It's mid February 2013 and I still haven't felt the wind in the glider this year so today was the day I lost my virginity (for the 2013 flying season)!!! Work seems to keep getting in the way of midweek flying and I've been trying not to read the tales on flying on here. After Jamie's tales of Friday on Mountbenger the weather gods were not offering a flyable weekend, the lack of email group banter on Saturday night suggested Sunday was to be a leisurely day at home (again).
Sunday morning dawned, blue skies but the clouds were tracking a little too fast from the south to get excited but that didn't stop the phone call to Tommy so it became a 'wait and see' morning of coffee/sky/coffee/sky. By 11 there was a definite slowing of cloud tracks and we agreed to meet at Tommy's place. Gear packed and ready (well packed safely away last November) and thrown in the back of the beast before a slow drive up the valley, arriving at Tommy's to be met by Quentin and Dorita in a open top tourer (must be summer), and Jamie, all itching to head to Cacra.
As we arrive at the track Rob rolls up wondering how close the nearest garage is ...his fuel gauge is in the red... but diesel can wait so packs are bundled into the 4x4's and we head up the hill. I lead with Quentin and Dorita followed by Tommy with Jamie and Rob. Parking off track by the short walk up the ridge I glance back to see Tommy practising bog sitting in his 4x4...wheels turning but going nowhere....so recovery chain out and I pull him backwards out of the mire before we all head up the hill.
The wind feels good, maybe a little brisk, and the direction is spot on so it's heads down and keep walking. At takeoff wings are quickly unfurled as we wait for Quentin and Dorita with the tandem and check the wind strength. As usual Tommy is first into the air and shows that both direction and wind speed are OK. I'm next to inflate.....only to end up tangled around Rob's harness, shoes, head........must be the long winter layoff...more groundhandling practise this season!!!
One by one we all take off, Quentin and Dorita showing how easy it is with the tandem, and the flying is EXCELLENT. Smooth dynamic lift along the ridge with thermals popping out of the bowl and gully and everyone is having fun. I look around and decide it's time for some hands free flying as I concentrate on taking photos, weightshifting along the ridge and keeping an eye on the position of 4 other wings and loosing track of time.
There are very few clouds and in the sun it feels warm, warm enough to lift the wing tip in gentle thermals so a few 360's above the hill to gain enough height and venture into the valley. Turning and flying back I notice the others have landed for a break so tease the wind currents for a while longer before heading back to takeoff. Now I know why they haven't joined me again.....arms are in the air suggesting it may be a tad strong to land.....but forward speed is still 20kph into wind so I head out into the middle of the valley until I find sink....let the height drop to 1500ft and then turn back.....landing safely on the side of the gully to save the walk back up to the beast.
A great afternoon to loose my virginity for the season with great company on a great hill......may there be many more of them this year.