Saturday, May 13, 2006


Today was an exciting day. It was also a great day. It was also a terrible day. Fortunately everyone had fun, survived and probably learnt something too.

My alarm woke me at 6.30am this morning, me and Matty were planning to go and fly Mosman Park.

Its a pretty exciting little site on the river near Perth, you can find a heap of photos in my Flickr collection, the link is on this page. (Yeah, Yeah, when I have time I will go through and label them all!)

I got up and looked outside, no wind, it was supposed to be 20knots NE. I had a shower anyway and got dressed and spent 10 mins watching the Seabreeze graphs and wishing they showed something better than the 6knots currently on offer.
I was just wondering whether to bother to go see Matty around 7am when the phone rang, it was Matty. We decide to go back to bed for an hour and try again later. I get to Matty's place around 8.30am and we have a coffee and decide not to rush as its not on.

I guess around 9.30am we are at Mossie and its very light. We rig up anyway. It increases to maybe 10-14knots and I takeoff and fly around for a while. I decide I am feeling lucky and attempt a top landing, the wind has a fair bit of north in it and I come in very hot with a tail wind onto the grass area to the East of the ridge. Its a rush but a big flare stops me before I reach the Landcruiser parked on the grass. Afterwards for 10 mins I am so pumped full of adrenaline my hands are shaking! I love this sport!

Shortly after this it starts cyling more, dropping down to 6knots. The paragliding pose turn up and suddenly the sky is full of jellyfish. (photos on Flikr!)
It continues to vary and then picks up and stays stronger, I am busy taking photos and then Matty decides to fly. His take off from the far eastern end is perfect (I prefer to take off from the carpark) and he is soon mixing it up with the paragliders.
Matty is flying an Moyes extralite, its Muzza's old glider he just bought and its the first time he has flown it.

Its also the first time Matty has flown Mossie, I know how he feels. You look down at the water, deep water, and try not to think about the consequences of landing in it. The first time I flew I was loving it and I forced myself to tune out and just enjoy the flying before i forced myself to deal with the inevitable landing choice.

Matty has been up for a while when he flies over and yells something about landing. I assume he is thinking about trying a top landing and race over to tell the people flying model planes and watching the hang/paragliders to keep off the grass!

When I look back Matty is flying west along the ridge and then turns over the boathouse and towards the bottom landing area. By the time I realise he is landing I just have time to grab my camera and start snapping shots (Flikr people). He had great height and looked like he was going to make the beach. He was flying pretty slowly and with the VG full on, about 30 meters from the beach he let the VG off and the right wing tipstalled and the glider excecuted a sharp 90' turn to the right. Matty managed to get it pointing back in the correct direction but he lost energy and stalled into the water. The deep water. The last photo in the sequence taken from the top shows his glider lying flat on the water with Matty underneath. I raced to the car and drove down to the river at stupidangerousillegal speeds. I got airborne over the 2 speedhumps on the way down the hill, I screeched my tyres. I didn't care I could imagine Matty trapped under the sail, seconds could be precious.
All ready to dive head first into the river and swim over to help I was relieved to find that there was already help on hand. Matty was of course wet and pretty spun out by what happened, but he was pretty cool considering.

Me and Matty have talked about the possiblility of water landing many times. We fly alot of coastal sites and there is always the danger.
When you talk to people to have landed in water they tell you how easy it is to get tangled in the rigging of the glider and how hard it is to get out of your harness under water.
We always though it would be easy, hey its easy on land right? Just don't panic and you have plenty of time. Matty could not get out of his harness and if the water had been rough of if there had been no help it would have been a bad situation. Thankfully there was help on hand this time.

It got us talking about ways of making the glider float or getting out of the harness quick. The best idea for floats seems to be to use those big football sized floaty things that they use on craypots and put one on each side of the basebar and one on the keel. A little drag perhaps but light. We are going to try this out on my fun next time we are bored.
For getting out of the harness I think a quick release like they use on aircraft harnesses would be good, turn 180 and thump and everything released from the chest.

The best solution is to get out of the harness and swim away as quickly as possible. The problem is that the sail of the glider pushes you under water so you only have one breath to try and get out of your harness, this is hard even on land. The solution is an emergency air supply.

These people make an awesome light weight solution. We both want one thanks Santa ;-)

After that is was back to Matty's and we washed his glider (salt water in the river) in preparation for tomorrows flying.

Seabreeze promises us more NE tomorrow morning and NW in the afternoon and W on Monday.

If the forecasts are correct I may get to fly Mossie and Cott tomorrow!

I'm picking Matty up again in the morning and were back to Mossie again!

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