Hang gliding 1996 to 2003

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Hang gliding 1996 to 2003

Hang gliders: Ultralight Products TRX 160, Airwave 166 Magic 4, and Aeros Discus 148
Harness: Solar Wings Edge 2
In-flight camera: Ricoh FF-9 compact 35mm film

This page continues from Hang gliding 1994 and 1995.

Equipped with a second-hand Ultralight Products TRX 160 hang glider and a new Solar Wings Edge II harness, I flew in Lanzarote, Canary Islands, in December 1995. I carried on flying and taking photographs, which I had always looked forward to taking in to the nursing home to show my old mum, but she died in early December. Maybe she can see them here somehow.

Famara LZ in December, 1995

Famara LZ in December, 1995

Photo of a hang glider over Malvern, England

Get me down!

At Malvern in 1996, my glider exhibited a constant left turn, the result of incorrectly assembling it after I packed it short for a flying expedition overseas.

Photo of a man standing beside a car with a hang glider on its roof

Thinking about why I had assembled the glider wrongly

The first step in analyzing such an event is to fill out a BHPA (or USHPA) incident report form. Completing its different parts helps the pilot (or witness) record the pertinent facts without jumping to unwarranted conclusions. Safety officers at national level analyse these reports and results are published in hang gliding/paragliding magazines. Also, incident reports can result in equipment design changes and sometimes they give rise to new or altered pilot training schemes such as the club coaching system (in Britain) and the pilot mentoring system (USA).

Wing-mounted camera view of hang glider on landing approach at Malvern in England

A better landing approach at Malvern

Art based on a photo by paraglider pilot Nick Greece at Torrey Pines, San Diego, in 2000

Hang glider in-flight photo

Climbing by circling in a thermal in the UP TRX 160 over Wroughton on June 21st, 1998

This was at a BHPA ‘fly-in’. Launch was by ground-based winch; an exciting ride! (This photo was digitized by using my digital camera to photograph a print.)

Kitty Hawk

Photo of hang glider pilot training

Pilot training in North Carolina. Photo by John Eager.

Kitty Hawk Kites, based in North Carolina near where the Wrights first flew their powered aircraft, is almost certainly the world’s longest established hang gliding school.

Consciousness explained

One day in 1997, I found myself lying face-down on the ground under a friend’s Airwave K-5 in the old bottom landing field (with the single power line that runs parallel to final approach). I was under the power line, or, at least one half of the wing was under the line. The owner of the wing I had crashed had just landed my UP TRX farther along the field and he unclipped and made his way towards me.

In those days I flew with a large spherical compass clipped to the centre of the control frame base tube. (Not so much for navigation, but as a crude artificial horizon if you are unfortunate enough to be whited out in cloud suck.) It was not broken, as such, but it was in pieces and needed to be reassembled. Alas, the K-5 had a broken keel tube and other damage.

Art based on a photo by Mark Vaughn of an Airwave K5 launching

After unclipping, I said something along the lines of “How would you like to borrow a TRX for a few weeks?” (Or however long it took to get his K-5 repaired.) I had no memory of the crash and could not provide an answer to his question “What happened?”

To do at least something useful, I figured I would start by collecting up the bits of my compass and I turned round to start off towards the crashed glider, but I stopped, amazed. The compass was whole and attached to the base tube. I turned back to my friend and said that I could have sworn it was in pieces.

“It was,” he replied. “You just spent the past five minutes putting it back together.” He then asked me where we were.

A good question. The hill resembled the Devil’s Dyke, a popular site on the South Downs that I used to fly in the early 1980s. However, the Dyke has buildings on the top, but this hill did not. A very good question! (It was in fact Bell Hill, the site I most frequently flew then, as now.)

I resolved never to fly another K-5 or K-2 because they feel so unstable to me. (Especially the K-2ic, which terrified me when I flew another friend’s example.)

Carbon copy

Photo of a hang glider above Dorset countryside

Richard Mosley takes to the skies. Photo by Dave D.

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!)

Art based on a Red Bull photo of John Heiney looping a TRX

Hang glider in flight

Flying my Ultralight Products TRX in Spain, 1999

I had just launched and was not yet fully ‘proned out’, hence the slightly odd position. I added the fin 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. It was designed by top US competition pilot Terry Reynolds, who received a medal for evading a MiG-21 while flying a C-130 (Hercules) in the Vietnam War.

Photo of a hang glider maneuvering close to the ground

Gary D beats up the ridge in early 2003. Photo by Dave D.

Monk’s Down again.

I found the Airwave 166 Magic IV easier to rig and fly than the UP TRX 160, so I went back to flying that.

Hang glider in flight viewed from below

Flying the 166 Magic IV

This photo of me flying the Magic IV was taken by Justin Parsons.

Ron Smith waiting to launch in a hang glider at Monk's Down in early 2003

Ron Smith waiting to launch at Monk’s Down in early 2003

Ron Smith flying a hang glider at Monk's Down in early 2003

Ron at home in the air at Monk’s Down in early 2003

Philosopher’s hang glider

(Discus reads like discuss, geddit?)

At Kemble in 2003

“A little more work needed on your line-up, I think, Hoskins.”

My first or second flight in the Aeros Discus. Pic by Dave D.

My first or second flight in the Aeros Discus. Pic by Dave D.

The Aeros Discus outperformed even contemporary ‘topless’ competition gliders in 2003 and up to about 2007, when the newer crop of rigid wings started to appear. Although some pilots disagree with my assessment (not all) I found the Discus somewhat stiff in roll and it seemed to have an odd feel that I call ‘power steering’. It always responded, but, whenever I wanted to increase my roll rate and shifted my weight farther over to effect that need, the glider’s roll rate stayed the same. The Discus has a narrow control frame, as if in recognition of that characteristic.

However, its main drawback in my estimation was its excessive tendency to ‘wind in’ to turns (spiral instability). I largely cured it, initially by using a wider control frame base tube, then by refitting the original tube and adding longer side flying wires. With that minor change, its handling overall was good. And its performance was simply amazing.

Warning: If your glider relies on reflex bridles for emergency dive recovery, increasing dihedral in that way (or decreasing anhedral) is likely to reduce the bridles’ effect. The Discus relies partly on inboard reflex bridles, but the more important outboard struts are unaffected.

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Hang gliding 2004 and 2005

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