Tuesday, July 26, 2005

207 Miles

I launched at 10:30am with a 10-15mph ESE wind and cloudbase 1,500 agl. Bo Towed me crosswind about 3 miles so that I would not have to struggle as hard to avoid airspace. Lift was average 1-200 up max which was drifting me towards the airspace everytime I stopped to circle, this meant that every glide was nearly crosswind. Despite the very low base and crosswind I seemed to be making reasonable time as it was starting to street up, I thought to myself this is the day. Once getting around the airspace I went downwind nearly 20 miles on a single glide from 3,000 agl. It seemed to be getting better so I started pushing a little harder to increase my speed but minutes later I found myself low over the trees with nowhere to go but land in them and have to walk about 4 miles out. This was enough to will myself back up from 300 feet, I told myself earlier if I get back up I will follow the road. Base had now risen to 4,500 ft agl but was not looking as that great still at 100 miles out. I kept getting reports from Gary saying that if I could just stay in the air for 2 more hours conditions would improve a lot more. 1 hour later it started to get good again with climbs now up to 6-800 up and clooud streets so once again I started speeding up. I was now appoaching the hill country 170 miles out and noticed some big overdevelopment which was shading everything in front of me. As I have been told this one of the most important places to cross high as there is really really limited landing options. I asked Jamie to call Gary and get him to check out the weather map and see what this high cloud was doing. I got the report back that if I could get through it the weather on the otherside was looking good. From what I could I see the day was gone and there would be no record to be had so I might as well land while I could next to the road. Unfortunately no one wanted me to give up so I kept going hoping for a miracle only to find myself now low 201 miles out in the worst terrain you will ever fly over. There was a little sun to my west with some cu's just starting to pop I thought well this is do or die, so I committed to leaving the road aand heading deeper into the hill country. The problem now is the landings have basicly dissappeared apart from one very small clearing in the bottom of a revine 5 miles off the road. As I get lower I give Jamie my position and said things are not looking good. She replies I need more info cause there is no phone coverage here so once you land I might not be able to contact you. Wow things had just gotten worse not only was I in the middle of nowhere with no landings in leighside rotor, I was not going to have phone reception. This made the landing even more important cause if I crashed it could be a very long wait for help.. As I approached I needed to clear a row of trees very low then fly through a gap of trees and try and pull up before I ran out of field. So far so good I just literally missed the first trees was lining up to go through the slot before hitting some rotor which took me up 50 feet and banked me right toward one of the trees I managed to just miss the tree and straighten up but now I was looking like i would overshoot. I quickly pulled in to ground effect in hang going slightly up hill and flared about 3 metres short of the trees at the end of the clearing. Believe it or not I was standing on my feet I quickly turned the glider around in a 360 to see what I had just escaped. Wow I stood there for what seemed like an hour then I heard Jamie's voice on the radio, yes I was happy at least we had communication. I gave her my co-ordinates and started packing up expected a very long walk and a late night. Soon afetr I packed up she pulled up in the car, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. There was no way I could have survived the landing and not have to walk out. Well it was now a long drive home as tomorrow is looking good. Total distance 207 miles(333kms) in just under 6 hours..