Lanarkshire and Lothian Soaring Club for paragliding and hangliding in southern Scotland
I really enjoyed my visit to a club night at Lanarkshire and Lothian Soaring Club where I received a warm welcome despite being a complete stranger with dubious motives.
I had been doing some research for this site when I came accross my "local" club on the web. I put local in inverted commas as it was still over an houyrs drive for me and the members come from far and wide down to Tinto Hill in Lanarkshire.
Sergey Kataev got back to me pretty quickly and was kind enough to share some of his experiences and thoughts to help with building the hangliding and paragliding pages.
Having built the foundations of the site the time came to add the crucial local content so I called Sergey up again and he kindly invited me along to their club night.
I was keen to find out more about hangliding and paragliding in Scotland from those who know most about it. I was not disappointed, that's for sure.
The first part of the night highlighted the benefits of club membership as it was all about helping and supporting fellow pilots, whether newly qualified or just new to the area.
LLSC is the largest (I'm told) of seven clubs in Scotland for paragliding and hangliding. As the club name suggests they cover a pretty wide area from the Lothian s accross to the west coast. There do not appear to be any territorial issues though as the members mix freely with other clubs and are happy to share or give a helping hand to fellow pilots.
All of the members were very friendly and ready with a quick word or answer to even the most basic questions from a complete outsider. This is of course exactly as a club should be but sadly not all are this way.
The second part of the evening was a fascinating talk about decision making on cross country soaring flights by Brendan Reid, the Scottish distance record holder no less.
More detail can be found on the Lanarkshire and Lothian Soaring Club's own website. www.llsclub.org.uk His thought processes were beautifully illustrated with stunning photographs taken during the flight and his GPS trace over a virtual 3D map. The trace was also in 3D showing in amazing detail how the glider flew up thermals and down accross the barren areas devoid of lift across 154km of Scotland.
The photographs in particular were extremely useful to other pilots who saw different possibilities. Brendan pointed out his reasons for making the decision he did with all of the information available to him at the time, except I suppose the feel of the wing through the harness. The detail of both the cloud and the terrain came under scrutiny and the alternative decisions discussed.
This may sound boring just reading it but when you are in a room full of pilots and they are discussing, learning and becoming more enthusiastic about their next flight it is anything but.
The level of detail and knowledge in the flow of air, weather and dynamics of various wing types in the room was amazing. Everyone was happy to share it too.
Spring in Scotland from a paraglider courtesy of Dave Thomson. Paragliding is one of the cheapest forms of flying there is with real scope to be as independent as you want to be. LLSC members show vividly that there is also a strong social scene and support network available pretty much wherever you go.
The fact that Brendan crossed the country and was able to get back to his car is testiment to that.. I think he must have had a few favours to call in that day.
This sport is a very accessible one provided you can get the right training. There are only two schools I know of in Scotland and it is just a shame thay they are not busier. The weather plays a huge part but if youngsters only knew what they could do for so little money then the playstaion would be given a rest.
Paragliding like everything else needs a flush of new support, hangliding even more so. The numbers are reasonably healthy but without new pilots coming along things can stagnate. If you can fly well here you will do very well almost anywhere else so where are all those future world champion pilots?
I for one will not hesitate to recomment the club to the older Air Cadets or any other cash strapped adventure seekers I meet.
Thanks to Sergey for the invitation and to Dave Thomson for the photographs and additional text in the paragliding page. Thanks also to all of the members for a warm welcome and a fascinating insight into your sport.
I look forward to seeing you all again soon. Happy landings.
If you have an interesting experience or trip why not share your story?
Pilots and enthusiasts like nothing better than a good yarn. Whether it is about a trip away from the local area, a near death experience or a funny comment over the radio. Let's hear your story and there will be a prize for the best one every month.