Not long passed my CP with the expertise of the Freeman, Potts partnership
and the Cheviot hang gliding school. I was clipped into the winch near
Cockle Park with my recently acquired Clubman and Chris Foster asked me
if Id be interested in a trip to Lanzarote. Definitely!
Mid January. Manchester airport. Wet and cold, Now remember its
a windsurfer, not a hang glider Eh?
Still mid January, Arrecife airport, Sunny and warm. Ok, its
a hang glider again. Eh?
Getting the hang gliders through the check-in and onto the plane was much
simpler than I thought it was going to be. Getting them onto the roof
of the hired car was only accomplished without being arrested or having
to get a truncheon extracted from anyones body parts, due to the diplomacy
and tact exercised by Peter Talbot and Chris when confronted by an irate
local Bobby having a bad day! To the Pub Says Dave
English breakfast devoured and head for Mala. Rigging the gliders was
a bit of a muckaround as they were still in the foam, bubble wrap and
tape used for protection in case a baggage handler dropped them.
Checking them over, Alistair Johnstones seems to have suffered some
minor abuse en route, apart from that, Lets fly!
Come on Bob, you next said Dave Hume. This is a bit higher
than East hill Im thinking.
See that bit over there? Thats the bottom landing
Nah, hes joking right? Nope! I can just make out a German who took
off as we arrived, landing in the distant spot.
Christ, what am I doing here? I am totally out of my league.
Ali, decides to go. Couple of beats and gone. Chris has a go and looks
like hes not gaining for the first few beats, but, he found second
gear and off he goes. Ali top lands telling us Its really
smooth up there. Its really smooth standing here Ali, Im
So, being the novice among the experienced (who seem to have forgotten
their early flying days) Im clipped in, hang check done about four
or five times (at least). Watched a German getting blown backwards and
crumple his uprights.
Release! What the hell was I worried about?
Im too far from the ridge to be in the serious lift but Im
comfortable with this at the moment, so I just ignored Ali and Co waving
their arms frantically trying to entice me in towards the jaggy bits.
There were other people about but they seem to keep out my way. Either
the red ribbon works or a Scotsman screaming with excitement is not to
be flown beside. The scenery is mind blowing! No green fields, no sheep,
just a vast amount of rough terrain.
A few more beats and Im losing height due to my inexperience and
cautiousness. I know what I should be doing but putting into practice
is a different story. What the hell! Even top to bottoms in Lanzarote
are worth going for when still in your training pants. Lots of 360s
on the way down to lose the height and a landing that puts a grin on my
face. Lots of chat with other flyers, and everybody had a good day, and I stayed
up longer than birthday boy Dave!
To the pub Says Dave
A few of us are a bit under the weather today. Must have been the water??
English breakfast and one car goes north to Mala,(party poopers) the other
goes to Macher.(drunken bums)
What a view! There was very little wind but there was a couple of para-gliders
up at Macher but nothing much interesting happening until a couple of
canopies kissed, resulting in them landing to untie the knot in one of
them. No flying today. Tourist trip to see where the financially well
off, park their yachts. Impressive!
Off for a newly discovered hang over cure. Tomato soup. Now thats
To the Pub
English breakfast and head north for a site called Mirador.
At the most northerly point on Lanzarote, this is another awesome place
to visit.We stop at the bottom landing site for a recce as it is not visible
from the top. Frankly Im not surprised as its only a five-a-side
football pitch. With goal posts, I might add! At this stage of my learning
curve, I must admit I hadnt really considered this little detail.
All my previous flying had been done with a landing point fully visible
from take off.
Up to the top and there is a tourist trap up there tempting you into a
hole in the mountain to view the surrounding area for a couple of euros.
If we get off well be able to see it for nothing. Standing at take
off, the 360 degree view is another amazing site but some heavy cloud
and rain approaching from the North east soon tells us we wont be
flying here today.
Into the cars for a drive down the west side of the Island via a mountain
top café for some local Paella (Yughh) and on to a ridge called
Famara for a looksee.
Now, Id seen pictures taken by Colin Chapman of this site but, standing
at top take off is not to be compared to with Hebdon Wood. Its a
little higher and my training pants are getting wetter, and the thumping
in my ears is getting louder. Not enough wind yet but, from this site
we can see some action on another site called El Cuchillo.
So, westward we went.
Not as high as Famara but a lovely hill with some extremely rough air.
Not recommended for the inexperienced. Enough said. I opt for the recovery
driving job on this and help everyone else with getting off. Including
a slightly arrogant Dutchman. But, with a few quiet words in fluent Scottish
he did apologise in perfect English.
Ali was up for ages as was Alan. Peter had some aggressive lift from where
I was standing. Dave,
.. Well, he wasnt up
for long. Chris had yet another good flight.
To the pub Says Dave
English breakfast and off to Macher again. The roads are a bit rough to
these sites but if you had to walk up it would take a pretty big chunk
out of your flying time. What the hell! Its a hired car. Pity on
the next bloke. theres the landing field over there says Dave, Ali,
etc About the same distance from Moneylaws to Coldstream, I reckon!
Send the guinea-pig up. Alan steps forward. Off he goes and gains a little,
but its obvious we wont be staying up long today. Chris goes
next and shows the way to the field. Ive never flown over Main roads
and roundabouts before.
What a flight! A top to bottom in anyone elses book, but in mine? The
most exciting top to bottom Ive ever had. Being about midday, there
were plenty lumps about which made for some interesting facial expressions
as the legs were dropped from the harnesses.
To the pub? Nah, lets stay and watch Alan screw up his
landing. Ive never seen cross wind landings done before on a hang
glider, but if hed told this was his plan I would have brought my
camera, just so he could perfect his technique with the aid of pictures.
Fortunately, Chris got it on digi film. Back to the top for the other
car and Mr. (cant keep it up for long) Hume has a go. And guess
Then, were of to Famara as the wind has done a U turn. Top
take off and I am having a problem hearing due to the sound of blood being
pumped through my head. So, after watching Alan disappear, Chris and Ali
start charging up and down the ridge. Peter has a go and makes it look
really easy, Release! This is what its all about. A
massive ridge running North, South with the flat land below. The beach
and the town all within easy reach for most, but Im staying here
where I can see the landing field and practice flying a bit closer to
the hill with some 360s thrown in for confidence. What a flight!
Best yet. Pitch dark when we all get picked up due to a mix up with who was to pick
up who? Whos missing? Wheres the car? Who has the keys? Why
was Alan left alone in the dark with a stray dog? How long was Dave up
.. Yup . The pub.
English breakfast and back to Famara. Bottom take off this time as the
cloud is sitting on the ridge. This makes the site a little busier than
yesterday and certainly keeps you alert and on your toes.
A few paragliders training on the lower slopes, working their way up as
they get more confident. Lots of Germans, Dutch, Norwegian and French
flyers speaking a universal language. Well, almost. One incident was a
little confusing due to the misunderstanding of the word free?
Most people would take this to mean let go or Release
but the Germans preferred to know if the Nose man was hanging on to the
wires or were the wires free? ie. Loose. Then ok
means Im going. Thank god its not a 747 checklist!
Some thermals left me well above take off and thats without doing
360s. Words of encouragement from Mr. Hume. Bob, your 360s
are alright,but, you need to do them in the lift not in the sink. Duh!
I find myself venturing further and further away from the take off point.
Gaining confidence, I begin taking some pictures with the camera mounted
on the uprights. Dont know what Im taking them of, so I just
keep pressing the button. Then, rain. Jesus, think Bob, think, what did
it say in the book about flying in rain? Nothing? Whats everybody
else doing? Running for cover? Nope. I could see Chris (below me I must
add) so all must be ok. The air was more violent but with the cloud heading
away it all settled nicely and I had something else to add to my book
arms were just starting to ache when I found myself drifting away from
the ridge leaving the lift area and heading for the bottom landing field.
There are streamers all over the place telling you the wind direction
from way off, so plenty of time to get prepared for the iffy
Bit. Everybody had a good day today. Everybody stayed up for ages. Well, except
Dave of course. Something to do with, the adhesive content of the
water droplets on his leading edge. In otherwords Ali didnt
wipe the water off properly
Never mind Dave, lets go to the pub for a change To
the pub Says Dave
English breakfast and back to Famara. I could never get fed up with this
site it is so large compared to the hills Ive been on back home.
Will it ever be the same?
I have to mention at this point that, things are starting to fit into
place now. Confidence is increasing. Im more relaxed than Ive
been. Keeping more in the lift band than out. Experimenting with my kite
more. So, off we go.
The top take off is clear of cloud but we still go off from the bottom
one. The cloud is still covering the ridge to the north preventing anyone
from heading up the island too far but, it looks to be clearing with blue
skies behind. This means the more experienced bunch will head up the ridge
leaving some space for me without having to worry about traffic.
Chris has his new digital video camera mounted on the keel of his Discovery,
which is going to make some interesting viewing later.
Alan top lands in a very unusual direction again Squeezing between Parked
cars and hang gliders much to the delight of everyone watching, who all
cheered and applauded. More from relief than from enjoyment though.
Another cracking days flying and the last, but everybody had another
good days flying and Dave managed to stay up this time. We all landed
in time to watch the cloud just clearing from the ridge.
Packed up and head back to short pack and wrap the kites for the journey
To the pub says Dave. So we did!
Getting home was uneventful but full of memories and shouldve dones
but there is always next year. Lanzarote is ideal for the novice looking to accelerate his or her learning
process due to the weather being better than Britain in winter and the
number of sites located on a very small Island, but you have to have the
right people guiding and advising you like I did! Thanks have to go to Chris for organizing the digs and being an excellent
club coach, Dave for organizing the flights and always flying below me,
Ali for the laughs and helpful advice , Peter for the confidence to get
me off the top and, Alan for showing me how to and HOW NOT TO!
Thanks also to Ronnie Freeman and Selby Potts for the tuition enabling
me to go on this trip.
But thanks to them all for their invaluable knowledge and help.
Next year chaps?