Black Mountains Gliding Club
BMGC Flying Reports
Recent flying at Talgarth
Tuesday 15 August 2017
xc 300km to Towcester and back, nearly!!
Having spent a couple of hours on Sunday struggling to stay up under an 8/8th gloomy sky whilst listening over the radio to what seemed like every glider pilot east of the Malverns having a whale of a time I was determined not to hold back on my next opportunity.
So Tuesday arrived and yet again the forecast was much better to the East. However, it also showed we had a small window early on where it would be possible to get away before it over developed. Consequently, I choose one of the club tasks to Towcester (south of Northampton) and back for 305km (see the National ladder for the list of tasks which you don't have to pre-declare).
I took off around 11am and after scratching around in very soft lift I eventually got to cloudbase at 3000ft amsl, crossed the start line and was off to Hay Bluff where I took a leap of faith and set off east in the hope of contactin g some lift. Down into the Golden Valley and at 2000ft amsl I was thinking I'd probably blown it as any lift encountered was broken and very scrappy.
I eventually got it together and at 3500ft I decided to cut across the top of Credenhill Danger area, which is 2300ft above ground so around 2700ft amsl, to some better looking clouds. As I did my Oudie started screaming at me "warning airspace" so I was a bit confused. Looking at the chart it confirmed I was above the danger area and continued on track. It was only later when at home did I get to the cause of the warning - looking in the settings I had the permanent airspace selected but I also had the occasional airspace of between 2300ft - 10,000ft selected as well. I was relieved that I hadn't violated any airspace as it would have nullified the whole flight.
Anyway as I pushed east the condit ions got better and better and after getting a really good climb at Worcester I set off on a 40km straight glide to Stratford just easing up a little in the lift and pushing faster in the sink - brilliant fun.
Generally I'd drop to around 3000ft amsl and then look for a climb as below this height the thermals were very scrappy and difficult to centre on, above this height they were quite meaty solid affairs.
From Stratford I had to hold the glider below 4500ft to avoid the airspace above but the flight to the turnpoint at Towcester was not difficult and without drama, that was to come later!
At the turnpoint I had to scrap around a bit in order to get re-established and get myself mentally re-adjusted to the into wind return,which I knew would be more challenging.
Climbing on the return leg and I was loosing around 2km per climb as I drifted back with the wind so it was important not to bother with any lift under 3kts.
My return track took me north of Banbury, Edgehill, Chipping Campden and then south of Evesham where I got my highest climb to 5500ft amsl in what felt like wave induced thermals - quite rough.
Approaching Ledbury, still at over 5000ft I was getting confident that I could get back but then decision time arrived.
The wind was WSW and the whole of the Black Mountains were over developed and a black plume of cloud stretched out over the Hereford area with little, if any, sun on the ground. Normally with 5000ft you'd expect I'd be on a final glide home but with the Black Mountains looming up I knew this was not the case so I had to decide whether to go north to the Bluff or south to the Sugar Loaf.
I decided to go south because firstly the wind direction meant if I could get onto the Sugar Loaf I was pretty much guaranteed to get home but also because there was a sunny line along the southern edge of the over development spread out. I thought this would potentially work and so it did until I passed north of Ross-on-Wye where it all started to go to worms very quickly.
The wind had picked up significantly and the air had become much more turbulent, a sure sign that I was getting the wave interference in the lee of the mountains. I had no choice now but to push on in the hope of getting one last big climb or even getting into any wave. The Skirrid is often a good place to get into westerly wave
After gliding in what seemed like never ending sink I found myself at 2000ft amsl on Garway Hill, near Grosmont, soaring back and fore in very non-compliant air. I know the area quite well from my cycling so knew that landing options were limited and restricted to very small fields so I was pretty well motivated to get away from there!
I didn't get much luck on Garway so decided to push forward onto Campston Hill which is a lower spine of the Skirrid running north. All the time I'm looking into the valley for possible landing fields and eyeballed one near Pandy and another near Llanfihangel Crucorney (LC) but continued south to the Skirrid in an attempt at soaring it.
I arrived at the Skirrid half way down and despite some close in work failed to climb so had to retreat back north to my previously selected field at LC as by now I couldn't reach the one at Pandy.
There were some really good fields at the bottom of The Skirrid which I had mentally prepared myself for but on closer inspection they were either covered in muck or were in the process of being spread with muck so I decided against them for pretty obvious reasons -ewch!
This restricted me to one small, recently cropped, field which was down below the little hamlet of Llanfihangel Crucorney. The approach wasn't ideal with high ground, trees, church, hedge etc and it was quite turbulent being directly in the lee of, not only the hills, but also a large railway embankment.
However, thanks to the brilliant air brakes on the Mini Nimbus and a good field surface I got in safely for a distance of 286km.
Getting away from our club is not always easy but getting back, particularly in a wind from the SW-NW quarter, is very challenging. You can throw any of your glide computers away because they don't give you the full picture . So would I have been better going north to Hay bluff? I don't think so because there was no sun on the ground that way and the whole of the easterly edge of the Black Mountains would have been in sinking air and wave rotor.
After thoughts - I am reviewing my decision making during the latter part of the flight and have come to the conclusion that I was cutting things a bit too close for comfort. In my desire to stay in the air and complete the task I started to fly a bit too close to the edge and left field selection far too late, didn't inspect the field properly and left myself with few options.
In hindsight I should have made a decision before Garway Hill to land out as I'd already identified some good fields to the east of it. Alternatively, I could have made a decision slightly earlier, when I knew my chances of getting back to BMGC were less than 50/50, to divert to Usk and get a tow back home later.
So despite all the experience of cross country flying in hang gliders and gliders over 40 years I still found myself in a position that was marginal, potentially disastrous and wholly of my own making. So take heed and listen to the self preservation common sense voice in your head and not the gremlin on your shoulder egging you on. Finally on a lighter note, many thanks for the quick recovery by Mike Rossiter, Robbie and Jim - good to see my trailer can still move!!
Sunday 2 July 2017
Epic 500km in the Mini Nimbus....!!
I had a preplanned task for this opportunity which was Talgarth, Shenington, Builth Wells, Swalcliffe (just south of Shenington) and then back to Talgarth.
I got the glider ready early morning on Sunday while it was still cool then helped de-rig the K13 which was due for its annual. This delayed briefing and so having emerged from there I put the glider on the grid straight away. At this time of day I really didn't think I could hang around so I launched at 11.18 and started the task at 11.42 from about 4000amsl. The going was reasonably straightforward but it wasn't always easy finding the cores in what looked like good clouds and half way down track I found that I seemed to be sinking between climbs more than I anticipated so my glides were generally short with top ups. I heard two pilots talking of wave interference so perhaps that was the problem
Rounded Shenington at 13.05 and set off back to Builth. All was going reasonably well until I was about 5 miles short of Malvern and I couldn't see any decent lift. This was a bad mistake on my part and I should have diverted south somewhat earlier because I found myself in the lee of Malvern being sucked down to about 600ft agl and I then had to scrabble to get any height. After about 20 minutes I was re established in a 3 knot climb which I used to reach 3600amsl. Mustn't make that error again the the 4th leg! Finally Builth came into view though it was looking bluer which was a preface of what was to happen later, Rounded Builth at 15.14 then headed straight for Ydas where there were clouds and was soon on the march again. Got up to 4800amsl near Pershore and could clearly see Bidford then finally got to Swalcliffe at 16.47.
Turned and headed back and although the climbs were weakening a bit I was still getting averages between 2.4-3.0kts. I didn't even notice that I had passed over Malvern until I looked down. This time I was at a comfortable 4200 amsl but it was clear that the sky was bluing out as I headed for Hereford which I reached at 18.15.
Then the struggle began and I had to slow down to 60-65 kts picking up on wisps producing less than 2 kt climbs. My Oudie showed that the wind was gently backing so as I approached the back of the Black Mountains I knew I must give them a big clearance as the air would be flowing down and also on the main ridge. I started to get a bit tense (to put it mildly) since I probably needed at least two more climbs.
I turned north west running parallel to Cefn Hill at about 3000amsl I ran into a line of steady sink for several kilometres. I increased speed to get round the low hills heading straight for Hay on Wye. There is a little hill just south of Hay which I have used before and I aimed at this which initially gave me a 1/2 knot of lift. After the fourth turn I was climbing and perfectly centred (for once) at about 2kts which rose to 3. As I climbed all previous tension melted away, I was grinning like an idiot and just knew I was going to get home now.
I broke off at 3000amsl and flew home at 90 kts knowing I was a bit tired,had finished my water 20 minutes earlier so no silly fast finish. Arrived at the site at about 1000ft and landed at 18.51 with relief and the great satisfaction of achieving that objective.
Sunday 18 June 2017
Mynd - Llandeilo - tricky again....
Yes it was a good day at the club and if you look at the ladder a lot of tasks from away used us as their turnpoint.
We set ourselves the modest club task of Mynd-Llandeilo and back for 225km. I was first off but was soon struggling over the Begyns near Lane Farm after having crossed a blue gap over the Wye valley. From there it was a relatively easy run to Mynd with cloudbase at 5000ft QNH.
Things started gett ing difficult from Llandrindod Wells down the valley towards Llandovery as the thermals were very scrappy and just didn't want to take you to base which was down to 4000ft. I was continually keeping a beady eye on suitable landing fields because at between 2000 and 3000ft amsl it always felt that the flight could end very quickly. I was close to landing at Llanwryd Wells, field picked etc, but then got a mercy thermal at about 1000ft agl and managed to climb away - phew!
Just as I was pulling away John Clark came on the radio saying he was landing out and to my amazement I looked down and there he was lined up and going into a field. He landed in the boonies near a sm all village called Tirabad right on the edge of the danger area.
The thermals over the danger area were looking great but obviously we couldn't enter and to compound the problem as they drifted off the Epynt plain they collapsed into the valley we were flying down, hence the struggle in not very compliant air.
I got within 3 miles of Llandeilo before giving up as it had gone blue, which was probably sea air pushing in underneath, and the thermals were quite frankly rubbish. So I turned and had a buttock clenching glide over Usk Reservoir (remembering where Mark Fisher had landed a few years back) to Sennybridge and then Brecon. As I approached Brecon, too low to get across, I was greeted by a column of about 10 gulls merrily thermalling away, so I thought it would be rude not to join them! They are brilliant thermallers.
Flight time? don't ask - it took forever due to the Mynd-Llandeilo leg which was a big struggle and it was mightily hot under the canopy but nevertheless an interesting flight and one that is "character building" - like I need more of that!
Others? I'll let them describe their flights as I had to pack up and leave the club earlier than I'd have liked to. It would have been nice to chill out under the Oak Tree and shoot the breeze.
Looks like today will be another good day but work beckons!
Thursday 18 May 2017
A tricky day XC
A good turnout for mid week with 4 trial lessons and quite a few members getting check flights or training from Mike Codd and Martin Watt together with a few visiting pilots as well. It was also nice to see Martin Brockington back tugging after his "eventful" trip to Kosovo - ask him about it when you see him, but be warned it's not for the faint hearted!
A small group of us, Mike T, Mike S, Me and Alex Jenkins, set ourselves a task of 180km To Sennybridge, Tenbury Wells (just east of Leominster), Brecon and back and by luck and some skill all four of us made it around in varying times from 2-3 hrs.
Well as I said we all got back but on at least two occasions between Tenbury and Shobdon I was down to just over 1000ft above the ground desperately working anything that came my way whilst keeping a close eye on landing options.
After completing the task the sky over in the Beacons looked too good to miss so I wandered over attempting a small undeclared task. As I entered the Beacons via Talybont Reservoir I was greeted by the best elevator ride you could ever want - as the saying goes "I was climbing faster than a home sick angel".
Wonderful day and the task was good fun especially having others around you trying the same thing - more please!
Sunday 14 May 2017
The forecast was for an unstable SW airstream with possible showers, drying out as the day progressed. There were only a dozen or so intrepid aviators at briefing with a few people away elsewhere. The SW ridges were working well with dynamic lift and thermal to a base of about 4000' QNH initially.
Thursday 11 May 2017
Unexpected wave to 7200
RASP indicated that wave was unlikely: No inversion (actually quite a high lapse rate) and wind veering markedly with height. However after morning tea (how civilised!) our eagle-eyed tug pilot Tony Crowden spotted an edge in the clouds in the lee of the Black Mountains overhead the Wye Valley. So off we went in search of it. After a lively tow through the rotor we eventually found 4 knots of the smooth stuff. All the way up to 7,200 feet. Running from Hay , past site and all the way down the Cwmdu Valley. A nice surprise for a trial lesson and Ray Smith who also joined me in K13. What a fabulous site we fly from.
Wednesday 10 May 2017
Another great day out!
Anyway I a mercy thermal and scuttled back towards the club but then diverted into the Beacons, joined by Mike T, where we had a brilliant time in a convergence directly over the tops running almost all the way to Llandeilo at heights up to 6000ft amsl - a final glide 40km says it all.
Lots of other flying going on and when I left at 6pm Mike Codd was still flying some visitors.
Great day (yet again)
Sunday 7 May 2017
A great day out...
I'll have to give this report from my perspective because I was in the air for nearly 6 hrs and so don't really know what else was going on.
We set ourselves one of the club tasks (see the ladder for the whole list) of Llandeilo -Mynd and back for a 224 km triangle.
Oh nearly forgot to say congrats to Dave Hope as he was the only one to get around the original task.
Yes it was a lovely day - summer is here!
I went quite high and slow all day - it probably paid off.
I'm sure we don't use the local convergence patterns enough. It was predicted by RASP - just click on the 'BL Max. Up/Down (convergence)' button for about 2pm on any sunny day with light winds.
Wednesday 3 May 2017
NE wave 9000 ft
The forecast brisk NE wind made conditions on the field a bit sporting!!! During the morning, Cu bubbled up nicely with no sign of the cursed wave - Hoorah! The forecast also predicted cloud increase by Midday. I took the second launch onto Troed in my recently returned, refinished and fettled Nimbus. The ridge was working well and the thermal climbs were vigorous. My plan was to push up wind to Hay Bluff and to use the Pandy ridge, but that wasn't possible on the first attempt so I dropped back on to Troed. And lo, the sky changed, the Cu disappeared and the wave set up, curses.
A broken climb to 6000ft and the sky changed again with a sudden build up of cloud, I spiralled down through a closing gap - no drama - just being cautious. Once below cloud base I had enough height to reach Hay Bluff, the Cats Back was working well but I felt that the wind needed to be more Easterly for the Pandy ridge to work - no problem to reach Hatterall Hill, but getting back might be an issue. On the other hand, reaching the Blorenge would be a breeze (down wind) then the Llangattock ridge would get me back to the Cwm Du or onto the Beacons.
And so it came to pass, on returning to the Cwm Du, the sky had opened up again, the wave was better organised and I climbed to 9000ft. The wind decreased above 8000ft and so did the climb rate, there were good looking wave bars to the North but nothing went as high as in the Cwm Du.
Wednesday 26 April 2017
ice and stuff ...!
A fun day at the club with 10kt northerly and lots of big clouds some of which were dumping ice and stuff down to ground level. Crystal clear visibility with 6/7 knot climbs tempted a few to attempt the Mynd but in the end it was too showery up there. Mike Codd was clearly an aiming point for the USAF when a couple of heavy jets came far too close on the main ridge... an airprox is being filed by Mike. Quite a few out playing today,,,,
Monday 24 April 2017
Turning up in the morning with the cloud halfway down the hill, drizzle in the air and a cold front on the way -- didn't look very promising we would be getting airborne. The tug pilot decided to go home after a couple of hours of watching cloud base descending.
Come 15:00 the conditions started to improve, I wanted to rig but no tug pilot! a quick call to TC solved that problem. 16:00 I had a launch followed by Mike Codd in his Ventus. The main ridge was working nicely and it was relatively easy to find an energy line and go exploring. As the airmass dried out and became a lot more stable there were definitely signs of wave. I was surprised when I contacted wave over Y-das, though unfortunately the sun was sinking faster than I was rising, so couldn't get a ladder flight and had to break off whilst climbing at 2 kts, landing at 20:00 (at least I could derig in the light).
A really enjoyable evening flight and both of us getting some wave. Thanks to Tony who came up to give us a launch.
Thursday 9 March 2017
First good day of the year - wave to 7000ft
Ground is a bit soft but drying out fast. First good day of the year and nearly 4hrs cruising up and down the ridges with some lovely mellow thermals and then a wee bit of wave to 7000ft - the season has started so get up there and get some in ! :)
Those out incl Tony B, Tony C, Tony P, Anne C, Mike R, Andy Sutton and a visitor from Usk. Mike Codd did the briefing and instructional flights whilst Keith and Tony C shared the tugging. John and Edna Horley made a welcome visit.
Meanwhile the bore hole is pumping water out at a substantial rate whilst the plumber completes the installations.
Updated: 15 Aug 2017 MF