Last weekend I thought I could repeat the full weekend flying trick that I pulled a few weeks back. The weather forecast was for sunny and windy, but not too windy. So on Saturday morning we drove out to the beach but when we got to the launch site it became clear that it would be touch-and-go due to the high winds. In the end I only got a little hop while practising my launches. After that I practised my ground handling with a Gin Nano which is a fun little glider but it did feel more like a kite than a real glider.
The next day was a different story. The wind died down just enough and the sun stayed, all in all a perfect day for flying. Because there were a large number of people the group was split into two, the absolute beginners and the people who had flown before. The latter group immediately set up for their first flights while the former group started with ground handling exercises. I was with the group of people who got to prepare for their first flights immediately.
Over the day I managed to get three flights in, all with varying levels of success. On the first flight of the day I too rushed and stuffed several things up. First of all I was too enthusiastic with the initial launch which lead to the glider pulling me off my feet and then over flying me. We both ended lying on the ground. Fortunately only my ego was damaged so another attempt was made. On the second start I was more controlled but still kinda jittery during the launch and the run. To top it off I managed to twist the brake line around the rises. So in the end I just fly a circuit down to the ground and landed. No harm done and lots of lessons learned.
The second flight was a lot better, much more controlled, although my launch still needs work. I'm not checking the canopy before commencing my launch run and during the run I need to remember to have no pressure on the brakes. During the flight I practised using the speed bar, which is a lot harder to push than I thought, and flying with big ears and speed bar. Turns out on the Atlas the big ears go in very easily (make sure you are really only pulling the outer A's) but it takes a bit of time for them to come out.
While the first two flights provided plenty of good (and safe) learning moments, neither flight was very special. However the third flight was one of those magic flights. After checking that the airspace was empty I started my launch, which went smoothly, but then somebody flew too close to the start place for me to continue. The instructor told me to keep my position with the glider above my head while the other paraglider flew by, but my limited skill was no match for the strong desire of my glider to fly and slowly we drifted towards the end of the cliff. A little bit of left brake allowed me to fly away from the other paraglider and then the soaring started. The Atlas climbs and climbs and keeps climbing, going higher and higher. Eventually, mostly thanks to the amazing Atlas, I ended up at the top of the stack looking down onto the start field with its tiny people, a whole bunch of other gliders and looking over the hills to the neighbouring towns. Later on I determined, from looking at the height topo's online, that I must have been somewhere between 100m and 120m above the beach! That to me was a magic moment.
Unfortunately all magic moments must end, otherwise they wouldn't be magic anymore, and in this case it was ended by my instructor who thought it would be wise for me to come down while the wind was still behaving so on with the big ears and the speed bar and down I went.