Avoid flying low over the spine back on Rushup - first posted on social media telegram group
Chief Coach reply -
Low over a spin back in a stiff wind. One of the most dangerous things you can attempt, zero to hospital very quickly. You got away with it today because of the wing not your skill!
Do not so that again, land in Edale. If you don’t want to walk, stay above the spin back.
Had you been in the club frequency you would have heard the warnings
Chief coach response on pilot video - Yep utterly crazy thing to do. You moved over to the lowest part of the spine back, behind the trees to clear the top. 5m lower and that would have been a crash into man Nic.
Rotor of the spine, as you get lower trying to combat the head wind, you get drilled into the rotor. Pilot was lucky the west component was having less impact on the trees too
Hitting rotor from a spine back will collapse your wing very quickly. You need to be high to stay above the demarcation line in clean air. If in doubt head down wind and land safely
Comment from experienced HG pilot -
Anyone else looking at that video and wondering why it's dangerous? The crest of the ridge is sharp, it's very steep on the back side all along but near vertical just there.
The paraglider is behind the ridge very close to not clearing the ridge as can be seen by the way he is falling as well as rising Vs the top of the hill.
Getting into that situation is not worth it. You must be clearing the ridge easily, or you should turn back and run away to the other side of the valley much earlier.
Once you are too close and not making it there is no bail out anymore, turning back you will fall into the rotor. Carry on and you will fall into the rotor. The risk trying to just squeak over the edge is just not worth it. This paraglider is so close to the point of zero survivability it is very very scary.
When you fly you really must consider that certain places are 'certain death' and you absolutely must avoid flying into them. These places are easy enough to identify. If you don't treat them like that it is like walking across a motorway with your eyes closed. You might get away with it, but you are going to be completely out of control and it would be just a matter of chance. No wing would be controllable in the lee of that ridge. Hang gliders have broken in the lee there before they even hit the ground.
Further Chief Coach comment - see attached diagram.
I have added the demarcation line. If you fall behind it at any point you MUST run away early. The stronger the wind the stepper the black line.
Sometimes close base (if low) is not enough.
The stepper the ridge on either side the worse the rotor is on the back side.
Further comment from experienced HG pilot -
The decision about if a thermal climb is strong enough to go over the back of a spine back ridge is a difficult one.
The diagram above has the line drawn very steep. I'm not sure the rotor turbulence will extend that much above the ridge top.. but the sink just behind the ridge definitely does and that sink will send you down into the rotor.
In some cases you must try to gain height in front before committing to follow a thermal over the back. The stronger the wind the more important that is.
If the thermal is too weak then it won't survive the sink in the lee and will fall apart. So that is an influence too.
But generally the sort of thermal you might take over the back when there hill is a nicer shape is good enough to take over the back of a spine, it's just that the option to give up and glide back is not there, and there is an increased risk that the thermal might not gold together or you might fall out of the bottom due to the descending air behind the hill.
The stronger the wind the more careful you must be.
The sort of wind where you are committed to xc after only a few turns is going to be quite risky to to go over the back in as you will be gambling that your thermal is going to keep going with not much guarantee...
There is also something else going on when the wind is south which is the downwind side of the hill is the cold north side. When you go over the back of this ridge from the north side the lee as well as being shallower is also the warm south face and thermals get a feed from the warm lee face and get stronger as you go over the back, and just seem to keep going better.
Going over the back in a south above the cold north lee side the thermal breaks away from the ground with no extra feed so it is more likely you can fall out of the bottom of the thermal rather suddenly. In fact that might have been what happened to Josh who was gliding back into wind in the clip.
So gliding back into wind from behind Rushup with the steep cold north face below you probably need to allow some extra altitude because there will probably be an especially wide and strong area of sink in the lee, while if you were gliding back north trying to get back over onto lords seat things probably wouldn't be so bad.
Just to emphasise the risks of trying to get back over a spine, just as I started flying we lost one of the top half a dozen pilots in the club flying the NW side of Mam Tor when the gaggle all glided back and the lowest didnt make it and turned back too late. He died attempting to land while struggling for control somewhere near the top end of Winnets pass.
I have just done a refresher club coaching course with the BHPA. It was amazing, and I would encourage all pilots including low air time, sub ten, pilots to do this course. the BHPA does an amazing job for us and we should so take up what they offer. We were taught on the BHPA course that its counter productive to issue instructions , especially negative unhelpful instructions suggesting the pilot is flying is in anyway deserving of bad outcomes and should have known better. Paragliding is an autonomous process, just issuing orders for behaviours is so not conducive to developing a skill which is for the most part individual and autonomous, and we all celebrate it as such, is not a good teaching model. According to the BHPA it is better to adopt a Socratic teaching mode and encourage the pilot who had a bad day, or who could have had a very bad day, to talk through their experiences, in a non judgmental kind supportive environment. The whole process should be one of mutual learning, where the coach comes to a greater appreciation of other pilot's experiences, and a greater understanding of why another pilot might find themselves in that situation, and how better to help others. A two way communication process. The pilot in the potential bad zone gets to figure out for themselves in their own time and effectively, how to stay in a safe place, which will equip them better for the future. For that to happen, really effective coaching has to happen in a safe place. If a pilot has had a terrifying experience, even if it all ended well, processing the experience of an event which may not have ended well, or you looked at your own potential possible death, can take some time. The BHPA official line is that we should, as coaches, get the pilot's perspective and only then consider how we respond. And all true knowledge and learning comes from within. We can ask the BHPA of course, but my take on the coaching course was that it is not BHPA policy for teaching or coaching to make any pilot who has a bad day, or a near miss, to diss them and say anything which will make them feel bad. We have all been there. None of us have wanted to be there. We all have near misses, me more than most probably, and if we do not make it a kind space to discuss these things, how are we going to learn from each other? As a recently re-qualified club coach, full of recent BHPA up to date knowledge, I would like to know how this pilot experienced his day, his week before, in private, and it's an over time thing. Human brains process scary information over a long time. That pilot, and all pilots need support after all and any incidents over time. This is all in the BHPA coaching manual. It's all about support and helping pilots become the best they can be through positive interactions.
And I want my own name on this post.
Dear Head Club Coach,
So what exactly is a "stepper" ridge? I have flown in other countries and coming in to land in stepped rice paddies was really challenging, so I can so see why you would be concerned, but I have not seen any rice paddies in Derbyshire. Where are the stepped ridges you cite as a particular flying challenge? And how would you propose and explain the challenges of landing in a stepped ridge challenge? And could you issue a rational approach plan for landing in stepped fields. It would be so helpful for all of us.