Big Saturday …continued


Base was lifting all the time in the early morning, rocked up to SWNN and met Ian. Headed back down to Sartfell, was very south but after spending 20 minutes liberating a sheep from barbed wired with rock drove up. It was light and south. Set up over the southern gorge facing the back of Slieu Roy. Had a few hops then settled down for a picnic. Damien arrived. Looked like it was improving. As I tucked into lunch Keith disappeared over the back, a mad rush into the air followed!! Felt like text book stuff to me, the thermals were cycling through and I got into another weak one and headed off. By this time Keith was out of sight, at base above Ballaugh apparently!! My thermal took me to a max of 236m above Slieau Freoghane before I lost it.

Then sank nicely all the way down to Ballaugh, got about 10 metres in a really crap thermal on the south west face of Ballaugh, thought I might get something in the forest at the far end of the ridge. Nothing there so went into glide mode landing opposite the Sulby council estate and the show fields for a quick 9.3 kms. The street that I had tried to get under was not working, shortly afterwards it all went blue, obviously decaying. Keith was out in Brightlife area!! Damien made it to Ballaugh, nice stuff!!

Hitched it back to the Raven, thanks to Jock’s ex missus for the lift.. (only on the Isle of Man!!) and then Goldie arrived 30 seconds later to take me back to Sartfell. The wind had moved further to the South but was still text book thermal cycles at take off. Unpacked mega quick. Keith had just arrived back also after some top hitching. Mike (visitor) and Ste were in the air with Watty and Ian just slope landing. Lobbed off again into a weak cycle, still too low to 360 but used the height gain to get into a nice position for the next thermal. Headed out a little, picked up some height after seeing Watty get lifted, Keith came up from underneath and shared a few 360’s over the back. When the thermal got a little stronger moved back with the incredible slow drift getting a nice 1 -2 metre climb all the way to base (1000m asl) somewhere over the deep valley between Freoghane and the next lump along. Keith was a little lower and swung  out left towards Kirk Michael area.

Cruised along to Ballaugh, getting a lot of sink on the way which was annoying after so much height, lost 600m so was almost in captain scratch mode again. This time got a nice little thermal up the southwest face of Ballaugh that maintained me along the ridge 130m above. Watched Keith land out to the left  and resigned myself to the same fate although there was a nice street above me if I could get a little more height to connect with it. Found some zeros to circle in for a km over Sulby  which was good as I was now only at 250m asl. Then found some magic seagulls which gave me a week thermal but crucially putting on another 50m of height for the third thermal of the day. Had a nice buoyant glide to St Judes before topping up with some really nice lift and feeling the effects of the ‘very much working’ street above. Cruised high towards Andreas, losing 100m in 3km’s of glide just keeping to the west of the airfield and becoming aware that the street would now take me all the way to the Point of Ayre.

At this point I got Keith to confirm the wind at the POA – 8 knts – cheers Cheggars. My ground speed was about 50kmh so decided to test my penetration. First I thought it would be wise to get down a little so slipped in some ears and immediately went up. From 450m above the Hills of Bride the POA looks smallish and full of great big lakes! Decided to head down the coast again to Jurby for half a km into wind with big ears which did the trick, then turned, picked a field as far away from any civilisation as possible and landed! With hindsight I wish I had gone all the way to the lighthouse for the extra 4km’s but good to be safe I guess. Packed up, watched Watty cruise on by a little further in land to the east and then started a really hairy walk through some pig farms. Avoid pigs at all cost – I was chased by one the size of cow!!

Track logs on Leonardo, thanks to Sheep for making it all possible I reckon.

Anyhow, this all got me, and probably a few other people, thinking of maximum possible distances. Please refer table below for my take on possibilities (air law prevailing and not risking a wet landing).

Take off


Distance (km)

South Barrule (S)



Snaefell (various)



Sartfell (SSW to SW)



Snaefell (WSW-NW)

Clay Head


Greeba (SW)



Bennyphot (SE)



Starvey (WSW)



Laxey  – South Cape Cliffs (SE)




Chicken Rock


* Give one or two inches, that really would make a difference!!!