29 January 2012

Great racing in Mexico at the Super Final

Valle de Bravo in Mexico has to be one of the most consistent places to fly in the world. The boys and girls in the Paragliding World Cup Super Final will be exhausted by the end of the comp! This is one of the first competitive outings for the new EN D gliders, so is being watched with great interest. Although significant numbers of top pilots chose to stay away, it is still a very high level competition. The Ozone Enzo is showing strongly, but is by no means certain to win, with Niviuk's Icepeak 6 also figuring in the overall top 10. The Gin Boomerang X has a task win under its belt, but the gossip suggests it doesn't quite have the glide performance of the other two, particularly at speed in turbulence. Unfortunately there has been at least one altitude shredding cascade and several reserve rides, but thankfully no serious injuries. I think it is too early to draw many conclusion from this. Ideally there would be no incidents, but Mexico does give strong, challenging conditions and these pilots will be pushing very hard. Factor in the reality that most will have had very little training on their new gliders and should we be surprised? I think that it supports the view that banning the competition class gliders is nowhere near the complete answer for competition safety.
For a good, no-nonsense view from the inside Brett Hazlett's Blog is well worth following. Thanks for posting Brett!
The full results are on the Super Final organiser's website here.

20 January 2012

XC Workshop - Yorkshire Venue Confirmed

Less than a month to go now; just a few places still available. This workshop is designed to really get your cross country flying going. The day is based at the Ingleton Community Centre on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales. Please note this is different from the original venue.
Details of the content - click here.
For booking details - click here

19 January 2012

Develop your flying in 2012

I am delighted to confirm the details of my latest Pilot Development days and courses. What ever your level there is something for you, which will help you take the next step in your flying:
  • 1 day XC coaching and flying days - April 2012 and May 2012
  • Pilot Development courses - Spring and Summer 2012
  • Intensive Pilot Development Week in Annecy - July 2012
There are opportunities to suit all pockets. Go to Coaching and Courses for more details.

Flying at last!

I have just seen photos of Chrigel Maurer and two of his colleagues from Advance flying soaring the summit of the Eiger. Absolutely stunning.
It wasn't quite as epic in the UK's Peak District or as uncrowded! At least lots of pilots got some airtime. Thanks to Andy Chapman for posting his first go with his new camera. Busy ridge soaring in the Peak District
I am glad its not normally that busy!

09 January 2012

Why do XC pilots land?

What has always struck me is how wonderfully complex flying cross country is. We all know that the basics are simple: go round in circles when the vario beeps; glide off in the direction you want to go; repeat as many times as possible without landing. In an effort to better understand how UK pilots think about their XC flying I carried out a survey about what they saw as the reasons they ended up on the ground at the end of each XC flight. The most common reasons were:

  • ·         Being unable to find a thermal even though the pilot believed there was one there
  • ·         Lack of patience
  • ·         Tiredness or lack of concentration
  • ·         Getting into a bit of bad sky or terrain
Differences between individual pilots were marked. For example a number scored lack of patience and tiredness/loss of concentration highly, yet others, especially experienced pilots did not score these as major factors. Looking at the range of causes of landing it is obvious that some errors are much easier to avoid than others, which can take years of experience and focus to master.
Understanding your own strengths and weaknesses and being able to build from them is one of the keys to being a really good pilot. Try to learn something from every flight. Soak up knowledge from all sources and above all, keep challenging yourself. Get to the hill as often as you can, go XC every time you can, enjoy every minute of it! To gain more insights please click here to have a look at the full analysis. 
Happy flying.

04 January 2012

Exciting wings for 2012

2012 looks like another fascinating year for wing development. We won't get the cutting edge, blistering competition gliders again, at least for a while, but there is plenty of rustling of new fabric in the EN C and EN D classes!
In the EN C class, my eye has been caught by Niviuk's Artic 3 and Gradient's Aspen 4. Both are looking like being nice improvements on their already decent predecessors, but will they be able to move ahead of the splendid Advance Sigma 8 and the delightful Ozone Delta?
EN D is in turmoil with no one really knowing just how hot some of the new gliders will be. The PWC Super Final in a few weeks will give our first proper look at the EnZo, Icepeak 6, Swing Core 2 etc. We should get an idea of what goes well but safety could be hard to judge from one competition flown exclusively by the super talented. And what about the Gin Boomerang X? Information is hard to come by, but I am hearing that it could be a direct replacement for the GTO i.e. more like a classic EN D.
There are quite a few others I could mention; we are blessed!
I have been chatting with the Editors at XC Magazine so have got my shout in for reviewing some of the new gliders soon. Can't wait. Happy new year!