Sunday 28th October

A grey damp start but the clubhouse was buzzing with members! There was a good atmosphere and with the occasional optimistic updates from the duty instructor Simon M people seemed content to have cups of tea and bacon sandwiches ! 
At about 12 there was a call to arms, the kit was readied and we set up for a NW run. Launches were to 1500 ft, by tracking up the ridge line you could maintain 1200ft the air seemed strangely buoyant , there might have been weak wave in sync with the ridge as the view to the west did have wave bars. Flying continued until the inevitable rain arrived , after a short break it was decided that it was in for the day so the toys were washed , dried and put to bed.
Washing party
 JB did head butt the K21's horizontal stabiliser trying to show how "tuff" he was , unfortunately they do build K21's very strong in this area , the result was a rather demoralised JB and a completely unscathed K21! 
JB nurses his head
 Later in the Clubhouse the over head projector was put to good use with Matt showing us his various ridge runs using SeeYou maggot racing.
There were several informal lectures taking place around the clubhouse and  people left feeling that the trip was worthwhile . - Mark C

Saturday 27th - Parham

A  text from Rowan on Friday morning said that Saturday's forecast made it obligatory for us to go to Parham and fly the Southdown ridges! This started a chain of events that had both happy and not so happy outcomes!

Having decided to go I thought it would good to spread the happiness a bit so I persuaded (pretty easily) Chris H and Peter Sm to take the 505 and found an Instructor at Parham to fly with Chris and show him the ropes so that he could then fly with Peter.  Happiness was assured - what could possibly go wrong?  A last look at the RASP wind map for south east England was purple - 30kts plus, so it was promising to be a wee bit lively. Then a call from Rowan saying he'd just damaged the wheel of his trailer so couldn't go - not a good start! The remaining trio were on the road early and got there by 9.30 in time for the briefing which was crowded. It was the first 'good ridge day' for some time and there were about 30 gliders on the grid, including some K6's!

Chris and Paul (our Parham instructor) launched at about 11 am and flew from Parham west to Butser Hill then east to Lewis and back to Parham - 142km - and the whole flight including the launch was only about an hour and a half. Much of the time they were down at ridge-top height screaming along at Va (max rough air speed)! Just before I launched someone said the wind was 50kts at 3000 ft! I thought 'the k6's had better not get too high or they'll end up in the English Channel!'
Approaching Butser Hill following Rob Thompson in Discus 722
I tagged along with Rob Thompson from Nympsfield for two beats until our way was blocked by a nasty looking wall of rain at Lewis that threatened to wash us down if we didn't run away sharpish! From then on conditions worsened as the wind backed more NW and rain showers increased.

When I landed I discovered that Peter hadn't flown. Chris and Paul had landed as planned for Chris to take Peter but shortly after they landed the tug pilots stopped aerotowing because conditions were too rough. So after all that rushing around and driving 140 miles at some ungodly hours in the morning poor old Peter never got to taste the delights of the Southdowns. So what with Rowan and Peter the happiness score was only 50% - but there's always another day!

PS. I was amused by one bit of radio chatter; Someone commented that he was having to watch out for the birds when flying low down; to which someone else commented that he didn't think the birds seem to be that much bothered. Within a couple of seconds someone else replied 'thats what happens when you get old! - JB

Saturday 27th October

Beautiful, bright, sunny winters day but with that biting 18kt (gusting 30kt slightly east of northerly wind), it was with some trepidation that the launch point was set up in the south west corner.
The first few launches found that it wasn't too gusty to fly and gave some valuable two-seater experience in tricky crosswind conditions. The wind then started backing at height making the winch launches difficult for the winch driver. John P took a launch just before lunch  soaring in thermals off the north ridge for 89 minutes. Lisa had a couple of gos in the Junior but couldn't beat that.
Instructors were kept busy all day in the brisk northerly wind with interesting circuits, everyone had a challenging but enjoyable day, although it was deemed too uncomfortable for the trial lessons that had been booked in.

Thursday 25th October

After yet another disappointing Wednesday weather, Thursday wasn't much better, but the Thursday Tea Club turned up in force and discussed how wings work, how a glider flies and the usual weather analysis.
Congratulations to Ian H signed up for Bronze after giving the group a briefing of todays F215 / F214. Thanks also to Mike H who has sorted the radio problems in KEK & KHA. After lunch a smaller group discussed rules of the air, soaring etiquette and local airspace. Jonathan enlisted a variety of club member voices for recording some RT examples which will soon be available on the DSGC website.

Sunday 21st October

A small but enthusiastic band of optimists got the field set up and a towed a K21 and Junior up to the west end of the field in the mist so as to be ready for when the low cloud lifted. They then returned to the warm clubroom and with great devotion sacrificed Tea throughout the morning in an attempt to entice the cloud to lift. 

This was clearly successful because shortly after lunch the cloud began to break and although cloud base looked pretty low we were able to take a launch. The first launch into the fresh easterly wind was abandoned at 600ft due to a rebellious patch of low cloud, but at least we were flying! So, rather than have people standing around worrying that it was not worth the cost of a winch launch for such a short flight, or even packing up and going home, It was decided to do a Tesco Special - 'Two for the price of one' if they had a really short flight because of the low cloud. So we kept flying and soon the cloud lifted. 

Gordon and Liam flew the Junior while Ray H, Mark E, Mike Fa and Harry kept JB captive in the back of the K21until it was almost dark! 

Congratulations to Harry for successfully completing his Yellow card and well done to everyone for such excellent teamwork! Once again, living proof that staying on site and drinking tea can be good for your flying!
jb :-)

Talgarth - Day 3 - Time to wave goodbye

Day three started with the same cautious optimism as the previous two days, we were again greeted by low cloud and very little wind but talk of possible Easterly wave kept us interested.
The hill was clear but the valley was shrouded in cloud which kept pouring up across the airfield making for some good photo opportunities if nothing else.

By just after 1 pm the club K13 launched towards the hill but the tuggie soon elected to launch to the NW as he did not want a repeat of a very interesting departure!
Second to go was Simon L in FER and towed to 2000ft to contact wave, next up was me in ENW, the only way I can describe the tow would be - imagine getting on a frisky black stallion that had never been ridden and just as you lower your self gently onto its bear back someone kindly shoots it in the rear with a red hot dart!
After my release the turbulence continued with periods of 15 kt climbs followed by violent kicks of rotor. Over the radio came the call that no pilot with less than silver and 250 hrs were to fly solo!
Eventually Ian M came up to join the fun and as conditions calmed down the tuggie resumed normal operations which allowed Paul S to get into the wave . 

The top of the wave was about 7600ft MSL , IM and myself sat at this height and despite quite long range searching we could not get higher. The weather front that had been forecast for Sun evening could be seen in the distance marching towards us, we timed our descents between us so as not to have a conflict on the ground. One by one we landed into now a quite strong easterly breeze which gave considerable sink on the approach!
This last day was the icing on the cake for us all after three days of hugely varied flying, roll on next time ! - Mark

Saturday 20th October

There was lots of fog in the valley but it was sunny on the members DI-ing the gliders and kit early in the morning before setting up to fly from the North East corner. A white flag was raised and the weather obliged with a truce  allowing Ruth and Mark E to be put through their paces by Mike F and Stuart respectively before notching up a couple of more solo's in the K21's. Rowan took 2 trial lesson souls for their first taste of epicness in the DG while the rest of the members kept the launches ticking over, taking their turns at exploring the weak thermals that had started producing some low cumulus despite the thick high altitude Cirrus. The middle of the day produced some short soaring flights and the launch point bustle was replaced by idle banter as earth bound members waited for gliders to return to terra firma.

The flying list eventually had everybody successfully flown with Mike F, Chris H and Lisa helping out the duty dogs Stuart and Phil M. So those who wanted to were able to fill their boots with further flights which continued on to near sunset.
Martin briefs Ruth for epicness
Mark ready for his turn
The quiet conditions lasted all day and Martin was on hand in the afternoon to send Ruth and Mark E for their first flights in the Junior. Both pulling off text book flights to rounds of applause from the bubble gallery. Mark's second go in the Junior was called off due to the low sun which later put on a dazzling display for the tea club, who were sitting outside on the veranda enjoying the end of a very pleasant day at North Hill.
Tea Club weather
Not a bad end to the day

Fri 19th / Sat 20th October - Talgarth

"The Day that Should not have been " 
Friday morning the remaining three of six set off for Talgarth at 6:30am.
Early morning mist and nil winds did not bode well for a good day , how wrong we were !
Nobody launched until 12.30 just as weak thermals were popping off the sunny sides of the mountains. By following the contours of the hills you could tip-toe all the way to Talybont reservoir and back. Paul S got cleared for solo and had a long flight in his Cirrus, Mark C and Simon L had flights well over two and a half hours . Everyone landed by 4.30pm enabling an early shower and catnap before dinner and tales of a day that should not have been .
Foot note : Ian M was due on Friday morning but as his clock is set to British standard Mitchell time (5 hrs behind UTC ) he arrived in time for supper.

Day two Saturday : "Iron thermals and sheep shearing ".
The wind was light from the SE , not a good direction for Talgarth , early launches were into the South bowl and it did produce sustainable lift , this enabled searches to Langorse lake where there was weak wave . Lunch called so most people landed in expectation of a better afternoon . By 2:00pm the sky was looking better Ian M launched , fired up the engine and climbed to 3000ft before contacting wave to 6000ft he landed hours later when the whole airfield was deserted ! Paul S had a wave searching flight but ended up using thermals for a flight over an hour , Simon L in Steve's Discus and Mark C in his ASW20 spent two hours between 10 and 50ft above the ridge top in the South bowl before finding weak wave in the valley much to the relief of the sheep ! A fantastic day when once again expectation was so low ! - MC

Thursday 18th October

I arrived a bit late (09:10) thinking the Thursday crew would not be there early,  how wrong I was!! Adrian had DI'd two gliders and all the rest of the kit had been fuelled and readied for the  day ahead . 
The wind was very strong - 20 gusting 35 due south so we retired to the Clubhouse for a cup of tea and a closer look at the Met. The overhead projector was put to good use as I talked to people about the Met Office forms 214/215 . After a quick refresher about strong wind circuits and ground handling in strong winds we proceeded to the launch point.
Parking in strong winds
  I took a launch with Chris M, much to our surprise there was lift everywhere! After 30 mins or so we decided to land to let others have a go. Super Matt launched 30 min before lunch with Glyn  and decided to stay airborne until we came out from an extended lunch an hour or so later ! 
Drying the wings after a shower
 The conditions remained fiesty all day thankfully, Paul C helped out to ease pressure on the instructing, after several showers  pulsing through we decided to call it a day at about 3:45 with rain falling as we packed the hanger. Most people flew and we made the best of a boisterous day. Thanks to all the Thursday crew for working so hard in difficult conditions . -MC (Ed  - and a big thank you to Mark for holding the fort.)

Sunday 14th October

Clear blue sky and light north easterly wind, and yet again not many members, but plenty of visitors. Cumulus clouds bubbled up, but soaring was difficult. At 4pm, there was a sharp reversal in wind direction, and lack of experienced members to change ends brought an early end to proceedings.

Portmoak - waiting for the clearance

After 24 hours of torrential rain a clearance was forecast for Friday with the possibility of some ridge and maybe even wave. Unfortunately the rain was so torrential(53mm in just over 12 hours), that the field resembled a boating lake rather than an airfield so we couldn't have launched anyway, even if the clearance had arrived.
So the decision was made to make the trip home and of course there was lovely wave everywhere South.
Where the hell is everybody - I want to put my wings on.

Here's to next year!

Portmoak - filling in some of the gaps

Monday 8th turned out to be another ridge/thermal soaring day - where are they coming from?
Most of us enjoyed a day of local soaring in the warm Autumn sunshine with flights of around 3 hours venturing as far as Perth.
The wind shifted during the afternoon which enabled us to start with soaring the Bishop and ending our flights soaring Benarty, so a bit of everything.
Of note today was Captain Slow passing the 1,000 hour mark in 230 - that's 1,000 hours IN 230, not total!
 Captain Slow and 230 cruising to 1,000 hours passing Perth

Tuesday - another lovely warm day with blue skies but no wind so a day of walking and just laying around looking cool ensued. Some tomfoolery was also observed among the mentally youthful of our group.
  Buffoon from Exmouth-note the glass like surface of the loch.

Saturday 13th October

Cold blustery north westerly, with streets turning into large cbs with anvils and showers. Nonetheless, Pete St Discus 230 just back from Portmoak managed nearly 2 hours. Flying was brought to an early end when the showers became more continuous.
After replacement of the pressure transducer under warranty, the weather station is up and running again.

Thursday 11th October

Wet, wet, wet - A few Thursday regulars braved the flooded roads to meet up for a bacon sandwich and discussions on new Laws and Rules, igc files, official observers, synoptic chart analysis and RASP forecasts. By the end of the afternoon, the airfield had started draining quite well in a foggy white out.

Sunday 7th October - The Ochill Tour

Another day of ridge and late season thermal - initially the windsock was doing it's best impression of a gravity indicator but then slowly started twitching in the gentle westerly drift and weak becoming increasingly stronger thermals appeared.

To start with the light wind onto the hill also meant that it was perfect for the paragliders and a couple of hours of 'duvet dodging' ensued. The disparate performance between them and us made for some interesting flying, especially as they 'park' in the best and sometimes only area of lift.

JB and Pete thermalling over the loch
The thermals started as vague wisps but better looking clouds ran along the line of the Ochills out to the West. A slow tiptoe across the loch enabled Matt and Pete S to connect with the better clouds, Pete only managing to reach Dollar before getting in a bit of a spot and chickening out but Matt made it to Dunblane - a top effort! JB turbo'ed out to join in the fun.

Tom did 2 and 1/2 hours local soaring. Martin, Ron, Chris and Rowan having survived the ridge traffic all took a breather in the thermals enjoying the stunning visibility.
More traffic joining in the fun

Saturday 6th Oct - Good Crieff!!!

After working a soft Bishop ridge for some time, weak thermals started to kick off. The first excursion to Perth ended up with most running back to the ridge for a relight. Second trip out went towards Glenfarg and then onwards to Crieff where the wave is usually around. Only Martin in LS3-17(KMV) managed to connect with a respectable climb to 7,500' and even though Matt, Pete S and JB were in exactly the same place , failed miserably in contacting the wave. However, the real highlight was an epic 4-ship formation glide home(35km) without stopping at all which had us all laughing and Matt's 'camera on a stick' in full swing.
4 Musketeers set off from Crieff
Tom S(the next President of the USA) had some time on the ridge in a club Junior and Ron enjoyed a few hours too.
A fine day of soaring - and the Portmoak infrastructure hasn't collapsed as feared, just changed. The rooms are still good, the catering 90% there and bar plans are in motion. The SGU are using this opportunity to maximum advantage.

Sunday 7th October

The forecast had changed to be quite a reasonable day, but somehow the members must have missed it. With no trainees, two solo pilots, 8 Instructors (at times) incorporating  3 tuggies  -  a reduced price aerotow day was declared and we enjoyed half a dozen shared aerotows in the very smooth air. Both Falkes were out, VG visited Halesland and SC went to the south coast.

Saturday 6th October

After a lot of rain yesterday, the sky was gin clear and a north easterly wind with the usual down wave.

Some low level cumulus did form and there was some gentle soaring.

In the evening, the first of our winter talk series was given by Chris C and with a good turnout was enjoyed by all. The talk was followed by a  nice carvery from Maria & Co.

Friday 5th - Portmoak Hints of Wave

Jb, I arrived at Portmoak early afternoon on Thursday and had an short flight on Bishop before being chased down by a rain shower. Ron arrived just after sundown towing 611 and we retired to the pub for dinner.

Friday morning started gloomily with fog on the airfield which dissipated as quickly as it formed revealing hints of wave to the north. We set a wave task, hoping to utilise the usual wave hot spots. The wind was a light north westerly and Bishop was working well and gliders were contacting week wave off West Lomond but as the sun climbed the thermals started interfering and contact was lost. 

Gin clear air
JB and Ron persevered making multiple forays over the loch and towards Glenfarg trying to reestablish but with out real success.
Gnarly valleys on the way to Loch Tay

Loch Tay
Frustrated with the hunt for wave I gave up and decided to go out west in thermal, managing to make it into the mountains near Loch Tay. The visibility was incredible and the views were magnificent. A great days flying despite not going quite as planned.

Thursday 4th October

Best day of the week, and very nearly dry all day! There was a fresh north / south westerly wind providing some thermal and ridge lift at various times with the cloud streets cycling.
Thanks to Roly and Mike Fitz for manning the back seats all day in lieu of the normal unfit Thursday Instructors.

Wednesday 3rd October

Not a brilliant forecast and a gloomy damp, damp look to the day with a brisk S/W wind but we made a start and from the first launch things improved and it turned into quite a pleasant day with long flights with a bit of lift on the South ridge and some weak wave in various places.
As not many club members turned up, those that did had as much flying as they wanted, in the afternoon the wind backed to the N/W giving us good lift on the West ridge with a bit wave as well, the last two flights we air-braked down.
We welcomed back Dee C who has rejoined the club he was formally living in Mallorca but is now living locally, also Christine from The Park will be flying with us mid-week.- JSt

Wednesday 3rd - Denbigh Screaming

After a rest day in the rain at Denbigh, put to good use by Matt editing his latest video 'Denbigh Dreaming' - due on a computer screen near you soon -  we rigged, launched and dropped onto the ridge to try the set task of 140k, made up of 5 runs between the DRS (Denbigh ridge south) at the south end and DYS (Dyserth) at the north end of the ridge. Kevin mentioned that a pioneering ridge-runner from Nympsfield had achieved a speed of 132.7kph on a task using Prestatyn as his northerly turning point, in effect throwing down the gauntlet! As representatives of North Hill Soaring Section and naturally not wishing to let the side down we were obliged to rise to the challenge.
The ridge from launch height
With speed now being the name of the game the long tips were left in the trailers and Matt filled up with water! Using the remote start at the south end of the ridge gave us a brief chance to explore the handling before selecting 'flaps to minus two and stick to the front'! It was my first outing in the Ventus in 15 metre mode and it was remarkably nimble. With the extra water on board, after the start Matt was gone like a 'robbers dog' and I was playing catch up for the rest of the task. 

Testing the short wings
We found that running north was much quicker due to the slight tail wind component however the north section was not working as well as on Monday due to suspected wave interference and we had to slow down, both in and out of the turn point to maintain sufficient height to allow the jump back to the main ridge.

We both felt that we were pushing as hard as we could, and a couple of times, I over did it and had to S turn to get back into the workable zone which cost me in terms of task speed. On the final run north, because of a short beat of reliable ridge at the Dyserth turn point and not having to conserve height, we could plan to arrive low at the finish making the last leg blistering!

The 'robbers dog' won the day with a task speed of 145.3 kph, while yours truly hobbled home with a mere 133.2kph. -  I tell pupils not to grip the stick, but by the end of this task my hand was aching as we went in search of wave for a bit of a rest.

Heading west in the search for wave


Monday 1st October - Dancing with Denbigh Dragons

With a few extra days to kill before the October Portmoak trip, JB and I decided to head north and a bit west to Denbigh, Pete S's favourite gliding site. With a low grey overcast and pouring rain setting the tone for most of the 4 hour drive we were beginning to doubt the logic of our decision but as we pulled into Lliweni Parc blue gaps were appearing between the showers. After filling out the paperwork and a site brief by CFI Kevin Hook it was almost flyable so we rigged and lined up on the narrow tarmac runway ready for epicness!
Looking south
There was a bit of a debate as to who was going to go first and test if the ridge was working as the wind at the launch point wasn't all that strong, until we realised that who ever launched second would be doing so with a trestle as a wing runner. So choosing the lesser of the 2 weevils, I launched first and was soon scaring the sheep on Moel Y Parc. 

Approaching Dyseth
The wind was 220/15-20kts at ridge top height  and it was booming, allowing us to complete our declared task of 5 beats of the 28km ridge in a little over an hour and laughing most of the way. Out to the west Snowdon was shrouded by showers which coalesced into an ominous curtain of rain which had us abandon the hunt for wave and scoot back to the airfield to de-rig before a nice cup of tea.

Soaring heaven