6th May, 2003

There was a strong west wind this Tuesday. It was 30 kts at flying height but with good visibility. As a result I declared a long thin triangle going downwind to Bury St Edmunds and then into wind to turn at Edgehill, a glider field about 10 miles west of Banbury on the back of a west-facing escarpment. This followed Rod Ward's suggestion to start with a downwind leg as the day got going, so the hard upwind slog would have the strongest conditions and there would be an easier downwind run as the day cooled off.

Task map

The cloud base started out at about 3200 ft and went up to 4300 during the day. Thermals were strong, averaging 4.6 kts, with the best being 8.6 west of Bedford on the way home. I got to Cambridge as a straight run down a cloud street, topped up height there and then took another straight run down a street to Bury with just one short climb at Newmarket. I made a wide turn round Bury, continuing downwind to take advantage of a good cloud there and then a wide run north to pick up a cloud street that gave me a straight run back to Newmarket.

There I fell in a big hole, eventually getting away over the A14 end of the race-course from 1000 feet with a good climb to 3000. From there it was another straight run to Bourne, west of Cambridge, and on to Banbury. This was leg a series of cloud streets punctuated by climbs, flown between 2000 ft and 3500 ft. Top height was 4300 near Silverstone.

West of Banbury was all downhill because wave from the Welsh hills killed the lift locally. Edgehill was in a blue hole, so I followed a cloud street just north of the M40 from Banbury through a gap in the Edgehill ridge, which runs north-south, intending to get a climb under a useful looking cloud a mile or two further on, but it wasn't working. I came back onto the ridge past a bomb dump near the M40, getting to it at 670 ft and about 2.5 miles from Edgehill. The ridge was working to 1000 feet, so I rode along it to Edgehill and parked, beating up and down along two small bowls and waiting for the sky to recycle. Instead the ridge stopped working as the wind dropped, so I made a low, straight-in approach and landed at Edgehill, ending the 300 km attempt. The Duty Instructor merely commented "I see the ridge wasn't working" when I reported in to him and then helped me arrange an aero tow.

The Edgehill Supercub took me to 3000 ft under a cloud west of Edgehill. From there I worked north to a nice street along the M40 and flew home, meeting a pair of parascenders at 3500 just west of Silverstone. One sunk past me while the other was climbing, so I took a quick top-up from his thermal, outclimbing him in the process, before flying onward. It was a pretty good run as far as Bedford, where I got low. I was down to 2500 when I found the strongest, narrowest thermal of the day and a continuous climb to cloud base at 4500 ft, mostly in a 65 degree bank at 50 kts. From there it was a pretty clear run back to GRL, where I arrived back at 110 kts to burn quite a lot of excess height. I finished by stuffing up with a very long landing. High speed runs tend to induce over-quick flying in the circuit and on finals, aided and abetted by a great drop in wind speed during the final half of the run home.

Barograph trace

GPS trace

Time Declared Leg (km) Flown Leg (km)
Takeoff 11:32 GRL
Start 11:36 GRL
Turn point 1 12:17 BSE 57.18 BSE 57.18
Turn point 2 14:41 EDG 150.87 EDG 150.87
End GRL 93.75 - -
Landed 14:41 EDG
Distance 301.80 208.05
Time 3:09
Avg. speed 66.04 kph