Finally – Flying

It’s been a wet and generally unflyable winter since I came home from Oz, so when the forecast finally looked good for the weekend it was time to get airborne again. I met up with Espen who graduated from the scooter towing course this fall, and he just need 3 good takeoffs from a mountain launch to get his license. The conditions at Sundvollen were calm with almost no wind, but Espen got his three flights, and did well.

I even got two flights, just sled rides down, but it’s fun to muck around in the floaters again.

Now seeing some of the takeoff it’s clear that pilots are rusty from a long winter without flying. (Been there done that myself, I popped the nose on my first takeoff from Mystic in the Bogong cup this year, windy and turbulent though)

It’s vital to make a good takeoff from the ramp at Sundvollen, especially when it’s nil wind. That guardrail on the road below is not very compromising. There is only one good technique – Get that nose down and hold it down while you run as fast as you can, using long strides. Look at the difference between these two takeoffs;

(Pictures by Bjørn Hammer)

No special trick or anything, just hold the nose down, lean forward and run down the ramp as far as you can. The point of a safe hangglider takeoff is not just to get airborne, it’s to get airborne with as much speed as possible. Speed is safety as you can trade it for manouverability if you hit turbuleunce, or extra height to clear the terrain. This also applies when it’s windy, just make it a habit to always get as much speed as you can before your feet lifts off the ground, and you will have safer and better looking takeoffs.

(Now I will probably stall off the ramp next time I try to take off…)