4/3/2000 - Tom Mayne, 27.7km from Frocester

Hi Tim

Date - 4-3-00
Canopy - Nova Vertex 24
Site - Selsley Common
Take off grid ref - SO 828 032
Landing grid ref - SU 081 918
Distance - 27.7 Km

A good start to the season, but ultimately quite frustrating. I'd spent a couple hours on top of Selsley Common waiting for the wind to drop, which it did on numerous occasions, only to pick up again just as I was about to get my glider out of the bag. Eventually it dropped enough, for long enough to have a go.

The air was pretty lively, real spring thermal stuff that you read about in Skywings, but I never seem to experience very often. I took one thermal up to about 400ft, but it fizzled out, and with the wind being quite strong I couldn't make it back to the front and had to land. About ten minutes later the wind had dropped a bit again, and a nice looking street was forming overhead, and I was soon back in the air and starting my climb out.

The climb started well, a good 3 to 4 up average, but by the time I'd reached 1500ft above take off the climb rate had reached 8 up (ft/min) on the averager, with peaks of up to 12. This rate of climb was sustained for the next 2000ft, probably the best sustained climb I've every had!. At around 1000ft from cloud base I started thinking that it might be a good idea to head for the edge of the street, as I didn't fancy getting sucked into what was a pretty heavy duty cloud!. I gained a few more hundred feet on the way to the edge but the lift stopped well before I got there, and I started heading down the street.

Heading downwind I explored the street a bit, and noticed three things. First, the ground was sodden, all the fields had standing water in them, so I was likely to get soaked when I landed, and finding a thermal that wasn't associated with clouds was going to be impossible. Second my ground speed was very high, around 60kmh, so I was going somewhere fast. Third, that somewhere wasn't going to be very far away as the cloud street was heading straight through the middle of Lyneham airspace.

So it wasn't long before I had to leave the street and head for another that was clearly pretty rubbish and possibly decaying, too far away, and also the only hope for getting past the airspace for some big distance. Needless to say I got there too low at about 1000ft AGL, the street was re-developing, and I did get a few scraps of lift but it was not to be. One consolation though I managed to reach the disused airfield near Cricklade, which was nice and big and open (comforting in a strongish wind), and also it looked pretty dry!. I decided to land on the edge of it, and landed just the right side of an electric fence that was there for no apparent reason, and was able to pack up on a nice dry concrete track, luxury.

Cheers for now,