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Last meet of the season at Tronfjell, and Rygge Airshow

Saturday we went to see the Airshow at Rygge airport, it was spectacular with loads of interesting and nice displays both on the ground and in the air. The weather was nice, and everyone seemed to have a great time. Unfortunately the Hanggliding part of the show had to be canceled as the weather did not permit us to move the tug to Rygge before the show.

Georgia posing as a pilot, the F35 is a bit dull full-size model/mock-up. Interesting to see the engines and a simulator on display in the hangar behind though.

Georgia, pilot of the F35
Georgia, pilot of the F35

Yours truly in front of an aircraft I hope I never will have to wait for. (It belongs to the Airforce SAR wing)

In front of the SeaKing
In front of the SeaKing

Every year we have the last meet of the season in Norway, at Tronfjell in the Østerdalen valley, near Tynset. It’s a very nice site to fly, and the conditions were fantastic again this year. Audun “El Loco” Etnestad and me drove from Rygge to Tynset Saturday night, and had a great day of flying on Sunday with around 35 other pilots.

Knut Løndal setting up
Knut Løndal setting up

Smooth thermals, safe ridge soaring, and perfect weather. A good way to end the season.

Just landed
Self portrait - Just landed, what a perfect place to fly hanggliders.

I did some filming from the air, and takeoff, have not had the time to see through it yet, might post some of it here later. A few photos from the air;

Bassano 2009, day 1 and 2

Three weeks ago I hurt my shoulder, by throwing a snowball of all things, I stretched some muscles and a got an infection in a tendon. I’ve been on some drugs that have helped me get movement back and the pain is mostly gone now. I only did a few short flights on the training glider, and I was not sure if I would be able to fly the comp in Bassano.

We traveled to Milano on Monday, and arrived at the Garden Relais hotell at the landing site late Monday night to meet up with the rest of the Norwegian team that is here. I had already booked and paid tickets, so I might as well take it as a vacation if I could not fly much.

The weather has been really nice the last two days, sunny and warm with good lift. I flew both days, the first day I could not fly more than 30 minutes, today it was around one hour before the shoulder started hurting too much.

I will not enter the competition, as it means more aggressive flying and more traffic – not good for the healing process, but I hope to freefly where I can take it more easy and not overload the injury again.

We’re around 15 Norwegians here, and the forecast for the rest of the week is great. Looks like the comp will be well attended too, many top pilots are here.

Setup area

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…)

Bogong Cup 2009, day 5 and 6

Yesterday looked like a very good day, no winds and good thermals. We went to Mt. Buffalo and set up among the rocks there. The takeoff is a ramp off a cliff with nothing under it for a 1000 meters. Spectacular! I was number 3 to take off, as we have reversed the top 1/3 for the takeoff order. I did not think about the steep cliff launch until i looked back after I had launched and saw the vertical dropoff.

The task was 140 something via a new turnpoint on top of Feathertop(?) mountain, back to the top of Mt. Porepunkah at Bright, over to the Kiewa valley north end, and back to Mt. Beauty.

The air was rough again, and it was hard work in the start gaggle waiting for the start gate to open. The day was totally blue, with strong turbulent lift at times, handling the big RS4 was not easy. The air was just as turbulent when gliding as thermalling. Going with the gaggle would be the strategy for racing. I had a good run towards the first TP flying with the lead gaggle, but as I glided in towards the TP in sink we spread out, I was on top and went to the right and found the sink, bigtime. I was flushed off the ridge in 5-6m/s sink, and had to struggle for a long time to get back up high. The TP was at 1700 meters, and the inversion started at 1600, so it took 3 tried before I could get in there and get the TP.

I glided off back to Bright with 2 other gliders, the lead gaggle was long gone by then and nowhere to be seen. We struggled low at Bright and had to take some crappy lift to get back up over the mountain. The 2 other gliders landed at Bright, and I suddenly felt very alone in the air. Gliding back to the last TP in the Kiewa valley I finally spotted some other gliders, but they were low and struggling, I made the mistake of doing some turns over them instead of going straight for the TP that was 3 km upwind, from where I could have glided back to the small gaggle. I lost 200m there, and took the TP very low and started slowly drifting back towards goal stopping in every solid feeling lift. But the day was shutting down and I was low in the middle of the valley, so after 15 km I had to land, 20km out from Goal. Just one more thermal would have brought be in, and into the top 10 overall. But hindsight is easy…

Today we went to Mystic, in hope that the forecast strong northerly would not be too strong. We waited on the hill for a while, as the gusts got stronger it became clear that it was not very good. The day was canceled at 14:30, and we went to a nice spot in the river north of the Porepunkah airstrip.