Sunday, 9 June 2013

154km Personal Best xc

Flight diary details
Date of Flight: 
Jun 2013
Takeoff site: 
Devils Dyke
Wing Type: 
Rigid HG
Wind Direction: 
Wind Strength: 
Thermic activity: 
Pilots present: 

Still buzzing now! Been stressful trying to download the flight, my main gps unknowingly deletes the track after 3hrs 30 minutes to make room for more data so the first 2 hours of my flight were erased!!! Luckily Ian had lent me his garmin etrex which I stuffed in my harness just incase and only got the lead to see if it recorded anything from him today. It did!
I got dropped off at the dyke with my glider and my harness and a baguette for lunch, and then the Golden retriever left for Lewes. It all went well rigging the glider right up until I went to put the nose cone on and I didn't have it!!! Aaaaah, where is it! Looked all around the paddock as I had packed away there a couple of days ago but still couldn't find it, phoned the person I was de rigging next to and they said they would check if they have it that day...(they did and I have now got it) however I couldn't fly with a gaping big hole in the front of my glider. Started to get depressed and seriously thought about packing away and realising its not going to be my day... Until with great help from Steve cook and Steve m for the masking tape, I stuffed my coat in the hole and taped it up with masking tape! Used half a roll but it did the job! So I was all ready to launch...
Waited for a while and the paragliders were getting some okay climbs and the clouds were already good but the ridge lift was weak. I took off and had a scratchy 10minutes so took the earliest opportunity to land as I didn't want to go down. Waited for another 20minutes under my glider and the air looked to be getting better so when I saw a couple of pg's go through some large lift on the spur in front of the bowl I took off first and headed straight for it, after my first turn I saw Steve cook and johnny Carr launch and head straight for me, we gained about 150ft in it but it was too weak to work so we all scrambled to truleigh where a nice 3up took us all near cloudbase. I had planned to go east as I'm waiting for my 6030 to arrive and only had a basic vario and had just tried to memorise local airspace to the east from looking at an online air chart the night before. However Steve and johnny headed straight off across the gap towards steyning and I thought as long as I keep up I can follow them... But johnny got very low about 10km past steyning and Steve seemed to not loose much on the glide and climb very quickly before I got to there and so when I arrived I tried to climb but took quite a while to find something good and by the time I'd got up Steve had disappeared (as he does) and I'd lost track of johnny. So when I finally got back up to base I decided to return to the original plan and head east. I crossed the gap easily and found a big climb the Steve m was marking on his tsunami. Back up to base I headed over the dyke and nobody flying, it had all slightly overdeveloped it seemed and any climb now towards Lewes was weak! I took what I could and slowly drifted over falmer and headed to Nicos's roundabout to see if that was working (Kingston roundabout), it wasn't! So I headed for Lewes which was partly in the sun but there was only weak lift and I was now down to about 1500ft when all of a sudden I heard Nicos (the friendly Greek) shout on my radio 'who's that flying over my house!' After a short conversation with him and some encouragement I was heading over to Caburn to see if the north ridge was working, it was just about keeping my up between 1200ft and 2000ft but I had to wait for the sun to come over ringmer until I got a climb that would take me back to firle. At this point I tried to contact my wife who was in Lewes over the radio to tell her not to go back to the dyke as I will probably land near middle farm at firle, to my surprise she could hear me, answered and headed off that way! Ringmer eventually had some sunshine on it and after about 5minutes I headed forwards to it and was rewarded with a climb back to firle. I figured that I should use this height to try and head towards Eastbourne and give me my biggest flight in the uk! I did but was rewarded with climb after climb along the way and by the time I was near polegate I was at cloudbase with a perfect cloud street heading out towards Hastings, I shared this street with two red kites all the way to bexhill until they disappeared up into the cloud and I moved to the edge to avoid getting sucked in! The cloudstreet came to an end, but over Hastings lower down I recognised a blob of the seabreeze front curtain cloud developing and headed straight for it! The rest of the flight was with a couple of exceptions VERY easy, I was screaming along the front jumping from blob to blob at around 45mph. It was amazing, watching Hastings, battle, rye and Lydd disappear into the background! However once I got near Lydd (and I could see ashford as well as the north coast and south coast in the distance) I started seeing lots of planes and remembered that somewhere in the distance was an airport and If I went any further, I run the risk of going into airspace! So I turned around. the seabreeze front didn't look quite as defined but was definitely still there so I headed back down it. Thinking if I could just get back to Hastings, the Retreive would only be 1hr instead of over 2hours! I got very low around rye and managed to work a screaming thermal back up the side of the front and then got low over battle but eventually got helped out by about 50seagulls and the rest was easy again back to bo-peep. At bo-peep I spent too long trying to make a decision. I could see that the seabreeze front stopped just over firle and thought about trying to head inland towards ringmer and back towards the dyke but as I'd just spent the last 105kms using this free lift I decided to try and use it to firle and hope over the back of Lewes onto the ditchling ridge. It didn't work and I fell into the mixing air at bopeep. Bits of it were going up, very fast! But it was so broken and rough, I was getting chucked around I decided to be safe and head away from it inland and try and land safely. I landed right next to the lay by on the a27 between firle and bopeep for 154km's

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