Back in the USSR
Steve the airline pilot was still (in 2015) flying the green Airwave K4.
Hang gliding and paragliding are dangerous. One evening at Combe in Berkshire, three paragliders were blown backwards into the hill in a gust of wind. One of the pilots was me.
I landed half a metre in front of one of the barbed wire fences that runs along the top of the ridge, and my paraglider wing lay on the track beyond. I looked to my left and saw another paraglider in the same position, but the wing was draped over parked vehicles.
Unknown to us at that moment, a third paraglider had impacted the hill lower down. Its pilot had a broken ankle — the bone stuck out — broken ribs, a fractured backbone, and a punctured lung. I met him some months later in nearby Hungerford and he was almost fully recovered.
See my paragliding page for more photos of this lightest form of manned flight.
HurricaneIn this photo by paraglider pilot Gail Otton I am crouching under my wing in the sport known as hang waiting. Meanwhile, Phil ‘ZZ’ Smith carries his dual hang glider forward. The man in the background explaining (with his hands) to the fellow next to him is World War Two Hurricane pilot Terry Prendergast. He was shot down by the Japanese and sustained serious injuries, but they did not prevent him going on to fly hang gliders and paragliders. He died some months after this photo was taken in 2006 and he was buried in a cardboard coffin made by his family to resemble a Hawker Hurricane fighter aircraft.
Stuart Martin took the photo showing the upper surface of my Discus when we were flying the cliffs at Ringstead in August, 2007. He was on board a dual paraglider, which enabled him to concentrate on photography while the other pilot flew the glider (which includes keeping a lookout for other paragliders and hang gliders at this sometimes crowded site).
Here I am being followed by a paraglider while another hang glider forms up on my wing.
Another air-to-air photo by Stuart Martin. This is Phil ‘ZZ’ Smith flying an Airborne Climax at Ringstead in 2006. (The borrowed harness is too large, hence the ‘air scoop’ above his shoulders.) Notice the several layers of orographic cloud. Such cloud can form quickly at Ringstead in spring and early summer. It is one of the dangers of this coastal cliff site. You cannot see when you are in the ‘white room’. In a hang glider, which has a different kind of stability system from a paraglider, you do not even know which way up you are when you are unable to see.
This photo, taken in 2008 when he lived in the Pacific northwest USA, is of novelist Vaughn Entwistle flying an early Wills Wing Sport 2 in the Cascades. He kept the glider on his van and drove it to work every day. After work, he and a friend headed to Rampart Ridge to fly.
The Vaughn Entwistle web site showcases his painstakingly researched Paranormal Casebooks, which feature Scotsman Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle (creator of the Sherlock Holmes detective stories) and Irish playwright Oscar Wilde.
Our paths crossed in 2015 when Vaughn took a break from flying and I bought his modern emergency parachute to replace my Windhaven Mark II, made in 1978. After 37 years, the Windhaven seems to be in good condition, but no records exist to predict how its fabric might have degraded over such a span of time. In addition, by today’s standards, it is regarded as having too great a sink rate to provide a safe impact speed (in the event of an emergency of such magnitude arising).
See Emergency parachute in Hang gliding equipment.
I wanna be an airborne ranger, I wanna live the life of danger…Down wind to the landing field (behind the parked vehicles) on my last flight in the Aeros Discus. Ringstead, Dorset, on August 16th, 2009.
The harness is at least as important as the wing. This is an Aeros (Ukraine) Myth 2. It replaced my red and yellow Solar Wings (UK) Edge 2.
This photo was taken during my first flight in my Airborne (Australia) 154 Sting 3. It is at Bell Hill near Blandford, Dorset, England, in October 2009. Roger Edwards took the photo using a mobile phone camera while flying a paraglider.
The Sting 3 does not have the outrageous performance of the Discus, but it is quicker to rig, lighter to carry, more nimble in changing direction, and it flies much more slowly than the Discus. It took some getting used to!
Related (internal link)
Emergency parachute in Hang gliding equipment
See also (external link)
Novelist and hang glider pilot Vaughn Entwistle’s web site