|The Website of the Avon Hang Gliding and Paragliding Club - Firefly's Flying Diary||Sunday, 4th December, 2022|
Hello and welcome to Issue 2 of The Firefly - the magazine for all your flying needs, coming from a hilltop near you - as long as you count SE Wales! In this bumper edition:
Shock News - DIY Weather Forecasting proven better than 'Experts'!! (What - you knew that, did you?) :-)
Tony Target invited to June meeting - Bring own sleeping bag & pillow!
Gill Impey invited to July Meeting............sorry - my lawyer says I can't tell that story online!
But seriously folks, last time I said the weather had been so remarkably friendly that "someone'll be telling me they've flown Cam Long Down next!" Well, we're in this cottage in Snowdonia, right, and Mr Jet-tastic says "I went over the back of Cam Long Down the other day....." So - indeed - Pigs On the Wing, but apparently no Dogs in the Harness yet!
Unfortunately, since beginning to write this Issue, the weather has turned completely sh1te, but then so was last June! I sit typing this feeling an Easterly wind and watching a Westerly cloud drift which, as The Splittie King reporting live from Mere on his mobile just suggested, is probably why it's rough as hell today! Apparently Pie-Eyed Piper, Our Tone, Morph and other Airwave Challenge hopefuls are currently sat on Merthyr in 25mph+ winds but, they said, 'At least it's stopped raining'!
The weekend got under way in the, by now familiar, Avon Camper Van Coral in the, just as familiar, consumptive fashion with Chris Short setting the conversational tone - "If it wasn't for the bloody ground there, I'd have been OK!" Here we go, I thought - and there the Pie-Eyed Piper went, rugby tackling Lisa Pentreath in a vain attempt to prevent his own unscheduled descent to terra firma - it wasn't even 9 o'clock on Friday night!
Still, somehow Team Avon were up and raring to go before everyone else the next morning and were among the first up onto the NE face of Fforest Ffarm, where conditions were already blowing up - Ffirefly's top anchor person recommendation goes to Ginger Spice! Top person to ffollow (Stop this now!) award once again fell (Okay?) to Captain Fantastic - Our Tone and yours truly chasing him over the back - Capt. F. tried to follow the valley but it was a huge sink trap, so he came to join me, fighting to stay above the valleys between the A470 and Sennybridge. We managed to cling on for an extra 3 or 4km at between 100 and 400 foot above the ground, yo-yo-ing about as we flew/collapsed in and out of rocket thermals - an absolute hoot! Ginger Spice flew over us as we were packing up - on his way to yet another 20km flight. Poor bugger was at five grand, 8km from the hill, and didn't get a sniff for the next 12km.
After a couple of hours dodging the aerial traffic later that afternoon, some of us decided to head on up to Snowdonia the following day as "I'll eat my cap if it gets flyable before 5 o'clock". Actually it got flyable enough for an impromptu Airwave Challenge heat, which we either won or came second in, depending on who you believe! - thanks again Firefox, Capt. F., Splittie King, Webmistress et al. Lisa has bought me a bottle of tomato ketchup! As if by magic, The Shopkeeper even appeared again.
The next few days were spent getting wet and windswept, sozzled and stoned, whilst failing to complete crosswords in North Wales - highlights including Mr Jet-tastic becoming the first person to take a Mini most of the way up Tryfan and a pigeon flying over a hedge and landing on my foot whilst I was doing 50! I think the Pie-Eyed Piper and Capt. Fantastic enjoyed their pillion rides too? Guys?
Team Avon would like to thank the Italian Red Wine Marketing Board for their assistance in the making of this programme.
Saturday - 'The Nationals won't be going to The Bluff', said a certain Kendo pilot as we sat outside the cafe in Aber, so off we trundled towards Hay, only to find a rather full car park when we arrived! Not to worry, it was quite fun having the Nationals' task - a carbon copy of Splittie King and The Piper's flight via Pandy to Tal-Y-Bont last summer - as something to aim at. I've never been chased by 70 pilots before either! (See below) A low (3000') inversion layer made things tricky but the crew all had enjoyable days, even though most of us stayed on the ridge rather than going over the back, and it was nice to know that Sky Gods balls it up sometimes too!
Sunday - The Blorenge bowl today for a 60km race to goal, slightly across wind - yeah right! Pie-Eyed Piper, Splittie King and Sweet Soul Sister left with 3000' asl before the window opened but only made a few km. The uninvolved then watched the aforementioned 70 Nationals pilots playing 'I can dump myself on my a**e better than you', whilst trying to launch - the one with the Flame certainly didn't like my comment that 'I used to let mine do that to me'!!
King Splittie spent the rest of the day getting depressed as first Firefly, then Sweet Soul Sister, then The Piper flew over him on PB, or close to PB flights towards, to and past Merthyr respectively. Even discovering that the mobile phone The Piper had found whilst hitching belonged to the people on the next table in The Bridge Inn didn't cheer him up!
Our best wishes go to Clive & Amanda Laurence-Peckham after Clive's accident.
Stop Press!! Our best wishes go to Amanda & Clive Laurence-Peckham after Amanda's accident.
Biggest mistake of the day was made on the A36 at Warminster at 8:30 am - this was turning off towards Frome when I should have carried on up to Bristol, to join you lot on your excursion to Wales!! However I was determined to have a good day but failed in my main objective, which was to fly over the tow group, downwind of Ubley, on my way to Land's End! The closest I got was 931' ATO! - I guess the inversion had the lid on it. (Bit of a bugger that, mate - several people punched through the inversion to 5000ft asl in Wales! - FF)
This was the first time I'd been to Ubley.... ROUGH or what. I had a bad launch day, much to the amusement of Colin Hot Stiffy Pilot, but I had the last laugh on that one when he emerged sweaty and puffed out, showing off his extremely whiter than white upper torso after walking back up the hill, didn't you Colin! Other points worthy of note were Tim, Not So Dim's fine display of his hill walking skills...TWICE and for the first time in 20 months that I've known him, The Floating Sage went down, well to be totally accurate only about halfway down. Kevin Hotter Stiffy Pilot (This could cause arguments! - FF) went over the back - how far I don't know.
All in all it was a good day, another 2 hours for the log book but no XC. I suppose I should have gone to Wales but it was fun flying here in rough conditions skimming the treetops! Any half-wit pilot could have gone to the Bluff and done a teeny weenie XC - just you lot remember the rule about the majority of out-and-returns having to be out of ridge lift when you submit your flights to the league!!! No, I'm not jealous, well maybe just a little. Oh, for a light Northerly wind midweek when you're all at work!
Saturday - How many pilots? The Pie-Eyed Piper was reliving Hamlin, with an ever-increasing entourage of clubs signing themselves up for aerial battle in the skies around Abergavenny, and so a record TEN teams assembled in the bus station car park. A mass scrap with the ten hang-gliding teams was mooted as a potential way of deciding who got which site, but some negotiation (and the thought of a nice track to take off on Blorenge, no doubt!) meant that we were off to The Bluff again.
Full details are available elsewhere from the man himself, so I'll just give a precis:
Firefly has taken Noddy's long-standing world record for continued use of big ears!
Strawberry Girl (and others) discovered that going down below Lord Hereford's Knob can get messy!
There is absolutely NO WAY that all the pilots claiming to have crossed the gap successfully did so!
Ginger Spice won both the day and the 'Drive a camper van back across the Severn without a clutch' competition!
Sunday - The hang-gliding fraternity woke up the next morning to 'no pain, no gain' and packed us all off to Blorenge. Again, The Piper has full details elsewhere - suffice to say that no-one flew any distance and I flew crap!
101 Best tunes for mid-air singing!
New Skywings typefaces explained!
And much, much more!!!
(Courtesy of New Model Army's Justin Sullivan)
Walk out tonight - Look up at the stars - The light that you see is as old as I am