All posts by james

King Karoly proves floppy is just as good as hard

The Dunstable site record has fallen. Yes, again! In less than 3 years.

Consider that the record, of 98 Miles, was set in 1998 by Pete Roberts on a Hang Glider and it stood for 15 Years! It was not until 2013 that it was beaten by another HG expertly piloted by Andrew Hollidge when he flew 153.9KM and most of it under 2500′

The picture is clear. To get away from Dunstable is not easy. To set a site record is even harder. To do it with a stiffy is hard but a floppy paraglider. Surely not possible?

Well, on 28th April 2016 Karoly Megyesi set a new site record when he flew 157.6KM on,…. Yes you guessed it. A floppy! A niviuk Icepeak 7 Pro floppy to be precise.

His tracklog can be seen here

It seems that getting away from Dunstable requires what would seem to be poor flying weather. All records to date have been set on ‘poor’ days. In 1998 Pete Roberts required a ground crew to hold him down as he launched his Hang Glider into very high wind. In 2013 Andrew Hollidge was the only person flying and scrapped up to 2500′ and stayed there cruising along on his Hang Glider. And the latest flight by Karoly is very similar to Andrews with a large proportion of his flight being 2500′.

After looking through the track log I noticed, in sheer disbelief, some incredible stats. A low save of 709′ (just 600′ AGL), a top speed of 82.8KM/H and a duration of just 4hrs 49 mins. It looked also like a flight of two halves with the first leg being very different to the 2nd.
Intrigued,  I asked Karoly to describe his flight.

He said “I wanted to make the coast but landed early” !

He then agreed to give a more detailed insight:

“Ok so this is how it happened. I knew from the weather forecast that a front will be approaching to Dunny around 2 o’clock so my plan was to takeoff early and leave the strong wind and rain behind. When I arrived to Dunny, around 9:30, people were already climbing. Especially Andy Wade. So, I was thinking this is looking better than what the weather forecast was predicting!
I prepared, I put the gear together and took off.
Immediately I could feel that this will be a great day. The thermals were very steady and reliable at 10 o’clock!
I climbed out with the second thermal to around 2500ft. It was very early so the cloudbase was low but the clouds were close to each other even at that height. I wondered if I could make a very fast flight towards Cambridge.

I found some magical lines pushing full bar and not sinking at all, sometimes hitting the 80-90km/h speed !
I stayed on bar all the way to Cambridge and made it there in around 1 hour 15 min (60km). Thermals were strong with 4-5m/s and I was banked over and biting into them.

After Cambridge the conditions started to disintegrate and that slowed me down but there were still some weak climbs and I managed to hold on. I had to change my flying, thermaling as flat as I could with just 1 up on the vario.
I held on and held on. Jumping between climbs and maximising my glide flying at trim or with half bar.

When I got to Bury St Edmunds I felt the wind had picked up and the direction changed to SSW so the thermals were broken up and drifting a lot! Most of the time I was very close to the ground but I never thought I would go down. I was enjoying the flight and somehow I always found a sunny spot within the big shadows. Tractors and combine harvesters saved me and I even headed towards some running horses who sent up some thermals for me!

In the meantime I was getting closer and closer to the coast it was a very exciting moment. It had been a strange, fairly low flight, with me only once getting a good enough height gain to make cloud base. I had taken off from Dunstable in the middle of England, flown over totally flat terrain and there in the distance was the coast! I had been low for the last few km and was still low. I looked at my distance and I knew I could take the site record. But now there was a new game on. Will I make it to the coast? I want to make the coast! I really want a photograph of me with an ice cream to send to the lads at Dunstable. With visions of my glorious photograph of me proudly holding my ice cream trophy in the air my mind was suddenly set on this new egotistical goal. I had transitioned from a fun flight with no aim to a desire to reach a goal and an ice cream. Maybe having a goal is not a good thing as unfortunately on the last climb I made a few bad decisions. I followed a bird instead of staying on the sunny spot, I hit a sink and, being low, I was not able to get through it and landed.
I was very happy. Not just because I had a great flight but I was very cold and tired and it was a relief to be back in the warm. I was delighted to see a bus station just 500yds away. So, I caught a bus to Ipswich and from there got the train to London. I was home by 9PM and still thinking  that I could have made it to the coast if I had been more patient with that last climb.

But hey I have to leave some purpose for the next flight!

 

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TOP TIPS May 2016

 

Two paraglider pilots dealt with nasty collapses at Dunstable today due to turbulence (around 13:00hrs 17th May). Both pilots recovered to normal flight and landed safely. 

Anticipate more turbulence when the air is cold, the sunshine is hot and the wind is moderate to strong. This problem is often magnified between 11:00hrs – 16:00hrs when the day’s thermals really start to mix the air up. The cloud tops will often have a shredded appearance instead of a neat, well defined ‘cauliflower’ form.

  • Look for signs of difficulties ground handling, collapsing wings and reports from recently landed pilots of “rough air”.
  • Measure the wind speeds or pester those who are measuring it. Use this information as well as the forecast wind speeds to inform your decision whether to: go XC/climb in thermals/ridge soar/wait/go home/or in extreme cases even return to work. 
  • Low flying (take offs, ridge soaring, landings) when it is thermic are extremely hazardous, especially for low airtime pilots who have not yet done any 360’s or thermal climbs because collapses closer to the ground give little time for recovery. New pilots are advised to avoid the middle of the day in such conditions.
  • Feel the air – is it smooth(ish) or are you having to control pitch, role and yaw a lot more than is normal? This can be felt on the ground before you take off.
  • Keeping a little more break on during gusting winds allows more control of pitch movements. 
  • Practice weight shifting until it becomes instinctive.
  • When caught in turbulence and dealing with collapse/s steer a safe course by looking where you want to go… and you will go towards safety.
  • Sufficient altitude gives you time to think and react appropriately.

Ian Hopcraft. DHPC Safety Officer

2014. What a year for XC

Well it seems that the 2014 XC season is over and the winter has finally arrived. For many pilots this will be their most memorable year with personal best XC flights being made. For others, myself included, it was probably the most frustrating year. I had never seen a paraglider over my house before but this year it happened three times and two of those were record breaking flights on days that I just could not fly. Sheer torture.

The Sharpenhoe site distance record fell twice and there were several other flights in between those 2 record breakers that were absolutely epic. Several of them over 200Km.

In this years XC league just under 2000km were logged from Sharpenhoe alone. It must be well over 2000km if we include all those unlogged XC’s. The site record changed hands twice in the year with Hugh Miller, Guy Anderson and Mark Watts jostling for pole position. It was finally snatched back by Hugh Miller with an incredible flight of 228.2Km with Mark Watts just  0.2KM short. Hugh retains the site record for the 2nd year running. Last year the record was 178KM when Hugh smashed the long standing site record of 98 miles (159Km) set by Pete Roberts way back in 1998.

 

The Sharpenhoe hall of fame: Click on the KM to see the log.

Hugh Millers incredible flight of  228.2KM on 24/07/2014
228.0km Mark Watts
205.5km211.4km  Guy Anderson
178.4km209.8km, 211.2km Hugh MIller
190.9km Kirsty Cameron
143.2km Helen Gant

 

Here are all the XC league flights from Sharpenhoe during the 2014 season.

Sharpenhoe

Dunstable did pretty well too with 5 XC’s logged one of which was Karoly Megyesi with an amazing 120.2KM on a paraglider.

Here are the XC league flights for Dunstable

Dunstable

 

 

Congratulations to everybody in both these lists for such incredible flights.

Sharpenhoe has fallen.

“My longest flight anywhere on the planet is good enough but doing it in England, from the tiniest hill imagineable, wingtip to wingtip with my old mate Hugh that really takes some beating… Some days are special but this one was off the scale.” Guy Anderson

 

It was only a few weeks ago that Hugh Miller was awarded the Chris Ellison award for his record breaking flight from Sharpenhoe Clappers. This years season has already seen some astonishing flights logged in the XC league and one of particular note is another record breaking flight from Sharpenhoe.

Yet again, the infamous Hugh Miller managed to bag an incredible Sharpenhoe flight but this time he was not alone. Guy Anderson left Sharpenhoe with Hugh and managed to log a breath taking 211.4km followed closely by Hugh who logged 211.2 km. Their flights started at 11:11 on 15th April and finished at 17:47 when they landed in the Brecon Beacons near Libanus. Guy and Hugh are currently first and second in the uk national xc league.

Guy’s flight can be viewed here and Hugh’s is here

Guy produced a wonderful story board:

You can be forgiven for not knowing about Sharpenhoe as even if you drove past it you probably wouldn’t even think it could possibly be a flying site. A shallow slopey field next to a small tree-lined bowl doesn’t give much clue of what followed.

Hugh and I had been looking at the track of the anticyclone moving across the UK and it just happened to be perfect for Sharpenhoe yesterday with forecast NE flow early in the flight moving to just south of east into Wales. We declared a goal of 150km in Leominster and leapt off, together with Jimmy Piper. The first climb out was slow and scrabbly and barely got above 3k ft. This set the scene as we struggled for nearly three hours to cover 60km. Plenty of thermals but all super scrappy, Jimmy was very unlucky to drop out just before the conditions started to improve.

The drift took us too far south for our goal and as we arrived at Cheltenham we had to decide whether to head into Wales or turn down to Devon. The line into Wales was working beautifully by now and we raced along stunning lift lines just pausing to stop in by now pretty stonking thermals. With no sign of a sea breeze, we blatted on hitting the Black Mountains just south of Pandy. From 5k ft in the evening sun they looked breath-taking. The day by now was clearly fading and after a bit of ridge soaring on the Brecons we dropped down to the road.

My longest flight anywhere on the planet is good enough but doing it in England, from the tiniest hill imagineable, wingtip to wingtip with my old mate Hugh that really takes some beating… Some days are special but this one was off the scale.

I suspect the Chris Ellison award may have Guy’s name on it next year.

 

Another flight of note from Sharpenhoe was by Karoly Megyesi who diluted his Dunstable only xc flights with 2 from Sharpenhoe. Karoly currently sits in 29th position in the xc league with all of his flights being from a DHPC site. An amazing feat.

 

Dunstable is one of the top ten XC sites in the country

Sharpenhoe Clappers has often been touted as a potential record breaking site for the UK. Many have tried and last year the site record fell. But have you ever considered Dunstable as a good XC site.

We all know how hard it is to XC from Dunstable. Even a flop over the back is difficult with the airspace to contend with.

But it can be done and just look at the current club XC league.

In first place is Karoly Megyesi and every single flight is from Dunstable!

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 07.20.02

Not only does this put him top of our league but it also puts him in 8th position in the National league. With all of those points scored from Dunstable!

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Well done Karoly!

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Long standing Site Records smashed

2013 saw distance records for both Dunstable and Sharpenhoe Clappers smashed.

Sharpenhoe Clappers
Hugh Miller saw the forecast was good, joined the club and on 2nd May 2013 he rocked up to Sharpenhoe Clappers on what looked like being a great day for an XC (the third great day that week).
He simply launched and vanished. A staggering 178km later he landed in Castle Cary, Somerset. A new site record!
Sharpenhoe site record was previously held by the late and great Pete Roberts for travelling 98 miles (159Km) in 1998 on his Hang Glider. It is said that this flight was only a couple of hours long and required the assistance of several people to help Pete launch straight into a thermal on a very very strong wind day. The legends speak of one who rode a single thermal across the country.

You can see Hugh’s record breaking flight here.

Dunstable Downs
That same year, 22nd April, on an overcast day with no sign of XC potential and a poor forcast there was one lone Hang Glider pilot at Dunstable Downs. That pilot was Andrew Hollidge.
With the ridge to himself and a murky sky overhead Andrew managed to slowly climb out in weak lift. Not to a great height, just 2500′ but enough to set a new site record of 153.9km. He says that the entire flight was no higher than 2500′ for the entire flight but it was very bouyant. Once at height he was able to maintain height and bounce along to his final destination in Norfolk.
Andrews flight was the only flight at Dunstable that day. A lesson to us all.

The Dunstable record was previously 70M (112KM) in 1989 by the infamous Pete Roberts.

Award Winners

Thanks go to Kit Harvey and Lisa Wood for organising a very enjoyable awards night.
Thanks too to Lisa for the top quality trophies.

The following awards were presented:

Martin Hincliffe – Winner of the “Clubman” award – for helping with weather station relocating and generally attending and volunteering for everything!
Tom Kane – Winner of the Dunstable XC League with 250.2 points
Hugh Miller – Chris Ellison award (for longest XC from a club site) – For his 178km flight from Sharpenhoe Clappers to Castle Cary, Somerset. A new site record! Sharpenhoe previously Pete Roberts 98 miles (159Km) in 1998
Damien Masterson – Most improved CP (HG))
Chai Anich – Most improved CP (PG)

The following special one off awards were also presented.
Marcus Goldsmith – Plastered award. For breaking his arm on a flying hol. And for eventually getting it plastered sometime later
Andrew Hollidge – A new site record (on an overcast day) from Dunstable with an XC of 153.9 km on his Hang Glider. Dunstable record previously 70M (112KM) in 1989 by Pete Roberts.

AndrewH Damien

Andrew and Damien receiving their awards.

New Committe for 2014

Your 2014 committee:
Kit Harvey – Chairman
Steve Meadowcroft – Safety Officer
Richard Greaves – Chief Coach
Lisa Wood – Secretary

Tony Aldous – Membership secretary

Cris kent – National Trust site liaison. Dunstable and Sharpenhoe
Andy Keyte – Chinnor site liaison.
Ian Conway – Treasurer
James Dell – Website and weather man

Contact details for all can be found in the Members Database.

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