Dartmoor Gliding-A Memorable Soaring Flight Stephen Fletcher

This is the latest in our memorable flights series. This one a soaring flight be Stephen Fletcher

Sunday the 5th of May 2019 dawned bright and promising. The previous day had seen some challenging cross winds but in the afternoon the thermals had really strengthened giving me a good soaring flight. I had taken the risk of leaving my Open Cirrus rigged and left in covers overnight as the RASP forecast for Sunday was good.

I had pre planned a cross country from Brentor to Holsworthy then on to Okehampton and back to the airfield. Richard Roberts has been giving me some tips on Cross country flying and with his encouraging words I took off and soon found some great thermals. Centering in on a 8 up thermal soon had me up to 3500 feet just below cloud base at which point I decided to go for it and press on to the North towards Holsworthy knowing that if I couldn’t get another thermal I still had plenty of height to get home. 

A great looking sky
Next thermal I took was just south of Lydford and again it took me back up to 3500 feet. Lots of lovely cumulus clouds with strong thermals helped my confidence as I continued towards Holsworthy passing close to Roadford. At this point the thermals were further apart and I was starting to question whether I should continue on towards Holsworthy or turn back. 

At 2000 feet I spotted a huge level grassy field with no stock or obstacles which even I could land in and flying towards it I picked up a lovely thermal to over 4500 feet enough to get me to Holsworthy and back to this field should i run out of thermals. Onwards to Holsworthy then, decision taken. Another thermal at my turning point took me up to 5600 feet over Holsworthy and so I set off towards Okehampton, on this leg the thermals were great at the start but losing strength and frequency as I neared Okehampton. 

Overhead Okehampton
Turning over Okehampton I flew along the side of the Ranges (which weren’t active) with enough height to get me back to the airfield. Closing in on Lydford I took another climb up to over 4500 feet and found the thermals strengthening again, the views were amazing the flight was just so incredible I decided to fly straight on down to Plymouth, getting a stonking 8 up over Tavistock to over 5000 feet turning eventually overhead at Crownhill fort. 

Approaching Plymoiuth
The Tamar Estuary in all it's glory
 At this point I flew over to Princetown taking a thermal up to 4000 feet, the moor was stunning so I decided to fly up to the wheal Jewel reservoir and then a straight glide back to Brentor.

A total flight time of 2 hours 34 minutes. The total straight line distance from the start via the turning points Brentor, Okehampton, Plymouth, Princetown, wheal Jewel and back to Brentor was 117km. My longest distance flight out of Brentor and one I will remember for a long time.

Steve Fletcher

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