Mon 25th March

Today was the the latest of the Club ‘ad hoc’ flying days which had been planned to allow some Basic Instructor training alongside some Club flying. The actual weather was not quite as forecast with grey skies and a brisk Northerly wind evident as members and visitors from Dartmoor Gliding Society arrived at the Club. But as the morning briefings got underway the grey skies started to be replaced with more and more blue gaps and as the sunshine increased then so everyone’s optimism improved.
Fluffy clouds (initially) Mike Sloggett)
With a forecast of a North Easterly wind for much of the day the decision was made to set up the launch point in the South West corner of the airfield and soon the K21s, DG505, Perkoz and a Junior were being brought out of the hangar and readied.
Coaches and wanabe BI's (Mark Courtney)
Mark Courtney, Martin Woolner, Simon Leeson and Ian Mitchell started the Basic Instructor training with Roger Green, Richard Roberts and Roger Appleboom from Dartmoor Gliding Society together with Nick Harrison from DSGC.
Mike Sloggett with Hans Jenssen (Mark Courtney)
Meanwhile Peter Smith and Mike Sloggett started to work their way through the Club flying list, completing card checks with Ray Dodds, Hans Jenssen and George Sanderson whilst John Borland and Paul Medlock took to the air in the Junior (LRD).
The west ridge (Mike Sloggett)
The air looked encouraging with various fluffy clouds around the airfield so Pete Startup (Discus 230), Eric Alston (ASG 29 G29), Wyn Davies (LS7 W7), Andrew Logan (ASW15 FMS) and Andy Davey (Libelle 5) all launched, some finding success in getting away and some not. Those that were not successful first time around managed to get away on their second flights.

After a stop for lunch it was more of the same during the afternoon with Tim Petty also getting airborne in a K21 and in turn the Junior.
North Hill sunset
By late afternoon both the Basic Instructor training and Club flying list had been completed so hangar flights were flown. A good day all round with 34 launches. - Mike Sloggett

W7 and 230 did a refresher circuit before getting away properly having been shown how to do it by Andy Davey getting some serious stick time in his new Libelle. Eric and Andrew Logan also rigged and flew. The nice fluffy Cu made a rapid exit around lunchtime and the soaring few were left with the old upwind, stumble into a blue thermal, get blown downwind, repeat game. It eventually stoked up on the high ground of the Blackdowns and some decent thermals to 3,500' were around - if you could find them. Not an easy day. - Pete S(230).

Sun 24th March

A good weather forecast for today, together with the second day of Advanced Aerobatics training for some Instructors with Aerobatic Instructor Will Jones, ensured a busy airfield at the start of the day.

The wind was not quite in line with the forecast and therefore it was a choice of either waiting for the wind to potentially move more round to the West or walk the gliders down to the other end of the airfield and start the day’s flying. With everyone keen to get into the air as soon as possible the decision was made to set up the launch point in the South West corner of the airfield and soon most of the Club gliders were on their way to the West end. Mid-morning and just a few flights into the day the wind decided to become more Westerly so a change of ends was organised. 
Chris Wool and Chairman Nick Jones (Mike Sloggett)
As the day progressed, the sky continued to improve with evident thermals around the airfield and soon Simon Minson (ASW20 SM) and Pete Startup (Discus 230) were being launched into the air. Initially a task of Tiverton to Dorchester and back was declared but with the thermals no longer being marked by fluffy clouds as the sea air had moved in, then Simon and Pete decided to abandon the task and stay local. 
Going blue (Simon Minson)
It became clear that there were ‘blue’ thermals around, one just had to be fortunate enough to fly into them, and the ridge was working here and there - both the blue thermals and the ridge allowing extended flights to those able to make the most of the conditions.

With various Instructors working their way through the flying list during the day all the required training and check flights were completed by mid-afternoon allowing Instructors to have some fun in the gliders available.
A different  weather day to yesterday (Mike Sloggett)
We were pleased to see several of our new Junior members on the airfield helping with various ground tasks and starting on their flying training, with proud parents watching from the sidelines.

The Perkoz was in use for much of the day as Will Jones put several Instructors through their paces demonstrating the capabilities of the Perkoz with its aerobatic tips - the last aerobatic flight of the day saw Daniel Hender (watch the video)  (or this one) have some fun seeing the airfield from all angles, mostly upside down. 

Daniel enjoys some aerobatic training with Will Jones (GoPro)
A big thanks to Rob Hender for uploading some 'beta' Condor2 scenery on the Simulator with North Hill becoming much more realistic (thanks to Andy from the Condor development team.)
North Hill objects added (Jill Harmer)
All being well the first of many nice days of soaring in 2019, thank you to everyone who helped others to get into the air today and a special thank you to Will Jones for the weekend of aerobatic instruction. - Mike Sloggett

Sat 23rd March

Saturday started breezy at an average 15 knots with the first glider launching at around 10:30am,  The weather improved through the day enabling 39 launches (and thankfully a matching amount of landings!).
Andrew Dalton with his extended family (Jill Harmer)
One of the two trial flight visitors was celebrating his 60th birthday, and brought all of his extended family (a group of around 20) to watch, making use of North Hill café then venturing out to a windy launch point for a successful and much enjoyed flight.

The 'Advanced Aerobatics' Course (for Instructors) started with Aerobatic Instructor Will Jones spending time on the theory then at around 2:00pm as cloudbase lifted there was time for Martin Woolner, Stuart Procter and JB to get some practical tuition.  Figures flown included Negative Flicks, Flick Rolls, and Reverse Half-Cubans.  The course continues tomorrow putting the Perkoz to good use.

Dan and Rob Hender enjoyed their respective hangar flights, with the aerobatics flights finishing around 17:30, when those remaining retired to the clubroom for a well-deserved drink and debrief. A good day enjoyed by all. - Karen King

Thurs 21st March

Mist and low cloud shrouded North Hill on the Blackdown Hills. So after a morning spent with some odd jobs and in the simulator, 'light at the end of the tunnel' was seen by lunchtime and the hangar was unpacked.
It is going to be flyable (Mike Sloggett)
Cloudbase was not particularly high, but sufficient for full height launches in the slack wind. 
North Hill under overcast skies (Mike Sloggett)
Circuits were the order of the day with just 1 flight in the Perkoz with Pete Harmer and Andy Davey finding 'the thermal' giving a 200ft climb straight off the top of the launch for the longest flight of 16minutes. 
Orographic cloud appearing (Mike Sloggett)

Flying continued with everyone getting their fill of short circuits, until some low orographic cloud started appearing. Thanks everyone for a very pleasant day with 30 launches in just less than 3 hours - great teamwork. - J&P

Wed 20th March

First day of Spring and a shade warmer than of late, the low cloud gave a delayed start but with every expectation of a higher cloud base later we made a start.
Lined up and ready to go (John Street)
The first two launches encountered cloud at 800ft so an early lunch was called, by the time we returned we were getting about 1,100ft. We had both K21s and a Junior out and Andrew Logan rigged and flew his glider as well. 
Andrew Logan keen to fly after his Australian trip (John Street)
All the launches were short except for Nick Harrison & John Street on their last flight managed to hang around in lift for 19 minutes caused by a bonfire about a mile upwind, Nick was practising flying from the back seat.
Redesigning a cone (John Street)
Many thanks to James Smart, Jeff Taberham and Tim Petty for sorting out a shredded cable late in the day, also thanks must go to John Street for redesigning one of the marker cones! thanks also to Glenn Turpin for keeping some kind of order all day. 27 launches today - John Street.

Sunday 17th March

Sunday went on to prove why March can often mark the start of the new soaring season,  and why just small changes to the weather can make all the difference, between a gusty struggle on the ridge and a marvellous day of thermals, ridge and wave! 

With a tug only start due to the wet field, the K21s with John Sillett and James Flory were busy and the sight of forming cloud streets soon had the hangar emptied and the club fleet all out on the field. 
Cloud streets over Devon (John Pursey)
The winch was by then in action and Pete Startup 230, Wyn Davies W7, Simon Minson SM and Eric Alston G29 set about rigging. By early afternoon the sky was full of gliders. 
Exe Estuary (John Pursey)
A few bravely went further afield as the strong cloud lines drew people westward. With turbulent air all the way up to cloud base it was obvious that lots of energy was in play. 

3-4 kt averages were possible with determined circling and the nature of the turbulence close to cloud base gave away the existence of a wave system which only Simon managed to exploit with a climb up to 5,200’ above North Hill in 2-3kts between the clouds. 
SM climbing up in front of the clouds (Simon Minson)
Mid-afternoon a passing shower line and squalls was ridden out by most but the next line looked even more energetic so a mass landing and rapid pack-up just about beat the showers - sorry to those who missed out on the flying today. 
Shower lines and squalls (John Pursey)
A packed clubhouse was abuzz with talk of the day and ever-modest Pete let slip that he had done the Club100 to Tiverton and Crewkerne at 71.5kph. 

 "Nice sky after the morning showers made this worth a go. Nice run from Chard into and out of Crewkerne as a nice street lined up properly but a bit of a grind back into the wind once it stopped again at Chard. Spent an hour failing to get into some local wave(well done SM), and by 15:30 the showers were back with a vengeance." - Pete Startup 230

A great achievement given the strength of the wind and hopefully a portent for the season to come. - John Pursey

Wednesday 13th March

The forecast for today was for very strong wind gusting to 30+ knots and maybe moderating later in the day, this put off some of our regulars, those who did turn up were treated to some flights on the simulator with John Sillett. Peter Warren meanwhile was chomping at the bit to make a start at flying, so  after much deliberation and weather checks we decided to fly.
John Sillett and Pete Warren  ready to go (John Street)
The wind was very strong and gusting but in its favour it was northwesterly, John Sillett and Peter Warren were first in the air, and after a briefing from John, Glen Turpin and Chris Warnes were next to fly.
 
It was obvious that the ridge was going to work, so with the two K21s soaring,  Pete Startup rigged his Discus in record time and joined them on the ridge.
 
Everyone who wanted to fly had over an hour of soaring in the character building conditions! - John Street.

Saturday 9th March

The day started cold and blustery with the prospect of a few showers. - As it was, only one shower passed by North Hill and caused little disruption to flying.
Good to see Lisa out  - Lovely hat
A nailed on Blue card day, the gusty surface wind was around 18kts to start with but it did moderate just a little about mid-afternoon. Early gusts up to 28kts kept everybody on their toes. Wind speed at flying height was around 35kts.

The upside was that the ridge was working very well in the westnorthwesterly wind and during the afternoon there were a fair few thermals, most of them difficult to use but some of surprising strength given the lack of sun on the ground. Best height was around 2,800' QFE.
James Hood and Stu Procter
Pete Startup in 230 had the longest flight (I'm getting desperate, long Winter!), at just over 3 hours before getting bored with not being able to go anywhere given the wind strength - unless you count Cullompton out and return as a x-c flight!

Richard Roberts and Roger Green from Brentor came to continue their BI training with Mark Courtney, several people had card check flights and a bit of mutual 2-seat flying happened as well. Dan Hender tried his best to empty the flying  account that Dad Rob had just topped up!

Sally Hender ran the LPV, Aston Key and Chris Mew were Duty Launch Marshalls, JP, James Flory, Stu Procter and Martin Woolner sat in the back and as always lots of others kept it all ticking along. Thanks to everybody today - a good day - 23 launches and nearly 15 hours soaring in total. - Pete Startup


Thursday 7th March

Another no-flying day on Wednesday, but Thursday looked hopeful, until you felt the force of the gusty wind....... so it was back to the DSGC Simulator. Thanks to Rob Hender for spending hours at the weekend resetting it. 

First up was Aston Key practising some BI patter, then Ray Dodd took over and decided to head for the coast with a successful field landing south of Honiton. 
Hans on task (with the task helpers on) Jill Harmer
Hans Jenssen completed the Tiverton - Wellington triangle with just a little 'miracle'. (Even Ron Johns agreed that this was a brilliant way of mentoring cross-country flying.)  John Borland had a quick go whilst we were trying to set up the TrackIR headband properly.  - more work needed! 
Pundits looking on (Jill Harmer)
After lunch Jonathan Erskine enjoyed 40 mins stick time perfecting his handling in the K21. Andy Davey and George Sanderson were busy fettling  Andy's new acquisition Libelle in the workshop.

So not a wasted day -  with the usual social banter at lunchtime (with Zoe in charge). - J&P

Saturday 2nd March

Calm before the storm  (James Hood)
It was great to see an enthusiastic Saturday crew get to work to beat the weather. The day started with a strong westsouthwest wind with a 1000ft cloud-base stopping full-height launches. The first three flights were charged at a discounted rate due to launching before 10 am! Rowan Smith (Duty Instructor) and John Pursey got to work on the list of training and card check flights.

Dan Hender (red one) gained the longest dual flight of the day by enjoying some ridgy thermally stuff. He'll need to be taking his lunch with him soon. Andrew Logan, Robert Lee and Mark Wallis all renewed their card ratings, ready for the forthcoming soaring season.

As the day continued the cloud-base rose allowing for 1700ft winch launches. The wind also went around to southsouthwest creating lively approaches and a blue card promotion.

David Clements, John Pursey and James Flory enjoyed junior flights with David Clements taking the crown for the longest flight of the day (30 mins). Ruth Comer had a real cable break and there was a short delay whilst a crew spliced the rope. Once fixed Ruth and John Pursey enjoyed playing in the dynamic sky.

Just as the afternoon kicked in, so did the harsh approach turbulence and Phil Morrison (afternoon Duty Instructor) called time and the kit was packed away.

A great sporty morning with 24 flights and 3 hours 40 mins total flight time, 3 card checks signed off and plenty of smiles had, all in short day. We most certainly maximised the opportunity of sky fun.

Additional thanks to Richard Harris for repairing the winch communications. - Rowan Smith

Pete Bennett and Jill Harmer at BGA Sporting Conference (Rachel Edwards BGA)
Meanwhile in Nottingham, Jill and Pete Harmer were joined by George Sanderson and Pete Bennett attending the BGA Sporting Conference. There was a wide range of interesting talks on airspace, instrumentation and weather including a great sales pitch for Denbigh by Chris Gill. There was also a good selection of new toys to play with. Congratulations to Pete Bennett who has been elected onto the BGA Executive Committee. - J&P