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Blogging about flying hang gliders and hang gliding...

Last Build Date: Wed, 16 Jun 2004 20:53:22 GMT

Copyright: Copyright 2004 Flyblog

More airtime

Wed, 16 Jun 2004 20:53:22 GMT

Yesterday I got fed up with working and seeing such great weather outside. Out with Dave and we had almost the whole range to ourselves. A bit tricky to get up at first - quite cyclic - then rough as anything over Colonna, but then got up to 2100m over Nudo (blown north) and rather than head north and not get back decided to go for Campo dei Fiori. Got there - just - below ridge height, -5m/s for the last km...

After crusing there a bit, up to 1950m with a sailplane, again getting blown back, then out over to between Sangiano and Cardana, back to Sasso where it was +2m/s in the ridge lift alone... out over the Laveno harbour to get down, 2h30 and a reasonable landing (lots of steps...). Didn't feel destroyed either: combination of air sick pills and the electric shock therapy seems to work well.

Yes, the foehn is no fun?

Sun, 13 Jun 2004 09:03:59 GMT

In the Oz Report last week Hansjoerg Truttman gave a highly accurate warning of tumblings and crashes that actually went on to happen less than 48hrs later. But even despite that, some pilots maybe still don't get it: Gerolf Heinrichs (whom designed my glider and I'd certainly give him respect for his judgement on such matters) is reported by Davis Straub

"I asked Gerolf about foehn conditions and he says that it requires an upper level layer of stable air and that you can usually see the lenticulars.  There has been no indication of upper level stable air except perhaps a bit on day two"

Well, that's a bit beside the point. Yes, maybe a classical foehn condition requires a venturi to be established (with the mountains providing one side) but in fact the problem in Austria this week has been quite simply "wind" (Foehn is in fact a complex meteorological phenomenon, of which wind is just one component). Lenticulars are a poor indicator indeed of this wind; maybe only one in ten foehn conditions here produce them (you need the right amount of moisture in the air, to begin with).

Indeed, the foehn all this week here (I'm about 400km West of the Worlds location at Greifenburg and south of the Alps) has been gentle and given excellent flying conditions, south of the Alps. This doesn't mean that you don't get a venturi effect in the Alps, and the tropopause still acts as a layer below which the venturi can get established.

Just think about it: the tropopause is usually at around 8 to 10km. The Alps are 3 to 4km high. Without having a stable layer below the tropopause, you create a venturi that is a reduction of 1/3 to 1/2 of the normal space that the air passes through. Add to this a pressure difference across the alps, and you have real potential for high winds, gusts, wind shear. Mix in a decent lapse rate, like reported the whole of this week...  tumble, tumble, tumble. Not much fun, I'd say.

tuning my litesport, bis

Thu, 10 Jun 2004 11:56:29 GMT

Checked out a few things last weekend.

  • Elastic had gone on stinger, bit of a fiddle to replace but easy in the end.
  • Checked the battens, all OK which shows that the original shape (bent) was very unlikely the first 20hours of flying (30 on it since then...). So it was delivered with rather dodgy battens shapes.
  • The VG rope (bottom part) was indeed twisted once around the lower cable retainer - hence the extra friction. Easy to sort out when you know what to do - easiest to pull off the bottom of the upright. At least with the normal uprights and FAST bar re-threading the rope is easy.

The glider now flies good and straight with no feeling of skewness... seems I've got completely through that phase now.

Thu, 10 Jun 2004 11:47:49 GMT

Decent enough flight in bumpy conditions last Sunday. 2h20 with lots of sink between thermals, climbs usual 2 to 4 m/s up, but several pilots went down crossing valleys. I had a big climb out (850m) from low down in the Brusciatta, but only to just under 1750m. I didn't go further than Nudo, seeing a few coming back low low low from Colonna. Finally I got a bit bored and tried going out in front, got to 1950m, and then spent the best part of 45mins thermalling over Cardana and Bogno.


By contrast, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and today have all been fantastic flying days...

Out and about

Sun, 30 May 2004 12:13:50 GMT

Finally a spot of reasonable weather and some flights. Both about the same track, off to Pian, San Martino and Sangiano. Topped out at 1800m both times. Nice flights, about 30km XC but still haven't got 8hrs yet this year! Only five flight so far...

Have to check out my VG (too stiff since I changed uprights) and also repack the chute. And the stinger elastic has gone.

Shit weather

Sun, 09 May 2004 18:50:44 GMT

Weather has been crap all weekend again. Today NW with quite a lot of OD, big clouds. Looked great out in the plains. Tomorrow, Monday, looks like being great. As usual.


New A frame

Sun, 09 May 2004 18:42:46 GMT

Put on the standard A-frame today, finally arrived and went down to Parma to collect it from Franco. Looks nice, actually quite clean. Uprights much safer. I have also a new FAST speedbar, since the old one has the holes drilled slightly differently and cannot be used. Looks like I'll need to try and sell the whole ZOOM frame to someone.

Even though it's been of a bit of pricey exchange, it's the right thing to do. What I should have done all along - just gone for the FAST speedbar upgrade, which was quoted at 100 euros. This way round has cost me a lot more, even if I manage to sell the ZOOM frame to someone, I'll be more than 500 euros out of pocket. At least I have more chance of keeping my arms if I crash.

Took the opportunity to weigh the glider - just under 32kg, exactly like the manual says. In the bag it's 35kg (I'm amazed that the non-flying stuff weighs so much). I also completed the manufacturer's sticker, which was mostly blank (for example, date of manufacture of glider, date of test flight, etc...


Wind forecasts for whole of Europe

Wed, 28 Apr 2004 20:25:00 GMT

Whilst updating my links I found a great source for wind models for whole of Europe and Switzerland. Up to a 48 hour forecast, too. : , choose "surface wind hires"

Sun, 25 Apr 2004 14:59:54 GMT

Forgot to add a little flight at Easter: good height, basically a 3 thermal flight though, over to Sacre Monte becuase there was a snow storm towards Sette Termine and Lema, then over home, back to Sasso, up to 1800m. At this point Campo dei Fiori started to produce a rain storm, I headed out over home again, and came into land because it started looking a bit heavy. 1h36min.


Sun, 25 Apr 2004 14:42:27 GMT

Today I sat another beautiful day out. The North South pressure difference was forecast to drop, but at 1.30 was still rising, and by 4.30 had hit 10hPa (5 is normally the good upper limit). Nevertheless, Hoky flew Bisbino OR, via Sette Termine, and yesterday Mauro Cornizzolo and back to Monte Generoso... when he hit the +13 hPa fohn coming over the alps...



Tomorrow (Monday) looks like being a perfect day. Of course. 


Sun, 25 Apr 2004 10:45:20 GMT

Teehee. So by a subtle change and the right posting I moved up to number 7 on the Google search "rss flight hang gliding".

Alpine accidents

Sun, 25 Apr 2004 10:41:28 GMT

There's been some discussion on some rather shocking looking stats concerning alpine acidents in 2003. Putting aside the conspiracy theory that it's just a way of getting students for various magazine contributor's alpine flying courses ;-) I have of course my own opinion... Just to remind you, I'm British, I learnt to fly a HG in the UK in the late '80s. I redid my entire course here in Italy in 1999, and fly mostly "foothills" 1200m high on the southern edge of the alps in Northern Italy. Flying is seriously different here. I recall a trip to Annecy (rather similar to here) in my 2nd (British) season, and realise now I knew nothing about what flying in mountains meant.   First on the stats: in Italy, about 1/1000 members is killed each year, about the same for HG and PG, so pretty much the same as the BHPA stats. This is about double the level of sailplane pilots, and to put it into perspective is a bit more than three times for accidental death rate for an average person (i.e., something like 1/3,300 people are killed in a year through general accidental death), or about the same risk as driving 50,000km annually on Italian roads... A friend of mine fought an insurance case (PG accident, badly damaged ankle/foot) so we researched these figures pretty well. 50 deaths in 2003 in the alps doesn't really tell us much, since we don't know the population of pilots, but could be believable.   As for an analysis of the accident causes: none of the things commonly listed as "accident causes" are that - they are a situation a pilot got into through bad judgement. In my opinion, most days I fly, cloudsuck is there. Strong sink is nearly always predictable. Turbulence exists over the back of every mountain (but which side is the back?). An analysis of the accidents would be useful, to remind us all the banal kind of mistakes that lead to these incidents. But turbulence, sink and wind are not causes of accidents. We always fly with some of the these elements - indeed, we rely on them.   Second: is flying in the alps more dangerous than the UK? In my opinion, if you know when to fly, NO. Definitely not. I would say my 40hours/year here are in fact safer than when I flew in the UK, sometimes in marginal conditions because of desperation with my "addicition" - getting just half the airtime per year. Many of the classic problems faced in the UK - flying low to the ground in windy conditions springs to mind - are not faced on the right days in the Alps. The question is, which are the right days?   The answer is quite simple - ones without wind. Or put differently, windy days in the Alps are never safe days. And you can pretty much work out when these are, especially given the abundance of information on the web (my main two sources for here: pressure difference across the alps (equals wind speed and turbulence), and a specialised forecast for pilots again from Sitwzerland; sorry, they are in Italian and German...). A statistic: I fly about 30 to 35 flights a year, mostly at weekends, and maybe only once or twice a year do I go out to fly and return home without doing so (compare that to a UK pilot's parawaiting stats). It is remarkably simple these days to forecast which days will be good ones.   Wind in the Alps is a killer, causes massive turbulence, and a pilot who is not used to turbulence will find the going scary and possibily fatal. My last flight here wasn't that exceptional for the spring, but I still registered +5/-8m/s on my vario. I landed when I saw a developing storm 6km away (over a mountain I just flew past 45mins before), I [...]