Ripon XC

By Jim Ashley on  April 1, 2019 11:50

To get the ball rolling on our new all singing web site, I've been encouraged to write a few words about the first decent day this flying season.
For once the day arrived at the weekend Saturday 23rd March, light winds and WNW. Parlick was the obvious choice but Andy Archer and I decided on Dodd or Wether Fell in the Dales to avoid airspace restrictions - nothing like ambition! We arrived at Wether Fell but the wind seemed a bit west so we decided on Dodd. We managed to cadge a lift and left the car on the main road avoiding the long drive in on the lane for easier retrieval which eventually proved to be a good move. The day didn't initially look too promising but soon brightened up so we all launched into a reasonably buoyant sky. At times the climbs seemed promising but they rarely took us above two and a half thousand feet. Every so often people were peeling off in pairs, it seemed, and making the glide to Wether Fell which is just down wind. Eventually we made a decent height and set off ourselves towards Wether. Dodd gives you a second bite of the cherry should you fail to make a good escape since you can easily drop onto Wether Fell as its only a few kilometres down wind.

clip_image004Wether Fell & hang gliders

It was interesting to fly with hang gliders on Wether, it took me back to my early days on Parlick. There was a class 5 rigid wing which was pretty sporty and a flex wing who dedicated himself to scaring the pants off me for the 20 or so minutes it took me to get away. A slow climb to four grand and we set off toward Semer Water, I had been left behind slightly so managed to cut the corner when they all diverted north to a small ridge east of Semer which is used for training I'm told. Anyway, it was a good move as most managed the climb out - we dropped two pilots here who glided off north in search of the road and an easier return. So four were still in it but I had fallen out of the lift and ended up gritting my teeth on a low glide to the next dale. Arriving at ridge height at the lee side I knew I might take a beating but happily the lee ridge was gentle not sharp so little rotor effect and bingo - a lee sider. A slow & a rough one though but it took me to base eventually where I realised I was a climb and a glide behind. Andy, on his Iota 1, had done a fine job sticking with the two ahead, one on a Zeno (D wing) but he had to big ears out of cloud at one point so I was on my guard. There can be benefits to being at the back (as well as getting called a 'pimp') since you can tell when things haven't worked out for the leaders and choose a different route - but I wasn't really close enough and in the end lost sight of them. Airwhere or other tracking software might have helped here.



The next moor crossing was a big one with smoke from a heather fire to the south, cloud threatening to suck you in and a huge moor to walk out of if you blow it! Caution was needed here, the climbs were assured to some extent but you needed to judge where you would hit the cloud if at all. The trick was to clip the edge on the downwind side but in the event, I didn't enter cloud at all which is good for me. The gaps between the clouds were quite small so it wasn't that difficult later in the flight but boy was I cold. Having neglected to bring a base layer, I was now shaking like shi££ing dog and even briefly considered landing early. But the rewards were there and eventually the dramatic Dales landscape came to an end and the flats beaconed, I heard on the radio that Harrogate was ahead which confused me as my instruments were saying Ripon and I wondered if I was off course but all was well. There were some glorious formal gardens west of Ripon but the sky had cleared and it was obvious I wasn't going a great deal further.


Ripon Ahead

Andy had chosen a landing field at Ripon which turned out to be an army barracks so had to reconsider at the last minute! Once he was safely down we had a chat and he pointed out the other pilots just north of the town which I hadn't seen. They appeared to be in zeros at best so kept my course to cross the racecourse at the south side. The A1 was in sight and I hoped to cross it between the MATZ at Linton and Topcliffe although it wasn't likely. My landing field at Skelton on Ure was complete with a welcoming mad March hare darting around in a bonkers dance - I felt like doing the same just to warm up! Having packed up next to the church of Christ the Consoler I made my way into the village to find the usual story with regard to public transport - a bus an hour earlier or an hour later then not at all till Monday so I began thumbing on the almost totally deserted road. Car three stopped and took me to the pub Andy had found near the square in Ripon, after the first pint it was beginning to dawn on us that we maybe weren't getting home tonight. There is no obvious route back and zero public transport so it was with relief that I took a call from Jacob Cleverley who, incredibly, offered to drive out to pick us up since his chances of flying after work had evaporated - thankfully!

Once Jacob had arrived and we'd bought him his tea we set off for Hawes and Dodd. It seemed to take forever to get back even in Jacob's motor and had we decided to try our luck hitching we'd have ended up sleeping in the gliders at the side of the road probably. It was pitch black when we arrived at the car and we were glad we didn't have to make the trip across the moor on the gated road. Our thanks to our saviour on the day Jacob - you are the man!


Fire flying


Big walk out here



Ripon racecourse


Beware of the gulley!

By Barry Sayer on  March 26, 2019 14:59

Lesson of the day,,,, beware of the gulley! (all the gulleys).

Saturday 23rd March.

All forecasts for Parlick looked promising, so I arrived at the hill 9.00am sharp grabbing a vip parking spot right next to the gate and off I went.

After the usual slog up the hill myself and a couple of other pilots sheltered behind the wall on the west face, talking parabollocks and waiting for the wind to drop slightly, which it did 30mins later.

Everyone did the usual set up and launch into nice smooth conditions around 10.30ish.

I'd set my self a bit of a goal to get to Fairsnpe so off I puteled on my own scraping round the bowl at ridge height, not great in a wnw and with not much height, as soon as I got onto the corner quite low I anticipated a struggle to regain altitude.

Making it around the corner of Fairsnpe I was low, the wall was getting closer so I figured the best option would be slope land, walk up and re-launch again. I then make a speedy dash back to the safety of Parlick. All went well except for the 15 minutes wasted walking the rather steep rocky hill to get to a grassy patch for take-off.


Landing back at the Parlick west just below the wall was predictable and easy, had a chat, drink, chill, then set up and off again for more flying fun.

Had a nice boat about chasing gulls, got a few thermals and then decided to go for another slope landing in the same spot.

I knew I'd ****ed up on the approach. The wind had picked up slightly, plus it had a bit more north in it of a few extra degrees. I had lost my height out front to scoop in off that wsw shoulder to the usual launch /landing area. On the down wind leg of the approach I left it far to late to break left and had drifted to far south

I went to far round the corner, hit massive sink, and the increased wind speed that funnels round the hill reduced my forward speed to a snails pace. Going down I glanced over my right shoulder realising how close I was to one of the many large gulleys, this is not the place I wanted to be, possibly rocks and rotor. Uncross the legs getting ready for the inevitable dump I was mentally prepared,  then as soon as my feet touched mother earth I was going backwards falling backwards onto my arse! A fast shock stall yank on the brakes brought the wing down immediately and I jumped back onto my feet rather relieved to gather my glider and make the walk of shame back round the corner of the originally planed landing area. Maybe I should have had hold of the C's on touchdown?


Lucky to get away with it unscathed sprang to mind.

Stay safe out there folks

YouTube link of the event-

Regards, Barry

Safety Notes March 2019

By Brian Stewart on  March 10, 2019 16:41


“Every landing you walk away from is a good landing”. That’s the mantra we use when we’ve ****ed up the compulsory bit of the flight, telling ourselves it was OK, we survived. But that’s not good enough, is it? Aviation is a serious business and it’s vital to review any part of the flight that went wrong and learn from it. So here’s my tale of a crash that could have had much more serious consequences:

Parlick west bowl, lovely February day, wind strong enough to keep most sensible pilots on the ground well below the west bowl wall. I’d been to Tailbridge, arriving there just late enough to watch a few PGs landing backwards after some stationary moments, so after rushing  back to Parlick I was keen to fly. The wind eased a bit, a few of us took off and experienced the usual single-digit groundspeeds you get when the wind is so strong. It was smooth enough but a bit nerve-jangling so after a while, one by one people were going down and landing well below the wall. By the time I got round to penetrating forward far enough to spiral down, the wind had increased significantly. I was still climbing in full speed bar and big ears.

Now, I’m the first to admit that my landing skills aren’t the best, so I planned to make several approaches to get the timing right. Each time I turned towards the hill from 100’ lower than before, getting used to the speed of approach, the rapid climb that happened as soon as I got near the ground, and practised timing the turn across the slope, ready to touch down and kill the wing. Finally, ready to commit, I was down at 900’ AMSL (below the fence at the bottom of the hill) and lined up my approach. . . .

Hurtling over the green grass in the lower field, everything went to plan: as I got near the fence I started to climb and could see I was going to clear the fence easily, so got ready to turn. That’s when the vario stopped its happy sound. I was clear of the wall but now had no room to turn as there was a slight gully. All the brake in the world didn’t get me out of trouble, and I hit the ground. Hard. Legs, backside, bounce, legs again before the world went quiet. All well, no injuries and no damage but I was worried the wind would reinflate my glider and take me for a drag.

So, what happened? As I sat there checking myself over, the weird thing was the wind: there wasn’t any! What little there was blew DOWN the slope, so no dragging danger. I was in rotor. I need to go back and have a look at the ground, but clearly the fence, gentle undulations and hollows down there can create enough turbulence in strong winds to spoil your day. Wind creates turbulence; strong wind and gradient creates more turbulence; close to the ground it gets worse; changes in the terrain amplify this. Close to the ground we are vulnerable.

Lessons? There is no substitute for experience and practising the things we find hard. I was doing the right thing by rehearsing my landing, but failed to realise what could go wrong: the fence was limiting my options and disturbing the airflow – I had to maintain course while climbing in order to clear it, but when I lost height I was in a corner. These days of soaring in winter are ideal for practising the skills of taking off and landing. Not to self: need to do more.

Tight lines


PSC Safety Bulletin - February 2019

By Brian Stewart on  March 5, 2019 21:23

imageWhat a day! 24 Feb 2019, glorious warm spring sunshine pulled over 2 dozen members (and others – see below) onto Parlick East bowl. Once the ground warmed up, the early light winds were supplemented by some half-decent thermals. Unfortunately, most of these were chopped up and broken, possibly by some wave type effects but more so by the very obvious inversion limiting thermalling height to around 1600’ ASL. The narrow range of altitude available meant with that number of wings in the sky it was going to be crowded; throw in some sailplanes and a hang glider and the scene was set for carnage . . .

So, it’s great to be able to commend all concerned on a remarkable display of airmanship. I wasn’t aware of any conflict; rules of the air seemed to be well observed and even the low airtime pilots were able to gain experience of dealing with a crowded sky. One comment I heard concerns what to do when you are heading straight on to another glider: obviously if a collision were imminent, both turn right. However, if you can see from some distance away that you are on a collision course, the sensible course of action is to plan what you are going to do before you get close. If that plan means a slight turn to pass to one side or the other, then make that alteration early so that the other pilot can see your intentions. If you both make a slight correction (one left and one right) and are still on collision course, then I would suggest that whoever initially turned left must then make a positive turn right to clear the other. We don’t want to see the ‘pavement dance’ where each one keeps changing direction and both keep on a collision course. Well done all; it was a challenging day and it’s good to see so many PSC members out enjoying our wonderful site.

On that note, there were some strangers around. Visiting pilots are welcome, provided they are BHPA members (or for visiting pilots from overseas, carry equivalent third-party insurance from their recognised national body) and have studied the site guide. Ideally on a first visit we would like them to speak to local pilots to gain first hand and up to date info on the site and conditions. Committee members were able to speak to one or two of these, but everyone can play a part here: It is our own safety that is compromised if pilots are flying without knowledge of the site and its conditions; it risks the financial future of our families should one of them cause an accident and be uninsured; grieving families looking for someone to blame can employ a scattergun approach seeking compensation. Proving you have no liability could be expensive and highly stressful. If you see a face you don’t recognise, then a friendly approach to introduce yourself is a polite way to start a conversation about this. We want to be inclusive and try to present a friendly approach to encourage all to join our gang, but we must be clear that uninsured pilots are not welcome on our sites. Obviously, don’t get involved in any confrontation, let’s  try to get more people onside.

Tight lines.