Friday, 12 April 2013

Last summer...

With a bit of judicious juggling, I got out of the office last summer mid-week. In fact it was so hot, people were hiding under glider wings.. can you remember those days?

The conditions looked very good and I was thoroughly enjoying flying from Haddenham.  I also had a cunning plan: I would convince an instructor to accompany me to Bicester for a supported XC.

It's a run I've done a lot on Condor (Gliding simulator)… sorry, wrong emphasis. I've done it so often that even my wife recognises the scenery over my shoulder, "For crying out loud - are you flying to Bicester again! You can fly anywhere you want on the computer - Norway, Canada, the Alps - and yet you fly Bicester! "

Navigation couldn't be simpler - if you are at a decent height, you can see Bicester. And if you are lower, you just follow the railway line NW. And roughly half-way the railway splits in two. Easy peasy.

My telepathy must have been strong because Richard said, "Let's take the duo for a ride".

Now I am a bit of a Vintage fan, and I love Will's epic flights in his K6 and yearn to emulate them. So I can't lie when I thought, "The duo is ...erm… not a very colourful glider? Where is the challenge in flying this?"

Yes I know - I was a heathen.

What a delightful glider to fly. Considering its such a heavy lump on the ground, it is a delight in the air. And the performance both in climb and especially on cruise is astonishing to somebody with most of his hours in a K13!

And so we flew - but Bicester was not enough; with a cloud base of nearly 6000ft we ran North of oxford, back across to Bicester and then home at 100kts+ to make "best use" of our energy.

And as I got out of the cockpit, I had to shatter my preconceptions.

Yes - Vintage gliders are achingly beautiful - especially the Sperber Junior. And if you are as skilled, ambitious, and determined as Will then a K6E is capable of epic adventures AND get home.

But the beauty of  a club class glider (ASW19, Pegasus, Libelle)  is the possibilities it presents me as a pilot of humble skill, and very little experience.

On a good day, I could get good enough to fly the Pegasus amongst the hills of Wales and back within the next 2 years - and that is something that greatly excites me as a goal.

The duo needs a health warning, "This may result in turning a glider pilot into a hopeless soaring addict".

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