|The Website of the Avon Hang Gliding and Paragliding Club - Firefly's Flying Diary||Friday, 20th May, 2022|
Once again, all persons depicted in the following article should actually bear resemblance to pilots living and known to other Avon members.
Avon were invited by Joint Services to another Club Challenge heat over the weekend of 26th/27th June. With Simon away at the Scottish BPC round, I took on captain's duties again and collected a team containing four of the conquering heroes from the SW Wales heat - Alex Coltman, Peter Taylor, Gary Mitchell and myself, along with Tim Pentreath and Paul 'Pablo' Cashman. The comp was to be flown on SE Wales sites with two Joint Services teams, SW Wales, SE Wales, Thames Valley and ourselves turning up in the Bus Station Car Park at 9am Saturday. Several other teams (Southern, Wessex etc.) were supposed to show but failed to do so; obviously they were scared!
With ESE winds at 8.45am and a MetFax and other forecasts all clearly showing a swing to the South during the day, a decision which I shall simply describe as peculiar was taken to go to Pandy (!), despite measured protestations from yours truly. The fact that several of us had spent an enjoyable time (over five hours airtime and three XCs) on Tal-Y-Bont in very similar conditions the previous day made this all the more galling - let's face it, if I'm actually pleading to walk up Tal-Y-Bont for the third time in two days there must be a pretty good reason! The window for an Open XC task was called for 11am to 4pm but few pilots flew straight away, as typically scratchy conditions for late morning at Pandy prevailed - it rarely works before twelve. Unfortunately, when midday came the wind was already at least 45 degrees off to the South, even at the Hatterall Hill end.
Conditions deteriorated over the next hour or so as the wind swung further until we were basically flying in rotor and with pilots in close proximity having very little directional control over their canopies I decided I'd had quite enough, gained about a hundred feet and pointed downwind (NNW!) into the valley in front of the ridge, landing 4.1km away between Clodock and Longtown. I was immediately retrieved by Lisa Pentreath and called the others to tell them to ask the Meet Director, Colin Hermon, if the task was to be validated and, if so, to just do what I had done to score some distance and we'd pick them up. Unfortunately there was a slight misunderstanding of intentions and by the time Pete, Alex, Gary and Pablo flew down, all landing in either the same field I'd used or the two adjacent, we'd gone back to Llangattock campsite (I was hoping to go on to Tal-Y-Bont but had just discovered that one of my glider bag carry straps was hanging by a thread and had to completely re-sew it!) Profuse apologies chaps!
Team hero was Tim Pentreath who managed to eek out a 6.3km flight into the Llanthony valley (the one up to Gospel Pass), before returning to the ridge and trying again, almost beating that first flight. He was the only pilot to leave in a thermal out of the entire field and also scored the second best (I think) distance.
Meet was called for 9am in the Bus Station Car Park again, but when we woke the cloud was halfway down Llangattock hill to the campsite. Pablo and I drove to the meet where we were optimistically informed that a rebrief would happen at 11am on Merthyr Common. Having chased after Pete on the bike as my gloves were in my glider bag in his car, we eventually left the vehicles in the Macdonalds car park at the foot of the hill and piled into Gary's van. Halfway up the track we met Chris Short coming down, saying that it was blowing 35mph so the day was, unsurprisingly, canned.
So, that was it - Apart from: having given him a ten minute head start I rounded off the weekend by passing Gary's van between turnpoints two and three on the M32 into Bristol. That must go pretty quick for a diesel! (Or did at least some of the traffic lights on the motorway roundabouts stay green for you?!)
|When I spoke to Colin on Sunday afternoon, he confirmed the team positions as:
(top four pilots scoring):
|1st||Joint Services B|
|4th Equal||Joint Services A & SE Wales|
Not entirely a satsifying weekend but we're certainly through to the semi-finals, with a grand total of 900 Challenge Points from the two heats!! Thanks to all of the Avon team, for proving that every little counts, and to Lisa for the simplest retrieve ever.
Police in Los Angeles had good luck with a robbery suspect who just couldn't control himself during a lineup. When detectives asked each man in the lineup to repeat the words, "Give me all your money or I'll shoot", the man shouted, "That's not what I said!"