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Day 10 (6 in Spain)07:00 - 09:00. 12 May 2018

Total training time: days

Writing this in Barcelona airport while waiting for my flight back.

Arrived at the field to very gloomy overcast conditions with a light local wind from the mountains. Forecast for light drizzle from 11:00. Intention is to do one practise jump and then go up.

I did the first practise jump perfectly, and felt ready to go!

Launch for the first flight was also perfect with no issues at all. Got into the air really easily and was talked though on the headset by the instructor as to what to do. I didn't have to think about anything, just to relax and enjoy! After 30 seconds or so, I got into my seat which was a bit of a struggle, I had to park the left brake and use my left had to wiggle in, but after I had done that it was bliss.

I had full throttle all the way up to cloud base and at this point the instructor told me to ease up on the throttle but I misunderstood him. After the third instruction, I got the message and eased up but at this point I was going into the cloud. I then came out of the cloud and the instructor gave me instructions to idle back to the field with an 8-pattern at the end of the field until I was 20m above and I then came in for a landing.

At this point I had slight brake, so I let the brake up to get some speed for landing. Right at the end I pulled the brake a little and flared when instructed, but I think it was a little too soon and I went up a bit too high and then came down and sadly didn't stay on my feet and face planted. 

When I landed I was so happy to have finally done it. It was a fantastic moment, really magical to be up in the sky with the engine at idle near the cloud base and to look around in my chair in the sky with no obstructions in front of me. Amazing feeling.

I captured it on the Go Pro here:

Feeling great and can't wait to fly with you guys in the UK!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Day 11  19:00 - 21:30 3rd June 2018

Total training time: 9½ days

Arrived at the field about 18:30 and started setting up with a few other guys. Weather was quite humid and warm around 22C, light wind dropping down to nil wind by 20:00.

Plan was to ask Steve to talk me up over the radios and then he'd join me. We had problems with starting the bulldog up as it kept cutting out due to air in the fuel lines, once we had it running sweet, the throttle cable was sticking a little bit. On closer examination it was decided to err on the side of caution and get a new throttle cable and abandon the bulldog for the evening.

Steve very kindly offered his beauty to be flown by me and he would talk me up and down. Very generous of him as I know he wanted to fly that evening. At this point I started feeling very nervous, started sweating a lot, probably because I had never been up on my own wing before (a dudek synthesis 31 LT). The wind had completely disappeared at this point so I needed a full-effort launch. After a lot of deliberation, I finally went for the launch and the wing came up great, but something didn't feel right to me, so I bottled it and stopped. When I stopped, the wing stayed above me so it was a perfect launch and I just didn't have the conviction to commit to the launch. Grrr.

I was soaked in sweat at this point, so put the motor down, took off the flight suit, drank lots of water and cooled off. 10 mins later I set up again but I didn't have the full conviction and the wing didn't come up above me fully so it was a botched launch. We set up again right away, and this time I gave it everything I had mentally and physically and was determined to not bottle it this time! I needed quite a long run due to the nil wind, but got airborne nicely. I was still feeling pretty anxious on launch but once I was 50m up I felt much better and got comfortable in the seat. My mind was such a mess that I pulled the brakes down after launch a little bit and Steve screamed in my ear "Brakes up! Brakes up! Arms up!" After that, all was good! :)




Just after launch




Interesting how, when under stress how my mind does stupid stuff like that. Here's the edited video of the 30 minute flight:

I didn't want to come down, but we were getting close to sunset so I had to come in for a landing.

Landing was not the best, but I got down without hurting myself, although I did fall over again. As you can see in the video I came in way too low because I haven't worked out in my mind what the glide slope is without power yet. Hopefully next flight I can come in a bit higher without any power, and have better judgement of the glide slope.

Final Approach



A great evening, and thanks again to Steve for the encouragement to keep going with the launches. Several times I said to him, "I'm not going up tonight", but it was just fear and anxiety, and I got through it and now feel great.

To any new or wannabe pilots: get yourself proper training, don't try and do it yourself. There is so much going on mentally and physically that you need a trainer. I have had two flights now and I still need a trainer to guide me up and down for at least the next five to ten flights I would imagine.

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Well done. Here is an interesting observation. When under instruction, especially in the first few flights, the instructor is telling you exactly what to do. The point of this is that when you pull the wing up, you do NOT have to decide whether the wing is ok because the instructor will do that. If OK, he shouts power, power, power. If not, abort, abort, abort. I remember relying 100% on what was being said in my ear. Have faith, you are paying the instructor for a reason!

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Great that you beat your anxiety and got a flight in. The next 10 to 20 flights will be all about consolidating your training and developing the feel for the wing, particularly on take-off. Once you can feel what the wing is doing without having to look you will develop the skill and confidence to nail all the take-offs.

Great stuff.

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