Wow, what an August!
After a very mediocre June and July we were owed some good flying weather, and I think it’s fair to say it came good! I’d had some fun flights in July, including three flights from Selsley, however with two at 83kms and one 68kms, and without a 100km+ flight since my flight from the Malverns to St Clears on 24th May, I was feeling bereft of a really good flight. Fortunately all that was to change in August with three 100+km flights.
#1 – Tuesday 9th, 168kms from Selsley to Worthing
First up was on Tuesday 9th when the all the usual suspects descended on Selsley (yet again!) on a great looking day. For the fifth time this year I declared Arundel as my goal – would this be the day I finally made it?
To cut a long story short, I made it, but not without more than my fair share of low saves! The first time was near Wooton Bassett where I got down to maybe 700′ above the ground, then a few kms later I got low near Barbury Castle on the Marlborough Downs. I think quite a few of the usual suspects landed near here, but after a bit of a climb I hooked up with Joe Dart and we found a great climb up to base. The final low save was when I ended up soaring Combe Gibbet when it was off to the west and a bit strong and gusty. Fortunately I was only there for a few minutes before I climbed out in a gnarly thermal.I’m not sure I inspired anyone else to launch though 🙂
After this the flight was pretty straightforward, and after bagging my goal at Arundel I had enough height to carry on to the coast at Worthing, which I’d never made before!
I had seen another glider land on the beach a few minutes ahead of me – it turned out to be Al Wilson who’d flown from Combe…
Have a look of the video of the flight here:
#2 – Friday 26th August, 101kms from Worcester Beacon
Ok, so this was almost three weeks later, but it was a new site for me, and a challenging flight to boot. The thermals were very broken for some reason and I think we all found them difficult to core, at least initially, and it was slooow, but it was great fun, especially in the “super-gaggle” that we all left the hill in…
It was a sparkling day, and the colours seemed especially vibrant.
Sadly all good things come to an end and I touched down to the east of Towcester for 101kms after 4hrs 17mins, with Steve Watts and Graham Richards close by.
Have a look at the video of the flight below…
#3 – Bank Holiday Monday 29th August, 147kms from Selsley to not quite Arundel
It was back to Selsley three days later for another attempt at getting enough points from this flight to put me over 1000 points in my top six flights this year, and Arundel seemed like a good choice again.
It took a while for the first thermals to appear, but once they did we had a nice climbout and the first half of the flight as far as Hungerford, which I flew fast with Kirsty, was pretty easy.
However we both found ourselves very low as we approached Combe Gibbet and we were down to 500′ AGL before we found a sniff of a climb after a 10km glide! We worked it and worked it with Kirsty gradually outclimbing me (grrrrr!), but I eventually lost it, fortunately I now had enough height to make it to Combe where it was light and off to the W. No one else was flying and I found myself below the top of the hill at times, but after about 10 minutes of scratching I found a climb and went with it. It was slow and took ages to properly ping off during which time I had drifted about 3kms at only about 1000′ AGL, but I finally got up to base fifty minutes after our first low save. Meanwhile Kirsty was about 10kms ahead having not wasted time on the hill.
Have a look at my video of the low save below…
After this it was plain sailing, as you can see from the graph below:
Unfortunately though, despite overhauling a few pilots who’d overtaken me when I was struggling, that wasted time meant I was too late getting to the South Downs and I was too late to utilise the sea-breeze front to work my way east to Arundel. Only Kirsty and Hugh Miller made their goal near Arundel, with everyone else landing just a few kms short…
* Actually, that’s not strictly true, Mariusz Kozlowski very kindly offered his car (his wife was following him in their car with another pilot, Rafal), and Rafal drove Remi and me to the station whilst his wife, son and him had a picnic where the three of us landed (if that makes sense!)
So there we have it, that was August, what will September deliver?!