THIN AIR  – HIGH SPEED

Launching a wing on the top of any mountain can be pretty hairy – the wind can be wrong or changing – there may not be enough wind or it could be coming from the wrong direction.  Add to this the fact that we will be operating above 5000m in reduced air pressure and you've got a pretty big challenge.  

Having arrived at our launch site above 8000meters the team will have finally reached the beginning of the true challenge – to speedfly from 8000m.  The preparation and training will have been successful and Mal and Dugald will be ready to race down the face of an incredible mountain!

 

 The flying aspect of the challenge is exactly that – a challenge.  The air at 8000m is a lot thinner and therefore wings of any sort do not perform as well, this however will enhance the speeds at which the team will be flying at – expected to be around 140kph.  As such the team is looking at using special lightweight 14m speed wings, a mid range size that will become very fast at the flight altitude.  The launch will need to be fast to produce enough energy to fill the cells in the wings and this should be made more easy by the use of skis.  We also need to find a suitable launch site …..  Basically what happens is this;

  • Glide ratio stays the same (distance the wing travels forward for every meter it goes down)
  • Sink rate increases (how fast in meters / second the wing goes down vertically)
  • Ground Speed increases ….. ALOT
    • SO what this means all up is that we will have increased
      • launch speeds
      • ground speeds
      • Landing speeds

 

 The flight path itself will allow for about 2500 meters / 7500 feet of vertical decent to be made in a matter of minutes.  The custom made wings will carry the team over untouched ground allowing them to touch down/ski and fly a one off path from the summit of one of the highest mountains in the world.  The landing ideally will be a large flat snow covered area, allowing for a runway style landing at speed.

 The normal level of concentration and quick reactions required to fly speed wings well will be even more important at 8000 meters as the team will have the additional factor of setting up, launching, flying and landing in an oxygen depreciated environment.  The effects of which are endless and can make the simplest task seem incredibly difficult and slow!

 


One Response to “The Flying Challenge”

  1. Chris says:

    Hey I saw this link on the paragliding forum. I would be very interested in doing some speedflying over there. A couple of years ago I paraglided from Lobuche and Island Peaks. The video is here: http://vimeo.com/10121651

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