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Nick's Airtime '09

30/04 - Rhossili

I believed the forecast and put the gear in the car in the rain and set off at 14:30.  Out on Gower, the roads were dry and the sun was shining - a different world!  The peninsula really does have its own microclimate!

Arrived to see a couple of hangliders and one paraglider in the air.  Launching at 16:15, the wind was a light WSW and some patchy orographic cloud generated some quite lively bits of lift.  Later on, the sun went in behind a cloud sheet and the wind dropped to almost nothing for a while before picking up again at around 18:30 bringing with it a large amount of orographic cloud which descended almost to the pimple.  Flyable yes but VMC it weren't!

Quite a good turnout considering the weather conditions elswhere - Stevie G, Gerry, Viv, Ian D and Jamie plus two HG's from the JSHGPGC.  :-)

Nant Y Moel - R ather large amounts of cloud but the wind seemed to be on the hill when Steve J,  Andy and myself arrived just before midday.  There was a BCC comp going on so there were soon up to 30 gliders in the air but the buoyant conditions meant that there was a generous spacing between pilots in the air.  However, cloudbase was stubbornly low and the ground heavily shaded.  Nonetheless, groups of pilots left the hill and some seemed to maintain some altitude.  I planned to leave it until as late as possible before the arrival of the seabreeze to see if conditions would improve.  I made cloudbase once at 3000' amsl and moved away from cloudsuck across to join up with two others circling away from the hill but missed their climb and flew back to the hill- my one chance as it turned out  :roll:.  A while later the wind increased as the seabreeze swept in and conditions became decidedly rough and unpleasant.  After sustaining my first UK full frontal on the Sigma 7, I decided to land and call it a day.  I heard later that some  of the pilots who flew XC made flights of around 30km - it just shows what can be achieved with a positive approach!

Blown out inland so headed along to Port Talbot to see if the wind would ease as afternoon went into evening.  Walking up, I saw Steve J launch and quickened my pace.  It's quite a testing walk up from the streets below!  Wind at takeoff was ok so launched and joined Steve for a pleasant evening flight with some bubbly thermals coming through - good practice!  It's a good while since I last flew here and I enjoyed every minute of it!  Nice of Steve's partner Sabina to give us a lift from the Playing Field back to the cars too!  :-)

Fan G South West - Arrived on the hill around 13:00  to find conditions quiet with the wind a liitle off to the south but after a bite to eat and some sun bathing, the wind started to cycle up from the southwest and the cloud drift seemed to veer from south to southwest too. Took off at around 14:30 with Viv and Tom and found some quite nice climbs up to around 600' ato and felt confident that it would improve enough to get away alas, the sea air seemed to move in making the thermic cycles short and  thermals small and narrow and the clouds faded to blue.

No 4 o'clock thermal and no restitution later on either.  Still - plenty of groundhandling, launching and landing  practice and a beautiful day watching the Swifts  and listening to the Skylarks

Abernant - Wind seemed to calm down in the evening so went along and enjoyed a smooth evening flight with John Nash and Viv, well mainly smooth apart from the odd pocket of methane coming up off the tip!  Very warm in the air.

After a few hours parawaiting at Heol Senni, we got the call from Stevie G saying that it was flyable at Abernant(cheers Stevie!) so we decamped and went down in convoy.  It was quite strong at times on the hill  and the lift was very broken lower down.  Steve Parsons was first away and showed us that it was possible.  A short while later, a gaggle of four floated away from the hill in a weak but consistent thermal(myself, Dave and Idris Birch and Andy H)  We drifted for a good while in very weak lift and then managed to connect with some active  clouds near Ammanford and got up to cloudbase.  Looking back, I espied Steve J a little off to the northeast and heading our way.    Clouds marking the way seemed to die away  after Crosshands and left us gliding downwind into the blue.  All was fine until we hit the seabreeze lower down.  The air became particularly choppy above a landfill site a few km before Carmarthen(from one rubbish tip to another I mused as I wrestled with the glider!)  Landed a little further on at 27.4km.  It would have been nice to make it to Carmarthen(Dave B did!) but a great late afternoon flight pulled out of the bag.  Very warm in the air, great views and  five of us  broke my old site record set way back in 1994 on my Sigma 2 and congrats to Andy H for a personal best!
Many thanks to Viv, Stevie, Sabina and Jessica for the retrieves. 

Heol Senni - a rather breezy day and a text from Steve J on the hill confirmed this.  Went up for an evening flight and launched at around 17:30 with Viv, Andy, Steve and Ian Dobby.

Barely any cloud but some reasonable height gains above takeoff(1100').  Viv climbed to 1100' too! However,  with single figure groundspeeds, I declined to go  XC and stayed in the locality enjoying  some good glides out in to the valley.

Heol Senni 02/07/09 - With the seabreeze whipping up the valley during my Post Round, I decided not to rush up to the hill straight from work as a big distance flight would not be possible.  I went home first for some lunch and a shower.  Arriving at the hill refreshed, I was suprised to see the XC hounds still on the hill(great to see Steve P and Chris D).  As I was getting ready to takeoff, Steve, Chris and Steve J got up and away.  The wind had backed a little to the north when they climbed out but then returned to northeast when I launched.  Thermals were very small and it was a job to get much above takeoff height but I perservered into the evening to no avail -  500' max.  The breakout thermal at Heol Senni waits for no one!

Well done to Steve J for flying home to Cwmafan!

Andy H, Viv and myself were left with the birds and sheep...... baaaaaa!    :roll:

Heol Senni -  Arrived shortly after midday.  The sky seemed to open up and the wind on the hill seemed to be easing so I launched at about 13:00.  The air was very unstable and quite lively with very small broken thermals.  After around 30 mins , I had managed to climb to 800' a.t.o. but no further and was soon back down scratching around so I decided to top-land and eat some lunch.  After 14:00, conditions fell to very light on the hill so I had to wait a while for a good thermal cycle to launch into.  I  managed to patiently work a weak broken thermal to 3200' amsl and minced along to Fan G where I could drop in and soar the bowl quite nicely.  The air in the bowl was lively to say the least and it took me a while to find  a decent climb to get up and away again but patience and perseverance paid off and eventually, I was propelled to cloudbase on the best climb of the day(5100'amsl).  I followed an active line of cloud down to Seven Sisters maintaining my altitude all the way. There, I started to head southeast but with too much shade on the ground and no good clouds to aim for, I changed tack and headed southwest over Sarn Helen instead where I found one more decent climb over the last sunny patch in the area.  Then I went on glide , crossing the Neath Valley and following the high ground towards Cimla to try and delay the inevitable meeting with the seabreeze.  A good glide took me to the School Playing Field at Cimla and a smooth touchdown.  A great flight - very cold and fresh up high!

It certainly made up for missing out last tuesday at the same site.  Thanks to Viv for the retrieve!  Didn't make it to Aberaeron for the Airspace Consultation  - I'll just have to make the last one on the 29th in Lampeter!  :-D

Rhossili - A breezy day but  looked at the Worms Head Webcam this morning and could see people flying!.  Thought I'd hedge my bets and put my fishing rod in the boot along with my trusty Sigma 5.  Arrived at 13:00 to see some Hangies with good height and a few Paras frolicking above the raised beach.  Too windy for my liking so I'm gone fishing for the afternoon and catch my supper.

Walking back along the clifftop at 17:00, I espied a few paras launching from the pimple, so after a quick change of clothing at my car,  I'm on the pimple for 17:30 and the wind is just right.  I settle into a nice evening flight beating back and fore identifying  the other pilots - Norris, Stuart, James, Ben and new member Rhun.

After a while I detected that the wind was veering to the northwest(seabreeze dying away to be replaced by the prevailing northwesterly wind) so I headed out over the water along the cliffs and for some reason that defies explanation, I found myself going up.  Forward speed in all directions was fine but it did feel a little spooky.  I had  no instruments and regrettably, my camera was in the car but I can confidently say that I was wafting around at well over 1000' above the sea out off the end of the cliffs.  The views were outstanding but I couldn't really comprehend what was keeping me at that altitude - I'd have to say that in 20 years of flying, I 've never experienced anything quite like it - it was utterly surreal!

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