I've often thought I could write a good article about flying that completely excluded the actual flying. I have been picked up by a man on a horse in Brazil, a tractor in the forest of Ae and a motorbike in the highlands. I have spent an afternoon getting very very drunk with a Frenchman who didn't speak English, nor I French, before he drove me home, and was once passed from relative to relative, motorbike to old VW and back to motorbike when they all spoke Portuguese and I did not, and many more odd things have happened. Flying is not just about flying. Monday and Tuesday 15 and 16 August would have been grand days out even without the getting airborne bit.
Just back from my sons wedding the day before and Monday was looking inviting so an early lunch and drive to the Borderlands. The email drums had confirmed a few were interested in getting out and I got myself to the bottom of Cacra to find no cars so set off to Witchie but half way there thought to ring Tommy followed by a swift 180 deg turn and back to Cacra. Tommy was launching as I arrived at the top and all was looking rather pleasant. Soon in the air there was blue above with obvious working clouds, and thermals on the hill seemed a little broken but tantalising. Tommy was showing the way and doing 360's and I was not slow to imitate. A nice climb out soon followed with a steady 3 up thermal. Well it would have been steady but I kept falling out one side or the other and was flying like a donkey but the lift was better than me and up I went and the Borders from 3800 ft looked very bonny.
Now what, it was probably after 4 pm. Into wind was where all the clouds were and down wind all the hazy blue. Does it matter which way ? not really. Tommy was almost directly below but still connected to the hill. I was wandering about enjoying the feel of my new harness and realised I was drifting downwind so decision made and that was pretty much the situation for the next 45 minutes or so with zig zag pattern from one valley to the next and back tacking anything going up but I was starting to get lower and started to have a good think. Then I saw Witchie in the near distance and it seemed as good a destination as any. Lower and a last bit of lift on Rough Hill just before Witchie and I arrived at about 100 ft from stage right and waved to those on the ground. Them being on the ground was not good and I soon joined them. Tommy must have got high because he was in line of sight for radio contact and offered a retrieve later but the night was still young.
A couple of short flights at Witchie and the others were wanting home and Dave H offered me a lift back to Cacra, and to save him waiting my glider was bundled in the van unpacked. Steve had had a good flight from Witchie getting somewhere near Selkirk and had got back on shanks pony and with the aid of a couple of pilots from Yarrowford I think. He didn't offer me lift on the motorbike with and unpacked glider - for some reason.
Within two minutes after getting to Cacra some landrover types arrived and Chris so kindly let me stuff my still unpacked glider in the back and off up we went with a car full. Just going with the way the day was taking me, nice. Didn't quite make the hill top but close enough for a coconut. And about ten minutes walk with my bundle of washing and so to launch into a smooth sky and half a dozen or more other wingbeat folk. Such a joy to fly in shorts and T shirt. All good things end and we all got lower after what I think about an hour and some were landing. Derek and I seemed most determined and I admit I was cooling off so down to a midge infested landing area. It had been cow infested as well but had been cleansed of cows if not cow pats by the time I got there.
It was nice to see Jamie on a tandem with passenger Carrie nice lady from London way. Least I think she was called Carrie it might have just been what he said when he gave the harness rucksack. Folk left sharpish for the Tushilaw which turned out to be closed but it took zero persuasion to get Derek on to the Gordon Arms. Beer is good.
The day before still sharp in the memory it seemed like a good idea to say same again please. The emails had suggested cacra or Jubilee and having got there I realised I had no real idea where exactly Jubilee was or how to get up. Yep planning is key. So off to ask Tommy in the old fashioned no phone signal way and found him putting a spark plug in his quad bike. A few pleasantries later and off on the first task which was a bike up the hill behind his house to assess the conditions. Enjoyed that. This followed by adventure two which was a Subaru up Cacra and much to my delight we made it to the top or rather Tommy did, Gerald and I were playing important parts as ballast and commentators.
Wrong hill. So the next and best adventure was 3 up on the quad with a trailer of gliders up Jubilee. Bit scary in a still laughing sort of way.
Take off soon followed and a steady 100 ft off the deck seemed in order for all three of us. Soon evident there were thermals too but tricksey in the wind and scrappy. Then it was a couple of hundred feet up and the odd 360. The way to go was gain ht and then push forward the steps getting bigger with more height. But is was quite hard work and slow and not smooth. I had aspirations of wandering off again as the day before but it did not feel that kind of day and at about 3500 ft decided that going downwind might see me on some turbulent hill side or in some dead end valley. Too nice a day to do something upsetting so pushed forward and played around out front for a while. Way out front and not going down I noticed both Tommy and Gerald had landed. So for me a bit more playing and decided to go find my wife who was in the car reading. The wind seemed against me to get to the days designated landing field so opted for a cut hay field in the middle of the valley but just could not get down. So 10 or 15 minutes of big ears and speed bar and 360's before landing. Out of the harness and helmet off my wife arrived with tea and sandwich and helped me pack the glider. The sun was shining and the gods in their heaven.
I then went looking for Gerald but found Derek being a lost boy looking for a track up the hill. Enter Tommy again with radio and Derek was soon heading up a 45 degree slope on the quad and I have to say I was a bit jealous. But my wife was not feeling too good so a drive home was in order and a chicken dinner. I presume Derek and Tommy flew and enjoyed the evening as there was plenty of it left.
A really good couple of days out. Thanks guys.