CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR
BY PETER CHALDECOTT
(and an explanation by Dr David Bintcliffe)
I had a very scary moment with my new Petrel at County MFC on Wednesday. I had been bemoaning the fact that Chris Williams was using up all the lift when, on my third aerotow, I hooked the most enormous thermal. Before I knew it, the Petrel had ascended to an alarming height and was still going up. As it got higher and higher, I had to lean my head back further and further. In desperation I deployed the brakes, but then quite suddenly and without warning I became very dizzy, and began staggering about like a drunkard. I yelled to Barry Cole, who was nearby after having towed me up, to steady me, as I felt in real danger of falling over.
I was now in real trouble and was struggling to maintain control, not because the Petrel was difficult to fly, but because my brain just wasn’t functioning! Fortunately, Trevor was nearby and sensed that I was in trouble. In a state of distress I said, “You’ll have to fly it for me”, but he said “Stay with it, I can’t see where it is!!” Neither could the others!!! I thought I was going to pass out at any moment, but then after what seemed like an eternity, but was probably only a few seconds, Trevor said, “I can see it”. I thrust the TX in his hands, and I don’t remember much more until I saw it coming in for a gentle touch down! The moral of this story is: be careful what you wish for!!!!
Mr Williams said he would send me a new wing section (Clark Y) to stop me getting into trouble again!!!! Typical Chris!
If nothing else, the incident proved that the Petrel responds well to lift, and that the airframe is very strong (at that height I had no idea how fast it was going, let alone which way up it was!). I’ve heard of people getting into trouble in big thermals, but never experienced it myself until now.
A VERY SCARY MOMENT and one which I don’t wish to repeat, so this is how I shall be glider flying in future!