05/07/04 - Jim Mallinson, 79.6km from Westbury
I had a lovely flight from Westbury yesterday:
TO Westbury ST 899 516 at 1520
Glider Gradient Avax RSE 26
I didn't even think about going flying until about one o'clock and then headed down to Westbury with no big plans - maybe a little out and return if I was lucky. It was very cyclic - I picked up Sam Moffet from the bomb-out field on the way - and my first attempt had me side-landing below the NNE take-off. Next time was better: up to about 2500' and out over the chimney. Got nothing but on the way back stumbled into a lovely 3m/s climb. That got me to near base at about 4500' and I pushed forward again, this time towards Westbury. I didn't lose much on the glide but realised that there was a significant headwind, so made up my mind to tootle off downwind.
It was almost four o'clock, so I didn't have great expectations but the sky was looking better and better all the time. I got another climb just downwind of Westbury but left it at about 4000' because it was taking me towards the danger zone. I headed off along the A350 and over Warminster, where I got up again. I hopped from cloud to cloud but was getting my timing wrong and was down to about 2000' near the lake at Tisbury. Some bimbling in a zero and a desperate dash over Wardour Castle had me at ridge level on the north facing escarpment with the regimental badges just south of the A30.
I waved at a couple of farm workers who were at my height in a field on top of the ridge and thought it was all over when I spotted a couple of buzzards screaming up out of a small bowl about 500m to my west. Thinking I wouldn't get there with enough height to do anything I headed over, but to my delight I maintained what precious height I had and then connected with a beautiful strong climb that had me up at a 5800' base at the beginning of a street. Things were looking up. At this point I realised I'd have to track a bit more East to avoid Bournemouth so when I got to the end of the street I turned right towards Blandford. I was clear of airspace but the climbs were getting weaker and I was soon gliding towards Bere Regis, picking out a place to land.
It was 6.30 and I was already very surprised to have got as far as I had. I went along the edge of a wood and was down to about 400' agl when I stumbled into another ripper. Small and snotty, it tried to get rid of me but I clung on and it slowly got bigger and smoother and I was singing to myself as I drifted along in a 2-up, now on a SE track and heading towards Wareham. Another look at the map had me avoiding Bovington and some weird danger zones that extend in from the sea.
At about 3500' I set off on glide from above Wareham. It suddenly got strangely rough and I wondered if my 20kph tailwind was going to turn into a sea breeze. But it didn't, and I arrived over Corfe Castle at 7 o'clock with about 1500' to play with. A few turns in the last lift of the day and I turned towards Swanage. Nervous of landing in rotor on the other side of town - I couldn't see what was there - I put her down in a strong (at least 30kph) wind with a very big grin on my face. It was even bigger when Sean Cunningham said he'd come and get me, and I spent a couple of happy hours in the pub waiting for him.
See you soon