Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Still here..

This morning the forecast was for WSW and when I awoke it was. I was up on Pap Hill around 9am but it was too light to ridge soar. Over the next hour it went more SW and started to get really thermic.  The range started kicking off cloud streets of grey wet looking and very low Cu's . Then it went SE on the E side of the range and stayed SW on the other side. I decided that it was not going to come on at Pap Hill and so drove back to town and set up the Climax on the golf course. The wind was roughly easterly by this time and it was so thermic that a few of the low clouds dropped rain before burning off. Cloud base must have gone from 1500ft in the morning to over 7k in the afternoon. Up high the clouds were moving Westerly, on the ground it was Easterly and in the middle Northerly, gotta love the weather here.

I waited for ages for the wind to make its mind up and with a NNE I took off from the 18th fairway with my C2 13 and Power Harness. The marks from the skids lasted for 37M and I was taking off into about a 12kph wind. I flew around for around 20 mins and then landed again, I was lucky because the wind swung around to the W just after I landed. What's with the wind here?
So how was the Climax?  Well, the topless performance is still there. With the motor off it seems to still handle OK. It feels very, very slippery in the air. I have gotten into the habit of yawing the Climax around the sky as its an easy way to turn it quickly, but the whole time with the power harness you are focussed on trying to keep as straight as possible, it's strange flying an aircraft with such a fluid thrust line, if you cross your body in the turn you actually impart way more force into the glider from the angle of thrust than from your puny weight shift and so the glider just plows straight on through the sky. The rear wires on the climax seem to act as limiting wires as you can hear the harness vibrate against them when it gets out of shape. It was really, really , really thermic today. In my usual harness (Aeros Myth2 and I love it) I would have been cranked over on a wing-tip and loving it, however its different with the power harness. Even with the power off you are just nowhere near as nimble, I think its to do with the length of the thing and the amount of weight so far behind you. You just can't throw your body around with all that inertia, think about what attaching a 2m long stick with a 10kg weight on it would feel like on the end of your harness. I think its probably compounded by the fact that I have the longer and presumably heavier shaft. If it had been smooth air I would probably have really enjoyed today's flight, as it was with so many new sensations piled in with the familiar old one of getting your arse kicked by a rough thermal it was hard work and a little stressful. The climax and the fun both have tiny airframes, one of the final approach checks is to make sure that the starter handle is not caught on the side wires, it gets caught easily.I tried flying with the VG full on and interestingly the bar position did not seem to change like it does normally. It feels like the prop is running out of legs when you fly fast, I wonder how hard it would be to make a constant speed unit, ha ha.  I also discovered what happens if the strings tangle and the legs deploy just fractionally unevenly, I am thinking of doing some re-design work with the harness. I think I can make it lighter and more pleasant to fly, probably like the new ones now I think of it ;-)
Landing was the usual dive at the ground and ground effect for ages, It's really tricky to land, you have to keep on allot of extra speed to retain control but you still have to get onto the uprights to be able to flare, I tried the uprights early approach but as soon as you let go of the basebar you lose pitch control, I did a little flare when I was almost out of energy and it would have been a perfect landing in my usual harness but this harness always gives you that little push to remind you its there and test your balance.

I guess after enough hours I will become familiar with the strange sensation of powered flight in a Hang Glider. I still prefer my glider as a glider without the extra inertia, weight and drag, but hey, who knows what familiarity might breed.

Tomorrow the whole W side of the range will be soarable. I'll be there.

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