Beacon of dark

The Worcester beacon is a properly pointy landmark at 425 metres above sea level. Which is pretty close to what the surrounding plain is at, with uninterrupted views east to the Siberian Steppes* and – to the west – the proper mountains of Wales.

Allegedly. Because every time I ascend the southern slope of this Worcestershire Alp, the last 50 vertical metres are generally in cloud. From which a light, and yet extremely irritating, drizzle visits moistness on my sweating person.

The descent off the top, and in the dark is one of the finest in the Malverns. It’s long, varied, bumpy, occasionally significantly involving, and well worth the twenty five minute climb from the valley bottom to get there. All was not sweetness and dark tho, as we’re extending our night rides a little further every week. And as you’re gurning up the beacon’s lower slopes, it’s a nasty realisation that you’re less than half way round.

Thursday’s ride played out at 27k with 3100 feet of climbing, all within a three hour weather window through which the rain incessantly poured. I was staggered by my lack of total brokeness at the end, but disappointed with my ‘drunken demon possessed manikin‘ assualt on the downhills. The fitness is quite new, the rubbishness sadly constant. I blame the tyres.

And since that felt like two rides in one, this weekend shall be bike free. In addition to being a bit leg weary, Random has somehow made it to her eighth birthday, and all my time is taken answering the same question “Is it my birthday yet?”. This started about a week ago and has become a little wearing.

Birthday obligations were not sufficient for a bit of pointless parent hobbying to take centre stage today. After fetching** the SuperCub out of a tree, and finally getting to fly one of my scary engined models under the beady tutelage of a ex Squadron Commander, I got bored of rules and chucked the Wildthing off a big hill in Shropshire.

This time it didn’t fall out of the sky straight away. No, that required my notorious flying skills to send it fifty vertical meters down into the valley. But only once – after that, the whole thing went rather well, loops, staying above the ridge, failing to properly crash and a lack of nervous twitching made 30 minutes pass like 30 seconds. I absolutely loved it, which makes me a) geeky and b) desperate to develop a machine to give me twice as much leisure time.

And it’s so much less hassle than engines. On my day off on Friday, I spent another two hours in the same muddy field for 8 minutes instruction. The flying was great and surprisingly non catastrophic, but the sacrifices to the God of Nitro Engines is becoming tedious in the extreme. As is ingesting a fuel that has so many warning notices, it comes in a separate leaflet.

Tomorrow I shall be a) riding my bike b) flying my glider c) flying my noisy trainer or d) Making Jelly and collecting bit of wrapping paper from where the dog tried to eat them.

It’s probably d) which has to be the right choice. I’m not always good at those.

Hope it rains then.

* Although you’d need some pretty funky binoculars, and the word would have to be flat but I’m not letting such things ruin such a dramatic statement.

** Not me. I chucked a hissy fit and refused to have anything to do with it. The builders took pity and nailgunn’d four fence posts together and beat it out of the tree. I fixed it and flew it afterwards but it’s a bit bent. The front end goes left, the rear goes right which reminds me of a certain political party.

Oh Shit.

That is all.

Well not quite. Don’t pretend you’re not all laughing. Because I can hear you. One year on from the last time I deposited it into a tree, and after all that extra time flying, the hours on the simulator, the apparent occasional element of control and it only bloody well ends up there again.

50 feet up there to be precise. I have found I am not much good at throwing sticks. And, when I became very bored of not being very good at that, I tried climbing a tree. I was even worse at this.

It was all going so well. Circuits, landings even a loop. And then a combination of fading battery and a panic turn the wrong way saw the plane land undamaged. Fifty foot in a tree.

I have no idea how I am going to get it down. I am considering setting fire to the tree.

I am now off to ride my bike hoping that my tree hugging tendencies stop at crashing RC aircraft.

Plane Stupid

Not those environmental worthies – most of whom happen to live under the Heathrow flightpath – crusading against a third runway, and generally being far too nice to prevent a million tons of concrete being poured. I struggle to see how making the Heathrow Terminal experience any busier can in any way be a good thing, but I care little for matters of the South nowadays 😉

The SuperCub celebrates its’ first birthday on Thursday. Last years’ Christmas present had been packed away and hidden behind the still many, many unpacked boxes*. Its’ abandonment was not merely physical, the first flights had not gone well, and even tho I’d put in some significant Sim Time, the prospect of drilling for mud with an extensive and expensive parts list held not much interest.

Especially after the local flying club – two miles away, beards mandatory, Cap and Tie at all times mandatory, humour and grace strictly forbidden – poo poohed my membership application on the grounds that it breached Rule 27, Paragraph 4, Subsection b), Item iii) towhit lowering the average age below 100. Anyway that route lay training and log books and theory, and frankly that’s far too bloody dull when you’re meant to be enjoying yourself.

So teaching yourself is both invigorating, occasionally frightening and always expensive. Yesterday with holiday and energy to burn, I launched the airdrill(tm) across the field and spent ten minutes wondering where I might be able to land it. In the same field actually, full of nascent winter crop and muddy enough to provide the kind of soft landings my vertical approaches require.

My flying has definitely improved, and I can say that with confidence because – even after eight impacts**, the stout little Supercub is absolutely intact with every component still attached. Sure I’ve had to empty the engine compartment of clay, and my lack of battery awareness did create a hike across someone elses field to retrieve the powerless plane, but otherwise all is tally-ho and top hole!

I can now fly right and left circuits, twirl figure eight turns, and mostly work out which way to twiddle the sticks when the plane turns turtle and heads back towards me like a homing missile. So having mastered that, I should bed down these manoeuvres, work on my turns, try and land the plane within a square mile of the house and generally hone my skills.

What I’m actually going to do is try some aerobatics. I know, I know you’re thinking the same as me “Top Idea what could possibly go wrong?”

* Does anyone else think if you have no idea what the contents are, and haven’t been casting around for the “forty eighth stuffed toy, you know the one that looks like the other 47“, donating the whole damn lot of unopened boxes to charity is the right thing to do? In our family, it goes 3 to 2 against, and that’s with me claiming Murphy’s vote.

** Landing would be too charitable. The field is rough, so even a perfect approach and flare would stil result in the plane’s arse pointing accusingly to the sky. That’s my theory not ever having made that perfect approach 😉