2004 started off with a wet, rainy, unsoarable spring. This was the first weekday with a reasonable forecast, so I rigged 123 for my first proper cross-country of the season and in continuation of the previous year's 300km campaign. A fresh westerly prompted me to tackle the Bury St. Edmunds - Edgehill triangle with Bury St.Edmunds as the first turn point.
My initial launch was at half past 12 but I had problems getting away and landed after 13 minutes. I took a second launch just after 1 pm and was immediately away and climbing. The run downwind to Bury St. Edmunds was fairly easy though a useful looking cloud over the town wasn't working and I ended up over 7 km north-west and down to 1400 feet before finding my next climb, which was a 3.6 knotter that took me to 5000 feet. From there it was a straight forward, though slow, run back to the north of Cambridge where under thickening top-cover I worked my way out to Wyton. At this point all thermal activity further west had ceased under the top cover and I abandoned the declared task and headed back toward GRL with a straight 16 km glide. I arrived at 2200 ft to find the last gentle patch of lift for miles was already occupied by a few other gliders. More arrived until there were six of us. We all eventually moved on to a better climb on the west side of Little Gransden, which eventually took Mike Collins in 778 and myself to 4200. By this time things were looking brighter to the west, so Mike and I decided to head for Bedford. Again this was a straight glide of 17km without any lift. We found separate thermals south of Bedford. Mine was a bit better and, after a climb to 3500 I moved west to a much better thermal on the west edge of the overcast. That got me to 4800 with a clear run out to Milton Keynes. Mike was still struggling so I told him where I was going and set off. I had a straight run out past Cranfield to the M1, where a quick climb to 3500 put me under a nice cloud street past the Newport Pagnall turn point. From here things looked good to the north-east so I set off, intending to turn Rushden and then head for home because the top cover was thickening once again. It was an easy run to Bozeat but from there the view ahead made it obvious that I could get to Rushden but not back. Besides, there was a lovely cumulus on the direct route back to Gransden Lodge, complete with flashing neon arrow and the words "Gransden Lodge - this way", so I took its advice and headed for home. A final climb, just for fun, almost exactly where Mike and I had made our climb before heading for Bedford took me back to 4000 feet. I spent some time playing with 123 and investigating its hands-off stability before eventually turning north at Wimpole Hall to go home and land.
The route flown.
The barograph trace.
|Time||Declared||Height (ft)||Leg (km)||Flown||Leg (km)|
|Turn point 1||13:52||BSE||57.18||BSE||57.18|
|Turn point 2||16:12||EDG||150.87||NPT||101.88|
|Avg. speed||55.19 kph|