andyh's blog

South Downs Hang Gliding does Southern Spain

Sun Oct 18, 2009 1:47 pm

I am just back from a fantastic week of flying in Andalucia with South Downs Hang Gliding ( the trip comprised four CP (H-2) students with just soaring tasks to complete: me, Jim (mapjim), Dan (Iskander) & Steve (are you lurking on here?), Instructor John Barrat, Trainee Instructor Matt, & Mick on a european tour from Wallaby Ranch

we were based in Algodonales for the first few days with a view to roaming with the winds over southern Spain - as it turned out the weather was stuck on easterlies so we stayed in one place for the week

we flew from the UK with the gliders - in spite of waiting around at airports they were delivered both ways without a scatch. hire cars with inflatable roofracks did the rest

day one saw us up early checking the landing field below the Lijar mountain: a 2,250ft launch-to-landing - a bit bigger than the 450ft South Downs launches we were used to! a morning light-wind launch in the thin air for a sledder provided an orientation. in the evening we were gifted some smooth ridge lift & I was able to get a 45min flight in before electing to land whilst there was still some light

the week progressed with us making morning & evening launches each day, where winds permitted. there was much waiting around in the 30C sunshine on top of the mountain with gliders rigged; but frankly this was not much of a chore in such beautiful surroundings. along with the top-to-bottoms, we got another evening of ridge lift & I was able to log a 90min flight in the smooth air before lack of light forced me down

so, on to the last day ... all week John had been gently encouraging us to make use of thermal lift on our top-to-bottoms. as more experienced pilots, Matt & Mick had been doing this earlier in the week & had been getting some spectacular long & XC flights. to be honest, I had very little faith in us low-airtime pilots being able to hook into a thermal & make use of it, so I was expecting another 10min sledder as an anticlimactical end to the week - I had said to John the night before that I'd be happy with a 200ft gain, just so that I "believed" in thermals. on the top of the mountain the wind was a light southerly - right between the SE & SW launches - so we waited until it was eventually coming on SE in light cycles, much later in the day than earlier in the week & in the full heat of the high sun. John had given us all radios to direct us into some initial lift, so all was set

I was last to launch: Steve & Jim had hooked into some good initial lift & Dan was skying out 1,000ft ato - the git - I was expecting a long wait in the landing field after my 10min flight

I wait around for a straight-on cycle & off I go, a decent launch & fly out from the mountain. 300ft below t/o & some beeping; John in my ear in the radio & I turn into it, I go round & the beeping continues: back up to t/o height & now I "believe" in thermals big grin not quite believing my luck, I core into the lift, John has gone off to rig his own glider, so I'm on my own now, another 1,000ft - I am *definitely* believing in thermals by now - & I fall out of the lift & go on glide along the ridge. more beeping & up I go again, wrestle the glider to turn against the rising wing, standing it on its wingtip & coreing into the lift. & up I go .. & up .. & up .. to cloudbase at 3,400ft ato big grin

back over the top of the moutain & it is just streaming lift & I am loving it. I see Dan & wave as we go past each other. I watch out for the paragliders wafting around, but I bet they were watching out for me, the red-ribbon hazard, more ;)

I glide out over Algodonales town for the view expecting some lift but hit sink & burn off 1,500ft, so back to the mountain for some more lift & back to cloudbase

on glide again - oh, for VB & a better glide Sad - & out to the flatlands over the landing field - I have been up for nearly two hours by now & am getting tired, so time to check the wind direction & set up a landing. I am down to 1,000ft above landing when I hook into another thermal & off we go again. core in, eight-up, & off we go again, back up to 3,200ft & a quick glance upwards .. cloud-suck! .. stuff the bar, through the wispies & into blue air

I am knackered by now, so time to burn off some height & land. Steve radios me with the wind direction - I had a brain-fart earlier in the week & landed down-wind, but fortunately uphill & got away with it - so it's nice to get a verification ;) lots of speed, lots of sink - more wind than I thought - barbed-wire fence, bugger, pull in more & flare in 20ft short of the fence: that'll do Smile

flight details:
glider: airwave calypso
time: 2:30
max gain: 3,400ft ato
max alt: 6,600ft

oh, & I passed my CP (H-2) rating. which was nice big grin

big thanks to John Barrat for running the trip & guiding us for the week. & to everyone on the trip for making it such a good week. & to Cruzcampo for the beer ;)

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Joined: 17 Nov 2006
Posts: 563
Location: England

PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2009 3:10 am    Post subject:    

Way to go Andy!!! You'll find the South Downs tiny in comparison now! I really must come out there with John again! Look forward to meeting on the hill soon!
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