Firefly's Flying Diary - Issue Five

Yours truly with a bit of low-level work!


November 2nd - Hay Bluff

January 9th/10th - Westbury / Ubley

March 13th/14th - Draycott Sleights


Happy 99! (NOT Happy99.Exe - New year; same sarcasm!):

Well, an interesting time to be an Avon Member abroad, certainly. I'm not sure how long it took some of us to believe the second e-mail about Our Tone - oh, sorry, that should be Stan! - and it was rather ironic to receive a message on the mobile about it from Westbury Wendy - I mean, Ollie! - at exactly the same time the club was hearing Captain Fantastic thank everyone for their calls to Ollie & Jill, at the meeting entitled 'Dealing with a Major Accident' ..........................

Seriously - best wishes to the both of you and it was particulalrly good to see Brent at the April meeting.

This year I have been mostly flying Avon Sites. And pretty good they are too! (Sorry - wrong hat - where was I?) Ah, yes - are we going to use up all the great flying days too early again this year? Apparently not, but it's not been too awful, with a few acceptable weekends. Having February off did turn out to be pretty pointless - one week particularly springs to mind, when it was only just blown out on the Tuesday and Wednesday, immediately followed by dead calm on the Thursday and Friday. Bring on the South Wales invasions ..................... oh - we just have!

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November 2nd - Hay Bluff

Forecast North-Westerly, looks like another Hay day! Left Aber with MacSplittie and The Piper in hot pursuit, or as hot as it gets in a Split-Screen versus a GS550 (!), hung around for a few minutes and then walked up (only most of the way, obviously - I'm an Avon pilot!). Had an interesting flight, with the wind strength greatly affected by the ominous clouds occasionally passing through. Eventually the twosome arrive, as I'm big ears'ing down under a very dark grey mass of moisture an hour later - MacSplittie had forgotten to put Capt F's XC undergarments in his toolbox and was at a loss without a fanbelt!

An hour later and it's calmed down again, and one-by-one we launch into lifting air. Twenty minutes in and it feels eerily similar to earlier and, remembering having to wingover down last time, I make my way out beyond the road to land. Being dragged on landing I realise that the other two may not be so fortunate and turn my eyes back to the ridge: MacSplittie turns and runs - his GPS recording over 60km/h crosswind as he disappears to land almost a km over the top; The Piper gives more concern - flying not so much with Big Ears as with Tiny Nose! - travelling backwards up the face and just clearing the top!

We packed up after that ...........

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January 9th/10th - Westbury / Ubley

Saturday, January 9th, 1999 - notable for the reformation of some of England's finest, The Jam. Yes, today was the day Paul 'Piper' Weller, Bruce 'MacSplittie' Foxton and Rick 'Webmistress' Buckler decided it was too strong and went potholing. (You'll get the reference in a minute, honest!) It was also the day when almost everyone else went to Westbury and got the year off to a fine start!

Plenty of fun flying, mainly on the NNE face for PGs, lifting all the way out to the road on a consistent basis - Ginger Spice had so much fun, in fact, that he flew until dusk! Several pilots were also taking photos - thanks to Mike Andrews for this one - which led to a few 'Oh - you've got your hands off the brakes too!' incidents (!), as well as the local rag and another, freelance photographer - we ended up with a good spread and some great flying for January. Pity my photos were crap 'cos I have an APS camera ...... :-)

P.S. I resisted the temptation to use the photo where I'm above everyone, including the lone HG! The HGs were mostly using the main ridge.

Yes - it really was January 9th!

Sunday, January 10th. No Going Underground today, (cue light bulbs flashing on in brains - it was actually The Piper himself who came up with that one) that's for sure and it's off to Pandy where ............ The Wanderer and Condor Man, amongst others, are standing in cloud, which is well below the hill! Hmm - retreat to The Skirrid for some lunch - no, let's go totally mad and drive back to Ubley!

Ubley Take-Off

On arrival we find the usual congregation of HG pilots flying paragliders (!) but there's no-one up 'cos it's very light. The frustrating weekend continues for our speleological friends as Firefly, on his first ever Ubley flights, watches from just above the trees, with the brakes heavily in use, as one by one they sink out to the mudbath that is masquerading as a landing field. (In MacSplittie's case this was fairly unsurprising given that he was throwing his distinctive wingovers on launch!)

Meanwhile, back in Wales, a hang glider goes for a solo flight when the extremely lucky, not-clipped-in pilot drops out on launch...........

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March 13th/14th - Draycott Sleights

Actually I might as well just call it 'March - Draycott Sleights' as I wasn't the only one to do all of my flying there for the month. Saturday 13th was the first, fun day with MacSplittie, Capt. F., The Webmistress and a fair multitude of others congregating on our 'emergency westerly' for a spot of aerial enjoyment. A lightish and largely uneventful morning - excepting an unknown pilot on a Freex Spear body-checking the cliff while taking off with cravats on both tips(!) - then blew up to a fair strength, with only the Cap'n and the Mystery Pilot flying for a couple of hours around lunchtime.

Later on we all decided to do the simple trick - walk down the hill fifty yards! - and were back in the air. Shocking reports of six pilots flying at once can be confirmed as accurate!

Sunday saw very light winds, starting with the customary southerly evacuation of air from the Levels and then swinging round to the West. Very little thermic activity left the thronged masses, including Ceri, Donna's friend and Donna, Steve's friend, enjoying the MacSplittie Cabaret. This mainly consisted of a series of attempts to emulate our very own Dangerous Brothers with some amusing stunts including:

  • Crashing through a tree on the cliff edge whilst launching and
  • Testing the ankle support qualities of Saloman boots with a 'let's fly straight at the hill' landing.

Fortunately, The Webmistress was absent on Mother's Day duties and didn't have to watch!

Aloft at the Sleights - Tim, Pete & Marcus

Saturday 20th saw a similar crew, augmented by a parent-free Piper, returning to the Sleights for the typically quick half hour between no wind and blown out. One day someone is going to go a long way from this site - one day, honest!

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In The Next Issue

Virgins with no knickers - we hope!

Laurel & Hardy - back in the saddle?

And much, much more!!!

Parting Thought
(From the files of Norwich Union)

"I was going at about 70 or 80 mph when my girlfriend on the pillion
reached over and grabbed my testicles, so I lost control."

Puts another slant on my 'It's like having a pillion that doesn't fidget', doesn't it?!

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