Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Passenger to pilot windrushers style

After my silver height I did a couple of flights in T19 (our Discus) for currency, I managed to get a couple of hours in off of two winch launches and as the Astir was coming back on line I decided to have another bash at my five hours.

Sunday the 13th of May was looking good, the previous day had been excellent weather wise and the Sunday was forecast to be better still. I turned up nice and early as I was supposed to be on duty, seeing the weather was indeed going to mean the five hours were on Debbie my duty instructor gave me the nod to give it a bash.

I went and got the Astir DI'd, kitted out with a chute and batteries and then dragged it outside for a wash down. At the launch point I added my Nano logger and Oudie, as well as my DriftCAM, food, water and favoured method of taking a pee. With the glider set I grabbed a light breakfast, cup of coffee and made sure I had sunscreen on.

I then had a chat with an instructor as to the best way to approach the day,  as well as the get high and stay high brief it was decided to set a small task of Bicester - Enstone - Edge hill - Bicester and see how many times I could get around it. This was plumbed into the Oudie in no time and uploaded to the Nano. I got myself settled into the glider and then when my turn was up I took a winch launch to 1400' after 10mins of very broken lift I was back on the ground already thinking today may not be the day.

Launch two @ 11ish went ok until I got to 1000' and the weak link let go in a gust, after recovery action the undercarriage was raised and I was into scratch mode. Lift down low was lumpy and hard to work and after 20mins of between .5 and 4kts I was up to 2500' here the lift smoothed out and was easier to work and before long I was at cloud base just under 4k. Stupidly I had forgot to check the time I launched at so I needed to go to 16:30 at least to be sure of getting in, it was going to be a long flight.

I crossed the start line over the airfield and 3200 and set off on track to Enstone. Being very Conservative I took an age to get there, an hour or so to cover the 20ishKm to the turn point and turning north west towards Edge Hill the e-vario went U/S, five minutes later the radio was dead and so was the FLARM unit, a quick check of the voltage revealed 6.1volts instead of 12. I decided at that point to change the plan and bin the task, nearly 2hours in all I wanted to do was stay up. I ran the cloud street I was under back to Bicester, during the run I took my first in flight pee and thanks to the convene equipment I had it was a non event, thankfully. back at Bicester things had started to fill in, looking downwind to buckingham things looked better so off I went, the plan would be to land at Finmere if I got flushed. coming back from Buckingham I got down to 1800' just north of the airfield, scratch mode again and on the 3:30mark I dug out a good climb back to cloud base. From here I could see a nice street setting up between Bicester and Oxford so off I went. the first run down to oxford took a little time but the run back took minutes. Still with an hour to go I decided to turn around and head back along the street again. I reached oxford and pushed on to didcot. I reached 5hrs and turned for home on final glide. nearly 30k out with 5k in hand the oudie showed me being 2500' arriving back, pushing the nose down and running 80kts all the way back I arrived with 1000' to spare. Nice circuit and spot landing next to the bus meant I just rolled out of the cockpit.

I could not walk straight for a couple of hours and my arse was the shape of the astirs seat pan but I had fun, the logs and my Nano showed I had done 5hrs 21mins the nano also showed I had covered 227kms which was not bad.

50K to go and I can then get my comp license and enter the regionals proper.