Saturday, 18 April 2009

A 17k day

RASP had given cloudbase at 2500 rising to 4500 eventually with the best area starting to the North of Booker and growing into East Anglia. Eventually covering a large area over the South of England.

It seemed like it would be on for another 400k attempt. Eventually I settled on Mursley Water Tower/Littleport/Avebury.

The day didn't seem to want to clear but around 11.30 the sky organised itself into streets and gaps which looked exactly what I'd been expecting. So I took a launch pulled off and climbed to cloudbase which was 2600asl. Vis wasn't good but I could see streets lining up off the ridge which I thought I'd fly to and then into wind to my first TP. Until I left the hills the lift seemed around in abundance and I didn't see any need to top back up to cloudbase (one couldn't see what was going on from there anyway).

Once the ridge was behind me I glid towards Haddenham Thame which seemed like a safe haven if it didn't work. In the event it turned out to far away so the strip East of Thame and South of the railway line beckoned. A last scratch over the farmhouse to no avail and into the strip. Wind was not down it but off about 85degrees but with the new rules at Wycombe Airfield that is something everyone has to cope with.

After letting the office know I was down and would be looking for an aerotow if possible once the fleet had been launched. I was met with 5 children of various ages on bikes and a black labrador with a grown up walking along behind. It turned out 'grown up' worked for the owners son who would be out in a minute or 2.

The owner (or rather the owners son) who now ran the farm came out. I did the usual apologising for landing etc and then asked if an aerotow would be OK. His reply was "It will be the quickest way to get it off". He said the Jodel had taken off just before I'd arrived and might be back. So I said I'd move the glider off the strip if it rejoined. When I asked the name of the farm which I'd asked him to repeat I thought he'd said Severals Farm. (It turned out once I checked at home it was called Shrove Furlong Farm). He then left me to it, seeming that the sooner it was removed the better.

My phone then rang and it was Brian Forest asking if I'd like a road retrieve. (Thanks Brian much appreciated). But if possible I wanted an aerotow retrieve.

Now left to my own devices I tried to move the glider. It wouldn't budge. At that point 2 lads came back on bikes and I got them to help move it onto a narrow metalled track that ran for half the length of the strip. Along which I was able to move it by myself. Once at the end of the hard surface I was stuck.

Phone rang again, this time Andy Betterly asked for lat/long and said he'd be with me in 15 mins. Wonderful. His short field landing was brilliant and we used the tug to move the glider to the start of the strip.

My worry was the wing dragging on the grass with hedges either side, which included wire. Sure enough once the tug reached the end of the rope (all 100ft) of it the wing went down. Andy held the Pawnee on the brakes then went for it. The next 10 seconds were the worst 10secs of my life the glider swung towards the hedge and the gap closed rapidly. If I relased I'd be in it, so I took the risk of the wing picking up in time and held on......... ...... the wing came up and a boot full of rudder swung the glider round how much space there was between the hedge must have measurable with a feeler gauge. I can do without to many heart stopping moments like that.

The trip back to Booker was uneventful and the grid was still waiting to be launched.

Thanks again to Brian for the offer of a retrieve and to Andy for a great aerotow out.

If you'd like to read how the owner swung into the hedge in his Jodel try:-

Not quite a 400k but and eventful day nevertheless. Roll on tomorrow.

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