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Nick's Airtime 2017

17/04/2017 - Hundred House

A great day out at the BCC for team SWWSC!  We arrived at the campsite under sunny skies but the forecast proved to be  pretty much spot on as cloud cover was starting to build by the time we ascended the hilltop and after the briefing, we watched a larger shower starting to encroach from the northeast but fortunately, it passed us by and with a nice breeze on launch, it was game on!

There were I think eight teams present but there was plenty of room in the air and most pilots managed to get up and away with a nice bit of height(4000' amsl) to meander off downwind.  However,  large areas of cloud spreadout  blotted out the sun and it proved quite tricky to get much further than Talgarth(20km) with only one or two gliding on towards Llangorse.

Our radios worked very well on the ground as we coordinated our retrieve and many thanks to Bethan for getting us back to the hill Smile

The team :  Rhun Llwyd(capt)
                  Steve Watkins
                  Steve Bain
                  Aaron Binks
                  Anna Binks
                  Nick Roberts

A good start to our BCC campaign 8)
And a  big thankyou to Steve Bain for the lift to Builth and back!

18/04/2017 - Heol Senni

Nice sunny conditions on arrival with Chris D but we could see a milkiness to the sky further north as forecast and this spread south to kill the cu's and blot out the sun :Smile  . Up in the air, conditions were quite lively, caused by a good deal of instability but with the power of the sun neutered, the thermals were limiting us to height gains of around 1500' a.t.o. and with nothing downwind to aim for, the prospect of a decent  XC  did not beckon. 

After a couple of hours in very cold conditions,  we all flew down to land at around 15:30 and went to the Ancient Briton to warm up!

Pilots on the hill today - Chris D, Nasher, Jon M, Rhun, me, Gary Jones and Lee from Hirwaun

22/04/2017 - Hundred House

Another great day out at the BCC.  A busy day on the hill with enough SWWSC pilots for two teams(food for thought for next year).  The Rasp forecast was very good but no Cumuli were forming so patience was the order of the day and Pete and me stuck with a gaggle of up to six or more pilots at times. It was classic gaggle flying as we minced along in the blue taking perhaps 2 hours to reach the Brecon Beacons where we split up and  got a  bit stuck soaring some of the bowls for a while before finding a climb to pass over the Tal y Bont flying site(a climb that became rather rough :o ) but propelled me to my  highest point in the flight(5400' amsl).  Thereafter, I followed a nice line down to Ystrad Mynach where a drilling in sink was followed by a great low save  and then mostly straight line flying  in Seabreeze convergence under the 4000' airlane  Smile .

Approaching the 3000' ceiling I found it quite a job to descend and was still going up despite  ears in and full speedbar so some frantic spiral diving ensued, followed by a change of direction to try and find some sink!.  I eventually made it to land in  the city centre park near the Millenium Stadium from where it is a short pleasant walk to the railway station 8) .

4hrs 30 mins and 81km(75.6 BCC score)

Pete got on the train at Bridgend having made it to the coast at Porthcawl.
Needless to say, we were still high from the flying Smile

23/04/2017  - Merthyr Common

Another day at the BCC Smile .  Cloudy at first but the sky was starting to shape up a little as the first gaggle took to the sky at around midday ;  with hindsight a bit too early as there was still too much cloud cover.
A short while later, a second gaggle containing most of team SWWSC amongst others fought their way up in a rather feisty thermal and set off eastwards Smile .

However, there was still too much cloud cover and despite there being a few of us we found no further climbs.  Rhun,  Aaron, myself and one other got stuck on a ridge south of Ebbw Vale while Steve W was on the ridge at Blaina and Pete in a bowl somewhere beyond.  We scratched back and fore in the shade for a good while until some sun emerged  to kickstart  convection  which consequently interrupted the windflow, decking Aaron and another chap but  I managed to hook into a very small thermal which grew into a beauty that  propelled me  up to cloudbase.  I had to head south a bit to avoid cloudsuck before resuming course to the east and made the transition out into the flats but found no further workable lift over ground that was largely shaded  I tried ploughed fields, Rapeseed fields, green fields, treelines - all to no avail and landed near the A40 on the way to Raglan.

A while after landing, the sky looked better so with hindsight, we may have fared better with a later start although I heard that the wind quickly became too  strong back on launch.

A lucky sequence of lifts got me back to my car in Talgarth(my retrieve sign worked).  Smile

2hrs  33km(30.9 BCC score)

28/04/2017  Hay Bluff

Left home in the drizzle and did wonder if it was a good idea but further inland, it was indeed drier!
Up at the Bluff, the wind was light and under grey skies, looked ok for a gentle ridge run.  However, the wind was a bit off to the west, making it impossible to cross the gap to Lord Hereford's knob so we had to make do with just the Bluff ridge.  Pilots flying :- Evan, Aaron, Viv, me, Mark and a couple of others from SEW.  It was cold and bleak in the air and there were occasional bits of drizzle but hey...we flew!

I like to come here to fly occasionally and I always think back to my first ever soaring flight back in 1989 when making it to the carpark was quite a thrill ;D

I'd forgotten about the steep walkup though :o

02/05/2017 - Ebbw Vale

Initially went up to Pontlottyn with Chris D and Viv ; the sky looked great but there were no pilots to be seen and the  wind on the hill was clearly off to the east so we drove a bit further on to Ebbw Vale buoyed up after sighting a glider high  in the air!  The wind seemed ideal at  the launch area but in the air, conditions were a bit up and down to say the least although Chris wasted no time latching on to a cloud street, he was soon  high and gliding off towards Merthyr.

Said cloudstreet had dispersed buy the time I had launched at 13:20 and it took a good while to climb out to a decent height!  Viv had landed after finding the conditions a bit too rough but I was joined in the air by Steve J  who had just arrived and we headed off towards Merthyr.  The going was good to start with, flying along a nice lifty line but I hit big sink crossing the valley at Merthyr and was looking for a low save by the time I 'd reached the other side :o .  The hilltop there does tend to work well and I managed to latch on to a nice climb to get up and away once more(phew!).  I had lost sight of Steve as I headed west towards Seven Sisters where I found a further top -up near the wind mills.  From there,  I tried to push out a bit to the northwest which didn't work so I tracked towards the hills to the south of Brynamman which worked a treat, allowing me to push northwest to Llandybie and beyond.

Seabreeze clouds could clearly be seen as I skirted around the north side of Carmarthen and my groundspeed slowed as I hit the sea air coming in from both sides of the coast.  I managed to keep going for a while touching down in a field  at 17:35  after 89km and 4hrs 15mins airtime Smile .

There followed ; a bit of a walk, a lucky lift to Carmarthen railway station,  and a very pleasant train ride back to Neath  as the sun set in the west Smile

Big thanks to Chris for driving to Ebbw Vale and to Viv for picking me up at the station!

07/05/2017 Hundred House

Another great day out with the BCC at Hundred House.  The tractor loaded up with gliders,  we made our way up to the hilltop for the briefing and had plenty of time to get ready while we waited for thermal conditions to develop.  Around 13:00, the first decent thermals came through and a good few ascended in the northeasterly drift that had made it initially tricky to stay up.  Pete and me were first away for the team and made good progress crossing the valley over to  the hills near the Sennybridge Danger Area.  Conditions were good and seemed to be getting better 8) , however..........nothing is guaranteed in freeflight :o

Approaching the Brecon Beacons, large amounts of cloud made for large areas of shade on the ground  so we tried to skirt around this a little by heading  southwest as there was a bit more sun shining through towards Heol Senni.  It seemed like a good move until I sank down into the valley on approach.  I did manage to find some weak lift and the air felt good as I drifted up towards the hilltop arriving with enough height to seek out a climb..........    Alas, the air seemed to change and became rough,snotty and unworkable and we both  ended up down at ridge level then  involuntarily slid off the hillside to land :o  To top it all off, the large areas of cloud over the peaks further to the east quickly melted away, allowing a procession of gliders to pass over the Beacons on their way south!

Mustn't grumble as it was a great flight while it lasted and a great day for everyone at the event Smile
Thanks once again to Viv for driving Pete's car on retrieve.

2hrs      38km
[b]09/05/2017 - Pontlottyn
My first ever flight at Pontlottyn yesterday.  Arrived around 11:30 with Viv to see Norris sitting in his van in the cold overcast conditions but the cloud quickly burned off as forecast and we were ready to launch just before 13:00.  Conditions were rather lively in the air :o  Cloudbase was not very high at around 3000' at first but regular small cumulus clouds upwind prompted me to try some into-wind flying which worked very well as I meandered along a lifty line across the valleys to Blaina.  I could maybe have reached Blaenavon but at Blaina, the sky became completely blue making the going more tricky so I tried flying a leg to the southwest.  Luckily, this worked well thanks to a stonking save over the lee of one of the hilltops.  I climbed again near Bargoed and really needed to fly a few more km to the south to make an equal- leg triangle but making it back to Pontlottyn from there in blue conditions I thought,  may have proved too tricky so I returned north to |Pontlottyn and arrived easily with  height to spare.......maybe should've been more ambitious :-\

Delighted to land back by the car though after 2 hours in the air and an FAI triangle  score of 39km 8)(many thanks to Chris D for explaining that I hadn't optimised the flight when I first uploaded it to the XC league :Smile Nice to chat with Norris, Phil, Karl and Steve J who were also  on the hill.

Another great day out flying in South wales Smile


10/05/2017 - Ffarmers

Chris D, Pete and myself bit the bullet yesterday and set off early for Ffarmers in Mid- Wales.  We arrived on-site at around 11:30 to find an intermittent breeze and blue skies but the Red |Kites were not climbing much so we waited a while for a sign of significant convection.  Just before 13:00, some kites were clearly climbing higher and I launched into some quite good conditions.  After a short while, I found a beautiful climb over a forest clearing towards the north end of the ridge  which took me  up to 4700' amsl . There wasn't much drift at altitude so I set off eastwards on the first leg of a triangle which went well for a while but in blue conditions over boonie land, I declined to push too far and returned to join Pete climbing away from the hilltop and Chris already high further out.

The seabreeze clouds were clearly encroaching from the coast and we managed to tap in to the ensuing convergence as we headed north towards Llanddewi Brefi.  Chris was up ahead and starting to get a bit low so Pete and me stayed over the higher ground until we could go no further as the seabreeze had pushed in ahead of us.  We about turned and headed back towards Ffarmers and on the way, Pete managed to ping up to 5000' +  and headed off inland to the east whilst I,  much lower down, headed back to takeoff to close my triangle.  I made it back after a bit of a rock'n roll ride in the sea air :o and landed on the hilltop just behind  the take-off  - facing the westerly seabreeze!

After packing away, I commenced retrieve duties, picking up Chris first and then Pete who had landed near Llyn Brianne reservoir  after flying over some  breathtaking landscape!

A fab day out in Mid-Wales Smile
3hrs and a 37km triangle

Must mention too, the numerous Red Kites on view - stunning 8)


17/05/2017 - Rhossili

Against the odds, we flew!  Driving down to Rhossili, the outlook was not promising and only during the last few miles did the rain stop.  I met Steve B outside the Worms Head Hotel and we were  joined by Stevie G while we waited for some business associates to appear.  We then met the BBC film  crew  and reporter out on the balcony of the pub.  There was a little breeze present and we could see up on the hill, the Combined Services were launching students from the top and this gave us an excellent weather indicator while we enjoyed an informal chat on camera  about the upcoming General Election.

At around 14:45 and chat over, we made our way up the hill to the pimple where conditions were ideal for the cameraman to get some footage.  They seemed  pleased with the results and filming over, we were left to enjoy the rest of the afternoon  in the air.  My first flight here this year ; it was nice to cruise around without instruments in the smooth air.  The sun never quite broke through though and I felt quite cold at 17:00 and landed as the wind started to pick up.

I believe that, according to the schedule,  we are to feature on the BBC Breakfast  TV News at some time on Friday May 26th Smile

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