After a kind offer from our friends at Welland Gliding Club to attend their flying week for the w/c 27 May I hooked the ASW24 trailer up to the BMW and headed north (yes it’s only Northamptonshire but from Dover anywhere is ‘up north’). The weather at that point had not been great but there was high pressure building and the hope of light northerly winds so the promise was there.
Have a guess – how was the weather ? completely dreadful of course. On the Monday the wind was directly across the strip and finally gusting probably to 30kts. Sensibly all the single seaters were left in their trailers and even the dual seaters did not fly. After that it got even worse and I went back to work for Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday – a fine flying week this was turning out to be. It’s grim ‘up north’.
Friday looked a little better so up the A1 again and the ASW24 was rigged thinking at some point I could have a go at the 50km task I needed for my Silver Badge after my failed attempt at the end of last year. This needs quite a bit of planning of course so I had a dozen things going through my head which brings us to exhibit A.
After rigging & taping up the glider the above item was found missing, which left me marooned just south of Corby with no way home, obviously it had dropped out of my pocket on to the grass whilst putting the thing together. So cue half a day of everyone in the club kindly helping us examine a thousand square feet or so of airfield, I bet they were please they invited us now. Anyhow to cut to the chase, where was the darn thing, Dave applied some logic to the situation & it was found in the trailer of course – my how we laughed afterwards. Another day scrubbed, managed a couple of flights between episodes of the great key hunt but my heart wasn’t in it with the thought of a train journey home, finding a spare key & a train journey back.
Saturday started bright then looked pretty poor – told Paul I was about to cut the day short early afternoon, started to take kit out of the glider when a ray of sunshine came through. Right let’s give it a go. Mark had discussed a route first flying out to Eyebrook reservoir (known as a remote start) then straight down to Gransden Lodge gliding club to get a run of over 50km. A straight one hour flight off the winch getting my bearings and having a look over the start point & suddenly everything felt a lot better – not a good day to press on though as the lift was very bitty and then disappeared entirely. I heard even the competition pilots were struggling. Roll on Sunday.
Woke to a RASP (Regional Atmospheric Soaring Prediction – no I didn’t know what one of those was until I started to look at going cross country, recently I have been living by the darn thing), that looked awesome. Giidng down to Gransden Lodge and back again looked possible even for me, which would get us both a 50k & a 100k award if it all came off. Woot Woot!
Before we get carried away though let’s just see if we can actually get round the first turn point – this dear reader is where our pundit starts to go slightly off the rails. The ‘sector’ required to go through is northwest of the dam, just over the water, just how hard can that be exactly.
After that it was rather more plain sailing, of course slow as a slow thing considering I was in a pointy plastic aircraft with lots of potential, but getting the task done was the aim, next time we’ll worry about speed.
So now just need to see if the BGA are happy with the GPS trace, Phil our official observer loaded it up on his laptop afterwards and it looks as if I made the turnpoint at Eyebrook reservoir by a sliver of whisker but we will have to see.
So as it turns out it’s not grim up north, it’s actually really really good. There’s another chance in August with a second flying week so let’s see if we can get a group from Channel to come up. Enormous thanks to everyone at Welland who helped us through this (including a big thanks for not nailing us to the wind sock pole after the great car key fiasco). As the day was so thermic there were three 50ks completed with Mick Hunton (left) landing out at Welland from Cranwell & Andy Burton(right) from Welland in his K8 (that sounds like a really cool aircraft, I wonder where can I find one of those).