Flying in the Valley of the Green Dragons

Rather than head up to Aberdeen last weekend, I stayed down in London and planned a trip to the BHPA Green Dragons Paragliding School. Run by Andy Shaw the school is in Woldingham, Surrey about 20 minutes by train from London Victoria.

I spoke to Andy on the Friday evening and we both had the same opinion for Saturday that would see light southerlies. Andy suggested the site at Pilgrims Farm.

Saturday morning saw me take tubes and trains from Stratford with my Advance wing on my back. Good exercise walking down all the steps through Oxford Street Tube Station from the Central Line to the Victoria Line with a large bulky item!

I had a map of the site from www.streetmap.co.uk and picked up a taxi at Oxted, the next station from Woldingham. Heading through the countryside I saw the familiar paragliding shapes and bright coloured flying suites on the side of a small hill on the North Downs.

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The site was small by ESP standards. A mix of Club Pilots and Day 1 tasters were on the hill. I spoke to a few pilots and watched as some launched, went into short beats and landed.

I spend the next 5 hours having a great time pulling up, flying short beats, slope landing with the wing overhead and walking back up to start again. At no time did I gather my wing having managed to kite back up or walk backwards with the wing overhead. I find the Advance wing ground handles better than my Nova Aeron.

I was the last to pack up and got a lift back to Lewisham where I connected with the Docklands Light Railway.

I noted the various standards of the pilots. Clearly all the hours spent Ground Handling with PBM/ESP paid off. Only a few pilots had their wings over head and occasionally they looked behind to check on a reverse launch.

I offered some suggestions for improvement to a few who generally agreed with me. A friendly bunch including the Day 1 folks who were enjoying some extended flights to the bottom.

I hope to get back there soon and fly some of the other sites. The other opportunity at Green Dragons is for tow launching. I want to give it a go perhaps next time.

See you on the hill soon!

As always Fly Safe

Duncan

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