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Viv's Blog 2016
#1

18th Feb. Rhosili.  I plan to perfect the A/C riser method of control, but on arrival the wind is too light to get much inflation at all. We patiently groundhandle until most people get off from the hilltop or gully, I wear my wing as a hat twice, and enjoy the space to manouvre on the pimple. NickR lands and urges me to fly forthwith, before the wind gets too strong for me, and pushes me off in a gust. I dangle out of my harness but once seated head along the front of the downs to the campsite and for a brief glorious moment am top of the stack, on the return leg it's heavy going and I am pinned so inch out over the shoreline hoping to lose height, then scoot back to the gully for an attempted landing as there is a raincloud approaching and everyone else seems to have the same idea, the gully pops me up like a champagne cork so I turn to the hilltop where there are very few spots clear of gorse, I aim for one using speedbar but it is behind the track, and as I descend am blown back and touchdown on a gorse bush, the wind is stronger here and I fail to collapse the wing quickly enough so am tugged off my feet. Two student pilots with Axis chivalrously assist me to gather up, and there is a spot of rain as I walk down to the pimple. It certainly blew the cobwebs off! I do wish people would not do wingovers right in front of the hill, it creates turbulence for less experienced pilots trying to land, and is surely a stunt best pulled over the sea, not the downs. A great start to this years flying none the less.

I may as well try to catch the wind - Donovan
#2

23rd Feb. Rhiw Wen. A lunchtime launch for the retired pilots today, light winds dump SteveJ by the chicane, NickR soars effortlessly to the quarry and back, I go several beats along the front, trying to sniff an updraught from the sharp hillocks, briefly climb above T/O, then sink with every beat until I land in front of the carpark. After fetching Nasher up from the bend the cold has got to me and I retire for the day. 10 mins airtime at most, a nice slow t.t.b. in brilliant sunshine.

I may as well try to catch the wind - Donovan
#3

24th Feb. Heol Senni. Arrive midday and groundhandle in light wind until the windsock lifts, lob off and scratch around for a dozen or so beats, bottom land but the lower fields are soggy so pack up and read the paper until the others make their move, then a nice walk up with no bag to collect the windsock before going to find NickR relaxing in the FanG layby. 10 mins, doubling my airtime for the year so far!

I may as well try to catch the wind - Donovan
#4

10th Mar. Fan G. A lift up with NickR, we spot a couple flying at Heol Senni but go to Fan G for it's wider options in changing conditions. We set up near the track on the edge of the bowl, PeterL takes a break from building to join us by walking up! Nick tests the air around 14.00 and before long we are all aloft. I wait for a lull and push off for a lick round the bowl to the highest point, float out into the valley briefly to the trees, and back to t.o. in a nice little triangle. The wind picks up even more and after another small circuit I land and pack up in the damp grass amongst sparkling drifts of snow. This sacrifice works well as Pete goes over the back and Nick briefly lands to pass over the gate key before he glides down to the layby. 20 mins, doubling my airtime for the year!

I may as well try to catch the wind - Donovan
#5

11th March. Cwmafan. Lunchtime launch into brisk wind after watching Nick gain great height, a lull prompts me into harness and I follow for a couple of beats along the track, then land as it's too fickle. 5 mins and a load of firewood from beside the track.

I may as well try to catch the wind - Donovan
#6

13th March. Abernant. Arrive too early and wait until Rhun turns up, a few practice inflations and off I go, too far out of the lift band in front and just manage to scrape onto the methane collection hill in front. It's securely fenced in and no-one working today, so after an hour of trudging around the fence I return to where I started and find a gap to squeeze through. Rhun comes to the rescue and has another fly, I drink tea and change my boots. 5 mins. Nice to see SteveJ, PeterL and Gron.

I may as well try to catch the wind - Donovan
#7

18th March. Heol Senni. Lunchtime launch after minimal groundhandling, SteveW shows the way and Jared follows, I gain a little height and effect a little triangle out front, decide to land when the wind picks up and wisps are visible at low level, land ok but wing flops onto gorse, 25 mins airtime.

I may as well try to catch the wind - Donovan
#8

23rd March. Rhossili. light wind, a bit of groundhandling, several passes along the front, gaining little height, I keep scratching until I get above the ridge but it's overcast and the wind increasing as forecast. The tide is out and the beach wet so head for the pimple to land, unfortunately as I cruise up the gully there is a lull and I end up in the slurry, luckily the wing drops off to the side but my legs and harness are caked. 1 hr airtime, another hour sponging it all off. The new wing has arrived from Korea, hope this means an improvement in my flying.

I may as well try to catch the wind - Donovan
#9

5th April. Rhosili. Arrive lunchtime to see GerryL, Quint and Kate with family, SteveB, and a visitor from Derbishire.  The breeze is constant and I unwrap the new Gin X-Alps and lay it out for the first time. It's like tissue compared to the Zulu, the lines and risers have the delicate strength of nerves and tendons to the canopy, and the cells promise to eat the airflow through miniribs. I attach one set of risers and a gust rolls the wing, the boys are keen to help though and before too long we are all checked and ready to groundhandle. I strap in and, brakes in hand, gently fluff her out into a wall. The lines have a different layout, with soft shackles to add to the ineffable lightness of being (airborne). The wind has increased and the others launch, I practise getting the tips level and find the brakelines are so long that I have to stand with arms back like a jet in reverse launch position. I locate the C and D risers which are joined on one  strap, and use them to keep the wing from leaping into the air. The wind has by now picked up and I see even Gerry not making forward progress, people doing bigears and wingovers to get down, and peoples wings getting blown all around launch. I fold the wing into a concertina bag and leave it out in case conditions improve, but they don't, so I trudge down to the carpark for a cuppa with our visitors in their campervan, and the icecream shop for consolation and meet Barry with his kids. Nice to have got her out the bag, will wait for a nice calm light wind day for taking off for the first time. Didn't fancy my usual trick of being blown back today.

I may as well try to catch the wind - Donovan
#10

12th April. Nant-y-Moel. A shout on Telegram and I find a good crowd parawaiting and scratching, some walking up from the bottom. The wind is off to the south, but after some groundhandling and a few inflations I feel ready for the maiden flight of the X-Alps. I tuck in close to the edge as the wind is light, and tickle along for a few beats, some above the ridge and some below, the sun is starting to warm the front of the slope and there is good lift from the albedo effect off the boulders behind the woods. I enjoy the feel of this glider, it's so light and responsive. I land at the back of the launch and the wing flops onto the muddy track to christen it. After lunch the wind is more onto the hill, still fickle though and I stay between the woods and the gully. Land nicely and bask in the enormous feeling of wellbeing like you do, and after tea go again, but venture too far out of the lift band and after some deperate scratching in sink head for a twmp in the valley. Land accurately in the long grass, Miss Muff-It on her tuffet, sending skylarks scattering, this is the perfect opportunity to test the Hike'n'fly capabilities of this wing. It is more Fly'n'hike, but a leisurely stroll back up the face is easy. 3 flights, 1 hour airtime.

I may as well try to catch the wind - Donovan


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