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Matt's going flying (finally!)


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It's been a long time coming. There have been ups and downs along the way, but tomorrow I'm finally going to start my training.

I wasn't expecting it to have this effect. I'm excited, beyond measure, and yet also more than a little apprehensive. It feels like the first day when I started my gliding training, and then the day I started training on light aircraft.

If I'm not too broken tomorrow night I will try and update this.

Thanks to Simon for sorting me out, total legend!

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What an amazing day at the airfield.

Yes, I'm slightly sunburnt (need to find myself a hat, bald heads and 30 degree heat don't go so well together) and my arms and legs ache a bit, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole day. Everyone was really friendly, the discussion was ribald at times but always entertaining and often very informative.

I spent most of the morning playing with the wing, without a harness. A lot of the time I was chasing the wing rather than being in control of it, but I think towards the end of the day I was starting to feel the wind shifting (and it really was, swinging through 90 degrees either way at irregular intervals) and to a certain extent getting ahead of it. The feeling when the wing is nice and stable overhead is amazing.

In the afternoon I got in to a harness and worked on flying the wing using the brakes. I tried a few forward launches of the wing. Feeling the wing come up behind you, getting used to working it by feel rather than by sight was challenging, that will definitely need some practice.

Then we moved on to reverse launches. Similar to the practice in the morning, but a little closer to flying. By this time I was very hot and more than a little tired, and the wind had dropped off a bit, so launching with no wind, or keeping the wing in the air when the wind dropped off, was pretty difficult but I got a few good launches, and had the wing relatively steady in the air. I started to use the wing to take some of the weight, and help me to move around, rather than fighting it as I'd been doing earlier.

I took three litres of water with me, and nipped in to Starbucks at lunchtime where they kindly filled up my bottles with ice cubes and water. By the end of the day this was all gone too.

I am looking forward to my next session, though it looks like it'll be a couple of weeks away at least. I feel like I achieved about as much as I could have yesterday without reducing myself to a "sweaty mess", and came away with a really positive feeling.

Congratulations to John the Swede on his first flight. I'm sure there are many more to come! :)

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  • 1 month later...

Finally weather, free time and all the other holes in the swiss cheese lined up again.

First thing to note is that a months break between your first and second days training is less than ideal.

I found that I was definitely working hard to re-learn some of the things I thought I'd pretty much nailed the last time.

The wind was challenging. One minute, perfect, smooth at about 4 or 5 knots, the next absolutely nothing.

Nevertheless, I managed to get a few good launches in, and had the wing moving forward. I now need to re-read some stuff and remind myself about a few points (like which brake to use when reversed, that one kept catching me out today).

Back at the airfield bright and early in the morning, so hopefully be able to consolidate some of what we did today, and make some progress.

I'm bringing the camper. I might well bring some bacon and a frying pan, bacon sarnies for breakfast everyone?

Fingers crossed for a decent day tomorrow.

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Day three in the saga (hopefully that'll prove to be ironic :S ) of my training.

Today was more of the same. Can I book a few days of decent, steady wind so that I can actually get used to handling the wing?

I missed Simon's messages, so turned up at the field at about 0750, to find that fog was the order of the day.

We were uncertain about the wisdom of hanging around as the fog was by no means certain to lift, and the forecast RH was pretty high all day. Fortunately we decided to wait it out and it burnt off quite quickly at about 0930.

Kiting pretty much nailed, I can get it up and keep it up as long as the wind stays within reasonable parameters.

In the harness, I still manage to get myself all turned around from time to time and yank the wrong brake, or the cardinal sin of over correction. I also managed to get dragged about the field a bit as the wind picked up, an object lesson in knowing when to give up. To be fair, as a learning experience it was quite useful, even though actual time with the wing in the air was limited. It really drummed in the need to "build the wall" to get everything sorted out and in to wind before attempting to actually get it flying.

Back again tomorrow morning. Hopefully the wind will be a little more consistent and I can nail a few reverse launches and turn them in to forward motion. Need to get some forward running, to get used to feeling the wing and reacting properly without being able to see it.

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Well. No blog entry for yesterday as the morning weather was wall to wall fog, and Simon had to run off at 12 to get half his arm cut off (more of which later ;) )

Today was a good day. Early start, and though it was overcast and hazy, this proved to be a good thing as running around in the blazing sun isn't much fun, especially for the less athletically inclined amongst us. I actually managed to get a good bit of time under the wing without losing half my body weight in sweat.

It was a fairly calm day today, so we started off with forward launches. I've only done one before, so was expecting it to be challenging. We spent a good deal of time working out where the wind was coming from (what little there was) and setting the wing up heading in the right direction. I think this time was well spent as it gave us a chance to gauge the wind, and got us thinking about how we would set up with the motor on, how to clip in correctly etc.

My first forward launch was a dream. The time spent setting up paid off as the wing came up nice and straight, and somehow it just stayed that way. I got a bit carried away and had covered half the airfield before I thought about putting it down. That was the main lesson. The important bit is getting it up and stable, and covering a few yards whilst keeping under the centre of the wing, by feel rather than by looking up. Once that's established, brakes, a quick turn and laying the wing down again means you can get a couple of launches (or more) in before you have to rose the wing up and carry it across the airfield again.

As the wind held steady, I managed to get a few dozen good forward launches. A couple the wing decided that, actually, what it wanted to be was an upside down pile on the ground, but by the time the wind started to pick up I felt like I was consistently getting the wing up straight, and flying it by feel. I even managed to lift the wing at 90 degrees to the wind and turn in to wind, which just goes to show that it is possible to bring the wing up when it's not perfectly aligned, and the wing tells you where you need to turn.

The wind had picked up a bit by then, so I tried a few reverse launches. Apparently the time spent running across the field wasn't wasted, as I managed to build the wall, bring the wing up cleanly and then keep it up for a few seconds before turning and moving forward. A pretty good feeling.

Today I learnt the difference a decent, steady wind can make. It's so much easier when the wind isn't swinging through 90 degrees every few seconds.

Looking forward to getting back out tomorrow. Hopefully Simon's arm will be a little better and the weather will hold as forecast. I can see the "first flight" on the horizon. Whilst I can't wait to get airborn, I want to make sure that when I do, it's safe and controlled, so I'm happy to spend a few more hours running around the place, just to make sure that I'm controlling the wing properly and that I'm not going to be caught out when I finally strap the motor to my back!

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A somewhat frustrating day today. There were four of us ready to fly, three firsts and a second but a long time ago. We played around in the morning, more ground handling, and the wind was uncertain at best. Lots of wings turned over, or completely running out of flying air and dropping.

Around lunch time it picked up just enough, and steadied up, so that it was flyable for us newbies.

We'd tried getting the wing up and doing dummy launches with the motor on our backs. Have to say I only did one, that was plenty for my legs. Some of the other guys tried several launches. Oh for their stamina!

The first person to go was chosen, and strapped in. The wing came up nice and clean. He had a little wobble but corrected well. Ran for a bit, lifted a little way and then unfortunately dropped down. In the process, the prop tip snapped off. End ex. Entirely not the guys fault, it could happen to any of us.

Hopefully Simon will be able to source a new prop for tomorrow, so that we can get in to the air.

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