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2013-04-19/20/21 Combe, Milk WH and my first XC from Milk Hill (albeit a short flop)

After the great day of the 14th March this last few days has been the best flying weather for quite some time.  It started with the high pressure moving in from the Azores and creating the classic high pressure system ripe for the TVHGC sites.

Friday Combe Gibbet:  So on Friday we still had remnants of the low pressure system in the morning before the high moved in later in the afternoon.  I hung around on Combe Gibbet in the hope of it dropping from the 25mpg winds I found on arrival.   I knew it would settle at some point so sat it out watching many pilots fly overhead from Liddington during the day and wondering if I had made the wrong site choice.  The conditions weren’t ideal at that time with big clouds and hail.  So I was glad by the afternoon things looked up with the wind dropping and the sky looking much better.

I set-up at around 3pm and met up with Lee and launched into reasonably strong winds and the conditions were still quite lumpy which is exactly what the clouds looked like.  After 5pm things improved and we were delighted with some lovely smooth conditions with the odd thermal around.  Height gain was about 1000ft above take off.  I was enjoyable gaining something for the effort of the day.  We packed up at sunset.

Saturday: Helping out as TI with Cloudbase on Milk Hill White Horse. Great day lots of students getting through their EPs and most this was their first hill flight.  They were launching off the top of Milk Hill White Horse by the end of the day.  Cracking day!  It was great to also show the students the pilots flying overhead from Golden Ball on their various XCs.

Sunday: “My First XC from Milk Hill albeit short 6km”: Back to Milk Hill after the morning actuals looked promising for a short morning get away.  I arrived to the sight of gliders flying high but it looked strong.  When I arrived at launch it was gusting 18-20mph but it was fairly consistent for at least 15 minutes.  I met Craig Atwell on launch and we setup for a committed but quick launch and we were up and away.  The conditions were fine out front but very sharp spiky thermals earlier which as expected got stronger.  There were about 10 gliders in the air but with good lift and separation it was good to get out and seek the thermals.  The best thermals seemed to be developing over the southerly escarpment and into the bowl.

After about 30mins and at 11am I got a good 4mps solid climb that took me to about 1000ft above the hill and over the back quickly due to the drift but it was fairly solid.  I met up with another orange glider above me (maybe Adrian T or Craig) over the back near Golden Ball car park but I couldn’t find the thermal or updraft so made the decision to leave and head on towards West Overton hoping to find something en route but nothing.  The sky was still blue at this point and I found it difficult to find a source of another thermal.  On top of this I was in 3mps sink and ended my flight at West Overton next to to a road.

On packing up I hitched a lift with another paragliding pilot who was heading to Milk- result! And arrived to find the last gaggle leaving in a very established climb around mid day which I later found took many of them to Milton Keynes.

It was always going to be a gamble of a day, leaving soon enough to avoid the deteriorating weather conditions vs holding on for the better thermals.  It was really interesting looking at the track logs of those who went on for some long XCs. I noticed that they took a more easterly route crossing over Pumphrey Wood at the back of Golden Ball.  So maybe a combination of me pushing too much north east and just missing the stronger thermals.  Whatever it was it was still fun and learned loads in the process.  This would have been helped of course by setting my flight plan up on the GPS in advance 🙂

What as sport… the learning continues….


2011-12-27 Milk and Milk Hill combo day

A wonderful, unexpected whole day’s flying on Milk Hill and Milk Hill White Horse. It was great to meet up with folks again after what seems an age of being grounded due to er….challenging weather. Gold stars to Theano Pitrakou for a great first post qualifying flight.  Bagged another 2 hours of flying and lots of ground handling.

2011-12-02 Milk Hill

With a rubbish forecast the day before and meant to be all blown out I had checked the late evening forecast and things were moving slower and looked like another small window to be gained.  So headed down at 7.30am to arrive at 9am on Milk Hill and to a glorious sunny, blue sky scene, fabulous.  However arrived to find nil wind at the top so hung around guessing a few folks would be visiting soon.  After an hour a few pilots arrived however still light we gabbed the gear and headed to launch.  Suddenly the track resembled the M4 with almost 20 odd pilots joining the parawaiting party.   Around mid day the wind picked up enough to launch but still not enough to soar more than a few beats so held off whilst ground handling.  The front of launch resembled a fish tank with those trying to soar… far to busy for me I held off.   The forecasted claggy top cover of a warm front slowly pushed in and cleared the hill a bit to allow me to grab a bit of flying before the drizzle arrived and shut down the flying.

Never seen Milk Hill sooooo busy in a long while, incredible and its early December :-))

Great again to meet the usual pose and thanks to Lee for taking this pic.

2011-11-23 Milk Hill

Snatched another flyable window.  Unable to get away early in the day I arrived at Milk around 1.30pm to find a few pilots flying.  It was top end and with a few pilots pined a little too far south to want to fly I held off.  The conditions improved and the wind dropped to 14-18mph and veered a little more to be SW’ly and bang on.  I launched but it was still quite strong aloft and therefore stayed out front.  It was quite nice for 30mins of flying and landing down by the track on the southerly slope to collect my car.  Met up with Tommy.  I had a test flight of the new Zunzun mini Paraglider and was great fun.

2011-11-17 Milk Hill

Not a bad way to start the day before work on a late November day in 2011. This is a commute I don’t mind.

Wind was on the Milk Hill bowl and 16-19mph, toping 22mph later whereby the speed wings took over.

Featuring a few speed wings and the new mini paraglider hybrid call ZunZun 21m2.

A good two hours soaring.

2011-10-01 & 02 Fantastic flying weekend on Tan & White Horse

Saturday: A whole weekend of flying in the high pressure and nearly 30 degrees balmy Indian summer.  Saturday started with flying on Tan Hill as the wind was SE’ly.  Met up with Cloudbase and had a lovely morning flying on Tan with wingman John.  At least 2 hours in the morning followed by a lovely glide to the landing field back at the barn to pack up and walk up towards those flying on White Horse.  Pitched up and then flew until late evening, lovely!!!!

Sunday: John and I headed back to White Horse to be met with others early.  The conditions were light to start with for some ground handling and light soaring but soon picked up and became very useable and quite thermic.  I crossed over the first hill towards Walkers Hill for the first time and had some lovely climbs over the horse.  Picked a climb up to 2200 feet AMSL which was about base due to the inversion.  Headed over the back towards Milk track and pushed back to White Horse to continue flying.  Nearly 4.5 hours of flying on Sunday and a fantastic weekend.  The busiest day I have seen on White Horse.


2011-09-24 Milk Hill

Lovely flying on Milk Hill.  Due to be blown out a 5am start was required down the M4 and traveled to Milk Hill, unfortunately there was still lots of mist around and it took until 8am to start to clear.  It cleared nicely for a 3 hours of flying in the morning followed by a little break then it continued to work into the afternoon.  Got very thermic later on and Fiona got away on a cross country.  It got a little too rough and windy later in the day but met John and we headed round to White Horse when it went southerly for some end of day ground handling fun.  John had his new Team 5 Blue wing to play with.

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