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Bruno Vassal is a slope-soaring expert. I reckon I can fly gliders sort of OK, but flights like this would leave me with needing a proctologist with a jack-hammer to unweld my sphincter. His judgement is impeccable - and he is no lunatic: in one of his videos, he states "I could probably get through there, but I have a wife and kids and I'm not taking chances."

 

No engine, just energy management and experienced judgement of likely wind. And probably, a familiarity with the local squirrels..

 

 

 

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My sister-in-law - in her mid 70's - returning to gliding after a long absence - took part in the Women in Gliding' week at Mt. Beauty late last year.

 

Flying in the front seat of a Ventus along the ridge where the walking track is from ( I think) Mt. Hotham?? and buzzing the bushwalkers at about 20 feet AGL... she said to the owner and Instructor for the flight: " Aren't we a bit close to the ground? - I can see the leaves on the trees'.

 

His response: 'Can you count the caterpillars on the leaves? When you can, we are too close'.

 

Sounds like bravado. But... they ran a 1K final glide along the ridge and lost 100 feet - when they weren't scratching for height. Not being a slope-soaring experienced person, I like about 5k feet AGL to become adventurous between likely thermals; I've clawed out from less than 800 feet turning onto base and hitting decent lift at Narromine, but in general, I regard 1k feet AGL as the 'put it down' marker. I know Ingo Renner has worked lift from 300 feet - but I am NOT Ingo, and I know it.

 

I guess the point is: guys like Bruno Vassal know the limits, and can exploit them. Most of us - especially me - just aren't that good. But it is inspiring to see what a man-machine interface used to its ultimate capacity, can do.

 

 

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