accelerate forward, a couple of steps and I'm airborne. I shift my weight to keep the glider pointed at the winch, and before I know it, the flight is over. That wasn't bad, but it was hard work, as the I had to work much harder to keep the glider pointed at the winch while being pulled from the chest bridle. I had 3 more flights, the last 2 being up to about 80ft. It was now past noon, and the sun was out, and the thermals were about, making the conditions not idea for training, so Tony called time for lunch, and we'll resume I the afternoon around 4pm, when the conditions would again be suitable for training.

I take my packed lunch back to Tony's chill out caravan where I quickly consume the contents, as I need to try out some harnesses to see which one will fit me, I'm looking for one to buy one that I can use when flying with the Suffolk coastal floaters hang gliding club.

With the help of Stephan the winch operator and the hang simulator I settle on a used purple pod harness. Tony turns up a bit latter with my new reserve parachute, and fits that to me harness (this is one piece of equipment that I hope I never have to use), I already have a chest bridle, so I now have the minimum equipment that I need to be able to fly with the Suffolk coastal floaters hang gliding club, so there is no reason why I shouldn't get some airtime and gain some more hang gliding skills in the club environment.

After the lunch break we (there are some other students there as well) meet Tony at the tow field, and I'm ready to try out my newly acquired equipment. The first thing I notice when I put on the harness is how heavy it weighs. The increased weight is obvious due to the reserve parachute in the front.

The first flight is to 80ft just to make sure I'm happy with the harness, and still remember what I was taught in the morning session. The flight goes well, with the harness not causing me any problems.
The next flight is high one, with the flight plan calling for a circuit of the field once I get to the top of the tow and release the line. This is the first time I'm going to have both line attached to the bridle, so Tony mentions that I should release the top line using the top lever and the bottom lever when I get to the top of the tow.

The launch goes well, and I climb out to about 100ft, where it is time to release the top line, I pull in the control bar, my left hand goes to the middle, and my right hand goes to my chest. "Twang", I see both lines fall away! I had done a double release. I glide down a land, and sigh, as I now have to wheel the glider a long way back to the launch point.

15 minutes later after I get my got my breath back, and go on to have more flights, this time I'm able to do the circuits as Tony gives me a tip to help stop double releases, though I'm not totally happy with my landings. It is now late, so we pack up for the day, and I have to make the 2 hour drive back to London.

Wednesday 23rd August
Having ended yesterday on a good note I was so looking forward to the day.
On the way up to Norfolk, there was a traffic jam on the motorway, this lost me about 15 minutes. Part of the journey to Norfolk takes me past RAF Lakenheath, an American airbase where they have F16s stationed, so I stopped at the viewing area to see if I'd get an opportunity of seeing a F16 take off, after 5 minutes it didn't seem they were taking to the air soon, so I left.

As I got to the training field, I was happy to see that the glider I used yesterday was already rigged, this would save some time getting airborne. As I approached Tony mentioned that rain was forecast for the day, so he had rigged the glider to save time. I got ready, did my daily inspection, carried the glider to the launch point.

The first flight was supposed to be a simple 80ft release job just to make sure I was awake, I launched, the glider climbed, about 40ft the glider started veering left, I was caught napping, I knew I was going to get on top of it, so I released, and belly flopped to the ground, letting go just before the left wing impacted the ground.
The second flight was only slightly better, as I released, but again I veered left, and while I corrected it, and the glider stated going back on course, I didn't have enough height, so I ended partly in some hedges. It seemed I wasn't keeping the bar pulled in enough, and was allowing the glider to balloon up as I climbed. So I needed to keep the bar pulled as I climbed, and once at a safe height, I should left the bar out very gradually to avoid ballooning.
Tony decided for the 3rd flight I should go for a circuit, and this time everything went according to plan.
I had 4 more flights before we had to stop due to the threat of rain called a halt to proceedings for the day. One abort due a slight veer to the left, the next I double released, and the last 2 were good circuits.

It is raining today, so I can't go back today, and I'm back at work tomorrow. I'll see if I can get another day off before Tony Webb goes back to Spain the 1st week of September.

I wasn't able to take any hang glider pictures, so sorry for the long post without pictures to break it up.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

My Airwave Calypso hang glider

Airwave Calypso hang glider partially riggedYesterday I picked up my Airwave Calypso hang glider from a member of the Suffolk Coastal Floaters hang gliding club. It is a used glider, but is in very good condition, and I am looking forward to flying it in the Autuum.

I had the oppoutunity of rigging up the Airwave hang glider, and Phil one of our club members also checked it out for me, and gave it a thumbs up.

I have 2 days booked with my hang gliding instructor Tony Webb of Lejair in Norfolk next month where I will be converting to a chest release which will allow me to fly with the Suffolk coastal floaters hang gliding club. Not having my own glider has meant that I haven't flown a hang glider since I qualified as a club pilot in december last year, so I will be using the 2 days to polish up my skills and get used to the chest release and harness which I should get before my scheduled training in August.

My next update will be in August when I've had my training so check back then for more details of how I'm getting on, or subsribe to my hang gliding blog by entering your email address in the box provided to recieve an email when my next update is posted.

Phil checks out my Airwave Calypso hang glider

Monday, July 03, 2006

I haven't given up!

Anyone visiting this blog recently might wonder from the lack of updates, if I had given up on this project! Far from it, the dream is still alive and kicking in my mind, however due to busy family and work commitments I haven't been able to do anything recently.

I have purposely refrained from unnecessarily posting on this weblog, as I want it to reflect a true picture of how the project evolves, the ups and the downs, the progress and the lack of progress, so that in the future anyone wanting to embark on their own adventure could have an idea of the realities of life. In my dream when I conceived this idea, it didn't take this long for everything to fall in place!

I had been saving up for a glider over the past months, and was hoping that by the end of next month, I would be able to get one, but unfortunately for me, I've had to divert the funds to a more urgent family project. I have however booked, and will still be attending some additional training with Tony Webb of Lejair hang gliding school at their Norfolk base, and all things being equal, will get my glider this Autumn.

Even though summer will be over then, I will still be able to get some flying in, and Autumn in the UK, is actually a good time for a low air time pilot to gain experience, as the air is much smoother (without the thermals), thus the pilot is more relaxed and can concentrate on developing those skills he learnt during training. It will be cooler, but at least I can dress warm. Unless something major happens before August, my next update will be during my Norfolk training trip.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Hang Glider Flying in Suffolk

Suffolk Coastal Floaters hang gliding club photo 1I finally was able to make it down to Suffolk for the first time this year yesterday to see pilots of the Suffolk Coastal Floaters hang gliding club do some flying.

Unfortunately I was not able to perticipate myself even though I have my CP hang glider flying rating, I had not done a chest release conversion, did not have my own hang glider, and the conditions were not good for a novice pilot anyway. I was able to keep myself busy by taking some video footage, and chatting to the glider pilots. My turn will come soon, so there is no need to be in a hurry.

Suffolk Coastal Floaters hang gliding club photo 2A full report with hang glider flying video footage will be posted later.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Thwarted by the weather!

I had hoped to visit the Suffolk Coastal Floaters Hang Gliding Club at Mendlesham to see some hang gliding and familiarise myself with the site and learn the flying circuit, but the weather today was not on my side!

The wind was not quite co-operating and there were threats of rain later in the day, so nobody was willing to bother coming out, neither was I going to drive almost 2 hours if there was no certainty of me seeing some action.

As you've probably noted the updates on this blog are not regular, as I will only post when something happens, so why not make sure you don't miss anything by subscribing to the blog either by email (enter your address in the box to the right), subscribe to the RSS Feed with your favourite newsreader or subscribe using Bloglines.

Spring is here, with hopefully more good weather round the corner, and I shall be seeing some action. I also hope to be getting a glider too, so I will be able to participate myself as well.

Monday, March 06, 2006

I'm not hanging mad!

A lot of people who know about my challenge seem to think that I'm insane. Nothing could be further from the truth. Hang Gliding is a safe sport, has been around for over 30 years, the aircraft is very safe and reliable, and with proper training can be enjoyed by people from all walks of life including Africans, and there is nothing about tempting fate just because you fly a hang glider.

If you are looking for some thing insane, then check out Jeb Corliss, he is going to be attempting to jump out of a plane with no parachute, and hope to land safely wearing only a wing suit. The risks involved here are much greater, but even then, I'm sure he is only doing it because he thinks it is possible.

On the other hand some people say I'm Blog Mad, that is a bit harder to deny, but I'm finding that time is very scare to do all the things I need to do, look after a family and earn a living. If you need a Blog Mad invite, let me know.

I'm looking forward to some more publicity in the coming weeks for my adventure, as well as the prospect of flying with the Suffolk Coastal Floaters and gaining experience from the many pilots around the world via websites and other means of communication.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Hang Glider Training Video

Here is a clip of me training to fly a hang glider in Spain.

High quality versions are available below:

Quicktime users can click hang glider training video.

Windows Media Users click hang gliding training video.

If you are also thinking of learning to fly a hang glider, I would highly recommend my instructor Tony Webb who operates in Algodonales, Spain.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

I need your help please

I have started a major campaign to seek sponsorship for my forthcoming challenge, and now need your help in two ways.

If you or your company would be interested in sponsoring my wing or contribute towards the costs of making this dream of mine come true, then please have a look at my sponsorship proposal, investments as little as £100 are welcome, and you will get your logo and a permanent link to your website on my sponsors page. There are other incentives for larger sponsors.

The other way you could help if not making an investment is by helping spread the word about my challenge to friends and family or putting a link on your blog/website, and if you know of anyone whose company might be interested in sponsoring this challenge, then please contact me.

I will be doing another press campaign later in the year, to gain even more publicity.

Don't forget to subscribe to this web log either by email or using your blog reader so you can get notified of updates as they happen.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Hang Glider One year ago!

Hang Glider Adventure

It is one year since I dreamed of flying a hang glider across the UK.

When I came up with the idea, I had not physically seen a hang glider before, let alone fly one. Since then I have learnt a lot about the sport of hang gliding, have obtained a flying club pilot rating and flown a glider off the top of a 2,500 feet mountain.

While I'm still not ready to take on the hang glider challenge yet, my idea is no longer a pipe dream and I'm much closer to fulfilling the dream now than when I started out in 2005.

Safety is one of my main concerns, and I have learnt from several people that you should never be in a hurry in this gliding sport, so I intend to make sure I gain enough experience to keep me safe when I attempt the challenge and also increase the success rate. So once I get my hang glider flying kit, I will be gaining experience by going out there and enjoying the sport and improving the skills I've already learnt while picking up new ones.

I look forward to the challenges that lie ahead in the year, but if I could over come the hurdles I encountered in 2005 (particularly when it seemed that I was not going to get through the hang glider training due to various issues), then I'm sure at the end of the year I will have more successes under my belt.

Check the hang glider milestones of my progress since I started out in 2005.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Subscribe to get email notification.

Due to an administrative error on my part, I accidentally deleted all subscriptions to this blog, so if you subscribed in the past, could you please re-subscribe by entering your email address in the field provided on the right.

If you have not subscribed, and would like email notification when this blog is updated, then you can also subscribe using the form.

Please note that I don't personally hold your email address, the service is provided by, and your email address will only be used to notify you of updates to this blog and nothing else.

I have changed the service from which led to administrative error, as the service from bloglet was un-reliable.

I'm sorry for any inconvenience, but hope that the service by will prove to be more reliable and you will be able to follow my progress on this hang gliding challenge.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Hang glider plans 2006

Having now qualified as a hang glider pilot, the next objective is to get as much flying experience as I can and then do my powered hang glider training, but there is one main obstacle in the way, lack of equipment!

So the first goal now is to gain sponsorship for my hang glider challenge. I will now be approaching the companies I had in mind to see if I can get someone interested in the project. If anyone out there knows of an individual or company that would be interested in sponsoring my gliding project, then please get in touch. I reckon I will need about £10,000 for equipment and logistics.

I have put a hang glider sponsorship proposal together so if any of you marketing gurus out there have any ideas that will make it more appealing to companies, your input will be appreciated.