After flying for more than 6 weeks at Llanbedr, we had our first landout on Sep 22, with Tony Hughes discovering a field in Bala and some icecream.
Rum and Raisin ice cream – the hard way.
My first flight at Llanbedr in my ASG-29 Es on the 19th included an engine test, it failed! After a phone call to the agent to discuss the issue of a sticky decompression valve we decided to use the the glider , well as a glider until the engine could be inspected in a workshop . So I thanked my turbo for the 6 field landings it had saved me from this year, removed the fuel tank and batteries. The ES remained on the fin but I guess it no longer stood for electric start. No suggestions for what it stands for please.
Tuesday was a very pleasant local thermal flight and on Wednesday was a flight in wave whilst avoiding playful cloud.
Thursday gave a promising thermal day with potential for cloud bases over 4000ft. I launched first and after a little time on the local ridge climbed up to cloud base and set off for Snowdon. In the next hour or so I had enjoyed superb views of Snowdonia , the Menai Strait and Anglesey , all aided along by predictable climbs marked by great looking cumulus.
I returned towards Llanbedr , turning it very high, the cloud base was indeed above 4000ft. I next set off for Llantysilio to turn the gliding club with the possibility of then visiting Lleweni Parc , back to Llanbedr and then a return to Snowdon if time permits.
Climbing whenever I had the offer of a solid climb and keeping an escape path to the green fields of the valley to the south I made slow progress. Near Lake Bala I had seen many promising looking fields and decided continuing was still an acceptable coarse of action. However I progressively found the Cumulus looking more ragged and the climbs weaker and more broken.
15k short of the turn the lure of better scenery and many friendly runways got the better of me and I elected to return to base.
Well the climbs didn’t get any better and the clouds seemed to be evaporating at an alarming rate. I did latter hear the expression the thermals being “switched off at 3” , I wouldn’t disagree. Just west of Lake Bala I slipped down to 2200ft , Cadair Idris was starting to look imposing . My thoughts now started to focus more and more on a safe land out option.
I managed to scratch and claw back until the LX9000 said I could be back in the circuit with 300ft to spare, I pretty sure it doesn’t know about the mountains to the west so disregarded this possibly flawed information.
So I needed a plan and decided back to a far healthier altitude or even cloud base in almost any climb , down the valley to Barmouth then home, if the height loss was excessive there were always the fields at Barmouth. The little wind there was seemed to offer little chance of ridges assisting my escape plan.
Well my journey west down the valley soon reduced my altitude below 2500ft and I elected not to hang all of my hopes on the Barmouth fields. I had already noticed the local farmers have an uncanny ability to put a few of their livestock in almost every field, I was sure this was the unpleasant surprise waiting at the Barmouth fields.
I returned to the western edge of Lake Bala in the hope of that elusive climb and a closer inspection of the fields. The northern shore offered one option with three more possibilities at the eastern end. The air was feeling less and less active and with my continuing earth/lake bound trajectory it was becoming time to choose. The largest field had a strange crop and stranger depression in the centre, one field had power wires across the centre and the field on the north shore just looked too small. Actually none of them seemed to have an abundance of acreage. Almost all the other fields had livestock or a slope that would have meant the loss off the glider after the landing as gravity and it’s strange sense of humour took over. So I chose a small pasture field , into wind ( about 10kts ) but with the possibility of a slight downslope as I landed towards the brook at the far end. I must have landed in over 30 fields in my time in gliding but I think this is the most thought provoking.
Well whoever the German was that thought land flap and triple paddle airbrakes were a good idea is a genius. The glider performed brilliantly ,crossing the hedge at 50kts and touching down after a very short flare meant the only damage was to the thistles at the far end of the field.
A phone call to the FISO at Llanbedr provided a welcome relay that I hadn’t ended up as dragon fodder. Mr Roberts, the farmer was a absolute gentleman and more than happy for me to muster a rescue party. I walked into Bala to await my kindly crew. Bala not only had friendly locals but a shop selling locally made ice cream. I went for rum and raisin, the best I have tasted in years, I think it’s available if you arrive by road.
A briefing the next morning I was asked how big was the field, I’m sticking with my answer, “just big enough”
Many thanks to Graham and Paul for my retrieve.