BLOWN AWAY: Paragliding safely in strong wind


welcome to the dragon hike and fly guys
where it’s a little breezy. if you find the right place in the in the Leeside
you get little patches of no wind. Check out this guy. but on this side of the hill … it’s a little breezy! dragon mini dragon yes he’s looking
dangerous because he’s ex-army Gurkha yeah
strong and tough as nails yeah you could put an elephant on his back and he’d still
run around. Lewis is taking the gentleman’s approach you’ve got all the pubs marked out. And here’s the southeast Wales chairman, Seb, with rubbish bag. the weather is not looking pretty.
we are trying to catch Daniel. look at these he’s cheating he’s got a long legs! and he’s got a little hankie in the back, a 16 square metre Susi. Apparently there’s also a reserve and a harness in there. Maybe we should have an equipment inspection? Let’s take it all out, lay it on the ground… and late arrival, Flybubble Team member Alex, who joins us to run along the road and look at the sky and wish we could fly most of us have
all got XC gear some pilots have got teeny little rags and I’ve got to kind
of squished down XALPS 3. hopefully we get out here we’ve currently got a
cold front going over and that stuff here is post frontal so
hopefully it will weaken a bit (wind strength) and we can get to fly. one day
race they got seven hours they’ve got to go in five, four, three, two, one … so here is Daniel Starsmore out in front
leading the pack … back in front oh no I’m supposed to be in front! It’s an easy run along the canal towpath it’s lovely and flat in the shade so we’re just
keeping a steady pace and jogging along okay I’ve got a very light pack my full
flying gear is down to ten kilos and Daniel’s pack is a bit lighter than that
and I do have some training running with this load so it’s become comfortable for
me. it wasn’t comfortable in the beginning but this is just to get to the
hill quickly. sometime later … they call it hammer time when you come out with Greg and you run the first 12 kilometres to the turnpoint:
that’s hammer time! I’m just trying to keep up with him First turnpoint. up the first hill so now we’re coming out of the head of
the valley and we’re getting to this small hill, a small ridge which is a
perfect place to test out flying on a strong wind day because we’ve got safe
escape routes from this hill and I’m pretty confident that if I’m here and I
can feel the wind I can fly very safely here in strong conditions before making
my decision on following the whole route it is possible to fly here very gusty. I stop just to briefly check
out the conditions on the way up to the top. I decide against launching in the
trees and stop in a nice clear area at the top here. I suppose it’s all about
balancing risk and reward. I could have launched off there but it looked very
turbulent behind the trees if I could have been sure that I could clear the
trees I would have gone for it but the chance that you get a big collapses off
the launch and then end up in those trees so I think the wind strength is not too bad
I’m just gonna go ahead and find a more clear slope. alright! A typical hike and fly racing random launch I have to try and work out if it’s flyable. The wind is
coming in from a good direction I’m not feeling any particularly strong gusts
it’s quite changeable quite gusty but I think it’s good. so now I’m just trying
to get a feeling of the wind I’m not in any hurry because the wind’s very strong
and I want to be sure that it is actually flyable and while I’m unpacking
my gear it seems to be getting stronger and gustier so I’m in no particular
hurry. I can always pack everything back in the bag and follow Daniel. as you can
see it’s pretty gusty I’m not too happy with conditions I think
I might wait a little bit wait until it’s got a steady calm phase. It’s a bit crossed on the ridge which helps And then suddenly I can feel
there’s a cycle the wind has dropped that takes a bit of time to develop the
sensitivity of what the wind is doing I I’ve walked out onto enough slopes and flown in enough conditions to know whether it’s flyable or not and this judgement
call here was spot on. I took off and I had a little bit of penetration forward
speed just hands up without using speed bar. just right pretty much zero without bar. I’m on a very fast glider I can use my
speed bar and accelerate about 18 kilometers an hour from trim so that
gives me a good safety margin to work this sort of a hill. so the trick here is
to not get stuck up in the venturi the compression right at the top of the hill
where the wind will accelerate so I’m moving forward and out in front of the
hill so that if I hit some lift I can work it without getting pushed
back over the hill though so I’m searching in front looking for something
I’ve got a nice escape route off to my right if the wind is too strong and I’m not
too concerned about rotor off the back of this hill because I’ve already got
enough height here to clear that if I flip downwind I’ll be out of the bad
area which would be around where the forest is. so now I’m just thermaling and
holding onto it as long as possible you can see it’s very flat as it gets to the
top of the climb but I’m holding on to it as long as possible to get me partway
across this transition and now gliding across I’ve got just enough height to
come in and soar on this next ridge so now I’m gonna be a little bit more
careful because the ridge is bigger so it pushes me higher up into the
stronger wind and I’m stopping fairly early as soon as I feel the ridge lift
engage and I’m pushing out there and just testing the wind I have a very
cautious approach here the turn point is up on the right of the picture where the
little trails cross there’s a trig beacon there but I can’t fly there at
this altitude safely because if I go in there again we’ve got
that venturi effect on the top of the ridge the wind will accelerate over the
top and I’ve got pretty much no forward speed with my hands up here if I’m
just putting my hands up and gliding the wind is holding me back and I’ve got one
or two kilometres an hour over the ground you’ll notice when I hook a little bit
of a climb and do a 360 in it I get pushed back to the ridge there very
quickly I’m losing ground very fast so I’m working right out at the edge of
this forest I don’t want to get anywhere near the top of the ridge even though
the turn point is sitting up there I don’t I get trapped and then stuck on
the top and have to land in strong wind near the top or just over the back so
the only way to solve this puzzle is to fly way out front you can see there I’ve
gone back to the ridge just to maintain and get some height again but that’s as
far back as I can go safely at this altitude
I need more altitude to go over this ridge safely and I’d suggest if you’re
flying and your trim speed is equal to the wind speed in other words your
ground speed is zero without using speed bar it’s time to go out and land.
I’m opting to continue with this because I think I’ve got a safe escape route down
wind and I’m very comfortable with this terrain: its very smooth curved slopes are
unlikely to produce bad turbulence just over the back. see Daniel climbing up the
up the ridge? so at this point I haven’t lost any time by just hanging around
looking for lift. I usually find that if there’s any flying to be had it’s faster
than being on the ground. so sitting way out in front here with no forward speed
I am considering just going down and landing and walking because the wind is
very strong and if it gets any stronger I think I would pull the plug and just
go down and land but if I can just find a thermal, I just need a strong climb to change this picture and then I’ll have the confidence to go over
this ridge. at the height I’m at there is not enough leeway, I’ll pretty much be
gliding down in the sink behind this ridge. the cumulus clouds are coming
through from upwind so I can see the air is nice and unstable there should be
some thermals kicking off so some way out here there should be something. it’s
a little tricky because the position I’m in is downwind of the lake so it’s
unlikely to have good warm air coming over the ground but something comes
through and there we go! I think this is about two meters a second two and a half
and you can see the wind is just pushing me over the ridge but that’s fine I’ve
got enough height now to clear it so I can go in hook the turnpoint cylinder
and now I’m following the high ground to avoid the sinking air. the air can’t sink
through the ground so there will be a channel of wind here where I’m sheltered from that sink and the sink will only start round about here.
okay I just took the turn point, going straight downwind. It’s windy.
I’m gonna try and stay in the head of the valley so I don’t go up onto the
main ridge so that was a best route that I could
take to get to the back ridge and now I’ve got a bigger mountain, now I’m gonna be careful because this wind is really strong so I don’t want to go in and
commit myself to a position where I might get blown over the back. I’ve come
in from the side and I’m using the spine as a safety exit route if I turn into wind and I find I’m going backwards I can bail off to the right of
the picture here and get into the valley without going down into the Lee and then
into the rotor. so that’s a tester I’ve gone back to the ridge and I’m having a
look I’m gonna turn back into wind just now and just test again to make sure I’ve
got some forward speed and I’m not committing myself to a problem area. the
turn point is off on the left of the picture which really puts me in a
committed position if the wind is strong there I’m gonna get pushed over into
that back valley which hasn’t got any escape runs so I’m very very cautious
coming in here and again I don’t to get into that too
venturi near the top of the ridge so I’m waiting until I’ve built up enough
height and I’m also waiting to hook a thermal. there is something that’s taking
me up to cloud base so now I’ve got lots of height I can go onto full bar with
lots of safety lots of space and I can crab across staying in front of the
ridge giving myself safety and I’m aiming for that escape route that I
started off with this open valley and now. as soon as I know that I can get
pushed around the corner safely I can head off down the valley and I’ve
avoided any lee sink areas with the associated risks yay coming in to goal! whoo that was pretty
strong up top that’s pretty much the limit of what I want to fly in. The valley’s
nice and wide so should be cool in the landing. I don’t need any more height now
I’m out in the open valley, I have a bit of fun: you’ll see when I’m going down
wind here I get onto speed bar just to see how high we can push the GPS speed and I
think it tops out just over 80 at one point which tells you the wind is blowing at least 30 and it’s all running down this valley so we can
expect it to start focusing as the valley narrows here a little bit
there’s a bit of space but now we are over goal and I turn into wind here and
we can see that the goal field itself is surrounded by trees it isn’t too
pleasant to land there and I don’t like the fact that the wind is so strong.
at some point coming down here I’m actually drifting backwards but on trim
speed, sort of five six seven kilometers an hour backwards so that
really needs full speed bar and I choose to go out for a much safer
landing which doesn’t have trees upwind I push myself out
into this open terrain the best position I think for landing in the valley in
strong wind. it’s a nice plowed field doesn’t have crops in it and I can
safely put it down using my kill switch technique, staying away from cables
and fences and a quick bunch of the glider now I can walk off down the river
and back to my goal field. so I hope that’s given you some ideas about
staying safe in strong wind you can see my track the track was dictated by the
turn points so I was moving back to the big peak just to get a turn point but it
is a fairly safe route in these conditions of strong wind I’m using the
edges of the high ground and I’m able to keep that escape route of the main
valley open to me at all times and I’ve never put myself behind the ridge or
just on top of the ridge I’ve always stayed in front or up above and then
flipped over. hey sorry I didn’t film the landing the wind is pretty strong now,
I was going backwards on trim so I needed full bar to even move forward. I
opted to land in a nice big field out there a plowed field rather than the
goal field I mean the glory is not worth it.
it’s just a quick walk across to the goal and then I’m done.
that was excellent! okay that’s definitely not for everybody. those
flying conditions were marginal. if they’d been any stronger I would have
gone down and landed so that’s kind of that was my limit. for flat land
flying probably less stress and okay but for flying in the mountains very
marginal. my tactic there was to wait in front of the ridge well in front so that
I wasn’t in the venturi at the top of the ridge and I was just waiting there
and then when I got a thermal I used the thermal to just climb up into the turn
point and go that meant I knew I have had a little
bit extra height to use full bar and to get off the ridge and I was a little
bit higher out of that venturi so it gave me a little bit more safety
if I hadn’t found those thermals I wouldn’t have gone to the turn point .it
seemed to work out. I don’t know where Daniel is I didn’t see him after the
first turn point I think he was walking to the second turn point, I think
Myndd Llangorse, he must have been at the top of that when I tagged it I
guess. but being on a small wing on a mini wing he’s not gonna get the
altitude that I’ve got there so he’s kind of stuck on that ridge. he could
soar it maybe but he’s not gonna get enough height to get over the back and
do that glide so that’s the disadvantage of having a small wing on the sort of
hike and fly racing even in windy conditions you can’t make the
transitions. you can just glide down. I’m going to have a beer and wait for Daniel to come in, give him a big round of applause! cheers guys.
now he’s got some stiff work to keep up and to try and get into goal before the
close of the course the route finishes at 7 o’clock I think in the evening and we
only started round about midday so he’s got to keep the pedal to the metal to
finish this course off so this requires quite a level of fitness. Daniels got
an incredible pace uphill I couldn’t keep up with him going up hills and I
think there he is trying to check and see if he can fly. it’s still way too windy, so he’s going off to go and get the turn point which is a pity — that section would
have been nice if he could have soared that at least if the wind had been you
know five miles an hour less he would have been able to soar into that bowl
get the turn point and soar back out and at least fly down to the valley but he’s
opted for safety, being on his own out in the mountains taking a risk trying to
launch in very strong conditions it’s a very wise call to just hit the road and
bring it home running down the trails. so even having his mini wing (Daniels
got a 16 square meter) he was hoping to fly in strong conditions and the
conditions were too strong to launch from the ground. The only way to solve this
puzzle was to launch from the small hill and stay high and flying giving you the
option of using the speed bar there’s no way I would have been able to launch
from the back ridge in these conditions but I’m quite chuffed that I managed to
pull that off and keep it safe and get to goal first. Yee-ha! so here’s the goal field and the reception committee and the organizers
and the cheers and the fans and the TV media and all of that, the requests for interviews. I think I’m ahead of the organisers. I
think I got here first! that finishes off mini dragon 2019 see
you next year at the dragon race 2020 when there’ll be lots more to learn lots
of fun hopefully the wind will be lighter now you know the area there are
no excuses get your bag light and come and join us for the race. so thanks for
watching I hope you enjoyed this windy session in Wales keep your eye on the
channel don’tforget to subscribe hit the notifications so you get alerts of when
something new comes out. thanks a lot to our patrons you guys rock
thanks for your support and don’t forget to support flybubble by checking out the
website. thanks again see you next time.

39 thoughts on “BLOWN AWAY: Paragliding safely in strong wind

  1. Understanding leads to safety – it's all about reducing the risks in marginal conditions. If you think it's too strong for you – don't fly!

  2. Wow, Greg & Team!
    So well explained πŸ™‚
    To the point and as elaborate as we can possibly expect – where new pilots like me would like to understand the approach to consider.

    Thank you!

  3. Once again some high quality, informative paragliding content from Greg. Thank you very much for your contribution to the paragliding scene! The value of your videos can't be overestimated.
    Thank you.

  4. Thanks Greg, I haven't flown yet my course is 3 weeks away but I have watched most of your videos and enjoy the clear and easy to understand information along with the well edited and filmed content. Cheers!

  5. It was a great race. Congratulations for your win, Greg. It was way too strong for my B wing all day. I sat on Turnpoint 3 for about 2 hours hoping it would settle down a bit, but it never did. It was my only chance to make goal. It wasn't going to happen walking, that's for sure. Another great video as always.

  6. Pushing/testing the limits without too much risk – AWESOME to see an instructor being open and realistic with risks instead of overly cautious

  7. Thank you very much for this nice video Greg. I'm a french pilot, mostly flying in french (south) Alps. Before I find your channel, few months ago, I didn't know the potential of flying in Wales. Now, I plan to do a trip next year in your beautiful playground. Thanks again and keep going !

  8. Good Job Greg! Not easy flying in those conditions, but totally doable as you've so skillfully demonstrated. You also made sure we all understood the risks and need to understand your own limits as well as your wing's.

  9. Thanks so much for this Greg. It all seems so obvious when you talk us through it. Up in the air alone it always seems a lot more difficult with doubt and consequence always keeping you honest.

    You and your team's other videos have been a huge help in my first year of flying πŸ‡ΏπŸ‡¦. Thanks so much πŸ‘

  10. What do yo mean with "quick punch to the glider"? "Kill switch" do you mean to give the breaks a good wak to stall it suthenly?

  11. VERY impressed that you chose the safer plowed field to land in rather than the almost irresistible β€œmain landing field”!
    VERY wise ..Thanks for your advice !

  12. Congratulations on a brilliant performance and deserved 1st place in the Mini-Dragon!
    Greg you are a super guy and top man! Thanks for posting.

  13. Greg. Hi from Venezuela, please we need you to Test and review the Flow brand. Specially the Flow FusiΓ³n and Spectra which is selling well in Colombia and Venezuela

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