Cracking the season 2017 open


It’s been too long!

It’s been exactly one year since my last mountain flight. Last time was a lovely 9-days trip to the French Alps with [Zenith Aventura] hang gliding school. It was my first group hang gliding expedision and boy was it fun. Unfortunately I didn’t get to fly much more after that. C’est la vie.

Now I’m back in the game and the season has officially started for me. I flew from The Netherlands to Spain with my [Perfex] from the [Finsterwalder-Charly] all the way to Spain. Lovely that it short packs to 2m. I had no trouble checking it in as oversized luggage (€55 with, what a great deal!) and managed to bring it to Àger with the help of my flying buddy Guy, based in Barcelona.

Since it’s been so long since my last flight from the mountains, although to be fair I made a couple of flights on the winch in NL back in October, I have decided to only do early morning and/or late afternoon flights to make sure that everything is still working good for me, that my launch and landing techniques are still valid and that there is nothing critical that might impact my safetey up in the air.

Today I had my first flight of the season and it was nice

The forecast had predicted an overcast day with a southerly wind prevailing throughout the day. But when we got to take off (at around 09:30), the wind was coming straight from W and even at some point it was NW! There was also a very high cirrocumulus above the valley and the wind just wouldn’t come right to launch. We didn’t want to take off on thermic conditions because both of us were just not comfortable with turbulence on the landing field (and Àger can get really crazy on landing!)

We decided to wait a little before rigging up. Then the sun started to come out a little and the wind started to get more SW.

Let’s go flying!

At this point we decided to rig up and get ready. Nuria is the first one to go out and test the air. No radio communication, though, but from how we saw it, she was doing all right and it didn’t see that turbulent.

I took off good 20 minutes after her. Coming to launch was easy and there was a nice 10-12Km/h breeze coming straight into launch so I was feeling confident and not nervous. After waiting for a couple of paragliders to take off, off I went.

It was a nice and smooth take off, perfect for coming back to flying after so long. Right between the first and the second ridge it was quite moved and there were already some vultures thermaling around, but I just went straight for landing.
After passing the second ridge, the air basically became a smooth, creamy layer.

The landing

I arrived to the LZ quite high, so I had a chance to get a good feeling of my new (2nd hand) glider. I tried several turns, 8s, a couple of stalls, 360s and when it was time to get on business I unzipped and started loosing altitude by doing S’s or 8s. Two windsocks were telling me W and one was telling me SW, so I decided to go for in-between those two. I transitioned to the uprights with plenty of altitude and pulled in as I have been taught (speed is your friend!) and came on a nice straight line into the field.

Just about 5 meters above the ground I catched some raising air so I pulled in just a little more (I thought I was already on the limit) and when I was out of that bubble I tried to slowly decrease my speed but I sank too fast. Fortunatelly I had enough speed to level the wing up a little and not hit the ground fast but I didn’t have enough time to bring my hands high on the uprights and flare, so I decided to go for a belly landing. Proud not hurt because the decision was made consciously and I think it was the safest thing I could do, instead of improvising some sort of half-assed flare.

Final thoughts

That’s it. I’m quite happy with my first flight of the season and even though I am taking it easy with the first flights being sledriders I can’t wait to get out there and finally have some thermal fun!

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