30/08/03 - Stephen Chiles, 25.9km from Westbury

Hi Tim

I've just got back from a cracking flight from Westbury:

Date: 30th August
Take off: Westbury (Bratton Camp) ST 901517
Landing: ST 842265
Distance: 25.9 km

I struggled for most of the day; although I kept getting 1000ft or so above take off I wasn't able to follow it back because of the ranges and lost it whenever I tried going crosswind. Mid afternoon I finally got my moment and as I was a few hundred feet above the ridge I saw a large flock of birds beginning to thermal way out in front - I headed for them and hit lift all the way. This got me out front and climbing so I could get plenty of height before even thinking about the ranges. Next I had a short sinky glide to the end of the ridge by the chalk pit where two hangliders seemed to have a good thermal - I managed to join in on this one and got lots of height. Again, to avoid the ranges I had to push forward before reaching cloudbase but as I did so I ended up in a screamer over Westbury. Eventually hit cloudbase at about 5500ft. Glided round the restricted airspace and to Warminster but no lift there, carried on gliding and eventually found a good thermal from Longbridge Deveril - back up to 5600ft all the way to the A303. From here I made a bad decision and headed straight on over a blue sink hole (oops). No more lift until just before landing. Found a great landing spot - a grass helipad with windsock by a hotel near Motcombe with wedding reception in progress (they were surprisingly uninterested in my arrival !).

Bit of a walk out to a main road (eventually got a lift for a few k) and then a long walk/wait until I got a lift on the A350 but at least they took me all the way back.