With a ridge day forecast we got going a little earlier than normal for midweek flying. The forecast held good for a strong northerly blow, improving as the day progressed. The check flight proved the ridge to be working stupendously well with sustained lift at 1700ft all the way from the Gibbet to the western ridge. Briefings were duly issued for ridge rules, high final turns and blistering approaches and the fun began.
(Pictures of empty launch points have been refreshingly frequent of late, so I will spare your bandwidth. Suffice it to say that Ka13, Puchacz, Vega, Swales, ASW15, Cirrus and Duo Discuss were at one point simultaneously absent.)
An encouraging number of ab-initios appeared on the scene so with three hours in the back seat I had the privilege of seeing the day unfold from the air. It started with a clear blue sky and some of the easiest ridge soaring I have ever experienced, but the unstable Arctic air soon filled the sky with ragged cu. We began to experience the predictable sink pockets and some strong thermals to 3000ft. Activity then spread away from the ridge and the better performance a/c were seen off in the distance, some staying airborne for close to three hours with me having to ration training flights to 30 minutes. By mid afternoon the vault had filled with alternate bands of convective spread-out interspersed with bands of bright sunlight – Wavy, where were you? This combination of ridge lift, convection and wave interaction prevailed for an hour or so, bringing ridge soaring to a halt for a while, but as the Sun lost its power the disruptive influences subsided. So those that stayed on to the bitter end were rewarded with some more extended ridge flights.
Note to self – ‘bring more soup’