1/7/2014 Ozone Open (Task 1):
M6 soon - but I elected to fly the Ucross
A short 28k task to the airfield at Aspre. This proved difficult going for most with only about a dozen making goal. I didn't have a good day and made the mistake of going towards Beaumont for a top up - this increased the crossing distance towards the volcano ridge and the TP at the far end. The wind had increased and gone more east making it into wind and darned tough. Managed to cross but was short of about 500' to push further east to the working part of the ridge. Had a nasty multiple collapse after Opierre - in fact I may have made it worse by stalling the remaining bit of wing still flying. Eventually it sorted itself out and I edged on more gingerly for a spell. Not being able to get up or further east I turned back to the Lake for a poor start to the comp.
2/7/2014 (Task 2):
A similar task to the previous day but via a slightly different route (via the Shark's Fin) and with more south in the wind. Made goal without too much difficulty, but slow after leaving the volcano and had to stop twice to top up. A few didn't realise the final turnpoint was quite elevated and arriving low meant being still just out of cylinder. Being naturally quite a slow pilot means I suffer on the time points - need to be faster and probably take more chances but after yesterday goal became the priority.
3/7/2014 (Task 3):
A great day and a great task (59k). Really. one didn't want to race as climbing to over 10,000' is not to be sniffed at ........... the views were fantastic with gliders filling the skies in every direction. But ...... a task is a task so you gotta go with the flow and push on. Actually ............ that wasn't easy in my case. Somehow in dropping my harness onto the balled up wing on launch (dustie threat) I got a full twist in the risers! After take off is too late to find out, and whilst it didn't effect the handling at all it limited the speed system to about 50%. On each transition - and there were some long one's, the lack of speed was very evident and even setting off with a lower rated wing soon saw me being left well behind. It was like having a speed limiter and really dropped me off the pace. Another lesson learned ..... but it looked fine just before I pulled up the wing (from a balled position).
Anyhow .... made goal with far too much height to spare and enjoyed the flight.
Overall, the Ozone Chabre Open was great fun and a useful run up to the GWO in September.
I only shot video on the final task - a few stills can be found here
Most people went to Windbank so a small group of us had Stags to ourselves. Conditions were generally good with decent thermals and a base just over 4000'. A front was slowly wending its way in from the west and although the high cover cut off the sun it was still good enough to explore. I wasn't too bothered about going over the back - which was a decent option looking at the sky downwind, but the retrieve was not one I relished as it can be awkward.
Option B, an O&R or triangle appealed more so I hopped up wind and with decent lift the further I progressed - I made for the Moorcock. Returning I managed a good climb to base (4300') and considered going downwind over the moors but without company I changed this to a leg of the triangle. Steve Mann had been high at this point a little earlier but had since scooted back to Stags - a pity as a few gliders could have made an interesting stab at an XC. The wind had come around more to the south and we were a little better placed than Stags for a run up the moors. Maybe next time.
Once back at Stags there wasn't enough doing to get up wind towards Hawes. Interestingly, about an hour later on a second flight and with the sky now 8/8 cloud, it proved bouyant enough to get some way upwind and almost to Hawes.
Starting to get more of a feel for the M6 but think I'm maybe a bit light on it ..... floats well but may go back to the heavier harness and see how that feels.
Video stills link here
21/7/2014 Dodd Fell:
Another great day from Dodd with many excellent flights - best of which was Dean's - a huge 216k to just south of Sleaford and making use of the east coast convergence.
As usual Dodd was favoured over Wether for it's excellent base bound, well formed thermals. It wasn't long before pilots were hovered to base and on their way. I left in the second group with Ben, Geoff and a few others close by ..... Simon for one. We meandered slowly downwind with Ben often darting ahead and some benign cloud flying en route as we occasionally got drawn in. The convergence line was fairly clear and for once we didn't get blocked off by it. It was fairly straightforward staying high over the moors, but with base at about 5,000' it was worth getting high and slowing a little as we came off the moors north of Harrogate. The 10 -15k passing Harrogate and Knaresbrough was the tricky section, as usual, with a few getting low at odd points. Martin kindly found a low save near Knaresborough and Geoff and I dived in - a little further west Baz has left us on his own path. Geoff out-climbed us both and set off downwind. I radioed my goodbye and set off crosswind to the east as I had a goal set just SE of York. This was not ideal as the wind had quite a bit of north in it. However, after some udging and hoping - it was quite blue to the east at this point, I grabbed the cylinder and a huge thermal at the same time ...... from this point on I drifted more SE and became a bit casual about working the lift. At 99k I was low again - maybe 600' agl when another gentle thermal had me climbing slowly. Mindful of the time - after 5pm, I again never really exploited it fully and set off downwind again, occasionally catching light climbs. Finally, I came in to land on a playing field at Holme on Spalding Moor for 116k (with tp's). An excellent day with many down around and over the 100k mark. Mike had flown most of the way with Dean and just missed his goal by 10k for 163 (with tp's).
Not a bad journey back via Leeds and a shared taxi ride with Geoff and Baz to Hawes. I also got to use my bus pass (yippee!) - now I've decided a railcard may be handy too.
24/7/2014 Creag Meagaidh:
And the glorious weather continues - high bases and no midges. Is this really Scotland in high summer?
Given the great forecast for most of the Highlands we were spoilt for choice in terms of where to go ..... so many possibilities. Baz and I left early and met up with Mike, Steve, Phil and Carole with local expert Tony Shepherd at the car park below Meagaidh. Even at 10am it was cooking and the walk up was a bit of a killer in the heat. The wind was light, but cycles were starting to pump through and the sky looked epic. A bit of a wait as things sorted themselves and by 1:30 we were away with the whole group climbing steadily to base. We all latched onto the A team declaration, essentially 27k O&R but with the thought that conditions may change that for something bigger.
After the first climb the A team shot off and the rest of us spread a little to do our own thing. The climbs were generally good with some strong punchy cores to ride. I grabbed the start cylinder and set off, things went mostly quite well with only one low hold-up en route which Steve and I took to about 7200' - he then set off his own way whilst I continued towards the cylinder. I could get level with it but it seemed well off my track and under a large area of shade so I wimped out and headed back. The return leg was pretty steady and mostly done at height. At this point I was wishing the start cylinder had been further west as the sky looked excellent all the way to Fort William. Like most I arrived back with an embarrassing amount of height and a slightly larger flat triangle as a small bonus. Given the height a more clued up strategist would have used it to push one leg of the triangle out front.
I have to mention the landing field - basically a large, cut lawn of a field that couldn't be bettered.
A great day flying - Scotland like this is hard to beat.
25/7/2014 Beinn a Chaorainn:
After an excruciating session of Fort William bagpipes the night before and a nice over-night with drinks and chat at Tony's we (someone) settled on a new hill further west. It faced south, looked OK and may, just may, have an easier walk in/up. Actually, although pathless and longer timewise than the previous day it seemed easier. But .... it was again hot, tough going.
A few others had joined us (Julian and Dave Bichan); we found various take off's amongst the scattered rocks. Everywhere was superb - except we were covered in a large area of shade that just would not break or budge ..... the cycles stopped as we got to take off and nothing of note changed until gone 3pm. Mike, Julian and Tony had elected to summit (they were 800' higher) and with Tony leading they dived off on a wing and a prayer. It was slow going but all eventually got together and climbed away. 30 minutes later a strip of sun crept up our hill and in typical Scottish hill fashion the climbs kicked in and we were away. Unfortunately, we had to sacrifice Phil who was just too eager and missed lift-off by about 15 minutes.
Baz, Dave and I climbed to about 6000' with no plan given it was approaching 4pm. I set off on the usual O&R and the hope of a triangle if the blue hole of yesterday had filled in and offered a way out front. Again, the climbs were good and solid, but at 18k out I turned back. I wasn't sure whether to continue, unlike the previous day, returning meant battling a slight headwind with a hint of sea breeze that could deck me short. It proved slow going with some climbs appearing out front when things got a bit desperate - never going too high but allowing progress. I flew onto the slopes of Meagaidh - now familiar with it and joined Baz very slowly slope soaring up in the light breeze. Together we got high enough to jump over to the next face.
At this point I was thinking the day seemed to be dying and the SW wind indicated sea breeze. So ....leaving Baz I skipped to the next hill thinking it closer to home, steeper and more into wind. It didn't work and after two beats I headed out to be met by a corker of a thermal ..... ah, that's why it wasn't working. Poor old Baz I thought - he's stuck in that scratty bowl and I'm climbing nicely to base. At 4200 I pulled out with the thought in my head that I may regret not taking it higher but it seemed a certain glide back to take off. For half the transition all was well until I hit a strong headwind - perservering I kept plugging on. Within the take off cylinder I was staring at a cliff edge before the main face , making very slow progress and thinking rotor! Unable to get round or over the cliff I turned and ran for cover to land downwind above the forest line. MEANWHILE -- Baz had hooked the best climb of the day to 8500' and crossed the valley to the distant peaks - I never dreamed the day (it was gone 6pm) had that monster left in it. Later he regaled me with tales of flying in and above the clouds and lines dripping water! This was Baz's first experience of Scottish flying and it didn't come more memorable than that.
My walk down through the forest was nearly my undoing - I could have died in there and never been found (no signal). I learned that you deviate off the track at your peril and I went past a few points of no return with serious implications if my fallen tree balancing acts had led to a broken leg! Never again!!
Awesome few days ..... Scotland just never seems to disappoint.