The Cromer Rotor

I think I've told this story before, but because it happened at Cromer its worth adding to this web site.
One Sunday Snowy and I arrive first at Cromer, and as usual we both wanted to take to the air before all the others arrived. Once again I won the toss of a coin to take off first. I think it’s also about time I levelled with Snowy, and admitted that I did have a double headed coin in those days. While on other occasions I used to say heads I win and tails you lose, sorry mate!!!!!.

The wind seemed to be quite strong although we did not have an ASI, as far as we were concerned it was just marginal. Anyway I rigged up and Snowy became my nose man, and we inched the kite towards the edge of the take off point. It was then that it seems we might have overestimated the strength of the wind, because Snowy was experiencing problems holding on to the nose and keeping it steady.

Then just as I was about to abort the take off, Mel and Sharpy turned up and ran over to the take off point shouting “Why aren’t you up there” to which I asked him how strong he thought the wind was blowing. “Only about 18” he replied with that I felt confident and turned to Snowy and told him to let go. Bang, I shot up like a rocket on the fastest ride I’d ever taken in my life. Not only was I going up but I was also going backward. I had the bar pulled right back almost touching my knees, and I was still going backwards. I then climbed forward inching my hands forward up the wires leading from the ends of the A frame up to the nose. Might sound a bit crazy today, but I can assure you that during those early days, I had heard it discussed in very strong wind conditions. Anyway by this time I was game to try anything just to penetrate the very strong wing. The higher I climbed the strong it seemed to get.

By this time I knew I was in trouble as I was losing the battle, and seemed to be going further backwards. I just hung on knowing that at any moment I was going to be in the notorious rotor that always just behind the take off area. There was no warning, suddenly the bar was snatched out of my hands as the kite whipped around in a complete 360 degrees and I ended up still pointing out to sea, but about 50 meters to the east of the take off point and about 100 meter back of the cliff edge. I can remember looking down at a couple of golfers below me and knowing the site was in danger if I landed on them, I shouted at them to get out the way.

Then once again the bar was snatched out of my hands as I was completely spun around once more. This time I ended up way down the track towards the main road where we used to park our cars (on the bend). Then it felt like a massive hand just pushed me straight into the ground and I landed at great speed but dead level and still pointing out to sea, with a massive bang.

Within seconds I managed to climb out just as Snowy arrive to help me, and asked if I was Okay. He then cracked the usual jokes and I suddenly felt extreme pain in my chest. So I asked him not to make me laugh. The only damage was to my pride and a frame side, in that order. Although later when I called in to a hospital on my way home, I was informed I had a few cracked ribs. Don’t think I’ll trust Mel’s wind speed estimations in future. I think next time I’ll wet my finger and hold it up. Although later Mel did admit that he only said it as a joke, not believing for one minute that I would actually take off.

Terry Aspinall

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