know a lot of pilots get enjoyment purely from casual flying, but Ive
got to say Ive had my best and most memorable moments in competition,
whether just club or national. I hope you will allow me to share a few
of them just as they come into my head.
1 Cross Fell
Club comp on Crossfell 1st task race around a mini triangle. Take off,
first turn point left on the corner of Wild Boar Scar. Light wind but
everyone keen and hungry. Several gliders made straight for Wild Boar
without beating the ridge for some height, they just went for it. We all
arrived at the corner below the top. A few of us got into a scrappy punchy
thermal that was drifting up the gully to the next turn point, a cairn
of stones just below Crossfell. I remember Ron Freeman and I doing some
really aggressive and close thermaling up the rock face. Ron made the
turn point just ahead of me and set off for the third which was the cars
at the bottom landing field. We both had the bar to our toes, he knew
I was behind him and I could see him, but I couldnt make up that
couple of seconds. We both made the turn point below the top, raced back
to the ridge to get 20 feet of height then in for landing. The time was
an amazing 8 minutes
..What a blast that was.
Flying Moneylaws on a very windy post frontal day with strong thermals.
Steve Hall and I got away from the ridge almost together. The climbs were
quick and the sink great. Steve lost it going over the moors towards Cheviot,
no tracks just a mega carry out. I took a chance and headed for the Bizzle
Burn on the North face of Cheviot. I was concerned about the wind strength
but didnt want the same carry out as Steve. I arrived half way up
the face of Cheviot and turned east along the ridge instead of west. The
wind was more Northwest and although I was going up like a Fenwicks elevator
I couldnt penetrate along the ridge. As I approached the top of
Cheviot I was going backwards with the bar to my knees
.Oh shit here
we are again. I edged along the ridge to the east with the bar to my gonads
and got deposited on the shoulder of Cheviot.
It took me a good 20 minutes to get unclipped and get the glider down.
I waited All Day for the wind to drop and take off again as
I had to fly to a road somewhere. The only pleasure I got sitting by myself
for hours was watching the white triangle shape slowly making its
way across the moor
.Yes Steve Hall. He had no water and was living
off wild berries. When he was picked up later that night after flying
off the top of the Yeavering Bell he looked like a man possessed with
red stains all over his face.
I eventually took off in what was still a very strong wind and had one
of the roughest rides of my life flying low between Cheviot and Hedgehope.
I flew over the top of Dunmoor and was then drilled on the lee-side but
managed to make the road that went through Ingram Valley. A memorable
day with MUCH beer drinking and laughter
.After the event!
Sitting on the top of Titlington Pike with not a breath of wind and a
grey sky. Hooked in and waiting for God knows what. We took off one by
one drifting to the bottom landing field. Eric Bryson took off in front
of me. When he was over the trees at the bottom he started to go up and
up and up and up and then out the other side of the thermal without turning
once??? I followed him off in nil wind hit the thermal and wound it back
slowly to 1700 ATO. Not being too sure what I was going to do with my
new found altitude and grey sky I decided to head off cross wind for Hepburn
Wood. No special reason just to see if I could make it. Not only did I
make it, I was rewarded with a solid 5 up from the corner of the ridge.
This got me up to 2500 ATO and over the mast behind the ridge. I noticed
a long line of cloud just east of me at about the same height. I wonder
what this is? Whats causing it? I flew across to it and was met
by the most amazing silky 2 up Id ever come across. Convergence!
On a crap day like this too. With one wing in the cloud and the other
out I straight lined it all the way to Berwick. John Miller kindly picked
me up and was astonished I made it this far
.He wasnt the only
And probably my favourite
4 Cross Fell
Wed just come back from a washed out Scottish Open. Steve Hall,
Peter Rutherford and myself decided to give Crossfell a go.
It was raining when we arrived so ended up having a pint and a game of
pool in the Shepherds.
The weather changed quite quickly and the sky went blue with just the
odd cumulus. We rigged on the top all ready together just in case. I took
off and flew to Wild Boar. I was met by a mega 10 15 up
mega thermal! I dared to take my hand off the bar to key the mike and
say Get yer arses over here quick But they were already on
their way. We climbed out together and reached an amazing 4000ft above
the top of Crossfell summit 7000ft ASL. The views were spectacular,
we could see both coasts it was that clear.
We slowly circled over Jim Clapp the vets house as the drift was
light. With Garrigal below and the wide expanse of Nenthead moor in front
of us it was decision time. There was one cloud shadow right in the middle
of the moor but if it didnt work it was the mega carry again. Oh
well nothing ventured and all that I pulled 25 yards of VB on and set
off on a glide. I was rewarded with a beautiful climb. Steve Hall joined
me below and we climbed out again to a great height. But Peter Rutherford
the Disbeliever didnt risk it. Steve and I watched him
run along the ground for about 15 miles making sarcastic jokes about his
lowly position. He even screamed when six Tornadoes went passed him at
600 knots. That was well worth watching from our lofty position.
Steve came on the radio Whats that big lake in front of us?
Well Steve if you look at the map thats in your harness pocket it
would say Derwent Reservoir. I was getting bored with the slow drift and
decided on a very long glide for the cloud over Consett. Steve shouting
youll never make it, its too far away
.So why you following
then? I got to Consett and could see a woman hanging washing on her line
was low, but the thermal worked and off I went again. Steve wasnt
so lucky he landed right in the middle of Consett...I kid you not.
It was just at this point that the radio crackled into life
on channel? It was Clive Bridges at home in Sunderland..... Wallis
here. Where are you?......6 grand over the A19 Kamatsu Factory. Oh yeah
was the reply..... Please your self, can you not hear the vario going
crackers..... Bastards, bastards I knew I should have went flying
Peter had done well to catch up but I couldnt see him as he was
now further south. He eventually landed at Chester-le-street about 39
miles. I still had much height as there was lift everywhere by now. I
could easy make the coast crossing Sunderland and maybe a bit more. But
a Boeing 737 on its approach into Newcastle passed me at the same
height (in free airspace may I add) I could see the faces in the portholes
it was that close. My bottle was well and truly gone. I wound off 6000
feet of height and landed by Penshaw Monument. Clive Bridges picked Peter
and I up and took us all the way back to Ovingham where much much beer
..A cracking day.
Scottish Open sitting on top of the Cairnwell with Angie Theodarakis,
Peter Rutherford, Len Hull (With the prototype Airwave Kiss) and a few
others. The wind was on the north east face and they had set an ambitious
task. A 14 mile cross wind leg to a turn point
Then Open XC
yeah no bother then, just 14 miles across the mountains then start your
It was one of those days when you wanted to fly, but for some reason you
werent keen to get in the air. Knowing how rough Scotland can be
especially with a northerly air stream your brain was saying Dont
A lot of pilots had left having various results but the sky was looking
pretty good and by Scottish standards unbelievable. Len Hull had took
off earlier and wasnt having the best of it. Peter, Angie and I
took off close together and as soon as you were in the air you knew you
were in for something different. It wasnt dangerous just big strong
whopping bastard Scottish thermals with kilts on. By the time we got to
the bottom of the valley above the Spittal Hotel we were at 6 grand with
the Cairngorms spread out below us, it was mind blowing. About 8 miles
into the flight I saw Angie and Len Hull stuck on a ridge far below
The flight continued to the turn point which was a hotel. You had to get
the letter T that was behind the building on the lawn. If
I said I was 30 feet above the chimney when I got the letter I would be
lying. I could have saved Santa time dropping his presents at the same
I landed very soon after in the field with a few other hang glider pilots.
As I was de-rigging Peter Rutherford walked up to me and surprised me
very much he had made it this far
..Have you been getting the bus
with your glider again Rutherford? The boy had done well. Just as we were
congratulating each other Angie went over our head at what must have been
7000 feet. He was mega high and did very well on the day. Scotland is
a fantastic place to fly when you get the weather.
Just a few memories as I dont want to bore you all to death. I hope