Friday, 9 August 2013

Hard work - but worth it...

A belated write up - Tuesday promised great things, but then struggled to deliver. High level cloud made conditions very tricky.

I fell down from my first flight - any lift was very scratchy, and the rest of the sky was "blessed" with strong sink. I took a 3000ft tow at 3 pm and stayed up for nearly 3 hours. It was knackering!

Todays lesson was, bring enough water - when I say enough, I actually mean "any". Yes - I have already written a thousand times, "Do not leave your Camelback at home if you want to fly on a sunny day".

The first hour was hard work - and very much a case of never giving up. Eventually the low level scratchy lift would relent. I would like to think my pig headed bloody mindedness forced the juvenile thermal to stop buggering about, and turn into a proper thermal. You need to show them who is boss. Never show them weakness.... I tell you, none of this makes it to the "How to really soar" books!

The sky took all day to get organised and from 4pm to 6pm it gave its best. Had I brought more (any!) water, there was at least another hours flying left.

The puzzle seemed to be solved by:
  • Getting established by finding lift on the sunny side of the clouds.
  • Working the lift until it faded
  • Keeping the turns tight - as 30 degree thermalling left a chunk of the circle out of lift.
  • Cruise to an area where sun had got to the ground for at least 10 minutes.
  • Meet a new thermal coming up before it created a new Cumulus
  • Repeat!

There were enough Kites in the sky today that I was considering submitting a NOTAM on their behalf. They also seemed to be flying purposefully about the sky rather than indulging in thermal "show boating": They are magnificent animals, and it is truly a privilege to meet them in their domain - but when they cruise up the inside of YOUR thermal in a high speed invisible elevator, reading the local newspaper, sipping a Pernod, with a Gauloises hanging from their beak as if to so say, "oh zis - zis is nothing. mon amis" ... the whole magnificent animal thing starts to wane.

But once I had stopped sneering in their general direction, I followed to see what they were up to - and blow me down, they were finding wonderful passage through the sky of zero to 1/2 knot lift. This was very handy in the early parts of the flight because the air was binary. It was either going up strongly in a tight core, or plummeting to earth with much gusto. So having a path of gentle zero sink drawn through the sky, was very welcome.

They really are very clever pilots... show off's... but clever show off's, I'll give them that.

And as I plonked down to earth, consumed several litres of water, tea, chocolate and more tea. I reflected on the long flight in tricky conditions and felt satisfied and knackered. I was asleep before my head hit the pillow at 9pm, dreaming of gentle skies with wide thermals, and Kite's in tree's saying, "Wow - what a guy! How does he thermal so well!".

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