Around a week ago DaveH had decided he still had 3 days leave to take therefore it would be flyable this week!! Tuesday night saw the usual round of group emails determining where would be best to fly, Fred decided on Balquhidder braes and Dave decided the Borders would make for easier logistics. I'd decided it was going to be too light but Wednesday saw a quick call to Tommy who suggested Jubilee Cairn. (note to self - must have more will power)
12.30 saw Jed, DaveH and me meeting at Tommy's and loading the wings into a trailer on his secret mechanical 4 wheeled device that would carry us all up the hill, at least that is what Tommy said(we had of course offered to walk up although Dave seemed unsure of the route). I should point out that the route involves 2 river crossings and at least a 1 in 4 incline on wet ground..the only advice Tommy gave was 'bale off quickly'!!
Off we go, me sitting behind Tommy trying to avoid giving him a man hug, Dave and Jed riding shotgun either side and taking turns to open the gates. We stopped at the bottom of the steep hillside slope to rearrange the loads, basically this meant draping Jed across the front panier like a freshly shot deer in some American movie to provide additional payload and avoid the front wheels from lifting. Tommy kept the device moving upwards and Dave and I only jumped off once to add weight to the front. I read the warning notice at the front (see images) but we decided that paracetemol didn't count as drugs and Dave was wearing a helmet although the chin strap was undone!!!!!!
Arriving at the top the only issue we had was Tommy getting stuck in the snow field (about 5m x 5m ) and having to be pushed out - obviously he needs a training course to avoid such issues :).
A perfect day on top of the 'Cairn with views for miles in all directions but a comment that the clouds aren't moving, nor were the wind turbines in the distance towards Ashkirk. Tommy clipped in and managed a couple of very short beats before landing. Jed tried to play with any available breeze to build a wall which I then managed to skip across in an abortive alpine launch attempt. Then we started the usual game of parawaiting - wondering how such a perfect high pressure day with forecast winds of 2 - 5mph could be so wind free!
Eventually Tommy decided it was time to pack up and take the bike home, Jed thought a lift down sounded at least as safe as the lift up so also started packing. I laid out for another alpine across the tussocks while watching Dave grab the only hint of Dragon's breath to inflate his wing and take off. So arms out, risers over forearms and run, run, run until I finally gained sufficient airspeed to take off (or more a case of the slope angle being greater than my glide angle). The flydown was very gentle with absolutely zero lift - maybe a hint of katabatic given the effort required to take off - with a final play 500ft above the fields before gliding in to land next to Dave.
Overall a good day out with the usual idiotic craic on the hill as we passed the afternoon away.
PS - we later learnt that Fred had an enjoyable day at Balquhidder braes but he can tell the story