Revised: Nov 12, 1999
Andrew Barber Starkey wrote this
a good number of years ago.
Any of you have any suggestions
which could tune up for the new millenium?
Make it more releveant for Paragliding?
CROSS COUNTRY SAFETY
Andrew Barber Starkey
As we learn more about thermalling
and our skills increase, the urge to make a cross country flight becomes
stronger. Why not, when you have 5000' or more above the mountain top?
A good cross country flight will highlight a year's flying, but a certain
amount of caution is necessary.
Some considerations are:
- Always keep
a safe landing field within easy reach.
Remember a strong thermal can be
surrounded by strong sink.
- When flying
along a ridge in strong winds, be particularly cautious around gaps and
The wind here will be horizontal
and also stronger due to venturi. Stay well out in front when crossing
- When penetrating
out of a canyon, stay to the downwind side to avoid rotors and to utilize
possible ridge lift.
Don't fly in the middle of a canyon
in a cross wind as that is where the down air from the rotor will be.
- Never go behind
a mountain in straight ridge lift. In thermals at least 1000' clearance
is needed, if there is any wind.
- Watch the clouds
and surface wind direction for signs of a sheer line or other unusual situations.
Turbulence in a wind sheer can be
- It is a good
idea to drive along your intended flight path, observing landing fields,
obstructions and power lines.
- Stay away from
airports, controlled zones and airways. Be aware of their locations,
directions and reserved altitudes.
- Picking a landing
field from the air is the most difficult and potentially dangerous part
of flying cross country. Always arrive over your chosen field with
at least 500'. A few large, unfluctuating 360's over an object will
quickly show you wind direction as you drift downwind of it. At the
same time check the field for power lines (hidden poles) fences, ditches
and crops. Look for contour lines indicating a sloping field.
It is a good idea to fly a circuit around the field to look for slope,
power lines etc. Observe your wind drift so you can land into the wind.
Wind directions may change close to the ground, so look for ripples on
water, blowing grass, dust, trees, flags, or clotheslines. A body
of water will be calm at the upwind end and rippled downwind. Land
will away from trees, hills or other obstructions that could cause turbulence.
By all means, land in a convenient field, but don't choose an unsafe field
because it is near the road or a house. Before you land is a good
time to see the road and trail situation, so you can walk out without getting
lost. Beware of landing on the wrong side of creeks and rivers.
That can cause long walks.
- If you are considering
going cross country, arrange a rendezvous point before launching where
you can phone or meet when you land. Be sure someone will be home.
Restaurants, hotels and gas stations can be used for this purpose. It
is also a good idea to beg borrow or buy a two way CB or some other radio
communication. (Like an Aircraft ICOM)
- If you are crossing
rough terrain, carry a survival kit containing at least a signal mirror
a nd matches. In some areas carrying water is a matter of survival.
Your harness and parachute make a good sleeping bag and tent. If
you land way out ALWAYS stay with your glider. It is like a big neon
sign out there for searchers. We continually hear of hunter's trying
to hike out from their vehicles which are found (and now one glider) while
the people are lost forever.
- If you are landing in light and
variable conditions, _always_ land uphill if possible without regard to
insignificant (only) downwind conditions. Come in _hot_ and flare sharply.
A good cross country flight gives
the pilot a great sense of accomplishment. So, by all means, go for
it. But be very conservative, especially on your first few times.
Have a good one!
and XC Planning Tips
If your planning on hitting the competition
trail this summer, it pays to plan ahead.
Planning ahead includes getting
your gear together now!
Remember last summer when your radio
started acting up, did you fix it? (drop it off at your favorite radio
shop now, the two week wait won't seem so bad) Speaking about radio's,
when was the last time you charged it? If your radio is more than 3 years
old it may be a good idea to get the battery packs rebuilt or start looking
around for a primary power system made up of nicads. Also make sure your
headset is working. Consider putting together a PTT (push to talk) system,
remember its rude to be heard screaming obscenities about your imminent
demise over your VOX, distracts and upsets your fellow pilots.
Competition pilots amaze me, they
will whine and snivel about the cost of a Comp or a ride up the hill but
they will go and spend $6 or $7 for a roll of film at the gas station at
the bottom of the hill. If they planned ahead they could buy the same film
for $1.75 a roll (regularly on sale at the Canadian Super Store or Zellers
or....). Along with film this same pilot will wait until is vario has made
like a vampire and sucked the last volt of power and end buying a single
9volt for $7 at that same gas station, cost, $6 for two at London Drugs.
What about the camera that the film
You spend all that money for your
glider, equipment, and entry fee, then you use a $19 K-mart special (that
has never worked right since you bought it) to rely on documenting your
spectacular achievements. Check out flyers at your front door, good deals
on date back cameras can be found anywhere (my rule of thumb, never pay
more than $100 for a camera, the only difference between a $100 camera
and a $300 camera in a hang gliding environment is the sound they make
when you drop them on the ground!). Right now a good deal is the Polaroid
3000AF (with date back) for less than $70 (also is manufactured under the
Drag out your glider, give it the
If its worn out, give me a call
for a new Aeros Stealth KPL (604-854-5950). If it looks like it will last
a season more, pull out the manual and give it the full Monty (right down
to the Airframe). If your not comfortable with doing a full airframe
inspection, local dealers will be more than happy to oblige!
Same goes for you harness.
If the zipper is getting worn, remember
it won't get any better! Mark at Aerial
Adventures (604-888-1988) would be more than happy to make the repairs.
By the way, if your harness has reached that special "odor-ifus" stage
(it has become a living breathing entity) give it a bath and throw in one
of them little green tree deodorizers (one low scratchy sweaty day and
you'll thank me!).
One last tip. Many XC and Comp. pilots carry
first aid and survival gear. When was the last time you inspected it? Are the
"sterile" Band-Aids still sterile? Did you eat the last power bar out of your
survival food waiting for your last retrieve (for that mater, is that survival
food still eatable?). Pain killers turned to dust? Matches still work?
Check it ALL out! It will give you
something to do while your climbing the walls waiting for the season to