Xc Title
Cloudbase Paragliding advert
Christopher Hille  All flights
National League 2024
Flight type image
Turnpoint Flight on a Paraglider
Ozone Delta 4
17th June 2024
4hrs 16mins
Dunstable Downs
Nr Cow Green
51.87435, -0.53772
51.87130, -0.53938
51.93625, -0.43895
51.94925, -0.45052
52.21240, 0.39802
52.24248, 1.00318
52.24225, 1.00283
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Flight map

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Duration 0:00   Takeoff Distance 0
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Track data
Time: No data
Height: metres
Climb: m/sec
Speed: km/h
Distance: km

Climb and Speed averaged over 4 second intervals.

These values may be lower than those shown by a flight instrument, which has access to continuous raw data.

Red values indicate suspect data, because the tracklog contains invalid points.

Metric units are used for all chart data, except for Height which is shown in feet.

Height   -   GPS data
Maximum Height
5295 ft
Lowest Save
974 ft
Takeoff Height
705 ft
Landing Height
213 ft
Total Ascent 28793 ft
Height Gain
Above Takeoff 4590 ft
Maximum 4593 ft
Low Point
702 ft
High Point
as Maximum Height
5295 ft
Climb   -   Pressure data
Maximum Climb
4.0 m/s
Minimum Climb
-4.3 m/s
Maximum Speed
78.3 km/h
Average Speed
around course
27.7 km/h
Average Speed
over track length
38.2 km/h
Flight Duration 4hrs 19mins
Track Points 7764
Recording Interval 2 secs
Statistics Interval 4 secs
Track Length 165.4 km
Invalid Positions
[< 1%]
Flight instrument
Type Indy Flyer
Model Xc Guide
Firmware 1.572

Climb and Speed averaged over 4 second intervals.

These values may be lower than those shown by a flight instrument, which has access to continuous raw data.

Red values indicate suspect data, because the tracklog contains invalid points.

Average Speed around course is measured from Start to Finish points.

Track Length is the cumulative distance between track points from Takeoff to Landing.

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So the forecast looks good. But with a weather front forecast to drop down from the wash, dissipating as it does throughout the day. RASP was glowing over the south of the country, with a moderate SW-WSW. Thoughts turn to a) Milk Hill massif, trusted, reliable and go to site for a large body of pilots; b) Dunstable Downs, local, notoriously difficult to climb out from, untrusted, unreliable, gliding club right in front, Luton airspace everywhere, 28km under 3500ft until the A1M, it's always torture leaving climbs well before maxed out so early in a flight. A bit of south is needed to get around Luton airspace, but there's always more south in the local wind direction than forecast. There aren't many days when it looks about right, today looks like one of them. Cross check with the usual suspects and against the odds Dunstable it is. Meetings hastily cancelled & rearranged, last minute annual leave with apologies submitted. I'm in the game at least.

Arrive early, set up, GoPro, NoPro. Not this time, its just so unlikely to be worth the effort. Chew the fat a bit, confirm progress on slug control measures with Antony Pettit. He reckons he's on top of them, it's a dry weather lull I retort. Teeth sucking. Stronger than forecast, more south than wanted. Early flights by the keen confirm, too south, too south. Ground thoughts. Why didn't I go to Milk, why, why, why. I consider packing up and doing the drive. I could still be there by 1pm. Rumours of the wind due to drop and come on the hill more surface, keep me on site.

LGC declare airspace accessible through the letter of agreement is open at 10:39, ceiling lifts from 1500ft to 3500ft in DGA1 to the north, escape route open! The winds drops slightly, coupled with a marginal switch in wind direction in our favour, making the south in the wind direction more bearable.

Clip in as the sky starts to fill in to the north. Straight to the bowl, scratching at first, a couple of aborted land and launches by the bowl. Roger Fowkes has set up base by the bowl launch. Why are we here Roger, milk's a safe bet. Keep the faith is his message, Ok, Ok. I relaunch into more buoyant air, Roger joins, then Antony Pettit. Weak lift, at first, then some organised climbs, taking care not to impinge on the gliders and tugs on landing approach in front of the hill. I find a climb in front of the pimple, we're all on it, climbing steadily 1600ft, 2000ft, 2600ft, drifting back over the edge of Dunstable town. It still doesn't feel comfortable, the town expands ahead, there's a lot of town to clear… But the climb continues, and it helps to have two trust wingmen alongside, 3000ft, 3250ft, time to exit the climb. The Easyjet flights heading out of Luton clearly visible encourage caution. I split north, a likely cloud ahead and find the climb over the middle of town still at 2600ft, peachy, climb up to 3200ft before breaking north again. On it goes, climb, break north, climb break north, we're round the edge of the airspace now, past Barton le Clay, paying homage to Sharpenhoe Clappers as we pass by.

We've stuck together nicely and it's worked out well so far, but now we're all low over Henlow, Roger sniffs a weak climb out, I track towards him and find enough to maintain but not gain. Until we sport 3 red kites turning ahead, the climb turns into a stonker and we're hauled back up whooping away, up to 3000ft again. We're approaching the A1M and the step up to 4500ft, nearly free of the tyranny of 3500ft airspace, and we're in good shape too. Antony encourages us on but I'm reluctant, wanting to make the most of the new found freedom. I think of the other times I've got to this point, only to bomb once the airspace opens up. Or the dunny climb outs only to land at Sharpenhoe. Too many. I summon my thoughts not this time, not this time.

I track over the A1M, Antony just ahead, Roger close by. Antony pings out in a climb that evades me and Roger, we scratch for ages around Royston, staying up, staying up. Typical, ceiling is up to 4500ft and we can't find a climb to take us over 2000ft. I blink first and track north a little to a solar farm with a good looking cloud, there's something here, I work it but Roger tracks on east. Airspace warning pings from my Oudie, Cambridge ILS and radio advisory zone close by. I'm aiming for the gap between Cambridge ATZ and Duxford. I spot Roger climb above the horizon ahead and head over. At last a proper climb, takes us to over 4000ft for the first time. Finally, the day has got going.

We're shouting across to each other, game on baby. Yes, I think we really did say that. The clouds are stretching ahead now, Cambridge to the north, Babraham institute to the south, wind turbines of six mile bottom ahead. We've squeezed through the airspace gap and now the open expanse of Suffolk awaits. I daren't breath, the expectation and hope is rising… We're in a climb over the turbines when I notice the dark shadow of the front forecast on the synoptics in the near distance to the north. Note to self, remove sunglasses and check again in 30 minutes.

The climbs are fuller, stronger and taking us higher now. It's nearly 3pm and base is up to 4700ft. Thoughts turn to Stowmarket and the fabled crumble run. My mother in law makes cracking crumble and lives in Stowmarket, she promised me crumble and any club mates should we ever make a flying visit from Dunstable - contact me for details should you make the run. Newmarket and Bury St Edmunds lie between us and Stow, and I daren't think further than keeping high and the next climb.

Past Newmarket and I realise by driving gloves aren't as appropriate as I first thought, 5100ft and they're pretty cold. So much my hands are shaking, Parkinsonian like. I'm also only wearing a Ted Baker shirt and down jacket. I'm a firm believer in being dressed for dinner should that rescue hitch ride turn into an offer of dinner, it would be poor form to be shodily turned out.

I drop my sunglasses and glance north, that front is starting to look ominous. But the sky ahead still looks peachy, classic sky. The Suffolk coastline is in view now, Felixstowe port, Lowestoft, Southwold. I press on, Roger's still with me, this is great! 5300ft, we're approaching Bury St Edmunds, I make a note to enjoy the view of the cathedral, just opposite the Angel hotel where my wedding reception was held, 25 years ago. Where did the time go.

I see Roger for the last time here, turns out he tracked north from Bury and landed past Diss for 143km, whilst I had crumble in mind. Warm rhubarb crumble, with sliced almonds and desiccated coconut in the crust. Lovely creamy custard and maybe a scoop of ice cream on top. I'm past Bury now, the A14 heading east below, Stowmarket in sight, Thurston below. I've got my eye on the front to the north, at the same time the air starts to feel a bit different, funky, spicy, hard to put a word to it. Pre frontal air comes to my mind, from that point on doubt enters my mind. Although I find climbs, my hearts not in it. I take a climb to 3000ft over Elmswell before drifting east and landing north of Stowmarket, I pass through climbs but the same feeling of unease about the quality of the air I'm flying in remains (post hoc chat with Antony relayed similar thoughts). Unbeknownst to me Antony landed not far from me near Wyverston for 117km, shame we could have enjoyed a beer and banter on the way back.

I've got mixed feelings about landing, should I have pressed on, made a run for the coast. Then I look over my shoulder and the ominous clouds and think the coast from Dunstable is a goal I can save for another day.

At least I've got a crumble to look forward to. Except, turns out there's a COVID outbreak at my mother in-laws home, the crumble is off the table and banked for another day. A quick hitch to Stowmarket station only a 10 minute wait - although my invite to dinner didn't materialise in spite of my dapper dress code. Train to Stratford, Highbury & Islington and home. I'm first back at Dunstable car park, Roger's bike and Anthony's van the only other vehicles. Quick ring around to assist but Roger's still in St Pancreas, and Antony is yomping back from Luton station in hike and fly mode.

Should have gone to Milk Hill indeed!

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