5/9/04 - Will Price, 81.0km from Long Mynd

Date - 31/09/04
Glider - Gin Bandit
Take off SO404920
Landing SP052434
Distance 81.1km

Had a quick check of the weather forecast on Sunday night - it was looking really good xc weather for Tuesday and Weatherjack was giving a 4. Slight problem - Tuesday was my supposed to be my final day's work so pulling a sickie would have looked really bad! I gave the boss a quick ring and pleaded with her - Didn't sound very promising - Should have pulled the sickie, should have pulled the sickie I was thinking! Arrived at work on Monday to be told that today would now be my final day and I could have tomorrow off - Result! Gave Paul a bell and said to be ready to go by 5-00. 4-00 AM BEEP BEEP.....BEEP BEEP..... Alarm goes off and I'm ready to go in record time. Arrived at Paul's at 5-00 on the dot expecting him to be ready an waiting. "GET YOUR LAZY..... OUT OF BED.....FIVE O'CLOCK..... LAZY xxxx!!!" was the jist of the phone conversation (no answer at the door) .... An hour and a half later, full of tea and coffee and we were on the road. PHEW!

After much debate on where we should go (Paul thought the Bluff) I got my own way and we were heading for the Mynd (Would be my first time there so I was very excited) We arrived there about half twelve after quite a slow drive (traffic and many service station stops). There were about ten hang/paragliders in the air with fairly decent height - The sky had only just started to look really good so we hadn't missed anything. Got the brand new Bandit out for the first proper time (had a five minute flight with it on the coast). My thermalling skills were feeling a little rusty after a fairly long break from any real flying but the Bandit felt so good and I was soon into the swing of things. Pushed out from the ridge and caught a boomer. Everyone headed for me, out climbed me, and all got away whilst I was heading back to the ridge to find another! How did that happen? Wasn't long though before I was in another climb and this time got away comfortably - Phew.

For the first few climbs I didn't make it quite to base because of the inversion but it wasn't long before I was in the white stuff, spiralling at one point to get myself out! There were a few streets forming so I knew that this could be a good chance of my first big one. Met a sailplane on the way - Never seen such a big smile on a pilot's face! He circled round me a few times and was on his way. Base was at about 4500ft so I was able to relax, sing (badly) and enjoy the view between climbs and for the first time I found the navigation quite easy. I ended up on a heading to Evesham with big blue patches to the South and diminishing clouds to the North and East (maybe should have tried to track South early in the flight) Found a low save at Evesham but was on the edge of airspace so had to leave the climb and land. I was exhausted but had the biggest adrenaline rush ever so was giggling like a giggly thing. Gave the wing a big kiss, packed her away then measured my rough distance and called Paul... "50k"

"Can't be, you're a fair distance from me and I'm about 50k from takeoff" ".......Sorry looking at the wrong scale...50 miles so 80k!" "idiot!"

"Personal best!!!..........."

Paul also did a personal best - Pretty much exactly the same distance but had headed back into wind for the last 20 or so km of his flight after reaching a big blue patch. The difference in times was amazing - I did about 80k in about 4 1/2 hours. Paul did about 80k in about 2 1/2 hours! He was on a Gin Zoom though!

The hitch back was easy - A prison officer took me a third of the way - She had some interesting stories. Another lift got me to Kidderminster, where Paul picked me up. There commenced the challenge of trying to keep my eyes open and navigating us to a friend's house in mid Wales but that's another story!