We were thin on the ground, with only two booked pupils because of a strong wind forecast, with the likelihood of an early bath ( around 1400, when the occluded front was due to dampen our spirits). With that scenario, we could only manage two Puchacz on the field and we switched Roy C to morning, to beat the expected weather. We also had an interesting visitor, who made his way from Bristol by train and taxi, to fly with us before his return to France in the week ( more explanation later).
The 240 wind was supposed to reduce slowly and veer to around 280 but actually did neither! By mid pm, it had backed and maintained or even strengthened. The starting direction allowed us to gain some support from the White Sheet ridge and take thermals as they came through. There were lots of slope-soaring modellers down there; we didn’t cross over them and I only saw two gliders up at a time, doing some “high energy” ridge bashing. Roy and I had two good flights, getting to a cloudbase of 2900′ but then, heading into wind, finding ourselves above the lower cloudbase of 2600′ to port. I cannot explain that; it wasn’t a convergence or a step from sea air (non visible and a good soarable cloudscape). We followed the line but didn’t find any special lift effects, so maybe it was simply that we had a higher cloudbase to the north of the A303 than the south, because of the lower ground to the south.
We had a short break with a little rain but John G. had checked Andy N out. We could see heavy rain towards Shepton Mallet but that was not coming towards us. Andy then flew solo and, because the wind had backed by then, was able to try the Brimsdown ridge and thermals as they moved through.
Our visitor was very interesting. He is involved with teaching commercial pilots and air traffic controllers to communicate in the international aviation languages, English and French, to those whose native language is neither eg. Africans, Chinese etc ( no jokes about Aussies or western atlantic colonial cousins please). He had flights with John and myself and expressed his gratitude for those, the warm welcome and the lift Mick gave him back to Warminster station – thanks Mick. The visitor, Nick, is planning to come back in the autumn, maybe to organise some flying for French pilots and ATC, so start brushing up your language skills!
Although we didn’t get the forecast storms on time, everybody had done enough to be satisfied when lightning was seen in the Longleat/Frome direction, so time to retrieve Dennis from the winch; he doesn’t need defibrillating!
As I left the site, big drops were starting to fall and the roads back to and beyond Frome had many deep water traps. We were lucky to have had a good day.