Weather had again intervened and apart from a brief foray to Pembrey – about the only place I’m almost 100% guaranteed to be able to reach fro Swansea! — I hadn’t flown in over a month. Again. I’m sure this winter has been much worse than year’s. I remember far more fine cold clear days, that I’ve been missing this year.
Saturday looked a bit more promising, a fair bit of cloud, but scattered enough that going somewhere seemed plausible. Full of optimism and having an urge to gaze at the wonderful views over the hills I planned for Welshpool, phoned them up and headed to the airfield.
By the time I go off the bus the cloud had closed in dramatically. Not really hill-crossing weather any more. Rats. Still let’s try for somewhere along flatter route. Kemble will do. Phone them, replan and out to the aeroplane.
Maybe you can see where this is going. Airborne I struck out to the east, but by the time I reached Port Talbot and still hadn’t been able to get above 1500 feet unless I flew out over the sea, I surrendered and sloped back to Swansea.
With my tail between my legs I informed them I was not going to Kemble after all and would be heading west for some local flying instead.
Out along the coast my spirits soon lifted. Inland, the cloud heaped up against the hills and marched in lines as though guarding the coast, but out over the sweeping sands of Rhossilli, and Cefn Sidan and the Loughor estuary winding its way north, the sky was blue and calm, and I climbed up and up for no especial reason, to level at around 6000 feet.
Since I was up there I thought I may as well practise some steep turns and stalls. I love the view down the wing, wheeling above that estuary. This was my training ground and it was easy to conjure up the remembered excitement as I first learned to move the aeroplane around the sky and the pleasure of discovering I could get it to do what I wanted.
I glided back down, practised slips and steep gliding turns, weaving through s-turns pretending I was chasing for a too-close field. From a more reasonable altitude I tried a PFL towards the sandbank at Whitford Point which would have plonked me in the water, and two more successful ones to various fields.
Hunger finally put a stop to my fiddling around and since Pembrey was just over the nose, I changed my mind again to Swansea and told them I was off there instead.
I always like going into Pembrey, it always fees like coming home and the welcome at the club is always fantastic. Unfortunately I’ve developed a knack for turning up just after the cafe has finished doing hot food. So again today, but a very good ham sandwich held off the pangs while I caught up on the gossip and going on.
The cloud had cleared somewhat by the time I returned to Swansea and I ambled home across the common accompanied by the pleasant sound of the Yak doing aerobatics among the gaps.
On Sunday, I was toying with the idea of flying again, when my sister provided me with the perfect excuse. Pembrokeshire, she informed me, was suffering from a county-wide, Red Nose shortage. Would I be able to bring some down?
An unusual flying mission, but why not! I phoned Haverfordwest and got a rather depressing account of the cloudbase, but all else looked fine, and I knew that approaching along the Cleddau from the south I was unlikely to wrap myself around anything. I mentally established a “no lower than …” rule for myself, and armed with my ‘payload’ of 4 of Sainsbury’s finest Red Noses, headed off, after telephoning my sister with as many warnings as I could that if I didn’t like the weather I was coming back and they’d have to go in the post.
Another weird day for weather. The visibility was nothing special, but Haverfordwest was completely barricaded by cloud. I started getting bounced about even before I was below it and rather startled, I beat a retreat to circle above Pembroke dock, while I gave the matter some thought.
It wasn’t in fact nearly as low as I’d feared but it was rough! I’d never flown in quite such turbulence. I couldn’t see a clear reason for it either. It as if it was massive CBs, just some smallish and rather lumpy Cu. Later someone told me the turbulence had to do with the high wind gradient between the ground where it was reasonably moderate, and higher up where it was a lot stronger.
At the time my thoughts were not much on the reason. I slowed down a bit, and descended to 1000 so I could slide straight into the circuit. I promised myself that if I felt he need to give up on it again, I’d head home. There was going to be no “third time lucky!
This time I felt a bit more on top of the situation and flew a close circuit to land without too much drama.
Another cheerful welcome “Go get a coffee, I’ll bring the landing fee forms over.” and the Noses successfully delivered!
The flight back added no more white hairs, although I’m told that my little nephew watching the takeoff was shouting “updown updown updown” as I was bobbled about in the wind. He thinks turbulence is funny!
I snapped a few shots of the cloud over my shoulder as I departed. Looks pretty innocuous on camera!