David Carter, our man in the air, sends in this update:
I took off with Richard in the back at about 1pm and to his massive credit he let me fly the whole trip with some helpful advice but no hands on the controls at all.
Launch was a wild ride behind a Pawnee on a much shorter rope than we are used to at Darlton. 5-10 kts makes quite a difference in how heavy the controls are and it was VERY turbulent, full control deflections needed almost all the way up to 1500 feet, quite a ride.
Once at 2000 we were waved off quickly and connected almost instantly with a decent thermal but because of the wind strength while climbing we were drifting all the time back towards the airfield but perseverance paid off and we quickly climbed beyond 3000 and set off on task towards the city of York.
There were some decent streets working and it was possible to dolphin our way out to Full Sutton where it all fell apart and as we descended through 2000 it was time to find another and with the sky getting busier and busier there were gaggles of gliders to left and right above and below so plenty of choice but no-one really climbing away.
We joined a few gliders in various climbs and tracked backwards and forwards over Full Sutton airfield about four times before I got bored and declared that we were not hanging about here and were pushing on towards the first turn point regardless of the huge blue hole opening up in front of us. Cue negative flap and a 80kt dash across the gap before connecting with some gentle lift under another street and pushing on to the north of York where we had some debate between the Oudie in the front with me and Richard’s GPS in the back as to exactly where the TP was and whether or not we entered the barrel or the sector, but when we’d decided I was talking about this TP and he was talking about the next one we agreed that we were OK and then had the classic debate
“Ok, we’ve made the first TP we’ve got about 2400 feet, do we turn back or go on?”
Happy to say there wasn’t much debate.
“I’m having far too much fun, let’s push on!!!”
So we turned North and headed for Sutton Bank which was clearly visible by the white horse in the distance
At this point we were still in good company with many other gliders and a good lookout wasn’t just important it was absolutely critical as we often had gliders above, below and circling ahead of us. It was a different challenge for me joining thermals with a couple of other gliders and especially the Janus we were following that only wanted to turn left!!! I much prefer turning to the right!
But anyway we kept tracking north towards Sutton Bank but the lift was getting weaker and weaker with less opportunity and the flap lever was getting a lot of work with not a lot of effect.
Other gliders were circling, one or two had made it to the ridge and seemed to be pushing on but at this point we were spotting likely fields as we were circling in zero.
Fountains Abbey was looking pretty but very uninviting and I was working hard looking for some lift from the south end of the hill, which is heavily wooded and the lift was weak and broken.
What was very weird was circling with about 1200 feet on the altimeter and 1000 ish over the valley and what looked like about 300 over the hilltop.
We managed to hold height for about ten minutes but when it became clear that we were not going to make even the top of the ridge to land at Sutton bank then the selection of fields became critical.
Turns out in discussion that we were looking at adjacent fields and while mine was bigger and into wind we would have been landing over the tractor wheelings and they were actually ploughing at the time. Richard’s field was thinner and shorter and crosswind and had cable poles running parallel to the landing run but seemed the better choice because we could run along the wheelings so I opted for that and set up for landing.
However, just to make it extra interesting there was a 200′ wooded hill on base so I ended up thinking that I don’t want to turn behind it into wind in case we have to climb to get over it! So I turned final on the crest of the hill with what looked like the wingtip kissing the trees but was probably a good 100′ clear. Of course, like any gliding landing site, there’s sticking lift in base leg and because of the slope lift and wind direction this was no exception and I actually opened half airbrake as I turned final, kept the nose down to keep speed and really climbed a bit, certainly didn’t go down as expected.
Final turn made, we are then down a glide slope parallel to the hillside and carrying a wee bit too much speed as Richard declares “S**t I don’t think we’re gonna get in here!” I’m ok but accept we’re carrying excess energy, the plus side is we have enough airspeed for solid control and it is still very turbulent as the ground around us us anything but level. The thought passes through my head to ask him to deploy the drag parachute as I’m kinda busy but it figure if he thinks we need it he will do it anyway.
I’d also decided on base leg to land in +8 flap instead of full landing flap as I’m thinking we will need as much aileron authority as I can muster so we are going to float and float as the Janus does in +8 but as I round out the ground swells up to meet us and the float is somewhat shortened. As we contact I pull max airbrake and before I can get to the flap lever, Richard has optimised the time and gone full negative to stick us on the ground meaning that I can squeeze the wheel brake and with stick full back the hedge is still looming.
At about 100′ from the hedge and still rolling I apply gentle left sick to drop the wing and gently ground loop away from the hedge and this is the only time in the flight I feel some resistance in the stick, Richard agrees with me that a slow ground loop was better than rolling into the hedge but his judgement and experience outweighs mine and I feel the resistance to dropping the wing and we come to a stop with about 50′ to the hedge.
My first field landing and we’d walked away with no damage. Bonus!
Lovely people in the farmhouse nearby let us use their phone since we had absolutely no signal and they even took a walk back down to the glider with us with their daughter to take some photos in the glider. (Dad offered to take us to the pub, which was very welcome but we had to decline).
Thanks to Craig and Jack for a speedy retrieve (about and hour and fifteen drive ) with a problematic derig!
All back and happy and DTC sitting in 12th place out of 35 so I’m happy with my day 1 effort and my first comp day and first flight out of a site other than home and first field landing.
Now, sleep ….