Repack 27th March 2022

By Carl Fairhurst on  March 28, 2022 12:14

A big thanks to Barry Sayer for organising this at the Chipping Village hall on Sunday.

We had a morning and an afternoon session with Guy Richardson from Ginger Nomad who gave us all the benefit of his expertise to have a repack session.  His guidance in interpreting the sometimes unclear packing instructions and a combination of instruction and demonstration ensured that everyone was able to get their reserves ready for the new season.


Safety Notes January 2022

By Brian Stewart on  January 18, 2022 18:35

Happy New Year everyone

Cognitive Bias

WTF’s that? In simple terms a cognitive bias is a systematic error in thinking that occurs when people are processing and interpreting information in the world around them and affects the decisions and judgments that they make. Whenever we launch, this is the culmination of a sequence of decisions that may have begun with a weather forecast several days ago. While we are flying we are constantly taking in information, processing it and making decisions and judgements based on this data, so some understanding of how cognitive bias can leas us into bad choices may be useful.

Attentional and Anchoring biases will lead us into fixing on the first bit of information we get – e.g. the forecast for 3 days ahead shows light winds, and not looking again; or only paying attention to some things and ignoring others – such as a nice 10 mph breeze on the hill but not looking at the 20+ mph wind at 45 degrees 500’ higher. A Confirmation Bias can lead us into only looking at sources of data that confirm our original judgement.

Optimism Bias is fairly self-explanatory, and links with the Dunning-Kruger effect which describes how people believe they are smarter and more competent than they really are (we all know that person, don’t we?), leading to over-confidence.

Halo effect – when you see your favourite skygod having fun in the sky doesn’t mean it’s OK for you.

Do you attribute your mate’s great flight to just luck, while your success is pure skill; or your bomb-out was someone else’s fault for distracting you? If you shout at another pilot for being too close, are you always sure you’re in the right? Or if you are the one getting the abuse, do you analyse the situation calmly afterwards to see if you could have done something differently?

This is just a sample of the complex web of biases that psychologists study to try to guide people into better decision-making.

Challenging your biases. Even the psychologists accept that despite knowing all about them, they are just as likely as anyone to be led into their traps, but the ability to recognise them goes a long way towards being able to remove the from your decision making. What are some factors you have missed? Are you giving too much weight to certain factors? Are you ignoring relevant information because it doesn't support your view?  Thinking about these things and challenging your biases can make you a more critical thinker. Be aware of your over-confidence – can you dispassionately analyse your own strengths and weaknesses? Identify the risks you take – have they become just bad habits that you’ve got away with, so far? Set aside time to consider your decisions – good and bad.

Here’s a link to a video of a flying encounter. The pilot doing the filming later spoke to the chap on the blue and yellow wing who said he thought there was plenty of room based on his “20-years’ experience relative to an obvious novice”. I leave it to you to think about the cognitive biases that may be in play here.

Tight lines, everyone.


Getting Back in the Air

By Carl Fairhurst on  March 19, 2021 11:44

Jocky Sanderson has done a useful YouTube video about getting back into the air.



A cautionary tale

By John Murphy on  January 3, 2021 17:54

It's been a strange and frustrating year for everything; work, home, injury and particularly sport (in
case you are wondering I'm looking for excuses).
I used to climb 2 or 3 times a week, since lock down 3 times total.
Weather during lock down great, since then not so.
I have also managed to find a talent that I thought I had lost - missing the best conditions, usually
limited to weekends anyway but recently it's been “you should have been here 2 hours ago” or “it
got good just after you left”.
So I'm suffering from frustration, much luckier than many people at the moment so really no
excuses, but it's there.
So flying is what we love and we all know it can be dangerous but for me the rewards far out-way
the risks .
It is still worth looking at things we do that put us at risk and frustration is one.
With hindsight, for me the first indication that frustration was starting to over-rule good sense was a
really good forecast on Longridge. I was there for 8am, not wanting to miss anything. For people
that don't know it, Longridge is long, over 3k. Take off faces north but the main face at the east end
faces NNE. The topography also seems to allow the main face to work better, quicker, especially in
lighter conditions.
The wind was a bit light and off to the east but I got ready and started ground handling. The first
stronger bit that came through was too tempting and I went for it, trying to get along to the main
face. More patience would have been sensible, I went down near the bottom of the main face! By
the time I packed up, struggled up the steep face through waist deep heather (I've got short legs),
got ready and launched, the first of the sensible people were just soaring round the corner onto the
main face.
Two really pleasant flights and over 3 hours in the air later I packed up just as conditions went
ballistic and a number of pilots were hoovered up to cloudbase, some soared up the side of the huge
convergence cloud that had formed. As I pulled into my driveway at home my wife was pointing up
at a green and black Artik 5 cruising over my house at cloudbase – how could you do that to me
5 days later, a reasonable forecast led me to book a day's holiday. The night before there was some
chat on Whats App and I did say “it might be a bit breezy”. Come the morning and I was up and at
the hill reasonably early. It felt breezy and after a false start with my big wing, I walked up with my
mini wing.
One of our most experienced pilots, Simon B was already on the top, harness and wing out but the
wing still in its bag. We had a chat about the conditions and Simon's comment was that with my
mini wing I probably had the correct wing for the conditions at that time.
Parlick east face has had a number of accidents over the years, some very serious. Where we launch
is a flat section next to the south face that has a sharp edge onto the main east face. To the left is a
shallower slope that runs all the way to Wolf Crags at the north end of the ridge. Out front is Saddle
Fell which is ideally placed to generate wave type effects on Parlick. All of these have the potential
to create unpredictable winds, especially around the launch area.
I wasn't sure about the conditions but I didn't want to walk back down and miss another chance to
fly so decided to ground handle on the top to 'check' the conditions.
I set up about 20 metres back from the edge, pulled up with no problem and it didn't feel too bad,
then it went a bit squirrelly so I collapsed it. I was pulled back as I dropped the wing so was now
about 40 metres back from the edge. I said to Simon I didn't think it was going to be flyable as it
was too strong and gusty but that I would have another go to check.
I pulled up easily, turned to face forward and was immediately snatched up and off to the side by a
huge gust. In a split second I was 15-20 feet up and being pushed back and out over the south face. I
managed to turn into wind, hands up to maximise air speed. I was then slammed down, still going
backwards. I thought 'this is going to hurt', got my legs ready for the impact and prepared to kill the
wing as soon as I hit. It did hurt and I was dragged back a short distance before the wing settled.
Lying there on my side in the quiet my first thought was 'I'm alive that's good, but what damage
have I done?' Simon arrived and made the wing safe, I checked myself over and luckily the only
significant damage was a badly sprained ankle. With Simons help I was able to get me and my gear
off the hill and back home.

OK, so this is the important bit, lessons learned:

  • Beware frustration and the 'need' to fly.
  • Hindsight is 20/20.
  • Know the site and act on the knowledge.
  • Remember that the stronger the wind, the worse the turbulence - this is especially important
    if you are on a mini wing.
  • Being back from the edge of the hill doesn't mean you are out of danger, rotor effects can
    extend a long way back.
  • A PLF can save major damage.
  • If there is doubt in your mind, wait and monitor the conditions.
  • Listen to the voice in your head, if it feels wrong it probably is.

As a footnote, it was flyable a couple of hours later that day and a couple of weeks after my
accident, another of our pilots was airlifted off the hill from a similar incident in almost the same
place. So, please be careful, especially on Parlick east in strong or gusty conditions and if you are
feeling frustrated and desperate to fly.

Also, a big thanks to Simon for the calm and caring help he gave me, it made a big difference.