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Steve J's flying diary

Sunday. 13 March 2016. Abernant.

At last a day worth blogging about. Didn't fancy the long trip to Pandy, so went for the local option.
Arrived at around 1pm to find Rhun and Jon M already enjoying the bright sunny conditions, and Viv trying to find her way out of the tip Sad
With no sign of any sheep on the hill, wasted no time in getting airborne in the brisk conditions. Great to practice thermalling again after such a long lay-off due mainly to the weather; it seems we're not only getting wet summers, but our winters are going the same way.
Flying was typical spring conditions, very 'up and downy', with the need to top/slope land now and again as the breeze shut off; though in the main it was fairly easy to stay aloft. Peter L. arrived a short time later and made gaining altitude (and staying there) look like a piece of cake.
At around 2pm Rhun went down to help retrieve Viv at which point Jon and I managed a climb up to just over the 1K ato mark Smile Peter had already got to about 2k shortly after taking off and stayed there, roaming over the valley and beyond; great bit of flying Smile
At around 3pm, after taking in the grand views, landed and packed up. My new Sigma 9 will have to wait for a Rhossili-day !
A pleasant surprise to see Gron call in on his way back from the re-pack.
Good to be back in the 'saddle' and re-discovering the joy of flying in Wales on a bright, sunny spring day , joyio !

Seven Sisters. Monday. 21 Mar 16

A NW'ly so decided on Seven Sisters to try out my new Gopro toy. Arrived at midday to brisk conditions and the hill to myself. Within minutes the wind moderated so TO. The sun was still shinning; contratry to some forecasts which suggested widespread cloud pm. Though at around 1pm it did start to cloud over, but brightened up again very soon. Had a great afternoon with some good height gains up to the 1k ato mark. I guess I could have climbed higher, but at SS this requires some commitment by drifting 'over the back'; and all those trees.
After nearly 2 hours of flying, landing only to rest my aching arms and answer the call of nature, the breeze dropped at about 3pm as the predicted cloud-cover rolled in and blotted out the sun. The thermals also became less pronounced as the sky got greyer. My plan was to head for Rhossili at 1ish, to try out my new Sigma, but it was hard to leave SS when the sun was out and the thermals abundant Smile

Looking at XC weather the wind was a hoofing 20 mph SW at Mumbles Head at around 3pm today, while at Seven Sisters it had dropped to almost nil ! Quite a strong sea breeze on the coast. Sea temperature is currently an unusually low 7.C; it's usually about 9.C.
My vario recorded 10.c in the air when flying.


Mynydd Dinas. 25 Mar 2016

A strong breeze expected to develop as the afternoon progressed, so decided to take a look at MD for midday. The wind on TO was top-endish, but flyable. Launched at 12:30ish into a stiff breeze, but as I got up-wind of the compression it was fine. Spent 40 mins thermalling up to the wispy stuff at around the 700 ato mark, pausing to think of the misery of the occupants of the very slow-moving traffic on the M4 below. Buzzards, kestrels, gulls and even skylarks joined in the spring melle of thermic activity. Only one tuck while chasing the 'wispies' about.
Another lesson in Gopro manipulation today. I'm sure there will be a time when editing the stuff will take a shorter time than the actual footage; or does that never happen, lol.
Knowing that the wind was increasing later and my into wind speed was in single figures, plus the sight of a few 'lennies' in the distance, forced a landing in the MT playing fields below. On the ground there was hardly any wind, though it is well shielded from the SW. Checking my PC when I got home it had actually decreased at Mumbles Head.
Should have bolted over to Cwmafan for a short XC and an Easter Egg !

Llandewi Brefi.  31 Mar 2016. Thursday.
RASP gave a great forecast, so pushed the boat out and headed to LDB, car sharing with Chris D & Phil T.
We arrived on the hill at around midday in sunshine, but there was no breeze present. Sky looked good, so headed for TO and waited for a short while watching the birds thermalling up in front of the hill. It became flyable at around 12.30, I made it into the air first and convinced that the thermal was to be short-lived, started looking for a slope landing option. Instead I kept rising and rising until a few hundred feet ato. It only stopped at 1,500' ato when my rusty thermalling let me down. Heading back to the hill I could see Chris and Phil still airborne; Chris way-out in front of the hill. On my way back up wind to the hill I spied a cloud coming my way and intercepted it at about 1,000' ato. I was soon back in the game and heading south Smile With my hands starting to go numb from the cold and my Gopro batteries also feeling the cold, I plodded-on, the glorious views of mid Wales in spring helping to take ones mind off the cold. The cloud drift was exceptionally slow, making progress down-wind tedious. I reached the door to the white room at 4,300' amsl, but didn't go in Smile  Strongest thermals were 4 m/s, but relatively placid to ride, given the conditions.  With my patience waining and cold hands, I bolted ahead of the cloud and paid the price in altitude. Beyond the Ffarmers ridge I saw a kite below me circling in the blue hole. I manouvered above it and was soon going upward again. Sadly this was my last thermal of the day. With a few kms of 'boonies' ahead of me, I turned around and landed on the southern slope of the Cwrt y Cado valley at 1.30pm. It had taken me 40 mins to do the 13.8 kms !  Painfully slow, but very scenic. The walk down to the valley floor was also scenic; babbling brooks, bleeting lambs, sunshine, bare oaks etc - what a great country we live in Smile  A text from Chris mentioned that he had landed south of the Ffarmers ridge; 3 kms to the north of Cwrt y Cadno. Thank heavens Phil was still at TO.
Thanks to Phil for the retrieve from a very remote spot and to Chris for driving all the way to LDB and back. Always appreciated.

It was a good effort by you Steve.

If you look at the daily scores for yesterday it seems the conditions were patchy, i.e. good for some sites, e.g. Leckhampton, but not so good elsewhere, e.g. Hundred House. Steve Parsons when flying from Llandinam said he had good conditions to start with but then after 30k quite poor. The reports in the sailplane national league report very varied conditions, excellent in some places in the southern half of the Uk with 5,000 ft + cloudbases but weak elsewhere. I think we made the best of it and yours was a very good flight for the site and conditions .Having landed shorter I guess I've got to think that :-)  As you say it was nice to be out and the Red Kites were very sociable.


Rhossili.  Thurs 23 Jun 16.
Can't believe I haven't flown here for 8 yrs ! Chose the location as I'd been parawaiting (with the exception of a short flt at SS last week) 8x recently, which is enough to try anyone's patience and wanted a site which would probably 'work'. My log book notes that my last flight was at Llandewi B. in March Sad
Arrived on the Pimple at 11am to light conditions, with only Lee Thomas(SEW) scratching around. Within a few minutes the breeze picked-up to a soarable pitch and off I went on my new Sigma 9 for an hour and a half of joy; who said ridge-soaring was boring. My new toy impressed me, but I was a little taken back by the few, and very fine, lines. Mmmmm....., it makes one extra careful on the ground near bracken and I can only image what damage a stony, foreign TO area would do to them.
With the sun shining, the views were stunning as usual. At 2pm ish 'wind lanes' started to appear on the surface of the sea, heralding the strengthening of the breeze. 
Left the hill to Roger (Pitton/Sweden) on his hang glider, an aero-modeller and another PG pilot named Steve, who seemed to thrive on the strong breeze.
So good to actually fly once again.


Nant y Moel.  Wed. Jul 2016.
Nearly gave the day a miss after falling ill with a heavy cold, but was prompted out to play by a visiting pilot/friend. Headed to NYM where there were quite a few in the air on our arrival at  <midday>. Though light and off to the S at first, the wind increased and came more on the hill soon after Viv & Nick arrived. With at least two schools and many solo pilots the place was a hive of activity. Though turning hazy, the lift and thermals were there to be found. I max'd out at 1,800' ato and contemplated an XC. My friend, Mark, had a great day and I was glad that the site worked; at last some great flying after a period, for myself, of many disappointments.
As I top landed on the high ground at around mid afternoon, I stopped to ponder at the sheer amount of activity and fun that everyone was having, from day-1 EP pupils to all the solo pilots at differing altitudes. Then looking south, the more recent additions to the wind turbines came into view; they seemed ominously close, and almost on a collision course with our beloved flying site. 
Max height: 1,800'ato
Time 1hr 20 min


Seven Sisters Thurs. 14 Jul 16.
Thought Fan G would be too windy, so went to try Seven Sister. Arrived at just after midday to quite a stiff NW'ly breeze. The sun was out, clouds looked great, so took off asap fearing that the sea breeze would encroach at any time during the coming few hours. The air was very buoyant and though the thermals were at a gentle 2 m/s, I climbed to 2,000' ato in no time. Spent the next 35 mins pondering at an xc, but across wind there were some towering clouds; these dissipated as the afternoon progressed. Thinking of the wide gap across the Neath valley to connect with the Pen y Cae ridge at Rhigos and the logistics of getting back to the hill, I more or less talked myself out of an xc. Instead I enjoyed the scenery below, and around me at Seven Sisters; pushing out quite far up-wind as there didn't seem to be any drift up high. I think I actually spent more time trying to lose height than I did gaining it ! I used my radio for the first time in many years, but without anyone to talk to after a radio check, I landed to give Nick details of where the key was located, should he decide to relocate from Fan G.
After a few minutes it was back up into the buoyant air, but for the next hour only managed the 1,000' ato mark. The air seemed to have changed in the short time I was on the deck. Still an enjoyable second-half, with the wind still showing signs of being strong; the stacks at Port Talbot, way off to the left, were almost horizontal and the turbines closer to home on the ridge were turning at a steady pace. I did catch a 4 m/s climb, but noticed that it was taking me up and towards the turbines; a hint of a more westerly drift, maybe even the start of it sea-breezing ???
Landed after an hour's flying having satisfied my 'fix' Smile Out of curiosity I measured the wind speed....aren't we suppose to do this before taking off, lol,.... it was a steady 15 to 20 mph.


Nant y Moel. Fri . 22 Jul 16
Arrived on site at <2pm> to a stiff breeze, but with a few pilots airborne being jostled about to varying degrees. Decided to sit it out until the wind was forecast to ease. At 6pm it was still blowing quite hard, but a lot of pilots had decided to fly despite the conditions; myself included. The air was fairly turbulent, but nothing too scary. With the 4 m/s ups, there were as many m/s of 'downs'. At times it felt that one was free falling Sad
After 40 mins and max alt of 700' ato came into land to find that the wind had dropped off almost completely. During the day there were all types of clouds about; from towering cu nimbs to lenticular clouds; thankfully there were none near the hill, but I guess it did explain the topsy-turvy nature of the air.

BTW, members should be aware that NYM is now a SEW members-only site and therefore need to pay the club's annual fees to fly there (£22).......and it's 'policed' by SEW members on flyable days.

The access gate lock is of a type which the key can only be removed if the lock is in the closed/locked position i.e. you can no longer leave the gate in the unlocked position for following-on pilots. It's also very difficult to open due to the limited space inside the cavity of the barrier; even with the new shorter 'modified' key; I had to hacksaw 1cm off the head of the key (as advised by the SEW committee).

Mynydd Dinas. Saturday. 23 Jul 16. Breezy on the coast all day so walked up to MD late afternoon. It was still breezy when I launched at 6pm, but out in front of the hill it was pleasantly soarable, with a few thermals to boot. Spent an hour in the company of a flock of gulls, all enjoying the thermic air. I only got to 500' ato, but a few gulls got higher, lol.
Just after 7pm the smoke stacks in the steel works started to go vertical, signalling the drop in the breeze, and the end of play.
It clouded over a tad after 6pm, but non-the-less it was great messing about with the hill to one self. To the SE on Mynydd Margam, the newly-erected stems of wind turbines have started to emerge; though the initial turbines seem to be well back from the front of the hill. Hope it stays that way, as it's sometimes possible to hop off Mynydd Dinas and run along this ridge to Margam Park and beyond. Closer by, the solar panels which cover Mynydd Emroch are quite extensive covering many fields.

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