New Year's eve - FLPA flight

Ed Cleasby - 03/01/2002

New Year's eve was a surprisingly pleasant day sandwiched between two bitter ones. Matt Doncaster and I aborted the previous day due to increasing winds and snow showers building over the Scafells, then running down Eskdale and blanking out the hills. With a wind chill estimated in the sub teens, we gave it an easy miss.

Next day we found yet another new field by the Eskmeals Gun Range and due to its sandy nature thankfully free of the thawing surface mud that is the winter norm. It was even warm. With a full tide lapping up only 50 yards away and a very white Isle of Man crystal clear across the Sea it was as nice a place as one could wish to be.

I had the new Electric start Wasp – SP to test out, but apart from putting it through its paces the main aim was to try and get some good wing tip photos. Due to the annoying 8 min shut down time on my Pentax, Scafell was out, so nearby Black Combe would have to do. What little wind there was had switched from NW to SE, but one of the advantages of power is that you just turn the glider to face the wind. After a good nil wind take off I quickly crossed to the Combe with a moderate northwesterly tailwind once I’d got over 800’.

The upper slopes were pristine white, the sky blue and a smattering of walkers were either making their way to the summit or just leaving. Time for some photos.

The problem however, is that ir operated cameras are very difficult to trigger at wing tip range and in bright conditions ……. and with a shut down time looming you don’t have long. I managed four in total but as serene as they may look, seconds before I’d had to pull up the side wires to get the camera to work. The other trick was to fly under a passing cloud shadow which made the remote a little more co-operative.

Despite only wearing lightweight gloves it was quite pleasant …..warm even. The new harness cut was working really well at keeping out draughts and flying to 3000’ on a winters day was a good test. As the upper slopes were soarable it was possible to switch off the engine, let it cool right down and then test out the electric start. Cutting the engine is psychologically usually a difficult thing to do but the electric start is so reliable and easy that for once it was a non event. Barely a touch of the button and it roared into life …… much easier than the old manual cord pull. Finally, tiring of the mountains I headed out to the coast and couldn’t resist doing the last few miles at 80’, heading out to sea to pass the odd farm.

A final low level beat up of the field for some video footage was followed by a sweet landing and a nice feeling that I’d made something of the last flying opportunity of 2001.

Best wishes for a good 2002







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