A massive thank you to James Roy for organising the clubs repack day and to Bill Morris and his team for the excellent guidance. It is always nice to go into the spring thermal season knowing that your parachute will work if it is needed!
Round one of the BCC (British Clubs Challenge) at Nant y Moel on 20th April 2013. We were moved from Talybont due to stronger than forecast winds and arrived at Nant y Moel to find a great looking sky. It didn’t last too long and the clouds spread out covering much of the ground in shadow. Initially hard work to stay up and difficult to get to base, conditions picked up over the Brecon Beacons and I was at base and cruising. A mistake with my GPS (map was zoomed out!) meant I turned to avoid a danger zone way too early and flew into the leaside of Pen y Fan. The bad sink caused me to deck on the outskirts of Brecon just as a couple of pilots were climbing out over the town. One of them, Alistair Andrews went on to fly 130km!
Still, at 37.7km it is my best UK flight to date, and what amazing scenery to fly over!
Deciding to get the cobwebs out of the wing and spotting the sun being around for the week on a couple of days for a change, I just had to “work from home” on one day.
RASP was showing +325fpm for Monday with the night day temp difference showing 8 to 10 degrees so that was looking like the day. 10mph E, maybe going SE, so I decided to run along to Whitewool just in case.
After sorting out work so I wasn’t missed, I managed to set off about midday, getting to Whitewool about 12:40 or so. I met Russ who was very happy to see me so that we could both fly… good to have someone else about at the start f these spring days.
A fifteen minute assessment showed that the gusts weren’t that gusty, building up nicely and dropping off slowly, at no point too strong.
The wing was rolled out, checked and we took off pretty much together. The thermals were rolling up the hill nicely, it wasn’t long before I was +500ft. Russ was maintaining well, more out front it seemed. Every time I pushed forward to join him I was met with lift and well one has to tun in lift! Before I knew it, +900ft had been achieved and I was a bit behind the road at the back of take off. Decision made then, the next bubble took me with it.
The walkers on Old Winchester Hill were having a good stare, hopefully some new recruits there.
Before long the lift broke down and I was off. That was the last time the vario made a noise of any kind and alas, 3km later I’d landed. I think that#s the first time on an XC that my sink alarm hasn’t gone off!
About an hour later after a couple of calls, Russ showed what a gentleman he was and he saved me the last of what was starting to feel like a fairly long walk back!
The hill wasn’t blown out when we got back, however, the gusts were a bit stronger and much longer in duration. After deciding to pack up, everything dropped off almost to nothing so we set off and the beer will have been well earned tonight.
Well met Russ and what a welcome to 2013, let’s hope it’s a good one.
I arrived at Mercury at around 11am with the wind dead on the hill, probably at around 12kts. No one was around at this time, so played around a bit with some ground handling, then some short take off and landings, staying launch side of the fence as I hadn’t flown the site for about 2 years. Had a lovely time with some quick short beats and touch and go landings, even walking on top of the fence (wasn’t really planned, but it worked out alright).
After about an hour no one turned up so I decided to start launching. The wind was still on, maybe a tad to the north but stable. The air was a little buoyant, so managed to get above the hill and look towards Whitewool to see two PGs bobbing around. I was tempted to land and join them, but I was having too much fun, gaining height swooping the fence, touch and go landings and general good flying.
With 3 hours or so on my own, with just a few modellers to keep an eye on, Lawrence from TVHG turned up, just as I landed. The wind had dropped a little by then so was beginning to get scratchy. I had some close shaves with the fence, so I was about to go to join the Whitewool PGs.
I decided to stay with Lawrence and we spent another hour scratching around, two Gliders in the air at the same time was a bit tight.
The sun was getting low now, with it behind the landing area, which made it a bit tricky to see the hill sometimes, which is when I saw the silhouette of Mark on his ozone speedster, making 3 on the hill. by this time the wind had dropped a bit more but there was a bit of lift now and again. The hill was starting to get into shadow, so we all started packing up.
In all I had 4 hours of flying on a beautiful autumn day – well worth taking the day off work..
Third time I have been to Harting but first time I have flown it. Thankfully I had RJ, Dave and Nick to provide some much needed site guidance. A little bit too strong initially but RJ kindly agreed to be wind dummy and then the fun started. Botched my second flight by not listening to Dave and missed the house thermal over the tennis court and bottom landed. Got there in the end on the third flight. Thoroughly enjoyable day and nice to have it to ourselves. Only 4 of us at the peak! Makes a nice change from the Dyke! Congratulations to RJ for doing his first XC!
Eventually a nice pm/evening @ Butser North. Arrived at 2pm, was 14mph pushing 18 and thermic. Waited…eventually Took off in a lull then caught thermal to 500ato. Wind dropped steadily but was flyable until gone 7pm. My first time at this site and v much enjoyed it.
Please help get an old fart to 1000ft ato. Actually there’s a thought! Could you go up in your own hot air? I am advised to get a radio and headset already.
What a day!
Just a short window at Harting after work, managed to get about 20 minutes of soaring with RJ and Alasdair before the wind dropped off. Nice to get in the air after a day in the office and it was followed by a pint and mixed grill in Petersfield Witherspoons 🙂
The weather didn’t look great but you have to take what you can get. Very windy, grey and gusty in the morning but with the wind forecast to drop in the afternoon, a hardened group of paragliders decided to descend on Harting Down after lunch. My wife Anna had decided to come along for some fresh air and to take on photographer duties. We met Paul Cashman in the car park and walked over to launch where Nick Warren and Craig Byrne were waiting for the wind to drop. We had a chat with the modellers who said that the wind was definitely dropping. It seems doable so we started to unpack our kit in the very overgrown grass.
In accordance with the law of sod, once we were ready, the wind dropped to almost nothing! We decided that it must be the clouds not that far overhead that were the cause, and when the next cloud came over Paul launched off in his role as wind dummy. With the wind racing through he wasn’t going forward very quickly and had surprisingly little height, Harting sure is a weird one.
Never the less, he encouraged first Craig, and then me into the air for a short while. It was windy and a little rough in the air and not much height was gained. I swooped in for a nice top landing just after Craig and neither of our accounts tempted Nick into the air.
Paul had disappeared round the corner and when he hadn’t popped up above the ridge we assumed that he must of bottom landed.
After a while the clouds thinned out a bit and small patches of blue appeared. The modellers appeared to be getting more height and reported good conditions out front. With this, Nick took off and flew straight into a thermal out front that took him much higher than we had been earlier. Once he was established I launched and followed him out front into the lifty air. We now had a couple of hundred feet above take off and it was much smoother and more pleasant out here. The lift was constant and smooth in a band away from the hill and pretty choppy and unpleasant near it, more like wave than thermals.
Just as Craig took off I hooked into some strong lift and kept with it. With some extra height in hand I decided to push forwards towards Harting village. With half bar I was climbing the whole way out to the village and I had to push away from the cloud street to avoid getting sucked in. As I got near cloudbase it became very turbulent and I had to come off of bar. I flew over Harting and then turned back for the hill. The wind was very strong from the north west and shortly after I made it back to the hill, the three of us decided to land.
In hind sight, I probably could have followed the clouds further than Harting but base was low and I wanted to be sure of getting back to the hill.
As we packed up, an out of breath Paul arrived from the bottom, just in time for a post flight drink at the pub. Something from nothing, brilliant!