The UK XC season is getting going. There have been great flights from Brendan Reed, Alex Butler and quite a few others. Given the number of pilots who have been out in recent days (lots), it highlights the achievements of those doing the big flights. The start of this season has also reminded us of one of the age-old truths about XC flying: the margins between success and failure can be very fine.
Lots of elements go to make a successful XC flight and get just one of them wrong enough and it is game over. This can feel daunting for the developing pilot, however in many ways it is a percentage game. This is one of the reasons why many pilots experience a threshold in their XC flying: they do lots of short flights before suddenly posting better distances on a pretty consistent basis. So how do the less successful pilots up their game? Possibly they make lots of subtle changes which stack the odds in their favour. Alternatively they hit on something really significant. Common changes that pilots make:
- They resist the temptation to charge off down-wind as soon as sink is encountered.
- They have plan B and plan C ready to use.
- They make more of their own decisions and don’t just follow other pilots; particularly higher ones.
The successful pilots get many, but by no means all of the elements right. With skill, determination and experience they often manage to recover from ones they mess up.
|Finding a lifty line underneath the inversion to glide into wind and over Kinder Scout|