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Viv's Blog 2017
#21

9th July. Merthyr. The BCC is on and I am drafted into the team due to only 6 pilots from SWWSC being there early enough. I have no tracklog equipment, just a vario and radio. Wind is light and off the hill, we watch as the first gaggle slope lands, clouds are deep and grey for 70% of the sky, by about 1pm the wind pulls round intermittently and NickR and others get away, I launch and blatt back and fore along the ridge, unwilling to push out over the bracken and to avoid the walk up from any bomb-out I land after 10 mins of light wind soaring. As the afternoon passes the windsock oscillates like the heads of Wimbledon spectators, I go again and widen my flight path, gain some height and land in a lull back on launch. I resolve to groundhandle for a while, and as the sky clears of the grey I tiptoe off the edge for a massive flight under the biggest of the cu-nim it's sucky and I keep a firm hold on the controls as I go into orbit, head for the blue areas in the hope of calmer air and wish I had more than a fleece on, there is opportunity to leave the hill but I am cold and have to speedbar down to land again on target and despite collapsing the wing immediately am pulled off my feet in the now strong breeze. I avoid a drag by heaving on the C's on one side. I pack up and prepare to meet Nick with his car in the town, and watch as Mutti, a red ribbon pilot, launches and is carried away over the back at great height. 1.5 hrs, 3 flights.

I may as well try to catch the wind - Donovan
#22

12th July. Pandy. Nick takes us to Hay Bluff with the intention of doing a triangle with Aaron but it's overcast and too windy so we do Pandy instead. Aaron leads the way with PaulY and I follow, with Nick launching as rearguard, with radios to keep us all in the loop. However all the best laid plans are liable to change, like the weather. For me it's turbulent at the hottest part of the day and although I take advice from Nick to push away from the hill where I am somewhat pinned, into the sunny part of the valley, thereby gaining massive height at high speed, he is soon above me. I espy a farmer cutting hay and head over to catch the guaranteed thermals, but the air is lumpy and I edge further up the valley. A lull has me rushing for the hillside before I get too low, and manage to scratch up avoiding the trees, but never recover my previous height, as I turn I see Nick hugging the ridge, and when I push back out and sink again I target a newly mown hay meadow for a successful landing and chat to the farmer. By the time I pack up and hitch back with the original owner of the parking field Nick has driven down and we ascend to try another flight. Nick launches and goes straight to the landing field, by the time I have retrieved him the clouds have blocked the sun and the wind is light and off the hill. The evening restitution does not happen, I wait in harness to Alpine launch when the sock comes round, until the face of the hill is in shadow and the sock confirms that the air has gone katabatic. Other pilots who arrive after us call it off, and we enjoy a pint in the Skirrid Arms, Wales' oldest pub, before I trudge off to work. 1 hour.

I may as well try to catch the wind - Donovan
#23

16th JulyRhossili. It's too windy for my lightweight Gin so I volunteer to be Nick's passenger so that he can get some hours in.  Dave is there with his hang glider and acts as anchor. All three of us are dragged as a gust snatches the wing, no damage. We launch successfully and enjoy a scratchy boat about mostly behind the campsite, then return for a smooth landing utilising the qwik-outs. 45 mins. Followed by plenty of parachat and a lovely pint in the Rake and Riddle, a microbrewery that used to be a Chinese restaurant called the Sea Garden. Rakes and riddles are tools used in harvesting cockles which was a large industry hereabouts in days gone by.

I may as well try to catch the wind - Donovan
#24

17th July. Heol Senni. Nick urges me to launch before it gets too windy, and I am on the deck in light wind within 5 mins. By the time I pack up and walk up again he has left the hill but there are other pilots now present so I feel confident of launching again. I try to launch in a lull as the wind has increased as forecast, but the lines drop over my head and I need to unharness to detangle. A strong gust picks up the whole kit and had I not been holding one brake it would have gone over the wall behind. Nasher comes to my aid and eventually I launch and stay up, thermalling up where possible, sinking in the lulls, finding it difficult to push far out from the hill, somewhat pinned, and as I line up for a top landing am taken by the drift behind the wall and dumped in rotor. Nasher checks I am ok then launches to join the others, and by the time I pack up they are all out of sight. I am stuck behind the wall for ages until a latecomer, Colin, sees my plight and lends a hand. 30 mins. Nick texts to say he is at home,so I collect the windsock and head downhill. After 2 walkups my feet ache in my hot boots so I roll the gliderbag off the edge and stroll down unencumbered. The road up is now open so I go home the short way.

I may as well try to catch the wind - Donovan
#25

7th August. Rhosili. After a hard day's work I am delighted to see on Telegram that the weather has cleared enough to offer a flight here. I gleefully trot up the hill with my lightweight kit, seeing Nick in the air and Steve Milson doing tandems, and Glyn, a new member on red ribbon. I plant the windsock in the gorse at the front of the pimple and decide to go from there as the wind is top end as mentioned on Telegram. I launch successfully on first inflation, and Nick pushes me off. I enjoy 1 hour 15 mins, venturing over the campsite at height, staying out front the whole time, terrific views up the Loughor where I worked earlier, over the sea to the cliffs, the tide is in so there is no beach to land on, slow progress and nice height the whole time, over the village for a nice constant aspect approach to land accurately as the sky darkens with incoming weather, by the time we pack up only Ben is up, Glyn has landed in the ferns and I snigger, fondly remembering my own follies as a new pilot. We savour a pint of Gower Gold in the congenial atmosphere of the King Arthur.

I may as well try to catch the wind - Donovan
#26

10th August. Fan G. Going the long way round due to road closure, and a diversion to see if Seven Sisters is on, Nick and I arrive for a late lunch while assessing conditions and after he tests the air I push off after some groundhandling, beating back and fore and top landing when a helicopter passes across the top of the hill. I relaunch in a slightly stiffer breeze and this time push out over the valley, to my dismay the breeze shuts off in cloud and I sink ever lower, trying to catch a low save from the bowl by the road doesn't work but I am high enough to cross the road and land in the waist high undergrowth opposite the layby. Unfortunately there is no space to turn into wind and the wing flops over the barbed wire fence, and I am dragged into the stone wall. I pull myself together and watch Nick boating about at cloudbase, then cadge a lift to the Ancient Briton from a holidaymaker who is enjoying a cuppa in the layby. I spread the kit out on the grass there to check for damage, none apparent, and soothe my bruises with a delicious pint of Gold Thread while I await my vehicle. 2 flights, 30 mins airtime.

I may as well try to catch the wind - Donovan
#27

28th August. Nant-y-Moel. The bank holiday traffic slows my journey, but am rewarded by the sight of 10 or so gliders aloft. The gate is only closed by a loop of rope, and by early evening I am ready to launch, just waiting for a lull in the 20mph+ gusts. My first leg is along the front of launch and back, then push out into the valley almost to the village, then back to the mast end and close the triangle to land where I started. 20 mins of fun in the lively air.

I may as well try to catch the wind - Donovan
#28

17th Sept. Heol Senni. Arrive late morning to find overcast sky, few vehicles and a chill wind. No gliders aloft so I parawait in car with book and flask for awhile, then stroll up the track which is now a stream of runoff to see around the front of the hill, just as the early birds take flight at last. I labour up the soggy hill mid-afternoon to find conditions perfect now that the sun is shining, a constant light breeze. I set up, do checks and a practice inflation, then lob off without looking at the sky or turning the vario on. After a mere couple of beats along the front I head to the far side of the quarry where I was told there was good lift, just as a huge grey cloud encroaches to block the buoyancy, and I tickle down the far shoulder and back, sinking all the way. At the quarry I view my landing options with dismay and drift out into the sodden valley to luckily land on a hillock by the track. Pack up, feel a speck of rain, see most pilots have made it to the LZ and decide to call it a day. A 10 min extended t.t.b. around the whole site. A beer by the fire with NickR at the Ancient Briton is my solace. Take my wing home to relax and warm up on it's own sofa. Time to put the central heating on for the winter methinks.

I may as well try to catch the wind - Donovan
#29

19th Sept. Nant-y-Moel. A torturous drive up the valley through the roadworks has us ready for launch in light wind with lovely fluffy streets promising XC. I launch 3rd of 5 pilots and staying close to the hill to avoid bombing out, tickle along to the gully and back then to the far edge of the cliff by the trees, then again a little higher, and on the 3rd beat the sun went in and I scratched up to the windsock for a slope landing. As I sipped my tea the wind came back on and most got high and far in all directions. The wind did not abate for me to launch and as a speck of rain fell I quickly mushroomed the wing into the stuffsac. The boys were looking pinned, too top-end for me now, then a really massive cu-nim passed by and everyone landed. With the strong breeze and looming clouds we canned it. 10 mins. I have had boiled sweets that lasted longer.

I may as well try to catch the wind - Donovan
#30

26th Sept. Bryncaws. A claggy morning, visibility clearing enough for NickR to drag me out for a look, we negotiate the deteriorating farmyard and park by the feed station after the last gate, walk the rest of the way and plant the windsock to find that it is on, in a fickle kind of way. The lush pasture is soaking, no groundhandling or parawaitng, we launch at 1500hrs and I follow him along to the trees, am nearly decked as I pass around the far end over the profuse brambles, but manage to scratch round and up to the trees again, a few beats and I am above the treeline, practising weight shift turns being more effective than hauling on the controls, then bimble along to the seaward end of the site, no mast or people to avoid, I espy a kite out over the track and go there, rewarded with enough lift to get back to the trees, staying close to the top and pushing out over the shelves to catch the updraught there, circling in the intermittent lift as the sun pops in and out, eventually going too far behind the shelf and coming in for a nice landing behind the last bend. I reinflate for another go but the rotor wrings the wing too near the barbed wire fence, so I pack up smartly, the wing is dampened by the long wet grass. I retrieve the windsock, Nick lands nearby in a stiffer breeze, and I take the sheep track down to the car, trimming the distance to walk by more than two turds!  45 mins. A nice long flight, pleasant walk and constant birdsong nearly made me burst with joy.

I may as well try to catch the wind - Donovan


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