7/9/03 - Stephen Chiles, 27.0km from Mere Rifle Range

Hi Tim

I had one of the most enjoyable flights of the year today - cloud base was low...etc. but flying with friends really makes the whole thing so much more fun (and lets you get so much further !).

Date: 7th September 2003
Take Off: Mere, Rifle Range, ST 810343
Landing: ST 793612
Distance: 27.0 km

I was having a bad day - I had my bad tandem landing captured on film for national tv the day before and had also piled in very badly with Lisa earlier that day - I was aching all over. I wasn't set on going XC so didn't take any food/water/scarf..etc that I normally do - thank god I decided at the last minute to take my flying suit and thick gloves.

Too many people on the ridge so I pushed way out over the tents and got into the front of the same thermal several others were already climbing out in at the bowl. Quickly climbed to join the rest although still a bit further forward than most. Eventually ended up with Ken and Tim B when Tim B shouted across that he didn't have a phone, map or any money - could he follow us - great (although Tim and Ken proceeded to irritate each other arguing about which way we should all be turning - Ken right, Tim left). We were still climbing slowly together in the same thermal over 2km back from the ridge - Gary S had rushed off earlier and got low but was now climbing fast ahead of us and helped us all centre back into the thermal and take it up to cloud base. Gary dashed off again while Tim and I hung around pulling big ears and drifting along at the front edge of the cloud. Ken disappeared ! Ken eventually reappeared high above and pushing forward.

I went for a glide to Gary over Longleat while Tim held back. Got low but Gary found good lift above centre parks and I was soon back under another cloud with Tim (who was at the other side of it) - last I saw of Tim. Gary had sped off ages ago and was ahead scratching round under Ken who was climbing well again. Glided to Gary - who found us some more lift and off I went back up to cloudbase. Gary dashed off again to Westbury but his luck ran out here. Ken was low ahead and my lift was dying so I glided towards him in the hope he'd find lift by the time I got there - he did !

We both got to the best height of the day so far at about 3500amsl in a blue thermal - cloud base had been 3000-3200amsl. Level with Ken and we glided off to another blue thermal taking us to 3500ft again just past to the side of Trowbridge. I could now see home and was very tired from two late nights, battered and bruised, cold, hungry, desperate for a pee - it doesn't take a genius to work out what happened next ! I left Ken and tried to glide for home. I hit more sink than expected and wasn't going to make it - however, saved by lift over Avoncliff/Winsley/Bradford - but stuffed it up and ended up landing the other side of Winsley annoyingly close to home. Easy lift back home. Ken was still going well.

What a fantastic day !