I do have a few stories about slope soaring.
Let me tell you about the annual Christmas slope outing. Every Christmas I go out into Derbyshire, sometimes I can persuade other pilots to come along.The idea is to fly over the Christmas holiday period, a day is chosen fingers crossed it is dry, the temperature at the top of the hill is very often minus 5 to minus 15.
One of my favourite slope sites is located between Castleton and Edale in the Derbyshire Peak District.
On the given day, I ascended the chosen slope armed with a flask of hot coffee, and of course at least one model. The model type depends on weather conditions at that time of year. Over the years I have flown on many slopes but my favourite is a slope called Rushup Edge. It flies north and south – the north side is my favourite. The north face is at an angle of about 60 degrees, the amount of lift generated in 25 mph. is, as we Brits would say very good, (awesome in 35 mph.) This is a true tale that happened 3 years ago. The weather was cold and cloudy. I phoned a number of pilots early that morning but there were no takers so I set off alone, not being one to be put of easily. The drive to the slope was a little worrying! After 3/4 hour, I hit snow. For a further 1/2 hour, I struggled along until I arrived at the foot of the slope which was covered in snow. At this point I was beginning to wonder why I had chosen today. After a hot drink, feeling a little more refreshed, I decided to attempt to open the car door and take a look at the wind speed (50mph!!). The model I selected was a slope racer 60” span.
I loaded as much ballast into my rucksack as I could carry and set off up the hill. The climb took me about 1 hour. By the time I reached the top, the wind speed must have been in excess of 60mph. On reaching the flying site ‘The Lord’s Seat’, I decided to take a 5 minute rest to take stock of the situation.
The cloud was quite low but not low enough to stop me from flying!
I loaded as much ballast into the model as I could and attempted to launch. The first attempt was almost a disaster as I was holding on to the model so tightly that the wing almost sheared off. After another 5 minutes of re-taking stock!! I decided that the only way to launch in this wind was to crouch in one of the natural hollows and, with a deep breath, jump into the air-flow, at the same time, releasing the model! This, much to my surprise, worked. After a few tentative moments, I managed to make the model penetrate forward into the lift. Within 30 seconds, the model had disappeared into the clouds and I was beginning to think that perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to be flying today! But, as I said earlier, not being one to be easily put off, I applied down elevator and much to my relief, the model reappeared.
A few minutes of flying in these conditions had my eyes streaming from the biting wind and my hands were frozen solid!
I persevered but soon noticed that the model was moving faster and faster across the sky and becoming less and less controllable. At this time I had no idea what was causing the problem so decided to land.
The landing, to say the least, was very eventful.
On picking up the model I noticed that the whole aircraft was covered in a layer of ice!!
This is a true story!