Thursday 30th June

The same brilliant airmass covered Devon again, maybe even better than yesterday. It was easily soarable from the first flight until well into the evening with cloudbases up to 3500ft QFE, and the wind a light north westerly providing streets from coast to coast. All the club fleet were flying all day, Heather had her first solo soaring flight for 90 minutes, new member Anthony clocked up nearly 4 hours in his Astir. Joe Sc flew for nearly two hours in the Junior. Pete St Discus 230 completed 200Km triangle into Dorset. Matt & JB returned from France with fantastic stories and photos. There were two trial lessons. The evening group from NatWest enjoyed the late evening sunshine and soaring with newly qualified BI Mike.

Wednesday 29th June

A good forecast, and it was spot on, a brisk N/W wind gave good launches from the start, and soaring from the first flight.
All the the club gliders were in use and in the air most of the day with everyone having good soaring flights the cloud base was 3,500ft with 6-8kt thermals at times the cloud streets reaching the motorway.
Anthony our new member flew his newly aquired Astir for the first time at NHL, Roly seems to have an inexaustable supply of trial lessons.
Private gliders :- Rowan Libelle, Pete & Colin DG 100, Lisa ASW20, Pete F & various in OL, Ian K6.
We handed over the two seaters for the Saab owners club at 6.00pm to Stu,Martin & John Si. - JSt

Keep on Dreaming

Monday 27th June A Lucky Grand Tour

"Very good in the high mountains" was the forecast but... there is always a but! "But it will be tre difficile to come up from La Motte!", Christian said at the briefing. Right! So then if we can get away it's got to be Mt Viso on the Italian border or Glacier Blanc in the Ecrin as our goals for the day.
And difficult it was, M5 lucked into a 3knot thermal moments before the point of having to commit to landing, and climbed away to 2000m, JB was not so fortunate and after a second launch and an couple of hours trying to escape the mountains around La Motte, he decided to land and chill out in the shade.

Setting off from that first thermal, M5, decided to have a go at the task anyway and headed via the usual stepping stones of Juare, Authon and Auribeau to Blayeul, progressively arriving lower on each mountain before climbing to make the next jump. Level with the radio mast on Blayeul, the leap to the Parcour looked daunting but there were gliders visible, circling over the valley so there had to be thermals out there? Arriving on the Micheline lower than I had ever been before , I was relieved to find it was working well and turned north following the ridge and was soon back at a more relaxed altitude. Conditions were improving by the minute, with cumulus clouds starting to appear over a few of the higher peaks and the lift under them was impressive. I was soon crossing the Col de Vars, north of Barcelonette, heading east with the peak of Mt Viso, towering over the surrounding terrain, clearly visible in the distance. Beyond it, Italy was hidden under an 8/8ths overcast which was clinging to the eastern slopes of the mountains and stretching away to the horizon. Dragon country indeed! A couple of good climbs made it simple to follow the highest ridges and soon I was climbing up the western face of Mt Viso. The view was simply breath taking.

Looking East towards Mt Viso and Italy covered by cumulus merde-icus

Having topped out a few hundred feet below the summit, the route west towards Glacier Blanc looked pretty good so the next leg of the task was on, and about an hour later I was climbing the jagged rim of the eastern ridge above the glacier.

Going south along the King's Road from the Barre de Ecrin

The top of the Barre de Ecrin is at 4000m and from there I followed the King's Road (the route south) towards Lac Serre Poncon and the Parcour. The southern turn point was Cheval Blanc and back to Dormillouse before an comfortable final glide back to La Motte with an OLC distance of over 300km's.

Monday 27th June

The wonders of the internet! I have just received a few photos from an Australian e-mail address. I add one of them here, for you to compare with one on Friday 24th June blog. - PH

Sunday 26th June

A bright sunny start after the early morning low cloud lifted. A fresh south easterly breeze provided a little bit of early wave but that soon disappeared. There were a few extended circuits from the southerly ridge but generally the circuit was full of sink.
The tug was kept busy with some high tows in the clear blue sky. The views were fantastic in the clear air with the sea fog rolling up the Exe estuary from time to time.
Congratulations to Stuart for completing his Full Cat checks with Tony Parker. Well done to Jimbob for getting signed off for driving the winch. The Davies family clocked up a large number of solo flights between them. The day had a premature end when the winch decided to tie itself in knots - thanks to all the helpers for untying it.

Saturday 25th June

The morning was foggy and damp but a little flying was possible in the afternoon.

Saturday 25th June Nasty Northwesterly

The met brief indicated the prospect of interesting conditions! The upper airflow was still northwesterly and this interferes with the setting up of a reliable valley breeze. The sky was clear blue and the air temp was soon climbing to 30°C. Climbing off the winch was easy, but as we gained height and moved off to Juere it became more of a struggle and we often had to retrace our steps or just keep working small sections to climb. Usually once you could get your wingtip over the crest of the ridge the lift really got going and you could relax, well only just a little.

JB had a real brush with the dragons, flying over the Juere col, too low to to try the bowl, and pressed on to the Authon, arriving just at the top of the scree slope and the bottom of the vertical face. As Jaques Noel used to say the scenery down there gets very impressive. At that height, JB was still "local" to St Auban and so was obliged to head that way searching along the Vermeuse ridge line hoping for a thermal. After a good hour of scratching, he fought his way back to rejoin M5, who had been killing time trying out our planned 12 km race track around the ridges of Authon and Auribeau.

A good climb off Auribeau, sent us on our way to the Parcour which we discovered wasn't working particularly well but we were able to eventually climb to the top of Tet de L'Estrop and then head back for the La Motte valley.

Heading home from the Parcour, with Cheval Blanc in the backround.

A sobering sight met us in the bowl of the Monges, the mangled ruin of an LS6 being attended to by a mountain rescue team. The pilot was apparently stabilised and helicoptered to hospital. Unfortunately a grim reminder of the ever present perils of soaring in the mountains.

A tricky day but which really brought home the need to be aware of your airspeed close in to the mountains and conscious of your escape route to your local out-landing field

Friday 24th June Mistral Returns

The mistral started clearing away the grotty weather late on Thursday, and Friday started with bright blue sky but with high cirrus already moving in. The wind was only 10 to 15 kts but was enough to make the northwest facing ridges work, create weak wave and areas of strong sink.

We slowly worked our way west from la Motte and then north past Siteron, Serre and Aspre and unsuccessfully tried to find the wave in the lee of Pic de Burre. Giving up in the hunt for wave, M5, went south again onto Montange de Lure and then followed the ridge out west to Mount Vantoux before returning to the Lure to join JB in KJW and climb in wave to 11000'.

The top of Mt Vantoux looking east.

Thursday 23rd June

I posted a forecast for a good day's soaring, but initially it appeared that reality was not co-operating. Quite a strong westerly breeze was blowing increasingly blustery rain showers through the site all morning, and it looked like little sign of any change. Then after lunch the skies opened, the sun came out, strong easy to centre thermals started popping to a cloudbase of just over 3000'QFE. A street formed up right over the winch, and stayed there well into the evening, enabling an easy climb away.
There were not many people around, but by the end of the afternoon the entire Club fleet was airborne. Only two private gliders out Chairman Pete/Colin in DG100 DG1 and Pete St in Discus 230. Everybody enjoyed the day, especially those flying late in the afternoon who had very long soaring flights - only forcing the gliders down as the evening group wanted to fly. Cheesy grins are not restricted to those flying in the Alps!

The Evening Group from Sidmouth and Budleigh had a good session with many an extended flight, thanks to that persistent street. It was a beautiful sunny evening to be on a gliding site, although the, now, north westerly wind did get a bit cold. - PH

Wednesday 22nd June - Back at the ranch

Wednesday was a repeat of last week, fog, rain and an early lunch, the afternoon was superb with everyone enjoying thermal, ridge lift, cloud streets and a sea breeze front.
All who flew were rewarded with good long soaring flights, Ian K in his K6 was the only private glider flying and he had a couple of hrs soaring,the day ended with A/E evening with Stu & Muggles. - JSt

Tuesday 21st June - A grand day out!

The meteo said SW dynamic wind of 5 to 15kts with a good valley breeze and Matt said, 'Dude, its going to be epic' - and it was!
After a bit of a struggle we got away from La Motte du Caire and across to the Parcour (a North/South range of mountains with high point of 9800ft AMSL). The original plan had been to go north to Glacier Blanc but the way north past St Cripin was already closed by a storm so we romped along the 30km section south to Cheval Blanc and back to Domilouse by Lac Serre Poncon just because it was there!
JB on the Parcour.

But you can have too much of a good thing so we decided to venture across the dragon country to Barcelonnette and then back to the Morgon and across Lac Serre Poncon into a very gentle wave to 12000ft over Domilouse - a real contrast to the 'washing machine' like thermals down in the rocks!
Cheesy grinning in wave.

Half an hour later, 'Boring!' - so down, down, down into the gloom and back on to the Parcour for another romp and second out and return to Barcelonnette.
'What now Matt'? 'Pic de Burre dude, what else!' We went the long way round via Montnge de Feraud and crept up on Pic de Burre from the north. Creaping around the eastern face of Pic de Burre with 2000 ft of vertical rock face above you is a humbling experience for a Hobbit from the Shires, and the lift as we rounded the SW corner was 'off the clock'!
With 10000 ft wound on we set off for home and another hour of local soaring which included a few racing circuits around the little (6000ft) mountains of Authon and Auribeau which were giving a steady 4kt off their shear rock escarpments bathed in the late evening sun.
After over 7 hrs of adventure and sunset fast approaching we returned to earth with grins wider than a Cheshire cat! (jb)

Monday 20th June, Into the Ecrin

The forecast indicated a decaying mistral northerly airflow and the possibility of valley breezes and good thermals. Glacier Blanc was a possibility. from the top of the launch it was a major struggle to get away, with most of the grid stuck in the local valley for about 1:30hr before being able to get away. Unfortunately JB was snared by sink and needed a relight.

M5 mean-while tip-toed east to the Parcour and the Morgon, a real gnarly mountain on the shore of Lac Serre Poncon and tried to climb high enough to jump to Guillaume. The traffic on the Morgon was horrendous and most of the big ships fly like they own the sky, so life saving manoeuvres resulted in some good lift avoidance.

Eventually I was confident in arriving on Guillaume high enough and set off to the north. The valley breeze hits Guillaume and the thermals it generates are tremendous so it wasn't long before I was at cloud base and going north again. Pracheval on the east side of the St crepin valley is another valley breeze elevator and a great top up spot. Following the east side of the valley takes you up towards Briancon and the next reliable hot spot, Tet d'Monte. From there it's into the dragons den of Glacier Blanc.

Flying along the rim at 11500', snow covered rocks on your wing tip and the foot of the glacier almost 3000' below you, is truly spectacular!

Passing Cime du Paillon going into Glacier Blanc

In the Dragons Den

Sunday 19th June Magical Mistral tour

After 2 days of damp weather the low pressure over northern Italy set up classic Mistral conditions. The Northwesterly wind started blowing in ernest and required check flights to experience the sporty conditions at La Motte and to learn how to cope with them. The wind also brought clear blue skies and the prospect of wave. JB and I were soon away and climbing on the Lure a perfect wave generator just south west of Sisteron town.Pushing into the 40kt wind was not that easy but M5 made it to Pic de Bure to the north of Gap, but was unable to climb much higher than 12000'.
Pic de Bure (2683m) in the foreground with the Barre des Ecrins (4102m) in the backround.

The views across the mountains were breathtaking and we flew until just before sunset. The next couple of days are looking very promising with classic valley breeze conditions and 4000m cloud bases, fingers crossed!
JB cruising on le Gache

Sunday 19th June

Late start due to low cloud and some light showers but it cleared up by mid-morning and became soarable by lunchtime with a light westerly wind right through to the end of the day.
It was an odd day with 14 instructors, 6 solo pilots, 1 ab-initio and Roly was kept busy with trial lessons. Simon M was checking out 3 Brentor members for BI. Mike S completed his BI acceptance checks with Pete. Lisa takes the prize for 2:30 in LH
Simon L and Cheryl took the K21 on a circum-navigation of the Blackdown Hills - but didn't quite complete the last leg back from Honiton, landing in a small grass field near Broadhembury.
It was a lovely evening after the slow start and the last glider was put away at 8:00pm.

Saturday 18th June

Heavy showers brought in on a blustery westerly wind delayed the start until mid-morning. We then continued for the rest of the day dodging the rain, but it did dry up late afternoon.
However it was soarable between and even in the showers. There were not many people there but all enjoyed extended flights in the bumpy conditions.

We have received a favourable response from the CAA/BGA Part M audit yesterday and await the full report. Thanks to all those who tidied up the hangar and gliders on Thursday - everything looked fantastic and there's no doubt that the first impression walking into the hangar counted. And a big thank you to Pete St and Andrew L for all their hard work.

Thursday 16th June

Belated congratulations to William, who obtained a logger and took it with him last Saturday to climb to well over Silver height gain in his Ka6cr, DQS.

Thursday dawned bright behind a couple of overnight cold fronts, but with no stabilising influences forecast, there were going to be showers. And so it came to pass. Four or five launches between deluges, but the tea pot was kept busy all day.
The small band of the Thursday dedicated all flew, mainly circuits. The last two cables, at around 17:45, launched into the final clearance to be welcomed by 4-6 knot thermals and cloudbase rising from 1200' to 2500' in half an hour, only landing as the ground crew wanted to go home. - PH

Thursday 16th June Playing on the Parcour

After yesterday's frustration, today was nothing short of epic! All boxes ticked on the paperwork side so I was able to join the grid and go and fly. It was a little tricky to get away and there was a fair bit of engine noise in the valley early on. I had to take 2 launches to get away but once connected in a thermal the lift was stupendous! JB waited patiently for me and soon we were heading off to the south east and the mountain stepping stones that would take us to the Parcour. A north south orientated line of mountains that is almost the equivalent of a gliding highway, with lots of traffic and where the Flarm really comes into its own.

Heading South behind JB in KJW on the Parcour

Approaching Tet De L'Estop on the Parcour

By 1630 the forecast frontal rain showers were appearing just to the west of La Motte du Caire and a mad dash back to the field ensued, with big drops starting to fall as we were landing. Looking forward to tomorrow even more!

Wednesday 15th June

A late start due to fog but it suddenly lifted giving us nice sunny and thermic conditions, soon all the club gliders were soaring in the sea breeze front that set up, which lasted all day and there where many flights of 1hour.

Ian K rigged his K6 and had a couple of hours, we welcomed Anthony a new club member to the club, Anthony had 3 flights the last of which was 1hour. - JSt

Sunday 12th to Wed 15th June Travel and red tape

After about 7hrs of driving, Sunday night was spent camping in a hotel car park just north of Paris. Having mistakenly assumed there would be room at the inn, we had not pre-booked, but with JB packing everything and the kitchen sink, the stay was pretty comfortable.

The drive south on Monday saw the grey drizzly overcast of Sunday give way to bright sun and high cloud bases, with localised storms developing in the mountains.
Approaching Grenoble and the start of the mountains

Tuesday we had our check flights with off the clock thermals and wonderful visibility and then spent the afternoon driving along the base of the Parkour to see the out-landing fields of Marcoux, Seyne, Espinass, and Montgardin. These are the fields that we will most likely be "local to" when we start mountain hopping in gliders, so a good confidence building exercise with spectacular scenery as a bonus.

Seyne Gliding Club with the peak of Tet de L'Estrop at 2961m in the clouds

lac de Serre Poncon

So to Wednesday, gliders rigged and rearing to go with fairly good forecast but the prospect of rain in the afternoon. I was grounded as we were unable to contact the French CAA to acquire the equivalence licence permission although all the relevant paper work was in order. So helped Christian, the La Motte CFI launch the grid (he was driving the winch) and watched enviously as JB spiralled up into the heavens. That was 4 hours ago and he's still airborne having fun.

Tuesday 7th - 14th June Exeter Uni expedition - Pt2

The second part of our week, and the weather does not look too good.
Saturday is the start of the second weekend of the local Club Challenge and the task is set as a pilot selected roam around central France. As with previous days cloud base was high with thermal strengths that are only dreamed of in Devon but there were huge gaps and masses of spreadout. Kieron and Andrew had more French training, Harry consolidated his solos and Nathalie had family business in Paris, OL did 3hours not going very far, local pundits did 300-400kms in the same time! In the evening there was a celebratory barbeque, the French do make some very fine wines and the Chinese do not (but that is another story)
Thankfully Sunday dawned grey and got greyer, 'les enfants anglais' had a day in Paris, P&J visited a nearby chateau, local Club members managed to soar in the drizzle?
Monday started grey, but brightened later with heavy showers. Kieron soared again, Harry had more solos and converted to the Junior, Nathalie re-soloed, Andrew slept.
Tuesday drive home - started with low cloud and heavy rain, but soon cleared to give spectacular looking conditions all the way from Rouen to Yeovil in the late evening - could have flown home!

We have lots to say about the Club at Cherence, all of it good but with some strange (to us) procedures. All in all a good week away, but they kept saying that we should have been there last week, or in fact for the last two months as it has been so dry with some spectacular flying but the weather always breaks down in time for their local Challenge weekends.

Saturday 11th June ICL at The Park

Here are the very provisional results for ICL at The Park, and overall
standings. Sunday was scrubbed due to rain.

1st - The Park
2nd - Wyvern
3rd - North Hill (Henry Ford)
4th - Shalbourne
5th - Mendip

1st - The Park
2nd - North Hill (Mark Courtney & Nick Hine)
3rd - Mendip
4th - Wyvern
5th - Shalbourne

1st - The Park
2nd - Wyvern
3rd - North Hill (Pete Startup)
4th - Shalbourne
5th - Mendip

So, it seems that home advantage really played it's part on this one,
with The Park winning in all three classes. Great effort by our guys
as always, many thanks for your support. Given the above, current
overall standings are:

1st - The Park with 27 Points
2nd - North Hill & Wyvern with 24 Points
4th - Mendip with 18 points
5th - Shalbourne with 9 points

Next leg is Mendip on 9th & 10th July, I know a few people will be
braving the rain and mist on a Damphill expedition, but any volunteers
to join the Team would be most welcome!

Also, to confirm, the reserve leg is now active due to the poor
conditions on competition weekends so far. This will be held at North
Hill on 20th & 21st August - Andrew

Tuesday 7th - 14th June Exeter Uni expedition - Pt1

Nathalie, Harry, Andrew and Kieran from EUGC and Pete and Jill with Duo OL arrived at Cherence, France (50km North west of Paris -Nathalie's home club).
Wednesday weather looked good in the morning but the French don't normally start flying til after lunch. After masses of paperwork and check flights the best of the day was gone and it was difficult to get away, just leaving time for a short soaring flight for Kieran with Pete.
Thursday looked more promising and we persuaded Monsieur le Chef to launch OL before lunch. Enjoyable flight up and down the convergence line local to the site with 8-10knot thermals to FL55. Kieran, Nathalie and Andrew all had soaring flights with local instructors. Harry let slip that he had first soloed at Keevil last weekend and got checked out to do his 4th solo flight in France for which the local tradition is a cold water soaking.
Friday dawned grey and forecast for rain at midday, Kieran soared, Harry soloed, Andrew slept and Nathalie had to go home (to Paris) and then it rained.
More to follow, the weekend is a local club competition.

Sunday 5th June

With weather more like late autumn than early June not many members turned out to brave the cold N/E wind.
The K13 and a K21 were eventually pulled out of the hangar, Mike S completed his BI rating with Simon M, well done Mike, also a belated well done to Pete D who went solo on Wednesday, plenty of launch failure practice and about 30 flights. - JSt

Saturday 4th June

The day started bright and sunny with a strong north easterly wind which caused a lot of turbulence over the field and curl over on the approach. As well as the usual club members, there were a lot of people returning following the successful open weekend. Unfortunately, due to the very rough conditions the trial lessons had to be put off for a better day. Thanks to all the instructors for stepping in to the breach and to Carl and helpers for fitting the replacement brake rod on the Junior.
Congratulations to Martin for completing his Full Cat checks and to CFI Pete for passing 4000 hours gliding.

Thursday 2nd June

A bright, sunny and warm day plus half-term holidays brought out lots of members, one of the longest lists for a Thursday for some time. Soaring was possible all day but not easy. No epic flights but lots of training, thanks to Mark C and Martin W for ensuring that everybody got to fly and a special thanks to Dave A and Peter M for driving the Supercat all day, we couldn’t have done it without you. All went home tired and happy.

Elsewhere, a large group of members joined family, sailing friends and colleagues from Torbay Hospital at Wolborough Church to celebrate the life of Kaye, who died so tragically whilst sailing around Turkey with Eric and friends.

Wednesday 1st June

The day started with a lot of expectations with a good forcast and a light N/W wind, by mid morning the thermals were popping and climbs to 3,000ft were possible, the launch point was kept busy all day with some good flights recorded.
Pete S flew his Discus for a couple of hours and Jeff also had a long flight in the Mosquito.Pete W was flying the tug.
The Wednesday crew handed over to Steve, Guy & Ernie for the Tipton St John Scout trial lesson evening. - JSt