|The Website of the Avon Hang Gliding and Paragliding Club - Firefly's Flying Diary
|Friday, 23rd February, 2024
Hello and welcome to Issue 1 of The Firefly - the magazine for all your flying needs, coming from a hilltop near you! In this column I'll be covering recent events on the Avon scene and also attempting to cover all those little details that'll make your free-flying more complete. Coming up:
Fuel Consumption Road Test - we compare a well-known VW Camper Van with an A320 Airbus!
Lift Spotting - How to find & use a wind dummy!
But seriously folks, the weather gods (please choose your own denomination) do appear to be smiling on us so far this year - even the much-maligned Crook Peak, which was more likely last year to have snow in July than anything remotely approaching the requisite south-south-westerly, has seen its fair share of action - someone'll be telling me they've flown Cam Long Down next! What was that about Pigs On the Wing, Webmistress?
Anyway, the first exploratory Avon sortie into South-East Wales was to Hay Bluff, on March 14th. Usual story - full carpark but not a soul in sight. Not a Soul in sight either - The Splittie King was raring to test his new Mac! As if by magic, The Shopkeeper appeared too! A quick yomp half-way up the track (during which time we saw some interesting fly-on-the-rolled-up-newspaper landings form the stiffy fraternity), a little wait for the west-north-westerly wind to pick back up and we're all off, working our way up above the compulsive hill-climbers sitting on top in the 25mph compression zone, giving their canopies an early sun-tan! The Splittie King was soon off to take a look at Lord Hereford's wedding tackle and, like George Michael, I just couldn't let him go solo! We got to Talgarth and a few km down the valley, but made bad decisions and ended up with a 6-mile road yomp into Talgarth. And guess who was wearing his bike boots - Dolt!! At least we made the top ten in the National XC League - for a couple of days, anyway!
A potentially depressing, overcast day at Pandy turned into an enjoyable afternoon for Avon Casuals. After an interesting encounter with a cloud - Top Tip No.1: if you see three pilots pulling big ears or spiralling down from one of those cold, grey, wet things, it's probably not a good idea to keep going upwards! - Firefly decided to lead a mass excursion along the ridge. As if by magic, The Shopkeeper notched up the longest flight of the day - a 12km out-and-return in only his second post-club hour of free-flight! Respect due.
Although none of us made Black Hill, we were cheered by the fact that the two people who did didn't manage to stay up, although Steve (Donna's Friend) .....sorry, couldn't resist.....set a few hearts-a-trembling by practicing his 'SIV from 100 Feet' routine!
An exciting day - big, fat, multi-cored thermals (no - not yours, Captain Fantastic!) left several floppy pilots, on the one hand extremely unimpressed with the Range Danger Area, on the other seriously impressed with the view from 3000ft asl of the snow on the Welsh Mountains to the north and the gleam of the English Channel to the south. We could even pick out the Severn Bridge!
A little later, The Wind Wizard returned to the hill on the back of a motorbike, still wearing his flying helmet c/w eartalker of course, having spiralled up to 5000ft, between two of his HG cohorts, over Shaftesbury, only to spiral straight back down again because it was snowing!
Several sheltering PG Tipsters actually didn't notice his return as they were busy watching the unusual sight of a lone, brave(?) hang-glider pilot going backwards! The Red Baron went to bail out the 'Dorset Three' - he'd earlier been heard to remark that he'd flown over to Frome 'just to have a look'. E for Easter, indeed!
The first Avon Camper Van Convention of the year was held near Pandy, to coincide with the XC Virgins Weekend (er - Day, I guess!). Firefly borrowed a different sort of canvas for an outing with The Splittie King & The Webmistress, Capt. Fantastic & his Sweet Soul Sister and The Jeweller. Although Ginger Spice turned up on the day and outflew everyone, he unfortunately couldn't make the evening and therefore missed Capt. Fantastic entertaining everyone with his 'thespian' talents - well and truly 'rehearsed' he was! Newcomer Rich and girlfriend Emma also turned up so that they could get their tent wet! At least the sheep didn't wake us up Sunday morning - someone else on site had obviously decided we'd be a little fragile and left the gate open. Oops - very understanding farmer, all things considered.
Other weekend highlights included a surprise mass Avon aerial assault on the Pontypool/Cwmbran area, yours truly hitching a lift in a police transit van and resisting the temptation to ask if I could skin up and, later on, Our Tone attempting to use his Futura to remove the TV aerial from The Bridge Inn! In another surprise development, Firefly and The Splittie King didn't land in the same field, although the latter, still flying his demo Mac Feeling, did try and remedy the situation by attempting to soar a bonfire! Capt. Fantastic later claimed this as his 'thespian' motivation, but we pointed out
1) That The Splittie King was still attached to his glider at the time and
2) That Capt. Fantastic couldn't have seen him from where he was anyway! :-)
All in all, a great weekend was had by all - thanks to Firefox and Our Tone for organisation, Capt. Fantastic for his most excellent briefing and Ginger Spice for setting the pace. A reminder to all virgins, if any is needed, that they'll have to get their knickers off a bit earlier next time!
Captain Fantastic in Damart Catalogue shocker!
How to collapse a picnic chair!
And much, much more!!!
Hugh Miller flies 140km on a weekday - good job he's not an Avon pilot - can you imagine what that would do to Ginger Spice's graphs?!?!