Christmas at St Hilaire
Pilots from clubs in the Grenoble region gathered at St Hilaire early in December for an informal costumed evening Christmas flight.
Although care was taken to fly less than half an hour after official sunset to comply with aviation rules, most flights took place in darkness. The temperature was 10 degrees below freezing and the Coupe Icare's famous green take-off carpet was covered with 50cm of fresh snow.
As an additional hazard the wind was blowing from over the back. Nevertheless about two thirds of the pilots managed to take off, most after making one or two failed launches. No-one was hurt and everybody eventually flew or drove down to a party at the Lumbin LZ where enthusiastic members of the public waited with sausage and mulled wine.
Photographs of the event by Ilan Ginzburg are at www.murblanc.org/parapente/noel2010.
Hang gliding XC league changes
Early in 2010 it was announced that the existing UK hang gliding National XC League (UKNXCL) was coming to a close. The code used to generate the tables and associated items was not going to be released and it would be impossible for someone to take it over in its existing state.
Requests for anyone interested to start again from scratch got a single response from a commercial company. Phil Chettleburgh, who brought the UKNXCL to the web in 1997 with a lot of help from Tony Southwood, was concerned that 20 years of data would be be lost.
Fortunately Phil's son Robert, studying Maths (and drinking) at Exeter University, was able to drag himself from his Xbox for long enough to generate a program that would pretty much mirror the existing database sorting system. Robert, pictured below, has continued to make improvements to the system as his programming learning curve allows.
Now, at the very least, we can be sure that the historical "tables", and thus decades of the history of UK XC flying, will be available for years to come. The site is expected evolve rapidly as the new season begins and one or two bugs are to be expected. The new UKNXCL site is at www.uknxcl.co.uk.
RAeC Trust bursaries - apply now!
The RAeC Trust bursary scheme for 2011 is now open. It offers several bursaries including the prestigious Peter Cruddas Foundation Scholarship worth up to £1,000, and other bursaries of up to £750 to enable young people (aged 16 - 21) to progress in their chosen air sport.
Applicants must be UK citizens and resident in the UK; training and flying must be conducted at UK clubs training establishments. Applications must arrive at the Trust by March 31st, submitted through a sponsoring organisation (eg the BHPA).
Last year's winners included BHPA members Idris Birch (19) of Aberystwyth and Katie Lawrence (18) of Hornchurch. If you're under 21 and need help in furthering your flying or continuation training, go to www.royalaeroclubtrust.org for details and an application form.
Glider reviews on Twitter!
Brad Nicholas of Snowdon Gliders is putting mini-reviews of paragliding stuff on Twitter.
"I'm not sure if this concept is a first," says Brad, "but I thought the idea of a mini-review in the form of a tweet is a fun and perhaps useful idea. I call them Twiviews." Brad says his reviews are not intended to replace the serious job of a full review which Skywings and the other mags do, "However test flights and number-crunching often boil down to confirming the first impressions and gut feelings we have with a product.
So here they are: my personal opinions, as tweets on some of the best stuff in paragliding. I hope pilots find them fun and maybe informative." Find them by searching SnowdonGliders in the "find people" bar at http://twitter.com.
Leavesley branches out
Mark Leavesley has acquired a pair of shops in Bishops Castle town centre. He and his partner Sian will be living there and running both as second-hand shops.
"Instead of buying from a forum and not being able to see what you're getting," says Mark, "this will be a shop with actual paragliders, harnesses and helmets, etc! We will take in anything to do with flying, work out a sensible price and take a 20% cut for ourselves - simples!"
Next door, Funky Monkey, run by Sian, will be a designer clothing shop run on the same basis. Details are at www.leavesleyaviation.com.
For further information about the British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association and skywings magazine, please visit our about the BHPA and Skywings magazine pages on this website.