The usual rain and winds of autumn have stayed away most of this month with what is probably a record-breaking number of flying days in October. Lots of Facebook posts lately from pilots enjoying hike-and-fly adventures, and so many pictures of gorgeous fall colours seen from above. This time of year flights are short but the bald eagles are out in full force - it seems we spend most of our flight time these days swinging our heads around to watch them swoop around us.
|Bald Eagle saying hello|
Saturday offered an unexpected surprise with small yet lifty thermals at Woodside. My boyfriend and I decided to trade wings for fun…he's been flying for a couple of seasons now and with consistency mixed with natural skill he has quickly become a solid pilot. His current wing is a Skywalk Tequila 3 (an EN B beginner wing) which I'd never flown, and he'd been waiting for a calm day to try my EN C (intermediate/advanced) Skywalk Cayenne 4.
George launched and I got a strong feeling that I'd never get my wing back as he carved into a thermal and rose above launch. Fine…my turn now! The Tequila 3 launched just as nice as my wing & I flew over to where some eagles had been playing. It's been a long time since I flew a beginner wing and technology has improved so much! The same safe behaviour was there that I remembered - after hitting any turbulence the wing resets itself promptly overhead, and there's a lot more brake travel with plenty of warning if you try to pull too much.
|George launching his Tequila on an earlier flight|
I missed my first thermal since I'm used to the dynamic entry into turns with my Cayenne 4. I flew past it then turned back, but the thermal wasn't where I thought it was. What to do now? I couldn't just keep sinking out and watch helplessly as George flew higher and higher...
Luckily I have a new tool on my flight deck - a shiny new 6020 combo Vario/GPS from Steve at Flytec USA. After the Nationals we were in touch and I was offered a pro-pilot sponsorship - yippee! My Flytec 6020 and accompanying swag arrived a little while ago, but this was the first time I brought it out to play. One cool feature this vario has is a thermal arrow that points you back to where you last found lift. So I flew towards the spot indicated and sure enough the thermal was right there! Thinking it was coincidence I tried it again…and it worked...and again…and it worked...
Now there are pilots out there who bought into this technology already and know all of this but wow, this opens up a whole new way to help improve anyone's flying. I will be going over the other amazing features in another post, but needless to say…I'm so stoked to have gotten the 6020!
After playing in some thermals I (finally) saw George setting up to land and went to join him. I played around with the brakes some more on the way down and have got to say, I can't wait to teach students on this wing! It's safe enough for beginners and can easily keep up with pilots as they improve and fly cross country. Feedback from thermals is immediate yet the wing always stays rock solid above you. It thermals easily and gives plenty of warning for newer pilots who tend to be heavy handed on their brakes. Landing was a breeze, and I was grinning ear to ear when I touched down.
George said he could tell right away the Cayenne 4 was an advanced wing and was more than he wanted to fly at this point. As an instructor I was happy to hear him (as a novice pilot) make that statement. It's a wing meant for experienced pilots with the recommended number of hours under their belts. Needless to say, I have that experience and boy do I love my wing!
Of course there were some things George also loved about the Cayenne 4 (like the agile turns) and he's looking up to step up to a Chili soon. That's the next category wing in the Skywalk line and a perfect move, especially with all the positive press it's been getting lately from independent testers and the XC miles being posted in online contests worldwide. Hope he'll let me try that one too when he gets one ;)
|Flying = Happiness|
p.s. Please keep an eye on my blog for an in-depth review of the Flytec 6020, as well as information on ordering from Jet Set Paragliding for the upcoming holidays (yes, it is that time already, especially when ordering products that come from overseas).