I was feeling a bit nervous about the task, mainly because I knew it might be hard to get up at the hill, and I didn’t want to end up in the bomb-out LZ. I’ve had a run of poor landings lately, and the bomb-out is tough at the best of times. I tried to remind myself that I have had good luck climbing out if it was at all soarable, and a nice line of clouds was starting to form out in front of launch, indicating good lift. As I got ready to go, pilots started to line up. I was a few places back in line, but everyone wanted to get off soon. There was a long delay while we waited for launchable conditions – it had been blowing almost due north most of the morning. Finally a nice cycle started and pilots started piling off. By the time it was my turn a few were climbing above the north spine and there were a line of gliders headed that way. I launched, turned right and followed them. As luck would have it I didn’t hook the climb, but watched the other pilots climb out above me. I moved further out front to try and find something, but to no avail. Now I was north of the official bomb-out, and low. Several paraglider pilots had landed in a paddock just out front, and rather than working my way back to the bomb-out I flew out over the paddock to see if anything was triggering off there. I didn’t find anything, and since there was no windsock in this field I yelled down to the pilots on the ground to give me the wind direction. I didn’t get any signal from them, so I assumed that it was still north and set up my approach that way. Later I learned that the pilots had yelled the wind direction back to me, not realizing that due to the wind noise you can’t hear voices from the ground in a hang glider. Too late I discovered I was downwind. I was headed straight for a large pile of rocks at the end of the field. I tried to avoid the rocks and I tried to flare, but everything was happening fast. I pounded in hard just in front of the rocks, banging my right knee hard on a rock that had escaped from the pile. Amazingly both I and my glider escaped relatively unscathed. I ended up with a large hematoma on my knee and the glider got a small ding on the leading edge near the nose plate. I was feeling very lucky, but also very frustrated for getting myself in that position.
I find that landings seem to run in cycles for me. If I am landing well, I seem to have good landings no matter how challenging the conditions, but when I am landing poorly it is devilishly hard to break the cycle. It is surely a psychological phenomenon, but of course the psychological challenges of flying are the ones I am struggling with right now. In any case I will have a few days to relax and think about it while I give my knee a rest.