Whitesheet – 10th August 2013
The forecast wasn’t great but suggested westerly with a slim chance of xc so I dragged a few fellow Skysurfers along to White/Brown Sheet for a crack. I sent my wind dummies up who confirmed that yes it was a brown day so I decided to see if it calmed down whilst I ate my lunch. By about oneish we had convinced ourselves that the gusts were more sensible and the sky now had a bit of blue in it. Nick Warren and I took off and after a couple of beats of a good kicking we appeared to be going up. Rough and small it was but we both circled each other and hung on for dear life.
I was spinning around on my own at around 3000ft passing to the south of Salisbury when I spied a building cloud and made a fast glide thought the sink. It was text book stuff and got me back at base. The next couple of thermals zoomed but I was getting pushed towards Southampton airspace.
I didn’t think I would get anywhere near this far so I hadn’t been making an effort to clear it early. I took a thermal right to the edge of the airspace (LK8000 on the gps I bought off of Ruth was excellent for this) and then pushed north and up wind towards the nearest cloud. I found a nice strong but rough climb, well it found me! I was pulled in so hard I had to bury the brakes to stop the surge and then it was straight back into the roundy roundy until the airspace got in the way again.
I was making progress north and eventually squeaked round the airspace to the A303/M3 junction. On the home straight now I had two choices, a fairly close cloud over Popham airfield to the north or a cloud with a sailplane climbing under it further away but directly downwind.
Not wanting to risk getting low over a really busy Popham I headed off to chase after the sailplane. The vario started playing its sad song so I got on bar to clear the sink as quick as possible. Unfortunately it didn’t end until the ground got in the way. I tried for a valiant low save over a tractor but the wind was ripping the thermals to shreds. I spied a nice green lawn next to a massive manor house but thought better of it and picked a recently cut field and put down for a no step landing.
I was collected by a friendly farmer who dropped me at the entrance to the farm (probably just wanted me off of the farm) with instructions that Basingstoke was 8 miles north and Alresford was 8 miles south with no mobile reception and not a lot in between! Apparently I had landed on Preston Farm, owned by Lord Sainsburys!
After a couple of miles of walking down a national speed limit road with no path I decided to knock on a door and a kind couple let me use their house phone to call Nick for retrieve. A few hiccups and a couple of calls from a phone box and he eventually found me! Ended up being 74km which is my personal best and a new Whitesheet record. I still can’t believe it really happened, feels like someone else was flying.
This one can display the airspace so you can see where I got stuck http://www.xcontest.org/world/en/flights/detail:dukeofted/10.8.2013/12:39