In a moment of insanity at the end of our springtime SIV adventure, with the adrenaline still coursing through my veins, and in the sure and certain knowledge that my life was safe for a few more months at least, I said we really have to do that again. What I meant was, I never want to do that again. Fred however had other ideas and set about organising another trip. Shit. Fuck. Bugger. Bugger. Bugger. That's that fucked. Me and my big mouth. So with the well worn phrase "I expect it will be OK" running through my head I dully paid my deposit. Left the flights and accommodation to the last minute in the hope that Trump would have started WW3 by the time it came round to fly, but no such luck. Briefly toyed with the idea of claiming to have had a stroke or that the boss was turning up unexpectedly, but eventually girded my loins, kissed the children and booked the flights.
We were four that turned up at Geneva airport. Two having dropped out because of, ahem, different issues. No names here. And I for one do not judge them in any way. However others might. Anyway, of we went to Annecy. Funny how the one day, one evening then one morning to take off sort of passes with a vaguely dream like quality. Then it happens and you are in the briefing room. Where it turns to a sort of nervous, jingly energy and before you know it you are on the bus and on the way to take off. That's the point where I at least, sort of settle down into oh well, that's that, might as well get on with it mode. Going through the normal tea ceremony style pre-flying ritual also helps.
Anyway, long story short, we were off on the first flight. Myself and Fred were fresh back, so were straight into spirals and rapid exits. With it still burned into our reactions from the earlier trip there were no issues other than slightly iffy timing. Like riding a bike. And surprisingly, flying out to the box, outside some slow breaths, the nerve levels were pretty reasonable. Dudley and Sean came next and it was much the same story as our earlier trip. Multiple launch attempt's, obvious signs of terror, but the basic dolphin flights and dynamic turns went OK. All very familiar to me and Fred. There were also a couple of lovely Gringo's flying with us, Chris, a doctor from the US who commuted to work in his own plane, and Kelly his partner who also did medical stuff.
Chris has been flying five years and said at the briefing he wanted to start with the basics, stall and the like and work out from there. And he was not joking. A very good pilot, and easy going and funny. His partner, who was equally charming, had little experience, but no lack of nerve. I particularly enjoyed the delighted cries of "look at my little legs kicking" in the briefing room as she watched videos of herself being catapulted through the ether under a thrashing glider. Also on the course was a Polish paratrooper, Tomas, a veteran of the French Foreign Legion, who was basically a ball of sinew and muscle and probably the last person on the planet you would want to pick a fight with. But he was pretty easy going and a good, if non-current pilot, who had flown all over the world.
Myself and Fred then went through all the usual, auto rotations, cravat recovery and suchlike with no great issues, but at least for me with the thought...I know what comes next, and sure enough Malin said stalls tomorrow. I best check the boat this evening. But oddly enough, and I would never admit it to anyone, I was looking forward to it. Sort off. Dudley had a hard time with the rapid exits and had a series of spectacular collapses after failing to catch the dive, the final one ending in a cravat which nearly put him in the water. Sean managed better, but struggled with launching. Pretty much the same tomfoolery myself and Fred had on our first trip.
Next day, the stalls actually went OK for both of us. The first one, over-stalled, then identify the back flying point was quickly followed by stall and straight to backwards flying then stall, open the span, then backwards flying. No drama for either of us. I did like Malins comment on the way down "you are going to have to up you'e game a bit on this one Robert, Fred's last set were nice". And I did, which slightly surprised me. Because I was expecting the same as the first run. But it's pretty smooth when you find the backwards flying position quickly. Dudley, who looked absolutely terrified on take of went back to 101 on pitch exercises, but it was starting to look a lot better. and on the next few flight he progressed rapidly to really nice solid rapid exits with the brakes way bellow his seat.
Made me think of my first trip after I had a big cravat. I had the same level of fear, but it concentrates the mind and he rose to the occasion like a boss. Sean took the opposite approach and forgot entirely about the compensation brake, but did some really beautiful loops. His launch issues from the first day were gone though and pretty much every launch was bang on. There was a minor incident with wet shoes after an over shot landing, but nothing significant. Kelly face-planted the lake six feet from the shore after struggling to recover a cravat, but bounced up with her usual cheerful smile.
The last day, was the day Fred choose to wash his glider. I was above him on the first flight watching his pretty green glider carving graceful swoops out of the sky thinking that looks great, when Malin said "exit now, exit, exit, exit now Fred.....PLEASE". The thought, now there is a well brought up boy, floated across my mind and I thought, Fred does look quite low. After 0.2 second he turned 90 degrees away from the landing field towards a little spit of land. Old fox I thought. From above it looked like he was going to make it easily, but it was not to be. Again, about six feet from the shore there was another big splash.
Which to be honest made me chuckle, but then I though what exactly are you laughing at? You are about to stall you're glider, which stopped the laugh quite quickly. Deprived even of the small pleasure of watching a friend fail. I think Fred was just a bit lost in the moment, which I can entirely understand, as the asymmetric / regulated spiral is a bit like being on a Waltzer and quite exhilarating. That, and the fact you are loosing height spectacularly quickly means even a couple of seconds delay in exiting will put you in the lake. Lesson learned Fred says.
It was about as excited as I have seen Malin get. Which is basically saying "Fred, you are on my naughty step today" in his usual even tone. His face looked a little bit like the gallery owner in Annecy's though, when Sean went to pick up the huge (expensive) bronze statue. The rest of the flight for Sean and Dudley were on form though with good launches and solid control. Very much the same experience as we had first trip. Dudley probably made the most consistent progress and did well to recover from a mildly exciting moment. I think overall it was a good few days of Type 2 fun. Although Fred says it was more like Type 2-3 to start with and 1-2 at the end. Anyway, we are back next year at the same time, and the intention is to stay on for a bit of guided XC flying, so we must have enjoyed it.
Rob Auto Rotation
Rob Rapid Exit
Rob Funky Spiral
Fred's Nice run gold star from Teach
Fred Splash - AKA king of the drink - opps off to naughty step to dry, pay attention that boy!