Sunday 25th September

Usually an arrival at the Club at around 8:30 in the morning would see members enjoying breakfast and cups of tea followed by lots of conversation and eventually a decision to start getting the gliders out of the hangar.

However today was rather different - with a generally positive weather forecast and blue skies encouraging much enthusiasm to the extent that on this particular morning the launch point had already been set up in the North East corner of the field. With the winch ready to go and with a K21 and a Junior on line the first launch of the day was in the air just before 9:00am.

The wind was forecast to freshen as the day unfolded so Duty Instructor Simon Minson was keen to complete check flights and allow Charlie Stuckey to fly solo. Will Stainer, Lukas Kieruczenko and Dave Herbert all completed further solos in a Junior.

Soon the DG505 and the other K21 and Junior were being brought across to the launch point and the line of gliders waiting to be launched steadily increased in number as the sky improved, suggesting thermic activity as well as a West ridge working here and there.
DG505 getting ready for an aerotow (Mark Copurtney)
The steady South West wind was providing launches to a good height with Roly Clarke radioing a 'well done' message to the winch driver for a launch to 1680ft in the DG505. The morning saw a couple of heavy rain showers move across the airfield with some gliders deciding that being on the ground looking up might be better than the other way around and with some gliders managing to keep airborne away from the rain. As the day progressed then the thermic activity continued in phases all mixed up by ridge and wave lift/rotor - as ever if a glider launched at the right time it was possible to get away. If not then extended circuits were possible.
Soaring to cloudbase (Mark Courtney)


Mark Courtney and Mike Sloggett again both flew ASW20 (ENW) causing some members to pinch themselves suitably. Andrew Logan (K6 GDE), Tim Peters (SF27 H5) and Phil Morrison/Matt Williamson (ASW20 611) all enjoyed themselves during the afternoon.
Andrew Logan in GDE (Mark Courtney)
Three booked trial lessons as well as one walk in trial lesson were completed during the day and with John Sillett taking over instructing duties for the afternoon, the flying list was completed with 38 launches just before 5:00pm so the decision was made to put all the toys away for the day.

There was then time for members to enjoy a cup of tea and a piece of cake on a sunny verandah, reflecting on a pleasant day of fun in the sky. - Mike Sloggett

Saturday 24th September

A strong, blustery, southerly wind, overcast skies and turbulent conditions, meant that the flying list was rather shorter than usual.  Also, a rather late start; but thanks to John Sillett who stood in at the very last minute as “am” Duty Instructor, and Ian Mitchell who took over as official Duty Instructor for the “pm” slot assisted by John.
 
Our South Coast Experts, John Burrow and Matt Wright, assessed conditions as good for a bit of South Coast Cliff Soaring. Tug pilot, Robin W-F briefed, calls to Exeter ATC made and the gliders were lined up.  Matt and William Stainer had nearly two hours in the DG 505, and made it back to  North Hill in time for lunch!! JB had a slightly longer flight of two-and-a-half hours, landing during the lunch break. 
The Sea mimics our warm glow inside!
Locally, students were tossed around in the air at North Hill, but seemed to enjoy the experience – I think it must be John’s excellent instructional technique - as they came back for more in the afternoon session.
 
Fifteen flights in all, and some of them up to half-an-hour long using lift generated by the North Hill South Ridge. - Wendy Willis-Fleming 

Will's experience.......

I arrived at the club to be greeted with a very strong southerly wind. Immediately I assumed I would not be flying for the day. Imagine my disbelief and excitement when Matt offered me an opportunity to join him in the DG505 on a trip to the South coast for some cliff soaring.
The flight started with a very buoyant and blustery aerotow, finally dropping us off near the town of Seaton. Whilst Matt and myself were waiting for John Burrow to catch us up we entertained ourselves by hooning around impressing the cliff walkers, doing wingovers and flying low and fast on Sidmouth sea front. Lift was working even at 100kt giving us an average of 3kt up. 

Sidmouth
As JB turned up we thought we ought to begin our task. Five legs from Beer Head to Ladram Bay with me doing four of the beats. With the task completed a small amount of formation flying was done to supplement the video footage. 
JB over the windswept sea (William Stainer)
Reluctantly our thoughts now turned to climbing away to make it back to North Hill where Simon Minson and Stuart Proctor were waiting their turn. We were fortunate enough to soar to just under 2300ft QFE and by this time, we had risen above the clouds, giving us a lovely cloud surfing final glide home.
Cloud surfing Return to NHL (William Stainer)
With only 700-800ft lost on the return, North Hill appeared in the distance and after a slightly hairy approach due to the gusty southerly wind we made it back down safely with John Burrow following a little later. An epic days flying. Watch out for Matt's video coming soon on his You Tube channel “Balleka” 
-William Stainer

Friday 23rd September

Third time lucky - after 2 weather cancellations, the VGS Instructors day enjoyed conditions that allowed 4000ft aerotows. 

Blue skies initially  for the VGS Instructors Day (Jill Harmer)
With thanks to funding from a nationwide grant scheme provided by RAFA, the Instructors from 624 Volunteer Gliding Squadron (VGS) Chivenor  enjoyed learning how to aerotow, various aerobatic manouevres, and in the afternoon some soaring.

Thursday 22nd September

Another dodgy weather forecast, but at least this time better than expected. But it did mean that the Thursday regulars were expecting a late start and were slow to arrive at the Club. The front had cleared through earlier than expected and it was a clear blue start with a very light north westerly wind.
Nice day for the Autumn equinox (Mark Courtney)

The first 2 flights were quite short but after that, there was soaring a plenty. Although it did get a bit tricky at midday when most were back on the ground. Matt in M5 and JB both completed Club 100.
Unusually, ENW was flown by both Mike Sloggett  and Mark Courtney. 
Mark enjoyed a whizz along the sea breeze front (Mark Courtney)
 Paul Kane finally converted to the Pegasus having had to wait for a nice weather day. Thanks to all the guest Instructors (including Ron Johns helping out with some Trial lessons!) who turned up early for the Instructor's meeting. There were 44 launches with Matt the longest flight just short of 3 hours. -J&P

Wednesday 21st September

Another disappointing day with early mist and low cloud, but plenty of members wanting to fly.
A damp and foggy start (John Street)
We eventually started about 11:30am with a cloud base of just over 1,000ft with some gaps.
The beech trees gradually appeared (John Street)
 We had three Trial lesson flights booked two of them "mile high" it looked at times as if the clear gaps were large enough for an aerotow, but the gaps closed very quickly making it unwise to try. Roly looked after the guests  whilst waiting for more suitable weather but in the event the weather stayed the same all day with a freshening southerly wind.
JB & Matt got their chainsaws out and attacked the recently damaged Beech tree branches that came down in the recent heavy rainstorm.
Everyone flew who wanted to and we got some useful check flights out of the way. - John Street

Sunday 18th September

As I arrived, it looked to be a spectacular day with blue skies and the sun shining down. Clearly other members had also taken this view and kit was unpacked and ready to go by 8:20. Sadly due to a lack of instructors, flying did not commence until 10:30, by this time layer of cloud had drifted in restricting our cloud base to 2000ft. Many thanks to Guy Adams and John Street for stepping in to instruct with such short notice.

Throughout the morning training and check flights were carried out in the K21’s. As the morning progressed the weather improved substantially, this allowed Lukasz Kieruczenko, Dave Herbert and Nick Redfern to take the Junior for some quick soaring flights. The first trial lesson although a little nervous to begin with enjoyed a 2000ft aerotow flown by James Flory in the K13. Matt Wright flew the Mile High visitor but had to go for duration rather than height due to the low cloudbase. James Flory flew the third trial lesson who enjoyed ticking off gliding on his bucket list.
Cloud filled in to 2000ft (Will Stainer)
At around 1:30, an early lunch was called. This seemed to have great effects on the weather and it was not long before a line of both club and private gliders were queuing for a launch. With JB managing the afternoon flying from the ground but trying not to speak as he had lost his voice, more instructors rallied round to help.

I myself managed to convert to the Junior, joining in on the fun with a soaring flight of 41mins. Thermals were fairly weak although most gliders made it to 2000ft.
Will converts to the Junior (Lukasz Kieruczenko)
Birthday boy Rueben Buss (now 16yrs) enjoyed spinning down from 4000ft with Pete Harmer.
Rueben enjoyed his spin training (Jill Harmer)
The Ka6CR DRE was rigged and enjoyed it's busiest day for over 5 years, with Pete Harmer and the Supporters test flying it.
K6 DRE  was flown by the Supporters (Jill Harmer)
As thermals started to die off at around 4:30, the wind rather conveniently picked up from the north and allowed some members to use the ridge. With the sun slowly dropping at around 5:30 the last couple of training flights were carried out by guest Instructors Ian Mitchell and Pete Harmer. Kit was packed up just after 6pm.

Overall a day worth waiting for considering the slow start. - Will Stainer

Pete Bennett and Jess Summers have spent the weekend at Lasham  on the Junior Aerobatics coaching weekend, however the weather was not very kind, but I'm sure we'll hear more about it.

Saturday 17th September

An unusual open blue sky greeted North Hill members this morning. It was no surprise then that kit was all out ready to go by the time I arrived at 8:30 and flying commenced just after 9:30. However after setting up it became apparent that a strong 10-15knt crosswind from the north was present. This restricted some early solo pilots and forced a red card to be raised. This eventually was changed to a yellow flag.

As the wind strengthened mid-morning strong amounts of lift were reported by a 2000ft trial lesson. Cloud streets were seen running from north to south straight across the club.
Cloud streets (Will Stainer)
Soon after a flurry of private gliders were briskly launched with many managing to get away for some local cross country flying. With soaring conditions improving many members enjoyed some long flights averaging around 40-60 mins. Phil Morrison and I managed to chase down Matt Wright in his shark but we were not brave enough to follow him as he passed over the M5 towards Tiverton.
The trial flights were flown by Paul Summers and Roly Clarke with the help of duty tug pilot Pete Harmer.
Aerotow (Will Stainer)
Sadly the lift did not continue all day and towards 4:30pm simulated power and launch failures were carried out. Kit was packed away around 6pm. Overall a challenging day but at least we got some lift. - Will Stainer

Thursday 15th September

It was a pleasant start, but the Thursday regulars were busy looking at the winch and the problems that had occurred yesterday with the Dyneema.
Skylaunch (Mark Layton)

With the wind clearly from the north east a walk up the field was needed.
Although the launches were quite high, the circuit gave masses of sink all day, with Geoff Lawrence managing the longest flight of 8 minutes. Even Matt Wright flying the Trial lesson visitors to 2000ft couldn't find any usable lift, but they all enjoyed their flights. Thanks to Robert Lee for standing in for Tuggie Mark.
Aerotow (Mark Layton)
Congratulations to Tim Petty for converting to the Junior. - J&P

Wednesday 14th September

A reasonable flying list today with a good weather forecast except  for the early low cloud and poor visibility, but this soon cleared with the visibility becoming  excellent.
The wind direction was forecast to be southeasterly but it turned out to be southwest much to our relief. The launches seemed 100ft higher with the new dyneema  but late in the day the dyneema snagged on a damaged pulley wheel and we finished the day operating on one drum.
We were lucky with the weather because at lunchtime the low cloud returned and the tug was put away but shortly after lunch it cleared again to give us a beautiful afternoons flying.
Roly managed to fly all three of the Trial lesson visitors, there was no soaring to be had but the flying was very pleasant and all had a good time, Stu Procter and Matt Wright were the tuggies today, thanks to Paul C for standing in for John Sillett and we had a visit from David Bouchier from Brentor who is thinking of joining us.
Eastern Beech tree (Jill Harmer)
Sadly we have lost two of the biggest branches on our East facing beech tree, a tree surgeon will give a verdict on the health of the tree. - John Street.

Barcelonnette, Southern Alps 3rd - 14th September 2016

After a very early ferry on Friday morning and a long drive south, Marie and I  arrived in the sunny Alps in time for a late supper.
Saturday saw clear skies and after a check flight, I took W7 for some local soaring - which reminded me just how turbulent the mountains can be.
Day 2 and there was wave around ! - and a 4 hour search found me at 13,000 feet, totally elated, but fairly exhausted.
Lac Serres Poncent (Wyn Davies)
 By Wednesday I felt like a total amateur, as I had failed to leave local soaring and struggled in the rough conditions to get confidently high enough to leave the valley, so I took another instructional flight to sort it out. After a good hour of working closer to the ridges with Antoine, I was set to go again.
Glacier Blanc (Wyn Davies)
 The following 5 days I flew every day for a total of 25 hours in W7. Exploring Les Ecrins with the lure of the Glacier Blanc and a sortie south to Dignes. Most of the flying was done under very strong cumulus clouds, with some ridge flying to climb away whenever necessary. The highlight as always is flying over the glacier - with a safe escape route to St Crepin- Mount Dauphin airfield 6,000 feet below and in easy reach.
I am taking a few days rest from gliding for some tourism. - Wyn and Marie-Noelle Davies