Saturday 23rd Feb - Cold Enough to Freeze your Teeth!

Well it was cold today - really cold !! We were at the traditional freezing corner of the field (SW). I could not believe how many people turned up today considering the temperature forecast but by 9:30 the gliders were being towed up to the launch point .
Meanwhile in the workshop JB, Pete S and Rowan finished the DG Annual inspection. A huge amount of work takes place behind the scenes  to keep the club gliders in such immaculate condition and we all owe a huge debt of gratitude to these unsung heroes !
Back at the West end  training started and with the list so long it was clear that is was going to be a long cold day. Exeter Uni members joined in and learned new skills such as launch point operations, hooking on ,signalling etc, jobs that we take for granted but essential for the smooth running of our club.
Gordon H had his first flight in his Kestrel, an aerotow to 3000ft.
Gordon tries his new toy for size.
 Rowan continued his instructor work up as did Paul S. Conditions calmed to white/red which enabled the two Juniors to be well utilised. Thankfully there were several instructors attending today so the work load was shared enabling regular thaw outs! 
The DG was eventually rigged and towed to the far end. This meant that we could have all four two seaters fully utilised. The cold eventually got too much and with light fading we stopped flying at  5:30, just in time as our teeth really did start to freeze .
A rewarding day despite the lack of any real lift, most people were just happy to be back flying and enjoying the superb launches provided by our Skylaunch winch .
Thanks to everyone who braved the cold, it will get warmer soon I promise !! 

Dave W showing off his teeth before they froze solid. Try calling downwind with frozen teeth !
Mark C

Thurs 21st Feb - Wasting petrol and the Blue Eyed Boy!

When Steve W and I turned up to the club today we found that the sheep were away, two K21's were D.I'd the launch point vehicle was out and the parachutes were loaded ,all achieved by  Adrian P! He reinforced his title as "Blue Eyed Boy ", further by demonstrating  perfect circuit planning in very strong winds!
After a quick briefing about looking after the gliders on the ground in strong winds the Thursday crew walked the aircraft to the other end .As the wind was straight down the strip we set up in the middle which gave a little twist on circuit landing and areas of touchdown.
 The conditions were challenging but everyone coped well and learned a lot I hope .Apparently it was rather cold at the West end today ,I did not notice however as my one piece suit was made entirely of Poo Bear hot water bottles ,staggering!
Around midday there were thermals to be found if you knew where to look (blunder into) Mark C and Mark L managed the longest flight of just over 30 min ,only coming down because Mark L needed his lunch ,I would hate to be soooo dependant on food!
Steve W and Paul M had a soaring flight followed by alternate circuit planning!
Despite the alleged cold all the members had a great day ,certainly worth the petrol to get to the club for sure!

We did 30 launches today again reinforcing the fact that making the effort to just turn up can have rewarding consequences.

Meanwhile in the glider workshop work on the DG Annual was in full swing with Carl on inspection and maintenance, Pete S on avionic stuff and JB doing a top job on polishing - good effort all round.
Future pilot George and a grinning wierdo

Steve W keeps his hot water bottles a little lower than most

The Thursday crew looked miffed at spending their money on petrol getting to the club !! Worth the cost to see Ray D's flying suit alone!
Mark C

Wednesday 20th Feb

Another Wednesday without flying but we put the day to good use, we marched them up to the top of the hill and we marched them down again, a good exersise in keeping warm.
The day looked as if it was going to be OK but as soon as we had all the kit at the West end the freezing fog returned so early lunch after the usual pressed gang helped with some clearing up, Mike was working on his Land Rovers and JB, Pete S and Tim J were working on the DG.  JS.
Digging for gold only uncovered an odd fossil

Aided and abetted by John S and others, we got the trailer out of the tunnel this morning have stacked all the corrugated sheets on it ready for storage. I cut up the black sheet (which was partly torn anyway) and covered both the trailer and remaining rubbish heap. John has separated out all the wood and was itching to burn it when I left. I also fired up the blue digger just to give it a run prior to putting it to work when the ground has dried a bit more! Peter S

Sunday 17th Feb

The day started almost blue and very cold in the strong S/E wind with a little light low cloud, by the time Andrew L had the wheel fairing fitted we had all four two seaters at the N/W corner.
As the field was still too wet for winching it was all aerotow again. The flying list was nearly at the bottom of the page but with four two seaters on the go we started getting through the list. All the flights found lift, the south ridge was working well and we had good thermals (I think that's what we used to call them) up to over 2,500ft.
Rowan was getting ready for his instructor course flying with JB, John P took an A/T to the sea-side to fly the cliffs.
Two milestones were reached today, Pete W after only 20 A/Ts wanted a relief (he usually has to be surgically removed from the tug) and JS lost a shilling bet with MC about John P getting back from the coast JS lost the bet and had to pay up (JS usually has to be surgically removed from his wallet). JS.
Last tow of the day

Saturday 16 Feb - Paragliding talk

Saturday felt like a real treat because the sun was shining (although not as warm as Jamaica!). The wind was light and from the South West, Yippeeeeeee we can fly! The field too wet for winch launches but aero-tows for all at bargain price were just the ticket. There were thermals in the south bowl and some reasonable flights.

Martin and Stu rigged KMV for the first time this year to blow out the cobwebs, while Mike F and Eric A worked through the list in the DG505 and K21, JB and Rowan commandeered the K13 so that Rowan could catch up on his long overdue instructor training before going on his BGA course in early April.
Rowan demonstrates another spin off an under banked and over ruddered final turn. Nice one!
After lunch Stu flew to Dunks in VG with Roly, where they de-rigged and put her in a hanger ready for a new back window to be fitted. Later in the afternoon the cloud was creeping in over the south ridge and landing down the field was by far the best option with the added benefit of no lengthy retrieving as seen earlier with the very light southerly wind.

The last flight was taken by Henry (again!, thanks to the helpers). He took to the skies in a K21 with Heather to practice some patter. They were amazed by the awesome tow Matt gave around the scenery provided by the tops of the clouds, before gliding below them to do a few beats on the south ridge. A very nice evening!
Saturday night we had a very interesting 'short' talk from Harry Dike of the Devon and Somerset Condor Paragliding Club. He spoke about his passion for Paragliding which involved attaching a student to some paragliding gear. After the talk, stragglers feasted on a carvery, while Chris H played on the mountains.
Not a sim

Saturday 16th Feb - DSGC down under

Omarama Day 6
At yesterday's briefing, there was rain forecast for today, so we were a little surprised when soarable weather was predicted at this mornings briefing.
The south westerly wind was dropping off and weak thermals were expected providing the temperature got up to 20C. So whilst we waited for the morning overcast to decide what to do, yesterdays flights were analysed in great detail., followed by a briefing on tephigrams by Phil.
By 1330, we were at the gliders looking at the sky, when rain started falling, presumably from one of the weak fronts that had struggled to get over the Main Divide.- but it did start a clearance going.
Jill and Gabriel were first to launch in Duo discus DD, and for some reason Gabriel pulled the bung at 800 ft. There was then a 40 minute struggle to regain launch height. And we then waited for reports of other gliders succeeding to get away.

After a second launch at 1615, the ridges were not working and some weak thermals were struggling to get to the top of the ridges.
Two hours were spent polishing rocks mainly between 4000 and 5000 ft, and eventually we gave up the struggle after 125 km.
Nice Reflections on Lake Ohau

We've had a great week at Omarama with in excess of 20 hours flying in a variety of weather conditions and fantastic scenery.  A great place for gliding.

Friday 15th Feb - DSGC down under

Omarama Day 5
We had the usual analysis of the previous days flying and todays tutorial was centering in thermals.
The same warm south westerly yesterday, but the high was a bit closer. So it was unlikely that the wind would be strong enough for any ridges to work, and wave might only be useable near the really high mountains. Cloudbase would only be around 8000ft giving 2000ft clearance above the local craggy bits.
Pete's turn to fly with G in DD today.

Lake Pukaki
Narrow Gap between the Hard Stuff and the Good Clouds
It was quite slow to climb away from the aerotow to get above the hills, but once there, staying up was fairly easy. 8kt thermals if working hard, 4kt if being a bit lazy and not keeping the bank on.
With lots of different local winds flowing down valleys and over and round hills, there were convergence effects everywhere. Some were easy to spot, just like Devon seabreeze fronts, but not straight-they followed the terrain contours, so it was very easy to get behind them- not the place to be.Others were convergences of similar airmasses, so no changes in cloudbase, the only way to spot them was to recognise a calm area on the ground with opposing winds either side- not particularly easy from 3000ft above the ground, but to G it was all too obvious.
Anyway, good fun and good lessons 3:44 and 250 kms.

Thursday 14th Feb -DSGC down under

Omarama Day 4 - The wind has moved round further to the south west and there was a lot more moisture aloft forecast.
So after a review of yesterday's flights and a briefing on convergences in the mountains, Jill flew with G in Duo Discus  x DD.
Launched onto the nursery ridge and spent a while working out the wind directions and used the sun on the ground to get the better lift in the foothills.
Transitioned easily into a lower wave system and set off for Mt Cook.
By the time we had got there at over 17500ft, we could see that Mt Cook was completely enshrouded  in cloud today, so we turned short at Mt Sefton. We headed back south towards Queenstown to explore more interesting wave formations, staying below 13500 to keep clear of their airspace.
Lake Pukaki after returning from Mt Cook at 17000'
Omarama Airfield looking south
Returning to base after 378 kms in 3.5 hours. A nice, easy flight, but with some confusing cloud scapes and lots of flying saucers. 
In the evening, we enjoyed a course dinner plus staff and instructors  at the Kahu Cafe, with music by G on the piano.

Thursday 14th Feb - Reluctant sheep and Would be Shepherds

Sorry if this is a long blog but -- the story starts last Monday. As I was leaning against the workshop door enjoying a cup of tea whilst listening to Simon L filing the nose of my glider while he sang  his favourite Karen Carpenter song I saw the farmer roll in with his very large trailer .
Now I'm not the nosey sort but I was curious as to why, when persuading the sheep to exit said trailer he had a smile/smirk on his face.  I assumed it was a case of "Farmers Wind " but I had to ask anyway . "What's so funny Mr Farmer" " Cooor yume gwain to avv truuble weth these shep bey ". Now,  translated that means " Cor your going to have trouble with these sheep boy"  in case none of you speak Farmer. Why I asked ? ( I will translate for you) "These sheep are shall we say "undesirable,  juvenile  delinquents , trouble makers , home wreckers and general down and outs. Get the picture ? But I got um cheap! " he said.
Roll forward to today , the first part of the morning consisted of a lecture and several field inspections , overlooked by some sheep with attitude .
I came up with a brilliant idea to protect the field we ( well others) would round up the sheep by foot and ask them nicely to go into their new pen where it is muddy with no grass .
You have to use your imagination from now on,  but I can tell you that fifteen willing Shepard's running around a very wet and muddy field shouting swear words that even these delinquent sheep would not understand did not have the desired effect !
I will never forget the sight of Gordon B running down the field looking as if he had an argument with his underwear and shaking his fists , or the sight of a breakaway group heading towards the lane running as fast as school kids at home time . Brilliant !
This breakaway group had their day and we left them in the undershoot area , the Shepard's were too exhausted to care !
Mark C waits for a gap in the rain
Aerotows commenced and several members used the ridge to stay up for an hour or so , Ray D and JB had a tow to 4000ft and managed to stay airborne long enough to allow a nasty shower to pass by . Most tows were to 1500 ft at the knockdown discount price , members should be using this time to get cheap aerotow practice . During the day several large showers swept  by causing much tea drinking . The club house was full at lunch time with a great atmosphere , Chris W finally calling a halt to flying when a large shower street threatened us , a great decision .
All in all a good day despite our new friends !
The very best of luck to the Saturday guys , watch out for the one with one eye he is the ring leader and should only be approached with extreme caution .
Chris W, fitness guru, warms up

Wed 13th Feb - DSGC down-under

Omarama Day 3 - Two more fronts went through overnight leaving us in a fresh south westerly airstream which meant that the best ridges to use were those to the south of the site. So after reviewing yesterday's flights and more wave flying theory Pete and Gabriel launched in Duo Discus x "DD" (with yet another completely different instrument fit to get used to!) at around13:00 into an 8 knot thermal.
The cumulus was a bit low (at 6500') over the planned route, so an alternative ridge line was selected, which coincided with an encouraging looking convergence. Following cloudbase for about 100 km, the sky was changing and a reasonable route to anywhere looked unlikely without climbing higher. Whilst Pete maintained height on the ridges, Gabriel was using his superb sky watching skills to spot a likely wave entry route. Stopping the climb at 13,500 ft, at the base of some airspace, and set off north to reach Mount Cook. After an easy 150kms glide, gaining 3000 ft on the way, and still 50 km or so short of the goal, the Omarama fickle finger of fate struck, all the needles hit the down stops and stayed that way, losing over 6000 ft in 20 km! and dropping out of the bottom of the wave in the process. Back to 8000 ft over a 6500 ft ridge in the roughest rotor thermal ever. A prolonged and very turbulent recovery ensued but eventually the wave was re-entered and enough height gained for an uncomplicated glide home.
Sky before Takeoff
Flying past huge lenticular dome at 16000 ft

A challenging flight in parts, easy in others, for four and a half hours and about 300 km.

Tuesday 12th Feb - DSGC down under

Omarama Day 2 - The morning was spent reviewing the traces from monday on Seeyou.Followed  by a lecture on structure of thermals in the mountains.
After an early lunch, the grid started launching at one o'clock. The forecast  was for good thermals but a potential early finish with thickening cirrus from the next system.
Jill and Gabriel were third to go in DuoDiscus xL QQ. Gabriel pulled off early in a cracking thermal in the valley overhead the airfield. Stepping up into the foothills the good thermals did not seem to be over the ridges, and after a short exploration and close encounter with sheep on the top of a spur, things got going.
Having worked up to 9000ft made an easy transition into wave heading for Mount Cook. Climbing through 10000ft we realised that the oxygen wasn't turned on, so made a decision to go for distance instead of height today.

After an orbit of Mount Cook and Mt Tasman with some great photos, Gabriel decided that we could easily make Mt Aspiring along the energy lines of the wave just above the Cumulus. There was much more cloud to the south west and from 12000ft, Mt Aspiring didn't appear until we were fairly close, although its position was never in doubt with cumulus higher and pouring down the leeward side.
Having turned back for home, Gabriel suggested that we overshoot to explore the nice looking convergence developing to the east of site, but it didn't last long and a straight -in approach from 6000ft was a new experience. -A great flight thanks to the fantastic sky reading (and flying) of Gabriel, 400kms in 4.5 hours.

Check out Jill's flight on the OLC
Mt Cook

Monday 11th Feb - DSGC down under

Omarama Day 1- The Mackenzie basin seems to have a micro-climate of its own, and does not follow any of the televised forecasts. But CFI Lemmy seems to make a good interpretation of it each morning.
The forecast rain took a little longer to clear through than expected. So a morning of introductions and briefings on wave transition and flying safely in the mountains was followed by launching after lunch.
This proved to be a bit too soon, as the first two launches were back on the ground fairly swiftly having found nothing to stay up in at all! After a delay of about an hour launching restarted.
Having been one of the earlier launches Pete and Gabriel were now at the back of the queue, but this turned out to be an advantage as the initial climb away from the site became easier.
We were flying Duo Discus xL "QQ"and were towed straight out into the gentle westerly, to some scrappy looking rotor thermal, this then allowed us to climb high enough to push forward over the first big ridge at about 5000' (Omarama 1380' amsl). Ridge and thermal got us higher again, for another jump forward to a really big Cu cloud, which in turn allowed another jump into wind, into the Ahuriri valley which looked as if it was a wave gap in the carpet of cumulus.

Tracking along the line of the Barrier Range provided 8 to 10 knot climb to just short of 18, 000', whilst still climbing at 4 knots boredom set in and we set off for a high altitude tour of the southern lakes, until we thought it time to go home, last to land at 19:45 after a flight of about three hours.
Jill's turn tomorrow!
Check out Pete's flight on OLC
Climbing High in Wave

Sunday 10th Feb - Water, water works and tears

Well I can honestly say that I have never seen so much water in the lanes driving to the club on this February morning! The field was being used today by the Beavers, the Exeter Water Polo Club. A great bunch, please don't come back soon though!
In the clubhouse we welcomed Jo, a French guy who traveled up with the "New" Plymouth Brethren and Sam, a friend of  Mr " Hair today" Liam AKA pockets. 

How can they be so happy???
Paul S gave the newbies a really good talk on glider basics which they seemed to enjoy.
In the lecture room a bit later Mike S gave his first lecture on circuit planning to an audience consisting of Simon L, Mark C, Pete S, Paul S and Dave W. Despite our best efforts to play bad pupils he performed well!
The club room seemed to fill up with people keen to watch the rain whilst eating and drinking  - it's amazing how people can be so cheerful on a day that could make a Panda cry.
Henry worked hard at fixing the water pump delivery system. In the process he nearly managed to electrocute his willing helper (William).  Please note to anyone attempting work on electrical systems, DO NOT stand in a bucket of water whilst connecting high voltage wires!
And lastly the Tears. Down in the glider workshop Mark C collected his band of helpers who scraped the paint off the nose of his ASW20 armed with wire brushes and metal files and JB was last seen consoling the trauma ridden owners Mark C and Mike S .

Another wet day but filled with humour and banter. MC
It's amazing what you can achieve with a wire brush!

Sat 9th Feb - normal service resumes.....................

With the weather that is. Low cloud and rain has turned the field 'a bit soggy' again and there was no flying.
Time wasn't wasted though as Pete S rallied the troops and got several maintenance jobs done including sorting the tyre problem on the Junior which meant leveling and jacking it while stowed in the back of the hangar - does anybody remember the Krypton Factor?
Many thanks to Andrew L, Ruth, Gordon H, Stu P, Wyn and Dylan(loafing back from Uni), and any I've forgotten.

A plea to everyone - please do not use HCX on the muddy field until the wheel fairing has returned from repair.

Thurs 7th feb - Instructors, buses and a good plumber

Well you can't find an instructor anywhere, then just like buses seven  turn up at once!! (Well almost all at once). That was the story today with Chris W, Eric A, Pete F, Mark C, JB, Matt and Ron! For once the winch could be used as the field was remarkably dry so the club was very busy today and with the list quite long we needed every available aircraft. 
Wow a Winch Launch!
Unfortunately HCX was in for its annual check and the K13 has been declared U/S due to a cracked multiway  joint in the plumbing. PeteS supplied some joiners and I supplied some tube, all we needed was a reliable "plumber" with a spine as flexible as Bill Gates's credit card. Enter William P. Many thanks for the fix William, I have left the Radox bath salts in the clubhouse . 

Joe S did some field landing practice in the Falke along with some simulated air tow rope break exercises (thinly disguised flypasts). If you have never done this I suggest you speak nicely to a Motor Glider Instructor and have a go, it will be the best value 30 mins flying you will ever have. Ask Joe

Ray D took the opportunity in  ideal conditions to re-solo  after a long weather break and JB did some spinning in the K13. The ridge was just about working despite the wind being quite light on the ground and at one point there were four gliders in a thermal, yes a thermal ! 
With all the instructors taking turns the entire group got to fly (just) before we packed away in light drizzle. My prediction of wave last week didn't quite materialise but I am sure next week we will be all sitting at 8000ft.
Many thanks to all you hard working Thursday crew and to Zoe for her excellent catering.

You just got to love Thursdays . 

After a rather heavy landing Matt needed a little help to exit the aircraft!!!
I thought you said your straps were tight!

Wednesday 6th Feb

Apart from 25 gusting 35kt freezing wind straight across the still waterlogged field which prevented flying, it was a nice day and plenty of the Wednesday hopefulls turned up eager to help with the road repairs that have been delayed due to lack of materials. The work was quite extensive, and look away now Robert, we have used up nearly all the road repair kit.
Blacktop boys showing off their leaning skills
Thanks to the press gang :- Pete W ,Mark L, Matt, William, Nick H, and JS, after we had finished we all enjoyed a nice bonfire to warm up.
"It won't burn in this wind", is a red rag to a pyromaniac
JB and Ruth are hard at work on polishing the wings of HCX during its Annual.
Pretending to work


Sat 2nd Feb

With the airfield still a little too damp for the winch, the Pawnee came into its own for yet another day.  A strong northerly wind produced a mighty rough ground run and prevented most members from flying solo. Despite this, and the biting cold at the launch point, there was soon a respectable list of pilots eager to get off the ground.

Both K21s and DG505 were busy all day.  Adrian P and Martin W took advantage of the Junior reduced rates, with Adrian scoring the longest flight of the day (42 minutes).  Once off the ground, the air was smooth and crystal clear, and the views outstanding.  We flew our first Trial Lesson of the year and welcomed Darren, a visitor from Brentor.
Evening colours
Stu is rewarded after towing all day, by having an evening flight with Jimbob

Sat 2nd Feb - DSGC down under

Made it to South island just ahead of the rugby sevens in Wellington -well done England., with a nice smooth crossing (- no worries Mark L).
100kms drive to probably the remotest gliding club we've ever been to - Nelson Lakes, a 1.5 km x 100m east west paddock with ridges and foothills on both sides and big mountains within reach.There was a small farm building housing 2 twin Acros and a single Astir. Behind the hangar was ' a long drop' and by the launch point a large garden shed for a clubhouse.
Scenic Grid
Downwind right hand into Lake Station, Nelson
It was lovely day, with cloud still on the mountains at first, the breeze was down the strip and the usual assortment of local gliding people who were far outnumbered by the swarms of large Bumble bees.
Local knowledge suggested that it wouldn't be soarable for a while so we sat around and chatted with the friendly locals.
Do ya thinks it's working mate? Club house gallery.
CFi Rob launched his Nimbus 2 and disappeared for several hours,  but the other locals were still circuit bashing from 1400ft winch launches. We launched just after 2pm, wit duty instructor Kerry, but couldn't do any better.
Late afternoon, Pete had another go  and the single seaters also started soaring.
Pete and Kerry picked up a 4 kt thermal off the winch, to near cloudbase at 3000ft above site (airfield 1700ft amsl). Then flew along the line of the home ridge close to cloud-base then got onto the Mount Robert ridge and with an increasing westerly wind allowed them to follow the rising mountain crests and cloud-bases until they were at 7000ft and 30 kms south of the site.

The peak just left of centre under the cumulus is 7000ft, Mt Cupola
The rocks were incredibly craggy and there were two large glacial valleys full of water.
Incredible Craggy Rocks of Mt Cupola at 7000'
It was then more than time to go home, and they flew back over the lower cumulus to let down over the airfield. It was a very welcoming small club that fly mainly Saturdays + more if the weather suits.
- Jill and Pete.
See where Jill and Pete are click on the links.
Lake Station Airport
Mt Cupola, South of Lake Station