28 February, 2014

Another week, another slope

inthehollow.jpgA week after my last visit to the slopes and I find myself there again, this time flying from "The Pool". 

A good blowy though slightly milder day but all the same standing exposed to the wind made it feel pretty cold. There's a nice thing about this site though, the pits is in a hollow behind a bank which is so sheltered from the wind that even wing bags don't get blown around. So we nip up the bank for launching and landing and in the mean time carefully step down the bank to fly and shelter from the blow.

Actually some of the time I was able to have the sky to myself so I stayed on top of the bank to get in much needed practice. If anything I seemed to need it more than ever with what seemed like a very twitchy model on launch even with the lowest rate setting. That situation wasn't helped when I forget to pull down my goggles and my eyes soon started streaming. Not the best idea I've ever had but I decided I could pull them down over my glasses whilst I was still flying. So I found my self with my glasses dislodged, the goggles half on and the twitchy model somewhere out there. I quick moment of panic and I found the model and brought it in for a landing pronto. I'm happy to say the remainder of the flights that day were without incident. It was only in conversation when packing up that it became apparent that my nose balance weights were missing . I'd put them there as a temporary measure months ago, liked the effect and planned to do the job properly at a later date... in the mean time I forgot all about it and didn't notice the absence in my preflight check. Huh no wonder it was twitchy !

Anyway it had been another good day with lots of practice at flying a tail heavy wing in a strong wind, next time can only be better .


17 February, 2014

First proper slope of the year

I set off for The Pool because of the forecast SW wind but it turned out other flyers had already settled on flying from "The Gate", though on checking "The Pool" site a short distance down the road the wind seemed to be more full onto that slope but I was happy to go with the flow of the more experienced flyers.  I had arrived at 1.30pm and I was surprised by the number of cars present though I Iater found out some had already left as the wind had started to weaken. Anyway I found a recently vacated space in the line of cars, nipped through the gate and there I was in the pits. Not much of walk that and though there's marsh land around the flying site the pits and flight line were surprisingly firm underfoot.

SAS Fusion
Having noticed the wind speed dropping on the weather forecasts and being told I'd missed the best of the wind I quickly gave the SAS Fusion a heave out and off it went at the first attempt. I was quite pleased with that. Last time I'd flown it was about a month ago but that was into a turbulent 32/48mph wind - took several efforts to launch in entirely different conditions, prior to that it's months since I've flown a model of any description let alone chucked one of a hillside. The lift was still fairly good and I enjoyed about 15 minutes worth of experimenting with it to see how well it would hold up in loops, rolls & inverted and it was okay. So, having had my settling in flight I went back to the pits for a butty & coffee and was approached by Keith Rathbone (L&MMGA Membership Secretary) and welcomed to the club as this was the first time we'd actually met. That was nice, being newish in a club can be a bit isolating and it's good to have a welcome and a friendly handshake. A quick hello to a few others and another good  flight was embarked on. The third flight was okay but the lift had decayed somewhat and it took a couple of launches to actually get airborne and at times it was quite obvious that the fusion was not getting as much lift as before. Further evidence of the decaying lift was that the vast majority of flyers were packing up. I checked the wind speed on my mobile phone anemometer (not wholly accurate but okay for what I currently need) and that showed the wind mostly between 6 and 15mph with a very occasional gust to 23mph, not really enough for my Fusion. With most people having departed that left me free to have another flight preceded by a lot of practice at launching and landing ;o) however I did catch one of those stronger gusts and once a little altitude had been gained I was able to stay up for about ten minutes at which point I thought I'd try a lowish pass or two then rise on the same patch of lift. It worked twice, the third time was converted into a landing - the usable lift for me had gone.

Not today for the Secret Weapon
I had taken my Sail Planes International Secret Weapon sport glider with me too but neither I nor the decaying lift seemed to be in the best form to venture out with that.

That's about it. A very worthwhile trip out of about 25 miles each way, some good flying, lots of much needed practice and neither my boots nor the car was covered in mud. That's thing with this type of sloping, setting up, flying and packing up is the quickest and easiest possible, no messing about fitting batteries or starting engines, refitting fresh batteries or refuelling. Just get the model out of the car (check the battery of course) chuck it and fly as long as I like all day on the fitted NiMh pack. Then at home time chuck it in the back of car and the job's done.



12 February, 2014

Even a hobbit would have found it tricksy

We've just been for an overnight stay at The Borrowdale hotel at Grange in Borrowdale, Keswick. We decided to go back to see if it had changed since we last stayed there, about 30 years ago!  

Linked from Hotels.com
The decor has changed but the rest seemed very familiar: welcoming, comfortable and good food. We were very pleased to find that it was unspoilt but hadn't overlooked a few modern implementations like WiFi. So all this meant that on arrival we settled into one of the lounges with crumpets and a glass of warm orange & Pimms. That might seem hard to imagine but actually it was lovely and warming which with the bitter wind blowing outside was just right.

We then settled down to studying online and paper OS maps to plan a walk the next day. We had hoped to just take a low level walk across the bottom of Derwent Water towards Manesty then back through Grange Village but the high water level of Derwent Water made that route impassible, so we decided to follow a path around Greatend Cragg then up Kings Howe and back to the car at the hotel via the Bowder Stone.

Having sorted that out it was time for dinner and very good it was too. I had duck and my wife had roast beef washed down with a bottle chateau bottled beaujolais, the last measure of which went very nicely with a generous helping of cheese, biscuits, celery and grapes. Needles to say it was a good night and we slept well.

Not too steep... yet.
So the next day was time to spend some energy. We were surprised as we left the hotel to feel a few raindrops in the air because the weather forecast was very favourable: cold (feels like 1.2 degrees) dry, light winds and sunny spells. Thankfully the raindrops soon disappeared and that was the end of it, though the wind still felt very cold on our faces and our exhaled breath floated away down wind in a cloud of vapour. Still we had come prepared, dressed in multiple layers of suitable warm clothing, hats and boots so of we set. 

Once we left the road we were on sodden ground that just about supported us if we picked our way carefully and once the ground started to rise a little this improved immensely. The walk didn't get any easier though as the path became steeper and was formed by rocks in layers like steps which were wet. It required a great deal of care and effort; even a hobbit would have found it tricksy. We soon found we were too hot. Yes too hot, the wind had disappeared completely, we were working hard and getting very, hot! Hats, fingerless gloves and jumpers were soon removed as the labours of the climb went on; it was worth it though because the wonderful views around us were starting show.