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  1. #1
    Roger Mole
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    Learning experience

    Just put this up (slightly edited) in my blog for today. It was a learning experience for me and maybe something that other less experienced pilots may also get something out of.

    The weather forecast looked very good - broken cloud, sunny spells and winds from the south-west at about 12 mph with the occasional mild gust. So I planned a flight down to Bexhill during which I'd descend to sea level and fly all the way along the seafront from Bexhill to Hastings before turning left to return to Linton. The cloud turned out to be roughly 4/8 broken cumulus with around a 2500ft cloud base and the wind roughly as expected. However, as I flew south the conditions began to change, and alarmingly so. The cloud cover changed to 5/8, say, and although the wind continued from the south-west it began to produce some of the most powerful gusts that I have ever experienced in a microlight aircraft. At one stage, a gust was so severe that it lifted the right wing and I had the aileron hard over onto the stop with the wing still lifting. Even though I was able to put in a boot-full of right rudder to help counteract it, it wasn't a very nice feeling at all and at the time, because there had been little or no warning, with no signs of the gusts building beforehand, I even wondered if it was due to something having gone wrong with the aircraft or its controls. Not very nice at all flying with full right aileron and having to control the bank with rudder which, fortunately, the AX3 has in plenty. And to top it all, there were also some areas of fairly extreme lift under the patches of low cumulus, even under some of the small, quite innocuous looking bits, that had MYRO shooting up at 1000ft/minute or quite possibly more, every now and again.

    The powerful gusting happened a couple more times, but not as severely as the first, so I thought it a good time to curtail the flight and head back north away from the coast. Although I still kept experiencing some quite extreme lift as I dodged under the patches of low cumulus, I didn't have anything like the same problems as before with the wing lifting in the gusts. This may have been because with the wind coming from the left and with me in the left seat, MYRO was inherently a bit more stable. I got back to Linton with no further major incident and joined overhead to land on runway 29. It was very clear from the approach that the wind had picked up considerably from when I'd taken off, which it hadn't been forecast to do, and there was quite a strong left cross-wind needing quite a lot of crabbing on final. But anyway, I increased my approach speed to cope and had the knowledge that if necessary, I could land on the long main runway if I needed to, but I landed safely anyway on the shorter winter runway.

    Today was a real learning experience. I don't know where today's weird winds came from but I saw for the first time just how disconcerting strong, gusting cross-winds can be when you're flying a small light aircraft and it's an experience that I'll not forget in a hurry
    Last edited by Roger Mole; 03-04-11 at 17:30 PM.


  2. #2
    P Kelsey
    Guest P Kelsey's Avatar
    Seemingly the winds got up to 16mph in that area !!!!! Must have been freak winds or weird conditions

    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Mole View Post
    Just put this up (slightly edited) in my blog for today. It was a learning experience for me and maybe something that other less experienced pilots may also get something out of.

    The weather forecast looked very good - broken cloud, sunny spells and winds from the south-west at about 12 mph with the occasional mild gust. So I planned a flight down to Bexhill during which I'd descend to sea level and fly all the way along the seafront from Bexhill to Hastings before turning left to return to Linton. The cloud turned out to be roughly 4/8 broken cumulus with around a 2500ft cloud base and the wind roughly as expected. However, as I flew south the conditions began to change, and alarmingly so. The cloud cover changed to 5/8, say, and although the wind continued from the south-west it began to produce some of the most powerful gusts that I have ever experienced in a microlight aircraft. At one stage, a gust was so severe that it lifted the right wing and I had the aileron hard over onto the stop with the wing still lifting. Even though I was able to put in a boot-full of right rudder to help counteract it, it wasn't a very nice feeling at all and at the time, because there had been little or no warning, with no signs of the gusts building beforehand, I even wondered if it was due to something having gone wrong with the aircraft or its controls. Not very nice at all flying with full right aileron and having to control the bank with rudder which, fortunately, the AX3 has in plenty. And to top it all, there were also some areas of fairly extreme lift under the patches of low cumulus, even under some of the small, quite innocuous looking bits, that had MYRO shooting up at 1000ft/minute or quite possibly more, every now and again.

    The powerful gusting happened a couple more times, but not as severely as the first, so I thought it a good time to curtail the flight and head back north away from the coast. Although I still kept experiencing some quite extreme lift as I dodged under the patches of low cumulus, I didn't have anything like the same problems as before with the wing lifting in the gusts. This may have been because with the wind coming from the left and with me in the left seat, MYRO was inherently a bit more stable. I got back to Linton with no further major incident and joined overhead to land on runway 29. It was very clear from the approach that the wind had picked up considerably from when I'd taken off, which it hadn't been forecast to do, and there was quite a strong left cross-wind needing quite a lot of crabbing on final. But anyway, I increased my approach speed to cope and had the knowledge that if necessary, I could land on the long main runway if I needed to, but I landed safely anyway on the shorter winter runway.

    Today was a real learning experience. I don't know where today's weird winds came from but I saw for the first time just how disconcerting strong, gusting cross-winds can be when you're flying a small light aircraft and it's an experience that I'll not forget in a hurry


  3. #3
    Roger Mole
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    Yup, that's what I expected. I have no idea where these gusts came from - unless they were the squally gusts associated with the supposedly fairly benign and slow moving front that will be bringing a bit of rain tonight apparently. Usually as you know Peter, you get a gust from one side and you only have to quickly put a bit of aileron on to nip it in the bud. But these were of an intensity I'd not experienced before and the first one lasted for several seconds during which it was beyond the control of aileron alone. It wasn't a nice feeling and I don't scare easily in an aircraft. I had to think what to do as well and even in the few seconds while I had full aileron on to keep it level, I was thinking 'hmmmm.... where do I put this down then'. First time I've ever thought that and I'm not being dramatic either


  4. #4
    Co-Pilot spear's Avatar
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    Good read Roger, experienced something similar in my flex last year - fying straight and level then all of a sudden "bang" the bar was right over. **** my pants. Very physical to bring the aircraft back to level flight also.

    It's not strong winds that bother me (if constant), just gusts.


  5. #5
    Rick Goddin
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    Quote Originally Posted by spear View Post
    Good read Roger, experienced something similar in my flex last year - fying straight and level then all of a sudden "bang" the bar was right over. **** my pants. Very physical to bring the aircraft back to level flight also.

    It's not strong winds that bother me (if constant), just gusts.
    We had some significant wind gusts over Kent today on our way back from Dieppe, between Dover and Stoke.

    Having escaped being borraged over the Channel I guess that we were possibly slightly off guard
    and a bit complacent about being on the home run.


  6. #6
    Captain Katie's Avatar
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    Sounds scary Were there any cb clouds around? Embedded cbs frighted me, I've had a couple of bad experiences with them already
    The best time to learn to fly was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.
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  7. #7
    Captain FlyingBrian's Avatar
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    Super Story Roger I went flying today smooth as a babies bottom to the IOW but the Southside was covered in low cloud, went to old Sarum after and 1mile inland over the new forest I went weightless with the turbulence have it all on video will grab a couple of frames and upload soon.


  8. #8
    Captain FlyingBrian's Avatar
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    Three photos first one I have started to become weightless lifting out of my seat to the slack in my harness next two photos just 3 frames apart show the flying wires on the port side go slack as the wing is pushed down very fast thatís hurly-burly and when I get the time I will put it on you tube.

    Tried 7 times to upload photos, its not working made them smaller too, will work it out soon.





  9. #9
    Roger Mole
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    Brian, Stuart, you have my admiration being able to deal with that kind of stuff in a flex. The worst feeling for me today was that for a little while I didn't have full control of the aircraft but at least I could reckon that by giving it a boot-full of rudder, I could weathercock the nose so that both wings were equally affected by the wind, thus regaining control. I don't know of anything similar that you can do in a flex apart from hang on and wait for it to stop, but I may be wrong!!

    Paul Collins has very kindly PM'd me over in the other place after seeing my post here. He's a very experienced hang and paraglider and probably knows more about the weather than I ever will. He said that the weather in Wales was very post-frontal today with exactly the conditions I described, so it looks as though we in Kent were also being affected by it. Apparently the front went through last night so I wouldn't be surprised. This of course is why good old Cossie always wanted us to pay more attention to the weather and weather signs and I'd guess most of us are like me - don't bother enough. Maybe we should.

    Rick, I'm glad to hear you all made it back safely, overweight and all stuffed full of LT. Seems like you caught the same stuff as me in approx the same area of Kent. Just shows you - WFAeC and all - the weather has no respect does it

    Roger


  10. #10
    Founding Member - See my blog entries for help using the forums VinceG's Avatar
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    Roger it sounds like thermal activity to me. We get the best XC opportunities for hang glider pilots at this time of year. Good sunshine warming the ground, which then heats the air close to it. As it breaks off and becomes a thermal bubble it is much warmer Than the surrounding air and rises quickly.

    The vacuum left behind causes air to move in causing thermal gusts.

    Answer, fly in the evening or early morning during this most turbulent time.
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