Before the new season shows us its full power, lets take a look at some of the most special days of 2014. Just to remind us of some specific weather conditions. I've taken data from XC League and gone through the best flights of the first 20 pilots. Perhaps you can remember some days, but lets take a closer look at RASP and Synoptic maps and the best flying trails of those special days.
18 April - Good Friday - for pilots especially
The nice spring thermal weather started couple of weeks ago, but a bank holiday made this day even more attractive. Post frontal situation, clear air, high pressure and a light northern wind = outstanding thermal conditions. Leckhampton Hill was the busiest place in the south west. Guy Anderson and Kirsty Cameron (215 km) made the longest flights that day and their tracklogs are almost identical. Take note of this in the RASP maps below.
14 May - Cloudbase in heaven
High pressure above Great Britain and cold air from the north. A strong sun pushed the cloudbase over 5000ft and you can clearly see the "result" on the RASP. Kirsty Cameron (140.66 Km) (on the RASP), Wayne Seeley (130.5 Km) and Simon Twiss (113.5 km) benefited most from that day.
21 May - High achievments under low preassure
A different weather situation set in on the 21st of May. A large area of low pressure above Spain edged with cold and occluding fronts made good thermals and zero wind above central England. Triangles seemed to be the best options for the day. Mike Cavanagh, Phil Colbert, Philip Wallbank and Barney Woodhead flew an identical triangle near Sheffield (62 km). In Wales you can see Tim Penetreath's flight 113 km
22 July ,24 July - Summer heat
The whole week from the 21st to the 29th was very attractive for any glider pilot. Cold air from north east and strong sun activity made for strong thermals (often also quite turbulent). Tuesday 22 and Thursday 24 seemed to be the most successful days. On the map is Wayne Seeley's flight, a classic trip from Leckhampton Hill (136.6 km), and Guy Anderson flew 132 km from Uffington.
On Thursday the situation became slightly more complicated due to the wind direction. There arent many sites in Southern England facing an eastern wind. Sharpenhoe Clappers is little hill in the Dunstable Club area and the height above the hill is limited by 3500 ft, but few record flight distances are known. . .Most of the pilots start their journey there and are awarded by one of the longest flights in the season. Hugh Miller and Mark Watts (228 km) Guy Anderson (205.5 km)
24 July 2014
3rd August - Weather for experts
Great opportunity but not for everyone.
Nice sunny Sunday morning. Please take special notice of the wind map. A normal pilot drops his jaw and puts his glider back to the cupboard. 16-20 knots doesn't sound like safe flying. But strong thermals make reasonable wind periods at Milk Hill. Highly skilled pilots jump into the lift when the wind drops for a limited time. It's not easy up there either. An overcast lands Kirsty after "only" 117km. But Mark Wats(275.5 km), All Wilson (267.4km) and Simon Twist (231km) make outstanding flights. Mark's and All's track logs are visible on the RASP maps. It is obvious that the Buoyancy ratio doesn't say much to paragliding. Pilots are able to go for the centre of the thermal and stay there even in strong wind. I'll replace it with something more useful on the web.