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Square go

Filed under: Mountain days — Joe Smith @ 03:26 am


‘Squaries at nine’ the text said. The gauntlet had been thrown and the challenge set. Get out of my pit before 10:30am. On a Sunday for goodness sakes! Good god in Govan, does the man have no respect for Sloth? There could only be one possible explanation for such an affront to Callander’s very own half-man half-mattress. Flyable weather was here again. BIG TIME!

Thankfully though, ‘squaries’ at dawn became fried eggs and 9:00am showed up, shame faced, and a fashionable 30 min’s late. Hence, a rather hurried breakfast, 3 coffees and a quick scan of every weather site available, looking for a forecast that ‘fitted’ where we wanted to go, and the dynamic duo (Fatman and Bobbin) were winding there merry way north.

Stopping en-route to our much haunted site the Tarmachan ridge, at the even more haunted Burger van, at the top of Glen Ogle, (Well? A mans got to eat!) we were pleasantly surprised to learn that some early birds from Edinburger had passed through, a few minutes before. I wasn’t too disheartened though, being secure in the knowledge, that in a few hours from now, if we managed to get some ‘serious height’, some burgers would also be passing through us! Not too worry- eh. L

Anyway, to cut a long story short we arrived at the top car-park, sorted out the kit, took a couple of deep puffs on the ‘go faster blaster’ and headed off, up the hill path to the south side of Meall-nan-Tarmachan. Winds on the way up were depressingly kind to us, feeling very little breeze until around 600m. We were rather more disconcerted however to see some small fluffy things high in the sky moving in the general direction of the wrong ‘effing’ way! Undaunted by this obvious mirage and blinded by our confidence that the great ‘Sky-God’ of Dundee would do a biblical ‘loaves and the fishes’ for us and turn the gentle breeze into a full blown Southerly, we bimbled on.

Gaining height inch by inch and humping our masochistic 40 pound packs, together with my marginally lighter gut, we tried to relieve the physical stress of the climb with some casual conversation. Iain remarked that he had popped into the shops the other day to check the price of a 20 pack of ‘fags’ that he used to smoke. £5.10 for 20. A quick calculation later we had worked out that if he saved this money, he could buy a ‘reasonably priced’ second hand ‘family sized’ wing every 3 or 4 months. “Aye”, says Iain. “I could justify that to the wife by telling her that I was only spending my ‘fag’ money.” “Plus, think of this. I could buy a brand new wing and tell her that it was due to stress and I’d increased the amount of fags I was giving up to 40 a day!”  Mr Broon your teas oot. My vote is for Ian to be the next  PM. You have to admit that with logic of that quality, ‘fears of Global warming’ would soon be reduced to ‘worries of being slightly tepid.’ Just think. We could even get back to good old fashioned winters that froze yer knackers of and 9/11 was something impossible to do without a calculator.


Ok.Ok Back to the flying I hear you say. Well, after about 45 mins we arrived at our chosen launch site. Which, for the anally retentive amongst us,( Is that someone who can hold their bladder for a year?)  would be Point 780m grid ref NN 590 380. For everyone else that’s about half way up the hill looking back down the ridge back to Loch Tay.

It would of course be nice at this point to say that, on the way up, we had had a positive and meaning-full discussion about MET winds, possible landing sites, developing thermic activity, escape routes, etc, etc, etc. Yes. Yes it would have been nice. But we don’t do nice. Do we? In reality, conversation centered on who’s turn it was to be wind dummy.

Obviously, in the face of Aristotle Aitchison’s unchallenging logic I lost, on account of his firm belief that the now respectable 14mph southerly wind would have little or no effect on me compared to him. Mainly, he argued, on account that I had the same aerodynamic efficiency as a fish supper. He might not be eloquent, but by shit, he is fast. Well, there was that and the fact that in times of high winds and sense of impending doom he has the unerring knack of decanting his wing just uphill from mine, leaving me in pole position.

 Having therefore reluctantly been dubbed ‘Numero uno’ on the run-away to Loch Tay, we had a couple of quick practices; loading the wing; building a wall; emptying the bladder and a few other stalling tactics. Then, I was off. 

I have to say that it was a remarkably easy take-off. Easy for me anyway. Normally, being quite heavy on my wing, I have to move faster than Murray avoiding Welsh site fees. This time though the wing was overhead in seconds and only two or three short steps later, so was I. Ye-ha!

Of Course, being as we are still relatively inexperienced and, as we had already agreed that we wouldn’t try anything fancy on the first flight, I headed straight out from the hill with the intention of doing a quick top to bottom. Then I hit a thermal. Ye-ha again! On the way down I also seem to remember taking a quick look around to make sure Iain had gotten of ok. Well, that or to laugh at the fact he hadn’t. Ye-ha-ha-ha! No mercy in this crowd folks.

Well as usual, a few mins later, I was bombing out.  I did try a couple beats back and forth over the landing site, concentrating on developing that all ellusive feel of the air you hear those xc boys talk about. That lasted a few mins more, then came in to an uneventful landing to wait on Iain joining me for the second trip. Which he duly did, 10 mins late as usual. I really must get him to eat more pies.

Anyway, I could bore you with details of the second walk up and a great wee second flight.  I could even talk of how we watched, inspired, to see how easily the other 4 guys (names unknown) soared around above Ben Ghlas and Tarmachan staying up for about two hours or more, but I wouldn’t want you to think we were unduly impressed or anything like that. Also I’m sure if I keep babbling Murray might impose a word limit on me, so I won’t bother. Therefore, I’ll just leave you to have a wee gander at some of the photos from today’s exploits and hope to catch up sometime soon on another ‘biggie’
Joe Smith KMRT(air corps)
Glossary: ‘Squaries’ – sausages that have been hit with a spade. Normally served on a roll at various roadside eateries, with Un-yins!  Unique to Scotland.
1st flight 10 mins. Take of 780metres. Max speed 52km/hr. (Joe) Max Speed (Ian) 42km/hr

2nd flight 15mins Take of 780 metres. Max speed 65km/hr( Joe) Max Speed (Ian) 45km/hr

joe-prepares-for-take-of-pt780m.jpgIain groundhandling


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