15 March, 2014

Mixed Events

After the maiden flight and not a mark to show for it.
Sunday 9th March will be a very memorable day for lots of reasons and I'll start with the glorious weather. It started with light winds that were forecast to become even calmer as the day went on. Just what I needed to try out my latest slope model that I intended for just such conditions. The model is a Wicked Wing which I believe is a Windrider Bee2 chevron flying wing clone. Happy with the weather and feeling in reasonably good health I loaded up my trusty Ford Mondeo. The car had served me well for 8 years only recently requiring two new springs on the front. In went all my cold weather clothing (which it turned out I didn't need), my camera two normal gliders, the good old SAS Fusion and of course the new Wicked Wing.

Just short of an hour later I arrived at the Edge Top slope where I had expected the wind to be just right and indeed it was. The gentle breeze was blowing a little too strong for the paragliders that were there too and they were waiting for the wind to drop. With the help of a fellow model pilot a few test glides showed that I had too much reflex on the elevons (the waggly bits at the back of the wings were sticking up too much that means). 
The paragliders looked magnificient

After some trimming we went for the launch proper and off she went as smooth as could be. A little more trimming on the elevons was needed but I soon had it sorted out. The wind had started to die down too and at one point I got caught in some sink; then I found the thermal that had caused the sink! Great, I was getting really good height from the rising air of the thermal and it looked like I could have stayed up there all day but there comes a point when the model gets so high it's too small to see so I had to break out of the lift and bring the model lower down. I flew around for another minute or two and decided I was happy  with that for a maiden flight and decided to try for a landing which needed to be to my right as by now the paragliders were behind me and to my left, preparing to get airborne. Once more I wasn't disappointed with the handling and the model easily landed as planned. By this time the wind was fine for the paragliders and that put an end to my flying at that site as they were flying in front of the slope and a conflict with a manned craft would not be good. That rather spoilt the occasion but we decided that the Pool site wasn't far away and might be flyable even though the wind direction wasn't all that good.

Gorgeous weather but not enough wind in the end.
On arrival at the Pool most people already present were either sitting chatting, standing chatting or packing up. There had been some flying but the calm wind sideways onto the slope had pretty much finished it. Well, I had put this wing together for when the wind was too light for the other models so I decided to give it a go. After a handful of failed attempts to catch any lift I did eventually get a 10 minute flight in but found there was no-one to celebrate the success with; they had all given up and gone home. Oh well, that meant there was no-one to take the mickey then, so I repeated the previous pattern of failed attempts to catch any lift with an occasional flight of about 10 minutes duration. All too soon though the lift for even the Wicked Wing had gone and I was getting nowhere. A check of my watch and it was only 3.30pm, sunny, warm and calm too, definitely too good to go home so soon.

Longnor basking under a clear blue sky.
It so happens that on a previous visit to the area I had discovered that nearby Longnor has a couple of very reasonable cafes so I packed up and headed off there. A fine sun trap it was too, so after a quick review of the menus and seating arrangements I found myself a good seat outside and settled down to scones, cream, jam and a very good pot of tea. 
Yummy, that was nice, more tea?
With some satisfaction I remembered that all the heavy rain of late had made my usual powered flight flying field just about unusable, however here I was in the hills and despite the early finish to flying I was happy to enjoy some relaxation in the unusual warmth of a beautiful March day. After all my feet were dry, not at all muddy, I wasn't cold, no wind and there was very little traffic noise to spoil the moment. Yes this was good.

Oh well, all good things come to end. How true that was! I set off home admiring the views but after about three miles I was travelling up a hill and applied a little pressure to the accelerator to help my car up the hill and the only thing that happened was that engine revved up and the car slowed down. A quick check that the automatic gearbox hadn't been knocked out of drive and try again, yipes no go. I found myself stopped on the quite narrow road on the approach to the brow of a hill. Just right to put anyone overtaking me in danger of colliding with anything coming the other way. Something had to be done and quick, its a quiet road but not that quiet. 

The sun sets on my cherished Ford Mondeo!
I tried every gear selection but there was nothing and so I looked back down the hill. About 100 yards away, at the bottom of the hill but on the other side of the road was a farm drive and I decided that was where I should be. So with handbrake off and gear selector in neutral the car started to roll  backwards down the hill with good momentum, then a car came behind me and I had to stop to allow him to safely pass. Even though the car rolled easily again it didn't pick up much speed before I crossed the road and almost into the farm drive. Little did I know that was the last time I would drive that car. Since I was feeling fit and healthy I decided to try and push it the rest of the way off the road, which was pretty stupid really for a bloke with a history of hernias and groin strains. It wouldn't budge, I didn't do any long term harm to myself but there's another painful groin strain to add to the list. "Right then," I thought, "time to call for recovery." and there was a poor mobile phone signal so that was something. Pity I'd not long since tidied out my glove box though, no recovery number was present. Anyway after phone calls home and then the AA and a few sharp intakes of breath my car was towed onto a recovery vehicle and off we went. The end of this story? Well in brief (at last you might say), the necessary repairs to the gearbox were too expensive to be economically practical. Funnily enough I had originally planned to have the Mondeo for at least 8 years and it had died a day short of that. More recently though since it was just right for my needs and lasting so well, I had decided to keep it for another year or two...oops!

Yes, a day of mixed events indeed and the last words on it. My groin is slowly getting better and I now have a new style four years old.... Ford Mondeo.