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Winter Solstice (2013)

In The Bleak Mid Winter, Part Two.


In what appears to have been only a short time ago, Colin and I decided to brave the elements and snatch a few worthy airborne moments in the depths of winter and so arranged to venture forth during the fleeting hours of daylight that is the Winter Solstice. Upon reflection that event was two years ago, Dec 2011. So with aging and fading memories we decided to repeat the experience and obtain a slope soaring fix during this years Winter Solstice and decided to fly from Parlick, namely Colinís virtual back garden.

Friday 20 Dec 13.
With the wind forecast to be about 20mph from the SSW and occasional showers, the decision was made to only take those models that could handle a ďbit of a blowĒ. Therefore, between us we loaded up with two Jarts, two Dudes and a recent newcomer, a Midge. Taking these and the associated equipment we set off up onto Parlick Fell. At this point I should mention that whilst I remain reasonably active, my general fitness is somewhat woefully lacking when compared to Colinís. This will go someway towards explaining the pictures that Colin (I thought he was my friend), managed to shoot of me nearing the end of the hike; if I canít carry everything thing in one go, it stays in the car.

A quick cup of coffee and showing no detrimental effect from the hike up the hill, saw us flying sheltering from the wind behind the dry stone wall, Colin flying his Midge and me, my Dude. It quickly became apparent that the wind was backing towards the South so we had to relocate to the more Southern and exposed face of the hill. Although we did find an old peat cutting in which to partially shelter from the cold wind. Colin handed me his camera and subsequently launched his Midge.

Now the Midge is Colinís latest model creation which is based upon the dimensions of a Gnott, (a far distant magazine free plan) and the outline of a P51 Mustang of which several liberties have been taken; the idea was that I could video the flight. However, due to a little finger trouble with the camera, Colin handed me the transmitter whilst he carried out the filming. I had been wanting for a little while to get my thumbs on this model, so I proceeded to position the model as favourably as possible for the camera. After a little while Colin saw through the subterfuge and claimed the model back whilst I filmed it. Being his model, Colin was able to be slightly more adventurous than me (never good to crash a friends model) right up to the point of a low four point roll which saw the wingtip brush through the grass and abruptly cease flying. Testament to the good design and Colinís building skills, the damage was limited to a broken Carbon wing joiner and slightly split wing root trailing edges Ė just a flesh wound!

We then concentrated upon flying our Dudes and Jart models which do come alive in a good wind. Unfortunately after a while, the wind started to drop and whilst flying was still possible, the performance edge of these models was slightly blunted. Anyone who has a Jart can explain the difference between high and low wind flying. Nevertheless the flying was good with the added spice of having to land on the front of the slope still in lift. A few showers passed which we sat out with coffee and sandwich breaks until around 1400hrs, when a large weather front could be seen coming in from the direction of Blackpool so we cut and ran making it down the hill with just enough time to put the models away before the weather hit us.
Saturday 21 Dec 13. (Winter Solstice)
With much the same weather forecast as the previous day with the wind slightly more to the South, we once again had a walk to the top of Parlick. This time. no welcome arrival photos - shame as I was getting used to the slog, having paced myself better this time. The previous night had seen us repairing the Midge, so this was first away with me launching the Dude soon after. The wind speed and lift was good and consequently, within a short while the Jarts were once again prepared and unleashed, (Cry havoc and all that).

Big lift and hills are what the Jarts are at home with, they cover large amounts of sky at a fair lick and perform impressively large manoeuvres with a scorching roll rate. These abilities coupled with stunning looks and presentation, certainly reward all the time and effort that went into the production of the Fuselage mould. The only ďfly in the ointmentĒ was that the sun was very low in the sky and just to the left of centre requiring a high level of anticipation in order to steer the Jarts around the large parts of sky that they tend to consume. At various times throughout the morning the Jarts were replaced by our Dudes each requiring a good standard in order to land safely upon the face of the hill.

Shortly after a lunch break and a short rain shower we noticed that the wind had veered slightly to the West, therefore, we upped sticks and moved around the hill back to the dry stone wall. Unfortunately, upon our arrival the wind started to drop so Colin took the opportunity to reprogram his TX as some of the preset flap mixing on his Midge had disappeared. More flying ensured with the Midge for an extra photo shoot and again I was given the controls so Colin could get additional video footage after which, given that the wind had moved back to Southerly again we decided to call it a day. Well, the sun was getting much lower in the sky and the light was fading, so we departed down the hill to return to Colinís for beer and medals.

Sunday 22 Dec 13.
Wind South West and steady at about 30-35mph; again, a short drive to Parlick, where in the history of the NNAWGC, the unthinkable happened. Upon our arrival the wind was very high and this coupled with an icy cold temperature made me think. A brief moment of reflection resulted in me asking myself are the conditions really worth it. I voiced my concerns to Colin who was already donning multiple layers of clothing and his hat. But the good mate that he is, albeit rather shocked, he supported my decision to cancel the flying. So there it is, itís Official, I wimped out, beaten by the conditions. We returned to Colinís where the available time was spent designing a NNAWGC logo. To be fair, Colin spent the time designing, I fell asleep and dreamed of summertime.

So once again we ventured forth into unfavourable seasonal conditions to get some stick time and in the end mainly won. We flew, we blew the dust out of our lungs and enjoyed good companionship and departed at the end of the weekend recharged with new ideas for the workshop. To this end my thanks to Colin and Jules for looking after us so well.

To the unknown B*****d who during Saturday night smashed the rear light cluster of my vehicle and didnít stop while I was parked outside Colinís house, may his nether regions be infested with fleas and may his arms be too short to be able to scratch.

Neil T



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