Saturday, August 20, 2011

Ager August 20

Pics are here.

Today was the official practice day so pretty much everyone went up (no retrieve though).

I was test-flying a new EN-D glider, the Air Design Pure.  Nicky owns one and offered it to me.  I was flying it with an Impress 2, with ballast to get me to about 80kg on the small size.

Conditions were better than yesterday: less wind and higher climbs.  We could see instability coming at us from the north and the clouds kept getting closer.  By the end of the day some pilots had connected and were reporting 4500m+.  My flight is here.

Quick opinion of the AD Pure: I loved it!  It was awesome; faster than my XC3, better glide, lovely turning, light brake pressure, and I was able to fly to places I would normally not (or arrive low etc.).  Speedbar is light, about as light as my XC3, and oodles of travel (I hadn't set it up for full travel so I was only able to get 3/4 but that was plenty). The risers come with a C-riser ball to rest your hands on when flying on the C's during long glides. I loved this feature and using them came very naturally. I also loved the adjustable brake handles...they are a soft neoprene-covered Velcro loop so you can change them depending on your hand and/or glove size.

With this new machine under my command I flew along the ridge to the gap, and this time crossed it with ease.  On the other side I got low and had to swerve around some cliffs but was able to climb out and get to 2800m and cross to the south along with a bunch of R11's; climbed out over there, and headed back to the Ager valley.  I saw at least one pilot land out in this area, and given the remote terrain and lack of an official retrieve I can only hope he had arranged his own retrieve or was able to phone for a ride (or hike for several hours in the 40C heat).

I did have a 40% collapse (I was on 1/2 bar at the time) on the transition back across...I actually felt the turbulence coming, but I wasn't quick enough to get off the bar (and in the back of my mind was idly wondering what an on-bar collapse on this glider would be like so maybe subconsciously I was slow to respond on purpose).  Yes it is an EN-D...it turned and dove a bit during the recovery but other than that it was a non-event.  Nothing to worry about unless you're low and close to terrain, but that's true of most collapses on most gliders :)

Back in the Ager valley I got high again, and this time crossed to the south with way more comfort than yesterday (although in all fairness I started from higher and there was less wind) and played around on the other side before crossing back to the ridge.  The clouds were getting closer as the instability approached, and base looked like 5000m.  I could see a couple of pilots connect with these clouds behind the ridge, but I was feeling like landing so didn't really try to connect (although it would have been nice and cool...I was flying with everything unzipped and every time I got below 1500m I started to sweat.  Clothes are purely for UV protection and possible launch/landing abrasion!)

Once again landing was tough as the whole valley was going off; I hope this characteristic is reliable if/when I get low during a task and can use this to avoid landing early.  The Pure does big ears just fine although they flap when it gets rough.  Easy to do wingovers and spirals too.  Landed next to the pool.  I've found 2 ways to keep cool here in the middle of the day:

1.  swimming
2.  flying

So it makes sense to land next to the pool :)

Tomorrow is the first task day, and it's looking good.  Hot hot hot.  Hope not too stable though.

Big thanks to Nicky for offering her glider to me today.  I had a lot of fun on it!


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