Sunday 23rd October

There was low cloud again at North Hill this morning, so practice in the simulator was called by Duty Instructor Simon Minson. 
Nice weather in the Simulator (Simon Minson)
In the afternoon, some real aerotows took place in the strong easterly wind.
And then the real thing (Simon Minson)
Long Mynd Junior Expedition
We woke up this morning from our bunk bed dorm with only having a few hours of sleep. Outside was strong easterlies and low cloud with fog; no gliding for us today.
With cabin fever at an all-time high, we decided to pick up Lizzie from the train station and head straight for the RAF cosford museum. As we pull in we instantly spotted a VC-10 and Lockheed C-130 “Hercules” and Charlie’s nerdiness overflowed. “What a dank museum” – said Charlie. After eye-balling the Vulcan for many minutes, we had a chat about negative G and headed back to the Mynd to grab the models and go flying(ish).
Some of the group at RAF Cosford Museum (Simon Leeson)
 Josh and I had a go flying Stuart’s Phoenix model and both of us think it went pretty swell. The air was lumpy and turbulent, but the lift was there and aerial combat ensued between the combat wings. With a collision the SAS Wildthing plummeted from the sky and Simon Leeson had lost control and crashed the Wildthing far down the hill. After a ribbing from all of us about being a bad model pilot. Simon collected the wing and instantly saw that the slight collision had flicked the small power switch to the ‘off’ position. Best kill so far.
Look for westerly winds (Mark Courtney)

We headed back with our whole body feeling numb from the cold and got into the warm clubhouse. The brilliant hosts made a delicious roast and we are all very grateful as it was supposed to be their day off.
A disappointing day in terms of potential for flying but we now just have to hope tomorrow is going to be better than today !
Josh ( Dat boy)  and Charlie ( Unicorn)

Saturday 22nd October

A very busy day in the DSGC Clubhouse with the BGA Maintenance Course led by BGA Chief Technical Officer, Gordon MacDonald,  but a very quiet Airfield after a cloud covered start. All the Trial Lesson visitors  enjoyed their flights and there were a  couple of other flights as well -  as it was rude not too! 
Lisa Humphries and Phil Grant in the sunshine to the west of North Hill (Lisa Humphries)
Thanks to Andrew Logan for arranging the Course and to Gordon for the excellent presentation, I am sure all that attended appreciated it! - Lisa Humphries

Why was it so quiet today at North Hill? well with 21 DSGC members taking part in the 1-day course, a bunch of Junior members and their Mentors starting their half-term expedition to the Long Mynd, a few members just returned from Portmoak and there was something going on over Dartmoor....... J&P
Matt Williamson in 611 searching for wave over Mary Tavy (Matt Williamson)
Following a trip to Mendip last week, Matthew Williamson continued his relentless search for the best gliding conditions in the country on any given day, by a visit to Dartmoor Gliding Club.  This site is known for wave in an easterly wind and an east wind was forecast.  I was 'dragged' along (as Matt would put it), but truth be told I needed little persuasion.  It is 5 minute drive from my house and why I've not visited before is a mystery.  Brentor (as it's otherwise known due to it's location next door to the famous tor/church combo) is a smaller club than DSGC, but a very friendly welcome awaited us complete with log burner and cups of tea being offered the second we arrived.  After a few technical glitches with tractors and winches, the club K13 was launched.  Some rotor/wave like conditions were found which enabled a flight slightly longer than a circuit.

Matthew was patiently waiting his turn in ASW20 611, so was more than happy(!) to see myself launched before him, flying with club instructor Mike Jardine in the K13.  This was mostly to test out the new (to the club) winch, the operation of which was still being fine tuned.  Due to the lack of senior instructors to run the site, this was a 'ride along' only, but served a purpose to gain some level of familiarity with the field layout.  Matthew was launched just after us, and we had a fun 15 minutes competition trying to find the 'good bits' of sky.  Unfortunately Matthew won.  An hour later and feeling slightly sick from almost continually turning in small patches of rotor/wavey lift which faded at just over 2000ft, Matthew decided he should land.  Or maybe he should after just a minute or two?  Maybe if the right patch of sky was found, the lift would continue past that ceiling?  An hour and 15 minutes later he decided that this wasn't to be the case!  On exit from the glider there was a few seconds where vomit looked like a real possibility.  I'm guessing it was worth it for the 'longest flight of the day' badge?

The general consensus from the locals on the lack of wave, seemed to be that the upper air wasn't moving in the same direction as nearer the ground.  Wave or no wave, a splendid day out was had at a gliding club with unique character and some unique characters.  It's definitely worth a visit if you're ever in the area as they're always pleased to see new faces. - Tim Peters

Portmoak - a quick resume

Monday 17th - very showery day but most managed to squeeze in an hour on the Bishop before the rain really set in.

 Tuesday 18th - beautiful day today after it hammered with rain all night. Many hours were spent cruising on the Bishop in good lift waiting for the elusive wave to set up. Sadly it never really did with the only success by Ron and Woolly in 711 getting to 4k just East of Benarty late in the day but during the afternoon it became thermic as well enabling forays across the loch to Kinross and Glenfarg resevoir. Bonus was the gin clear viz and cloudless skies which meant there were plenty of sights to be seen - you could even see Ben Nevis from Portmoak. Lots of gliders on the ridge including 3 vintage Slingsby gliders adding a bit of colour.
Looking South from the Bishop, the Firth of Forth glinting in the sunlight

Nice view to the North from 711-look at that viz!
Wednesday 19th - a light Northerly wind meant a trip to the Benarty ridge was the order of the day. Again many hours were flown by us(230, 711 and KMV), and the other visiting pilot from Aston Down as well as many locals. A busy ridge in light conditions meant accurate flying and a sharp lookout were required.

Thursday 20th - Flat as a dab as they say, the SGU K21 just flying 4-5 minute circuits. Woolly fixed something else that Ron had broken while Ron watched and gave instructions(which Woolly gave a damn good ignoring), Pete and Martin did the mandatory walk round the loch to the RSPB cafe for lunch followed by a mass de-rig ready for the trip home.

I'm often asked if it's worth going all that way for relatively little flying. Trust me - the first time you feel that surge of lift on Benarty or the Bishop and see the views, it is! 

Some rewarding flying despite the lack of wave and the evening beer, food and banter in the pubs is the real reason for going anyway!
Some of the visiting gliders before the mass de-rig on a flat calm Thursday

Thursday 20th October

We were expecting at least a morning before the cloud cover came in from the east, but disappointingly the low cloud had arrived before we even got the kit out.  

DG505 covers were folded neatly (Peter Smith)

The DG505 was derigged ready for the Junior's trip to the Long Mynd and by the time the kit had been walked up the field there were some gaps appearing in the lower levels.
Lower cloud breaking up nicely (Mark Layton)
The edge of the lower cloud was right above the airfield with it clearer downwind, but as it was at 1200ft, we were able to launch underneath. 
Junior LRD (David Clements)
Over lunchtime the lower clouds broke up just leaving a layer at 4500ft but there was very little lift to speak of.  One of the Trial lesson visitors - Darryl Earl last flew at North Hill in the 1990's and now retired is thinking of rejoining the Club.

Chris Coville added another new type to his collection by taking his first flights in the newly acquired Open Cirrus. 
Chris and Paul with their Open Cirrus CEC (David Clements)
The long flying list was completed just before the misting canopies in the setting sun, but unfortunately with a few members who had not flown. 

Malcolm Vest completed his 5 solo aerotows from the sharp end with the Cub, towing Mike Fairclough in the Pik20. - J&P

Wednesday 20th October

All the kit was out early with a large list eager to fly as result of a reasonable weather forecast,  with a northwesterly veering to north wind later in the day.
To start with the wind was too light for the ridge to work, but some useful clouds were developing and these gave some usable lift. As the day progressed the flights became longer and a competitive spirit developed to see who could stay up longest.
First aerotow towards a promising sky (John Street)
 Roly looked after the Trial lesson Visitors who all had good flights and Robert was the tuggie, there where no private gliders rigged today, Tim Johns wished he had rigged his ASW19 after a good soaring flight in HCX.
It was a pleasant day with long spells of warm sunshine and easy conditions, October it seems is being quite kind to us this year - long may it last!  - John Street

Sunday 16th October

After a shortened flying day on Saturday due to weather, it was thought that there would be lots of members keen to fly today - although rain was forecast for first thing it was expected that behind the rain the day would improve and provide the opportunity for some gliding to take place.

Unusually, the actual weather was exactly as forecast with the rain front being replaced by blue skies albeit a fresh wind generally from the South.
So where was everyone?

At 9:30am there were just about enough members to start getting the gliders out but not enough to run winch launching and with the field still draining the decision was made to run aerotows only. With the hangar unpacked R37 was taken down to the workshop and derigged ahead of it's annual inspections being completed.

With a freshening crosswind and a Yellow card just the K21s were in use initially with Jordan Bridge, a visiting staff instructor from Lasham and a friend of Lizzie Westcott, taking the first aerotow. Then Will Stainer, Paul Kane, Robin Street and Geoff Lawrence all had the opportunity to fly in the 'interesting' conditions both on take off and on the approach/landing.

Mid-morning, the first Trial Lesson visitor of the day arrived and the flight was completed in the DG505 by Stu Procter with tug duties being shared between Simon Jordy, James Hood and Simon Leeson. With most members having flown and with the weather all looking good for the afternoon a decision was made to stop for lunch.
DG505 over the south ridge (Mike Sloggett)
After lunch the skies improved nicely providing some good thermals in places up to a cloudbase of around 2300ft - with the afternoon flights all enjoying around half an hour in duration and during which time everyone had fun. Mike and Barbie Fairclough doing so in the DG505 and Pete Warren in the Junior. Rowan Smith flew the second Trial Lesson visitor of  the day and those who wanted to fly again did so.
Improved conditions (Mike Sloggett)
With everyone having got airborne and with the take off and approach becoming 'even more interesting' the decision was made to put the toys away.

With the hangar doors shut at just after 5:00pm all agreed that it had been a good day and one to talk about next time at the Club - 'You should have been here last Sunday...' - Mike Sloggett

...and at Mendip GC
Just as the front had cleared early morning and there were beautiful blue skies over North Hill,  "Billy-no-mates" H5 Matt left with 611 in tow. Was chasing the bad weather to the west the best prospect of fun today? Passing other people on the way to the Club and catching up with a torrential downpour on the M5, I started to think otherwise.
Cheddar Reservoir (Matt Williamson)
Thankfully,  as always, it was worth the effort, after it had cleared at Halesland a blustery 20kts at 190 degrees meant the run from the M5 gap to Wells was working.
Cheddar Gorge (Matt Williamson)
A very warm welcome and great hospitality from the members as always. - Matt Williamson

Saturday 15th October

Well we all knew the rain would eventually come and sure enough it did. Kit was unpacked and ready to go around 8:45 to a glorious empty blue sky. Due to a lack of members only 2 K21’s and a Junior were walked over to the NE corner.

Martin Woolner and new member Daniel Fitzgerald were the first to take a flight, launching around 9:30. Conditions in the air were smooth with little sink or lift. As the wind strength increased the southern ridge showed signs of working. Members were eager to get into club gliders in hope of some ridge lift. This was not the case and to much disappointment flights only lasted around 8-10 mins.

At around 11:00 and with the cloud coming in both Motor falke's took off from North Hill for better skies. VG crewed by Simon Minson and James Hood headed off for Compton Abbas for a quick visit and a bite to eat.

Towards midday heavy rain showers were spotted off the South coast. With most members already grabbing a flight, gliders were rushed back to the hangar to be packed up. Kit was away by 1:30pm, avoiding the heavy rain, just in time for lunch.  - Will Stainer

Friday 14th October

What a great turnout there was from Family, Work colleagues and Friends celebrating the life of Chris Heide. 
Chris Heide 1950 - 2016
There must have been around 100 DSGC members past and present at Taunton Deane Crematorium for a service that was so appropriate to Chris -  Instructor and former Chairman of the Club and such a great guy.

With music from Vera Lynn to Fleetwood Mac and an entrance with the F1 theme, there were wonderful tributes made, and the parting memory of the closing music 'Don't worry, Be happy' will stay with us all.

All our best wishes to Steph and Nick.

Thursday 13th October

A fresh north easterly greeted us, but was it going to be a repeat of last Thursday?
Luckily not - there was an obvious wave bar formed downwind of the field and Mark Courtney and Chris Wool were keen to explore it on the first launch. 

They headed off downwind in DG505 for a recce, and by the time they got to the fishponds at Kentisbeare at a "out of gliding range" height they contacted some solid lift, and climbed stopping short of the airway. 
Ron & Ray in K21 from Mark & Chris in DG505 ( Mark Courtney)
Ron Johns and Ray Dodd joined in the fun in a K21 with the longest flight of 1:13mins, meanwhile Pete Harmer was busy with circuit checks. Mark had another attempt for the downwind dash with Paul Kane, but found a lot of sink and aborted the attempt as the wind speed was starting to reduce. 
The wave bar over Kentisbeare changed into a line of cumulus (Mark Courtney)
In the afternoon, the wind speed reduced considerably and it turned into a very pleasant late afternoon with slightly extended circuits. 28 launches in total.
Paul Little with CEC Open Cirrus (Paul Little)
Paul Little took the opportunity to try out his new Open Cirrus at North Hill. - J&P

Wednesday 12th October

Dave and the grass clearing team made an early start and baled up the grass on the N/E cable run giving us a good clear launch run, meanwhile the blue sky had disappeared with low cloud and drifting fog. Nevertheless, we decided to DI the kit in readiness for the days flying. Whilst we were waiting for clearer weather the cable drum changing team got to work taking the damaged Dyneema cable off the right hand winch drum,  whilst the gliders were walked up to the far corner. 
Tom, Liam and William changing the cable (John Street)
Roly agonised whether or not to put off the trial lesson flights, but by the time the gliders had been walked to the south west corner it was obvious with the blue card and wind strength it was out of limits to fly the visitors.
Parked up for lunch (John Street)
Nigel Everett completed his yellow card checks and everyone who wanted to fly flew.
Nick Jones turned up with one of his all terrain vehicles with a very excited Matt dying to have a drive in it.......
Nick Jones brought a demo vehicle out for a run (Tom Sides)

....... we finished flying at about 5.30pm. John Street.