December in South Africa

With just 15km to run things got very black, the shower was growing in size, my wings were getting a bit wet and then to top it all, fork lightning.
This was my queue to bin the task and race for home which was still some 165km away, the journey back to base was very exciting as it seemed impossible to get away from the rapidly growing storm clouds, conditions back at Gariep were still good but the winds were increasing, with a 30kt tailwind the 165km leg home was flown in 50mins. Not the result I hoped for but 480km in just under 5hrs is not too bad

(Just a snippet from Ian's story of flying at Gariep Dam in South Africa - the rest of it and more photos can be found in the epic flights of DSGC website)

Thursday 29th December

Arrived in wind and rain to find Martin in full-flow talking on Polar curves and Speed to fly. Everybody then tried creating their own Polars from the club gliders flight manuals. - Good game!
Congratulations to Tom, who passed his Bronze exam, and Jonathan and Jill created some more RT training audio (will be available on the web site soon). Ian is back from South Africa - stories to follow...

Wednesday 28th December

At 9 a.m., on the web cam six figures loom in the murk in the clubhouse and the radar shows two heavy rain bands, along with the forecast looking worse than last night's, it's not looking good!

However, the actual weather conditions on the field were variable, with bright blue skies and a steady westerly wind down the field, interspersed with periods of squally showers and gusts to test the nerves of any approaching pilot, it was definitely a four or five tyre day.

Most of the 15 or so members contacted wave from the turbulent ridge. Wyn Davies gained over 2 hours in his LS7 for one of his Bronze flights and Henry with just over 1.5 hours in the Junior. Several flights got to over 1,500 ft with one flight to 2,700 ft. Wind speed at this height was over 40 knots, so an almost stationary climb could be achieved. At no time could you tell it was waving, there were no signs at all.

Any more achievements or news?


Saturday 24th December

The overnight rain cleared through as forecast leaving a pleasant, bright, sunny Christmas Eve with a fresh westerly breeze and bands of cloud cycling fairly frequently. The ridge was working but disturbed by phases of wave and thermal lift. VG went out to search for the wave but to no avail. Pete St had the longest flight in the Junior - 27 mins, William soloed in the Falke VG, and yet more Instructors tried out the K6.
Stu had to flight-test his new Raybans -

A very Happy Christmas and New Year to all our readers.
Don't forget the Bring and Share 'leftovers buffet' on Boxing Day after flying,

Thursday 22nd December

There was quite a good turn out for a cloudy sky and westerly wind. The K6 was in demand by Instructors who couldn't remember the last time they flew in wood. The ridge was working and Dylan had an hour in the LS7. Harry passed his Bronze exam, and Peter F and Carl flew touch and go's in VG. For a short while a small wave slot opened up but it was quickly followed by a lowering cloud base and drizzle which brought an early end to proceedings.
Flying is planned for Christmas Eve Saturday 24th, but note the kitchen will only be open from 11-1pm.
On Boxing Day Monday 26th, the kitchen will be closed but we're planning a Bring and Share 'Leftovers' Buffet for after flying - or lunchtime if no flying.

Wednesday 21st December

Today was the shortest day and thank goodness for that, after high hopes with a strong N/W wind (not that you could see the windsock) forecast the usual Wednesday people turned up and had to be content with putting the world to rights, still some of us had a good day on Sunday.
This is the last Wednesday blog before Christmas so I wish all blog readers a happy Christmas and happy landings for the new year. - JSt

Sunday 18th December

So, it’s the 18th of December, we have had constant depressions rushing in from the Atlantic for what seems like an eternity. Is it really worth going to the gliding club? YES!
The faithful few turned up early on what was a beautiful morning if a little cold (but not bitter); the journey to the club was tricky due to ice in the lanes but for those who braved the drive it was going to be quite a special winter’s day. With mostly blue skies, flying started around 1030.
Lisa must have had a fault with her alarm clock because she appeared before 0900 (You read it here first). Closely followed by Andrew M, their faces looked like they were waiting for root canal treatment, all was to be revealed!
Whilst the worker ants got the kit out and rigged the DG 505, Simon M drove across the field as if on a mission, and he was. It was to be the day that Lisa and Andrew were to be tested for their Assistant rating completion (no wonder they looked tense). They need not have worried though as they both passed with flying colours, the masses can now look forward to them running the field on their own (after Lisa has applied her lippy of course).
Meanwhile Rowan was encouraged by Mark C (new keen tuggy) to have an air tow to practice flying from the back whilst talking to a pretend “blogs” in the front, in this case young Will Bond. Will, who has not been able to come up for a while looked as pleased as a tramp with a tenner. Will and Liam were in for another treat later in the day when JB’s beautiful KA 6CR was towed to the launch point; they both flew the little six and loved it! It is really nice to see the younger members at our club enjoying the sport that we all love.

As soon as the members started to launch it was clear that despite the wind being fairly light (7 to 9 knots) the ridge was working to about 1400 ft and weak wave could be contacted allowing a couple of extended Junior flights of around one hour each. Those who ventured into the valley could also work long lines of lift. Roly flew some new members and soon the fleet was fully utilised.
Paul Summers and Dan J continued B.I. training with Mark C. Members had to be called down to ensure that everyone got a chance to fly, quite remarkable considering the conditions of late.
Lunch time saw the club house buzzing with enthusiasm with a really good number enjoying the excellent catering.
Flying stopped around 1545 with misting canopies, the gliders needed a really good wash down before being put to bed, but with a good number of “scrubbers” to hand it did not take long. With one of the K21s being de rigged and put into the workshop there was room in the hanger for JB’s beautiful K6.

On a lighter note, for those of you who did not know, John St is testing some new hearing aids that have been developed by NASA. His only complaint was that he could hear bar orders being taken at Dunkeswell. “Quite distracting“, he commented.
What a wonderful early Xmas treat for all those who attended.
MC and Henry

Saturday 17th December

A bright start with a strengthening north westerly wind provided ridge lift throughout the day with the odd shower passing through. A few members found thermals to 2300ft and Stu and Carl found some wave in VG. Tom collected his first Bronze half-hour until cold feet got the better of him. Pete and Cheryl had the longest flight of 55mins.

Thursday 15th December

The forecast promised intense depressions at midnight either side of Thursday, with a slight ridge to give a hopeful clear slot in between. And so it did, cloud and rain cleared away late morning and we got the kit out.
With not many people to fly and a wet airfield we elected to aerotow into the strong westerly wind. The ridge was working well, and there appeared to be low level wave above it. By mid afternoon the next system was showing itself and with rain in sight we packed up. Flights averaged over half an hour - it was well worth the effort on an interesting day.

Monday 12th December

Weren't we lucky with the weather - we left in rain and returned in rain but enjoyed 5 hours of bright and sunny conditions. CFI Pete, Mark and Simon L set off early to visit Lasham today for some Falke flying. After various field landing practices and simulated aerotow rope breaks, Pete revalidated his MG Instructor Rating, Mark and Simon's MGIR were signed up for Instructing in the Falke.
Pete renewed acquaintances with many old friends, a big thank you to Andy for his time and patience today (and the Lasham facility).

Sunday 11th December

With the forecast being dire only a few souls arrived at the club today. Conditions were not as bad as forecast in the morning so MC and Dave W had a flight in the motor Falke followed by MC and Paul Summers. There were lectures on ridge soaring, controls and instruments for Julia whilst the others chatted over tea and bacon sandwiches. Not a day for much flying but nice to see members turning up for a chat even if Matt and Rowan did make us green with envy with their tales of crop dusting! - MC

Saturday 10th December

A pleasant but cold day with a light south westerly wind and the field had dried nicely after the rain. Lisa was practising for her Asst Cat completion course. Rowan was practising for his BI course. Wyn practised field landings in the Falke. Members of the Falke syndicate were refreshing their acquaintance with VG after its long absence. One EUGC student made his first three flights, he is a power pilot so should make rapid progress. Meanwhile several trainees had circuit practice and Roly flew a few Trial lessons.
In the afternoon, the reason why you shouldn't overfly a winch site became
clear when a pair of pigeons flew across the airfield, unfortunately one was
hit by the cable and is now in a pie.

Thursday 8th December - Summertime

Ian M. is on a three week visit to Gariep Dam, in the Free State Province of South Africa, to fly Steve's (from Dunkeswell) Ventus M. He has promised to keep us up to date with his exploits. First day - site check.

"Finally made it Gariep Dam, first day at airfield today, very hot 29c, had chat with camp instructor and a site check was arranged. You will not believe this but we took off at 1400hrs in a Nimbus4 and climbed to 16000ft which was still some way below cloudbase, we then set off on a sight seeing tour over vast areas of totally unlandable terrain but spectacular scenery, we landed some 5hrs later after flying a total of 508km which included a 100km final glide, it is hard to contemplate just how good conditions can get as nobody thought today was a particularly good day but it was one hell of a site check."

Thursday 8th December

Low cloud and patchy rain to start, building up to gale force winds and heavy downpours. Not a day to go gliding, so several of us sat down to talk our way through Bronze preparation. Discussions included the requirements for awarding a Bronze and how it fitted into DSGC post solo training and where it will fit in the new EASA licence. Then, because there was a lot of it outside, we talked about the weather - what makes a good soaring day, sea breezes etc.
Jonathan sat some volunteers down to record simulated RT conversations to be used as examples on our website training page, to be available soon.

Wednesday 7th December

Wednesday started with a large number of the usual members, considering the weather with very strong winds forecast.
Against the odds we decided to get the field set up and the two K21s ready, just in case. During the next hour the wind eased a little and this tempted Mike Fitz into the air. After that, with the wind speed easing all the time, gliders were soon soaring in the strong north west ridge lift.
A squall brought an early break for lunch after which, with the wind still easing, the K13 and a Junior were pulled out to join the two K21s on the ridge.
Everyone flew, most having 30min or so on the ridge, Clive continued his BI preparation by flying the K21 from the back seat.

Monday 05 December, Bothering Sheep

They say that gliding offers something for everyone; that you can find pleasure from various aspects of the sport depending on your temperament. Some enjoy local flying; to soar and relish the delights of flying high over the beautiful landscape. Others go for cross country, battling the weather and airways to gain mammoth distances. There are also those that enjoy the thrill of being in the strange orientations of aerobatics. And then there are the ridge runners; flying low and fast amongst the hill tops.
Today I found myself amongst the ridge runners in the stunning Cotswolds surrounding Nympsfield. Ridge running seems to defy everything I have been trained to do while gliding. Fast and low is their mantra and when the vario screams lift, go faster!
I understand the attraction of this genre, to be buzzing past the rocks at such low heights where you would normally only see gliders on landing circuit. Today was no exception. It would be fair to say that today was a marginal day for the ridge. Our Task was to fly from Nympsfield to Bath race course and back. The wind strength and direction said yes, but the vario said no. That did not deter Matt (M5) my assigned lead. Turning doesn't seem to be in his repertoire. Fast. low and always toward the turn point. This worked superbly for our first leg. We passed underneath JB (KJW) and Pete (230) whilst they were deliberating whether to go on. Seeing our steadfast determination they found courage to continue on with us. Onwards we pushed over the M4 and round to the race course
We arrived low at our turn point and the ridge looked more like sloping hills. The lift was patchy and there was no room for loosing out. To compound issues we were flying in a flock of around five gliders making tight 'S' turns all at similar heights and we were low; low enough to bother the sheep that scattered as if to clear a possible landing strip.
I managed to get above ridge height and saw an opportunity to land safely in a freshly cut field next to the race course. Undercarriage down! The others carried on and were rewarded with enough lift to start the trip back to Nympsfield.
Rowan in his field (top left of pic)
For me it was a nearby pub, where I awaited the retrieve. Fortunately it had wifi and beef sandwiches.

Rowan (CLM)

Rowan's first field landing!

A few hours later and still grinning!

As Rowan said we were low at Bath, and the ridge wasn't working very well so with about 200' above ridge height there was no point in hanging around. After watching Rowan land safely, Pete, JB and I set off north again. We were able to tip-toe our way back to Hawkesbury where we needed to climb to about 550' to enable the jump to the Wooton bowl and after about 10 minutes scratching at about 450' we decided to have a bash anyway. Luckily the bowl was working when we arrived and we soon able to make the leap to the NYM west ridge and climb to circuit height to land back. Diving into the ridge we passed CFI Pete H who was flying with Tim Macfadyen going out to the Wooton bowl for the second time and trying to get used to the idea of final gliding back to a place where you are a couple of km short of your field and below it!
- Matt
Pete crossing Wooton Under Edge going for the Wooton Bowl

Sunday 4th December

A lateish start due to apathy, cold weather and low cloud but after Peter, the Treasurer said we could have reduced price aerotows due to the wet field we were soon up and running.
We managed eight aerotows before the rain started, after we had washed the gliders and put them to bed, guess what, the clouds cleared to give us a clear blue sky.
We limited the flights to 20 min so everyone would have a chance to fly and all did except Paul S, -sorry Paul.
It was nice to see Robin St. at the club again after his illness.
The only private glider to fly was Wyn who managed nearly 1hr in the LS7 in strong ridge lift. - JSt

Saturday 3rd December

Day started with rain but that stopped by around 09:00 leading to sunny periods cycling with thicker cloud at 1500 ft.
The ridge worked in sections boosted by small rough thermals, it was possible to stay up for 40 minutes with extended flights to a respectable 20. One member from EUGC had three flights. BKVG was out flying. The flying ended as the temperature got colder, no canopy misting but the light was fading around 15:30.

Meanwhile, in the clubhouse a tree was decorated with lights and pink stuff by Cheryl.
Preparations for tonight's meal and the AGM are underway! - HF

...32 members sat down to a tasty beef or turkey carvery, (good count on the number of new chairs Peter!) For the AGM we needed the old chairs as well with a very healthy attendance of more than 70. The AGM followed the standard agenda with all the usual people getting thanked and congratulated. JB and Mike S stood down from the committee, with Stuart, Jonathan and Heather being elected from 6 nominations.
The trophies were awarded as follows: (more details will be on the website shortly)
Rosebowl - Matt
Kelsey Plate - JB
Tim Parsons Trophy - Phil & Ron
Norman Whyte Shield - Dylan
Francis Bustard Trophy - Matt
Dave Fewings Trophy - Woolly & Nick R
Ken Andrews Trophy - Andrew L
Wily Old Bird - Les
Brian Masters Trophy - Pete St
The new Instructor of the Year Trophy was unveiled by Martin who had designed and crafted a modern lenticular representation. It was awarded to CFI Pete, based on online members' votes.

The final event of the evening was Nick's Xmas draw that raised £200 for Diabetes Reseach.

Thursday 1st December

Successive forecasts were alternating, rain, no rain, rain. What were to get? As it turned out no rain, but cloudy with a gentle westerly wind. But the field was wet from the overnight rain, we picked an unused strip down the middle and started winching.
The Thursday faithful were ready to fly, but no trainees - so plenty of post solo training and check flights just to keep instructors Pete and John Si up to speed.
Conditions were very peaceful with slightly extended circuits for everyone. Congratulations to Geoff for his first flights in the Junior.
Geoff ready for his first Junior flight, just try to keep your head down a bit!