Saturday 9th December

The day before the storm was calm, cloudy and cold, and Junior members Reuben, Josh and Ellie were keen to get some more solos in the K6 DRE, while Ross was consolidating his recent solo in K21. Alan Turner hogged the Junior, and DG505 was used for mutual flying and a Spanish visitor. 
Tuggie Pete Harmer from DG505 (Lisa Humphries)
New quarterly members Harry and Mike Rigby arrived and decided to get some extra sticktime by having aerotows.  
Ellie in her 64year old friend (Neil Carter)
Well done to Ellie who completed her 50th solo flight just over 1 year from her first. -  A perfect winter's day for early solo flying -27 flights in total.  Thanks to Cheryl for decorating the Christmas tree and making the Clubhouse look festive- J&P

Wednesday 6th December

After a slow start due to low cloud and the warm comfort of the clubhouse and after much persuading, we eventually managed to extradite the Wednesday crew after convincing them the wisdom of getting the gliders out of the hangar.
Low cloud delayed the start (John Street)
 The conditions at first seemed quite benign but as the day progressed things became quite lively, the three launches before lunch all found good lift on the South ridge.
Discussions with new Chairman Nick presiding (John Street)
After an early lunch due to some light rain, the afternoon started with low cloud once again, as luck would have it the cloud lifted enough to work the South ridge and all the flights were in the region of 30min, all who wanted fly flew and flying stopped at dusk. Unfortunately the conditions precluded flying today's Trial flight. - John Street.

Sunday 3rd December

Not many members at the club today. Low and dark clouds at first but with indications that it may brighten up. Pete Stapleton arrived from Newquay in his Cessna to do his Tug Duty so it only seemed right that Ron decided it was aerotow only.

A moderate north wind produced rotor low down on the ridge but this gave way to smoother air above. Dave Cowley and Ron Johns took the first launch and released north of Blackborough. Andrew Logan took advantage of the day in FZF for a pleasant aerotow (unfortunately not high enough to qualify for the special winter refresher package. He released  further north abeam Uffculme and stayed for a time in wave. The K21 returning to base, Andrew would have liked to stay for longer enjoying the skyscape above the clouds but the hole started to fill in.
Andrew Logan in the Junior enjoying a wave slot.(Andrew Logan)
There were two other flights but the deteriorating weather meant that everything was put away in time for lunch. - Andrew Logan

Saturday 2nd December

After the clear blue skies of the last few days Saturday dawned rather grey; typical it’s always nicer when you’re at work!  But on the bright side the temperature was a little, just a little warmer and the wind was a light west north westerly. The hanger was soon unpacked and the ground equipment made ready. 
By the time we were ready to fly we had an impressive 5 gliders on the flight line; DG505, K21, K13, Junior and K6. Martin Woolner as Duty Instructor then took on the challenge of working out who was doing what in what glider. After a little discussion a cunning plan was soon put into place and flying began. 
Martin started with Josh Funnell in the K13. Josh was keen to solo this so that he could covert into the junior member's K6. Our CFI Stu Procter took the DG505 with one of our new Junior members Jack Raybould and James Flory took the K21 with David Buss. 
Mollie helps out as Duty Launch Marshall (Lisa Humphries)
The cloud base was initially low around 1100 feet due to the orographic effect of the ridge, but soon lifted to around 2000 feet and then higher as the day progressed. It’s fair to say there was little opportunity for soaring flight, but the conditions made the flying silky smooth and provided the ideal conditions for type conversion.
Josh was soon solo in the K13 executing some very nice landings, before moving across to solo in the K6. Meanwhile Ellie Carter was driving the winch and providing some equally silky smooth launches. Simon Leeson flew the only trial lesson flight of the day with James Hood providing the motive power in the tug. 
Junior members kept the K6 busy (Neil Carter)
Flying continued through the day without a lunch break with (amongst others) Ross Pratt adding some more solos in K21, Dave Woodward and Allan Turner flying the Junior and Josh, Charlie Stuckey, Oscar Leeson and Ellie flying the K6 under the watchful eye of Pete Harmer.  Reuben Buss finished his currency flying with Martin in the K13 and soon re-joined the the K6 flying gang; a popular aircraft - the K6, it's great to see our junior members being able to enjoy flying it. 
Late afternoon aerotow James and Lisa (James Flory)
As the day began to draw in James Flory and Lisa Humphries had a pleasant aerotow in the DG505, followed by Mike Willmott with Rowan Smith, the afternoon duty instructor having the last aerotow in the K21. Karen King and Rowan then had the last winch launch in the K21 around 16:00. 
Overall a really good day with all members flying. Congratulations to Josh for soloing in the K6 and to Reuben for re-soloing in it. Just goes to show winter days may not offer long flights, but they do offer a great opportunity to try something new and to stay current. 38 flights in total (10 in K6 DRE)  - James Flory

Day 8 - O/R to Poland

With the weather looking reasonable if not spectacular, John and I helped the local members get various gliders out of the LGC hangar in optimism of some gliding taking place.

The forecast suggested that low cloud might be an issue but as the launch point was set up for winch launching the skies got lighter and lighter with soon a high enough cloud base for aerotows to also be planned.
John Borland adds Dunstable to his site list (Mike Sloggett)
John was first on the flying list and after a briefing on various aspects of the site and local area John was soon being winched airborne with an LGC instructor.
Time to head home (Mike Sloggett)
After being shown the 'Lion enclosure', fortunately from the air, it was soon time for John to get back into circuit and have the fun of landing into the Dunstable dip which he did perfectly. And then we decided it was time to head home  to the South West. - Mike Sloggett

And a big thank you from DSGC to Mike, John and Vicky for their epic road trip - which we have all enjoyed hearing about.

Brrr - p-p-parham & p-p-poland


Some of the North Hill Nomads in the shape of 230 Pete, SM Simon, W7 Wyn, 611 Matt and DD3 with Phil, Nick, JB and Pete Smith decided that Parham looked the place to be today with a brisk Northerly wind forecast so some of us travelled down last night and stayed locally, some made a crack of dawn start and drove down in the morning.
Parham grid (Simon Minson)

The day didn't start well - it was freezing cold and we rigged with low cloud and spits of icy drizzle mixed in but with the promise of improving conditions we carried on regardless (a bit like the Captain of the Titanic!). First launch 09:00 sharp - 800 foot aerotows.
Great pic of the South Downs (Simon Minson)
Ditchling Beacon looking South(W7 Wyn)

The ridge was working from end to end from the word go and just got better as the day went on with gin clear viz and even the odd thermal - even the normally testing gaps were easy to cross today. We completed tasks of around 350km + the extra 60-ish kms to get to/from the start and finish points for flights of over 400kms. DD3 did several trips along the ridge with a couple of crew swaps along the way. - Pete Startup

Day 7 of the Out and Return to Poland

With our ferry back to the UK not until early afternoon John, Vicky and I decided to leave the LGC K21 trailer in the hotel car park (suitably wheel clamped as John has become very accomplished at doing over the last week or so) and go into Dunkirk for a walk around this historic town. No surprise that there are numerous reminders of the events of 1940 on every street.
Walk around Dunkirk (Mike Sloggett)
Then it was back to the hotel to collect the K21 trailer and head to the ferry terminal.
Farewell to Europe (Mike Sloggett)
After a pleasant journey back to the UK across the Channel we were soon off the ferry mid-afternoon and wending our way around the M25 to the London Gliding Club at Dunstable - several hours later, and with only one delay of any note due to an accident further up the motorway, we arrived at Dunstable early evening.

And so ended our road trip driving to Poland and back, taking DSGC K21 KEK and bringing LGC K21 FYF back - over 2000 miles across five different countries, a journey which had not been started this time last week!

John, Vicky and I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to complete this journey - a great experience full of many memories!

Thank You to all the readers of our journey blog(s). - Mike Sloggett

Thursday 30th November

It was hoped that the showery convergence originating in the Irish Sea would stay to the west of North Hill, but the High pressure had just moved slightly and there was quite a lot of unusable cloud. The wind was northerly and once again the solo flying list had to be limited to the more experienced pilots. The list for training and check flights progressed with Tuggie Mark helping out Pete and Peter with the 3 two-seaters available. (Thanks to Ian for completing the Annual and the Wednesday crew for rigging HCX).

Stopped  for lunch for everyone to warm up (Dave Clements)
For about an hour, there was an opportunity for some extended flights with Nigel Everett in LRD managing the longest flight of 18mins using the North ridge and managing to get back.
After lunch, there was more of the same with a short hail shower just before the cloud disappeared back to the west. Unfortunately the wind conditions got worse, the crosswind picked up and increased gusts made an easy decision to pack up early, sorry a few missed out on flying.
Clear skies eventually (Jill Harmer)

In the evening, there was news that some of the expedition to Parham had arrived and made it to the pub - hoping for a good day on the South Downs tomorrow.
The advance party (Matt Williamson)

Day 7 - Road Trip to Poland and back

After a long day yesterday we allowed ourselves a slightly later start this morning and over breakfast in the hotel we looked at the various routes to Dunkirk.

Snow on most routes (Mike Sloggett)
The routes were all very similar in terms of distance and travel time so we decided that we would add Holland to the ‘countries visited’ list and planned our route accordingly - snow of varying degrees was being forecast for various parts of West Europe and we were aware that the UK was forecast to have snow down the East coast which might well make it across to Europe.

A light snow shower had started as we left the Hotel car park and for the first 150 miles or so we drove through countryside where snow had either happened already or was steadily falling as we drove along the autobahns of Germany.

Still going (Mike Sloggett)

We continued our journey steadily but surely through Germany into Holland, Belgium and finally France with the kilometres travelled increasing all the time - by the time we arrived in Dunkirk late evening the distance driven to date from North Hill to Poland and back is just over 2100 miles, across five different European countries!

And tomorrow we catch the ferry back to the UK early afternoon heading for London Gliding Club at Dunstable to return their now shiny K21. - Mike Sloggett

Wednesday 29th November

It was certainly a day to get wrapped up against the elements, the wind was a strengthening Northerly and with an overnight frost, the resulting wind chill factor made it quite bracing to say the least!
Interesting cloud formations (John Street)
 The DG505 the K13 and a Junior were soon at the launch point a couple of launches later with poor height achieved we decided to look at launching from the Southwest corner. As so often with a strong Northerly it is difficult to judge which end to fly from. It seemed whilst standing in the Southwest corner there was an advantage to fly from this end with a slight Easterly in it,-- so the gliders were flown up to that launch point.
The launches and landings were quite interesting in the gusty conditions, one practice launch failure was especially interesting as the cable was reluctant to release from the K13!
There were no trial lessons today and most of the flights were short except for Roly's epic 19min on the North ridge -  it seems obvious this white gloves gave him a distinct advantage over the rest of us.
A team was busy rigging K21 HCX after its Annual (thanks Ian) and it will be ready for flying on Thursday. - John Street.

Day 6 - Road trip to Poland

So, having enjoyed our stay in Poland it was a question of an early alarm call today ahead of going up to the workshop at Zar Airfield to collect the London Gliding Club trailer and related paperwork for their K21. In leaving the hotel we discovered that overnight snow had turned the area around the hotel into a winter wonderland.... 
Zar airfield looking different after the snow (Mike Sloggett)
At the workshop we had an opportunity to see a K21 from Holland which has had a week of the existing paint being taken off entirely by hand ahead of the next stages of the refurbishing including repainting of the glider top to bottom or should that be wing to wing...
Refinishing (Mike Sloggett)
And then it was time to leave - as the kilometres up into the centre of Poland went by it was evident that the overnight snow had been widespread but overall the driving conditions were good.
Driving conditions were good (Mike Sloggett)
Joining the A4 heading West the snowy countryside steadily turned green and our journey out of Poland continued, well on into Germany and with around 490 miles of driving completed between John and Mike we decided to stay overnight at Eisenach leaving us with just over 400 miles to Dunkirk to travel on Thursday ahead of our ferry crossing just after lunch on Friday. - Mike Sloggett

Day 5 - Road trip to Poland

After discussion between the three of us looking at various potential destinations for today, John declared an ‘out and return’ to Kraków, circa 150 km in total.
Wave clouds (Mike Sloggett)
After a very pleasant drive to the North East, John, Vicky and I spent a good few hours in Kraków including a visit to the Christmas market in the main square.
Day out (Mike Sloggett)
And then it was back to the Hotel for our final evening and to plan for the first day of our return journey tomorrow - with an eventual plan to cover around 500/550 miles of the journey through Poland and on into Germany, leaving us with around 350 miles to travel to Dunkirk on Thursday. - Mike Sloggett

Day 4 - Road Trip to Poland

We started the day by returning to the workshop at Zar Airfield to handover the K21 and related paperwork and then we were shown around all the various departments of the workshop - at every turn and corner more and more gliders were being worked on in various stages of refurbishing and in some cases major repairs. And that did not include our visit to other buildings down the road where even more gliders were in storage, either awaiting collection or to be used for spares!

Having checked over the London Gliding Club trailer, into which was already loaded a shiny refurbished K21 ready for rerun to the UK, and ahead of us towing it back from Wednesday onwards we then considered our plan for the day. We had established that as with most gliding clubs we should have been at Zar Airfield on a previous day (Saturday) when there had been wave flights to several thousand metres, but with no wave on the forecast there was unlikely to be any gliding today.

So, with google maps out we found that the SZD factory, where the DSGC Perkoz is being built, is located around 25 miles to the North of where we are - therefore an easy decision to try and find that factory and to see how the new Club glider is getting along.
Momento from the visit? (Mike Sloggett)
Bearing in mind our unannounced and unplanned visit it was much appreciated that we were warmly welcomed by Andrzej the joint designer of the Perkoz, and General Manager - who then kindly gave us over an hour of his time, taking us to the main factory location a few kilometres down the road and showing us the process of building a glider from start to finish. 
Checking up on the build of our Perkoz (Mike Sloggett)
 And then we saw the DSGC glider which has had the main components built and is now awaiting the cockpit to be fitted out, after which the glider will be painted, test flown and then returned to the factory for final painting and finishing touches to be completed.
Ready for cockpit to be fitted out (Mike Sloggett)
As with the workshop at Zar Airfield the factory had numerous gliders either being built, being refurbished or being repaired - one having been sent across to Poland from the US!

We then visited Bielsko-Biała Aeroklub and found the gliding club there. We said “Hallo” (one of the easier Polish words to learn) to a local glider pilot and under a bright sunny sky, with evident wave clouds not that far from the airfield and with a good weather forecast for tomorrow, we asked whether there might be any gliding available. The local glider pilot said ‘No chance, we had such a good weekend......I was only on aerotow for a few minutes before I found the wave right above the airfield, and climbed to 6000 metres......”

Clearly John and I should have been there yesterday! - Mike Sloggett

Sunday 26th November

Myself and Sam Flory arrived nice and early at the club, expecting it to be busy. The weather was looking promising ahead of the forecast rain later in the afternoon with clear skies and even a little weak sunshine, although it was very cold! 
However, the club house was empty; possibly either due to the effects of the AGM the night before or just the chilly conditions. Not daunted we took the opportunity to discuss the spinning exercise Sam needed to complete. 

Soon after Peter Field the duty instructor arrived followed by John Sillett and new member Mark. With slowly increasing numbers by about 09:00 we had enough members to start getting the ground kit and gliders out. By around 10:00 we were prepping the field for flight. The  instructors were now outnumbering the trainees 3 to 1! 
Instructors hunting in packs for the elusive student (James Flory)
Flying started with Robert Lee towing myself and Sam to 3000ft for the planned spinning exercises. The air was crystal clear and as smooth as a mill pond, beautiful. Peter Field then took over and started on the very short training list with some good flights for Mark. 
Peter Field flying with Mark (James Flory)

By this stage the instructors were taking it turn to fly the Junior with the promise of the ridge working in the light westerly wind. Glenn Turpin was the first to try. Martin Woolner then followed and took the prize for the longest Junior flight at 19 mins, despite John Street’s best efforts to beat him. James Hood took a flight in the DG with Michael Harris, and John Street and Peter Warren took R37 up to explore the conditions on the ridge. 

By this stage both motor gliders were active and for a while we had three gliders the tug and two Falkes airborne. John Sillett was able to complete the scheduled mile high trial lesson and Tim Petty took on his new role as membership secretary to good effect showing a prospective new member around who had visited during the open weekend. Flying continued into the afternoon until everyone who wanted to fly had and the approaching rain began to be felt. A cold day but a great opportunity to stay current and enjoy some very pleasant flying; soon be time to invest in the Treasurers winter offer! Thanks to all those who helped and ensured that we all flew. - James Flory

Day 3 - Road Trip to Poland

When we left our overnight hotel in Erfurt in central Germany we were pleased to see that John’s Discovery and the K21 trailer were just where we left them late last night.
Just where we left it (Mike Sloggett)
A quick stop for coffee and croissants, as well as another tank full of diesel, and we were soon on our way to Poland, our end destination still some 450 miles away. As with yesterday John and Mike took turns with driving and navigating and again kilometre by kilometre the journey continued on through Germany and into Poland.

And by mid evening we were very close to Zar Airfield - it was now a question of finding it! Despite our mistrust of the satnav which was encouraging us to drive into a destination half way up the side of a rather large mountain the sight of various glider trailers confirmed we had found what we were looking for. With the K21 trailer unhitched and secured for the night, the next destination was our hotel for the next few nights.
Zar airfield half way up the mountain (Mike Sloggett)
Just a few miles down the road from Zar Airfield we had a very pleasant evening meal in the hotel with some local beers and wine refreshing us suitably from the last couple of days’ journey. - Mike Sloggett