My flying 1998 and 1999
This page continues from My flying 1996 and 1997.
Two thousand zero zero party over, oops out of time
So tonight I’m gonna party like it’s nineteen ninety-nine
Hang gliders: Ultralight Products TRX 160 and Airwave 166 Magic 4
Harness: Solar Wings Edge 2
In-flight camera: Ricoh FF-9 compact 35mm film
This was at a BHPA ‘fly-in’. Launch was by ground-based winch; an exciting ride!
My camera is attached under the right wing of my Ultralight Products TRX 160. For more about the fin, see under Cultural collision farther down.
On this day at Bell Hill in August 1998, the turbulence was severe, the lift was punchy, and I did not want to land in the vicinity of the hill. As well as a compass, I had an air chart in a streamlined fairing on the control bar.
I climbed in a thermal until I entered the cold and damp concave area beneath a cumulus cloud and I headed down wind, away from the hill.
After landing, I de-rigged the glider and left it at the side of the field, hitch-hiked back to the hill, and drove back to the landing field to retrieve the glider. Cross-country flights by hang glider involve an excessive amount of travelling, in my view.
At the other extreme, I find flying in simple ridge lift, such as that at Rhossili on the Gower peninsula in south Wales, too boring!
Having flown in this part of England since 1974, you might think I would be familiar with all the hang gliding sites. However, I have no idea where this is. (Maybe I crashed and knocked myself unconscious there as well!)
I had just launched and was not yet fully ‘proned out’, hence the slightly odd position. I added the fin, from an old hang glider (see Experimental in My flying late 1970s and early 1980s) to stop it yawing around.
The stiff carbon fiber airframe of the Ultralight Products TRX made it the premier glider for aerobatics in its time, but its handling was too stiff for my liking and I disliked its adverse yawing tendencies. For a bit about the creation of the TRX, see Hang gliding 1990 to 1993.
In this photo, three Germans, two of whom are visible here, a Russian, and two Englishmen are driven up the mountain at Ager, northern Spain, by an Irish hang gliding instructor in 1999. Willi T, whose Russian girlfriend is also out of view here, was then struggling to get his all-encompassing light sport aviation annual directory distributed in Britain by W.H. Smith, the major newspaper and magazine retailer. His glider had a small solar panel on the top of the sail at the trailing edge by the keel, presumably to power his variometer.
At a cafe in Lerida, I think it was, with these pilots, I mentioned that psychologist V.S. Ramachandran, who studies the structure of jokes (which often consist of a statement followed by a contradiction) said that humour is common to all societies in the world and all languages and nationalities, “…with the single exception of the Germans.”
The big guy on the right in the photo, with a concerned expression, said “I assume he was joking.”
As I hurriedly explained that Ramachandran was using it as an example of the structure he had just described, the others (the big guy’s girl friend, Willi and his girl friend, and Jon M) rocked with laughter…
The big guy had the last laugh, however. He flew an all-orange Airwave 177 Magic 4 and on one flying afternoon he disappeared, causing us concern. Flying conditions were not great, at least the rest of us did not think so, but just when we were considering initiating search and rescue, he landed next to the camp site, having specked out and flown for two hours all over the Ager valley. Although relatively inexperienced, he took full advantage of the aerodynamic efficiency of being a heavy pilot in a large glider.
This cultural collision embodied no risk of injury. I describe a physical collision of two hang gliders on the next page.
I bought the big tent in Bournemouth while out shopping with my mother in her wheelchair in 1995, which was her last year of life.
I prefer the handling and easy rigging of the Magic 4 to those of the TRX, so I reverted to flying the former wing in late 1999. At that time I used a wire connection with a push-button on the control bar to activate the camera shutter release.
This topic continues in My flying 2000 to 2003.