May began with promise and two great flying days, the first at the Oykel ridge, the second the fabulous south to west slope above Loch Assynt.
The Oykel saw Alpina, Fox and K8 take to the skies in turn, all flying in smooth lift from a 25mph breeze just north of east: perfect for that ridge.
Landing was a cinch, with both Alpina and Fox behaving superbly, while the K8 did its usual float and drop thing at the wing commander's feet. After which it turned a bit cold, the cloud filled and it was time for home.
The second day we took the Alpina and Excel onto the huge, wide heathery base of the Assynt slope, to see if we could get lift from the hill behind, from the top of which we normally fly.
And what lift. And what speed and momentum they picked up from the strong south westerly coming up over the loch. So fast that the Excel stripped both aileron servos and was only brought down safely using the crow flaps alone. There was only one chance to make a turn into the wind, and one chance to find a spot to bring it in using down flaps, on the throttle stick, and a touch of rudder, but with no aileron control whatsoever.
It was a master class in emergency landing. Losing one aileron is bad enough, but both? For some reason full flaps imparted a slight turning moment which, with a dab of rudder, allowed the Excel to head into wind, but for a long moment it looked terminal.