Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Thinking of learning to hang glide on a tow or winch system?

Read this article about launching a powered harness, on page 2 there is some advice on the correct way for a beginner to fly on a tow system. The information on being very relaxed both in your arms and legs would help you make good progress on your first day. If I had read this, it would have saved me at least a day of training.

The Article

Incase the link becomes broken in the future, it is by Richard Cobb and is titled learning to launch a power harness and first appeared in the March 2002 issue of Hang Gliding magazine.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

2 Weeks and counting...

Its a fortnight since I returned from Spain, and here's an update on what's going on.

I've decided that I'm going to complete my CP (Tow) at Green Dragons, I've called them, and got a quote, so I know roughly how much it's going to cost.

I've contacted Rona at Lejair to send me a copy of my student taskbook, so I can provide Green Dragons with evidence of what I've already done.

I won't be able to join Green Dragons until mid or late April, due to family and work commitments, I also have to generate some additional finance for the CP tuition.

In the meantime I'm taking a break from reading, but will resume in about 2 weeks with the CAA exemption to the ANO that allows powered hang gliders to fly in the UK.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Two is company?

VinceG a moderator at The International Forum for Hang Gliding/Paragliding made contact expressing an interest in joining me on the challenge! Vince is already a CP pilot (Dec 2004) and has a Aeros Target hang glider, so he is more advanced than me, but still a low airtime pilot. I'd be happy to have him along for company, but it is still early days, and as yet don't have a date for when I'll be doing the challange.

Monday, March 14, 2005

I'm all shook up

Wake up in the morning, with the Monday morning blues, aches and pains in my body, I don't really feel like going to work.

I think I need a holiday to recover from the last 2 weeks.

"How was your holiday?" ask my colleagues at work. "Good, I managed to fly off a 2000ft mountain" is all I say, as I've just been informed I have to move desks!

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Return Home

I wake up early to drive back to Jerez where I catch my return flight back to the UK.

As usual, the weather is not at its best, 4 degrees and overcast with clouds.

I arrive home where my children are happy to see me, and my 7 month old son seems to have changed. It's good to be back, though I wish I had achieved my CP hang gliding rating.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Weather problems again.

The plan today is to have flights off Lejar mountain on the Target, converting to the prone position, slow flight appreciation with a possible stall.

After breakfast we meet at the workshop, where I get stirrups fitted to my harness, and try the prone position on the simulator. We load up and head for the top, where we rig the gliders. By the time we finish our inspections, the wind has picked up and it starts to rain. We put the gliders flat and run for cover in the van. There is a break in the cloud, so Tony advises that we might be able to fly later, and true to his word about 45mins later the rain stops and the wind drops to a moderate level.

Antonio goes first, so we wait for him to land, before Paul (another student)) can take his turn. By the time Paul is ready to take off, the wind is gusty and short after that it starts to rain. We decide it is not looking good so we quickly de-rig and leave.

We meet later in the local café and sit our CP exams, which we pass. I'm a bit disappointed, as this is the last day, and I've not achieved what I came to Spain for which is a CP rating.

We get all our paperwork completed, and I find out I only have 4 more tasks to complete to enable me get the CP (Tow) rating.

Conversion to prone
Slow flight and Stall
Planned Approach and Spot landings
12 school circuits

It has been a very busy 2 weeks, Tony and Rona Webb have worked very hard, and I have achieved a lot and enjoyed myself to an extent.

I now have to think about how I'll complete my CP, as going back to Spain is not looking like a viable option due to family and work commitments.

Could this be a set back that could end the dream?

My Target waits for a flight off Lejar mountain.

Friday, March 11, 2005

4th generation hang glider and Circuits

It's drizzling when we wake up, we have breakfast and set off for Seville.

We arrive with the sky overcast, but it is dry and the winds are light.

We are converting to 4th generation hang gliders today (Aeros Target), so we have to learn a new rigging process.

My first tow is a familiarisation hop (2 flights to make it across the field), and I'm surprised at how far out the trim position is!
By the 5th tow, I'm back on high flights with release and shallow turns. The next 3 tows see me doing circuits and we end the day with this.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Just another sucker

We are back at Lejar mountain, I haven't had enough as I rig and get ready for another 12 minute top to bottom flight.

The launch is very uneventful, I do some 180s with hands on the base bar, admire the view and then land, this time on my feet having remembered to transfer my hands back to the uprights.

We have lunch, go back to the top, but the wind has changed direction, so we head off to Teba mountain (a smaller mountain about 80kms from Lejar), but our luck seems to have run out, and the wind is gusty and from the wrong direction. We give up and call it a day.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Baptism on Lejar Mountain

With Tony Webb's last words from yesterday still fresh in my head, we meet at 09:30 to see if we can get that mountain hang glider flight, the weather looks good.

At breakfast, Tony decides it is too windy, so we'll meet at 14:00 and then go up to the top of the mountain. We (the 2 other students and I) decide to take a sight seeing trip to a village not too far away called Zahara where we visit the ruins of an old castle.

At 14:00 we meet up with Tony and drive to the top of the mountain to find the place buzzing with Paragliders rigging and waiting to fly. We are also joined by Morten (the Norwegian Hang Glider pilot) who is also looking forward to having a flight.

We rig our gliders, and join the waiting pilots, even though we are only going to do a top to bottom, the wind is slightly too light for our experience. Conditions improve, and Antonio takes off first, Tony thinks conditions are right for me as well, so he goes through some practise runs we me.

As I pick up the glider, the thought going through my mind is "what am I doing here? I don't think you should do this". Tony explains what he wants me to do, we move to the side of the incline on the launch site, put the glider on my shoulders start the run, I feel the glider lift off my shoulders, "lean in and keep running" Tony says as he steps in front of me to stop me from going any further. We do this for a second time, but the wind has dropped and we have to wait again! This is not good for my health.

In the meantime Mortern has is ready, so he takes off and I watch as he heads towards the local village in search of a thermal.

"Come on" Tony says, "the wind is picking up, lets try that practise run again". I pick up the glider, start the run, but as the glider lifts off my shoulder I subconsciously push the bar out. "Stop!" Shouts Tony as he steps into my path, "you just stalled the wing" and he goes on to explain the consequences of my action to me. We go through it again without any problems and I feel more confident with the process as it feels little different from a tow launch.

"Lets practise it one more time" Tony says, as I carry the glider back to the top of the incline. Tony checks the sky for traffic and the wind as he had done on previous occasions, "ready" he asks, I nod and shout "release" as I start the run "good" Tony says as I change my grip and lean in when the glider lifts from my shoulders. "keep running" are the last words I remember as I realise this is for real (Tony hasn't stopped me)! I don't remember the exact moment my feet left the ground, "keep your eyes on the target" Tony's voice boomed over the radio, I make a few adjustments with my weight to keep the glider pointed at a village I'd been shown before I took off, "Okay relax now you are away from the ridge".

For the first time I look down, and see the road, which doesn't seem to be moving, I look at the lake to my right, the landing field to my left, and it dawns on me, 'I am really flying'!
"Okay, Shola, you can put your hands on the base bar if you want" came Tony's voice over the radio, so I complied. I then went on to do a couple of 180 degrees turns both to the left and right. "Make your way across the road, and Rona will take over from there", I shifted my body to the right, the glider responded

"Continue to the green field", this time it was Rona Webb's voice over the radio. She had been at the landing field for a while and had already talked Antiono down from his flight. "Over to the brown field" she continued, "turn to your left", Uprights!" were the last words she uttered as I belly flopped to the ground landing on the wheels.

In my excitement I had forgotten to transfer my hands back to the uprights as I set up my approach for landing. "Wow, that was great", I said as Antonio approached me while I unclipped myself. I go to bed later that night still buzzing from the experience, I had flown a glider solo from the top of a 2000ft high mountain.

Lejar mountain launch site.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

I'm going higher.

Its an early start today as Tony Webb would like to see if Antonio who is more advanced in his training can have a hill flight off 2000ft Lejar mountain (this would count towards his CP (hill) conversion). It takes us 33mins to drive to the top, only to find it is very cold and too windy so no go for launch, however we do have a look around the 2 launch sites and down towards the landing field, my legs are now turning to jelly at the thought that I might also fly off this mountain before the end of my training.

We head for Seville airfield where conditions are also windy, so rig gliders and wait, with some revision on the CP theory.

My first flight was at 17:30, and the wind was a bit strong, I made it across the field and released the tow line, but did not get high enough to do any turns. We wait another 30mins to allow the conditions to improve and I then make another 5 flights, the last 2 were at a height of 150ft with 90 degree turns to the left and right.

"If conditions are right tomorrow, you too might get a flight off Lejar mountain" where Tony's last words to me as we de-rigged.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Weather holding up!

The weather is holding up, and it now feels like we are in Spain. After our usual breakfast at a local café, we head for Seville airfield.
Its very windy on arrival as the scatter cumulus skies confirm the termic conditions, so we rig our gliders and waiting, pass the time by going over some theory and listening to some hang gliding stories from Tony our instructor.

We start flying at 17:00, and my first 3 flights are average (I seem to have lost the perfect first flight touch), the next 2 flights are spot on with good straight and level flights, tow line releases at the end and spot on landings to finish. My 6th flight involved a straight and level, tow line release and shallow left/right turns which went well including the landing.

On my last flight of the day, I released the line okay, did my turns but did not get my wings level before I landed, so my left wing got blown over as I landed! Lesson learnt, not a nice way to end the day, but I'm still happy with progress made, flights today were up to 70ft in height.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

EP exam and more flying

It’s a lazy start to the day (we are now feeling aches and pains from the running and pushing the gliders 400yards across the field), the weather is good with blue skies and scattered clouds.

We leave Algondanales at 12:30pm and arrive at the Seville airfield about 2hrs later. It is very termic when we arrive, so we rig the gliders and wait. To make good use of the time, we take our exams (Paul and I EP, Antonio CP) and to our delight we all pass. Conditions are still not right, so we go over some of the questions from the CP paper that Antonio got wrong. Tony Webb is very knowledgeable (who wouldn't be after 20 years in the business) and his understanding of weather conditions leave us all Gob smacked!

A little later, we decide to start flying and my first flight is a perfect straight and level one. During the 2nd tow, the winch quits on me over half way across the field, and since I wasn't expecting it, I belly flopped onto the deck. We later found out the winch had run out of fuel.

With the winch re-fuelled, we continue, and I release the tow line on the 4th and 5th tows.

The 6 tow was the last of the day, and the wind had picked up, so I really had to fight my way across the field and thus could not release the line as all my efforts were spent keeping the Stubby pointed at the winch. All in all a very good day, with a lot achieved.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

On the straight and level path.

Today is a perfect day for flying, blue skies and light winds.
We go to the Seville airfield, rig up and continue with straight and level flights.
My first flight is perfect, weight shift problems sorted, however another problem rears it head, I can't land properly on a consistent basis.
In total I have 9 flights, with one bad launch.

Shola takes to the air 

Friday, March 04, 2005

Its raining again.

Wake to find its raining again. forecast says it is going to be all day, meet with our instructor for breakfast who decides we should take the day off as there is no prospect for flying.

We go back to our apartment where we watch some videos, sleep most of the afternoon (none of us realise how tired we are from all the travelling and training), in the evening we do some studying go out for a meal and call it a day.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

I fly again.

It’s a warm start to the day, with the sky overcast, but no rain. There is no pain in my ankle, and I am able to walk properly.

After breakfast Morten joins me, first we go to the local pharmacy for some paracetamol and anti-inflammatory cream, we then go searching for some boots with good ankle support as I had been wearing trainers when I sustained the injury yesterday. At the second shop we visit we find some good boots that would do the job, and before we set off to Seville Morten again kindly offers to tape up my ankle for support purposes and to make sure that I don't make things worse.

We arrive at Seville with light winds, rig gliders and wait for the wind to get a bit stronger.

Conditions improve, and on the 3rd tow I make it across the field to the winch in a single flight with a belly flop for a landing! This is good for me as it eases the pressure on my right foot which has so far kept up to the punishment thrown at it. The penny has finally sunk in that I need to be relaxed and not hang onto the A frame (why did it take me so long)! On the 6th tow, I make a successful landing on my foot, but now I'm having problems with my roll control, my weight shift doesn't seem to be working properly.

After the 8th tow, Tony (my instructor) gets to the root of my problem, offers some advise which should cure the problem, I want to try this out immediately, but it is late, and there was a nil wind any way so we called it a day. It had been a very busy day (our 1st full flying day since we arrived), and all students and instructors had worked really hard.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Hang Glider training diary - A lovely day but ...

Woke to blue skies, sunshine with scattered clouds. Forecast for Seville airfield is 13 degrees, sunshine with some clouds. Looks like it is going to be a lovely day for hang glider training!

By the time we have breakfast and set off, its cold again and overcast, as we get closer to Seville it gets more windy and at a point Tony (our HG instructor) even contemplates turning back.

We arrive at the Seville training towing field to some sunshine and light wind, perfect for flying! We rig, do the daily check and Paul one of the other students has the first tow, with a straight flight across the grass field to the winch. I'm next, get off to a good start, but fly too fast (pull the bar in) and before I know it, I crash into the ground, "let go" Tony shouts over the radio, as I hit the deck landing heavily on my right foot and twist my ankle. I get up, and don't seem to have any problem walking, so have 2 more tows with good hops across the field. Another spill, this time nothing serious, it looks like this is not going to be a walk in the park after all!

It has started to rain now, and the wind has got stronger, so we have a break, about 30mins later conditions improve, so another trip is made across the field moonwalking.

The wind picks up again with some rain falling as well so another break, with something to eat as we wait for conditions to improve.

At about 6:00pm after about 1 hr and 30mins of waiting the wind dies down and the rain stops, so we get up to continue. Ouch a sharp pain shoots through my right ankle, it looks like the twist of my foot was more serious than I thought. I ask the 2 other students to go ahead while I try to walk, but the pain is unbearable and I can't walk, not to talk of running, so looks like my day has come to an end!

I de-rig glider and watch while my fellow students have 3 more tows before we call it a day.

We drive back to Algondanales and go the a local café for food and drink where we meet a Norwegian hang glider pilot called Morten who happens to be a physiotherapist.

He kindly goes back to our apartment with us, has a look at my ankle and applies a cold compress to it while we watch some hang gliding videos we borrowed from Tony.

I call it a night, hoping that I can fly tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Rain, Rain, go away!

Still raining, meet at Lejair workshop and watch a few training video clips on hang glider towing.

We head for Seville, hoping weather would improve by the time we get there, so we can do some towing.

1hr and 30mins later we arrive in Seville, with a light drizzle/wind, so we decide to rig. The Seville location is a dis-used old airfield with a 2KM long runway. As the wind is only slightly off the runway, we are able to do some towing on the runway. Before I know it, I have made 5 trips across the runway with the first 2 being teether flights, and a total of about 5 mins airtime. While each flight was only a couple of secs, I'm totally elated by the experience! Main issues highlighted are not relaxing grip on A frame (in fact I was trying to hang from I rather than from the loops!) and failing to flare on landing. We de-rig after the other students had their straight and level flights (both Paul and Antonio had previous flying experience, as opposed to me being a total beginner).

Drive back to Algondanales and retreat to a local restaurant which has a big fire place where we have some food and drinks and get ourselves warmed up. Not a bad day, though we could do with some dry and warm weather tomorrow.