Because of the way the weather’s been this spring, with all the best days falling on weekends or bank holidays (Good Friday), last Wednesday 16th May was the first day I’d taken off to go flying for ages. Mike Humphries and I met up with Kirsty, Remi, Declan, Pete Douglas and Alex Kennedy at Aust and divvied up into two cars to head to an unofficial site in Wales that none of else had flown before. Ken, Ben and Rob were in an advance party having got off to an earlier start.
We arrived at Mynydd Llangorse at about 1130 and met up with Ali Andrews who lead us to a nice grassy take-off area – perfect! It’s a beautiful bowl overlooking Llangorse Lake, and it didn’t take us long to get ready and climb out under a great looking sky.
Ken, Ben, Rob and Kirsty had taken off a bit earlier and had climbed out in the previous cycle, and as Remi climbed out we could see them all doing well at various points downwind.
We were nice and high (5,000′) as we passed to the north of Magic Mountain from where I saw Ken get a climb from lowish down on the ridge behind Pandy. I flew over to join him and we both climbed back up to base again in a lovely strong thermal.
By now we were approaching the end of the high ground, and from past experience I know it’s important to be nice and high, preferably at base, as you make the transition to the lower ground to the east. But I singularly failed to do this as I dithered between following Ken who’d gone ahead on a bit of a glide and who did well under a cloud in front, and just drifting with the cloud I was under. I chose to wait a bit to see how Ken got on (I don’t think I do pimping very well), and then set off towards his cloud.
However I didn’t find any lift under it and now Ken was a couple of kms ahead, and higher than me… Not a great position for me to be in. Ken pushed on but I could see he was getting low, but I didn’t really have any option but to vaguely follow.
I passed over the next low hill about 4-5km in front of Pandy at about 500′, and flew right over what I though would be a perfect trigger – small trees, scrubby ground, and a brown field with cattle in it – however I couldn’t centre in on the small blips that I found, so pressed on towards the next likely looking area, although much of the immediate land in front was in shadow.
I’d been concentrating so hard on finding lift that I hadn’t looked at the airspace on my Garmin for a while and suddenly noticed I was closing in rapidly on the Pontrilas Danger Area, and had to make a sharp alteration of course to the right to avoid entering it. This was my downfall really as although I arrived under Ken who was barely maintaining nearby, I never found what he was working and ended up landing about 500m further on.
Ken kept at it and drifted slowly east barely maintaining height, but it was enough to get him over a bigger hill from where he eventually climbed out again and went on to land just past Gloucester for 71km. Meanwhile, I’d done 23km 😦 The other guys had done well too, Remi 80km, Kirsty 58km and Ben a fantastic 96km.
It seemed such a waste of a great day, but hey ho, I guess I can’t complain too much, I’ve had a bloody good run of flights this spring and I’m sure I’ll put it behind me soon! It’s nice to have flown a new site, and I’ll certainly be back there again because it has great distance potential in a W’ly wind.