Date: 26/6/2009

Time: 18:55 - 19:10

Aircraft: K13 Glider - G-CFHM


OK, not microlighting, but flying all the same. My boss Vic is the chairman of the North Hants Jaguar Enthusiasts Club who were having an evening social at Lasham Gliding Club to have a go at gliding. As he is a bit big to fly himself, he kindly invited me to come along and have a go.

We turn up at 5:30 pm and after paperwork and the safety brief, we are eventually out to the airfield. We have a bit of a lottery to select the order and with my usual luck, I'm second to last - not a problem though, as there's plenty of time. I watch the other on their way with varying degrees of intrepidation.

Eventually it's my turn. First, I have to put a parachute on and have to squat down whilst tightening the straps. This makes standing up quite difficult, but fortunately once in the aircraft, I am sitting down so it isn't uncomfortable. My instructor, Merv is sat behind me. The first weird thing, as the canopy is closed, is the lack of headset - I can hear Merv OK, but do find myself leaning back a bit to hear better. The tug aircraft is attached by the tow-rope and an assistant holds one wing so we are level. The tug then opens it's throttle and we're off - surprisingly smoothly.

Merv flies the initial bit behind the tug which is probably for safety. He asks me if I have done this before - "haven't done gliding before " I replied, "but I do fly a microlight". "Ooh - Flexwing or three-axis", he inquired. He was pleased to hear it's three-axis as some flexwing pilots push the stick the wrong way. We climb at about 65 knots up to 2500' above the airfield level and then disengage from the tug with a slight clunk.

Once free, we then slow down the normal gliding speed of about 45 knots and it's my turn to have a go flying. We try a few exploratory turns - it seems to need a lot more rudder to balance the turns, than the C-42 and also more stick movement in general. However, the controls are all light - though it does make it a little difficult to detect if you have the rudder centralised. I also miss the balance ball. We then head towards the north with more turns practice and then I ask what the stall speed is - Merv invite me to try, and it appears to be around 36 knots, but it does let you know that it's about to happen. Once north of the runway, head east. Merv then suggests another turn to the north, which seems odd to me as at 800' we are in my normal downwind approach. But soon enough, we are downwind and then turn base. Another odd thing is that in a powered aircraft we slow down for approach, but in this glider we speed UP to 55 knots - presumably for safety.

We turn final and I'm told to use the airbrake - too much at first, as we have to land long to finish up near the hanger. Quite a lot of rudder required to keep it straight and then back on the stick to round out, still we some airbrake, and then we touch-down. Whilst rumbling along, Merv announces that he has control, and points us toward the hanger and stops just before the tarmac. We then get out. I ask Merv how much of the landing he did, to which he replied nothing, until he said he had control. So it seems I landed it all on my own (of course whilst being told what to do). The airbrakes do make it easier.

I help put the glider back in its hanger and we put the parachutes away. We have some dinner (chile) with Vic and some other Jag club members in their cafe and a general chat. Later, Merv comes and finds me to give me my certificate - he reckons that I did well, and wouldn't take long to convert onto gliders. Not this year!

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