Back to UK Flying!
After leaving the UK last September as a Club Pilot, I returned in April with my wing in tow. My wing is a little more battered now, a few more repairs and I am now at pilot level with 80+ hours. It is fair to say that I am a lot more confident when it comes to take off and landing.
On my first day back in the UK I was desperate to fly, so checked the weather using xc-skies and windytv it looked like it was going to be flyable in Pandy, Wales. After a two hour drive and a brand new membership with the Welsh Hang Gliding and Paragliding Club I arrived at a site I had never flown.
I found my way to the take off, where a couple of hang gliders were set up and some paragliders were packing away, I persuaded one of the pilots to give me a quick site brief. Just as I was unpacking my gear another pilot, Ian, told me he was heading up to the higher take off.. I decided to go with him. 10 minutes later we were on the take off. It was pretty steep and VERY windy, more wind than I am used to. I knew that if I wanted to fly today, this was to be it.
My take off was ok.. well, judge for yourself in this video..
After ridge soaring and gaining a little bit of height I struggled to connect to anything and quickly realised that I wasn’t going to be going XC today. I changed my mentality and decided to use the chance to practice my top landings. The first few landing were pretty
awful, epic skids, loud thumps but eventually a lovely little landing.
A few days later it was flyable again, this time I headed to one of my favorites - Westbury, Bratton Camp. Loads of familiar faces were here, the sun was shining and the cumulus clouds were fluffy.
With a nice big take off area I was able to practice my ground handling before taking off, the first flight was great, I got lots of height and top landed nicely. The following few flights were incredibly scratchy and I was the only one in the air as the other pilots decided to watch me struggle. Each time I just about managed to scratch my way back up before landing on the take off (I did not want to have to walk up the hill with my wing!).
When the wind switched it was time to head over to the white horse take off, me being the lazy person I am decided I’d ‘challenge’ myself to fly there, the primary reason fro this was I didn’t want to pack up my wing and walk! So taking off in a cycle allowed me to gain just about enough height to make the jump over. When I arrived there were loads more pilots on this side. It was a fantastic afternoon of ridge soaring, catching up with people and more ridge soaring. When it all switched
off at about 6pm I called it a day and
headed home after a great day out
on an English hill.
Despite the frustrating weather I really do love flying in the UK, the grassy take offs, friendly clubs and cows with no horns, make it a beautiful place to fly.