So, six days into 2018 and I have flown! Ok, so the flight only lasted eight minutes, but it was a fun mission! Fellow desperate optimist, Tim Bishop, picked me up in Bath at 0615 and by 0700 we were walking up Ubley in darkness only punctuated by the light of the moon (having forgotten my head torch)! By 0725 we’d reached takeoff having somehow not got lost on the way up, and strangely enough it was only slightly less dark with sunrise not for another 40 minutes! And there was no wind… Hmm, the whole point of this madcap idea was to get a flight in before it got too windy, and here we were, standing in the semi-darkness and there wasn’t any… What’s more, as the sky lightened, so the cloud rolled in, and we’re weren’t talking high cloud either!
I’d made a schoolboy error and left my stove and coffee pot in Tim’s car, so the obligatory parawaiting consisted of the usual banter interspaced by moments of running on the spot to keep warm! By 0815 the wind was picking up nicely and it was now definitely light enough to fly, but unfortunately the cloud was now only fifty feet above us, so it was now or never. I quickly called Bristol ATC to open the 2,500′ Ubley Glider Block (2,500′ – if only!), then Tim was off, rapidly disappearing into the murk!
Oh well, I figured if stayed out from the hill I could skirt the fine line between hilltop cloud flying and going down, so off I went. Eight and a half minutes later I was on the ground having headed down the ridge to the west to see where Tim had got to (he’d landed), and with the wind evidently off the hill a bit, I hadn’t been able to maintain height heading back east, despite it having been pretty lifty in front of takeoff a few minutes earlier. But the point was we’d made the effort, we’d flown, and had enjoyed our madcap mission, AND we were home in time for a decent breakfast!
Here’s to many more madcap adventures in 2018!