Due to the forecast winds this weekend we had two days at the only training hill in the greater Denver area. I was looking forward to getting some “real”; foot launches. All my training lessons so far have been scooter towing in a field where the nearest hill is 30 miles away.
We met at the hill about 9am and had to wait for the winds to turn around as forecasted. We setup in the LZ and then we did a walk through of the LZ and appropriate approaches given the slope and nearby ditches. Besides myself there were two other students. Steve who is basically a new Hang 2 just waiting to get a glider and another guy, Kyle. He’s just 16 and just a bit past his Hang 1. We all hiked our gliders up the hill. This particular hill has two “high” launches. One about 75′ AGL and the other is about 150′ AGL. Steve went first. Since I hadn’t foot launched on a hill in 9 years I wanted someone else to be the wind dummy.
After Steve got the glider back up and Kyle got a flight it was my turn. I was a little nervous. Not too much but I was wondering if my first hill launch in so long should be lower down the hill. The hill isn’t very steep either. And at 5500′ MSL you need to run well. Mark had me walk down the hill a bit to a shallow part to basically run and do some “moon walking”.
I got all setup and waited for a nice little breeze. I picked up the glider, got it balanced easy enough, yelled “CLEAR!”, “LAUNCHING!”, and then did the usual walk, jog, run. It wasn’t before long I was moon walking and then weightless. Despite the shallow slope I managed to get off the ground more than I expected so I did a very shallow turn about 30 degrees to the left and head more toward the main LZ. I never got more than a couple of feet off of the ground but my glide slope and the hill slope were the same until I got to the bottom. Soon I was near the bottom and preparing to land. I flared a little late but was able to get my feet under me and run the landing out OK. I dropped the left wing tip again.
Overall it was a good flight. My launch was pretty good. Good speed, good pitch control. Between having to foot launch the scooter tows and having done all those foot launches years ago I had no trouble.
I carried the glider back up the hill and later got a second flight launching from were everyone else started. This launch was interesting. I started off just fine but didn’t quite get to top running speed. Mark yelled something about going faster and I kicked it into high gear. That really did the trick. I got off just fine and the extra speed really helped. Again I floated down toward the LZ and setup the landing. Good speed but I never brought my hands down on the downtubes. They were still at launch position so my speed and roll control were slightly reduced. I rounded out and flared. Again I dropped the left wing.
Due to building thunderstorms we had to call it a day before I could get a 3rd flight. Overall I was quite happy with the day. I had good launches. I just need to work on my flare timing – it was a little late today. But mostly I need to work on using a looser grip during the flare. It appears that I am holding tight with the left hand during my flare and that’s causing the wing drops.
We met at 9am again Sunday and the wind was already real nice. There were four of us today. Steve and I again and two guys I hadn’t met before. Another Steve who learned by aerotowing in Florida. He has never foot launched before so he spent the day low on the hill ground handling and doing short runs. I believe it was harder for him than he expected. He commented on it being much more technical. But since he now lives in Colorado he has to learn to foot launch or he will rarely get to fly. The 4th guy, Ron had his own glider. I’m not sure of his situation. He spent the day low on hill with Ron. I didn’t get to talk to him much though.
Steve and I hiked our gliders up the hill. I did two flights from the 75′ foot launch. Steve managed 3 from the 150′ launch. My two flights went quite well. Both my launches were really strong. Mark was quite pleased with that. My first landing suffered from the usual left wing drop. Mark reminded me of using a light grip during the flare. My second landing went real well. I remembered the light grip and magically the flare went great. No dropped wing – finally. Now I just need to remember that every time.
The thunderstorms built even quicker today and we had to break down at noon today. So I managed to get 4 good flat slope hill launches in. I was quite pleased with how it all went. Of course there is still work to be done but I’m getting there.
I can’t fly next weekend so I have a two week wait. I just may have to take a day off during the week and get a lesson in.
Oh what fun this is.