Sat-Sun was the penultimate round to the interclub between 5 clubs. While the weather to our east was looking fantastic, things here weren’t quite as good. The skies looked less than promising with dark spread out to our north and northeast.
We briefed and fairly short takes were set for Novice, Intermediate and Pundit.
We watched the skies and the starting gate opened at 11;30, everyone carried on watching the skies. I had a chat with Tim Robson with the view that it would be better to sneak off before the air took a turn for the worse (it was already looking poor!) Tim agreed it was a sound plan so I took an aerotow to 2000 feet and had a wide look around the skies to get a ‘feel’. I landed 20 minutes later not getting a single turn in rising air.
The second launch half an hour later proved much better and Tim had already launched a little time before my second re light.
I started my task, the first turn point Shaftesbury. It was hard going, but with a lot of deviation, back tracking and parking; waiting for the skies to change I made it to the first TP. I scratched towards my second TP Taunton, got a couple of great climbs and occasionally saw the needle off the clock. Again there was a degree of deviation required to stay in the air. On track to the TP the air turned horrid and 45km out from the TP I was at 800 feet QFE looking at the farm I thought I’d be landing in. I carried on scratching at a little lift I found and eventually worked my way back up the cloud base at 2900 feet QNH.
There was a foul black street heading in my direction and nothing else, but after trying a similar street earlier and finding nothing under it I was hesitant to give it a go. As there was nothing else I decided to have a bash; at least I’d land out a bit closer to home if I landed out.
Good job I did, I got to cloud base, headed on track and the cloud worked like a hooker on overtime! It sucked and I got a tremendous run of about 35km skipping along the bottom of the street at speeds varying from 70 to 90 knots- all the time loosing no height at all.
I got near my TP but by this time the air had changed once again and not for the better. There was a mid layer and nothing to indicate any lift once I turned for my last leg and home. I only needed 2500 feet to make it back but apart from a little very weak lift there was nothing. My altimeter showed +100 feet, then 000 feet then minus 100, 200 and 300 feet and I landed just after the TP.
I couldn’t have done more to get further and was pleased although any land out always makes my heart race.
Getting back to North hill I learnt that every one in the intermediate class had either landed out or fired up their engine and an initial check looked like I’d won my glass.
Problems with the log download meant we couldn’t look at my trace but we worked it out and sure enough I’d gotten further than anyone else.
Eventually we downloaded my trace and my heart sank, the ClearNav had turned for the next TP too early and it looks like the TP radius had reset itself to a large diameter on a recent software update.
So from first to last in a few minutes is sickening, made worse by all the hard word I’d put in getting around a difficult task.
Next time I will check and double check!
Still a great day and a big thank you to Tim and Jo for retrieving me (again).