Winter Coaching and Flying
Coaching days will start to happen all year round. This will give us more opportunities over the year. It will also allow us to separate coaching days from XC days. A lot of our coaches are XC pilots too and good XC days are few and far between. So if a day looks glorious and no coaching is called, this is why.
Winter coaching days give us more days to go at and generally smooth laminar conditions and less variation in wind speed. Flying in winter keeps you more current for when the spring thermals arrive.
It creates some challenges too: shorter days, more difficult access to sites, lower cloudbase etc. The colder winter air can also be more dense, so while your windmeter will read an acceptable speed, it could actually feel stronger once you take off. Another danger is windsheer, where cold air sits in the valleys, slow or stationary while faster moving air rips over the tops of the hills. It is usually a good idea to walk down the hill a bit to see if the wind drops off significantly. Checking this and choosing not to fly might help prevent a low level collapse.
Needless to say, clothing is important. For those of you in your first winter flying season, the following is recommended to avoid curtailing your flying. (My experience is that people usually underestimate what is required):
- A pair of really warm gloves, not mittens (e.g. ski gloves)
- Sturdy water resistant boots, thick socks
- Thermal underwear
- Several layers of clothing (maybe check your all up weight with it all on and maybe adjust your harness shoulder straps before takeoff)
- A balaclava under your helmet (if it fits)
- Hand warmers
A warm flask of tea always helps, but that can stay on the hill or in the car as hard items in your harness do not make good back protection.
The advice to fly only with others holds even truer for winter days where time would be even more critical in the event of an accident.
And maybe think about the road conditions before you set off. More potential for ice and snow. Some roads (back of Wether Fell) might be closed.