We had been following the weather for several days prior to the start of our expedition and there seemed to be a chance of a flight into Europe, starting from the UK.

We began the tow just before 10am and obtained a clearance from Luton to go through their airspace. We were about to fly overhead the airport when there was a quiet click from below and we watched in disbelief as the towrope floated away. Luckily, we were still just in range of the Club and were able to sneak over the Downs and land back at the aerotow point. We launched again at 1030, having disabled the back release...

We had flown over 500Km since releasing over Folkestone and came within 95Km of our declared goal of Freiburg. We parked the ASH up, were given a lift into town and booked into a motel. After a long drive from Dunstable, Roger caught us up with the trailer just before midnight to complete the team. After a short discussion of the next days' possibilities, sleep came very quickly!

The next hour and a bit was one of the most unpleasant times I have ever spent in a glider. The visibility was poor, we were flying into-sun, it was turbulent with broken thermals under a low inversion and it was three-quarters of an hour before we could climb above 2500'ASL due to the LTMA. At least there were two of us in the ASH: Pete Claiden, solo in the tug, was taking the brunt of the pulling around and navigation.

We took turns in flying the tow, changing over every ten minutes as it required complete concentration just to stay roughly behind the tug, with frequent use of airbrakes. Things improved somewhat as we crossed the Thames Estuary and climbed above the convection, enabling us to speed up the tow but the lack of any horizon due to the haze and still flying directly sunwards made it difficult. It was a great relief to finally cast off at FL65 over Folkestone and set course across the Channel..

Thanks Pete for working so hard at the tug end.

We crossed the French coast at 4000' after a 20 minute glide, uneventful apart from the fact that the only thing we could see midway was water underneath us. Cumulus were visible about 15Km inland: at 1315 continental time and 2600' we found our first 2Kt climb. We were on our way!

During the next hour we averaged 2-3Kts with the cloudbase slowly rising to 4800'ASL as we approached Arras. There was a north-easterly wind but it was light enough not to be significant. We passed Cambrai at 5000' and then fell into a bit of a hole to the east of St. Quentin. As was repeated throughout the day, the clouds looked OK but the thermals were weak and difficult to locate.

We eventually climbed up again north of Laon, at which point the visibility improved greatly and we could see cumulus for at least 75Km in the direction we wanted to go. Again, it wasn't as good as it looked but we were able to add another 100Km in the next hour, with the cloudbase rising to 5500'.

Approaching Nancy at just after 6pm, the few remaining cumulus started to grow vertically and we caught sight of some cu-nim anvils to the east. After a climb just short of the town, we were on a glide for Luneville, 35Km to the SE.
Running towards the airfield we came up against a line of storms oriented N-S. We climbed on the edge of the rain and examined our options. We decided not to go any further east as the cloudbase wasn't high enough for a safe crossing of the Vosges. The whole area was congested with cu-nims and the 'bolt-hole' airfield at St. Die (really) looked marginally sized for the ASH.

We ran South along a line of black cloud and lost no height for 20Kms, putting us well over for the airfield at Epinal. After arriving at the town we pushed out to the east with our remaining altitude but there was no real soaring opportunity and the outlanding options were becoming very limited, so we landed at Epinal Dogneville at half past seven.