Gone flying

All I could see above me was green fields. “You have control” said Parky and I recovered the glider from the chandelle as he laughed to himself behind me. “Right then let’s get down quickly and you go off on your own”. I opened the air brakes and we shuddered down, throwing away the height we’d just gained in a thermal.


Ten minutes later I sat waiting on the runway for a tow back up. “All out” somebody said and the rope between me and the tug went taught. Seconds later I was skimming five feet over the runway at 70knots waiting for the tug to take off. During the climb, thermals bounced the tug up and down and I had to concentrate to keep behind him, the trick is to move the stick as little as possible and to anticipate the bumps as each aircraft flies through.

As we reached the top of the climb I flicked a switch in front of me and the vario started chirping noisely to describe the thermals, although on this day it was easier to feel them in the seat of my pants. At 2000′ I released the rope, watched it fall and as the tug dived to the right I pulled up to the left and slowed down.

I turned to fly back through the lift we had just come through and wallop, a powerful thermal rocked the right wing up. I glanced over my shoulder and rolled the glider hard to the right to get closer to the core that had tried to push the glider away. The beep from the vario became shrill and high pitch indicating that the glider was going up quickly.

The thermal was strong and gusty. The altimeter wound up from 2000′ to 4200′ in a matter of minutes. I constantly scanned the sky for other aircraft and saw a glider join the thermal a few hundred feet below me.

Now I’m a timid pilot, but the conditions were so good that it was obvious climbs were going to be easy, so I pointed the glider towards Melton and struck off into the blue, leaving the heaving cloud behind.

Fair weather cumulus clouds lined up like battleships in a deep blue sky. All was beautiful and everything was easy. I had promised to bring the glider back in half an hour and so had some height to waste. I turned north towards a useful looking cloud street and put the nose down. With the wind behind me the ground raced past until I was over the airfield and in lift again. I pushed on to Grantham and found a straight line of strong lift. The whole sky was going up.

To see another glider banking round the far side of a thermal is a beautiful thing. White wings against the blue, sometimes pilots give a little wave, perhaps it means “concentrate on your turn mister” or perhaps “Isn’t this brilliant?”.

It is brilliant.

About Guy Roberts