Thursday, September 13, 2007

Hang gliding

Matt and I were just talking on the phone about how his club have increased their prices.....again!! I however have been talking to some of the guys here in the Kiev office about my flying antics and have been invited to take up hang gliding. Apart from the rent of the equipment and the initial lessons, it's pretty damn cheap to go fly. And it doesn't matter how much a barrel of oil will cost ;-)

The guys were telling me that the mountains in Crimea are a favourite of the hang gliding community here in Ukraine, but in the Autumn you can get winched up into the winds aloft and manage it that way, particularly in Kiev were the hills are smaller.

So in a few weekends I'm hoping to pay a visit to the hang gliding club and see if they''ll let me join and learn to fly them. I'll let you all know what it's like to fly without an engine as soon as I try it out

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Mid Week Jaunt

Earlier in the week I decided that should the weather behave itself, then I would try and go for a bimble during the week after work. I kept a close eye on the weather forecasts and the weathermen were predicting that it would be good Tuesday, crap Wednesday and getting better towards the weekend. Well, since I'm of to Kiev again on Saturday, that left Tuesday evening the only reasonable window to go fly.

A quick call to Polder to book a C150 for the sortie and a double check of the weather in the morning confirmed that it looked good to go flying. Although, looking out the window during the day suggested otherwise. But true to form, and just as the weathermen predicted, it started to clear-up....woohoo.

I left the office a wee bit earlier than normal and made my way to Lelystad. Reuben, one of the instructors as Polder was still there as he had a theory lesson to give, so he gave me the books to PH-ALI. He and I rolled her out of the hangar and I taxied to the fuel pump. I filled her tanks up, did the pre-flight and settled into the cockpit to get ready.

The wind was pretty strong at this stage, but Reuben was pretty sure it was good to go. I felt OK about it too, that is until after take-off. The wind on the climb out was really strong and pushed me hard to the East on the climb-out. I decided that since I was on my own for this flight, I'd use the time wisely and do some slow flight, stalls, emergency procedures etc since I didn't have anyone else to worry about getting air sick and stuff. So I played around in the sky, even doing some steep turns. After about 20 minutes of that I headed back to see what the wind was like for the landing.

When I got into the circuit it was blowing a hoolie. I had to crab in the downwind leg, took forever in base leg before turning final, and then crab like mad in the final too. Even after touchdown, the plane was being blown about on the roll-out. Retracting the flaps and power on, I took off to see if I could improve the landings. Gradually the wind got less and less, which was a good thing from calming me down, but bad from the perspective trying to nail the crosswind landings.

I have to say that I have never experienced wind as strong as that before and it was blowing 90 degrees across the runway. When I landed and went in to Reuben to pay the bill he asked how it was. I told him about the wind and he reminded me to fly them flapless and faster approach, as the play is more manoeuvrable at higher speeds and less likely to get blown about. I'll file that away for the next time it's windy. But a good evenings flying and nice to be back in the air.