Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Monday, August 29, 2011
Friday, August 26, 2011
These are the results after 6 days and 3 tasks. Since tomorrow is going to be canned as well (very high winds predicted), they're probably not going to change anymore... Look here for task scores and the rigids.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
So, we flew from St. Andre to Lac de Serre Ponson, then back to Pic de Chamatte and landed in Thorame Basse. The task was fast and pretty easy, with lots of ridge soaring and strong thermals. But, it was not uneventful. We had a tumble over Dormillouse, the pilot being pretty much OK, but the glider is still up on the mountain. There was hail on course line and we had lightning over the landing field, when the cloud above us didn't even look that bad. It was a big surprise!
I finished the task in 4th and was pretty happy with that result. Here's the flight.
Yesterday we were plagued by SE winds while we were on the W launch. A 113 km task to Laragne was set, but it was shortened to a 89 km task because of the late start. It was a fast task again (won by Laurent with a 60 km/h average). Same story as the day before for me. A mistake early in the task, then being rather cautious over unlandable terrain, but with a strong finish (ignore missing the turnpoint by 10 m and having to make an extra 360). I was 9th for the task. Here's the flight on Leonardo. It was fun flying from one famous flying site to the other. And you do appreciate the change terrain. Mountains with rather narrow valleys in St. Andre and then the wide open valley of Laragne, with many different routes towards the last turnpoint. Although the task was short, you still had to make your choice in the end.
The Combat does speed up nicely on final. I was taking 2 extra circles in 4 m/s up in an attempt to beat Carl and Jonas into goal and I would have done so if I hadn't missed the turnpoint. Now I was 30s slower...
I'm now in 3rd overall. That's not bad at all :-)
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Yesterday I had my first XC flight here. Discovering the area from high above. But there's still a lot to discover and tomorrow is the first task. It looks to be a place where local knowledge is very important. Flying low across a ridge is not something you can do when you don't know what's behind it. Definitely not here.
And racing is something else than free flying. I guess I'll have to do a lot of risk assessment in the next few days...
Friday, August 19, 2011
After that, we flew over Langkofel and Rosengarten. Langkofel was special as well, climbing next to it and then we you reach the ridge height and start to soar it, you only see rock pinacles pointing right at you. No point in having a reserve chute there...
I will return to the Dolomites. This was my biggest flying experience until now!
Thursday, August 18, 2011
I had 2 flights with it. One sled ride down from Kobala and an hour of light thermals on Lijak. Both launches were super easy. It is amazing how soon it starts flying.
On the sled ride I tried flying it as slow as possible. And it feels as if it can fly considerably slower than the Combat. The stall (VG off or 1/3) was very smooth, so gentle that it reminded me of my training glider. The handling with full VG is a lot lighter than it is on the Combat.
These characteristics helped me a lot on the flight on Lijak. The thermals were light and very close to the ridge and the WW gave me a lot of confidence to go for them, very slow and pretty close to the trees. And all this with a serious amount of high-siding. It remembered me of flying the Spyder. Except that the Spyder was tougher.
I played a little with the VG setting while thermalling. And I think it did well until 2/3 VG (in the light thermals). Above that the glider wanted to dive too much for my comfort. I lose feeling if I have to push it out too much.
The glide was very stable, but that surely was linked to the high sprog settings. I have no clue how it feels when you set them to 'Worlds settings'.
Pulling the VG was extremely light. No effort required there at all. Very, very comfortable.
On both flights I had some altitude to burn off and I did so with some wingovers. What a difference to the Combat! The WW (with high sprog settings) is a true acro machine. It was a joy!
Of course I had to land it. And here again, the easy handling comes into play. The approach was very precise and the handling in ground effect was very nice and swift, also at low speeds. I never felt any risk of dropping a wing. Now I understand why I see other pilots execute slow and low landing approaches which I normally wouldn't do with the Combat. The flare was easy and the flare window probably is quite big. Easy landing!
It was very nice to have the opportunity to fly a Wills. Now I can't wait to fly one in race trim...
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
The report below was written in August 2011. Here's a more recent report.I had been waiting for this for almost 6 months. And thanks to Matjaz, I finally had the opportunity to fly the Combat 13.5. The 13.5 is special because it has an extreme aspect ratio of 8.5. This means the wing is 8.5 times as wide as it is long. And aerodynamics tell you that wings with higher aspect ratios fly more efficiently. That's why sailplanes have such high aspect ratios (long, thin wings). But for us, hang gliders, it is not as easy as for sailplanes to have high aspect ratios, because we lose maneuverability and pitch stability. Aeros claims that the 13.5 is as maneuverable as their other glider and has high pitch stability as well. So, with the promised extra performance and the glider being more appropriate for my weight than my current 14.2 (aspect ratio 8), I had to try it :-)
I launched into very calm air and the glider immediately felt comfortable and at least as responsive as my 14.2. It was gliding dead straight and did 3 km with a 15.7 glide ratio at 54 km/h. Hard to say how accurate this is, but it felt good.
The first thermal I hit, was a very light one. It was a struggle to stay in the air, but I immediately was sure that the glider was going to do it for me. The handling was very, very similar to my 14.2, with the exception of a much sharper stall when I was pushing too much to fly as slow as possible. I also had to push it a little all the time as the glider was trimmed a little too fast for me.
After about an hour, the day turned on and Carl and I had a 3 hour flight with amazing views over the Tolmin area. It was the first time I got into the higher mountains and you saw the remains of WWI everywhere. Trenches, bunkers, gun platforms, … We visited the war museum a few days before and now I saw it all flying just above it.
We had a few rough thermals as well and I had a tough time in those. But, I'm all over the place in rough thermals with the 14.2. I think the 13.5 was more maneuverable.
The 13.5 remains a Combat though. It is not allowing me to fly as close to the terrain as I see other gliders do. The handling with full VG is very stiff, so you have to be careful flying close to the mountains in turbulent air. But, it must be said, it is definitely not worse than the 14.2. And achieving that with a higher aspect ratio is a great job.
The effect of the higher aspect ratio was demonstrated when I had a glide next to Carl on his Moyes Litespeed RS 3.5. There was a clear gliding advantage for the 13.5. Sadly my harness rocked up a little when we went full speed, which wasn't ideal for the glide. Still, I had the same glide as Carl then, but the Combat could definitely do better.
Of course I wanted to land it nicely (Matjaz was watching in the landing field) and the landing felt easier than with my 14.2. I think it was a textbook landing with a very nice flare. The higher wing loading helps a lot to achieve this flare as I'm a bit light on my 14.2 and it is definitely harder to make that one flare nicely. Last year, I had one landing on the smaller 13.2 and that flared very nicely as well.
So, the handling of the 13.5 was at least as good as on my 14.2 (I'm light on that one!) and the glide was probably better. I liked flying it very much.
Major kudos to Matjaz for letting me fly his glider!
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Anyway, my car was on the landing place and I decided to try to hitchhike back to it, because nobody of our team was in goal (and because I deserved the punishment). I left the glider in the field, took my harness and started walking. After 20 minutes, the official retrieve van passed me, empty and driving in the direction I needed to go to. Ideal! Ok, I did not pay for retrieve, but I said they could throw me out any time they wanted to. Any distance I could make towards Tolmin was just nice.
International experience tells you this:
- the Mexicans would drive by with a van that's going to break down in a few km, with 14 gliders on the roof and 10 pilots in the completely filled van. And they'd be insulted if you turned down their offer.
- the Japanese immediately call the team leader who gives you within a few seconds a clear answer on whether you can drive along a bit or not
- the Austrians would already be drunk and wouldn't even notice that you're not an Austrian
- the Belgians would take you as far as they could. If the bus would really fill up, they'd say "sorry dude, but we'll have to drop you off here. Here's a few beers, do we need to call anyone for you?"
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Here's the Belgian podium, with Jean-Claude Bodart (r) in second and Michel Bodart (l) in third:
Friday, August 5, 2011
Thursday, August 4, 2011
There was some concern that we were driving up the wrong launch today. We rigged on the lower north launch on Chabre with light north winds and a serious chance for west winds in the early afternoon. Were we going to lose the day with the best forecast of the week?
We set a 104 km task over Aiguille, Gap, Montagne d'Oule, Sigoyer and return to the camping.
We launched as early as we dared to make sure we wouldn't be stuck on the mountain due to increasing west winds. It took me some time to find the first thermal. But the west winds didn't turn on and everybody was able to have a nice and safe launch.
It turned out to be a very interesting task with W to NW winds and a moderate cloud base (2200 m, max 2500 m). I made a first mistake when I crossed the valley near Veynes in an attempt to attach to Pic de Bure. I was to low for that and ended up in light lee conditions. I lost half an hour there. By the time I took the turnpoint near Gap, Mart, who started 20 mins later, had already overtaken me and Malcolm (also 2nd start) was right below me. I returned over Ceuse and had an easy glide to Montagne d'Oule. Had I only taken this route the first time as well... d'Oule wasn't active and I found a weak thermal on the foothills west of it. Only just enough to attach to Aujour where I couldn't find the expected strong thermal. I got low a second time, between Aujour and St. Genis and lost another 20 mins. A climb above the camping allowed me to go on glide to the last turnpoint. I enjoyed the final glide very much and flew into goal in ground effect :-)
Mart Bosman flew the task an hour faster, but after the difficulties along the route, I was happy to be in goal. 3rd for the task, 1st Belgian and 4th overall. On track for the Belgian title and the podium in the general classification is now a close battle between Malcolm and me.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Jamie makes really nice pictures, here you see Carl coming into goal. And she's using Carl's glider as a sun shelter for her office...I'm now in sixth overall, 300 points ahead of Jean-Claude, second Belgian. So I'm not yet handing over the Mitsubishi to someone else ;-)
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Right after landing, I saw the whole sky west of me fill up with cumi's. Not just one or two, but a whole cloud street from Chabre to Beaumont. It was amazing to see, but it also spelled very bad news, because it now was obvious for everybody in the air how to fly. I think a lot of people who have started a little later will have had a nice run there...
I now really need a few more tasks to have any chance for the title. The worst thing is that I have a really good feeling while flying. I'm going fast, I'm not feeling like I take a lot of risks, but I'm on the ground every time again. And Carl and Mart are in goal. I feel pretty bad about it.
Monday, August 1, 2011
We had rapidly rising cloud bases during the launch window, so, when the lead gaggle left on the first start gate, I returned and waited for the second. It was a good choice because I caught up with the lead gaggle (only Carl was still in front) after 40 km. I climbed to 2400 m above Aspres and started gliding towards Montagne d'Oule. I got nothing but sink and was very pissed to find myself on the ground, after such a good first half of the task.
Many landed in that area, but 4 people made goal. Carl was first in, but was followed by Mart just a few minutes later. Since Mart took the second start gate, he won the task. Tanno and Enda Carrigan also made goal. Congrats to the Dutchies, they're currently showing the Belgians how to fly.
In the general classification, I'm now 200 points behind the first Belgian. It's about time I get some better flying in. Luckily we probably will have a few more tasks. No more mistakes allowed.