I had my verbal exam pending from my last course and I thought this is the best time to wrap it up, so studying weather, wind, airflow, air topography etc were on my mind right from the time we woke up to aroma of Maharashtriansambhar!
Post a real quick breakfast we had the debrief of previous day’s flying, a couple of questions answered, some doubts cleared, some standards being set for the day’s flying.
Moved to the verbal exam with Ankush sir, and with him it is always a guessing game unless you are sure of your answer, harrowing 20 minutes later I came out of the exam a little more aware of wind and glider movement!
Had a kickass biryani in lunch prepared by our 3 star Michelin chef kaka!
A quick nap post that heavy biryani, it was FLY time.
Typical to Pawna conditions, strong winds from the West were hitting us with full intensity, with dark patches being formed over the lake indicating gust movement.
I was the lightest on the glider among all the pilots today, I was asked to wait up before the wind conditions get better and they did get better, or at least we thought so.
All decked up to fly, almost on the verge of taking off and a big mad gust comes and takes us all down, I scrape my knee a bit and we settle down for the wind to get stabilised
10 min later, conditions look favourable and I limp my way to the take-off zone, within minutes of flight clearance check, I fly.
A good 35 min of RIDGE(hill) SOARING and I am already extending my right ridge limitation by 400mt. Enjoying the view from 1000+ft up and above, it’s mesmerising.
The adventure camera is going on and of as I am struggling to get a good capture, though I am hoping it is ON and capturing all the beauty this flying spot can offer.
In between, Radio conks off mid way and surprisingly I don’t panic, I coolly switch it off and press squelch instead of switching on!
Squelch basically sends out a loud distress signal and it is painful especially if it is placed right next to your ears! I act quickly and set it right!
WOW, that took some time and patience!
Finally, as expected Ganpat sir asks me to leave the ridge and head into the wind, this is an indication to go out and land.
I leave the ridge but not the height(avoid long figure of 8 turns) and magically Ganpat sir knew what I want, he radioes Avi sir “Doesn’t look like Ashish wants to land, please make him do some 360’s and take his test”
And there it was,
I took position flying over the lake, cold breeze hitting me all over and then It begins.
Test: 360degrees in 16 sec.
Attempt 1: Everything goes wrong in this one!
I go right a bit late, the push from weight shift is not enough and in AVI sir’s words, “you took forever” and yes indeed I took 33 seconds! #disgrace
Attempt 2: Got more control, determination and grit in place.
Took a sharp right, threw my weight a bit more than the previous one and took 24 sec to complete the turn. Seeing some potential for completing the task, AVI sir checks with me and asks me to be ready for one last attempt at it!
Attempt 3: Deep breath, tighter grip, locking the visual of the mountain top on the right of the lake, feeling the adrenaline rush and the right amount of nervousness.
And on command of Avi, I hit left and I go crazy doing the 360’s, facing a surge of G-force and before I realise I hit the starting point from my right and hear the magical words from Avi sir on radio, “well-done-mate-well done, you took 16 sec which is exactly what we wanted, very well done”
Swear to god, I had goosebumps high up in the air and a thrill of finishing a task which takes lot of effort and guts.
Independent landing approach played my 8’s really long to be in the line of the “Spot” and landing right in front of it but not on it, a miss I hate.
Fortunately, the adv-cam was able to capture the entire flight-360 and the radio conversation. chechk it out below.
Quick packing of the glider on the ground and the most delicious Poha chai to sun setting view.
We are what we experience. Peace out.