|The Website of the Avon Hang Gliding and Paragliding Club - Firefly's Flying Diary||Friday, 13th December, 2019|
Hello, good evening and welcome! Apologies for the brevity of Firefly 3 - here's a bumper edition to banish that cold turkey! Stuffed into this Issue:
Grrrrrrr! As I write this I'm actually quite annoyed with myself, as I thought it was too light to head for Westbury when I got home from an interview earlier, whilst there are now balloons zipping past my window - I'll just have to kid myself it's too westerly! I also thought there was a pigeon sat on the windowsill just then, but it turns out that's the noise ICQ makes when you receive a message! :-)
Self-doubt notwithstanding, I haven't seen too much of you lot lately as I've been on me hols. Many thanks to Captain Fantastic for an exhilharating trip back on the Flight Deck (no special favours - he just happened to be flying us and needed to squeeze on a couple of passengers from a broken-down 'plane) - absolutely mega - particularly coming down into Bristol at night through rain clouds! And the only thing I recognised from Airplane was this strange, pop-up auto-pilot that kept appearing beside me ............ said her name was Ann or something .........
Wow! It's an epic Saturday - where did that come from?!?! ;-) Too bad I've got to be back in Bristol late afternoon to do some sound engineering - I'll have to go to Westbury! As long as I don't end up spiralling back over the range like Easter Sunday and have to pull out of it..........
Anyways, a quick 'phone call to Westbury Wendy (that'll teach him for saying he didn't like 'Firefox'!) who says he's been "walkin' 'is dog 'n it be gurt lush" (or something like that!) is enough to make the ride down a fairly non-leisurely affair, and when I arrive he and Simon have already had a good flight to over 1000' ato, over on the Bratton face. This set the Tone (who was busy scaring himself sh1tless on Combe, having rung us earlier to say we were on the wrong site!) for the day. Mind you, not for everyone - this was one of those mainly thermic days when you couldn't just rely on ridge lift - you had to be prepared to work; the 'wind' also kept switching round to the North-West and back, resulting in many misjudgements (aka bottom landings!), particularly from people trying to scratch the bowl in sink cycles!
By early afternoon, a strange, two-tier gathering had developed, separated vertically by thousands of feet - The Wind Wizard, The Red Baron, Nackers, Simon, Wendy and Firefly all wandering around under the clouds and, I kid you not, about fifteen hang gliders sat on the ground doing nothing! Guys - your aircraft look very pretty from 4000'+ asl in a constant seven-up, in a sky that allows you to pull out 'cos you're almost in the range and fly over to the quarry whilst losing only 200', but what were you doing?? I mean, it was strong enough to put a friction burn in my PG from 'technical' :-) ground handling and yet easy enough for Nackers to spend an hour and a half just meandering around at cloudbase, doing a Red Baron impression! Thanks for the airspace, anyway!
Ah, well, at least you all took off eventually - after five o'clock as I rode home..........
Deja vu, anyone?
A stripped down Team Avon - read Firefly, MacSplittie and The Pie-Eyed Piper - meandered across the Severn on a second consecutive, flyably-forecast Saturday, only to arrive at The Bluff to find the wind blowing a houli from the south-west - thank you very much, Mr Kettley - Not! A couple of ciggies later and it's dropped off and come north-westerly; a walk most of the way up later and it's launchable and northerly - huh? Oh well, better get up there then - King Splittie and I airborne for about fifteen minutes before The Piper joins us and immediately rockets straight upward; two minutes later all three of us big ears down to the car park as the wind picks up, the air gets shitty and it swings back north-westerly. Sod this; pack up and go to Selsley!
Arrive at Selsley; howling gale blowing from north; speed-bar-less pilot with big ears being unceremoniously dumped backwards north of main ridge; sit down to 'contemplate' (read: more ciggies!); hmmm!
At last - half an hour later it drops off and Firefly is first in the air. Everyone is then a bit perturbed, after a further fifteen minutes, when I land just as they're all about to launch! No matter, I assure them - it's just cycling strong at times - and this time we all get off. The first two-hundred feet is tricky as ever, especially behind the treeline, but generally it's good flying. The Piper almost got some footprints on the top of his canopy too - I don't mean on the ground either! All in all, a crazy day but enjoyable in the end.
Saturday: Get up (seriously hung over); look at sky; check wind strength and direction with eyes, internet & 'phone; ask wife if hallucinating(!); drive to Mere. An encouraging throng of far too many people to come up with nicknames for :-) await and the afternoon proceeds, with light thermic conditions allowing intermittent hill flying; no matter - in between we enjoyed watching the speed winching competition down in the bowl! Firefly, Our Tone and Nico spiralled up in one of the best hot bits. Shouting "Are we going or what?!" at Tone, just before we hit the inversion and Nico and I turned back, was a little unfortunate, but I think he enjoyed the rest of the afternoon at Long Knoll(?), although he did miss the Airtopia-sponsored tree landing exhibition.
Saturday Evening: Well, am I glad I went into town for a burger on the way down to the bowl?! We started with Juggling Jim and ended up juggling burgers between VW Campers - when the 'caterers' eventually made it (after a brief tour of Wiltshire) they didn't have any burners to cook with! The band were certainly entertaining, even with the addition of The Three Degrees on backing vox - anyone putting photos of that on the internet, be warned - I have pictures of all of you 'dancing' :-) , Ginger Spice utilised his unfair advantage in the pole-climbing competition, Mr Jet-tastic must be nuts 'cos he allowed us to fly his model paramotor by torchlight and the evening ended/morning began with several club luminaries using The Piper's Playstation to demonstrate the dangers of drink-driving.
Sunday: Described by The Floating Sage as the best ever day on Mere - and he's been flying since the mid-seventies. Initial weather news was fortunately inaccurate and Firefly was sent up as wind dummy, for which honour he reaped the reward of the only uncrowded air of the day. A mega day with lift all the way across the bowl at times, although most of the hangy fraternity stayed by the winch which became increasingly cross-wind. It looked as though no-one was actually going to leave the hill until mid-afternoon, when Captain F., The Piper and Mr Jet-tastic climbed out from a large field which was being ploughed, just behind the town of Mere! Nothing strange about that - Nico was about 4km in front of the hill at one point but couldn't go anywhere because he didn't have his map! Anyway, he and Ginger Spice (who has written an excellent piece about the weekend here) absolutely booted it across the sky to join the three in front and off they went...... The Piper will remember his flying suit and gloves next time - as it was he had to put it down near Shepton, whilst The Captain and Nico landed 40km away, in sight of the Bristol Channel!
Thank you to The Red Baron for preventing a nickname crisis by finding his flying suit!
The Big Fat Repack - aka You've Been Framed with Lisa Riley!
How to Defend a Libel Action!
And much, much more!!!