Thursday 18th April

After some overnight rain, a bright blue sky and sunshine beckoned, but the fresh north-easterly wind was bitterly cold - back to coats, gloves and hats!!!!
There were tantalising hints of lift - maybe wave, maybe thermal, but totally unusable and large areas of heavy sink moved around the field all day. Only two flights managed slightly more than extended circuits Robin W-F in Junior, Heather and Pete in K21.

The Club will be open for the extended weekend, hopefully the weather will allow the Inter-Club League to take place on Saturday and Sunday.

Wednesday 27th April

Cloudy start, which eventually cleared into thick haze. Wind still from the north east.
Launch failure practice and circuits were the order of the day. Matt W spotted a Red Kite on the south ridge.

Thanks to Pete St for work on K21 canopy locks, nose & tailwheels and the Pawnee PTT button.

Bank Holiday Monday 25th April

Blue again, north easterly wind, initially a very strong inversion at 1400ft, solar heating eventually lifted the inversion so there was some soaring under haze caps and in the blue by John P and then Henry in the Junior. Thermals were too small for the K21.

Easter Sunday 24th April

Blue again, and north north easterly wind, mainly sinky circuits with one soaring flight from an aerotow - Martin LS3 KMV.There were several trial lessons and we gave out lots of leaflets for the Open weekend.

Saturday 23rd April

A lovely sunny start but with a very slack wind which proved to be quite a fickle problem as it turned out to be downwind at whichever end of the field we set up and massive sink in the low circuits. With a consistent north westerly wind forecast we sat it out until the cu started popping irresistibly. Phil M ASH25(711), Roly Kestrel(523), Mike Fitz (Junior), Phil G (Pilatus), Simon L (Junior) all had good local soaring flights until some flashing and banging started from the rapidly towering CBs and we had to call them all down. The airfield luckily avoided all the rain but we understand that Honiton 4 miles south got a soaking.

PS Inter-Club League at North Hill next weekend, Andrew still needs volunteers for Pundit on Saturday and help with the met. and task-setting.

Good Friday 22nd April

Very few members arrived to fly, but the day was not wasted as work was completed on:
- tow rope stop on retrieve land rover
- new cables on the SupaCat ready for our Open Weekend next month
- car park drains
thanks to all the helpers including Les, Alan, Roly, Dave C.

Thursday 21st April

Weather - Same again, very few people apart from the Thursday regulars, welcome to new members Jess and Peter. There was a short hour of soaring in the blue mid-afternoon, the convergence set up just out of reach to the north east. There were two trial lessons.

Wednesday 20th April (updated)

A bright, warm but hazy day with a fresh breeze swinging from north east to south east requiring a change of launch points after lunch. Circuits for most of the day, but it suddenly became quite soarable at 4:00pm. The three private owners had long flights in the local conditions. The conditions were so good that it tempted Mike (DFK) to land in a field near Taunton. -oops, sorry this was just a rumour -Mike actually turned near Merryfield under the raining convergence and got back safely.
Congratulations to Rhodri for his first solo - completing the Davies family trio.

Sunday 17th April

Day started bright and sunny with a slack south-easterly breeze. All the Club fleet (except one Junior)and several private gliders were out to play. By lunchtime it looked as if the sea air had reached us from the south, with plenty of lively cumulus to the north. Much local soaring was had in the poor visibility, max heights 4000ft QFE, only one cross-country with Pete and Jill taking OL to Henstridge and back. It became quite soarable in the cloudless sea air in the late afternoon.

Saturday 16th April

A day of light winds and sinky circuits with just a little hint of soaring. A very quiet day with numbers swelled by visitors for trial flights. Jonathan was cleared solo on aerotow.

Thursday 14th April

There were few people there early in the low cloud and drizzle but slowly more arrived, it dried out and we were able to launch to 800 ft by late morning, in the gentle southerly crosswind. After lunch conditions continued to improve, until late afternoon when there was very little cloud left. There was virtually no soaring, but the few of us enjoyed many circuits.

Wednesday 13th April

With a poor forecast, few members turned up but we managed some reasonable flights in the fresh S/W wind. The forecasted rain arrived after lunch causing an early finish. - J St

Tuesday 12th April

Congratulations to Matt on his Diamond Distance 500km epic flight Nympsfield - Arundell - Shrivenham - Cray Reservoir - Nympsfield.
Pilots's comments from the BGA ladder
What an epic day! Muchos Kudos have to go to Trevor for his inspired task setting and to the group of Nympsfielders (Trevor, Steve, Greg etc) who had volunteered to come and fetch me if I ended up in a field, what more could a visiting pilot ask for! And they even laid on stunning conditions. Great climbs and cloud bases up to 6000' asl enabled a dawdler like me to complete my first 500. The grin is ultra cheesy!

Monday 11th April Nympsfield

With the forecast showing a front passing at midday and the wind veering to 290° at 15 kt Pete and I eagerly took up Trevor Stuarts offer of a lead and follow exercise which would allow us to fly from Nympfield to Bath race course and then to Lower Clopton at the north end of the Cotswolds and then back to Nym for a task distance of 179 km. Having arrived and rigged by 10am, many cups of tea were had waiting for the front to go through eventually, at 1430, but once it did conditions were booming, so much so that Andy Davis arrived and did the task in his Duo Discus using the ridge for a bit and thermals for the rest.

Trevor zooming along in negative flap
Visibility was excellent and the views in the afternoon sun were stunning.

Pete cruising in 230

As we were packing up, the forecast for tomorrow was looking awesome and there was even talk of setting a big task. Should we stay or should we go?

Portmoak 2011, Achievements

Trip attendees

Mark Courtney
Nigel Everett
Henry Ford
Ian Foster
Nick Harrison
Nick Hine
James Hood
Ian Hunt
Dan Johns
Ron Johns
Robert Lee
Simon Minson
Andrew Mugleston
Mike Sloggett
Rowan Smith
Paul Summers

Pilots achievements

Henry Ford, Silver Height
James Hood, Silver Distance
Rowan Smith, Silver Duration
(List not complete)

Other progress

Ian Hunt, First solo in Junior away from North Hill
Mike Sloggett, Signed off for front and rear seat of DG505, first flight in a Discus
Paul Summers, First flight in '477' away from North Hill


JZK, DG-505
KHA, SZD Junior

Days flown

Every day from Saturday, 2nd to Friday, 8th April except Monday.

Sunday, 10th April

The club was not busy due to the Portmoak pilots having a day off from flying.

Very blue and not very windy at the west end of the field where most people stayed sitting in the sun. However it was at the launchpoint at the east end where there was a slight breeze. No thermals all day until late afternoon when one or two popped up. John Street got to 2,700 ft in a K21, a couple of other pilots joined the thermal.

Saturday 9th April

A beautiful day for sitting outside the clubhouse in the warm sunshine and watching pilots struggle with the hefty sink in the circuit and quite turbulent approaches! The expedition members returned from Portmoak with many a tale to tell. Full list of stats and achievements coming soon.

Portmoak, Friday 8th April

The forecast for Friday was for the winds to slacken as the day went on. In the real world the wind stayed brisk until evening.

We all turned up at the club to see the Bishop shrouded in a wave bar. North Hill pilots and local club pilots flocked to soar the orographic wave. The climbs were frequently to 3,000 ft but were difficult due to the wave switching on and off. Over 14 gliders could be counted at one time.

Gradually as height was gained, people pushed out into the valley North of West Lomond to contact wave, some were successful climbing to over 9,000 ft.

Henry tried for a Gold height falling short at 8,500 ft bagging a Silver height instead (Silver now complete). In the same wave bar was Rob Lee, Paul Summers (477), Simon Minson.

Nigel Everett and Ian Hunt both soloed in the Junior getting to grips with the local ridge. It was Ian's first solo away from North Hill, where he enjoyed an hour.

Portmoak, Thursday 7th April

The day that promised 1000 km flights turned out to be less than expected. Ron with a planned 300 km, was first away in the wave in the ASH with Ian Hunt, ran the ridge for two beats and stepped out into the wave. Simon Minson and Mark (with Nick H) delcared 300 km, all climbed to 10,000 ft before setting off. Due to 8/8ths cloud over the mountains, all three aborted their tasks, they enjoyed wave flights over the Creef and Pitlockery area at 9,000 ft.

Back at Portmoak, the rest of the crew were struggling to contact the wave. The hill was always a reliable save so that continued attempts could be made.

Ron returned in the ASH for another P2, this time taking Chris Davidson (Dasher's son) and took him over to the mountains over Loch Tay for another high wave flight.

When the group found wave, Jim-bob set off on a 50 km task, reached the turn point and radioed to Simon Minson that he was at 1,500 and would be in a field soon. Mark and Henry to the rescue, in the mean time James managed a climb away to 9,000 ft getting halfway back to base. James landed at Angus gliding club where three members (of the 10) helped derig. These three guys were repairing their winch ... since last October. However, when fully functional it still isn't powerful enough to launch them into the regular wave (How frustrating!)

Rowan got his Silver duration, five Hours, mainly on the ridge. Paul summers had over six hours in his Cirrus. Nick Harrison had an evening flight up to 7,600 ft (Personal solo best). The whole group could stay airborne for as long as they needed or until the hunger drove then to land.

A truly awesome day, with climbs to over 10,000 ft over Loch Leven common.

Thursday 7th April

Bright sunny morning, and set up for the forecast north westerly, however the northerly crosswind persisted until lunchtime. Only low launches and sink all round the circuit tested some of the trainees. Eventually the wind backed westerly improving the conditions. A few 30 minute flights just before lunch and at the end of the day. There were some visitors from The Park, Forest Glade and Sacramento. Sounds like Portmoak had a super day - blow-by-blow accounts to follow.

Portmoak, Wednesday 7th April

A very late start due to rain in the morning. The forecast clearance became later and later. Just before lunch the drizzle stopped, the North Hill mob were found to be shammying and readying the DG-505 and Junior.

Dan Johns re-rigged his ASW20, the Cirrus brothers, Paul Summers and Muggles, readied their gliders.

After lunch, with the cloud barely off the hill, two seat launches started. MC instructing with Mike Sloggett (Who flew up from Exeter last night) waited until the course instructor had dipped his toe in the water before heading for the ridge, with the cloudbase barely above the top. Mike was duely cleared to fly P1 from the front of the DG-505. He handled 40 kt winds on approach, that was good enough.

Next in the hot seat was Ian Hunt for more extreme ridge soaring with the cloud base gradually lifting. Within 30 minutes conditions were suitable for the single seaters to launch.

Simon Minson went straight for the ridge, then stepped out into wave and eventually climbed to 14,400+ ft above Loch Leven.

Nick Harrison flew the Junior and was suitably exhilarated! The upper winds by now were reported by Simon to be 60+ kt at 10,000, this was causing rotor at lower levels.

Mike Sloggett then Muggles took the Junior for a wild ride.

Muggles then got himself cleared to fly the winch, allowing the NH mob to continue launching after 17:00, horrah!

Mark also flew with Nigel Everett and Ian Foster, both pilots coping well in the very rough conditions. Mark then dissapeared for a loo break while James and Henry stole the DG-505 from under his nose, climbing away after just two beats of the ridge then climbing to 7,000 ft over the lock in wave.

Ron briefly flew the ASH with Rowan, but didn't like the washing machine conditions citing extreme winds as the problem.

Tomorrow, with the winds lighter, 1000 ft final turns might be a thing of the past.

In the evening talk by the local pundits of 1000km tasks fired up Ron and Simon to plan 300s for the whole group, themselves planning to fly a double 300 (That should bring the rain). With GPS and logger batteries charging the group headed for bed.

Portmoak, Tuesday 5th April

The rain was forecast to be arriving at 1400, so it was an early start for the gang. The wind was WSW, very strong gusting 35 kt. First up were Mark C and Nick Hine in the DG. Ridge lift was off the clock and they soon discovered that by stepping away from the ridge a small distance very smooth lift could be found and both were soon at 5000 ft only coming down because Simon M
was on the radio asking for a go!

The approach, although fairly ordinary in terms of turbulence, was a little unusual in that the final turn was at 1000 ft over the boundary and flown at 80 kts, approaching in a 45 degree slope.

The local instructor decided that there would be no single seater flying for the time being!

Dual flying continued Ian Hunt flew with MC, Jimbob flew with Henry, Nigel Everett flew with SM Nick got cleared by SM. After lunch conditions calmed for a while to allow Paul Summers to fly the junior. Rain did come in by 1400 as predicted cutting the flight times.

A first for Mark was flying the DG at 46 kt with full break and coming down vertically to a point of reference in the valley! who needs a helicopter? A few did not get chance to fly but with a better day forecast Wednesday they will be top of the list. Another great day at this fantastic site.

Tuesday 5th April

Second day of EUGC course scrubbed due to bad weather, low cloud and drizzle to start, then orographic sitting on the hill until lunchtime. It did improve afterwards, but there was nobody there.

Portmoak, Monday 4th April

With rain forecast, the mood was calmer today. People hung around the clubhouse drinking tea and sampling the superb home cooking. Henry, Rowan and Mugs set off  to the nearest go-cart track whilst Simon Minson Mark C, Jimbob and Dasher's son Chris wandered off to Perth for a Starbucks.

Back at the club house Nick Harrison and Nigel Everett sat their bronze exam. A day to reflect on the fantastic two days previous flying.

Monday 4th April

First day of the Exeter Uni GC course. Five students in attendance (two newbies, two well into training and one on solo checks), plus Robin and John Si instructing, and Wendy, Dave A and Eddie helping. Fresh south-westerly that picked up througout the day, and total cloud cover but soarable for a while underneath. All students had plenty of flying, and were kept busy pushing gliders as one of the Land Rover was in the workshop.

Portmoak, Sunday 3rd April

See Portmoak, Saturday 2nd

Ron and Muggles flew the ASH first thing, exploring the rather elusive wave, only coming down for lunch.

Rowan and Henry got checked out and Ian Hunt had a fantastic flight all with Mark C in the DG. It was Ian's first ever experience of real ridge running and how he grinned.

A decaying cold front brought heavy rain over lunchtime with gusts and high winds for a very short period, after which the air cleared for a fantastic afternoon. Unfortunately, James was over three hours into his five hour attempt when the rain hit, full credit for landing and not trying to sit it out in the air.

Paul Summers got checked in our DG with Muggles, taking the chance to rig and fly his new toy, the Cirrus (477) and his grin was even cheesier than Ian's!

The professional winch driver was due to finish his normal duties at 17:00 which caused a frantic scramble at the launch point. Ian and Mark has the penultimate launch at 16:55, Paul Summers launching at 17:00! They were all rewarded with booming ridge lift late into the evening.
Rowan Smith in the Junior
with Dan Johns and Simon Minson in the background

Rowan (KHA) and Henry (HRG, Portmoak's Junior) had launched much earlier and were keen to out stay each other in the air. They both found the ridge would consistently save them from wave seeking attempts, with lift in the bowls exceeding a very weak 6 knots! After the last thermals decayed both guys found wave to 4,000 ft at 1-2 knots. Stunning views over the Scottish highlands with the setting sun.

What an awesome start to the week. Rain forecast tomorrow at some stage, we might be off to a well earned rest in Edinburgh. It's a hard life. More to follow...
Sun setting over Lock Leven

Sunday 3rd April

With a lot of the Sunday regulars at Portmoak and it being Mothers Day -made for a quiet start, with a bit of low cloud the first flight was very short. Soon we were getting good high launches and it was soarable to cloudbase.

After an early lunch the afternoon started with good soaring conditions with both K21s soaring soon joined by Nick in the Junior but the good weather didn't last and all three gliders had to land due to heavy rain.

John St (our official swallow observer) confirmed the arrival of the first North Hill swallow (as reported by Cheryl on Thursday) enjoying the abundance of flies after the rain showers - two weeks earlier than normal.

Only about 10 flights today, three of them being trial lessons.
J St

Portmoak, Saturday 2nd April

The very advanced party (Ron and Dan) had already left for Portmoak on the Friday. The advanced party travelled to Nympsfield on the Friday night and left early Saturday, 04:00! (Mark C, James H, Andrew Muggles and Nick H) for arrival just after lunch.

The group was rewarded with a fantastic day of ridge on Bishop, thermal and wave with lift off the clock at times. Simon M and James H achieving 11,000+ ft in the DG505.
Awesome wave bar

10,000 feet

Mark C got checked out for instructing by the duty dog (Jerry Marshall) and promptly stole their Junior. Nick H positively ran to Ron's ASH when offered a free ride to explore for wave.

Relations with the locals, INCLUDING Irene are going fantastically well! However, the week is still young.

Paul S, Henry F, Rowan S and Ian H arrived later that day for a late evening meal provided by the catering staff who stayed late. Big thanks!
Stolen Junior

Saturday 2nd April

A bit of a damp start, but conditions improved rapidly to give good soarable spring afternoon, with Eric (194), Stu (KMV), Martin Woolner (KMV) and Matt Wright (M5) all exceeding two hours in the local area, up to 3000 ft.