Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Barbon After Work

Went up Barbon with the Stinger after work tonight for some EM practice. Conditions were as good as they get for this slope with a 25 mph wind with a touch of North in the Westerly wind that ensures strong lift, bright sunshine and pleasantly cool. Even so the thermals and subsequent sink make for interesting flying and its a good slope for practising flying in bad air.

First I flew with 920g of ballast, she turned quickly but got bumped around a lot in some of the rougher cold air, pump outs were average only gaining about 60ft above the slope edge. I landed and added 560g more  of fuse ballast to give a total ballast of 1480g and AUW of 3780g. Now the pump outs gained a lot more energy getting double the height of before, about 120ft above the slope edge. She gripped well in the turns but with the extra weight couldn't turn as tight so ploughed out further from the slope with smoother turns.

When the warm air came she went ballistic and you could pull more elevator in the turns to get her to sling shot through. I also experimented with high turns so that I could dive back onto the edge through the rough air but as soon as she lost her momentum she wouldn't get back on step without some more mega pumps. This wouldn't be possible in a race situation as you don't have enough time to climb out and get the energy during the pumping.

I landed again and took out the 560g of fuse ballast and tried again, the fast agile turns were nervous and it was difficult to hold a smooth line until the warm air came through and then she flew perfectly as if on rails. As the thermals cycled through it was fun trying to keep the turns super smooth so as not to loose momentum and keep a consistent course while waiting for the good air to come back, then you could really turn hard and pull that elevator.

I tried some reversal for comparison but the slope has a really small compression zone and I was useless at hitting the sweet spot so soon gave up and went back to EM. The slope seems to suit my EM style better, as I got more confident at getting closer to the slope edge occasionally I heard that satisfying DS thud as she went through the front side shear layer above my head.

Eventually I went for a landing but caught a super thermal and was able to speck her out at 500 - 600ft above the slope as I walked to the top to the flat landing zone. I then tried some F3B style dive turns to gobble up the height and get her down. Away from the noisy compression zone in the quiet smooth air you could clearly  hear her screaming and wailing like a banshee, loud enough to wake the dead. One of these days I'll have to try her out on a winch, she even has a hook ready installed.

Tried her again with the fuse ballast back in but the wind had dropped and she was too heavy to pump so didn't manage much of a climb out but she flew very smoothly with the extra weight. Landed and then took out four slugs reducing the total ballast to 1160g and now she was flying well again with monster pumps and smooth turns.

A productive nights practice learning more about good air and bad and what to do with it, from a ballast perspective flying heavy suits my style better as it deals with the crappy air better, just need to get a good launch otherwise the extra weight will slow me down.

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