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Ron Freeman Marske-Staithes-Marske
16/03/2008 Ron Freeman Marske-Staithes-Marske
on a single surface glider

(picture courtesy of Alan Westmoreland)

Sunday 16th March 08 the forcast looked good for the coast, n.easterly 20-25mph with the odd shower.. Marske sounds good to me. On arrival 3.00pm (due to low water at 5.00pm) Alan Westmorland & Dave Hume told me they had been to Skinninggrove and back ! the decision was then made to have a go at Staithes and back on an Aeros Target 16m single surface beginner / intermediate hangglider.

The glider I chose was deliberate, excellent handling, very good sink rate, and it can be landed in very tight spots.

1. Take off was a full north easterly 20-25mph with good solid lift all the way to Saltburn crossing the gap onto Huntscliff was no problem.

2. This is where the fun started ! the lift was poor with a very strong head wind, my ground speed was down to 3-4mph & level with the cliff top ! my GPS was invaluable and with out it I would of turned back. The vario was on zero's for ages slowly working my way out to the headland where I knew there was better lift, after ten minutes or more and continually looking back at Saltburn (nice beach landing) I finally made it.. a steady 3 up and on my way.

3. 300ft above the cliffs now and feeling good the wind was still a fresh n.easterly and the flight to Staithes was still on. Skinninggrove soon came up and it was time to make a big decision...onc'e you cross onto the other side of the river and over the harbour wall there has to be good lift if you are going to get back ! I decided to go for it and crossed the gap with 100ft above the cliffs and made the other side.

4. At this point the lift was poor and the wind strong but decided to carry on and try to get to the big cliffs 1 mile away.

5. With a ground speed of 2-3mph it was slow going and well below the huge clifff on my right eventually I found lift ! 1up...

6. At this point I was feeling a bit worried.. if I start to get blown back I would have to achieve lots of height quickly as to avoid huge rotor on the cliff edge so I continually checked the GPS for making headway. Lots of height now and the seagulls were all over the place, its was time for the big glide to staithes..about 1 mile into the glide the lift became very poor and there it was.. a huge black cloud 1 mile out at sea and I was in the lee of it 'SINK' every where with a very long beach beneath me ! I pulled on speed to maximise my glide and things got a bit better.

7. Scratching the cliffs now, very poor lift & head wind. I made the turn point with 50ft above the cliff top and now on a down wind glide looking for lift in the small coves, they were just working.

8. Steady lift now but the the wind was dropping, my ground speed was now a healthy 10-12-mph. At this point it was OK (big cliff) but getting back from Saltburn on the small dunes might be a problem.

(pictures courtesy Ron Freeman)

9. I now need as much height as possible, these cliffs are huge (600ft) it will be a down wind leg to Skinningrove, I will need lots of height to get across the river & harbour wall onto the north side.

10. I flew over the harbour wall level with the ridge top, the lift is not good...these dunes are only 60ft high and the wind was dropping all the time and I was managing to hold my own with the Target (excellent sink rate)

11. With the tide out I could keep going and knew I could always turn back and make a safe landing (Alan Westmorland offered a lift) it took a long time for the lift to kick in (wind more northerly now) as I was climbing the cliffs were getting higher & higher, strange feeling but nice !

12. Lots of height now and feeling very good, great to see Saltburn again with 300ft above the cliff top I cut the corner and flew straight for Saltburn

13. Just made it onto the 60ft ridge south side of the beautiful pier, the lift was not good, the wind was now off to the left and about 15mph. I had got back before in these conditions and it was not going to stop me now ! pulling gentle speed I managed to maintain height in the head wind and as soon as I encountered sink I would slow down and convert to gentle lift...

14. I knew one mistake I would be on the deck.. It worked made it ! it was great to see Alan Westmorland, Dave hume, Colin keightly, waving me in as I top landed on my take off spot.

I will never forget this flight...

Ron Freeman
Chief Flying Instructor (Hang Gliding and Paragliding)
Northumbria Airsports
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