Pilot Articles - Foot or Flybubble 2013

Pilot articles from the Foot or Flybubble 2013 event. A selection of write-ups by pilots who took part in FoF 2013. For your enjoyment, learning and inspiration.

Bo Peep - Firle - not quite Caburn (30 April 2013) by Ed Bewley

A fairly breezy day at Bo Peep produced some good ridge lift with occasional moderate thermals. After a lot of perseverance, I made 2500 feet, bagged the Firle turnpoint and set off towards Caburn, trying to pick up some lift over the flatlands.

I took too little account of the easterly component in the wind, and despite getting a couple of slight climbs, ended up drifting too far west to make the east flank of Caburn, and landed in the normal Caburn landing field. A brisk walk to the A27 resulted in a lift from Swannie who happened to be passing by, and kindly delivered me to my car at Bo Peep.

Sadly, all this effort gained no FoF points, because it was the day before the start gate opened. But a good warm up to get into the spirit of the challenge.

Firle - Bo Peep (25 May 2013) by Ed Bewley

Spent ages trying to push out and get enough height to dash back through the Firle cylinder and continue the glide to Bo Peep with a good tailwind. Eventually frustration won and I left the cylinder heading north-north-west, got as much height as possible in the couple of minutes I allowed myself, then turned and ran along towards the beacon and used what ridge lift there was to scrape onto Bo Peep just within the cylinder there. A bit of a gamble that paid off .

Truleigh - Devils Dyke (26 May 2013) by Ed Bewley

The plan was to take advantage of an "epic" forecast, take off from the Dyke early, knock off Truleigh to the Dyke (ideally at great altitude) and carry on round the course as far as possible. The first bit was eventually achieved, but not at great altitude, though a reasonable westerly component in the wind made for a good 6 minute time back to the Dyke.

Landed to work out what to do next, and then spent some time trying to climb out after a few early birds disappeared to cloudbase. Eventually got away with Franco, Mark Rubinstein, Shaun Bolton and others, soon gave up on the idea of trying to make Ditchling and headed east just below airspace. I lost contact with Franco after Ringmer and carried on alone to land at Bodle Street Green, north of Herstmonceux for a 39 km flight. Not a bad day all round.

Bo Beep to Caburn 7th July by John Turczak

I was reasonably determined on the 2013 FoF to do as little walking as possible. For me the challenge was how to link the sites by flying between them. To this end I spent quite a few evenings looking at the next day's weather and trying to work out where best to fly.

Many plans were made and this was one of them.

The great RASP was forecasting a NE day with winds around 20Kph and with it possibly getting blown out in the afternoon. It was also looking like thermals up to around 2500 to 3000 ASL.

So the plan was to get up in the morning go to BO Peep, get enough height to make it to Firle and then cross to Caburn and push for Ditchling and the Dyke in the NE winds. I have never made the cross from Firle to Caburn in either direction so this was going to be a first.

Bo-Peep turned out to be a bit of a manic day with a lot of pilots trying to squeeze in a flight. So the incentive to get away from the hill was high. The thermals had been a bit sparse and so the air around the take-off and surrounding area was busy.

My inexperience in judging the 'right' moment to take off usually means I will just launch when possible (within reason) and try to work whatever weak bits of lift are there and stay in the air until a better thermal comes through.

That way I am in the air and ready for it and not part of the mad tangle of pilots who see someone going up in a thermal and then all try to launch to get into it. I am also prepared to go off scouting for a thermal and not rely on someone else finding one for me.

This tactic eventually paid off and I finally got in a thermal and a climb up to around 2500 ASL. This had drifted me back behind Bo Peep. I decided to start my push to Firle. I had a look around to see if anyone else was looking like they were going to do the same thing. I didn't see any one else so decided to push out anyway ( I should have looked a bit harder at this point as Greg and Nancy were both up there as well with a similar plan)

I got to the Trig point and had lost about half my height getting there. So decided to push on to Firle to make the turn point (Note: it would have been better to sue the Trig point to top up before going on as it is a known trigger point)

Arrived at the File turnpoint with little extra height loss but I felt I was too low to get across to Caburn (about 1200 ASL). I went hunting for a thermal and managed to get one and top up to 1900ft ASL. I thought this was enough to go for it. As the wind was NE I decided to push for the East side of Caburn so as not to arrive in the lee of it. I was also hoping to find a bit of lift on the side.

I didn't manage to find any more thermals on the way over but with the use of my speed bar managed to cross the gap and land on the East slope of Caburn and was left with a 5 to 10 minutes a walk to the top to get the turn point on top. It was there that I looked up to Greg thermalling out to the East of Caburn and then make his way over to Caburn and then to Lewes and beyond. (As it turned out he made it all the way to Truleigh and then back as far as Ditchling.)

So a nice little XC, three turnpoints taken and the gap crossed from Firle to Caburn.

See John's tracklog 3D-animated in doarama:


Pointers for other pilots and things I would change for next time:

a)      Carry a radio to be in touch with other pilots flying to find out what they were planning.
b)      Don't be in quite such a rush to get to the turnpoint and look for more lift and use it on the way.
c)       Hook up with other pilots before flying to find someone else that wants to have a go

Things I would do again:

a)      Study the weather and RASP the night before and make my plans
b)      Go thermal scouting and be prepared to be the first to find one and not wait for someone else to do the work for m e
c)       Push for the XC even if not totally sure it's on.

Hope this helps someone.

John Turczak


Walking Wednesday (17th July 2013) by Ed Bewley

Having completed just 3 legs in the past two months, and with a work trip to darkest Tajikistan looming on the 20th July, Wednesday looked like the last chance to get the course (almost) completed.

The plan was to set off from the Dyke at dawn, pass Ditchling, Caburn and Firle on foot (Greg will appreciate the cunning use of alliteration here), then fly from Bo Peep to High & Over, catch the convergence, cruise to Newhaven, and keep going as far as possible in the Truleigh direction, finishing with a moderate amble to close the course. Unsurprisingly, it did not quite work like that.

I parked up at the Dyke just before sunrise (0506), and set off towards Ditchling in the relatively cool morning, with the sun shaded by a cirrus layer to the east. My knee specialist had given me permission to abuse my right knee a bit, but I still felt a bit nervous about how it would hold up, and I did not get into my stride until I was coming down towards the A23 at Pyecombe.

On the chalk track I saw a line of ants busy on mysterious errands, and noticed that they were absolutely parallel to the main road, also full of vehicles on equally mysterious journeys.
The next section to Ditchling was enjoyable, and I encountered a countryman there who told me that there was a pregnant roe deer near the site which was just about to produce offspring. I looked where he had indicated, but failed to find the deer.

Lewes soon appeared on the horizon and I met a couple of runners trotting up towards Mount Harry. I felt a bit self-conscious using my lightweight walking poles in Lewes town, so tucked them under my arm and tried to look as normal as one can in shorts and cross-trainers carrying a large bag on one’s back.

Resisting the lure of the coffee shops, I headed up towards the golf course, and took the long curving route up to Caburn, where the wind was easterly. There was no sign of any birds, but a fly down was very tempting. I decided not to fly, as I still thought I could complete the course on foot and packing up takes me forever.

I took the footpath to Glynde village, and dropped in at Sussex paragliding to fill up the water bottle, as it was getting warm, and I was about to enter the desert of the Downs. As I turned onto the Firle road, Terry Clarke (aka Captain Karabiner) stopped to see if I wanted a lift, but I needed to improve my time on this leg, last done when the Channel Islanders were here.

I made good speed through Firle to Bo Peep, and found the wind only slightly off, so got the wing out and tested the conditions. There was lift, but quite nasty and disorganised, and after a few beats I got tired of inhaling grass seeds as I slid down the slope in sink to find a bit of saving lift at the east end of the slope. Terry turned up and decided to fly, but I packed up, apologising to my glider for the quick and dirty treatment.

I set off down the Green Way towards High & Over with the temperature rising and my water supplies dwindling, but making reasonable speed. I saw a couple of gliders soaring nicely at High and Over, but then they were gone, and I wondered why, as nothing seemed to have changed weatherwise.

As I approached the back of the car park, the reason for the lack of aviation became apparent, as a rescue helicopter was parked in the field to the north of the car park. Carlo, Dean, Phil and a couple of other pilots were there helping the police and ambulance crew, who were tending Ian Daniels. He had been rotored when trying to land behind the car park, had a big collapse and hit the ground hard. Probably broken ribs and shoulder, but a full recovery seemed to be the most likely outcome.

After a while the chopper left to deliver Ian to Brighton, and flying resumed. Greg had his camera out to record the incredible tangle of lines resulting from my quick repack. He has the knack of making you feel good. On the positive side, Tracy and Paige were there, and Greg was on child-minding duties while Tracy had a flight. Paige is soon going to be taller than her dad, and may even be able to keep him in order - but I doubt it.

The bowl was soon full of gliders, and while there were thermals to be found, none turned out to have Newhaven written on them. Even the two Icepeaks (once Tracy returned to earth) could not reach the stratosphere, so eventually I gave up and decided to finish the day with a walk to Newhaven. This turned out to be more demanding than I had anticipated.

The first bit was not too bad, as I was retracing my steps towards Bishopstone, but despite close consultation of the OS map, I managed to end up in East Blatchington instead of the track to Bishopstone. I eventually found another path to Bishopstone, where I ran out of water again, and rang the bell (a real ship’s bell, not an electronic ding-dong) of a cottage to beg for a refill, which was duly supplied by the slightly puzzled lady inhabitant.

Then up the hill through the woods and on to a stud farm, where a young lad was sitting with earplugs in, playing air guitar and mouthing unknown lyrics with energy, unaware of my approach. When he noticed me, he came out of rock musician mode and smiled sheepishly.

From there the track led down towards the A259, through crops which concealed ankle-breaking ruts, so I was highly relieved to reach the road, and cross to the more modern footpath into Newhaven. The coastguard tower looked temptingly close, but the river had to be crossed, and my feet were losing interest by the time I stomped up past the Fort car park just under 14 hours after setting off.

I had thought that there might be enough wind to fly to Brighton, but the flag lied, and I would probably have been too tired in any case to do it safely, so I walked back into Newhaven and picked up a timely bus to Brighton. I checked the bus timetables on my iPhone, which convinced me that the No 77 to the Dyke only ran at weekends, so I got a taxi to the Dyke, only to end up behind a 77 bus which was kicking up clouds of dust all the way to the Dyke.

The sun was setting behind some cumulus clouds and giving them a sharp outline of orange, so I got myself a welcome pint of Harvey’s and enjoyed the view. Not a bad day, with around 80km completed on foot, despite the master plan gang a wee bit agley.

Footsore Friday (19th July 2013) by Ed Bewley

Having seen Greg's impressive work on the results scoring table, I felt obliged to have a go at completing the course and getting ahead of the Channel Islanders. So much against my better judgement (a rarely used faculty, alas!) I convinced my wife that she wanted to rise at 0430 and drive me to Truleigh for the start of the last leg to Newhaven.

We chose an interesting route from Upper Beeding instead of the sensible one from Shoreham, and tested the new Ford Focus to the limit on a public bridleway; no unauthorised vehicles. Not an auspicious start!

We changed drivers and I somehow got it to the top, where I stopped just short of the Youth Hostel and began to regret my weight-saving decision to leave the wind-proof behind as it was going to be REALLY HOT.

Truleigh at dawn


Well, it wasn't really hot at 0530 in the keen easterly. However, once I got moving, it did not feel cold, and I enjoyed the nettle stings as I walked in shorts the difficult route to the turnpoint. Climbing over the stud farm gate would have been much less interesting. Then a steady stride towards the Dyke, with the power cables coming up gratifyingly soon.

Looking back to Truleigh from before the power line

At the Dyke, I was lured by the inviting bridleway sign that said "Brighton 6 miles", and modified my planned route via Dyke Road to follow Monarch's way, which looked straight, grassy and downhill. Unfortunately it also pointed more south than southeast, and added a few km to my route. But it was easy walking to the bridge over the A27, then a mystery ramble through housing estates until the wisdom of Google maps was enlisted to guide me to the Pier.

The inviting Monarch's Way track

Really quite boring urban walking until the bottom of Dyke Road, where an injection of caffeine at Cafe Nero in Churchill Square with a tasty panettone livened up the day and put new life into the legs.

Farewell to the marina

Past the Pier and steadily eastward, stopping by the Marina to change socks and adjust boots, have a banana and slap on some sunblock, then down into Rottingdean to drop by David Webb's house emporium for a short courtesy call.

Swimmers and dog

The km to go were now looking attractive and I could ignore the complaints from the lower extremities to keep up a good pace.

Sand sculptures

Carlo had arranged a post seeking a Samaritan to rescue me at Newhaven, and hero Vincent stepped into the breach. I called him with about 30 minutes to go, and arrived after about 5.5 hours on the trail.

Goal in sight!


Vincent and I managed to miss each other, but rendezvoused at the Hope pub for a well-earned pint of Harvey's (the Foot or Fly fuel of choice).

Vincent wanted a video of my arrival, so we tottered up to the top of the cliff (he carried my glider for me) and filmed me doing an action replay, which involved me adding a bottle of Leffe to the Harvey's. I could not deny him such a request, of course. Then he very kindly drove me home.

Not the most enjoyable leg of the course, but very varied, and definitely the last!

Edmund back home after a ride in the french shagmobile (Vincent Talleu)

Firle To Ditchling (20th July 2013) by Nick Jones

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Yesterday I decided to complete two legs of the Foot and fly competition on foot, Firle to Mount Caburn near Lewes then onto Ditchling Beacon.The morning started well with free baguettes from Vincent Talleu the French Baker who I ran into driving past the Bakery.He is A fine fellow and a credit to his fellow countrymen.

I arrived at Firle at around 10.30am not an early start I admit. I switched on XCSoar my GPS Paragliding App and then  set off. The first encounter was with a busty maiden collecting her post from her post-box at the bottom of Firle we exchanged pleasantries and I proceeded on my way past the food wagon ,then past Sussex Paragliding and onto Glynde. The Trevor Arms was still closed although not for too long I Suspect as I could see a barmaid straightening the curtains, but I could not hang around to sample the delights as today  I was on a mission. Crossing the river I greeted a Lady and Labrador, pressing past the Glynde social club and local gathering of morning gossipers I was now Heading towards Caburn greeting sweating cyclists with a knowing nod of mutual toil.Through the gate to start the accent of Caburn

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mentally noting that even if the wind was in the right direction to fly it was to strong anyway. Alone I pressed on up the arduous slope promising myself a good swig of water, a nibble on Vincent’s Baguette and a Roll up when I reached the Bench. Finally my first checkpoint was reached. I dropped down the leeside of the hill to get out of the wind and rewarded myself duly.

It was time to get the OS map out and work out the best route through the Golf course to Lewes. I dropped down the back of Caburn along the Southerham Valley where many Butterflies has hatched in particular there seemed to be many Marbled Whites.

Firle to Ditchlig 040

Past the Sheep and on up to The Golf Club, Greeting an elderly gentlemen who had just walked up the Steep slope from Lewes, I imagined how he may have lived in Lewes all his life and walked up that hill many times as a young boy and thinking how things have changed since that time.

As I descended I could see the Gentlemen of the Road festival and wondered how my daughter Lucy was enjoying Mumford and Sons. Down into Lewes were I could see copious amounts of takeaway food being consumed, past a street musician singing that old Neil Young favourite Heart of Gold, over the bridge pushing my way past the Market place up the Hill I decided it was time to stop for some refresment.I found a Pub in a side street The Green Man maybe I can’t remember, I found my way to the bar and after an age and was served with a long cool glass of Orange juice and Lemonade. I had considered Harvey’s but as my resolve was starting to falter I thought I would stick to the mild but refreshing beverage of choice.

Out to the garden for another Rolly ,then bashing everyone with my Mojo 3 Paraglider I set of towards Lewes Prison but had to stop as I past the greengrocer as I could not believe my eyes when I saw the Gigantic almost Apple sized Strawberries on sale at only £2.50 a punnet.

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These I quickly scoffed while checking my escape route from Lewes. Past the Prison I broke into open country. At one point just beyond the stables my path I coincided with a group of Chinese walkers and a party of elderly walkers,All meeting at the same point we squeezed past each other.Up to Harrys Hill but know Harry Hill,I thought I would go for a sock change as suggested by Ed Bewley in his inspiring previous write up.This proved to be a winning manoeuvre as my feet now felt suitably refreshed. A couple stopped to question me on the size of my rucksack and seemed very impressed by its weight.

Ok now for the last push along the ridge. I overtook the couple who I had just met only to be stopped by someone talking with crossed purposes about Paragliding and Hiking. He thought I was just a hiker with a large rucksack and I thought he was a fellow Paraglider. After we sorted that one out I finally could see Ditchling in view. I then realised I was probably going to have to add another Kilometre on by walking to the take-off field and back.So as to comply with the competition rules But thought I would furnish myself with an ice cream first. I started to queue behind the couple I has just met previously, when to the astonishment of the Boyfriend his partner offered to buy me an Ice cream, as I thought it would be rude not to accept it I duly accepted my reward of a Solero. Ok enough time wasting, off to the take-off field. Finally I collapsed with an aching back and feet at the launch site. Guzzled the rest of my water and started to consider how I was going to get back to Firle. On my arrival back at the Car Park my chariot was awaiting me in the form of a Brighton Bus.This I boarded and with help from the driver discovered I could get a no 28 Bus back to Ringmer where my dear old Mum gave me a lift back up to Firle.

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This morning I decided to download the IGC file from my phone to the Foot or Flybubble website only to discover that it wasn’t there! SOD IT!!!!

Oh well it was a pleasant walk anyway.

By Nick Jones