Paragliding Safely: Is Devil’s Dyke a dangerous flying site?


morning we’re here at Devils Dyke let me
take you through what I do when I come to a new site. Let’s assume that you and
I have never flown here before and I’ll analyze the site look at it, identify the
risks to get your head ready for flying. So first of all you look at the launch
area have a look and tell me if you can see any hazards? okay I think you’re getting the idea
this really fantastic launch area yeah we’re very lucky to have so much space
you can pretty much layout anywhere so there’s nothing hazardous on the launch
site itself except for maybe another paraglider pilot. Nope, he’s not
looking like any danger! Okay but what have we got here? All right you have some
obstacles up here it’s usually where the spectators sit
and watch us and you’ve got another obstacle sitting over here. Now when
you’ve got one thing sitting in the launch site like this you can guarantee
somebody is going to wrap themselves around it because you’re trying to run
away from the obstacle so your glider tips over and it pulls you into the
obstacle. So setup well away from there. All right this is the typical place
where everybody sets up the gliders you can see it’s a lazy man’s approach of a
short walk from the car straight out there. That’s fine in light wind and what
do you think about this as a hazard? If you’re looking here we’re sitting right
at the top of the hill here so this is the point where you’re gonna have the
wind accelerating from this white line back you’re gonna have a venturi the
winds gonna accelerate through here and you’ve got all of your cars and you’ve
got the pub and you’ve got a forest. Let’s go check that out! right so I’ve come through the back of
the forest here we’re behind the site and this is always a good idea is just
to take a little walk behind your launch area and go and have
a look and see where you’d end up if you got blown over the back. So my launch
site is back up there the other side of those trees you can see if you get
pushed back and lifted a little bit you’re gonna come over these trees you’re gonna
come into this area and then you’ve got quite a deep pit going down it goes
right down into the devil’s dyke there before another little sharp kicker ridge
so this is a pretty nasty area to get blown over in that I expect that line
there to create a lot of rotor, that’s pretty much the ideal shape for creating
rotor where you’ve got a fall, a low-pressure and the wind will come down
and curl around so if you fly over here your wing at some point is going to get
hammered from the top so this is a significant hazard although it looks all
nice and pleasant and grassy the ground is just as hard anywhere so you want to
avoid this. That little piece of grass up there, we’ll go and visit that. Alright so
that was the grass you were looking at there
this is behind now instead of going into that that pit behind the pub if you
opted to come over here you can see you got a really nice run down wind so I’d
be wanting to move myself over this side if I was gonna get blown over the back
that’s good to know having come here now I know a really good escape route so you
can see again the way the wind would accelerate over this little crest the
bump here if you imagine the air on top is going straight
and this area is getting kind of getting squeezed over the top so from around
about that point you’re going to find the wind accelerating and pushing you
back and you really don’t want to get pushed back over this because you’ve got
no real options except getting into the turbulence and the rotor behind that. Let’s
walk along the top here and see if we can see any other hazards. hi! so what I’m
trying to do is just come around the area and just scout it out while I’m not
under pressure flying just see what’s what’s here any hidden dangers and also
look at the site from different angles. hectic! you don’t want to land there. OK
the ants have taken over that corner. not really a hazard is it?
but have a look at the site from here we’ll hop up into the wall so we can get a
better idea of what’s going on. this kind of thing obviously you don’t want to
land on the upwind side of it and get blown into it but that’s a pretty
obvious hazard you’re going to avoid it I can see somebody flying down to the
landing field the landing is down in front there and looks like the learnings
in within easy glide we’ll talk about in the moment can you see what’s happening
to the slope over there it’s changing angle over there the ridge is running
like that and it comes around in this bowl and it goes this way now assuming
we soaring on the slope this is the take-off sites over this way, the wind
would be coming in from about there. can you see the problem? where’s your hazard?
if you take that wind line over there and you see that little clump of trees?
the wind is then gonna be spilling into that bowl, it’s gonna tend to want to
come around and into that bowl and you might get a little rotor there which
will then get pushed back it’s got nowhere to go so it’s gonna get pushed
into this corner so you can expect this air in this corner here to be fairly
churned up and the other thing that’s going to happen is the winds running
along it’s being diverted even if it’s coming from there it’s gonna be diverted
along the slope but the wind from here is going to be diverted that way
and you’re gonna get a compression in the corner where the wind is all
squeezed into this narrow little channel here on the side so that little piece
there I’m gonna expect that’s my danger for the site that’s where the winds
gonna accelerate the most it’s gonna be the most turbulent and I’m gonna get
pushed back. is it a problem? well it’s prep for that.
look at that nice big open grassy field not a big issue that’s what makes Devils
Dyke one of the safest sites to fly even in strong wind you definitely don’t want
to go over the back at the far side over there by the pub. you don’t want to get
blown back in that part but if you set up and you fly across this way and you
go for that little channel there you have got quite a lot of safety, you can get
blown back you can land backwards in a grassy field like that, it’s quite safe.
This is below launch we’ve come down below launch you can see the slope gets
nicely steeper so you should be launching well off the top and you can
see there’s a hazard here as a barbed wire fence so you kind of mentally
prepare decide where your cutoff point is where you’ve got a hazard in front of
launch. I would say if you’re not flying by this little crest here when you’ve
got 20 meters from the fence line you want to pull the brakes stop the glider
set up again because something’s gone wrong.
So you give yourself a line where you say okay beyond that point
that’s my abort if I hit that and I’m not flying — killswitch! That can make a
big difference when you’re under pressure lots of people watching you,
YouTube cameras! You already know … that’s my line then you
can stop safely. Okay this kind of angle change in a slope is very helpful for a
for a safe launch site you can see the angle change easier over there but it
does mean that if there’s any kind of wind and you’re running off the slope
you should be airborne long before you get to any hazards. Cool so that’s just a
quick overview, I would definitely recommend going down to the landing
field going and having a look there and assessing your landing risks. All right
so we’re down here at the landing field now I don’t think you could ask for
better, you’ve got a flat field at the bottom here, a nice run to land on at the
end and you’ve got a sloping field leading down so it’s good to come down
here. I can see from this that I want to come out to near the road so
that I’m not getting lift off the field. If you just glide down the field it’ll
probably just keep lifting and lifting lifting all the way down but coming down
to the road and then setting up along the road you’ve got a very easy landing
area. Okay your only hazard usually when you’ve got a road you’re going to have
some kind of telephone line I don’t see anything here but that I think is
something hiding in the tree line on the other side of the road there and you’ve
got obviously got some buildings and houses and things so if my wind is
coming from that direction if it’s still the same as soaring on launch I would
expect to be getting rotor where I’m standing right now, bear in mind this is
a wide-angle camera so it’s making things look a bit further away than they
are. I estimate that’s I don’t know 50 meters away and in a soarable wind you’re
going to be getting messy air from there so you want to set yourself up so that
you’ve got the air coming in from a nice angle where there aren’t any
obstacles. I always come down and have a look at the landing field on a new site
just to make sure that there aren’t any hidden hazards.
Nothing lying on the ground, wires that you can’t see from up high and that just
gives you a peace of mind that you know you can set up easily, you don’t have to
worry about it and you can focus and your flying and not worry about the
landing. The only hazard that I could foresee on a landing like this is if
your wind direction changes you’ve got a little streamer there make sure you know
where the streamer is or set up a wind sock because you could be soaring up
there fly out sea breeze could come through and you could be setting up in a
completely different wind direction. which if it’s in the last few meters can
really surprise you and then send you into some of these obstacles that you
weren’t expecting so get some sort of wind indicator down on the landing
before you go up and fly it’s a good idea. So everything that I’m seeing here
is telling me this site is really safe as long as you flying in conditions that
aren’t too strong you can play here, no worries. It’s well worth driving,
particularly if you in the first couple of years that you’re flying, it’s worth
putting in the miles just to get to an environment like this so that you build
your skills quickly instead of being kind of on the limit flying in hairy
conditions or you know really tricky launch sites. Just build up a foundation
flying in a place like this. Also going to the dunes
you know dune du Pyla, Portuguese coast, anywhere you’ve got nice dunes
and you can just mess around any nice big grassy fields grassy training slopes
that’s really what I’d recommend in your first couple of years of flying
just so that you really build a strong foundation and then when you go to the
like really scary tricky postage-stamp rocky scree slope cliff launches you’ve
built all of those skills already, you’re not trying to still learn stuff in that
environment. So I hope you’ve learned something about
how I kind of analyze a site and decide in my mind whether it’s safe or not so
just to go to summarize again there: first thing you’re looking at is your
launch area, you’re looking for hazards around the launch area and you want to
try and position yourself as far away from the hazards as possible without
compromising your launch, you want to go over the back look at your escape route
analyze how safe it is and are there any better places to track towards to get
away if you get blown over, check out the slope dynamics the angles
of the slope and where the wind is going to create turbulence and check out your
landing field make sure you’ve checked out the hazards before you fly for the
first time from the top. The quality of the escape route
affects my decision on what kind of conditions I’m going to fly if I’m
flying at Devil’s Dyke I know I can handle quite a lot of wind particularly
if it’s off to the one angle that’s going to push me into that safe channel.
Also if the wind is off to the west I can see there’s going to be an area
where you’re gonna get turbulence you’re goind to expect it, so when you fly in there you’re
kind of ready for it or you’re giving yourself more clearance off the slope so
really just by looking at the shape of the land you can work out a flight
plan that’ll keep you in the safest air and give you a good day’s flying. I hope
that helped you prepare for your next paragliding flight how to analyze the
site and keep yourself safe. If you like what we do and you’d like to get behind
the channel pop over to patreon / flybubble we’d really appreciate you
joining there and supporting the channel it’ll be great otherwise I’ll see you in
the next episode. Cheers!

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