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SteveJ's flying diary 2017
#1

19 Jan 17  Thurs.  Abernant.
First sortie of the year. The sun was out as I travelled to the hill, but the wind looked very light and w'ly, though on arrival the wind was brisk and east Smile With heated-gloves (and 2 kg battery) attached, TO and spent an hour boating around the winter sky. The sunshine faded to leave an over-cast gloom, but with the help of a few weak thermals got to the dizzy height of 350' ato. Good to get one's feet off the ground again; a great feeling even in an air temperature of 1.c
Also enjoying the day: Viv, Aaron, Nick and Peter
#2

9 Mar 17.  Thurs.  Mynydd Dinas.
While entertaining my grandson on Aberafan seafront in the late morning I noticed that the turbines had changed from a NW to W'ly direction, so opted to try MD rather than SSisters. Managed to get to the hill for 1:30pm and TO in a very light breeze. Hardly any dynamic lift, only small bubbles of thermals keeping one aloft; always more rewarding when you have to work to stay up Smile Spent 40 mins gaining no more than 200' ato in the strong Spring sunshine....why is it that the smell of sun screen is always uplifting. Tried out my new, and very expensive bi-focal sun glasses, which will take a bit of getting use to Sad The forecast was for the wind to drop as it did 40 mins later, when it clouded over. A short while later gravity kicked in and I was forced down. Any flying should be appreciated at this time of year, but maybe a good thermic day is only around the corner.
#3

2 Apr 17. Sunday. Fan G.
Initially I was heading for Merthyr, but a nil-wind day meant Fan G. Arrived at the gate at just past midday to find that some 'Numpty' had parked in front of the barrier. Luckily the culprit was walking up the track with a picnic (non-paraglider). Arrived at TO at 1:30ish to find a lot of folks para-waiting in the nil-wind conditions. Peter L. had just walked up and a few minutes later TO on what looked like a T to B, with some gasps and comments all round. Not sure what he saw, but suddenly his down-ward glide turned into an epic climb to base  8)  This had the effect of causing a flurry of activity; firstly by Nick who was also airborne and then by a score of others; sadly I was one of the handful of pilots who didn't 'seize the moment' and take-off and spent another hour 'faffing' about on top. Nice one Peter (man of the match). Within the next 30 mins those who had launched after Peter had differing fates, some flew off into the distance up-wind, others returned to the hill, some could be seen bombing-out; saw some one (Rhun ??) go down at Moel Feity. The wind did increase later, when it backed SW and a an hour or so of fun was had by those left behind after Peter's launch. I had  an hour, max alt. 500' ato. Kitted out for cloud-base with heated gloves, but never got there, lol.
I did try out my new 'fit-over' sunglasses (they fit over prescription glasses) which worked really well ......cheers Nick, great bit of kit.
Lots of pilots out, too many to mention. It would be interesting to hear of everyone's fate today. The 6 million dollar question goes to Peter ......... what did you see out there  ;D [size=78%]? One great leap of faith in catching that climb.[/size]
#4

8 Apr 17. Saturday. Cwmafan
After two nil-wind days it was good to see a breeze develop, but it was forecast to come from the SE Sad Watching the hill (from my back garden) for the appearance of a wing in the air nothing materialised, until Dave S text to say it was 'on the hill' at around midday. Arrived and TO at about 2pm into a cloudless, blue sky. Fearing that this was the result of C-breeze intrusion I was pleasantly surprised to get hoovered up to 1,700' ato in a 4 m/s thermals at one point Smile Higher than a few hundred feet ato there was hardly any breeze allowing one to push out over 1 km in front of the hill over the town, but on coming into land over an hour later the wind was measuring 25 mph  ???  no wonder Dave and Viv didn't/couldn't TO. Spent a splendid 1hr 10 mins above Cwmafan in the brilliant sunshine with some kites and buzzards to boot; no swallows today. Never been so high above Cwmafan and stayed on the hill, a lack of clouds put me off any XC hopes.
Well done to Dave and Viv for carrying out an impromptu litter pick; it goes down exceptionally well with land owners and shows that we do appreciate the places we fly from.
#5

2 May 2017.  Tuesday.  Ebbw Vale.
A new site for me and hard to find due to the non-exsistence of any info on the SEW web site (poor show). I followed my nose and eventually found TO with Viv, Nick & Kev (RAF) on the hill, Chris having already departed on his epic flight to Carmarthenshire. Wasted no time in kitting-up as conditions looked good, though just before I launched at 1.30pm ish, Nick was below ridge height looking up at me Sad . Once airborne the air was quite lively with the tips of my stable S9 tucking every so often just above ridge height. As with most good days, it wasn't long before we all got hoovered upwards and away from the hill. Clouds seemed to be drifting from a  SE'ly direction. Panning out just below CB at the 5,000'amsl mark I sat back and took in the views below, while keeping an eye on Nick a few kms out in front. After a few top-up thermals and approaching Merthyr my luck ran out as I watched Nick climb out while gravity took me down to land to the west of the town.
A short walk over the A470 to the bus station saw me at the main road between Tredegar and Ebbw Vale within an hour of landing, but I didn't realise that TO was another three miles away up the track across Manmoel Common; no buses here. After a mile I hid the glider in a forest and after a further two miles I reached my van. Quite a walk, phew.
Despite the return walk/work-out, a great day high-up above the world on a beautiful spring day Smile


Max altitude: 5,000' amsl
Distance:15.7 kms
Time: 50 mins


Couldn't think of anywhere better to be on a nice day. Well done to Chris & Nick who did two epic
flights into Carmarthenshire, 80+kms each !
#6

7 May 2017. Sunday. Heol Senni.
Arrived at TO at around midday to find the wind very light, but thermals cycling through every so often. On the hill, Dave S, Jon M, Chris D and two chaps who'd travelled from afar to get here. Wasted no time in launching at the start of a cycle and was hoovered up over the quarry with a gaggle. The smile came off my face as I ended up ridge soaring the Fan G bowl after only 10 mins and 4kms. Chris was high, way out to the south, leaving Jon and myself fend-off the 4kms walk back to TO Sad After 30 mins of patiently waiting, not before being about 100' below the bowl ridge at one point, Jon sniffed out a thermal out in front and was away, joined shortly after by myself. Over the 'boonies' near the Abercrave caving club/quarry I sensed it was my last chance at gaining altitude before the glide over to Seven Sisters hill. I topped up, but not by much. A gamble of a glide saw me start to get high again as some lift appeared over Onllwyn. This got me onto the SS ridge and up to 4,600' amsl; the highest part of the flight. From high above SS I could see the sea breeze front not too far to the west near Clyne. The plan was to gain some height and head south, cross-wind, to Glyncorrwg, but the magic thermal never materialised. At this point my fingers were going numb and my 'pee valve' was at bursting point  :o . Landed at Clyne in a field I'd used some years ago. I was lucky with lifts; one from the main 'old' Neath Road to Aberdulais, then a while later the same chap returned and gave me a lift all the way home. What a guy !

Total distance: 28 kms (with TPs)
Max alt: 4,600' amsl
Thermal strength: 5.5 m/s  Smile
Time: 2hrs


Thanks to Dave for driving my 'Scudo' and looking after Tilly (dog[size=0.7em]).[/size]
#7

9 May 2017. Tuesday. Pontlottyn.


Arrived at TO around midday, just in time to see Nick launch and, within minutes, was way up high and way out in front. In fact people were a bit concerned as to were he had 'disappeared' to, it was so quick.
I launched a few minutes later, but only managed the vertical bit; 1,500' ato in about 2 mins. Pushing forward only lead to decreasing altitude. Needles to say Nick soon became invisible in the hazy and  blue sky. I only tolerated the 'bouncy' conditions for 40 mins before taking a break; most-turbulent stuff from the surface up to about 500'. Para-waited for an hour, in which time Nick returned having closed his triangle. My second flight was only 10 minutes due to the conditions being similar to my first flight.
No XC, but a great place to spend a sunny spring afternoon; great views. As with last week's flight at Ebbw Vale, a 'first' for me to fly these 'c breeze-free' E'ly sites. This year I'm certainly getting my money's worth from SEW sites.


Total air time: 50 mins
Max alt: 1,500' ato
Thermal strength: 5 m/s....and quite punchy !
#8

9 Jul 2017. Sunday. Merthyr.


Arrived on the hill with Chris at around 1pm. Conditions were light and the wind off to the SW, so no rush to TO. After devouring my sarnies, clipped in and edged around to the S side of the site. Even here the lift was minimal and a sweaty work-out ensued. On seeing Chris and a few others getting some luck out in front of the hill, headed over to the old fork lift factory which paid off. That first climb measured 5 m/s and took me straight to c-base at 4,500' amsl. Drifting east I could see Rhun & Chris ahead, but a few pilots took a more N'ly route. Approaching the Tredegar/Ebbw Vale ridge I got quite low, but managed to climb back up to 3,500' after 'mouching' around the mast near Ebbw Vale flying site. I then decided to cross the A465 and track along the Llangynidr mountain road; it had worked well for me before, but not on this occasion Sad
With no lift to be found anywhere, it wasn't long before gravity kicked-in and I was on the deck in nil wind conditions 50 mins after taking off.
Walking a few yards to the mountain road, the first car which passed stopped and gave me a lift; only a mile or so, but I thought my luck was 'in' for the day. More so as the occupants were two ladies. My lucky streak soon fizzled out as I waited over two hours on a section of the old A465 near Beaufort without getting any attention at all; maybe I should have shaved before coming out. Forgotten how frustrating and tedious hitching can be.
Rhun saved the day by organizing a retrieve and thanks to Anna and the 'Binks mobil' I was back at TO to do a retrieve myself; Chris was at Monmouth. The day ended with a chat with Chris over a cold lime n lemonade. Joyio.
Big thanks to Anna and Aaron for the lift back to TO Smile
Distance, only 17.3 kms (5 tps), but always enjoyable to fly over the valleys in summer.
#9

10 Aug 2017. Thursday.  Graig Fawr.


Mmmm....a flyable day at last. With a NW forecast and sea temperatures at similar values to that on land, decided to give Graig Fawr a shot. Arrived at 1pm to find conditions very light, but managed to scrape around to the steeper part of the slope to the west of the ridge; still not much lift here either. Landed to wait a while and noticed that even the birds were having a hard time at soaring. An hour later, after taking in the fine views all the way to North Pembs, a more pronounced breeze developed, so launched and gained height right away; in typical GF fashion. At 3,600' amsl (CB around 4,200' amsl) I followed a line of clouds to the south, alternating between 2.5 grand and 3.5 grand and thought I was on my way to a typical 'milk run' to Aberavon beach or Margam Park, but while over Craig Cefn Parc it all went pear-shaped at 10.2 kms.
After a 5-minute walk down from a small ridge I had a lucky lift all the way back to Graig Fawr. A great piece of luck in this remote part of the world with narrow and empty roads.
Back at the van I was tempted to re-launch, but had to be 'dog-sitting' by 5pm; nothing like 'dogging' which doesn't require a dog, lol.
Not a massive distance, but good to be up in the clouds again and to arrive back at GF with one's vehicle intact !
#10

13 Aug 2017. Sunday. Mynydd Dinas,
Went initially to Cwmafan at midday, where although the wind was S, it was too light. By 1pm the direction was more SW, so packed -up, paid my £2 and headed to the hill in front (Mynydd Dinas) as the sky towards the upper Afan Valley (Nant y Moel) looked overcast. RASP had also predicted this earlier with much 'blueness' on its chart inland.
Didn't rush to get to the summit of MD as the wind was still light; though the sun was now shining quite strongly. On top there were plenty of thermic cycles coming up the slope, so launched within minutes and was rewarded with some great height gains in the 3 m/s thermals Smile Max-ed out at just under 1,000' ato and started tracking south above the M4 towards Margam, but turned back as the ridge has a S'ly facing bowl half-way at which I knew I'd get pinned. With the mass of concrete and tarmac  below warming up in the sun and the almost non-existence of the C breeze, the thermic activity was worth every puff of breathe to get up the hill. At one point I headed for Aberafan beach, with 500' ato under my belt when I was about half way (1km out front), but returned to the hill as I didn't want to end the flight in such conditions. On re. gaining the hill I got caught in some still air and had to head for the playing fields after 40 mins aloftSad Even on the way down there were some small thermals, but not enough to save me. 
Landed near a guy flying a drone, which on any piece of quiet green on a sunny day these days is becoming a more common sight.
40 mins of fun 'urban' paragliding Smile Wish I'd gone for the beach, lol.
Picked up by my usual female taxi driver a few minutes later Smile


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