Neil Plant

3/4/2016   Stags


A lot better than forecast.


The forecast had suggested more wind and less sun - however it turned out quite pleasant really.  Tam, Neil and Andy  were in the air when I arrived and doing pretty well ...... apparently even better earlier when there was more cloudcover and a lower base. Still ..... it was very nice on my intial flight although few thermals. Later it seemed light on the hill but after take off quite lifty and a bit rough with it (wave/thermal mix?). It seemed to freshen for a spell and we were inclined to pack up ...... well we did and probably rather prematurely. Later Jez and Marek arrived and flew as we left.



Dave Smart thermalling near Northallerton.

9/4/2016              Wether Fell


Travelling towards Hawes I was uncertain where to go given the forecast for light SW winds. However, the sight of many gliders, half in the air and doing OK, swung it. Wether Fell it was - a good decision in retrospect.


The good pilots were discussing triangles, but in my mind, the distant encroaching top cover and forecast of snow - April snow even,  suggested it may be hard to close and the day could shutdown fairly soon in the Dales. I opted to do my own thing and set a goal at Stokesley, 72k away. The Wether tp in my gps had been based on a triangle, so was badly placed behind the hill - but I didn't realise that until later. Also the lack of signal to text and declare may come back to haunt me!


A typical Wether Fell, blue hole over the hill, began to show life and by midday the first cycles were coming through - a few were unlucky enough to go down, but the vast majority got off and were successful in staying up in the bouyant air. The approaching top cover was now more evident and it was a matter of time before it started to kill the thermals. Having missed the first group to get away I was becoming concerned at not finding the solid cloudbase bound climb I wanted. They seemed to start off OK then lose impetous, break up  - or maybe I lost them.


Finally, after 45 minutes I was off and away to cloudbase at 5000' - a good height and pretty much in line with rasp for the Dales. Once again I was on my own with only radio chatter for company. I picked my way down Wensleydale - essentially cloud to cloud with one deviation towardsCoverdale for a climb.  The middle of the valley seemed to be doing OK, I think the SW wind dragged the lift line at base that way so I followed the edge of that occasionally trying to avoid cloud. (I heard on the radio a call from Chris Fountain, " I just had a serious cloud situation ....... etc") With that in mind I stayed well to the north edge incase they started to go a bit ballistic - they never did and remained benign all of the flight.


I caught sight of the occasional glider upwind, initially not that high, but climbing to my height. Company always helps and as I thought it Kev McLoughlin - even better as he's a good pilot.  Despite waiting and marking lift they/he did their own thing and scooted off to Pen Hill and whilst it could have worked it was very shaded over. So I continued on my own - past Leyburn and on towards Bedale.  Looking down I caught a glimpse of a glider - a Delta 2 and via radio discovered it was Dave Smart. They don't come much better so it was worth hanging on until he got up in the climbed he'd found. Loosely apart/together we meandered slowly across the VoY, through the Leeming MATZ and towards Northallerton. The climbs were generally slow, but decent enough - behind the sly was definitely shutting down whilst ahead looked as good as ever. Dave pushed on for a while as I struggled a bit.


At this point panic set in - suddenly my vario power banks showed almost flat. The first battery bank had a single bar (I understood that) but the second bank empty (weird - should be full). I radioed Dave that soon I was to be on impulse power only - blind. So things continued for 10 minutes - the vario working but with imminent shutdown threatening at any moment. Then the second bank came on line again - huge relief.


I was still just behind as the North Yorks moors approached. Enviously, I watched Dave ahead and with decent height he seemed to have got away. A long glide had me picking a landing field. My last chance became one of those, 'see if the theory works' gambles. I crossed a set of power lines upwind of three ploughed fields and a shielding wood - down to 600' it was a desperate last chance. Light broken lift gave me a few hundred feet, I relaxed a little ..... then it got a bit more organised ........ then I was back out of jail (second time in a fortnight this has happened) - amazing how low you can be and recover a situation.


As I climbed  higher Dave turned back and joined me and together we  worked it to about 3900'. For me that was enough ....... the glide to goal field said 10:1 and I reckoned given the light tailwind, a decent cloud en route that my glide would be enough. It proved fairly easy on the run in with height with a possible climb I ignored to spare. I passed through my goal cylinder continued on towards Great Ayton then, given the light drift decided to head back to Stokesley for an easier retrieve. The landing was uneventful ............. but the field not the driest so I carried to the road and packed away on the verge - good move.


The retrieve was one of the best. A car stopped with a lovely young couple, they waited as I packed and then took me to Northallerton. A short walk until nearing the main road a van pulled up - a DHPC member (Phil) who got me to Bedale. Some chips and another  five minute walk saw me picked by the son of a Lancaster bomber navigator who regaled me with stories on one of my favourite topic - aerial warfare. That got me to someplace 8 miles short of  Leyburn. Yet another quick pick up by two really fun ladies in paramedic uniforms on their way to man (---------------) station. They insisted on taking me to Hawes.  Everyone was superb, interesting, helpful and I learned a lot on a wealth of subjects - none would accept a penny. Brilliant people.  Except .........................


As I stood outside the Board Inn, sipping my half,  the snow began to fall ............. I didn't fancy the walk up for my car so resorted to the Hawes taxi. He arrived in under five minutes and took me up the hill  .......... £6. I recommend you get the number for future reference, he will do special deals.  The snow was now becoming a blizzard ....... I managed (just) to get over to Ingleton before the road got closed. 


What a great day out .................... best of all - you never see them coming.












Pat Dower flying the new Peak 4

13/4/2016  Bradwell


I arrived late! Driving towards Bradwell the sky was pretty full of gliders and the first gaggles were leaving - once again it looked like a late, lonesome flight. The sky looked awesome.


The take off area was fairly quiet, Pat outing the Peak 4 and a few others waiting around. It was bluing out overhead and the thought struck that I may have missed it and getting the first climb may be not be that easy. To compound my lateness I now had a line issue from having them off a few days before. Anyhow  .......... they got sorted and I was away. Surprisingly it only took a few short beats and I got a solid if slow climb out.


I'd declared Grantham at 86k although the drift was moving a little more from the south ....... being light it shouldn't hinder too much.  Most of the flight was fairly straightforward, a few lowish saves and some bigger clouds I treated with caution (probably too much but being on your own makes you less brave). I met up with Pat midway and as planned he popped himself nicely in from of my video camera for a few Peak 4 shots.


Approaching the Trent I'd seen a big shower off to my left, very slow moving but it probably had a mental effect on me as I started leaving climbs at 4000' and pushing on under dark clouds. The net result of my caution was in retrospect to leave me 15k from goal as the day weakened.


A couple of train rides and a taxi back to Abney had me back at the car by 8.45pm ............ better than I thought. A good day out.


Video stills

Towards Great Comb and Gragareth

19/4/2016  Wether Fell


One of the great Dales days with light winds, high base, good thermals and lots of company - but it didn't look like it would be that way for a fair while.


Lots of us sat around on Wether in mere zephyrs of wind under a good looking sky that for a while was shading out Wether.. Then ........ come 2.30pm Kev led out and showed us all it was starting to work out front. From that point everyone piled in and filled their boots to base at 5,300' ... and often a bit more. A few went over the back, but for most it was a great triangle experience with gliders dotted everywhere.


I had a really enjoyable flight, never quite believing it was really so good and more could have been done with it. First over towards Dentdale with hints of seabreeze appearing, back over Whernside to near Ribblehead and then back to Wether. I arrived to find one of the best and smoothest climbs of the day back to 5000' so crossed to Stags to enlarge the triangle a bit - althought it moved one of the sectors unfortunately.


I landed just as Mike and Dean came in from their excursion to the Howgills (Green Bell) and Keld ............. a great flight that showed what could be achieved ..... even given the late start we had.


The Dales at its very best.


Stills link

Thermalling with High Cup Nick in the background.

20/4/2016   Murton Pike


With war games in the Dales and given the light WSW wind and very blue sky it looked a pretty typical Murton day - but without takers it was a lonesome experience.


The walk up was lovely, warm, sunny with light thermal breezes coming through. At the mid point I decided I could get off OK and soar to the top. A few side landings later a nice little climb got me to the summit and then departed - so I landed again to wait and assess.


The wait was short and the timing spot on, as a good climb immediately got me up and away towards High Cup Nick and the upper Crossfell slopes. From this point I was never low and although the sky showed little cloud, the climbs came at a regular pace and just as I needed them. With little dynamic lift I wasn't sure soaring the lower edges was possible and from them the walk up is easier than the walk out. Many of the thermals I endured .... they could be quite rough in parts, rather broken with small bullets ............ ocasionally a bit of a battle.


My plan had been to go to the 21k mark (just in front of ther masts) and return ............ a route I've done a few times before. But everytime is different. I arrived in Melmerby Bowl and in retrospect should have continued my slow, patient approach and tried to get to base here before pushing on. But, over confidence and the appearance of some good looking clouds meant I just pushed on without great height for my turn point - or better. The sight over a couple of laid out gliders also tempted me on. The inevitable occurred - as nothing happened except I sank out and landed near the laid out gliders. Bugger!!


Here there was little wind, the stronger gusts off to the north and little happening. Along with Ali, Steve E and Chris and Jan Little ...... I waited, tried a few times, but with little luck. Eventually, with the thought more of, "How do I get back to the car"  in my mind - I consoled myself to following the others to the bottom. Ali went ....... headed straight out and there was a hint that he was flying through something large and fairly bouyant, if on the weak side. He proved a good marker. At first weak it got me able to 360 and then map it out. Soon I was able to head back into Melmerby Bowl and gradually using odd bits of lift - to head south. Below one of the edges near High Cap I had a fairly intense period of scratching until it lifted off and got me back to a reasonable height and heading south. Paranoid about landing on the moors I pushed out to  a landing near Dufton. A braver soul would have just continued and I'm sure the ridges would have delivered all the way back to the car.


Instead, I settle for an excellent pint at The Stag and a quick lift back top my car with the barmaid's husband. Interesting day.

Paul taking off as the breeze started to pick up to fresh.

21/4/2016  Whernside


Another warm, blue day that started very light here, but with reports of blown out in other places to the south (Parlick). Another lovely, spring walk up - some had been soaring earlier, but it now seemed very light - or at least not very lifty. Dean even went down so that confirmed it wasn't working!


My first flight was horrible - the wind fresh, off to the north and no lift ............. so a landing halfway down and a carry up. A second attempt proved better but with no great height gain. Finally, several flights later and with the wind increasing I decided to head up to the summit area - gain some height and fly back home into Ingleton. It was actually now a lot more enjoyable, there was some thermals around and the air a lot smoother a fitting final flight to end the day.


Best of all ...... no retrieve and a cuppa just 10 mins away.



STILLS LINK (from video)



Flying along Chapel le Dale into Ingleton.
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© Ed Cleasby