John Williams Ways to spend an Easter Sunday
On April 8, 2007 scottish Antares pilot John Williams set four British records in one flight while flying in Wave over the Scottish Highlands. John has agreed to write a flight report describing this exeptional flight.
I fell in love with the Antares when I first saw it, flew it and started to think about how its self launch ability and high speed performance could help me do new things in Scottish wave.
On Easter Sunday that translated into the first ever 1000km flight in Scotland and what ought to be (when ratified) a significant increase in the British distance record from 1020km to 1141km.
There will be a full write up of the flight in the August-September issue of "Sailplane and Gliding" www.sailplaneandgliding.co.uk
To get 1000km to fit into Scotland needed new turnpoints and new exploration. From the home airfield at Portmoak www.portmoak.force9.co.uk to Tongue on the Far N coast, then South over the mountains to as near Glasgow as airspace allowed, then back North to what is now the most Northerly TP in the UK (Achnabourin at 58deg 29.28N) before heading home via the Southern edge of Scotland too.
Lots of mountains, some salt water, and even a few landable fields too...
However the glider was just perfect for the flight.
There was a front forecast to arrive in the far North during the day and I had to get going just as soon as it looked soarable - and then really keep moving (without taking too many risks getting low in difficult terrain).
The self launch was of course exactly when I wanted it.
I don't know how much difference the new horizontal stabilize fairing makes - but there were several critical times that day when I blessed the speed and glide performance.
On the second leg I had to cross about 50km of unbroken cloud in a 50kt crosswind - I can't think of a machine I'd rather be in for that.
If I'd approached the third turn even half an hour later it would have been impossibly engulfed in frontal cloud. Completing the declared 1000km at 132kph was the result - that in turn meant there was enough day left to do an additional 200km and thus extend the uk record.
Sometimes speed and performance are not so critical - but on that day it was absolutely vital to get through a series of gates just before each one closed.
Oh - and after ten and a half hours in the cockpit I could happily have slept there too (though I did want to get out and look at the flight trace). The comfort is superb and makes a real difference to my ability to keep concentrating on flying a long flight.
Now please can we have more weather like that instead of the "summer" monsoon of the last two months....