16 April 2014

Cracking days

I looked with envy at those souls who got out on Monday and Tuesday this week with more great flights. Hugh Miller and Guy Anderson led the way with the first two double tons of the year; congratulations fellows!
Thanks to Helen Gant for the lovely photo from last Friday with me on the IP7 Pro.
On the way from Wether Fell. Photo Helen Gant

13 April 2014

Best laid plans or pulling a rabbit out of a hat

Friday 11th April got lots of people very excited, especially in the north of England. Pilots in the South headed for Bradwell in Derbyshire and those already in the North headed for Wether Fell in the Yorkshire Dales, which promised better air over a longer distance. Other than a quick warm up ridge soar on Mam Tor, this was my first proper flight on my IP7 Pro, so I was even more excited.
I was one of 40+ pilots at Wether. The plan was to get away at about 11.30 and use the NW wind to get reasonably far south before the forecast westerly kicked in. By that stage we would be able to cross the Humber to a declared goal at 150km.
A little behind schedule with the climb out at 11.45, I took the first glide with Helen Gant and Chris Williams but in no time at all it had all unraveled. Rhona Carrigan came in low and got up to join us. Helen ghosted away but the climb didn't materialise for me, C and R and we ended up soaring on Green Scar Top for ages. R got away, then C, leaving me feeling like a fool. It was almost 2 hours from when I had taken off on Wether (just 5km upwind) to when I eventually got back in the game!
The wind was now more westerly so I abandoned the earlier declared goal and tried to stick with the good sky. Nice lines of cumulus led me to the Vale of York at good speed; taking the better climbs and setting off as soon as they weakened. A cracking looking street north of York wouldn't wait for me and was dead cloud by the time I reached it. Back into slow gear, I hardly reached 3000' for the next 40km. Down to 700' I was saved at the ground rising at the edge of the Wolds with a proper climb. The ground fell away, the coast came into view. The sea air had pushed well in land so a beach landing was not to be; but landing at 5.30 and 120km I was pretty elated.
Pilots were scattered everywhere; the Peak District had delivered even more than the Dales. A fantastic day and a privilege to be a paraglider pilot!