A Blocking High – Two Weekend Days Flying for my First Time…..

Last weekend (15th & 16th December 2007) saw a blocking High Pressure system providing a light southerly over both weekend days. The anticyclone flow spirals in a clockwise direction in our Northern Hemisphere, hence the southerly air flow. In winter this is characterised by periods of ground frost and a low sharp inversion and this is what we have experienced even down here in London.

A check on the Met F215/F215 spot wind and weather was required. The temperature profile confirmed that the air temperature at higher altitudes was indeed warmer than at ground level.

I called Murray up on Friday from Heathrow and we agreed that a South Facing site south of Aberdeen and North of Dundee would be beneficial to both parties. Distance from homes and ease of access are significant to selection of a site.

After a call to Murray on the Saturday morning the Hill of Finavon was the meeting point agreed. Off the A90, close to Forfar, the site was closer to Dundee but a reasonable driving distance from Aberdeen. I headed South and spotted Murray’s pickup parked near the Finavon turnoff just South of Brechin.

We drove in convoy. Murray stopped to check the air and spotted a red squirrel running across the B-road. These creatures are quite rare. Native to Britain their numbers are dwindling significantly with the introduction of the American Grey squirrel.

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We watched the squirrel disappear up into the trees and carried on with our journey. We headed to a hill on which the Bronze Age Forts are located on the North side of Rescobie Loch. The location is about 2 miles North East of Forfar. This hilltop area saw a number of Hill Forts developed in the Bronze Age. Erosion has opened up the ground and exposed the rock and created crags and crevasses. Looked at the site you have to image what the wind does when it hits the rock. The location was unusual in that there are two distinct steps in the hillside, both of which can be ridge soared in the right conditions.

I had been to this site once before a few years back but had never flown there. Once on the top I set up and flew one beat and landed above the small slope. Watching Murray I realised I would have to fly nearer to the rocky outcrop to get into the lift band. Sure enough subsequent flights I was managing to stay in ridge lift. I had to scratch close to the ridge line and flew above and behind. The downwind beat was very fast and a tight flat turn was required to get back and into the slope again.

Conditions easer later on and the temperature started to drop. Murray set up and stepped off one of the rocky plinths, landing high.

My last flight went almost to plan where I did a beat on the top slope, followed by the bottom slope then down the hill landing in a grass field. I was very pleased with the day and for me another site bagged.

Murray has posted some of the video clips on www.ParaVideo.co.uk (YouTube)

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On the Sunday I headed to Craigowl, one of the hills to the North of Dundee. I could see Murray’s pickup on the slopes highlighted against the heather stub. I parked up at the farm and the farmer asked if I wanted a lift up the hill. Well I could not refuse and off we went to meet up with Murray and JR, already on the slope.

I watched JR perform a number of take offs and landings. He is getting better having seen him work the slopes on Morrone. I walked up to near the top of the hill near the mast and took off to work the exposed rocks below the summit. Conditions were very light and I landed too far down. Murray and JR came higher up the hill. The pickup was being worked hard on the slopes providing retrives!

I had a few more flights where I did land high then had a good slope landing. I then advised Murray and JR that I was going to bottom land as I had a few things to do before catching an evening flight to London Heathrow.

Another good day out and my first weekend managing to fly both days

Have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year!

See you on the Hill in 2008….

Fly Safe

Duncan

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