Hang glider: Airborne 154 Sting 3
Harness: Aeros Myth 2
Camera: GoPro HD
On my first outing in 2013, I used a longer camera bracket, which I made the previous day. The work took most of the afternoon and I had already spent much time the previous year thinking about it, making drawings, and photographing the various parts and materials. One problem I have is that, because I do not fly in the winter, I have to keep a good record of work in progress so I know where I am when I resume the project the following year.
As before, the Afro/Zoot camera mount is attached directly to the leading edge tube. The Airborne factory installed an 18-inch long zipper parrallel to the leading edge just aft of the seam joining the leading edge material to the undersurface. (One each side.)
The new camera bracket holds the camera on its side, resulting in portrait aspect images. (The next two photos are heavily cropped because the camera was badly tilted.)
The south coast of England sustained an unusually large number of landslips in the winter of 2012-13 and the following spring. One such is clearly visible in this photo.
The wind was off to the west (to the right) so nobody ventured beyond the promontory.
The hill from which we launch is a little way inland and produces workable thermals, especially when the wind is slightly west. After launching for my first flight that day, I gained plenty of height above the hill by circling in lift. When I reached the cliff, I quickly climbed above all the paragliders except a new high-performance example that stayed at my height.
Although there were many paragliders in the air, I found I had no difficulty in working my way around them as I climbed up through them. The only scary moment I had was when a rigid hang glider approached head-on and, because of its slim shape and its colour matching the glare, I did not see it before its pilot took avoiding action.
This was a turbulent day at the end of May, 2013, at Bell Hill, near Blandford in Dorset, England.
The difference in aspect between the rigid hang glider on final and its shadow reveals that it is turning left. Its pilot is about to set it down on, or close to, one of the existing carry-forward tracks through the crop. We have an agreement with the farmer for this, the details of which change with the state of the crop. Therefore, check the club web site before you fly here.
This turbulent approach at Bell Hill reminded me of a tricky carrier deck landing at the end of a mission over North Vietnam in an F-4 — in Microsoft Flight Simulator…
I landed on one of the third pair of transverse tractor tyre tracks; between where the two carry-forward tracks meet it.
An early August day at Ringstead provided unreliable lift. When I arrived at 16:00 BST, several wings had landed on the beach including a high-performance hang glider.
I am particularly pleased that the USHPA used this photo to publicize the calendar in Hang Gliding & Paragliding; the world’s foremost free flight publication. For hang gliding photographers, getting a photo in the hang gliding calendar is an achievement. However, that is still on my list of things to do: You might think they would use calendar photos in the advert, but, bizarrely, in 2013 they did not.
I launched at about 17:00 and I stayed on the first ‘step’ cliff, which is within easy glide of the emergency bottom landing field, until I had gained enough height to move over to the main cliff while still within reach of the bottom landing field.
The wind began to veer to the west and, strangely, there was more lift over the shrub-covered slopes at the western end than over the cliff. The air was smooth and I climbed slowly but steadily into an increasing wind. I then tracked inland a little and I continued to climb while over flat fields. (Fairly flat; the fields in front of the launch hill.) This might have been an atmospheric wave effect, which I suspect Portland island generates.
Eventually I reached more than 900 ft above take-off. Flying into wind, I was barely moving over the ground. I was a hovering speck in the sky!
See my article Unexplained lift at Ringstead, August 8th, 2013.
A varied day at Monk’s Down: Widespread, strong, and long-lasting lift carried several paragliders skywards while I rigged my hang glider. It was the only really good lift on the hill all day, although some others eventually got away after cruising at ridge height for a while.
After a brief struggle close to the ridge I went to the bottom landing field, encountering major turbulence in the last 200 feet all the way down. I landed at the wrong moment. The surface wind was blowing away from the hill and I landed on the wheels. Because I was wearing shorts (I don’t recall when I last did that — if ever) I grazed both knees fairly badly.
Meanwhile, Rob launched in his Litespeed and was soon a speck in the sky. He flew out front, behind, a mile to the east and a mile to the west. The photo is grainy because he was so far away.
Rob’s weekday flying machine is a Royal Navy Lynx helicopter.
This year we again encountered problems communicating with the RAF low flying booking cell for raising warnings and NOTAMS for mid-week flying. My idea to streamline the process is outlined in Notices to airmen.