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→No place like… Aboyne by Tomasz Cebo
The evening before, the RASP wave forecast for Scotland seemed more than optimistic, with strongish south-westerly winds. I’ve decided to attempt an early start for the sake of an easy take off and plenty of time for looking for a good wave spot (and who can say ‘no’ to Scottish sunrise in the middle of autumn).
Levi – very keen and helpful Hungarian tug pilot – I was able to take off with first sun rays shining onto the runway surface. As usual, he dropped me in the perfect wave entry location (keeping tug pilots well-oiled with a beer in the evenings is probably the best investment one could do while in Aboyne). The only thing left for me was to align with the best lift, fly back and forth along the wave clouds and cherish my eyes with a splendid sunrise over them (ha! the early bird does get a worm).
In no time I was at FL190, just to realise that the upper box allowing me to go up to FL245 will not be open until two hours later. I just sighed quietly for my warm bed somewhere down there. Checking my oxygen level just a bit too often, I stayed in the wave with slightly open airbrakes for an hour or so, just to realise that the wave weakened and disappeared completely from that location. I went for another wave bar which was too weak and at 9000’ I started feeling… well rather low.
I would not be myself if I did not declare a very ambitious (and definitely doable!) 500km task. Yet, in the end, I decided to play it safe seeing very unwelcoming territory and very few outlanding options. My strategy was to find permanent wave hot spots, gain height there and then try to jump wave bars to move forward. This worked pretty well, kept me safe but did not allow for high cross country speed or long distances. Some wave bar jumps were successful and easy others were very tricky. Few times I found myself in a place where I was expecting a strong wave after flying quickly through a heavy sink and yet I was still going down, without any prospects of nearby lift.
I found wave clouds and patterns harder to understand then thermals. With high wind speeds, places with huge sink and few outlanding options - the margin for error in the wave cross country flying is much smaller than in the thermal cross country, despite much higher altitudes at which one flies. I eventually finished an undeclared task of 268 km - being quite pleased of such an achievement. Understanding and harnessing this still under-reasearched energy allows for flights as long as two 750 km flights done from Aboyne on that day. If it weren’t for the wave cross country flying, I have no idea what Jean-Marie Clément had in mind when he wrote the words quoted at the beginning of this article.
Aboyne is a great place for trying wave flying for the first time, as well as getting diamonds or doing cross country flights one can talk about over a pint forever. Favourable weather, picturesque scenery, and friendly club make it a place worth paying a visit. An opinion shared by a group of German pilots, who have been travelling there every autumn for last few years, with their own gliders all the way from Germany.