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July 24, 2018

The reports from the UK keep coming, in one of the best flying seasons seen there in years.

On July 15th, our friend Richard Carter, who over the years has held the UK XC record, got it again. Richard is the first person in the UK to break the 300km barrier, flying a declared 301km flight.

In Richard’s words:

“I had been looking for sites that a 300km flight could be made from for a year at least. The forecasts suggested there was a chance of a good flight from Elan on the Sunday. I flew near there on the Saturday as well but bombed out twice.

This probably helped as I spent the rest of the afternoon resting and sorting out Sundays flight. The 300 was what I wanted, and if everything went spot on there was a chance.

But it was not an obvious record day. No increase in wind after take off and the thermal strength was quite weak on route . I was there in mid Wales, so would give it a go but I felt it was at best a 50/50 chance. On take off there was only me and ,Piers Nesbitt, the local club chairman. We managed to get away at about 11.30 after both of us nearly sinking out. We flew together for approximately the first 70/80 km which was very useful as we got a bit low at one point after a long glide and Piers found the climb.

A bit later we lost each other and I started to push on a bit, as I was sure a descent distance was on barring any daft mistakes. Base was now up at 6000ft + as I approached Shrewsbury and then Stoke on Trent.

Now I was under controlled air space limiting me to FL55 so was pulling out of climbs early. The thermals had often been awkward things to work so far in the flight and some times I pushed on because I couldn’t work the lift. I was now approaching Derbyshire my home flying area at about 130km out. I changed radio frequency as I had lost Piers and called anyone local to check if the Upton corridor was open, unfortunately I got no coherent reply. But luckily didn’t need it anyway, as I departed the high ground of the Derbyshire peak district the thermals and clouds became much easier to work. The clouds lasted longer and climbs were much smother, just how we like it.

I was now approaching the gap between Leeds Bradford and Doncaster airports. The controlled air space here drops to FL55 then FL45. In such a big sky I wasn’t sure to be able to make the crossing under the low ceiling. I was deliberately flying away from clouds to avoid busting controlled air space. Just as I came out from under the FL45 I found a nice climb to 7000 ft, my high point for the flight. It was nice to be able to use the sky properly again. The last 100 km was pretty much classic climb and glide, it some times being nearly 20k between climbs. I was on the glide north of Malton looking like I could get the British record at 281km just.

But with no obvious place to aim for the next climb when I spotted lots of sea gulls whirling round and positioned myself to pickup there climb, and for the fist time I began to think 300 might just be on today. I had made the declare at 301km as much to just give me a place to aim for.

The final glide was going well the glide ratio made good was always above the required, and I made the cylinder with more than a 1000ft to spare. The terrain dropped away towards the coast so I gained more ground clearance and got my phone out to take a few pictures. I picked a field near to Cloughton village and the main road to make life a bit easier for the retrieve as it was now 7.30pm Sunday. Job done.

I phoned Lee to ask him to find me a hotel for the night, as the last train had long gone, and Pears to let him know I was ok.

The next morning at 6am I was on the train for Caersws, mid Wales, where Piers would meet me”

Richard was flying his Zeno.

For tracklog click HERE

Congrats Richard for such an epic flight!
Cheers from all the OZONE team.