24/4/99 - Jim Mallinson, 32.7km from Olivers
Jim here again with another flight from the Marlborough Downs:
After a couple of frustrating hours under an epic sky during which the wind backed from NW to W, a rough and broken spring thermal scooped four of us away from the hill-Me, Adrian Thomas and two others, on a Nova and a XXX.
The climb was very slow and bitty and the Nova lost it to land in the middle of nowhere for a 5k walk back. The 3 of us remaining clawed our way to the top (c. 4000') by which time we were nearly as far as Rybury. The sky downwind was not very enticing-it had pretty much OD'd-but I spotted a line of darker bases over the middle of the vale of Pewsey and radioed Adrian to point it out (we'd managed to get on the same frequency this time!).
I left the thermal and went for a full speed glide through the sink to the beginning of the street, reading a max ground speed of 68kmh on my GPS. Looking behind me there was no sign of Adrian and the XXX and I spotted them over to my left, keeping to the high ground of the Marlborough downs. I connected with the street at about 1500' agl and flew in a straight line through week lift until it got a bit more organised and I climbed up to base.
Meanwhile Adrian and the XXX were bombing out to my left, so my decision had paid off. When I was about level with Martinsell, Adrian came over the radio to announce that he'd landed and ask where I was. "Straight-lining it under that cloud-street I mentioned" was my smug reply. "You b*****d" was Adrian's.
After the first climb to 'base in the street I flew straight along it for about 15k to the end and beyond into an overcast sky for a death glide. A little blip got me over the power lines south of Rivar hill and into a field next to the gliding club.
I packed up and went over to the club for a cuppa and to ask for a lift. It turned out that after much debate the club pundits had decided that I must have had an engine! We swapped gliding stories for a while-apparently last weekend a two-seater sailplane from Dunstable with an instructor and someone on their first ever flight had been hit by lightning and lost a wing. Pilot and passenger bailed out and landed safely under their parachutes! Someone from the club then gave me a lift to a friend of mine's house nearby where I waited for a retrieve.