I woke up to a clear blue sky and light winds. The weather man said NE so we set off for Pandy. We met a car coming down at the gate - the wind was 20-30 degrees off. It was suggested that we try Hay Bluff. After availing ourselves of a friendly biking couple with a map, we set off along the narrow road to Hay Bluff.
On unloading the kites we made the intensely annoying discovery that we had left the battens of our faithful Cobra in Bristol. We were first at the top of the hill. The weather promised a superb day, with a hot sun and a few puffy white clouds. By the time our kites were rigged we had been joined by a good few other kites eager to sample the thermals. I had to wait while my mates flew our two kites down to the bottom. By the time they had lugged the kites back to the top I had eaten my lunch. We quickly rigged up, and by this time there was some West in the wind so I took the Hiway over to the NW ridge launch point. I bad a bit of trouble getting comfortable in a new seat, and I "lost it" after the first tack along the ridge.
An hour later saw me at the top again, game for another go. This time I was more lucky: 'I flew to the other end of the ridge, turned .... and I still had enought height to get back. I did several tacks before I lost it again, and went down. Several times I was sucked up to look down on the people on top of the ridge - quite a novel experience as this was my first soaring flight.
After a few minutes relaxing and going over my flight, lying in the close cropped grass and crisp dead bracken, I collapsed the kite and hared up the hill for another go. I say hared. but it took me a good deal longer than the reputed record of 13 minutes. By tbe time I got back the wind had shifted back to the NE ridge, and about half a dozen big, brightly coloured birds were circling in a massive thermal, rapidly becoming dots at the top of the. sky. (Milnes again.' - Ed.)
I quickly rigged up and launched, and once again STAYED UP THERE: The NE ridge is shorter and also slopes down at the eastern end, but it is steeper, and there was plenty of lift around. Hawever all too soon, I had to admit that I had lost,it. I still got some lift as I went over the spur at the north, and this got me to within 20 yards of the car park, to an irate bunch of mates who wanted to get back home. All in all, a good initiation to the pleasures of soaring.
"Jumping Jack" Jefferson was a wildly enthusiastic member of the Bristol University HGC. He made a memorable top landing at the Bossington car park when he left his final turn too late. His glider ended up on the roof of a car while he joined an elderly couple inside, his head and shoulders entering through the open window. Later he did some test flying of powered hang gliders. He died in the early 80's when he landed in the sea and was unable to free himself from the harness.
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