Near death by slope soaring... (Submitted by a slope enthusiast.)
A mate of mine, Rob, is one of the best model builders / fliers I have ever seen, having been a free flight builder and champion in the early 60's and he has won concourse and competition trophies for his scratch built RC thermal gliders in the 80's.  Needless to say anything he builds is a work of art.

Anyway, back in about 1988 another mate wanted Rob to build him a Southern Sailplanes T-Bird, because he knew it would be made perfectly. Well, it was eventually completed and Rob and I headed off to one of the slopes to have a bit of a fly.  Rob also took along Rogers now complete absolutely mint museum grade T-bird to test fly for Roger, who had paid Rob $600 to buy and build it.

So in the perfect conditions Rob launched the T-bird, and after testing it handed the TX to me and asked me to put it through its paces.   The conditions were great and Rob soon couldn't resist and launched his full house Ricochet and was gone in to the wild blue yonder.

As is typical of the fickle weather at certain times up here a cold front caught us both by surprise, and in less than a minute the wind picked up 80 kph, and the front also generated an insane amount of thermal lift in with the bargain.  You could have launched a brick off the slope!

Soon the T-bird was a dot despite my best efforts of trying to penetrate out front of the slope, out of the insane lift band.  No good folks, soon I was losing sight of it in the frontal cloud. There I was battling with someone else's brand new $600 dollar pro-built T-bird about to be cloud sucked to oblivion, or breaking up in mid air from me VNE ing it!  How could it get worse?  Plenty worse!

The wind on the slope was now a screaming force 10 gale, then the rain came, pelting painfully in to my face as I was looking almost straight up, and the T-bird, still flashing between the scudding frontal clouds. Then the pea sized hail began!

Next thing the wind rips my safety glasses off my face and carries them away. Great, here I am, looking in to the wind, getting rain and hail belting me in the eyes, while I try to save a great model that isn't mine. The pain in my eyes is now excruciating and I have to do something desperate. I can't endure it any more. So I bite the bullet and push the nose down almost to the vertical from many 000's of feet.

Down the T-bird comes, but due to the assault on my eyes my vision is crap, I can barely make anything out.  Finally I am aware the blurry dot is getting bigger, bigger, and bigger, closer and closer.  Next I can hear this whistle coming out of the skies, then my brain signals an alarm. In my last clear vision just after I blinked I had this perfect frontal view of a T-bird doing at least 200KMH about 5 feet from punching a hole in between my eyes!

Without any thought my legs buckle from under me while I utter a four letter word loud enough to be heard a mile away, and collapse on the ground, while hauling back on the stick at the same time so the model won't punch a hole in me, or spray itself over the slope I was standing on!

Finally I have the bird closer to the slope behind me and in a few seconds I have it down in the grass just behind the crown of the hill where the dead air is, and I can finally have my back to the wind and rain.  All this action took less than 3 minutes from beginning to end, but it is the closest I have ever came to getting killed while slope soaring.

There is also something to be said for the 1/2 inch alloy rod used as the wing joiner of a T-Bird!