Friday, 8 May 2009

Sabres, Vampires and Meteors...but best of all, hang-gliders

I have just got off the phone with Vince Hallam, who I contacted through the BMAA forum, where I had enquired about using hand-held anemometers as cheap airspeed indicators. He very kindly rang me back and we talked for quite some while (about SSDRs, his Escapade Kid, etc) before he casually told me he had flown de Havilland Rapides! That naturally led into talking about the hundred plus types he flew when he was in the RAF, including Meteors, Vampires, Sabres and, after the RAF, Bristol Britannias, when he worked at BAC (Filton) and later with BOAC.

I asked which out of all his aeroplanes had given him the best experiences and he said his 15 years as a hang-gliding instructor. He did say that he'd liked Meteors and that turning the engines off in a Vulcan at 60,000' had been an exhilerating experience, but still we came back to the thrills of maybe Neill is right, maybe I do have to try that.

Neill says that when he first flew my Dragonfly (which after all is a powered hang-glider wing in the true sense) he felt, "THIS is what it was always supposed to be like" when he had first set out to learn to fly microlights....but listening to him raving about flying tandem hang-glider with Stewart, I get the impression that pure hang-gliding comes pretty damn close.

I told Vince how hard it is to dump height in a Dragonfly. I said that I roll the wings from side to side, doing an s-shaped approach and he said that I could also try breaking the airflow by rapidly pitching the wing up and down, which I will experiment with.

I hope to stay in touch with Vince. He is a fascinating chap.

No comments: