70 miles in the clouds
Ben and I took a day off last Friday 29th August. We had planned a round trip from Denmead. The forecast was good and it promised sunshine. Sadly we got no sunshine but low cloud instead – we decided to go for it as the winds were light…
I took off first and had not done my leg straps up tight enough so back round I came to land with my body shaped like a banana – try as I might, it was impossible to haul myself back into the seat whilst airborne. I was sweating so decided to land and try again. I needed a 10 minute break whilst I drank some water and let my body rest…
Take two and the wing came up crooked so I aborted… Ben helped lay my wing out again and by now I was exhausted… Third attempt and I had to dig deep to get it right. Bingo and I was airborne and in my seat. I circled waiting for Ben. Soon Ben came over the radio… “Yeeeeeehaaaa…” Petersfield here we come… We had programmed a route that would take us to Butser Hill, Midhurst, Petworth, Arundel and on to the coast before flying to Portsmouth and then home.
The cloud was low and at times we had to weave to avoid flying in the cloud at 1200ft. It was atmospheric. We flew over Buriton and the barn that Diana and I had had our wedding reception in – that was fun… we flew over large country houses with heli pads, swimming pools and tennis courts; over large forests and even some nodding donkeys drilling for oil, I presume, near Cocking.We soon circled over Petworth House and the deer park having flown over some polo fields at Cowdray I think, before then heading for Arundel. The clouds looked thick down there so we decided to alter course and head along the South Downs back to Butser Hill near Petersfield. We flew low over walkers and mountain bikers and waved to them all. We then saw a perfect stubble field on top of the Downs and decided to land much to the amusement of the walkers who came up facinated by our machines. We shared a sandwich and then took off again.
By the time we got back to Denmead my fuel level was almost zero – lucky we had decided to cut our route short. I had been in the air for about three and a half hours altogether and gone approximately 70 miles as the crow flies.