Andy Collett & Andy Hollyâ€™s Long Jump Experience October 2012 After a bad month of planning on our behalf and finding dates that we were both available with good weather we suddenly found ourselves approaching the last weekend and not liking the weather prospect. 23rd into the 24th poor cold front was moving down the country weather very fast winds, unstable conditions. Watched lots of options but ultimatly nothing safe available cancelled saturday and Sunday flight. 24th Sunday night prepaired basket bottles etc ready for a hopeful slot behind the front on Monday probably leaving late morning, hoping to launch around Droitwhich, Kidderminster and looking to take the hopeful NNE wind which would be a relatively short flight to north of Gloucester but it was looking likely to be an only chance of anything. Andy was not available to attempt Monday and Tuesday, so we agreed that as Tuesday was lining up to be the best chance and due to the end of the month luming, I drove to Worcester to await the hope of getting something in the bag. Frustratingly it was just too unstable so again aborted attempt. Later Monday 29th October The Tuesday 30th was looking definitely flyable, stable but slow, Direction of 110 earlier in the morning and backing as the day went on. Had we had more forecasted windspeed then we would have travelled to Aberystwyth, but coupled with the strong possibilities of early fog and mist the decision was that we needed to be the east side of the welsh hills, with the right angle to line us up to fly between Birmingham, Luton/Stanstead air space as the wind backed during the day. 31st was forecasted to be getting fast again with a change in weather front so this had to be the slot. That afternoon a quick call to Shobdon air field and we were on for a morning attempt. Next for the crew, always difficult especially as it was a midweek flight, Luckily for us a very useful young chap Tom Lee was available to drive retrieve and my son Spencer a keen new PUT was on school half term so thunderbirds are go. 6.00 Meet at Andy Holly's, food in the car radios, and flight bags and we are off. 8.15 arrive at Shobdon air field, gates open, Moon still in the Sky, straight in and military stile set up and inflation, just the way the national champion likes it. We left it this late to launch as we didn't want to travel to far down the country before the wind backed other wise we could have other airport problems such a Brize Norton and the distance would have been wasted because of the bend in track predicted. 9.05 radio call to air traffic thumbs up and we are on our way. We Found Shobden air traffic control very friendly and most accommodating, on leaving their air space we thanked them for their cooperation and support, and they wished us well. Noted ground speed of 34kh and a track of 290 degrease Then up to 6000 feet noting speed and direction as we climb , 3000ft to 4500ft wind backing towards Birmingham airport 6000ft we got our preferred track of 290 degrees to give a good heading but slowed up to under 20kh so back down to the lower level 2000 ft wind giving 30+kh and a nice direction heading 110 degrees giving us plenty of right in the knowledge that the wind was going to back and we needed the air clearance away from Birmingham air space.
This valley section of our journey was stunning, the take off site is a small run way with the welsh mountings in the backdrop beautiful lush green fields and the Malverns up in front which our track was to take us straight over. First key point we passed over the southern edge of Leominster and then just just north of Eastnor Castle, this is a stunning castle one I have driven past many times but never realised how splendid it was or I would have stopped and visited long ago. Malverns approaching now, heading across the southern end, there was a bronze age fort on the southern end which looked magnificent and again reminds me I have never visited this area so put it on my to walk list. We could see lee wave clouds on the Eastern side of the Malverns so at this time and due to the winds slowing down to 20kh we decided to climb up to our peek height of 10,000ft which we reached a few miles after the hills. The speed was far better and the tracking 290 degrees which was ok for now and the speed had increased to 30kh which we really needed. Heading towards the M5, M50 junction, at this point we needed to alter our track to ensure we missed the danger zone R204 by dropping down to 2000ft now we expected to track south of the danger zone. This worked nicely we tracked north of Ash Church and over the Teddington Hands roundabout and towards Toddington Village where we could see a steam engine working its way in the distance back to Toddington Station, By the time we got to Toddington we dropped down to low level flying and watched the train go in to its station. Back up to 1500ft to start the rise up in to the cotswolds. As we approach Morton in the Marsh we have a surprise visitor, with a radio call from a Red Bull stunt plane asking our permission to circle us for a while, which of course we agree and Andy H asked him to take a few pictures which he agrees. He then gives us a personal stunt show and he circles us several times, before he leaves he takes Andy's email address and departs. (these can now be seen on facebook in the form of a utube video, a very impressive short film) Just after this time in the area of Morton in the Marsh at Midday we experience some turbulence and become aware of some cloud forming with a good single cloud directly above us, we make the decision to climb above it so quickly proceed up the perimeter of the cloud and continue to climb to some 6000ft, this was my first experience of cumulus form cloud and to watch it grow under us. Andy with a wealth of experience had some degree of worry at this point and contacted his office to get Dave to do another comprehensive weather check seeking Taf information from Luton, Til Weston, Brize Norton and Birmingham, as well as rechecking Xc weather and Met Office, We were mainly clear of cloud but ahead of what now appeared to be on the edge of a front covering everything south of us but relatively clear to our north, there were no towering clouds but we were keeping a watchful eye. Report back from Dave he confirmed as per our earlier met report, no significant weather but midday scattered cloud 3000ft, spot winds surface 270 /7-9 kts, 2000ft 260/20 1000ft 250/19, 500/19 with an up to date Qnh 1001 which gave us a piece of mind and after 1 hour the cloud was evidently dissipating so we dropped through the clearing we had been following and back down to 2000ft to get us more left which we now needed to ensure clearing Luton air space and find that bit of speed Dave had reported. On the way down we saw our shadow against the cloud with the light shining through it causing a circular rainbow hallow around the balloon (picture available on face book)
The next mile stone was crossing the M40 south of Banbury, at this point we realised what could be another certainly personal but who knows maybe national 1st we were crossing our 3rd motorway in one flight and could cross 2 more before landing. The wind lower down was now backing as we had hoped, taking us away from Luton air space and through a perfect line to go under Birmingham flight path 6,500 feet On over the M40 now and approaching the air space of Turweston so quick radio call confirmed entry through this area then another first or me, I have never seen Silverstone. We flew over to the North and took some nice pictures having thanked Tur Weston for their hospitality. Flying north of Milton Keynes it is amazing how big it looks from the air 16.00 Over Motor way Number 4 the M1, at this point we could have decide to line ourselves up to land at Sackville, thinking we would not win the long jump we may ask for a special prize for landing there, as during the Grass Roots meet they advertised launching from Sackville during the meet for the long jump attempt they would give a special prize we could have done this in reverse. A few calculations at this point shows we would not quite clear 100 miles by landing there and we would have been embarrassed by submitting anything less. Looking ahead Motorway number 5 the M11 was now on our radar, at the current speed and direction we could make it before sunset, so on we go. Passing an old air port to our left completely full of cars, in the front to our left in the distance we could see Grantham water which i had flown over in September as well as other great memories of this years Grass roots meet. Now needing to know what the ground wind is doing a convenient church appeared to be on fire giving off mass amounts of thick smoke streaming off at about 110 degrease now we are worried about the speed of landing after a generally leisurely pleasure flight it looks like 20kts on the floor. Before the M11 we pass over some large fields which we drop down to clocking 34kh a quick radio to the retrieve crew proves they are laging behind a bit and we also clock some cables are visual in the fields. This confirmed that crossing the M11 to land us in Cambridgeshire would generally sounds more impressive in this report so on we go. On the approach to St Neots, in the North of the town there is a common ground and rugby pitch, we contact ground crew, stow all kit, rubbish etc and practice landing position as we are still traveling at 30kh. The approach is just off line and we follow some fencing, but as we duck in we do note the speed dropped right down to 14 kh which was nice to see, however because of position we decide to abort and climb out to 800ft to view the next opportunities. A few miles in front we see large open fields at Cotton Farm so divert the crew there. It was getting close to sunset now so we really did want to land soon and we had already achieved the maximum out of this flight. 16.50 There is lots of groundworks taking place and flashing lights around the field edge but in we go, 10 yard drag in stubble, down safe, Moon in the Sky. Took off with the moon landed with the moon, that is a first for us both. The crew were on time and gained permission to carry out, the track was a mud track being used by excavators laying wind turbine base pads. You can imagine the mucky mess we got in, luckily most tanks were empty probably under 40% left in only 2 tanks, also as we were blocking the exit for the work men to leave at 17.00 so they came across and helped us out if only to get us out of there way. Dirty and tired we set off to find hard earnt steak all round.
This was a fantastic experience for both of us, i wish we could have had the time to take it more serious earlier in the month, but now we know our kit is good for duration roll on next year ;)......! Lesson learnt, don't leave it to the last minute to get the flight in as it could be to easy and tempting to take an unnecessary dangerous flight just to get one in. The old saying is so true It is better to be down here wishing you were up there then the other way around. Launch Site - Shobdon Air Field SO 39823 60937 Take Off Time 9.05 Landing Cotton Farm Landing Time 16.50
Gravely TL 23594 64648
Distance Flown 114 Miles as the Crow Flies Tank Change Durations T1, 9.05- 9.47 T2, 9.47-10.00 T3 10.37 - 11.19 T4 11.19 - 12.14 T5 12.14 - 13.11 T6 13.11 - 14.11 T7 14.11 - 15.20 T8 15.20 - unfinished 40% T9 unfinished 40%
Andy Collett and Andy Holly report