Spring has sprung 2017

Steve Purdie's picture

I'm sure there's an echo in here? here? here?


Do not spend £200 on an EN1077 class B helmet as that is far too much for a chamber pot and that is the only real use for such an artefact. Meager head fairings are the sole preserve of those with meager heads...

When did YOU last pack your reserve? I recommend a 3 month cycle – it makes a huge difference! If you fly a two-liner I strongly suggest that you fit two reserves, repack them frequently and practice the twin handle swimming stroke every time you fly.

Land on your feet. No other part of your anatomy is designed for this and therefore anything else is an unnatural act.

Once upon a time in the Southern Club there was gentlemanly behaviour in the sky and it was Good:

Pilots on the ground were aware that they are the lowest form of aviation and justly gave way to all those above them, even if they were actually below them. They even looked to check.

Pilots thermalling were conventionally given right of way and ridge soaring pilots would turn back before interrupting the thermalling pilot's 360. The thermalling pilot would however not impact upon the soaring patterns of the ridge soaring pilots as he would know that he was more skilled and was better placed to avoid them.

When it was seen to be getting too busy, pilots would either thermal away or gracefully bow out after a few minutes ridge soaring to allow others the chance to do so. We would often land unbidden to allow a waiting group of hang glider pilots free use of the sky. It would usually take only a few minutes before they were high enough to permit usual service to resume.

Fly predictably and telegraph your next move as clearly as possible. I'm not saying give hand signals, though that is not a bad idea, just make it obvious where you are planning to go and try not to make erratic course changes when other are in close. Also try to predict what other pilots may want to do.

Avoid flying line abreast and thereby creating a wall of cloth (a curtain?) which oncoming traffic struggle to avoid.

Please don't sit just behind and outside a ridge soaring glider as this effectively prevents them from turning back, almost as if you were overtaking them on the outside. If you are closely following another ridge soaring glider, aim to be directly behind or better still towards the ridge, regardless of aircraft type.

When top landing, get your glider pointing into wind, even if you have already landed. This will slow your progress across the ground significantly and may save you having to explain yourself to an irate pilot who's laid out wing you just trashed. With a paraglider it is never too late to be able to turn into wind, just too late to choose to do so. By the way, hang gliders can cost the best part of £20,000 nowadays. You have been warned!

When slope landing, or actually any landing, if the ground speed seems high it is! Either turn out and fly to the bottom or make a 180 degree turn and land in the opposite direction. There have already been three broken limbs this spring, all to experienced but rusty pilots failing to do just this.

If it is too crowded for you, don't launch. If by launching you will make it too crowded for the pilots already airborne, don't launch. If it is too crowded for you and you are in the air, immediately make your way to a safe landing.

It is common courtesy for paragliders to slope land if there are hang gliders airborne and struggling to maintain height. The inconvenience of stopping your flight for a few moments hugely outweighs the inconvenience of being forced to bottom land a hang glider, with the attendant hour or so of de-rigging and rigging.

ANY pilot can call for a red ribbon half hour. You don't need to seek anyone's permission, though of course you will be expected to justify your actions to the growing angry mob of pilots waiting to launch. If in doubt, ask your Matt, your new red ribbon guruji.

Beware of the gust fronts associated with approaching rain showers and land in good time.

The biggest hazard, as always, is the human factor. You may have had a long lay off waiting for flyable conditions at the weekend. Consider watching the forecast and planning a midweek day flying. At this time of year the forecasts are pretty useless though, so be prepared for last minute changes of plan. In which regard, we are often subject to more wind than the Thames Valley, so do consider venturing further afield.

When you get to the hill, if it is too windy don't push your luck, the hill will still be there tomorrow! Remember, if you break yourself, you'll miss much more flying than a few minutes gale hanging... And the more experienced you are, the more it just becomes a numbers game.

The advancing sea breeze is often, though not always, betrayed by either a clearing of cumulus development towards the sea or by an advancing line of from curtain cloud to fracto-cumulus again with little or no cloud on the seaward side. The sea breeze can be very rough when it first arrives and is usually stronger when it first comes in, settling down after half an hour or so. As always, if you see a linear cloud feature approaching, if you are at all unsure, land and wait for it to pass.

At inland facing sites such as the Dyke or more so Ditchling, the advancing sea breeze will tend to back up behind the hill, then pour over in a big turbulent rush. No pilot who doesn't enjoy being tossed about like a cork in a storm wants to be in the air when this occurs so keep your mind open.

Air temperatures are still pretty low, so dress for altitude and fly far!

It is a pretty good idea to install Livetrack24 to your phone so that others can watch your epic XC flights online as they happen and would also know where you fell off the radar if the worst happened.

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