07 June 2014

Overcoming Disappointments

For most of us, even after a succession of good flights, there is always the chance of a disappointment just around the corner. Or in my case, two disappointments in one week. The first came on a mediocre day, but there was definitely more to be had. The second was a largely blue south-westerly day from Eyam edge in Derbyshire. I was in the air first but with the low level wind WSW the ridge was barely soarable. I had to land back at take off a couple of times and then got caught out too far from launch and landed at the bottom. Two gaggles got away in quick succession whilst I packed and got back to launch. I got away reasonably quickly but after two frustrating climbs, never getting above 3300’ I was back on the ground a few km downwind and kicking the heather. The lead gaggle got to the coast…
I stewed for a few days about that one. Was it bad flying or bad luck? Was my state of mind right at the start of the day and was it good enough as the day started to go wrong? What could I have done differently?
A bit of analysis is good; dwelling on mistakes isn’t. It is worth emerging with a plan after a disappointment; it helps to you look forward at what to do next time rather than back at the errors. Thinking back to different flights that had a better outcome gets one in a better frame of mind. Compare and contast: “I am rubbish; those other pilots are so much better than me etc. etc.” to “Actually I had a bad day but I am a decent pilot; the next good day won’t be far away.” From there you move on to “I understand the mistakes I made, the part that bad luck played and how I can do it better next time”
A week has passed with no other opportunities to fly so what is my analysis?
·         Site choice could have been better in a SW wind.
·         I was a bit overconfident/complacent and did not take enough account of the risk of going down.
·         I spent too much time searching away from launch. There is a good place to wait near launch and this is what the lead gaggle did.
·         Once away from the hill sometimes you have to roll the dice to get up. Sometimes it works and sometimes it didn’t. Faced with the same again I would have been tempted to park over an area that has often worked in the past, even if it meant wasting the 1000+ft AGL I had in hand.
·         Underlying factor: dislike of crowds in the club environment hence the rather chancy searching away from launch.
I am absolutely itching to get going and view the panorama from cloud base again. I also want to push my glider harder in tight turns and higher speeds in turbulence. Right where’s my kit?


  1. Hi Pat. Re "Underlying factor: dislike of crowds in the club environment hence the rather chancy searching away from launch." I've made this mistake too many times, and surely will again in future as I really don't like flying in crowds! Looking forward to reading about your next big flight! :)

  2. I don't think we are the only ones. I find competition gaggles much less stressful than a busy day on Mam, Milk or the Malvers! On the dodgy days I need to be really disciplined about getting high, (not to hard on an IP7!) but then hanging onto that height with grim determination, or at least not sinking back too far into the crowds. The sink rate of even EN A gliders is so good that it is not always easy.