Archive for December, 2007

Another sunny day ‘up top’ in Scotland…. Foggy Bottom down below!

Friday, December 21st, 2007

Taking a ‘long lunch’ on Friday afternoon from a FOGGY Dundee saw me heading north to Craigowl to test fly Nairn’s new (2nd hand) DHV 2 Ozone, joined in the 4×4 by somewhat sceptical Nairn we were 2/3rds of the way up the hill and still in thick fog!

Alan had phoned earlier to say that (at that time) visability was Ok and he could see the back of the hill from about 15 miles to the north west where he was… so I was relying on the MET reports, local knowledge and Alan’s ‘mark one eyeball’…. and yep the “plan came together”…. Dig out the sun cream, a complete dome of blue sky opened up above us in about 100ft (vertical) further up the slope… by the time we were at launch level the fog was a few 100 feet below us!

It was intresting over the next hour to watch the ebb & flow of the fog ‘lapping’ around the hill, at times the gaps had fog flowing to the north and a while later flowing back south, with the valleys on both sides of the hill full of fog. Even the front of the hill while there was a steady east drift visible all the time, localy patches were moving in oposition to the main drift, useful to see how the air mixes on light breeze days.

So not much flying to be had, just a few short test flights, but one of those days just being on hill top was enough to make it a afternoon to remember!

 Murray Hay

Oh and the temp down at the farm was -3.5*c with about <100m vis in freezing fog!

Press cutting from Saturday 22nd December

Winter High Time….

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

After a FANTASTIC week of personal flying the weekend was looking to be a lot less intensive for me as many of the members & students were ‘booked’ to do family stuff, mainly involving a jolly fat man in a red flying suit! I wonder if he was telling Nair’s crew about some of his mid winter epic XC flights?

Sat was a meet up with just Duncan for the first of two days planned flying, taking the ‘student free’ chance to fly a favorite technical site of mine which as Duncan mentions in his post was a new site for him. From my normal parking spot it was a 5 min hike for Duncan to the ‘second site’ launch point of this split site (two owners, both requiring the private site to be ‘booked’) for me it was the shooting range cliff launch and then ‘jump the gap’ to fly along to the mid cliff landing zone, keeping the wing up to jog up the rock face to show Duncan the layout/pull up and launch areas for the day.

Due to the highly technical nature launches at this stepped cliff site mean even long term members need to go through the full site brief, however once in the air the flying here once ‘sussed’ is often very easy, the main issue on this day being the x-wind factor leading to fast down wind beats but easier launches and landings 🙂

 Flying was in lovely warm conditions with the inversion making it feel more like Autumn rather than mid winter, even the inversion haze was not an issues at it was mostly below the flying site take off and landing altitudes. Part way through the day then again at the end of flying we were joined up on the hill by one of the landowners and his son on their dirt bikes, as a 1,000hr GA pilot he often comes up to chat about aviation in general but is yet to have a flight on the tandem..

Checking the conditions at the top of Dundee Law, prior to meeting Duncan

Sunday saw Jonathan across to further build on the flying tasks he had been practicing at Morrone the previous weekend. the pickup loaded it was up to the low hill launch as the ‘top field’ part of the site was (at that time of the day) still below the inversion layer and almost still, but a couple of 100ft up at the low launch the windsock showed 10ft above the ground there was a nice steady 10kt wind almost directly up slope.

The first part of the day was taken up with JR practicing tricky “double bounce” launches with the wing on the ground only in about a couple of knots breeze… a delicate touch required! With steady progress and a lot of short flights completed… 2 mins back to launch point by 4×4 so no walking required 😉 Duncan arrived midday from the Aberdeen area, and it was now time to shift further up the hill to the mid launch area for a lot more flights & retrives, finaly another shift to the top area after 2pm, flying from where Duncan had hiked up to earlier.

The day was lots of good flights for JR, with the delicate launches and ground control all coming together nicely and the bigger flights giving him time to both enjoy the view more and work on turns and fine tuning both the variations in approach path and the landings (also getting better and better).

The last flight was about 20 mins after Duncan’s last one and the first one for JR from next the masts, with a bit of ‘air to air’ filming (shortly to be added to YouTube) it was a ‘hard’ cut back to the hill for me to spot in next the 4×4 to drive down and collect JR.

 A GREAT DAYS flying and training… the only issue being a wrong turn on the drive down resulting in the pickup being nearside ‘nose down’ in a BIG hole… (about 2 1/2 foot air gap under the rear wheel on the drivers side!) fortunately the trick with putting on the handbrake (to lock the rear wheels) put all the power to the front wheels and a drive back out of the hole! 10 mins later and a ‘alternative’ route saw the 4×4 down at the landing field to pick up JR and drive him back to the farm and his car ready for the long drive back to the west coast.

Murray Hay (VERY Glad for all practice driving 4×4’s while doing commercial photographic work on ‘off road’ courses over the years!)

A Blocking High – Two Weekend Days Flying for my First Time…..

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

Last weekend (15th & 16th December 2007) saw a blocking High Pressure system providing a light southerly over both weekend days. The anticyclone flow spirals in a clockwise direction in our Northern Hemisphere, hence the southerly air flow. In winter this is characterised by periods of ground frost and a low sharp inversion and this is what we have experienced even down here in London.

A check on the Met F215/F215 spot wind and weather was required. The temperature profile confirmed that the air temperature at higher altitudes was indeed warmer than at ground level.

I called Murray up on Friday from Heathrow and we agreed that a South Facing site south of Aberdeen and North of Dundee would be beneficial to both parties. Distance from homes and ease of access are significant to selection of a site.

After a call to Murray on the Saturday morning the Hill of Finavon was the meeting point agreed. Off the A90, close to Forfar, the site was closer to Dundee but a reasonable driving distance from Aberdeen. I headed South and spotted Murray’s pickup parked near the Finavon turnoff just South of Brechin.

We drove in convoy. Murray stopped to check the air and spotted a red squirrel running across the B-road. These creatures are quite rare. Native to Britain their numbers are dwindling significantly with the introduction of the American Grey squirrel.

redsquirrel.jpg

We watched the squirrel disappear up into the trees and carried on with our journey. We headed to a hill on which the Bronze Age Forts are located on the North side of Rescobie Loch. The location is about 2 miles North East of Forfar. This hilltop area saw a number of Hill Forts developed in the Bronze Age. Erosion has opened up the ground and exposed the rock and created crags and crevasses. Looked at the site you have to image what the wind does when it hits the rock. The location was unusual in that there are two distinct steps in the hillside, both of which can be ridge soared in the right conditions.

I had been to this site once before a few years back but had never flown there. Once on the top I set up and flew one beat and landed above the small slope. Watching Murray I realised I would have to fly nearer to the rocky outcrop to get into the lift band. Sure enough subsequent flights I was managing to stay in ridge lift. I had to scratch close to the ridge line and flew above and behind. The downwind beat was very fast and a tight flat turn was required to get back and into the slope again.

Conditions easer later on and the temperature started to drop. Murray set up and stepped off one of the rocky plinths, landing high.

My last flight went almost to plan where I did a beat on the top slope, followed by the bottom slope then down the hill landing in a grass field. I was very pleased with the day and for me another site bagged.

Murray has posted some of the video clips on www.ParaVideo.co.uk (YouTube)

duncan-turin.gif

On the Sunday I headed to Craigowl, one of the hills to the North of Dundee. I could see Murray’s pickup on the slopes highlighted against the heather stub. I parked up at the farm and the farmer asked if I wanted a lift up the hill. Well I could not refuse and off we went to meet up with Murray and JR, already on the slope.

I watched JR perform a number of take offs and landings. He is getting better having seen him work the slopes on Morrone. I walked up to near the top of the hill near the mast and took off to work the exposed rocks below the summit. Conditions were very light and I landed too far down. Murray and JR came higher up the hill. The pickup was being worked hard on the slopes providing retrives!

I had a few more flights where I did land high then had a good slope landing. I then advised Murray and JR that I was going to bottom land as I had a few things to do before catching an evening flight to London Heathrow.

Another good day out and my first weekend managing to fly both days

Have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year!

See you on the Hill in 2008….

Fly Safe

Duncan

Addressing Joe’s comments

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

Quote: Full of tales of broken lines and ground handling errors. Advice heard by no-one but the head-honcho himself.

Murray: During the day when necessary pilots were advised as to the issues both with the surface (exposed rocks) and the location of hazards (buildings/radio mast) in addition to the need to avoid the almost flat top area once the wind started picking up towards the end of the day. Are other posts/comments “full of tales of broken lines and ground handling errors?” Or do they simply mention in addition to the fantastic smooth and mellow flying the occasions when some lines were damaged and a pilot was dragged, in both cases due to location.

 Regarding ‘broken lines’ (as apposed to damaged outers) this was my understanding based on Joe’s comments made later as to “a few lines needing replaced”when he got in touch for my advice as to the best supplier of replacment line (Mike at The Loft).

Quote: Unseen maps and weather info.

Murray: Both were available at the pickup (on the hill top) and a number of the pilots in fact had their copy of the map in their harness/flying suit. NB. It is rare that we are out on the hills and I do not have printed weather information to hand in addition to the mobile internet access for updating the information.

Quote: Saving a pilot by talking him down on the radio.

Murray: Nairn (ex-BHPA student) has been flying and training with me for four months and has considerably more flight time and experience than many BHPA CP’s with several years in the sport, regarding this day it was only on the last flight, due to it’s new nature (first time ‘over the back’) and freshening conditions that he, as we had discussed was now flying with a radio as a back up should there be any problems with the mix of air we expected to find over the landing area. I would guess that Joe’s comments regarding Nair’s last flight may have been otherwise phrased if he had been more aware of the amount of training already undertaken. Nairn has a few ‘intresting’ stories about a certain Scottish BHPA school, familiar to Joe, his comments on their safety standards tend to match what I have heard from others including Joe….

Quote: Alas poor Iain however was not so lucky. He did indeed fall victim to a short scoot across the top of the hill. Granted, that part of the day is actually true. True, but not the full story. Unfortunately, because his ability sometimes takes a good kicking from his confidence, he does occasionally ask for a little assistance in high winds. Nothing wrong with that. Is there?

Murray: Joe asks the question on assistance, “Nothing wrong with that. Is there?” the fact remains that in the majority of cases “assistance” will in fact lead to the addition of extra “forth force” (or thrust) to the aircraft and as a result greatly increases the dynamic problems a pilot faces, human nature makes those near a pilot being dragged reach for the pilot/harness rather that assist by killing the wing.

This type of situation is of an even greater potential risk when the surface is snow or sand, a point I keep highlighting in safety training and had specifically covered that day.

Quote: On a more serious note, what I do wonder is, why every single person who did launch on Sunday suffered at least 1 big collapse?

Murray: Clearly I can not comment on Joe’s statement about “every single person” other than wonder why, if it is true, the individuals concerned did not mention this to me then or when speaking personally or on the phone subsequently when arranging this weekends training/flying, only Ian Archer on being specificaly asked (he was back up the hill in the landrover when I had landed so I only spoke to him today) said that he had encountered a number of collapses, he also commented that he would have no problem flying the same flight again in the future.

To the best of my knowledge both Alan & Duncan, who had decided to fly around via the north side encountered some minor ‘mixed air’, just as they expected, both are experienced pilots Duncan having re-trained back in 2003 and Alan over the last year. The ‘mixed air’ i belive was while over/near the wood at the back of the hill but based on comments to me nothing that caused any concerns to them. Chatting to Duncan Thursday, while aranging this coming weekends meet, he stated he in fact did not have any collapses… and with less lift at the time had landed on the east side rather than ‘over the back’. 

Quote: On an even more serious note (For those that haven’t been paying attention, that’s two serious notes in one article. One more and it’s called a rant) there does seem to be a difference of opinions as to the cause of the problems. Call it what you will, rotor, wave, wind-shear, whatever. There were definite wave patterns over the cairngorms. I definitely saw 2 pilots being forced down in their initial attempts to get over the back. Yes, there was a lot less wind in the valley than higher up on the ridge. That tends to be a major feature of being in the lee-side of the hill. Personally, I reckon there were indications of all three. But, what do I know? Air-detectives make your own mind up.

Murray: The area of rough air high over the landing area was a result of the mix of two masses of air, the valley air up to a couple of hundred feet above ground level was almost calm as indicated by smoke drift houses at Balintuim, above this the pressure wind was from the NW at about 10-15kts just as the forecast had indicated to expect towards the end of the flying day, on a personal level cutting low as I did I encountered exactly the conditions I would normally expect in these conditions/situations with the predictable results on a DHV 2/3 wing, modified or not! It is worth also mentioning that (I was the last pilot to launch) the wind late in the day at ground level was not “gusty” (at take off) rather simply a steady 15kts.

NB. At no time was there any indication of wave below and in the lee of Morone, from ten years experiance flying in these sorts of conditions/locations I would not expect either wave that low, nor rotor from such a smooth rounded ground shape.

Quote: Also, I wouldn’t imagine for a minute that ‘ he who wants to be obeyed’ would intentionally put anyone in harms way. However, the decision to allow a very low airtime pilot with less than a months experience……

Murray: I get BHPA ‘trained’ pilots coming to me with less than 5 hours airtime (often over several years) and they are regarded by the BHPA as “qualified”… while Nair (ex-BHPA) in FOUR months training and flying with me has flown on 15 days and is probably on about 30 hours airtime so far.

Quote: When you consider that trying to teach a beginner how to do big-ears via the radio is hard enough but to do so in such extreme turbulence and rapidly failing daylight and then have them attempt steep 360 degree turns with big-ears pulled in to get down, it really does call into question ones sanity.

Murray: It would do if that was in fact the case, as it happens it was not, I don’t know where Joe gets “steep 360 turns” from when in fact Nairn was doing 360’s and at times simple turn reversals, simply to remain over the same general area while descending in Big Ears, once he was below the lift from the ridge on the east side of the valley and into the near calm air it was a simple straight ‘no wind’ glide across the valley, passing with plenty of clearance over the river (to save the walk) to land next to me.

NB. as indicated by the shape of his path over the ground and down/into wind ground speed (during 360* turns) the wind speed Nairn was in was about 10kts while over the valley at height. 

Quote: Although, despite appearances to the contrary, we are NOT actually paid up card carrying members of the ESPC club, Iain and I have always been happy to meet up when invited and have had many a good day with some of the guys in the club. After this post, I doubt that it will be happening again any time in the near future.

Murray: I seen no reason why Joe & Ian would not be invited many more times in the future should they wish, both are safe in the air and are good company on the ground, the only concerns I ever have, have always regarding ground handling/layout & launch choices, exactly as I stated in my comment to Duncan’s post and in my own post.

Quote: However, it is hoped for the sake of safety, especially the fee paying publics’, that lessons from the day will be taken on board. Murray is a good instructor when he sticks to what he knows. As I’ve always said, ‘if you want to develop your ground handling Murray’s yer man.’ For everything else you have to make your own mind up.

Murray: In this as everything pilots should and will make their own choices, provided they are prepared to live (or not!) with the likely consequences, on that note personally I would never advise training that generates the accident, injury & death rates produced by the BHPA, I do not expect everyone in the sport to agree and as such no doubt sport wide we will continue to see the sort of accident rate I find totally unacceptiable.

Quote: Just a suggestion, perhaps actual training activities should be kept to smaller hills where local knowledge is greater and the conditions more forgiving. At least until the CFI has a little more experience on the larger hills.

Murray: Suggestions are always welcome, however with many 100’s of hours flying in the mountains in the Glenshee area, both solo and tandem, over the last ten years it is hard to see how much ‘more’ could be needed.

Quote: P.S I was going to include some photos of the day but every one I looked at had Murray in them. How does he do that?

Murray: Probably because I spent the day either tandem flying or assisting/checking pilots at the (advised!) take off location and often again at the retrive/LZ and the camera was pointed where the most activity was going on!

Murray Hay

Morrone or Moron?

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

Did anyone else read the comments added to Duncan’s post from Morrone last week and the subsequent article in the adventure blog? Did you wonder if you were really on the same hill? Full of tales of broken lines and ground handling errors. Advice heard by no-one but the head-honcho himself. Unseen maps and weather info. Saving a pilot by talking him down on the radio. Tales of heroic flying in wind shear that no-one else could have possibly survived – and not so much as a bead of sweat crossed his furrowed brow. Mmmm me thinks a certain canoeist isn’t the only one with selective memory problems. Certainly does make for interesting reading though and, personally speaking, I can’t wait for the movie.

Maybe I have a poor-ground handling doppelganger that was out defying gravity on Sunday. With both my and Iain’s recollections of the main events of the day seemingly at odds from those of the ‘senior’ club member it would certainly appear so. Nothing new there then! Just for the record though – I didn’t actually break any lines due to bad ground-handling and certainly have no memory of being ‘advised’ not to set up there – unless of course you count ‘building a wall’ as ground-handling. In essence, while waiting to launch, the sheath on 3 lines was in fact damaged by a small sharp rock. End of story. It was an easy decision after that not to take off. So, it’s difficult to understand the motivation for the critical comments made in response to Duncan’s post. Butt covering perhaps?

Alas poor Iain however was not so lucky. He did indeed fall victim to a short scoot across the top of the hill. Granted, that part of the day is actually true. True, but not the full story. Unfortunately, because his ability sometimes takes a good kicking from his confidence, he does occasionally ask for a little assistance in high winds. Nothing wrong with that. Is there? Pity for him though that, this time, his ungainly assistant happened to trip when a large gust came through, which in turn caused him to land unceremoniously on his right buttock and be dragged 20 feet across the slope. Is that bad ground handling or just plain bad luck? However as we all know that was nothing new and nothing any of us haven’t been victim to, or seen happen to other guys both in the ESPC and other clubs. It really was nothing of consequence, considering that there are no sudden drops anywhere within 3 miles. Something we had checked ourselves before setting up – no advice needed, but thanks for offering.

Once he had picked himself up; dusted down his pride and dragged his hitherto unflappable self-esteem out from behind a rock, we talked briefly about a quick repack and fly down. But, being frequent flyers on the big tops, we had both been in situations like this before and knew from previous misadventures that it was time to call it a day. Adrenaline flunkies that we are, the decision was quickly made that the window of opportunity had long since gone and we jumped unceremoniously into the first truck back down. Yeah right! More accurately, discretion was putting up the fight of its life and kicked the shit out of valour, so in reality we just looked at each other and said what we should have said over an hour ago, ”feck this fer a game of soadyers. Let’s get out the £*&” of here before it really goes tits up! ‘Rather wisely as it turned out.

On a more serious note, what I do wonder is, why every single person who did launch on Sunday suffered at least 1 big collapse? Some reportedly took 3 or 4. So, I’m not too sure if it says as much about the skill of the pilots on the day; the inherent safety in modern wings, or if it was just plain good fortune that allowed survival in such adverse conditions. However, thankfully lady luck was smiling on them and everyone made it back safely and gratefully to mother earth. Allegedly Nairn’s first words on getting back to terra-firma were, ‘Does anyone want to buy a wing?’, ‘One careful owner, complete with harness, and pre-installed brown stain!’

On an even more serious note (For those that haven’t been paying attention, that’s two serious notes in one article. One more and it’s called a rant) there does seem to be a difference of opinions as to the cause of the problems. Call it what you will, rotor, wave, wind-shear, whatever. There were definite wave patterns over the cairngorms. I definitely saw 2 pilots being forced down in their initial attempts to get over the back. Yes, there was a lot less wind in the valley than higher up on the ridge. That tends to be a major feature of being in the lee-side of the hill. Personally, I reckon there were indications of all three. But, what do I know? Air-detectives make your own mind up.

Also, I wouldn’t imagine for a minute that ‘ he who wants to be obeyed’ would intentionally put anyone in harms way. However, the decision to allow a very low airtime pilot with less than a months experience to fly in such conditions of extreme wave and on the lee side of the hill in rapidly deteriorating conditions was, to say the least, questionable and it is hoped lessons will definitely be learned there. If that was not bad enough, to allow him to do so without a reserve 1500ft agl – especially considering he had as yet no knowledge of descent techniques such as ‘big-ears’ etc borders on incompetent. Apparently, at one point conditions were so strong that even with big-ears on the poor guy was still going up! Talk about throwing some one in at the deep end. Hope it hasn’t put him off flying? I can only imagine that allowing a pupil to launch in such unfavourable conditions was due to either a total miss-interpretation of or gross ignorance of air conditions. A worrying thought, either way you look at it.

When you consider that trying to teach a beginner how to do big-ears via the radio is hard enough but to do so in such extreme turbulence and rapidly failing daylight and then have them attempt steep 360 degree turns with big-ears pulled in to get down, it really does call into question ones sanity. What is even more staggering is, that having done so, to then claim credit for ‘saving the day’ If I’m teaching someone to swim and throw them into a raging torrent and have to jump in to save them – am I a hero for rescuing them or a villain for putting them in harms way? Perhaps both? I can’t say I have ever been a big fan of these sink or swim techniques and can only hope that lessons will be learned and that student’s safety will, in time, be put before ego.

Although, despite appearances to the contrary, we are NOT actually paid up card carrying members of the ESPC club, Iain and I have always been happy to meet up when invited and have had many a good day with some of the guys in the club. After this post, I doubt that it will be happening again any time in the near future. However, it is hoped for the sake of safety, especially the fee paying publics’, that lessons from the day will be taken on board. Murray is a good instructor when he sticks to what he knows. As I’ve always said, ‘if you want to develop your ground handling Murray’s yer man.’ For everything else you have to make your own mind up.

Just a suggestion, perhaps actual training activities should be kept to smaller hills where local knowledge is greater and the conditions more forgiving. At least until the CFI has a little more experience on the larger hills.

Right I’m of in search of some new lines so I’ll just leave you with the thought for today.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing and can be a valuable learning tool when used constructively. And, for the more prosaic amongst us; when all around you seem to be flapping in the wind – Bugger of – sharpish!

See you on the dark-side.

Joe/Iain KMRT
(not affiliated to any paragliding clubs)

P.S I was going to include some photos of the day but everyone I looked at had Murray in them. How does he do that?

Logistics and other animals….

Friday, December 7th, 2007

As usual with club meet days the ‘day’ started for me a few days earlier, building to a peak the evening before with several hours on the mobile to try and ensure all those attending would be singing from the same hym sheet! As well as collecting Nairn’s wing in case he ended up with a walk up as family commitments ment he would be arriving late morning.

A lot more ‘mobile’ time on the morning followed on from the normal (FIVE THIRTY… AM!) MET office weather check and printing out, along with ensuring enough maps were printed from the Memory Map software of the flying site and landing locations for members new to this site (including ME!) this is done with an eye to the wind directions & forecast conditions.

Final equipment loading & checking all done and it was on the road to Braemar with enough spare time avaliable to drive around Morrone to assess the landings at first hand to the NE valley, an area I was not familiar with.

With the first batch all on location the estate Landrover driven by Barry and the club pickup loaded with wings and a couple of bodies started up the track, the plan being to get the first group sorted, checked, test flown on tandem (new site) where needed and then back down for Nairn, Joe & Ian etc. who were arriving about 11:30 – 12:00 ish, as it happened Barry did the second drive as I was teaching his older son Ryan on G-BZJI.

With the second group all on the hill top and Nairn, Ian Archer, Jonathan having had a check flight on the tandem, solo flying & training was the order for the rest of the day in very nice light smooth (and sunny) mild conditions, till just before sundown when, as forecast, conditions quickly started to pickup.

With solo flying underway Ryan, Barry’s older son to started tandem flying, getting two 15-20 min flights with most of the time on the controls (his first flight while Barry was driving the ‘second batch’ to the hill top).

Barry’s youngest (photos) son Lee up on the Philou 29 rigged as a tandem, as Joe who had had the wing on loan had brought it back which was perfect as Lee being only three would have been too light for the normal tandem gliders! Once Lee had flown a few times his dad, deciding he could not go home without having flown it was back to G-BZJI then a LOT more retrive driving and fitting in a few solo flights on students and my own wings.

 The final BIG fly down was delayed by a few problems (mentioned elsewhere!) so with Nairn high out front and starting to feel it was getting ‘intresting’ as soon as the Vertex was off the ground it was one quick beat to gain just enough height and cut back low over the hill… flying through the wind shear (NB. not rotor) and often passing instructions on the radio made for (I am told!) some ‘very intresting’ views of the TOP of my wing by those down on the ground at the LZ… still no Murray adrenaline was released (is that a scary thing?) but for safety I sent Nairn over to the far side of the valley (lift but better air) while I punched down to the river ‘jumped’ the water just and no more at tree level (don’t try this at home!) and ‘spotted in’ to a nice clear field suitable for Nair landing in.. on the radio and it was Big Ears and turns/360* for Nair to work his way down, at one point after letting the ears back out he was going up again showing just how good the performance of his wing is!

But pulling in the ears again and he did a very nice job of getting low,  so once below the wind shear (upper wind V very light/nil valley wind.. boundary)  layer he had a sweet approach to a nice nil wind landing… still buzzing, glad to be on the ground but very pleased with the Big Ears and turns… a short walk to ‘chill’ while Alan C drove me with the wings back to the parking at the bottom of the track 5 mins away..

Memo to self… land high!

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

Hi Guys

My 2p worth was an absolute fantastic fun day. The site was absolutely stunning (the photos don’t do it justice) and we all got plenty of flying time. My first solo flight was going great until I went for an extra beat along the hill. This resulted in a lower than intended landing…. which actually reads …long sodding walk back up the hill!! However I did learn from that and all subsequent flights resulted in intentional higher landings (ie less walking) which I was really chuffed about. Under murray’s watchful eye, my confidence is growing all the time and ground handling is starting to show signs of competence … although a lot more practice is needed. The final flight was originally intended to be down into the northern valley but an increase in wind strength knocked that idea on the head. Murray offered a tandem flight down with the others but I was very aware of the wind strength and my genereal fatigue levels so i decided to call it quits & drive the pick up down instead. With hindsight this was a wise choice following the Nairns exploits :)) It just goes to show, you should always follow your instincts … !!

As fate would have it this decision meant I was on hand to “assist” Ian with his drag moment. Now I know why we wear helmets!!

The drive home was another 3 hours in the dark in my open top westfield se7en with no heater …. the suicidal deer had me going but was nothing compared to the black ice moment near kirkmichael …. i was grinning all the way home. Fleece-lined flight suits are just as good in se7ens as they are in flight …… ebay is your friend :))

Many thanks to Murray & the rest of the guys for their patience with the newbie.

Jonathan
PS – Come on guys, where’s all the photos :)))

Sunshine and Snow on Morrone

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

Last Sunday 2nd December saw a large contingent of ESP Club members and Precision Paragliding Trainee’s up on the slopes of Morrone, one of the hills overlooking Braemar.Light winds were forecast from the NW. After phoning Murray for an update on the forecast I headed out the North Deeside Road. The temperature was -2.5degC at Aboyne. Mist had formed on the banks of the Dee, but Lochnagar was clearly visible when I got closer to Ballater.I was low on fuel and none of the petrol stations were open. This was 9.00am on a Sunday morning! I made my way to the Old Military road past the Braemar Golf course and waiting for Murray and Alan Coffin to appear.Ian Archer arrived with his friend Barry from the estate and also Jonathan in his Westfield Sports car with Nova wing on the back luggage rack. He must have been cold in an open top sports car!

We headed up the hill in the comfort of 4 x 4 vehicles. Walkers on the track looked on with envy. I shouted to the leader to “Get the Tea on when they got to the top” when we passed them on the track.

Barry, Ian and I were in the lead vehicle, Barry’s land rover. We stopped near the mast at the top and Ian and I got out and checked conditions on the ridge. The wind was blowing square up the face. I said to Ian that this would be the take off point. Murray had stopped behind us and popped his wing up to test the conditions. We headed back down to where Murray was parked them came back up to the same spot on the slope.morrone-temp.gifA few wings lifted off into the air. People were correctly shouting “Launching” on taking off. Alan Coffin got away early and maintained a good height above the slope. I took off and started my beats. I stayed in the air for around 40 minutes and only slope landed as my hands and fingers were very cold.

Murray was flying tandem and I remembered the rules of the air and always to look before turning. I was also looking above and below me. Remember the lower glider has right of way!

Joe and Ian turned up as well so there was Murray, Ian Archer, Alan Coffin, Joe, the other Ian, Jonathan (PUT) and Nairn (PUT). Also Ian Archers friend Barry and his two sons.

Everybody got some airtime (even the boys on the Tandem with Murray) and managed to stay high on the slopes. The vehicles were busy doing retrieves from the lower section of the bowl.

Later Alan and I decided to head down to where the cars were parked. I needed to catch a flight to Heathrow and conditions had eased. We took off almost at the same time. I headed round to the right of the hill and above the northern slopes. I did not get good height and had a tuck and tumble “arrival” near the telephone cell mast on the east facing slope. I made my way down through the soaking ground and saw Alan approaching with bags of height above the valley. He landed safely and we saw Ian Archer and Murray fly down from the bowl. Alan had got height above the Northern slope. I should have waited another 10 minutes…..

The others started to fly down. Murray had a few large frontal collapses as he had cut back very low. So the air appeared to be very ‘mixed’. Ian Archer approached the ground and Alan and I shouted up to Ian to look for the power lines close. Ian landed safely.

We saw Nairn who had been high out front of the hill approach well overhead and he appeared to be going up! We saw a significant collapse on one side of his wing and were all concerned as this was a Pilot Under Training (PUT). Alan jumped in his car and headed over to the area where Murray had landed. Nairn landed safely and Alan advised that Murray was in touch with Nairn on the radio and had received instruction, doing a number of 360* in Big Ears to drop below the lift area.

Murray advised me that Ian and Joe had an incident on the slope where Joe’s lines had got snagged and Ian’s reserve had accidentally come out of his harness as he was being ‘helped’ during a ground drag, both had been previously advised to set up for launch clear of the hill top location they actualy used. They opted to drive down in the pick up.

So a number of issues on the last flight down. Perhaps an earlier call to pack up would have been a safer and better bet.

I headed off looking for a Petrol Station. The Braemar Garage closed at 4.00pm and it was 4.05pm! I was committed to running on a very empty tank. I drove in 5th gear and kept my speed to a reasonable 50mph. luckily a garage outside Ballater was open and the tank was filled up again.

A good day was had by all but a few lessons were learned as well.

Take care and fly safe. Always check the forecast for the whole day….

Duncan