Paragliding Map

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Never Give Up, Never Surrender

This July I attended the Inter-Service Championships with the hope of representing the RAF team.  The comp was hosted from Nescliff camp in Shropshire (a basic facility but with all the necessary creature comforts and a WiFi hotspot!).  I arrived on Saturday morning 21st July around 11:30 in the morning.  The weather looked absolutely astounding and considering this is the champs that was a first.  As I flew over the English Channel, I looked out of the airplanes window to a sight of a thousand cloud streets which stretched from Dover, all the way to Manchester and beyond!  Brilliant I thought, but as the day progressed into the afternoon the sky became slightly milky and the nice defined cumulus clouds spread to fill the sky.  On Sunday, the wind was weak and we drove to the Long Mynd to see how the upper wind was doing.  A few of the local pilots took off and were very quickly at the bootom landing field and packing to go home!  We all chose not to fly as a top to bottom at the Mynd is quite the retrieve and one hell of a walk back to the top.  Over the course of the week the wind did nt improve from this and site after site was Nil wind!  On Wednesday we drove to Hundred House and paid £3 for the privalige to sit on top of the hill and sunbath.  The wind in the morning was nill to very weak and in the afternoon was 7mph 180 degrees in the wrong direction.  I had a top to bottom but that was it.  Thursday was better and we arrived at a Long Mynd soaring club site called Batch Hill.  We actually were using the wrong launch and had to pay a different club an extra fee to use it :( but the wind was at least blowing and onto the face of the hill.  There was no real lift to speak of but a task to fly the furthest distance was set with an activating distance of 10km.  All tried, All failed!  with no activation the task was not valid and so yet another day was written off.  It was not a total waste though as people got their feet off the ground and flew top to slope landings all day and five pilots managed to get away from the hill in an attempt to score points!  I managed a very poor three or four flights with the longest flight being around 15 - 20 minutes in the air and a landing in the bottom landing field.
I fly home tomorrow so am not able to take part in procedings from this point; however, the weather looks much better so I would like to wish all the teams good luck and a very special good luck to the RAF team who are currently defending their title of Inter-Service Champions! Go Jerry, Go!

Friday, 15 June 2012

I had a look at the forecast today and I really should have listened to it today! Wunderground, my preferred Weather forecasting site was predicting very light winds until around midday and then becoming 10 -12mph Westerly later in the afternoon.  The problem is, that this is often the forecast for later in the afternoon and I've lost count of the times I've been to the hill expecting to fly only to find it's blown out due to a strong sea breeze that has taken over.  Equally on desperate days when I haven't flown for weeks I'll pop down even if it's forecast to be Northerly and low and behold I've still flown! this is usually due to a strong sea breeze kicking in and taking over funny old thing so Curium has often proved to be a difficult site to predict.  The only person I know to have had any luck with that is a guy called Dave Neal.  He used to live about 3 minutes away from the hill by car and his house was atop the cliffs to the West of the site.  He'd step into his back yard, take a look at the tops of the trees and issue his forecast by text.  The lucky few who were privy to these texts were usually rewarded with a very nice flight thank you very much.  Since Dave left the island though we have had to rely on the met stations at Akrotiri or Paphos, neither of which really give an accurate reading for Curium.  I miss you Dave!  Come back soon.
Well anyway, Glenn had told me he would like to come today and so I popped via his house before setting off to the hill.  About 40 minutes into the drive down, it suddenly dawned on me that I had left my Saloman boots in the hallway at home and was still wearing my flip flops!  Well I had Glenn with me, I didn't want to depress him buy turning round and going back for them so I elected to stop at Orphanides in Limassol and have a look for a pair there to buy.  A cheap pair that would see me right in the brambles on top.  Well 20 minutes later, when I arrived, Glenn disappeared off to MacDonalds whilst I shopped.  In and out I thought, something cheap.  Well I had a look at the offerings upstairs and to be honest for the price of them I thought I may as well buy a decent pair, something that I'll wear all the time so I decided to pop into the shoe shop in the arcade only to drop on a pair of very nice echo shoes, well two pairs actually but I only bought the one as to take a mortgage out would have been ridiculous.  Now Cyprus is no longer renowned for it's cheap shopping but when the girl rang up the bill for the shoes, I could see why there were no prices on them! €179!!!!!  Now I've never paid more than about £80 for shoes and that was when my mum was buying.  I will normally only stretch to £40 and very occasionally £55 as with my Salomans.  So with my jaw dropping I said no thanks I'll just go without I was looking more like €79!  I have no idea what came over me next, as I heard the woman say OK I give you 5% off I then agreed and gave her my card! I think she must have hypnotised me or something.  But I have to say they are very nice Yak leather echo shoes that should last me for some time.
After that Glenn and I headed up the hill only to find Nil wind at the top and the distinct look of a Westerly flow someway out to sea.  But as this was glenn's first time on the hill for some time and with both of the Clubs coaches on the hill we urged Glenn to top to bottom and just get a feel for the sport again.  It was difficult to launch his Alpha 2 due to the lightness of the wind and also a couple of the carpets on top have vanished so it was a little snaggy too.  But Glenn managed two reasonable launches and two landings and managed to get a minor scare into the bargain too.  On his second attempt he basically ran half way down the slope with half of his wing under his arm and the other end flying above him!  As he disappeared over the lip of the hill, Tim and I were concerned but after a brief look over the edge we could see that he was  fine, it transpired he had a couple of minor scratches on his ankle due to the rocks and bushes.  Something everyone who has ever flow this hill has suffered at some point in their past!
So the day wasn't a complete loss but it was a lot of hard work for two top to bottoms.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Today at the hill was another day like yesterday.  Only this time I didn't have to mess around at the clubhouse first.  I got to the hill and could see that the wind was on the hill with just a little East in it, also it felt like it was blowing around 8-10mph and I thought I'd give it a go!  After a pretty bumpy ride I landed on the beech near the first cafe and Pete, who had just arrived drove down to get me.  Cheers Pete, I will miss you!  I stuffed my glider into his boot and we went to the second cafe for a drink and chat.  Soon it seemed the wind had picked up so we trotted back up the hill.  As we thought, it had indeed picked up to around 10mph with the odd gust getting up to 15ish mph.  I set up and first attempt was a little uncontrolled which ended with me bringing the wing back down and getting the lines caught around my GoPro! this would have been a bit of an issue if I'd have been on my own!  Please, if anyone reading this uses a helmet cam, beware of the dangers! actually all I need have done was to step toward the wing but I think due to the tugging sensation on my neck I was a little panicked and just stood there!  Oh well, Pete once again was there to aid me along with two passers by that I'd managed to gift wrap too! he he!  Still my second attempt at launch went far more to plan, was under control and I simply let the wind lift me from the hills surface and into the sky!
For the first five minutes it was very smooth and lifty and I got quite a good view of the ruins, but as Pete took off, the wind turned more from the south and the western cliffs became scratchy.  I eased around to the front of launch and was rewarded with some nice lift there!  Overall this was about the best flight the day had to offer, sort of 1400 until around 1500.  Pete decided he would like to top land and I offered advice as to how best go about it.  It isn't the easiest of places to land on top of this quirky hill of ours and there are pilots out there that say 'if you can top land at Curium, you can land anywhere!'  I suggested he should try a few approaches first and practise slowing the wing enough that he didn't overshoot the launch and also practise a little mushing in case of being too high.  After some practise approaches and one slightly hairy one I could see that he'd got it spot on and he touched down nicely in the centre of the launch pad, problem was he slowly started to get dragged back toward the barrier and we managed to get him stopped as his legs touched it.  Hands up Pete! and he slowly walked away from it still flying the wing.  By now the wind was a little blustery and for a fresh pilot it was quite tricky but Pete did very well not to get completely wiped out over the road and for this I congratulate him!  When he was far enough away from the barrier I pulled his centre A risers and collapsed the front of the wing and brought it down.  Pete stepped toward the wing taking the tension off the lines and he was well and truly on the deck!  "Right" I said "I'll just turn my camera off so bring that over to the tree and we'll have a rest."  As I was at my camera I heard a sudden expletive and looked up to find Pete with his wing over the barrier and I rushed over to help.  It was at this point I burnt my finger and thumb on one of his lines!  Always wear your gloves! damn it!! I always do but had removed them to fiddle with the buttons on my camera.  Oh well all was good and no real damage caused apart from a slight friction burn to Pete's knee! he he.
It wasn't a smooth flight but then again it wasn't all that scratchy either, but you just couldn't relax enough to take in the sites!  Hopefully tomorrow will bring better wind!
The last flight of the day was really just because I was bored of watching the windsock and decided to dummy it out myself.  The wind by this time 1615ish didn't really know if it was Southwesterly or Southerly but it was blowing around 12mph so I decided I'd like to walk to the  sandpit and launch from there!  Pete came along too and watched in disbelief as I quickly began to sink.  I struggled with lift for a bit and thought I would go straight down but I found a nice bit of lift in front of top launch and then again by the sandpit.  I was above the sandpit and bought I was here to stay but shouted to Pete that he may struggle to get any height from the pit and that he might like to top launch.  He trudged back to the top shouting to me that 'I you go down I'll come get you!'  "I'm not going down!" I shouted back and flew to the far western cliffs to see what was over there.  Nothing! was the answer I got and quickly found myself at the bottom feeling very sorry for myself!  True to his word, Pete did indeed come to my rescue! and again I must thank him!
My track logs can be found here

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Well, an interesting day today! a day of satisfaction, discovery and learning.  I did not have very high hopes for today being flyable at all and in fact had all but given up on the idea but I had to help Tim errect a sign at the club house which is as near to the hill as damn it is to dom it, so I packed the wing just in case.  Tim and I discussed a few issues to do with work and the club over a cuppa and then popped into the clubhouse to put up two splendid signs he's had made! I must say, they are the best signs I have ever seen :) heaven knows who designed the logo? [Breethes on finger nails and rubs them on Shirt].  They look quite nice, it's a pitty really as the rest of the club house is in a bit of a state but I am rather satisfied with them!

Well as far as I know, this is the first uploaded picture of the outside of our club house on the internet so if you ever wanted to know what the CSCC actually looks like, discover it here! :)
Well, that done, I dropped Tim back off at home and had another cup of coffee whilst we looked over a memory stick that we had found in the clubhouse.  Well actually a phone that had been found down the sides of one of the chairs in our crew room.  We were trying to assertain whos phone it was and due to the fact it had run out of battery and we had no means of charging it, our only option was to browse it's memory stick! it was pretty boring actually but if you are reading this and you are a male SGT aircrew, early 20's and have lost a Samsung phone on a recent Paragliding course in Cyprus, please feel free to contact me through the CSCC website! I can probably send it through 216 mail! be faster than snail mail!
Well this brings me to the good part, I asked Tim if he would like to join me on the hill and we checked the forecast which looked as if it may just be possible right now, but in 15 minutes or so it may well be blown out and so Tim declined and I wished him a good afternoon and left.  At the top of the hill I quickly texted everyone that it looked perfect and they should come! turns out alot of folk never received this text but hey, what do I care?  the bushes were all bouncing around a bit and so, as I was currently alone I elected for a sand pit launch.  Eventually this proved a good choice as I had no problem at all getting away and was lifted into the sky almost imediately.  I tracked left to the end of the wall and then turned back to top launch where I could just see Pete arriving! In minutes he had set up and we were boating about together quite nicely in slightly thermic conditions; some of which were quite uncomfortable but manageable.  After about 20 minutes this calmed down and a consistant updraft began which took us up and above the ruins easily with nice smooth lift right along the hill.  This lasted for around 40 minutes until finally the wind kicked Westerly bringing us both down to just above scratching height with those familiar thermals punching through just to keep us aloft.  I elected after a further 20 minutes or so to try and top land which I did after about 3 attempts and Christakis was waiting on top and helped me out of the sky with a bit of a pull on the shoulder straps!  Cheers buddy, I would have been tiptoeing around that launch area for a few more minutes if you hadn't grabbed me.  I could see Pete Fuller had landed at the bottom so I was about to put my kit to one side to fetch him when Chris asked "do you mind if I try your glider?" I said of course you can try, as I feel this is like giving your guitar to a musician and him proving to you that actually it's not the strings you're just crap at playing! lol.  Chris took it for a spin, their and back again to see how far it was, putting in some reasonable wing overs and thouroughly checking it's speed range.  I presume this is due to his new status as the Cyprus Niviuk rep and his current lack of demo wings from Niviuk.  He returned to the top after a few beats and reported he liked it.  He said it responded very well to his input but that I should shorten my speed bar as he thought it was a little long for me!  Actually he was spot on, it is in fact about 2cm too short but as I am collecting a brand new harness soon I see no reason to faf around.  I'll have enough to do sorting the new one out.  So one hour and 20 minutes all in today :) I am once again a happy man!
Oh yeah, the learning part of the day was that I really must remember to tie off my valuables! I went to the bottom to pick Pete up and he asked me what it was that I had dropped off my harness? I said I have no idea what you are talking about and then felt in my pockets!  My phone was gone! arrghhhh! how will I call Lisa and tell her about my day?? how will I find out about Pub nights or flying days? Arrrghhhhh! then again, I need a new phone so it didn't seem that bad to me.  Oh well I thought! it wasn't expensive and had done me and Dave Neal proud over about 7 years.  Pete told me how he saw it fall onto the rocks near the sandpit and it had slid into the scrub below them.  That's it I thought! a million, million pieces! I must have been 70ft up at that point.  We drove back to the top and went for a wander to try and find it.  We walked for around 20 minutes when Pete said "I know! I'll ring it!" to whit I replied "It'll be in pieces! it'll at least have dropped the battery out of it's arse!" then "It's ringing!"  "Where? I can't hear it!"  we walked up and down for about 5 minutes when Pete shouted "I can hear it!" I ran to him and sure enough, about 6ft from where he said he'd seen it land there it was, intact, without even a scratch! well not one that wasn't there before anyway!  "Bugger!" I thought, no new phone for me!

My track log is Here

Tight lines everyone!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Ok so I'm not the best blogger in the world.  I understand this, but some people will insist that I sit down, away from my wife and kids and type something about the proceeds of the day!  Honestly, it's like being back at school or something!
As you're probably all aware, I haven't blogged for over six months!  The reason behind this is that I have been at work in Afghanistan and slumped into a little depression which I am now attempting to drag myself out of.  I'm doing this by spending time with the wife and kids obviously! but also on the side I have a dark mistress, she is always tempting me away from them, calling like a cool beer in the fridge.  Oh the anticipation I just can't stand it! and I often sneak out to give her a little visit! I call her Nivs! and she takes me to heights that I otherwise couldn't imagine.
Well the last few weeks I have been trying to reach these heights, but something just isn't right with the world.  I'm not sure what it is but it's interfering and I don't like it one bit!  Gone are the days when you could fly for hours on end and now all you get is 20 minutes here and 30 minutes there! it's awful.  I stole five minutes in the sky whilst on R&R on May.  Since I returned the weather has not been kind.  Yes it's hot and sunny, and I can have a few cool beers on the beech but this just isn't enough!  I need the wind to be right too.  Sod the beer!  If I could drop on Curium or even one of the other sites on this island on just the right day I would be chuffed to death!  I mean, I wouldn't die or anything but a day when I have just happened upon a hill and it was perfect to fly and I had my glider with me is so far distant in my mind I struggle to recall.
Well I suppose I better get on with today then.  I left home this morning expecting Curium to have a reasonable wind direction and strength.  But as I was filling up my car with fuel in Erimi, Pete Fuller texted me and informed me that it was pants and that he and Christakis were off to Dora!
"Hmmmm...... Dora?" I thought. "Not been there for a while!"
I replied stating where I was and that I would be there in a few minutes.
On the top the wind was South Westerly ish.  There just wasn't any lift in it.  Not even enough to lift the wind sock beyond 90 degrees from vertical.  I mean there was plenty of wind, just none of it was rising!  weird!  Curium has been doing this a lot lately.  People take off on what seems a perfectly flyable day and end up at the bottom in moments.  Well I watched a few of chris' studes go to the bottom and though OK Dora it is!   We left and 20 minutes later I was at the top of Dora! a beautiful site, only it was suffering cross wind a little.  This worried me a little! but Christakis said he would wind dummy and radio his findings!  He had quite a nice flight however the earlier minutes seem a little fraught and he was getting jostled about quite a bit.  He covered it nicely and we on the ground really didn't notice and were just thinking "Hmmmm.. Maybe I should get my kit." however I had doubts, I have recently purchased a new harness, and not too soon either! my old Charlie tube has about 2 hours life left in it before it goes on the bonfire!  or maybe I will rescue it and build a chair out of it.  Who knows?  Well there are a few minor issues with it, which mean I can't (Won't) sell it on to anyone else.  Nothing Serious! trust me I'm not that stupid! Well if you must know I trod on the chest strap about a year ago and split the plastic clip Ooops!  Well it still works and has not opened so far on it's own!  Also, I noticed one of the plastic inserts of the SIL (Single In Line) pins (the bit that rests inside the riser loops) is missing!  I think I must have lost it in May as I'd never noticed it gone before and I always check them before my flights.  Well this one is the one that gives me the most worry.  I know it's easily repaired but out here every repair takes three to five weeks delivery and I'm buggered If I'm waiting that long.  I have taped over the metal so that it doesn't chaff on the riser.  It's only a couple more flights and I will check the loop before each flight.  If it shows any sign of wear I'll have to call it a day!
Well anyway, I didn't fly due to the turbulence and Pete didn't feel the love either so we elected to return to Curium where we at least had a chance of a top to bottom without an horrendous walk back to launch.  By the time we arrived back the wind was a little stronger but really not much!  I was debating weather it was worth it at all but decided that three hours driving is worth one top to bottom and that is what I got! I 20 minute top to bottom.  I hope this little blurb suffices of a while!  you can find my track logs here and if you are friends with me on Facebook then you can see my only photos of the day!