Free flight

On a windy gusty stormy day it is not, with hindsight, a good idea to be on top of Cromer cliffs playing at being a lightning conductor. I think if ever there were a need for a device able to efficiently electrocute people, in great numbers, in a thunderstorm, it would look like a hang glider.
But the wind was to the NNE so, obviously, sacrifices had to be made.

We waited patiently for the wind to ease from its gusty 35 - 45mph to something more manageable to a glider with a top speed of about 25 mph. When it did drop a bit Paul Whitley was the first to prepare for launch. I was on the nose.
It was an almighty struggle to get the glider to the edge and the closer we got the less of a good idea it seemed. We decided to go down the cliff a bit to a slightly lower grassy slope and as we did the wind dropped suddenly to almost zero. At the same time the temperature changed noticeable. Paul and I looked at each other and did not like the situation one bit. We sensibly decided to abort.
As we started to retreat back up, the wind, just as suddenly as it had dropped, picked up again with an ever-increasing strength. Then just for good measure it started to hail, so hard it stung our faces.

The glider was pinned to the cliff with such a force it was almost immovable. We made virtually no headway up the cliff with every bit of grass and gorse grabbing the corners of the A frame. We were soaking wet our arms ached with the buffeting and we could hardly see.
In desperation we lifted the nose, just the tiniest little bit…

Bad idea.

The glider took off with us holding on to one nose and one side wire each.
At the same time Paul and I thought ‘bugger this’ and dropped the 3 – 4 foot onto the grass as the glider ascended majestically and pilot-less up and back inland.
Paul could do no more than watch as it continued to fly surprisingly well for some distance until a rotor got the better of it, flipping it over and slamming it into the ground somewhere on the golf course. That glider was trimmed well!

Reluctantly we packed up and prepared for the inevitable long long wait until the next
NE day.

Mike Lake

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