31 Jul 2004 rossigee   » (Journeyer)

Had a great day today. Outdoors. Away from computers.

I rigged my hang-glider, and pre-flighted it. I haven't unpacked it for nearly a year, but everything was just fine. It was a peachy day, and we regularly saw red kites circling, and at one point we saw a gaggle of about 20 sailplanes heading away from the top of a few seperate thermals well above Oxford.

John flew the tug, and aerotowed the Class 5 boys up to about 2500ft a time. Richard managed an out and return to Headington, near Oxford, from our take-off right next to Wheatley (about 45 mins airtime). Brendon got taken up right into a convenient thermal and it wasn't long before he was out of sight, heading towards Didcot. Nick did a circuit, but I don't think he had so much luck with the thermals and only lasted about 30mins.

Dave went up next, but about 300ft he seperated from the tug. Both craft made it back to the field, and it turned out that a tiny piece of grass found it's way into the carb and got stuck in the jet. Basically, it wouldn't rev up above about 4000rpm, but it needs to develop at least 6000rpm to power itself and the wing behind without sinking out. John realised he had began to sink out, and that it wasn't revving out properly, so he had to 'flush' Dave. Dave found himself cut free at about 300ft, with the tow rope dangling down from his chest. Worried that the tow rope wound catch on a fence below and drag him in, he released it and started concentrating on using his remaining height to get back to take-off. He just about squeezed in over the hedge.

So, we've fixed the engine and are scouring the nearby fields for our 'mislaid' tow rope. Eventually, we find the rope and so I'm thinking about getting clipped in and having a go, when we get a call from Brendan. He's had a bad landing in a field near Chalgrove, and he's broken his arm. The gang mobilise, with Dave and Richard diving into a car, and Nick shooting off in the tug (easier to find a downed glider by air). Apparently, Nick managed to land right next to Brendan, but for some reason, said it wouldn't be possible to take off out of the field, and that they'd need to dismantle it, put it on a trailer and drive it back to the hangar. Flying over for today!

So, after all this drama, all I managed to do was rig my glider, pre-flight check it and confirm that it's still airworthy (actually in pretty good nick), before having to pack it all away again. However, I had a very enjoyable day (away from the computer for a change!), and I'm looking forward to trying again in a week or two.

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