Onward and ?


One of the skills I wanted to sharpen on this occasion, was Navigation...finding Swindon was simple - follow the A419 south east.
Mike is finding his hands are  somewhat cold, and my three layers of clothing (2 sweaters and an anorak) have also failed to stop the cold seeping in - that parachute is keeping me up high in the airstream. Not a good idea near cloudbase.
A 419
The original goal had been to follow two other club aircraft on 70K Silver Distance attempts,  to Husbands Bosworth ("Hus Bos"), but once in the air, it had been changed to Inkpen, south of Hungerford. At Swindon, we cross the main  London to Bristol railway line near the car body plant. The unmistakeable outlines of Savernake Forest become discernible. Far to the east, we are aware of Greenham Common and Didcot power station's cooling towers.
The stubble fire - Salvation? As we proceed in stately fashion, the quiet steadiness of our very open platform creates the feeling that we might be balloonists. The cold, though, is sinking right in, despite the heat felt on the backs of my hands for a few seconds of every thermalling circle. A lull in these, forces us to go over and inspect a stubble fire in the hope of making progress. Nothing else is available! At this stage, there lies our only hope of continuing.
Apart from that raging fire over there, there is a peacefulness about the downland scene we are surveying from our privileged viewpoint. One has to keep thinking though - there is a busy airway over our heads. Bobbing up into that at the top of a cracking thermal would not be appreciated by an airline captain climbing out from Heathrow, even if it would be a world first for an open cockpit trainer to be seen by passengers bound for New York, from their cabin windows!

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