Flying Alone

By Brian Stewart on  July 1, 2020 16:37

Shouldn’t be done? But many do, and not only when we’re alone on the hill . . .

Maybe you’re the early riser, catching the rising sun on the east-facing slopes; or you’re snatching a quick sunset flight after the rain clears, and there’s no-one else daft enough to be out there. Or you may be out on a vol-biv adventure or visiting an out-of-the way spot that’s not popular with the crowds as it’s a long hike to get there.

You can also be ‘alone’ on a crowded site: if you’re new to the area and nobody knows you, or you turn up late after everyone is in the air, or you were first there and take off before others arrive. So, by ‘alone’ I mean a situation where maybe no-one will notice should you crash in an obscure hidden spot. We all look out for each other on a normal day, but it’s easy not to notice a stranger, or assume someone is with another group of pilots.

· Ideally, go with others, have an outline of each other’s flight plans and how you will keep in touch in the air and on the ground. Check radios are working.

· If you’re alone, make contact with others on the ground, get to know each other, try to share radio frequency and flight plans

· Use a flight tracker, and make sure someone at home knows how to follow you and what to do if you’re in trouble. Satellite location services work just about anywhere but cost money; even a simple app like AirWhere can broadcast your position to sites like or LiveTrack24

· At the very least tell someone responsible where you are going, and what your plans are. But be sure to let them know when you’re back on the ground to avoid worry or false alarms.

Also, be mindful of others on the hill who may be flying ‘alone’, they may not have anyone else looking out for them.

Pendle Crash Analysis

By Brian Stewart on  June 6, 2020 11:52

Listen to yourself. . .

I thought I’d write a few words about my crash on Pendle, early June. The video and commentary can be seen here:

Many pilots contributed their thoughts on this incident, and I’m grateful to everyone for their input to help make sense of events and try to learn and prevent future accidents.

The pilot, as always, is the major factor in PG incidents. As has been pointed out, I wasn’t in the best frame of mind to go flying at that moment.

Currency? The UK was just coming out of lockdown. I’ve been particularly concerned about this, shielding someone at home, so hadn’t flown for over 3 months, and only have a few hours since October. So, currency very low, and a bit anxious about mixing with too many people.

Too eager to fly? Last chance before the weather turned bad for a long spell. I was hoping for a short flight just to get back in the air, early doors. We ended up waiting around for the wind to start and come on to the right direction. Not being current isn’t just about flying – it’s also how acutely our senses are tuned to assessing the conditions. I knew all about the probability of rough turbulence on such a hot sunny day with dry air, visible stability, wave clouds, wind across the hill . . . Definitely too eager. It’s not like me to be first off the hill but I thought I have to go now, expecting not to find much lift and to go down to the landing.

Misjudging conditions? Take off was fine, wind swung onto the face. Light lift all the way across to the gully, then gentle sink on the way back. Nothing to raise alarm bells. That went well . . .

Dealing with the collapse? The thermal that hit me was like a rocket, and the vario peaked at 7.8 m/s, looking at it frame by frame on Ayvri (great tool for analysing flight). Possibly it was so small that only the left half of the wing, closer to the hill, was in it, so the right side was either in still air or even the sink outside the thermal. Whatever the cause, I just had time to anticipate that something bad was about to happen before the right side completely went – looks like 70% or more on the video. But instead of turning towards the collapse and taking me away from the hill, the wing turned violently left 90° to face the hill, and surged violently, the lines almost horizontal. I don’t clearly remember doing it, but I must have braked sufficiently to catch this – thank you SIV instructors – as without inputs, this would have gone much worse.

As I swung back under the wing, you can see from the video that it stalls, and the tips almost meet.. Probably excessive brake, but possibly the horrible air I was in. Whichever, this turned out to be the best possible outcome, as I descended at about the speed of a reserve ride to land on my back without even bursting the camelback. I hardly felt that impact, just the horrible whiplash effect on my neck as my head bounced around like a loose button. There was enough wind about to start dragging me, and this felt like I was being pulled along, and slightly down, the slope. More evidence of some horrible turbulence as it had been almost calm all morning.

So, I walked away from it intact, but I wouldn’t dare to refer to it as a landing. Big thanks to Tim Gridley and Andy Elliott for landing nearby to assist, to everyone on the hill for their support and encouragement, Mark Wilson for helping carry my glider bag back to the car and to everyone who contributed words of wisdom.

See you in the air.

Brian Stewart

Pendle East–Please DO NOT Fly

By Andy Archer on  June 4, 2020 08:30

On Tues I received an email from the Land Agent who presides over Pendle Hill which stated that pilots had been observed taking off at the northern extremities of Pendle Hill and landing in fields around Barley, these areas being outside of our area of agreement. 

Can I ask that members refamiliarise yourselves with the PSC Site Guide and refrain from flying the North & East faces of Pendle?

Please pass the word around.

email below:

Email from Ingham Yorke 03.06.20


Andy Archer

PSC Sites Officer

Midweek Flying–no excuses

By Brian Stewart on  June 1, 2020 17:06

Midweek flying risks a close encounter of the high speed kind with fast and slow aircraft of the RAF kind. It’s always been a requirement to post flying plans on CANP the night before, so that pilots can get a heads-up in the briefings the next day.

Now it’s easier than ever: Head over to

Fill in the required fields, tick the site you’re registering and you are good to go. Remember to look out for the response, to ensure your post got through.

Save this site as a favourite so you can always find it, and get your notification in before 8PM. Apparently duplicate notifications aren’t a problem, so don’t just assume someone else has done it.