In a gauze bush with sirens below! 19APR22

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Ben Johnson

Apr 20, 2022, 11:47:14 AM4/20/22
Well yesterday was different. Not in the flying I did but everything else that happened. Some lessons to be learned here.

I was housebound yesterday watching the sky all day from the garden thinking I wish I could get out flying. Around 3pm my commitments ended and the possibility of a flight was real.

Walking up Myreton (Ochils) the sky had long cloud streets and established cumulus to be had with light thermal cycles still coming up the hill. I was keen to get into the air so not sure I made it to the summit but instead set up on one of the plateaus. Launching in search of a climb, it was very light, only zeros and half up was on offer. I assessed my top landing options thinking I could have launched out of a cycle and thought I had enough to head back west in search of something better over the gravel path. I did find buoyant areas but nothing to climb in only to maintain so I headed back to top land on a lower level than I launched hoping to wait for a better time to be in the air.

As I approached the hill I noticed I was now sinking faster and was likely to undershoot into an area of gauze on the edge of the hill. I committed to the top landing keen to stay high with the hope to fly again. I continued to lose height landing firmly but nothing abnormal on a grass patch adjacent to gauze! The glider overshot me landing with every line now in contact with quite possibly the most snag prone area of vegetation on earth! I made a start at undoing the mess I found myself in, little by little getting the glider free of every needle which held my bright new wing above me. I heard some sirens in the village below me (Menstrie) but didn't think too much of it, preoccupied with the task in hand. Finally, the wing was free, I could now start doing line checks and clearing any remaining debris off my lines and glider. 

I noticed a young lad on the phone approaching me saying "I've just arrived at the guy with the paraglider, would you like to speak to him?" He informed me that he was on the phone to the Ambulance, with the police heading up the hill and medevac on standby!!! The gravity of the situation dawned on me. A bright glider has just appeared to crash and has not moved (if only they had known!!!!) with the possibility of me being a casualty. I repeatedly apologise to the emergency services asking them to go back to their duties as I was absolutely fine explaining my landing was not hard or any injuries sustained. However they insisted on seeing me for a check to ensure no serious injuries had been masked by shock. I agreed to walk down and see them at their request and further apologised for their time taken on my behalf. As I handed the phone back to the good samaritan, 2 policemen arrived.... Goodness how can a five minute flight create such disturbance. The police repeated the desire for checks to be done and I offered to fly down to speed things up to which the policeman said "I don't think that's a good idea". So with my tail firmly between my legs I walked down chatting all the way. I felt better when they said I got them some exercise for the day.

One question I did ask which is perhaps a thought for the future is, should I have phoned when I heard the sirens? That way, I could have identified my status and removed the requirement for them to climb the hill and alert the other services. As soon as I spoke to them on the phone and confirmed I was ok, the situation was de-escalated. By the time we were down off the hill the ambulance had gone, I'm assuming they accepted my repeated stance on full health.

The call was put out by folk in the playing field who Im told were concerned for me. Very nice to know we are being watch by the public in this way. Had circumstances been different, this would have been a swift rescue.

Hope next time is without an event.



Gordon Smyth

Apr 20, 2022, 12:01:24 PM4/20/22

Hi Ben

Interesting reading and as a local pilot here on the Ochils some thoughts and comments on your experience:

  1. The local are used to us landing in the playing fields so when you did something different there concern was perhaps raised.
  2. The don’t understand what we do!
  3. I would suggest don’t phone when you hear an ambulance as they are frequently along the hillfoots road.
  4. The police do get twitchy for some reason about paragliders as over the last 15 plus years there has been occasions that police, mountain rescue and the helicopter have been involved.
  5. I am surprised no mention is made of the Ochils Mountain Rescue Group as this would be a task for them?

Anyway glad to hear that all is well.



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Bill Borland

Apr 20, 2022, 2:34:33 PM4/20/22
Ha! This reminds me of a time, back in 1976/77, flying the main face of the Campsies, above Lennoxtown. 
Myself and Robin Craig had gone for a flight one fine evening, both Hang Gliders, of course - no floppies around then! I worked at Scot-Kites, teaching and test-flying/tuning new wings, and Robin was a customer of ours, flying his new Electra Flyer Cirrus III. I had a Scot-Kites Firefly, hand-painted like a butterfly. Robin was first to take off, into the very light, almost non-existent breeze. He had flown the Cirrus only a handful of times, at this point, and made something of a mess of the takeoff, ending up trying to become airborne with insufficient speed, and literally 'falling off the cliff ', to dump himself unceremoniously on the scree-covered, rather steep slope just below the takeoff point.
Both glider and pilot were unhurt, altho the latter was definitely somewhat shaken...I began to help Robin bring the glider, still fully assembled, back up the slope. It was while we were engaged in this that we noticed an ambulance arrive at the bottom of the 600 foot or so hill, on the Crow Rd below us. 
It was clearly the ambulance personnel's intention to climb straight up the very difficult to climb hill to 'rescue' the pilot, rather than driving up to the car park, and walking the much gentler slope from there,  as we had. So I left Robin to disassemble his kite, and  got into my Firefly, and took off. I flew down quite fast, performing some 'S' turns to lose height, and I flew over the ambulance some 200 ft above it, shouting out 'He's alright, no problem!', etc...! 
I also then landed in the field just behind them,  and managed to convince them that there was no need for their services, and thanked them for attending so quickly!

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