Wed 12th May

 On the days leading up to Wednesday, the weather forecast indicated it to be the worst day of the week with wall to wall rain and Thursday being the much better day. Come Tuesday evening they had swapped places and John Sillett gave a glimmer of hope for some flying, confirming we might get something out of the day first thing Wednesday morning - before the rain arrived.

A small but hopeful group gathered under a threatening sky which looked anything but hopeful, but nonetheless we setup the field for the light southwesterly crosswind. Along with John & Glenn a few of the Wednesday regulars got two K21's and a Junior out and with the launch point at the north east corner for a change it was only a short walk. The sky looked promising and the first flights just after 10:00 went straight into thermals which were generally kicking off at the southwest corner of the south ridge up to about 1400ft but Malcolm Vest along with Glenn managed one to over 2000ft. The Family West took to the skies in K21s, both Father and Son are showing good progress.

Hopeful launch point (Mark Layton)
 
Mean the Junior was being used by solo pilots with varying degrees of success, there being broken lift, possibly some wave and occasional quite strong thermals. After a short while the high cloud cover started to appear and those on the ground thought the opportunity for anything other than circuits had gone. It was not the case as the Junior flights had to be limited to 30 mins to allow everyone to fly - the usual suspects taking honours there.

 

Chris Warnes in Junior (Mark Layton)

The mixture of training and post-Covid check flights continued in the two-seaters until the flying list had been completed coinciding with the appearance of some drizzle and the long expected rain at just after 1500,  and we were all packed away before the heavier rain arrived. The initial hope was well rewarded! - (ed: Mashup blog) GlennTurpin & Mark Layton

Sun 9th May

Condor Racing

With no real flying this weekend due to weather, the regular Sunday evening Condor Racers took to the sunny skies over North Hill to try out the proposed new Club 100 task NH2- Knowstone - North Tawton - NH2. With Stewart busy at the moment, Dan set up the task for Chris to Host with a good variation in thermals. The conditions proved very realistic for Devon with some short-lived clouds and a fair amount of sink in between. The Club class grid consisted of some LS4a, ASW20 and Pegasus.

A few of the traces from Condor

As usual boy-racer Dan Hender was first to set off, followed by Mike Willmott, Simon Leeson, Chris Warnes and John Davies, Pete Harmer and Geoff Lawrence were trying the tactical late start (but this backfired slightly).

It was a fairly straightforward run into wind to the windfarm at Knowstone providing you didn't miss the newly forming cumuli, and similarly crosswind to North Tawton. The real fun came on judging the final glide to finish at NH2 above 2000ft QNH, with many decaying cumulus and large areas of sink. 

Dan judged it perfectly (just) with a very creditable 54mins (for Pete Startup to aim for), but word had been passed back to be cautious and the next group found very little to top up in on the way back and so they had to slow down significantly to make the finish height. 

Pete and Geoff benefited from the chat by deviating to follow a street back to Crediton, and getting high before setting off across the poor area.  It will be interesting to compare experiences form real flying. - J&P

Fri 7th May - Ad-Hoc Day

 Pundits Pete Startup and Phil Morrison had been watching the weather forecasts and called an Ad-Hoc day. Turnout was small but many members were watching their progress on Glide and Seek.

Aerotow (Mike Horwood)

 Task  300kms was set by Phil NH2 - HENSTRIDGE - EAGLESCOTT - LAUNCESTON - HEMBURY HILL - NHL 

"A real West Country day with a mix of sea air (lots, some helped, some hindered), spreadout and big gaps to cross. Some good high climbs compensated.  Sticky patch after Launceston and just when I got on glide and started to smoke the height off I remembered I'd started at c.5000' so had to slow down and follow the energy way offtrack to ensure getting home high enough not to incur a penalty - doh! Made absolutely the most out of the day as soon after we landed the sky filled in and died." - Pete Startup 230

"A club "ad hoc" day called more in desperation than expectation. My task estimated from the RASP predictions adopted by three fellow members and surprise surprise all completed. All in all well worth getting out of bed for a enjoyable flight back in time for an Otter!" - Phil Morrison DD3

JB also completed the 300kms task.

Eric completed  a 200kms  NHL - YEOVIL -  KNOWSTONE - OKEHAMPTON -  NHL and Rowan (who had a later start) attempted NHL- CREWKERNE - EAGLESCOTT - NHL

 "Crewkerne was beyond the sea breeze front, which was much lower than the average cloud-base. I should have turned Crewkerne but I guess I got used to operating at 5k and lowering myself to sub 3k felt like too much effort. Nice run up to Eaglescott, despite two seasoned Nomads giving it negative ratings on the radio." - Rowan Smith CLM. 

A big thank you to Robert Lee for tugging and Andy Williams who dropped in en-route to Bodmin for wing running.

Condor Racing

Meanwhile for those living in the virtual sky - various locations around the world  including UK, Greece, Cascade range, Alps, have been visited in the last couple of weeks including some training of aerotow rope breaks at North Hill and field landings.

Thurs 6th May

 Following another soarable day on Wednesday, the Thursday regulars arrived to a retreating occlusion   with the Low running along the channel and a cold northeasterly wind, the K21s and Perkoz were walked up to the west end but the forecast rain squall arrived before the Juniors could move, so they were temporarily popped back in the hangar just in case. 

The wind was changing (Mike Horwood)

Once the rain had cleared, getting away was a bit hit and miss, with Pete Startup leading the way and completing 2 Club 100s. Some Club gliders managed to break through the low level turbulence to get some soaring, but after a change of ends the conditions perked up for a short while until the sea air took over. 

The nice soarable sky (Mike Sloggett)

 Well done to all those who completed their recency check flights, and sorry that we didn't manage to get through all those on the 2-seater list. 

Congrats to Charlie (Mark Courtney)

Congratulations to competing Junior members -  Charlie Stuckey for completing his Cross-country endorsement with Mark, (with Josh Funnell last week).  - J&P


Sun 2nd May

What a turn out! Lots of eager faces turned up for what looked like may be the best day of the weekend? With all five airworthy club gliders brought out from the hangar and a number of private gliders towed out, (KMV, DG1, FUN, FMS) the first launch went at just before 10am, for that elusive discounted launch!

Grid forming (Mike Sloggett)

By 11am (and more private owners) we had twelve launches, but with an average of 6 mins a flight, there was a constant queue of at least six gliders! The winch driver and cable retrieve (Dave Perriam and Oscar Leeson respectively) definitely had their work cut out!

Before the rain (Mike Sloggett)

 A genuine cable break at 11.30 stalled proceedings, but by this point the aircraft were staying up, so the ones already in the air could continue to soar without feeling guilty!
At about 12.30 the rain arrived, which delayed play considerably.

Avoiding the showers (Mike Sloggett)

 Flying resumed at 1.45, with the instructors working their way through the rather long flying list. Flights however remained fairly short for the rest of the day.


A total of 54 flights, a few of which were aerotows, which put a smile on Peter Warren’s face! A big thanks to everyone who helped, particularly Oscar Leeson who did cable retrieve all day, without flying (with the help of Louis later in the day). - Sally Hender



Sat 1st May

A relatively pessimistic forecast for Saturday earlier in the week, became more promising as the week progressed and as it was, the day started with generally good conditions for gliding, albeit with some showers forecast for lunchtime onwards.  A gentle easterly breeze meant setting up at the western side of the field, allowing us to see the excellent work completed by club volunteers in levelling and rolling the area in the Southwest corner of the field ready for seeding – looking great and a sterling effort from all involved.

First off the blocks just after 10 o’clock was K-21 ‘KEK’ with instructor James Flory and student Andy Batchelor, in a series of 3 flights that ultimately led to Andy being sent solo.  This was Andy’s ‘second’ first solo in a winch-launched glider, having had a short break of around 27 years from gliding and returning to the sport last Autumn, being enthused to take up gliding again when son Josh joined the club.  Glad to say that 2 solo launches were followed by 2 satisfactory landings!  

Congratulations to Andy on resolo (Josh Batchelor)
 

Instructional duties were shared between John Pursey, James Flory and Glenn Turpin on a series of training and check flights that included pressing the Pawnee into service for aerotow duties.  The Saturday crew had the luxury of using the new launch control vehicle which is a significant improvement on the previous temporary arrangements – an outstanding project from those club members who contributed to creating this excellent facility.  James Flory wasted no time at all in putting the integral classroom to use, delivering a whiteboard brief  on spinning.

James Flory using the integral lecture facility (Andy Batchelor)

 Just after lunch, the wind spun round to the west, necessitating a change to the eastern end of the field.  This change precipitated the ‘how many people does it take to level up the new launch control vehicle’ competition.  The answer seemed to be 1, but with 7 or 8 other members involved in studious contemplation! 

Technique to get it level (Andy Batchelor)

 Shortly after 15:00, the rain arrived,albeit later than forecast so with 28 launches completed, and sadly before some members who had contributed significantly to the days’ efforts had chance to fly, the aircraft were returned to the hanger.  Meanwhile, well done to David Cowley for passing his Bronze exam with flying colours. - Andy Batchelor


Thurs 29th April

With no flying on Wednesday, the flying list was long from early on. There was a small delay whilst waiting for the temperature to warm up a bit, and everyone was treated to a briefing and demonstration of how the new Launch Control would operate. 

What a great example of Club member skills to design, manufacture and kit out our new Launch Control following the great service that Mike Robinson's LPV has given the Club, but it was time to move on... 

New Launch Control (Rob Hender)

 The new Launch Control was used all day successfully on its initial proving trial, and will be in full service very soon - Well done  and  a big Thank you to everyone who has contributed. 

 

Blue skies initially (Mike Sloggett)

The cumulus clouds that were initially out of reach started to form over the airfield in time for the first launch, with the first couple of K21 launches soaring, but after this soaring flights from the winch were rare. 

Check flights both winch and aerotow continued throughout the day in all 4 two-seaters and the Junior was soaring in the middle of the day. Wyn Davies in W7, Eric Alston in G29 and Phil and Nick in DD3 all had good flights, with DD3 reporting convergences from both coasts and snow showers.

Congrats to Josh  (Mark Courtney)

Congratulations to Josh Funnell for completing his cross-country endorsement with a nav flight with Mark Courtney in Rotax Falke.

Thanks to everyone for a pleasant day back in the air with 29 winch launches and 10 aerotows. - J&P


Sun 25th April

 First thing the strength of the wind was such that any immediate plans to fly were delayed, in the hope that the forecast might be wrong, and the wind reduce in strength, to allow flying to take place later in the day. 

Woodland clearing stumps (Mike Sloggett)

 As ever there is always a ‘to do’ list at the Club, so whilst some members worked on continuing the clearance of the woodland area, others took down the tarpaulins in the MT hangar to allow investigation of the roof and related necessary repairs.

Removing the tarpaulins (Mike Sloggett)
 

At lunchtime and with the wind strength showing no sign of reducing, with gusty 23 knots being seen on the Clubhouse anemometer, the decision was made that there would be no flying activities today. - Mike Sloggett

Condor Racing

During the week, the Condor Racers had visited Peru, Greece and other countries to fly, 


 On Friday afternoon, there were some more simulated launch failures  at North Hill this time with an easterly wind and with Dan and Stewart's script to randomise the time before release - this worked really well.


For Sunday evening, Stewart had set a tricky little task tiptoeing to Tiverton and back, but the thermals kicking off the ridge were few and far between. Several pilots made attempts to get to Tiverton and practiced field landings, but well done to Stewart who was the only successful pilot to get back as well. - J&P

Sat 24th April

A small but enthusiastic group of around a dozen Club members arrived at North Hill early Saturday to be greeted with stunning, clear blue skies, but hopes of long hours in the air were tempered by the very strong, gusty easterly wind.  Both K-21s and a Junior were prepared for flight, but with a combination of blue card conditions and a paucity of members able to take advantage of single-seat flying in the conditions, the Junior was returned to the hanger.  The flying day continued with just a pair of K-21s, with the first aircraft in the air just before 0930.

The day continued with a mixture of training flights and card checks, with an ebb and flow of numbers as people came and went – some to fly, some just popping in to say hello, with Club members very obviously enjoying being able to meet up again – albeit in an outdoor socially distanced fashion - after the enforced Covid lay-off.  James Flory, as Duty Instructor, took the lion’s share of the instructional training flights, supported by John Pursey,  Stuart Procter and Pete Harmer at various points throughout the day, with Sally Hender, James Smart and Jill Harmer looking after launch control duties.  As the morning progressed, we were rewarded with an increase in the availability of lift.  Although there was some debate among the seasoned veterans over the actual origin of said lift, it was nevertheless gratefully received by all who were fortunate enough to experience it.  Dan Hender, flying with CFI Stuart, blagged the longest flight of the day at 47 minutes, and several other Club members were lucky enough to have flights of over 35 minutes.A short period of concern ensued when an Air Ambulance flew directly over the airfield at around 500’ from south to north, directly across the launch run, without any warning or communication, illustrating the continuing need for awareness, vigilance and, above all, lookout.

Rob Hender and Pete Harmer (Jill Harmer)

 By mid-afternoon, the wind had abated a little, but veered round to become a southerly cross wind so, with all who wanted to fly having flown, the flying day was declared complete with the last launch at around 1645 with 26 launches completed over the day.  Overall, a very good day for those that were there, and as ever, very grateful thanks to all those who worked hard to made the flying possible. - Andy and Josh Batchelor (first-time bloggers)


Thurs 22nd April

It was almost a repeat of last Thursday, but the easterly wind had a bit of south in it, it was a bit warmer, and practically not soarable.  There was another stone-picking exercise to start and yet again a long flying list.

Stone-picking (Mike Horwood)

With all four two-seaters in use all day, we made good progress with return to currency flights, but as with last week, unfortunately a few members missed out on flying - hopefully we will be back to normal soon, please bear with us. 

Latest area to be levelled (Mike Horwood)

Late morning, Chris Wool managed a short soaring flight in DG505 with the help of some  brief sea-air convergence, but it was short-lived. 

During the afternoon, the winch-driver George Sanderson spotted a small problem (noise) with the winch, whilst aerotows continued, swift investigations and analysis occurred and Chairman Nick and Stirling dashed off to a bearing shop in Exeter, and it was all refitted by close of play. 

Thanks to everyone for mucking in - great teamwork as always. - J&P