Monday, 23 May 2016

PSSA at the Bwlch - May 2016

I travelled down on Saturday morning to the Bwlch area, as the forecast in the week was less than great unfortunately, but as we approached Pontypridd on the A470, I thought I'd made a big mistake!
The wind was blowing, the skies were clear - ideal sloping weather.

Then we got into the valleys - oops!  As forecast, it was peeing down and the tops of the hills were covered in thick mist straight into the base of the cloud layer.  I still went up and stopped in the layby next to the "wrecker", just in case we got a few minutes of calm or clear weather - it didn't happen.

The clouds were teasing me with lovely views across the valley on the leeward side, but where the mist was being compressed on the windward side, the clouds were dumping the rain out profusely.

A few videos on the laptop later, then we were off to the pub in Ponty - the Bunch of Grapes.  An excellent meal with 4 other like minded guys (and the wife unit) with lots of laughs and talk of future designs and flying trips made for a really great evening.

Sunday dawned with a bit of rain that cleared quickly, so off to the slope we went.  The wind was blowing up and down a bit, but seemed good enough for a few lighter models.  I campaigned the little Hawk through the breeze on "Mickey's", but there wasn't really a lot of energy to be had, so I rigged the Pike.  This of course went very well, but I was mindful that the wind was getting up more and more so I brought her in - straight into a pile of sheep shit. Great!

Phil Cooke getting Pete Garsden's Vulcan away

I had a couple more flights with the Hawk, but again the variability of lift meant that on one pass you had great aeros, then the next pass I was scratching for height.  After lunch the wind seemed a bit more steady, so I tried the BUFF.  Not really that great, as again, the inland slopes were being affected by a lot of thermal activity and probably turbulent waves from the other side of the valley.  She landed out after I battled away on the sticks, re-gained my launch height, then left in dead air again.  No damage other than an aileron servo horn needs replacing.

Bits of BUFF at the bottom!
The wind did seem to swing around some, so we de-camped and walked off to "Mickey's West", which is a much more impressive slope with a steeper base.  The wind was pretty good here, but again quite variable.  I got the Phantom away (now 25 years old - still flies well!) into booming lift that then disappeared a few moments later.  Guess what? Another land out, but thankfully no damage to little 'Toom.
Pits on Mickey's West
I decided against throwing the Flanker off into this variability, but Bob tried his best with his recently acquired Matt Jones version.  Alas, it seemed the balance was off as she wanted to dive a lot, and she piled into the hill out of view, destroying the nose section.

Some rain blew through but Shona and I were sheltered behind the sportbrella, which did a stirling job of keeping the wet off of us, and not much longer after I had the Hawk flying again, mostly straight at Phil's camera.  We knocked it on the head at about 4, just in time really as some very heavy rain and thunderstorms headed in from the West.  We did get a bit of bombing practice done, but we can see that much more practice is required!

Looking forward to the Orme in a few week's time -it should be a good 'un with the CSA guys being there for the Ray Jones memorial.
Lovely views out to sea


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