Scottish Triangle






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Darren Arkwright reports on an epic flight during practice day at the Scottish Open on Thursday 6th June 1991.

The pictures say it all! No wind, 6600’ cloud base, 3/8 cloud. Two days before the Scottish Open I went to stay with Donald and Liz Mackenzie. Donald said we would go to the site with the best flying no matter how far the drive. After the weather forecast Donald confirmed my hopes – Glen Coe would be the place! Ever since I visited Glen Coe as a child I have wanted to fly there.

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Looking west down Loch Leven. (Picture by Darren Arkwright)

The day was better than anyone could have hoped for. After the chair lift ride and what Chic Sermanni described as “a wee walk”, we rigged and launched at 12:30. As the take off is on the north side, the initial climb was slow, but once up and on the south faces, thermals were so good anything less than an 8 up could be ignored.

The view from cloudbase was breath taking – you could see down to Loch Lomond and up to the Isle of Skye at the same time. Deciding where to go was no problem, the clouds at the west end of the glen did not look so good, but no question, that was were I was going. I should not have worried, the lift along the Three Sisters on the south of Glen Coe was good. At the west end of the Glen you overlook the sea loch, Loch Leven. A sea breeze had moved up the loch creating a large blue hole, so no further progress to the west. Where next?

Last winter, Jenny Auckland and I walked along the Aonach Eagach, the knife-edge ridge on the north side of Glen Coe and I knew the territory. The clouds looked good up there, so I flew north and then east along Aonach Eagach. At this point the progress of the sea breeze was easy to determine. Loch Leven had wind on it that stopped about 5km from Kinlochleven. A large cloud had formed over that point. The sea breeze slowly moved in along the loch and the cloud decayed and reformed as the sea breeze moved.

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South face of Ben Nevis. (Picture by Darren Arkwright)

Then again at the east end of the Aonach Eagach came the question – where next? Ben Nevis looked good, so with a rush of blood to the brain I set off for the Ben. Having got as far as Glen Nevis only 3km from the mountain, the rush ran out. Looking over my shoulder I thought the sea breeze was cutting off my route home. At this point, the wimpy that likes landing next to his car got the upper hand and the glider turned for home.

The sea breeze stopped moving inland 5km after Kinlochleven, so going home was no problem. In fact the convergence remained over one spot for the next half-hour, giving the most consistent lift of the day and playtime. After half an hour I went back to take off, loaned Donald the Rumour II and harness, and he went to 6600 feet as well.

Just before take off, Chic had mentioned triangles – fitted into my flight was an unplanned 35km triangle that at the time was the biggest triangle completed in Scotland. The size of the triangle though is not the issue here – this was the best day’s flying I have ever had in Britain. Donald had forgotten his harness on the best day he had ever seen in Scotland.

Glider – Solar Wings Rumour II; Harness – Airtime Tracker; Vario – Lindsay Ruddock.

Author: Darren Arkwright (England)
Issue: September 1991
Tel: Not Available

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