Club News

After a Year Off…

… I finally got some flying in last weekend, and it was bloody brilliant!

It was also completely off the back of the club’s collective kindness towards this newest and very junior member, so thank you All. However I also want to single out Dan, Keith, Martin, Simon and Watty for their advice and tollerance this past couple of months, by text, hill and bar! The end result was as follows:

Mrs Smith did me the great honor of fancying some hillwalking over this Easter weekend, and even driving retrieve. Note to self, seperation does indeed make the heart grow fonder.

Saturday Flight 1:

Steered toward Sartfell by the nous of The Texting Collective, Jemma and I arrived to face our first Manx walk up – not as bad from the bottom as by half-way up! Watty had arrived at the same time and shared the slog up, tempted as we were by several already scratching around up top. At the top the wind seemed a bit off and light to me, but it became clear it was cycling. I immediately missed the opportunity to actually get out and use my new radio, as the first thermal through swept some radio people (Keith, Simon?) away. With everyone else also setting up to launch, I found myself drawing a bit of a rusty blank regarding what I should be doing, after a year off – but, I remembered to put my helmet on first, enjoyed swiftly unpacking my canopy from my novelty stuff-sac (sorry, they dont make them any more), clipped in, and built a wall. Nothing looking awry, I decided to pop it up, turned the wrong way for the risers, and simply got dragged backwards.

Continue reading After a Year Off…

Gin Bobcat 16.5m

With all these flying reports doing the rounds I thought I’d let you know how I’m getting on with my new toy now I’ve had a couple of hours playing with it.

Simon has already sent you an email saying how he got on with it at TSWNN I think; but to remind you it’s a Gin Bobcat 16.5m (the largest – making it’s debut late last year) My first chance to play with it was on Benn Y Phott (a day you forecast to be good!) blowing around 15 – 18 mph.

I had been tempted to fly on nil wind/light days but I just don’t know how far it would get from any of our normal sites (North Barrule to Hibernian was tempting) and I rationalised that I bought it for strong wind soaring and not speed flying.

18mph with the trim set to slow is enough to have fun ground handling and for extended top to bottoms on a shallow ridge like Benn Y Phott. After a nervous start because of its perceived twitchiness (by ref to a normal paraglider) my smile began to grow. The rustling and collapses are not so scary after you realise there is so much energy to play with. It’s a cheeky little f%^&er… However, because the flying is so active my arms got tired very quickly.

My next chance to play was Thursday 16th – with a shitty NE wind direction 20-23 mph forcast. So I headed off to the hill behind Dhoon school (Slieau Lewaigue was out of the question due to lack of landing options).

Again it must have been blowing 15-18mph and I had fun for 30 minutes or so doing extended top to bottoms but was ready for something a bit stronger.

So headed off for the black hut for a trek up Snaefell joined by Simon..

Set the trimmers to medium and had about 15 minutes (which was all my arms could manage!) having extreme soaring fun on the shallow NE face just before a small squall came in. I have to say that from the ground it must look really twitchy but in the air it feels rock solid.

You must try it … and apparently you can even use a motor ….

Big Saturday …continued


Base was lifting all the time in the early morning, rocked up to SWNN and met Ian. Headed back down to Sartfell, was very south but after spending 20 minutes liberating a sheep from barbed wired with rock drove up. It was light and south. Set up over the southern gorge facing the back of Slieu Roy. Had a few hops then settled down for a picnic. Damien arrived. Looked like it was improving. As I tucked into lunch Keith disappeared over the back, a mad rush into the air followed!! Felt like text book stuff to me, the thermals were cycling through and I got into another weak one and headed off. By this time Keith was out of sight, at base above Ballaugh apparently!! My thermal took me to a max of 236m above Slieau Freoghane before I lost it.

Continue reading Big Saturday …continued

Big Saturday

From very early Saturday looked good so I was keen to get out.

Headed out with Simon and passed Ean on the way who kindly provided a lift up through the fields to the wall in his Land Rover.  At the top it was blowing about 10-14mph and there were some good looking cloud streets from South Barrule.  Had a quick scratchy flight and slope land as Watty and Damian arrived.  We then all moved round to face a little further South and as Watty and Damian were setting up I took off again for another little scratch.  This time however there was a lot more lift…really good in fact so I hooked in and was getting beeps the whole way round – looked down and was close to going over the back, not especially high as had just taken off but the lift felt very good so stuck with it and continued to thermal.
Continue reading Big Saturday

Bobcat Flying Sunday 5th April 2009

Sunday dawned sunny and with the wind soon increasing to 20 mph on the hills it was time to put the theory gathered (from reading the online manual for a few minutes and watching U-tube) into practice. Nearly did not bother after reading the label on the wing however. Headed to Sartfell first of all for a little bit of ground handling.

The wing seemed to swing from left to right like a pendulum, although the breaks did not feel they were giving too much feedback. It also had a tendency to keep doing frontal collapses (could have been a little turbulent with hindsight). Trimmed it right down which made it a little easier, or maybe we were getting used to it. The funniest thing is not having to pull it up to inflate, it simply climbs into the air all on it’s own. Must remember this when on the hill, you could be flying before you are in the harness!!

After a good hour or so we headed back to the Site With No Name where it blowing nice and strong. A quick walk down the face, an even quicker unpack and soon the thing was above my head, (some times) or on its ears (most of time). I waited for a gust to come through (maybe 20 mph) and hopped off. Seemed quite fast even though it was totally trimmed down, so much so that as the wind was quite westerly I did not really want to turn and head back down the ridge towards take off!! Luckily the wind must have dropped to 14 mph and so did I, doing a nice slope landing.  With the second attempt I got a little more height and actually did a couple of beats, with the wind probably a little more on the ‘hill’ also.

The wing feels fast, (naturally) solid and not mega twitchy. I reckon with the trimmers let off a little this could all change!!  The wind was obviously getting up and now I could maintain a little as I slowly headed out over the valley. It did seem very wrong getting a little height with only a little thing above my head, but with a slow turn I was soon losing any height gained and back down to the ridge.  The final flight must have been done in about 24mph of wind and it was all ‘OK’. Real shame the wind was such a rubbish direction, otherwise I reckon we would have been zooming around all day!!

I reckon surfing the coast will be an absolute blast!! Jamie did not fancy it so maybe it looked a little more hairy than it really was! Please note that the harness, apart from ruining my family allowance (until I wrapped them in my helmet bag) naturally spreads your legs.

May be good after work this week although could be a little light for this thing!! Catch you later.

Sartfell to Hibernia

I arrived at the top of Sartfell about 2.30pm, after watching Ste and Goldie scratching around but not getting very high. It was quite blustery but generally about 14mph. Simon arrived back on top from the back side of Sartfell just as I got to the top. I rigged up and then waited for a lull in the wind. The gusts coming through were blowing the wing all over the place and trying to fold it up.

I took off and started going up straight away and very slowly penetrated forward, although I never had to use the bar. There was lift everywhere in front of the hill, with the best climb rate at 4.5 metres / second.

When I was about 150m above take off I decided to go with the next thermal I caught, just to see how far I could get. After hearing how far the others had got, I was quite prepared to be landing out on the side of Slieu Freoghane. I kept circling until I lost the thermal then headed off down wind towards the Snaefell bottom lander, finding another couple of thermals on the way just to keep my  height topped up.

I arrived over the reservoir around 115m above take off and found another thermal. This took me up to over 300m above take (I couldn’t always see my vario as the strap was loose and it kept sliding down) so I had to take one hand off the controls every now and again to see it (which is why I can’t be very specific about the heights). I drifted back over to the East Mountain Gate, at the top end of the mountain Mile.

After that it was a straight glide along the west face of North Barrule to Hibernia but I didn’t find any lift along there. I turned into wind around 100 ft above ground level and got bounced around a bit but I landed gently. My measurements from take off to landing come to 13.3 km. I will have to get one of those GPS things, so that people will believe me!


After a couple of sneaky flights with the clubs new toy, I was hooked and decided to lash out get my own.

It arrived on Wednesday and was able to get my first flight on Thursday and what a cracking flight it was!  Wind easterly, very light quite turbulent.  Set up and took off out of the field at back of my house, with the intention of a small flight out to St Judes and back, but ended up heading out towards Andreas church, then heading to St Judes and back always keeping plenty of height on board just in case of engine seizure whilst running  in.  When I got back decided to head out to the Point of Ayre found quite a bit of turbulence heading towards the Bride hills so pulled on the throttle to see if I could get above it, which worked out nicely and headed out towards the gravel quarry at the point.  When I got there decided I would fly along the coast towards Jurby (making sure I was well away from the prison!!) at this stage I was stunned by the views the whole Island laid out like a rug, you could see from one end to the other.  Amazing how small the Island looks at 1585metres (6000 ft approx) above sea level!!  After Jurby headed towards Sandygate, then set of for a glide home just keeping the engine ticking over.  Getting back with plenty of height and having to burn it of, at this stage I spotted Watty, his wife and the dog at the right of way next to my field.  Coming into land, I knew it was going to be very fast as the other flights had been and requiring a little bit of lefthand weight shift as the clubs toy tended to turn right when there was no power and very nearly caught me out when coming into land so with this in mind my frame being the same, I did the same and it worked out fine keeping all the brake for a big flare.  My total flight time was 1hr 20mins.

It was an awesome flight and hope everyone else gets the same enjoyment!  Once you’ve tried it you will be hooked!

Snaefell to Laxey

Snaefell SW 0-5 mph

Got up to the top at about 2.30pm and met Bill. There seemed to be some thermals coming through and felt as though we could stay up. We couldn’t though with Giles, Keith, Jamie, Bill and I all slope landing. Had an ice cream and then all set up for forward launches as the wind by 3.30pm had gone. We were joined by Colin.

Jamie and Bill got off first, Jamie finding some week thermals down to the southern side and having a very extended top to bottom. Bill had pretty much the same about 10 minutes later to the northern side. Colin was off next and found something just a bit of the ridge.  I lobbed off from the northern end of the ridge, followed by Keith to the south with Giles.

The thermal was weak but after a few 360’s got a bit more established with Colin above and Keith and Giles sliding in below.  After  some time in the creamiest thermal in the world got to cloud base at about 940 metres asl. The cloud was multi-tiered so we were able to keep climbing to a second cloudbase at 1025 metres. It was real magic stuff flying around between the cloud high above Snaefell.

With no more height to be gained I headed through a gap in the cloud towards Laxey followed by Keith and then Colin about another 20 metres above. After an inital  smooth 5:1 glide things calmed themselves down and had a nice 34-37 kmph glide all the way to Laxey. There was no really lift or sink of note on the way down, just showing that anything there was had come from Snaefell.

Crossed the Laxey Glen Valley , checked the state of the Tide in Laxey harbour (in) so landed just by the transmitter above Mike Swales’ house.  Do not know where Colin peeled off to, Ballacannall perhaps. Keith landed just up the road with Giles (leaving Snaefell 200 m below everyone else apparently) making it there as well. Next glider is a Rush 2 then?

It was a lovely flight – shame I did not turn on the GPS track log until I got to the Laxey Wheel and had unpacked the camera. Nice fresh orange at the parents and then Tara came and collected me.

The Site With No Name

Forecast said too strong but thought I’d take a look at Sartfell and TSWNN last night (28/04) as its only up the road from me.

Was too south at Sartfell so continued to TSWNN (or should I say “the site with a name” as strictly it has a name if you follow me… ) and pleased to see Martyn was there with his dogs.

It seemed too strong – Ean and I had been out last week and conditions seemed the same – not flyable – but I headed down to consider the take off anyway and it was OK – 10 to 16 mph with a touch of west in it.

Seemed very lifty too judging by the seagulls. Got off no problem and no problem penetrating and had a lovely 45 mins or so flying around until it got a bit cold.

Got to 513m (about 115m ATO) at one point – someone’s going to head off from there one day for a long flight I think.