There was no shortage of adventurous pilots getting ready for cross-country flying on Sunday. I (Nick J) had my eyes set on the silver endurance and distance, and planned a measly 50K (66km to be exact) to Bicester and back.
After launching into the blue above Shalbourne, I was lucky to get away from a cloud well north of the ridge. It would have been a rather embarrassing retrieve from a field had it not gone my way. From then on, it was slow progress to Bicester. The first two legs (Rivar-Didcot-Bicester) took nearly 2 hours, but the way back was easier. With the higher cloud base and favourable wind direction, I made good progress on the final leg.
When back at Shalbourne, I had 2hrs left to go of the 5hrs. I had some fun thermaling with K8 and a friendly Stephen O in the LS3 for some close formation flying. With 1 hour left to go, desperation began to set in. Luckily, I found a thermal 6-8km south of airfield, which I clung on for dear life. 40 minutes in, I notice that it was slowly drifting south. With the fear of drifting into the Thruxton’s ATZ (which on later inspection I was nowhere near), I left my trusty thermal in search for something better. Alas I could find nothing, landing at 16:57 – 4h 59min according to the log keeper and 5hs 00min according to GPS log file. Now it is up to the discretion of the BGA. If I do make the silver endurance, I must express my gratitude to the newly added wheel fairing in the Vega, which I am sure made all the difference. 😉
The others seemed to have much less luck, returning home early before completing their ambitious tasks. I briefly ran into Pete and Claire on my return leg, but later found out they had come home after struggling upwind. We also had the pleasure of welcoming John G, who found his way here all the way from Banbury Gliding Club. Rumour has it, he struggled to get it up, his turbo that is! Overall, what a brilliant day!