Geoff McMahons Irish Hanggliding Record

My 80 miler or 130Kms.

Monday 10 April was a very exhilarating and memorable day for me. The story goes as follows:

On Sunday the 9th of April, there was a hanggliding competition called for Mount Leinster but after looking at the forecast after the 9 o'clock news and worse again, believing it, I decided not to go because it looked too windy.

Bad mistake. It turned out to be the best day of the year and most of the guys there got in really good flights. I wasn't really a happy camper Sunday night. I was determined to go XC on Monday if at all possible. The forecast for Monday was looking better with a forecast for South westerly winds.

I had everything prepared the previous night and made sure that I had fully charged batteries in the Gps and Vario. On arriving on the hill, the wind was northerly and light but I rigged the glider anyway. The wind was gradually working its way around south-westerly and about 13:00 there was good looking clouds over the hill.

I launched around13:30 into a thermal and after about 10 minutes of searching, I got a core, which took me skyward. After getting enough height, I headed in the direction of Nenagh. At that time there was almost nothing but blue over Nenagh and beyond, but Nenagh had saved me on previous cross-country flights so I was willing to give it another go. Sure enough, after reaching the downwind side of the town, I got another thermal, which got me high again and I could move on.

From then on, the direction of my flight was totally dictated by the clouds, especially if those clouds were over dark areas of land. There wasn't an abundance to choose from but by flying conservatively and not heading off until I milked the last of the lift I was in, I was able to stay reasonably high. However, at one stage, I was down to around 800 feet above the ground and I unzipped the harness so as to fully concentrate on finding lift and giving me the option to peel off and land at the last moment.

I found this broken thermal and kept turning in it until it lost patience and it rewarded me with enough lift so as to get me to move on. Through most of my flight, the sky ahead did not look the best but any bit of cloud I went to seemed to have some bit of lift. And by the time I was high enough, there was usually something else that had formed that I could head off to. Eventually, when I was near Athy and there was 100 Km showing on the gps, I started allowing thoughts into my head about the possibility of beating the distance record. From there on I flew especially conservatively ensuring that I had the maximum height before moving on. It was at that point that got my final thermal, which got me enough height to make it towards Blessington Lake. On Landing, at 17:45 my Gps informed me that I had flown in excess of 80 miles. Needless to say I was rather pleased.


Geoff McMahon

PS: Keep trying and eventually you will get there.

(Many thanks to Ken Hickey who collected my glider and to Eimear Comerford who collected me from Blessington and drove me back to Arra to collect my car.)