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RAFMAA Slope Comp


Following on from the RAFMAA slope event held on the Leek and Moorland slopes (again many thanks fellows); things have been slightly quiet on the soaring front. After consultation with my playmate Colin, we booked ourselves and partners into our favourite B&B in Church Stretton with a view to enjoying three days of soaring on the Long Mynd. This of course is only made possible on the domestic front by the fact that Church Stretton has an excellent train service to many and various retail therapy centres for the little ladies to enjoy. We all drove down on the Friday and following advice from our hosts, enjoyed a very good meal in a small country pub just east of Hope Bowler. Unfortunately, after the meal the road back was blocked by a Road Traffic Accident which required us to navigate, by little more than sense of direction, as the phone Sat-Nav wouldn’t function (No signal). After a lengthy detour via very narrow roads we returned safely to our B&B. Little did we know that this was a taste of what lay in wait for us tomorrow.

Saturday 13 Dec 14.

Clear and sunny with a light wind from the South West. Overnight the temperature had dropped considerably with some evidence of ice on the road outside the B&B. Of course upon our arrival at the foot of the Hill we were greeted with a “Road Closed” sign because of snow and ice. This has happened to us before, therefore, we back tracked with the intention of taking the back road via Darnford to get to Pole Cottage at the top. With me leading, we drove steadily taking note of the frost patches and frozen puddles. Having just passed the Car Parking area we use when flying at Darnford we negotiated the cattle grid and which unknowingly, marked the point of no return down a medium downhill stretch followed by a tight left hand bend. Both Colin and I were lucky to keep the cars on the road which we found out was covered in black ice. Just around the corner was another car parked in the middle of the road having also become stranded as its driver had gone on foot to survey the rest of the descent. The bad news was that effectively the road ahead was impassable and due to the black ice, hill and bend we were also unable to return the way we had come. We were well and truly stuck. Of course the really bad news was that at the time the wind wasn’t on that part of the hill. Eventually after about 90 minutes the sun softened the ice on the road and after a couple of attempts, we were able to reverse back up the hill to return to Church Stretton.

After suitable restoratives, coffee and cake, we noticed that cars with Hang-gliders on top were driving up to the Long Mynd and not returning, so we set off only to be greeted by the same road blocked sign. No doubt some cars had set off and made it to the top, so were we to follow?

Those who have flown at the Long Mynd will remember the access road which is called “The Burway”. It is very steep with a steep bank on the left as you up the track and an almost sheer drop of several hundred feet on the right. Common sense prevailed, no model flying is worth risking life and limb. Fortunately on a previous visit (Article: Three go mad in Shropshire) we had taken a very pleasant evening walk along a hill ridge located on the other side of the A49 from the Long Mynd and Colin could remember the way there.

Upon arrival we parked and armed with a Mini-Milan and Weasel each we walked to the top of the new hill. A quick experimental launch proved that the hill was working so we set to with the Mini-Milans. Also on the hill with us were the local fox hunt and their hounds so we took care to keep the models at a reasonable distance so as to avoid any risk of “spooking” the horses. Once the hunt had departed with the trailing riders bidding us farewell, I remarked that as the hill was very long and narrow we could probably fly the entire length. We therefore, landed, secured the weasels on our rucksacks and set forth. This was to be a very pleasant outing and gave us some good flying with the hill working all the way to the end. So the day ended far better than the mornings experience had suggested that it would. We had flown, discovered a new hill and not broken anything. Time for beer, food and medals in a local pub.

Sunday 14 Dec 14.

Overcast with low cloud, wind 20 – 25 mph South West. Fortunately the overnight temperature had risen and The Burway was open allowing us to drive up and park in the car park by the Pole Cott slope. With the threat of rain ever present I strapped my fishing shelter on top of the rucksack and we set out equipped with a Dude and Midge each. I had intended to fly my Jart however I soon discovered that I had the fuselage from one Jart and the wings from another. Blonde hair dye added to future requirements. Once the shelter was erected we were able to protect not only ourselves but all the models and gear we were carrying. A course of action that was necessary during the passing showers allowing us to get out of the wind with a hot drink.

Colin’s Dude was very new having only been briefly test flown in light wind conditions at his home slope - Parlick. Once away in the wind Colin was able to further refine its performance and with suitable adjustments to the CROW flap landing settings, was able to demonstrate a very docile landing approach with an accurate touch down on the smooth grass area. Not many flying wings have the ability employ CROW flap. I flew my Dude by way of comparison and the performance was found to be roughly similar. Colin’s Dude appeared to have slightly better handling in
flight and landing which may be down to its relative youth and lighter weight. Once into the early afternoon the weather started to deteriorate with which coupled with a dropping temperature indicated that we should head home. Notwithstanding the short winter days we still racked up about 90 minutes of stick time and we didn’t even get to fly the Midges.

Monday 15 Dec 14.

Similar weather conditions to the previous day but with a very light South West wind. Again we set up at Pole Cott, Colin with his Dude and Midge and me with a Solange and Fox scale glider. Whilst flying the cloud level would drop down to the ground requiring some very close flying in order to keep visual contact with the model. My Solange is mainly red with a white and chequered underside and was much easier to see than Colin’s Dude which had a white and blue colour scheme. Pink is even better but that is another story. We were joined by three other flyers who unfortunately arrived at the same time as a large rain shower. After the rain passed the cloud remained firmly at ground level severely restricting visibility. After a short while the three local flyers departed as they believed that the conditions wouldn’t improve and lo and behold shortly afterwards, the cloud cleared and the sun even came out enabling us to enjoy a last hour of good flying.


So the last slope session of the year draws to a close. Fortunately the building programme is ramping up. Colin has almost completed his Charon, at present Lee Wilson has the only example, and I am about to start my Charon. For those of a historical leaning Charon is the name of the ferryman who conveyed the souls of the dead across the underground river Styx. (Chris Rea’s song, Don’t Pay the Ferryman). Colin is also fabricating wings for his Pink Flamingo fuselage and is about to commence work on his 1/5 scale Janus with me still deciding upon whether to do a 1/5 scale Foka 4 or a Zeffir. Personally the next summer season is looking to be an extremely busy one with other irons to shuffle in the fire. But as they say that is a story for another day.

Here’s hoping you all have a really great Christmas and you have many happy landing next year.


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