Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat!
Saturday 30th July was a busy day on Selsley what with Avon hosting a round of the Advance BCC there, and lots of other pilots descending on the hill on the promise of a good NW’ly day.
I arrived with Rich Osborne and Annee Brekenridge at about 1045 just as the first gliders got airborne in the light breeze, but those first flights were short-lived. We found a spot to get ready (not so easy given the number of people on the hill), and declared the usual goal of Arundel, and then sat around for ages waiting for the chance to take off. There were quite a few false starts but we were encouraged when Lawrie Noctor, Wayne Seeley and Helen Gant ever-so-slowly climbed out.
Eventually a couple of hours after we arrived I climbed out with a few others and climbed to about 2000′ before I noticed that I hadn’t tagged my start turnpoint which was just a few tens of meters in front of takeoff. I’m really not sure how I managed to avoid it, but there you go…
Anyway, no problem I thought, I’d nip forward, bag it, then rejoin the climb. Needless-to-say it didn’t work out like that, and I landed back on take off a short while later, DOH! Lesson learnt – don’t be dumb with waypoints for the sake of a hundred meters!
There were still lots of us on the hill, but with the sky spreading out I thought I had blown the day. Indeed, a number of people packed up between 1300-1400, and possibly I might have joined them had I had my own car there. Fortunately I didn’t/couldn’t though, because just after 1400 a good sustained breeze sprung up and allowed some of us to get in the air, and not long after a gaggle of eleven of us started climbing out under 8/8 skies.
Ok, so it was slow, but it was steady – so slow and steady in fact that we all circled to the right pretty much non-stop, apart for a couple of short glides, until we were past WOMAD just to the NE of Malmesbury, some 23kms downwind!
I think Theo and I had a bit more height as we finally topped up and headed off on a glide towards Swindon, and it’s here that we lost the others – they all landed between Malmesbury and Swindon. We faffed around in weak lift to the west of Swindon before finding a much stronger climb (2+m/s) to the south of Swindon.
From our high point of 4,600′ at the top of this climb we glided towards Aldbourne and were very low when we arrived, but we sniffed something out and slowly climbed out, Theo finding slightly better lift than me and heading off towards Hungerford on his own. I minced over Bear Grylls’ house (where I had landed after a short flight from Liddington last year) at barely 2000′, and was contemplating dropping in again but spotted a combine downwind and headed for it and was rewarded with a slow climb to about 2,000′.
From here it was basically a case of extending my glide as I cruised over Hungerford before landing in Inkpen for 68kms. I packed up and the kind gent who owned the field gave me a lift all 400yds to the road where I was met by Rich and Annee in the Magic XC Bus 🙂
And seeing as The Swan Inn was just up the road it felt rude not to grab a quick cider to celebrate what turned out to be a really fun flight!
Here’s the short video I made of the flight…