The conditions looked great this morning, then the cloud started to blot out the sun as forecast and the afternoon was the only time I had free. But I've learnt very early on, that you get your best fights when you least expect them, so turn up and fly is my motto. If it's a 14 minute sled, so be it: It's still great practice.
The sky had been blocking the sun for ages, so I wasn't expecting much of the first flight. The aerotow was lovely and smooth, which was nice, but it didn't promise much lift. Off we pop at 2000ft and trundle back to high key on the look out for lift. There was little bubbles, but nothing positive. Then over high key the bubbles were a bit stronger, and with a little work we were holding station in zero knots lift at 1200ft. I had a poke around for better lift, but that was it. So with a bit of determination I set about staying up as long as possible and although it was modest we turned a 14 minute sled ride into a 19 minute soaring flight!
The sun was starting to poke through the cloud just as I was in the circuit, and although it was nearly 6pm I thought it was definitely worth another flight in case this sunshine kicks off some pent-up evening thermals.
Another 2 gliders had just taken off and I was having to work much harder on the aerotow as we punched through thermals. As we flew up hambledon valley I could see the wonderful sight of a glider above me circling in lift. Ping... goes the rope. Get the glider lined up on the opposite side of the thermal, going the same way, and yazookks... 4 knots of lift at 6pm! Once I got to 3000ft and the lift kept coming, I was like a kid that has got all of the sweets. Still we turned until I had to pull off as we hit the 4000ft airspace: I felt elated and proud - I knew I had just added at least 20 minutes to my flight, but by the looks of the sky there was a wonderful street of lift to be explored.
Here is a piccie at 3500ft going back to the thermal for a top up:
At the 30 minute mark, it was getting harder to find lift and sink was starting to predominate. So it was time to push back to high key and have a 'poke about' (technical term). Alas, I would only find 1/2 knot down and given that was over hambledon valley elected to call it a day. As I got into the circuit there were 3 gliders strung across the airfield, so it was time to set the reference point a little further up the field, and closer to the bus.
Down we plonked. I unclipped, jumped out of the glider and did a dance of glee. I don't know how long the flight had been, but it was definitely my longest. And I had been to 4000ft three times! I am now, very, very fond of CFA.