On Thursday 30th September I, my daughter Hannah and some willing helpers from the Wednesday daytime group de-rigged the Sport Vega in preparation for our trip to the Long Mynd. After some head scratching and several re-readings of Trevor’s very comprehensive instructions to de-rig and trailer (available on the CSGC web site), we managed to secure the glider safely in its trailer ready for the journey the next day and I decided that, although the rigging aids might not look as swish as those that accompany the Lasham gliders, de-rigging the Sport Vega it actually rather easy and definitely a lot quicker than de-rigging a Lasham baby Grob.
Glider secured, I turned my mind to the domestic arrangements and began to worry about practicalities such as ‘would there be any towels or sheets in the bunk house’ and more particularly, ‘did anyone actually book me a single room or would I have to bunk down with one or more of my male companions?’. There then followed several phone calls to Mark, who was already ensconced with his wife in his stylish RV on the long Mynd airfield; several trips by Mark to the Mynd club house to answer my incessant questions and quite a bit of extra packing on my part.
Hannah and I met up with my travelling companions from the Wednesday group bright and early the next morning for breakfast in the Lasham canteen and our journey, in a four trailer convoy, to the Mynd. I must say that I was extremely grateful for the convoy. Apart from the fact that the last time I towed a glider trailer was behind a Mk3 Capri in the late eighties, I wasn’t looking forward to the possibility of having to deal with a flat tyre on the trailer on my own, the spare wheel in the Vega trailer being conveniently positioned at the front of the trailer and completely inaccessible behind the glider.
The journey passed without incident until we arrived at the bottom of the very steep, single track road from Church Stretton up the hill to the Mynd. This is where Mark stepped in! Dressed in a fluorescent workman’s jacket, shorts and, of course, long socks and a beanie hat, he met us at the foot of the hill and proceeded to drive to the top in his Fiat 500, complete with portable orange flashing light on the roof (yes, really!) He cleared the way of cars and sheep and when he was suitably positioned at the top, barring the way for anyone wanting to drive down, we had a clear road to drive our 4 trailers up. And we were very grateful, it was very narrow and very steep with some very sheer drops (and apparently that was the easy way up!)
There was a minor panic on arrival at the club house when the guy in the office insisted that he needed to see the glider insurance certificate before he would let us fly it. I’d packed my towels but I hadn’t thought of the insurance certificate! Thankfully Adrian stepped in and emailed photographs of document (we must get them put onto the website!). We went out to familiarise ourselves with the Mynd operation and helped them pack their hangar – it wasn’t straight forward, but they still, by some strange application of canny Shropshire skill and a notable desire to make us welcome, managed to get the Lasham baby Grob in there. If you think hangar packing at Lasham is a pain you really don’t know how lucky we are!
Then, having bagged the best bunkhouse room, Hannah and I settled down for an evening in the club house where all conveniences were provided – excellently cooked food, honesty bar, television room and hot showers and some good company too. Very comfortable!
Then it was just a matter of waiting for the weather. The first day was scrubbed so we became tourists for the day.
The next day, Sunday, was ‘The Ridge Day’, but we needed site checks along with many other people and I had to wait until mid-afternoon before I could climb into the front of the Mynd’s K13, which was noisy, uncomfortable and mostly broken! I still had a great 45 minute flight! I never did do much ridge flying and certainly I hadn’t done any for around 25 years. Flying so close the edge of the hill, then finding yourself at the end of the ridge at 200′ a mile from the landing area takes some getting used to. But the ridge at the Mynd is a very long way above the valley floor, so it would always have been easy to turn away from the ridge and head for one of the very large fields the club has identified for people who cut it a bit too fine.
There was some exciting flying that day, but sadly it was very windy and, for the level of experience that Mark and I have, the Vega had to stay pegged down for the day. One of the best stunts performed by the CFI and a few other daring souls was to set up an overshoot landing towards the ridge, clear the edge of the hill by around 10’ then dive out into the valley, turn back onto the ridge and soar away again. Magic!
Sunday was followed by a couple of days were the ridge wasn’t really working and the cloud was often low, but we still flew some extended circuits and even that was fun compared to circuits at Lasham. The terrain is very rugged, the view across both sides of the hill is amazing and the available landing area is tiny and constantly covered in sheep, so circuits could not be called boring!
Wednesday was definitely a no-fly day so flying was substituted for a long hill walk during which we all got completely lost, making it twice as long as intended, followed by a huge meal out in a lovely Shropshire pub.
We had one more great day on the Thursday, with a mix of ridge and thermals. It was quite hard to work out how to use it, but both Mark and I achieved decent soaring flights and came back grinning.
The weather could have been better but it wasn’t bad. A little more flying would have been nice but what we had was brilliant. The Mynd members made us very welcome and cooked us some excellent food. They did us an excellent farewell steak supper on Thursday and we added a couple of cases of red. It was a good job we weren’t flying the next day!
Finally, there was the small issue of getting the trailers back down the hill! We didn’t have Mark and his orange flashing light this time, but one of the Lasham guys did his best clear the way with his huge RV. I looked over the edge once and got vertigo, so decided to keep my eyes firmly fixed on the road and not move over for anyone, a strategy that got me down to the bottom the slow way, rather than the more vertical quick way. The journey back wasn’t in convoy, the ****s all cleared off and left me behind!. But I was a seasoned trailer-tower by then so it didn’t matter, although I would have been on the phone calling them all back if a tyre had burst!
All in all it was a great fun week and we should all do it more often. There must be dozens of gliding sites around the country just waiting to welcome a few CSGC members for some exciting and completely different flying!