I had little trouble persuading the Holloways to take it to Aston Down, the Cotswold Gliding Club. It had a 5000 foot runway with reverse pulley launches that got you to at least 1200 feet. Beautiful country with hospitable pubs. I seem to remember that the weather was unusually good. I enquired of the duty instructor what might be a modest task and he suggested an out and return to Pershore, just under a 100 k. I duly marked a line on the map and towed to the launch point.

As the Holloways had departed for the purposes of tourism, I agreed a mutual retrieve with William, a hand model who flew a Bergfalke. I should explain that, if you want to advertise a fountain pen or nail clippers, you hire a hand model for the photographs. This would guarantee that you didn’t see chewed nails or nicotine stained fingers. Between assignments, he sold double glazing. He had an early video camera in the cockpit and would turn his profile to the camera and deliver a commentary on the flight.

The flight went surprisingly well. Straight into a thermal from the winch launch and a nice line of cumulus on track. The lift got stronger and I rapidly got to cloudbase and was still going up. I put the nose down and accelerated to close to VNE and just managed to stay out of cloud. It was totally exhilarating and I had never been so far or so fast before. An older and wiser Jones would have realised he was in an incipient rain squall triggered by the Cotswold Edge. Eventually I left the cloud at 5000 feet and started to think about navigation. Nothing on the ground corresponded to anything near the line on the map.

Eventually I realised that I was ten or fifteen miles off track. I had drifted in a strong cross wind and now had to fight my way back. Eventually I saw a railway line and, in the distance, the river Severn. I also looked back and saw a very large and dark cloud over Cheltenham that was starting to drop rain. I decided that the best option was retreat. I got as much height as I could and then set out under the cloud. It started to rain.

I emerged the other side into sunlight, but with only 1000 feet above the Cotswold Edge. Cheltenham was another 600 feet lower,but did not look inviting for a landout. There was a good field below me and it did not take much to convince me to land. The Foka behaved admirably and brought me to a halt in a field of hay. Mobile phones in those day were the size of house bricks and were solely a status symbol for directors. I set out to find a phone.


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