First flight on the 4 stroke!
We spent the morning on the South Downs at the farm just down from Devils Dyke adjusting Ben’s new machine and putting it together. The wind was not in the perfect direction so we got used to ground handling with the heavy engines on our backs which felt quite strange considering we were used to free flying carrying no weight whatsoever. The other difference was of course holding the throttle in our left hands. It was only possible to ground handle for about 10 minutes at a time. The machines weigh about 33kgs and it is quite hard work.
The wind swung round and we moved to a different corner of the huge field. Michel asked me if I felt ready to try launching – “you bet” I said… My mouth was dry with nervous energy. I chose to do a reverse launch as there was enough wind. Laura Beaumont (Female British No 1 pilot) helped me lay out my new wing (Reflex Reaction TST Dudek) which rose smoothly upwards. I turned and Michel gave the thumbs up. I ran and increased my throttle. I was soon in the air turning gently to the right due to the torque. I gained height and then reduced speed to allow me to turn left against the torque using weight shift as well. I flew over the A27 and looked down on the cars, horses, joggers and was able to see far down the South Downs. There was even a hot air balloon in the distance too. I was only up for 45 minutes or so. I only had a little fuel in the tank but what an amazing feeling. I did not want to land. The ReAction flies much faster than my usual paragliding wing yet feels so much more stable. Coming in to land was speedier than I was used to. I gently bled off the speed before flaring at the last minute – touching down nicely and under control. I had a big smile on my face! I love this new sport!
Taking off for the first time!
Michel’s new toy was a Bailey trike. He has been lent an Ozone Viper wing for record attempts. It looks like a lot of fun and not so taxing on your back because the wheels take the strain. He was demonstrating down wind landings and some spectacular low flying at speed!