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First XC (sort of)


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Well boys and girls, it has been a while since I posted on my training blog but today had a couple of milestones so I'll spill the beans....

Work and the weather have really conspired against me for the last few months so flying has been minimal. Now that I'm "between jobs" I've got a bit more freedom so when Simon said it was flyable today I headed over to the Flagpole Field to meet up. My Chelsea Tractor made it up the slippery hill (what fun) and I just assumed that everyone else was delayed so I got ready and did some ground handling. Several reverse launches later I warmed up the engine and clipped in just in time for ... the wind to drop. I decided that I couldn't be bothered to reset for a forward launch so I committed hard and nailed the reverse launch in low wind.

Gently climbing I decided to fly along the road and watch for Simon or Col coming along. Heading up through the inversion I came across a few fluffy clouds. Oh what fun! Flying round, over and through. I could do it all day long.

By the time I'd finished messing around I spotted a couple of wings laid out in Simon's back field - oh so that's where everyone is! Apparently nobody else's vehicles could get up the hill. I headed over to take a look in time to see Simon take off. We headed over to the ridgeway together. I've not flown with other people in the air much and it's a different experience. Need to remember about prop wash - thanks mate! I left Simon to photograph the free flyer over the white horse and headed back to Simon's back field. I've not flown in or out of it before so I did a couple of tours to work out how to approach without hacking off the neighbours too much. I decided that coming in over the trees to the South West and then a sharp left turn into the wind should provide the best noise abatement approach. It worked really well and a near perfect landing followed ;-)

That was my first cross country flight - well, ok, it wasn't that far but it was the first time I took off in one place and landed in another!

Col was just taking off so I chatted to FlappaPappa for a while. Simon and Col came back and FP did some of his first forward launches (well done. You did good)

I unhooked my Dudek Reaction and unpacked the demo Paramania Fusion 29. After a quick brief on what to expect I tried a forward launch and overcooked it badly. That Fusion comes up fast, you don't need to pull as hard! Ok, reset and try again - this time not enough effort. Third time lucky? Nope. Not nearly enough leaning back and running fast - I'm beginning to feel like my old demons are back. By this point the wind has dropped to zero and it is getting late. I have to make a choice - hitch a ride back to the Flag Pole field or get this thing off the ground.

I'm not sure why I find it so hard but after a rest and some patient advice from Simon and Col (shame there isn't a smiley for sarcasm guys) I decided to give it another go. This was a true nil wind forward launch! I tempered the initial pull and the wing came up straight, feed in the power gently rather than all in one go and the torque steer didn't pull me off line. Run - just f*****g run, long strides, lean back - yes, lift, I can feel the motor going light as the wing lifts. Feed in some brake, then more, then even more - at this point I realised that the brake lines were probably strung a bit long because I'd got my arms all the way down and it felt too light but I was off the ground even if only just.

I had to make a quick decision... legs down and cut the motor or stick with it. I thought about letting the brakes up and seeing if the extra speed would help but I decided to keep my arms by my sides and go for it. Good call. With the handles tied a bit long I was hardly putting any brake on at all so the wing was lifting me anyway even with no headwind. I climbed out and then let myself play for a bit. It is a very different feel to the Reaction. I think it would take a while to get used to and adjusting the brakes would make a huge difference.

At about 1000 feet I let the trimmers out all the way. Wow it's fast. Back over to my car in no time. What I should have done is wound the brake lines around a couple of times to take up the slack but I wasn't thinking about it so - remembering to pull the trimmers back in to landing setting - I watched the windsock I'd set up in the morning and came in for a landing into what little wind there was. Flare! Flare! Flare now - oh yes, the brake lines are too long (doh) so it wasn't the neatest landing in the world but it certainly wasn't a bad one.

I was just packing everything up when Simon called on the mobile to check I was ok - ahhhhh.

So, two point to point flights in a day and a nil wind launch and my first flight on a different wing. Cool.

And now? Time for some sleep - I'm exhausted ;-)


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  • 3 months later...

Well, life has been pretty tricky over the last couple of months but I got a flight in over Cambridge about 6 weeks ago - the wind was far too high so it was difficult but exciting flight :-)

Today was completely different. I'd got a couple of litres of really old fuel left so when I got to the flagpole I went for a quick flight to burn it off and get my "wings" back. It was a little thermic but once above 2500 feet it was nice and smooth. I landed with about 250ml of fuel left. Nice landing - on my feet and didn't fall over. Then, after a brief rest to refuel and greet everyone else, I decided to do a little bit of an experiment and fly to Didcot and back. So, after some really crap takeoff attempts, largely because I was trying to do it in the middle of the day with lots of thermals around - doh - I was away. I headed out over the white horse and then across to the railway line. Then I followed the railway at about 4000 feet all the way to Didcot. Over the power station (I have photos to prove it) at about 5500 feet and then turned south towards Harwell, still climbing to a peek of about 5700 feet (a personal record).

On the way back I realised that I really should have done a wee before taking off. It was getting uncomfortable ;-)

I experimented with weight shifting a lot on this flight and worked out how to sit in order to counteract the torque steer effect. The trouble is it meant that my right leg went numb which made an otherwise perfect landing somewhat painful. I need a larger harness I think.

It was a fabulous day and now I'm exhausted so off to bed.


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