19/4/99 - Jim Mallinson, 48.3km
Here are the details of a wonderful flight I had yesterday:
After an hour or so faffing around in light and bitty thermals things picked up and Adrian Thomas climbed magestically away. I found myself in a pretty gnarly bit of lift that tracked down the ridge before lifting off as an 8-up when it hit the trees. As I climbed to 'base (c. 5,000') I realised that my map was no use to me at all because I'd folded it for an ENE breeze but it had swung around to SE. I radioed to Sam Moffett on the ground who told me I'd have to head NE to avoid Lyneham airspace.
Soon after that I lost radio contact. I played catch-up with Adrian (who was unfortunately on a different frequency), hopping from cloud to cloud and enjoying the views of the Marlborough Downs, Avebury and Silbury Hill until I lost him at 'base while drifting ever closer to Lyneham. I pulled in the ears and got on the bar to get out of the cloud and avoid the airspace thinking that Adrian was just ploughing straight into it. (He later told me that he simply glided over the top of it-it only goes up to 3500').
I decided then that I would have to get my map sorted and that involved opening the whole thing up, somehow spotting the word Swindon on it and crumpling it back into the case looking like one of those Alpine 3D jobs! I headed NE and got low over the M4 SE of Swindon before getting a climb back to 'base and clear airspace ahead.
I'd somehow caught up with Adrian (distance-wise not height-wise) and we headed off in the direction of Cirencester, following a very useful railway line. Meanwhile lots of high cloud had arrived and things looked a little desperate but somehow it kept working for another hour or so. Gliding under a cloud just NW of Swindon I got a few little blips but nothing that I felt was worth turning in, especially since the lakes at Cerney were within range and I remembered something from the Avon site guide about them being thermal triggers.
Adrian had worked the lift under the cloud and was now a couple of k behind me and about 2,500' higher! As I went over the lakes I didn't get anything until I was over the last part and preparing to land. A few tiny blips somehow organised themselves into a 1-up which took me from about 200' agl to 2000. By now there was no sunshine anywhere, the blob fizzled out and I set off on a death glide but found a zero to take me over Oakley Wood to a field of linseed just beyond.
I think that, possibly, for a minute or two, I may have had the longest UK flight of the year until Adrian flew over to land a few k further on. A very kindly farmer took me to find Adrian at a (sadly closed) pub where we waited for Tim Guildford to come and get us.
Anyway, sorry to tantalise you with these ramblings-I expect you're cursing us layabout students already!