A short ride in a Libelle

Friday, 3rd September, 2010

I had a slow start in the morning because I had a car problem to sort out and in consequence didn't get to the field until lunch time despite the day looking much better than forecast. In addition, my brother-in-law John was due at the club in mid-afternoon, so my task options were constrained. The upshot was that I ended up declaring an out and return to Bury St.Edmunds since the day looked so good and the streets were pointing in that direction.

Weather satellite image

I took a winch launch about 13:45 and drifted off east toward a decent looking cloud street while still gaining height. As soon as I hit 3000 ft I straightened out on course, still climbing toward cloud base, which was around 3800 ft. Once at cloud base, I sped up and got to the south side of Bury fairly fast, routing directly over Cambridge and stepping south to another good-looking street after passing NewMarket.

At Bury I slowed down to round the turnpoint while crossing to another cloud street on the north side of town for the trip back. This street was weaker than expected and soon turned rather too far south, so I moved onto the next street north, took a couple of climbs and was soon away on a really nice street. In consequence the run home was faster than the outward leg as conditions continued to improve with the cloud base rising slowly. I eventually hit 4200 ft midway between Newmarket and Cambridge with 30 km to run. The final glide computer said I was in, so for the rest of the run home I didn't stop for any thermals but did follow the streets and dolphined a bit. The result was that I crossed the clubhouse at 1800 ft and 90 kts. As soon as the GPS said I'd finished the task I did a big pull-up and half-chandelle which set me up for a right-hand circuit down the far side of the airfield to land on runway 04, stopping pretty much where I'd launched from. I was in the air for 1 hour 35 mins.

Screen capture from Google Earth

Just before launching I'd called John to find he was about to leave the log church at Greensted, near Ongar, and he rang me from the club house as I was turning switches off after landing, so we'd set off on our respective trips at nearly the same time and both arrived at the airfield at the same time. I'd flown 112 km in the time it took John to drive 80 km in his TR6.

I'd always thought a glider should be faster cross-country than a car in traffic, so it was nice to see that this sometimes happens.