17/07/02 - Jim Mallinson, 75.8km from Coombe Gibbet

July 17th

Take off 1340 hrs
Landing 1700 hrs
Hook Farm SU 832 027
Witness for both Tim Guilford
Distance 75.7km

Windy and rough on the hill, and again almost all the pilots there had chosen to sit it out. To add to the general lack of enthusiasm, someone arrived and told everyone about the Farnborough airspace restrictions and high cloud was approaching fast. A couple of us launched anyway and I soon found a boomer. I was joined by Sean Cunningham and then Tim Guilford. Richard Westgate had flown a little earlier and said that it wasn't worth risking the conditions when only 30km was on the cards. However, on seeing us screaming up to base, he couldn't resist and took off a few minutes later.

Tim and I worked some weak lift under scrappy clouds for a while. Sean was to our north and Richard climbed out about ten minutes after us. We all met up just before Whitchurch. Bobbing up and down between 3000' and 4000' we tracked SSE for some time before heading off to the east, very close to the Farnborough restriction. Tim wasn't sure what we were doing and was thinking about turning back to try for an out and return. I thought the best plan would be to follow Richard, as I knew he wouldn't be breaking any rules.

We were approaching the M3 and losing height fast. Richard and I stumbled into a strong and rough climb over the motorway. Tim came to join us and as we were climbing Richard was shouting at me. I couldn't make it all out, but I got the gist: he'd been on his airband radio and got us permission to go through the airspace, with a ceiling of 4000'! Sean joined us and we flew to Chichester pretty much as a gaggle all the way. I wasn't going to try racing ahead again...