Club News

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.

Paragliding Weekend 29th-30th September 2007

The BBC prophecy of clear blue flying skies proved completely unfounded as Saturday gloomily dawned.  Si and Keith had been out and found everything clagged in. It …looked like it was clearing a tiny bit…. I had a quick peek from Santon and saw a dot taking off from Beinn-y-Phott – Giles and Chris Mis were out braving the clag. At that very moment a patch of blue sky appeared above my head – time to get busy.

Half an hour later saw myself, Giles, Chris Mis, Ste, Si, Keith, Bill, Ean and Gold stood on Phott in the gloom. The cloud had been up and down but now looked like it was lifting a little. Not very inspiring but hey we could always try for Carrighan …and it’’s always a different day there.  The wind was a little off to the north. First to cross the gap were Giles and Si and we watched with interest as they seemed to climb easily on the next ridge. Next to go was Keith.  I was, however, stuck – not managing to get up to even to the top of Phott.  Eventually, after a long sweaty scratch, a blip came through that got me level with the top and I was off.  The glide was easy and Carrighan was working well as usual.  Just head for the gate and up you go.

Continue reading Paragliding Weekend 29th-30th September 2007

Sky Hill to Knockaloe 23rd July 2007

My compatriots in Ward 11 had other reasons to be there with broken bones. Quad bike accident, car accident, falling out of a tree to retrieve his kids ball, a lead weight falling off a shelf onto his foot, walking out onto his garden patio and tripping over a foot high retaining wall. Mine was at least a bit more exciting and memorable.

The forecast for Ballaugh was good at 16mph but due to increase. It was 5pm and there was no time to waste as seemed evident already by the biggish white horses now clearly visible. My tail was definitely securely screwed on but I was still a little unsure whether it had been that factor that spoilt my last flight on Beinn-y-Phott. I was therefore a bit apprehensive as I took off into surprisingly light but lifty air. In the first hour I ventured out three times to between 1.5 and 2 miles out front and returned safely still at hill height, topping out at first 1000 ft and later 1600 ft Above Take Off.

Later whilst in hospital Watty lent me Judy’s book “Flying with Condors” in which she says that one of her ambitions had always been to fly with either Golden Eagles, Peregrine Falcons or Condors. At one point for about 15 minutes I was at 1200 ft ATO ridge soaring with a Peregrine Falcon sitting beneath me at 1100 ft ATO. Everytime our paths crossed he would turn his head up to look straight up at me to reveal the white underside of his head. That was something to remember.

After two hours I thought it was time to head out towards Andreas but changed my mind over Sulby when I didn’t seem to be penetrating that fast and fell back instead to take the easy ridge run to Sky Hill where I topped out at 1700 ft ATO in even smoother air than I had had at Ballaugh for some photos of Ramsey. There was about 50% orographic cloud cover a few hundred feet beneath me and stretching back in patches to North Barrule. Above North Barrule about 500 feet above me there was a slightly ominous separate blackish cloud which I assumed would be a wave cloud with associated mega-lift. I didn’t have the bottle to put myself back there amongst that combination of dual layer clouds.

Instead and for the first time ever for me I returned with ease out over Sulby, the Curraghs and back onto Ballaugh arriving still with 900 ft ATO. Now there was 75% orographic cloud on the hills beneath me. Behind Ballaugh over Mount Karrin / Slieu Dhoo, the top of this orographic cloud was being shaped into a classic low smooth curved broad wave cloud. I started to fly back towards this but chickened out just over the back when I started to sink. Now the wave had really started to kick in which got me to 2100 ft ATO (2900 ft Above Sea Level). In retrospect I think I should have stuck with it as the wave was getting better all the time and I just may have got really high.

Three hours is normally plenty long enough for me but obviously I couldn’t just wind it all off, so I set off for the highest point of the cliffs at Orrisdale Head. I seemed to be losing a bit more height than was warranted by any meagre lift I just might get on the cliffs, so I steered a bit more south to join the cliffs at Kirk Michael still 2300 ft ASL. I wanted to prove to myself that it was possible to get some useable lift a couple of hundred metres out in front of the the 100 ft cliffs whilst still flying at height. This was something I thought I had discovered last August on a similar but somewhat lower flight to Peel but my vario / flight recorder hadn’t recorded it so I could replay it. Later I had mentioned this high level cliff lift at Andreas Gliding Club but I don’t think anyone believed it was possible.

I mentioned at our Creg Ny Baa meeting on Thursday that I thought I had been getting light wave over the flatland between the coast and the hills. From closer analysis of my height loss over time I find that I was wrong and that the ups shown on my vario were cancelled by the downs! Nevertheless the lift on Ballaugh to 2900 ft ASL was surely wave assisted. Also I did most certainly get high level lift off the cliffs which I reckon was most likely wave assisted. I flew the 6 miles of cliffs from Kirk Michael to Peel Head in 13 minutes starting at 2300 ft ASL and finishing at 1300 ft ASL at the start of Peel Head.

Allowing for the theoretical best sink rate of my glider of 140 feet/ minute (almost certainly optimistic due to the age and condition of glider, not to mention the lousy pilot) means that, although I was sinking, I was actually being assisted by an average of 63 feet / minute lift. Some of this stretch was well out of wind but in the best lift. For five minutes just past Kirk Michael, I was getting a steady 125 feet / minute lift (almost as much as the 140 ft needed for me to stay up) while still at 2300 ft ASL at over twenty times the height of the cliffs!

From out in front of the Stack I set out in a nervous but deternmined manner straight across Peel Bay for St Patricks Isle with half a kilometre of sea and all of Peel between myself and any kind of landing option. This was very “stimulating” but with no lift greater than my sink rate until after passing Corrins Tower I finally found marginal lift at Contary Head at the south end where the hill kinks NNW. Still not good enough so with 1200 ft ASL it was time to go and crash land!

The straight line distance Sky Hill to Knockaloe was just over 14 miles – my furthest flight so far on the Island. It was just a pity that I screwed up big time at the end! In the hospital I kept looking at a table mat in the TV room showing the view with the Castle in the foreground and looking North across Peel Bay towards Kirk Michael. I felt like I was still up there in the middle of the picture at 1300 ft and that was always going to be just one part of a very memorable flight. Anyway at least I think my compatriots were mildly impressed by what this kamikazee old geezer with the bus pass had been up to.

Kamiikazee Martin Visits Knockaloe

Monday 23rd July

Peel Hill is a 400 foot high camels back ridge and the wind is forming big white horses on the sea side, so I am wondering why I am coming in to land a mere one kilometre downwind in lee rotor behind it at Knockaloe?? Was it really worth the memorable view as I crossed out to sea across Peel Bay and the Castle to soar Peel Hill and is this going to hurt?

The field I had picked out on my recce following last August’s flight to Peel was much bigger but it was also a couple of hundred metres nearer to Peel Hill, in full length Barley waiting to be cut and also had a line of sturdy little trees on the upwind side—. More rotor? I didn’t need that. What about this nice smaller grassy field? Yep that will do. Now then think rotor – need extra speed and better only put half flaps on for more control. Bound to get thrown all over the place.

All this thinking is tiring and the field is only 70 metres by 150 metres and runs WNW and not NNW. I later find it runs downhill 25 feet. Determined to get it in, possibly lifted another 20 feet as I came in, I soon run out of field but not enough to get over the bank / hedge to the other side. FLARE NOW!!

Oh dear now I’ve gone and done it and after all these years without breaking anything!

I am very grateful to you all for looking after me and with especial thanks to Watty and Amanda who really did a magnificent job of collecting my car and de-rigging / retrieving my glider. Its almost worth a bit of pain and inconvenience to find that you have somehow acquired such fantastic mates. Its all part of this incredible flying experience we tend to take for granted and which we are all so very lucky to share.

In the event the wind was nowhere as strong as the white horses showed, it was only 12 to 15mph and if I had used full flaps I would probably have been OK. Rotor was not a significant problem. I would also have been OK if I had aborted the first field half way across and veered into the adjoining huge barley field!