Following the early rain we were relieved to see the field rapidly drying out in a brisk SSW wind, the WX check proving it to be soarable from the start. According to ‘Bradbury’ the forecast, with overnight min at 13 and max 17 degrees promised little in the way of cloudbase, but it was soon obvious that the forecasters had got it wrong when Peter E and new member Frank Duke climbed away to 3500ft. Frank was so chuffed that he parted with a cheque for membership plus a years-worth of flying. Nice one Peter!
As the afternoon wore on, darkening skies to the west made it increasingly likely that we were going to get wet. But the best was yet to come! Despite much encouragement there were no takers for the Vega, so – spying the possibility of a squall line I launched, scratched and went hunting. By now a clearly defined squall line lying WSW to ENE had formed over Shalbourne.
For the next half hour I literally hammered up and down the edge, from Burbage to Kintbury, in and out of rain showers, close to rough air speed with my head and backside alternately hitting the canopy and the seat.
Behind the front the bonfire smoke in the valley showed that the wind had veered to WNW. Today’s synoptic chart forecast a trough across southern England at midday which would tie in with the change in wind direction. RASP shows a similar pattern at the same time.
So this frontal change in airmass was sufficient to kick off deep convection and heavy rain on one side and sunshine on the other. Yipee!
Now imagine for a moment that I saw the Ka8 flying much closer to the front, in and out of rapidly forming puffs of cloud – and that the pilot entered a ‘puff’ and found there was no way out. He might well find himself being sucked up into a CuNim in pouring rain with the vario off the clock and within sixty seconds having no idea of up, down or sideways. Fortunately my hypothetical pilot quickly freezes the controls and opens the airbrakes which are fortunately effective enough to offset the lift.
Of course you wouldn’t do that – would you?