Sunday 31st March

RASP was looking even better for today, and it was soarable both earlier and later than yesterday, but the wind picked up from the south east by lunchtime so no-one ventured very far. 
There were several local soaring flights in strong thermals, and Pete and Lisa flew Duo Discus OL down to the cliffs but there was too much east in the wind, so they checked out the engine on the way back. 
The cliffs at Beer

Liam started the sponsored trailer washing event for the benefit of the Ian Beckett Fund to boost the funds in support of our junior members.

Saturday 30th March

Last night the RASP forecast was giving those lovely orange colours.... from 1000 to 1500 and the Lasham forecast was also suggesting good conditions in Devon and there was a little banter about setting tasks.
But Saturday morning dawned a little disappointing with a lot of cloud stuck under an inversion at about 4000ft which had fed in from the North Sea overnight. The air was cold, dry and unstable although the cloud was a little reluctant to break, but soaring conditions started around 1100.  The K21s, DG505,  Junior and 6 private owners all got away to create an empty launch point for the first time this year. 
Pete St Discus 230 completed the Club 100 NHL - TIE - YEO - NHL for the longest flight 2:36 - (he was going to go round again but the good soaring turned off spot on time.) Peter Sm in 1UP Lak19  and Adrian P FXD Jantar enjoyed their first soaring flights in their new gliders. Eric and Dylan both flew for over 2 hours in their respective LS7s. Pete H and Dylan explored the countryside in the Rotax Falke.
A great day after the recent bad weather, although it was still very cold. - Same again tomorrow hopefully?

Refurbished President's Trophy
After flying, Mark E was presented with the recently refurbished President's Trophy for best progress having been patiently waiting for its return since the AGM.

Good Friday 29th March

The club was quiet this morning despite sunshine and tempting looking cloud streets.  Nevertheless, by late morning, a small but determined (and 50% Davies) group of members made their way to the north west corner with a K21.  The hike up the field made the strong wind and turbulence more obvious, and a blue flag was duly raised.  Mike F took up his position in the back seat and soon members were reminded what booming thermals feel like.  They were less pleased to be reminded about evil sink!

After lunch Andrew M took over the back seat.  Unfortunately the natural thermals had died down, but he did get 500 feet off the man made one which had been set off near the sheep pen.  Flying finished early and all retired to the clubhouse for tea and Nick H's chocolate cake. - Ruth
9 members had all this to themselves

Thursday 28th March

It was still bitterly cold but there was quite a bit of sun which helped a little, and at lunchtime there was even a bit of soaring. But unfortunately the afternoon was heavily disrupted by temporary class D airspace with 10 mile radius of Exeter Airport for the Duke of York's visit.
Matt rigged ASW20 M5 and made the most of the soarable slot landing right on time, proving a good workout for his new panel.Ron and Ed, Pete and Ian in K21s and Eric and Joe in the Juniors also enjoyed the soarable interlude.
There was a small competition between 'Marks' for arty photos:
You don't often see a white shadow - tug at 0830 by Mark C

The Boss waiting to go - reflection by Mark L

Wednesday 27th March

Playing in the snow at Nympsfield
Last Sunday's forecast predicted that the bitter ENE winds were set to continue throughout the week, making the prospect of any decent gliding about as bleak as the weather itself!  But the east faces of the Malvern Hills, Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons do work very well if you can get to them and I was fortunate enough to fly them with Trevor Stuart from Nympsfield in the back seat of the Nimbus 3DT in February.

So an offer to do a lead and follow with Trevor in his Nimbus 3DT on Wednesday with Dave Jesty and me in tow was great opportunity to put what I learnt then into practice and it also gave Matt the chance of experiencing his first real 'turbo' facilitated flight. Turbos were definitely the order of the day to avoid a long retrieve if we got caught out by a large snow shower.

Matt and I left Taunton for Nympsfield at some ungodly hour hour on Wednesday morning and had the Ventus rigged and ready by 8.30. The plan was to glide across the Severn valley from Nympsfield to the Malvern hills then fly a short North-South task to Great Whitney before catching a thermal and jumping the 50k down wind to the Black Mountains.
Unfortunately Dave Jesty had a problem with his turbo so turned back off the tow.

The visibility was pretty grim...
The visibility was pretty grim on the glide out to the Malverns with snow showers and it felt rather unnerving to leave the tug at 3000ft QFE NYM and head off 30k into wind to a destination that you couldn't even see! Flying through snow showers is not like flying through rain - it doesn't affect the performance, just the visibility which can get downright nasty! 
Improved visibility
But once through them it was plain sailing and the view of the Malverns was beautiful. 
Beautiful views
The hills were working really well and we were able to blast along below the top and then pick up thermal and climb up to cloud base! It was really bizarre to be thermaling one minute and flying through a snow shower the next!

Unfortunately the frequent snow showers prevented us from going over to the Black Mountains where the sky was looking very black indeed so we headed north to Kidderminster before returning to the Malverns and from there back to Nympsfield.
The long wing of the Nimbus with JB thermaling in wonderland
As we got out of the gliders it was snowing heavily and we all stood there in the snow just laughing - What a day - soaring in the snow! It really was a very unusual day out - fantastic fun and all down to the help and kindness of Trevor Stuart! What a star - Thanks Trevor! JB

Back at North Hill
The field  was dry but it was bitterly cold still,  and mainly circuits / checks (and I'm missing my Wednesday report from J St, - hope to see you soon).
After the Instructor meeting there was a light covering of snow over the field.

Sat & Sun 23 / 24th March

It was very cold, the trees were getting rimed in the freezing fog.
Rime captured by James

Thursday 21st March

The rain continued most of the day as forecast and the field quickly became awash again, but indoors there was plenty going on:
Mike H was looking at the radio problem in KEK,
Pete C was packing some parachutes, he will be doing the club 'chutes on Monday or Tuesday next week and will let us know when he can do the private owners chutes.
Pete and Jill and Ian were working on the Duo annual inspection.
JB and Malcolm V were working on the Eagle.
Mark Lo has installed the wiring on the LPV to make the new solar panel work.
News from John St - he is now at home recovering, he has had one stent fitted and another to be done. Thanks everyone for their kind wishes and says he will see you soon.

Wednesday 20th March

A lucky break in the weather allowed the Pawnee to be flown back from Bodmin on Monday, following its annual inspection.
Today's forecast looked hopeful for flying, (well at least better than later in the week) but it was very gloomy to start with, and with an easterly wind, the gliders set off for the top of the field. It wasn't long before they were marched back again, and following a break for lunch, the sky opened up enough to do 17 launches.
The winch maintenance team took the opportunity of servicing the Supacat.
We all wish John St well , while recovering from yesterday's heart attack, more news to follow.

Sunday 17th March

Another pitch inspection with the overnight rain making the field unusable. More trailer fettling in preparation for the long trek north to Portmoak. Jill gave a metform briefing for those trying to get ticks in boxes on the cross-country training card.
Taunted by the sky,  denied by the field

Saturday 16th March

It's only taking a little bit of rain (well ~20mm) to make the field unusable for winching again, and with the Pawnee away on its Annual, there was only trailer fettling going on.
In the evening, Chris gave the second in his series of talks - this time describing The Red Arrows, and following the well-subscribed talk, with the Clubhouse 'bulging at the seams', we managed to seat over 50 members and families for a carvery.

Thursday 14th March

The forecast was just 'a nice day' - it was a cold bright north westerly, clouds started popping at 11:00 and the gliders started to soar at about 12:00. The word had got round to the 9 private owners who were leisurely rigging gliders before lunch.
The launch grid (first of the season)  and the sky were something to relish.
It turned out to be quite difficult to get away initially,with the usual wave influence, but cloudbase soon rose to over 5,500ft QNH enabling Mark L Cirrus 477 and Adrian DG100 HMS to achieve silver height. 
Pete St Discus 230 took the prize for longest flight just short of 3 hours and Ron, ASW20 611, James ASW20 ENW, Adrian and Mark all flew for more than 2 hours, visiting various nearby turnpoints (don't forget to put them on the ladder)
ENW respendent in new colour scheme - (eat your heart out Uncle Mark)

Ray D and Gordon B both converted to the Junior.
Ray converts to the Junior
Whilst all this flying was going on Malcolm V was successfully completing his Bronze paper.
A great day was enjoyed by all, and long overdue for this spring. Thanks to everyone for making it such an enjoyable super Thursday.

Wednesday 13th March

The freezing weather continues but it didn't seem quite as cold because the wind had dropped or we are all getting used to it!
All the gliders were out early and ready to go by 10.00am but the Northerly crosswind made for difficult launches at about 12.00 the Northerly veared to the East and made launches even more difficult, with a NNW wind forecast we decided  to stop for an early lunch and see what the wind was going to do before changing ends.
After lunch, the wind had backed a little so we stayed where we were to everybody's relief, there were some soaring flights but with poor launch heights the thermals were difficult to reach, at about 3.30pm a huge storm was brewing so we called it a day.
Work is underway clearing the old sheep pen of gorse & brambles and taking down the old fence - it should make a huge difference to the S/W corner. - JSt.

Sunday 10th March

Amidst the evil, cold easterly wind and snow flurries, and maybe because it was Mothering Sunday, only a handful of members showed up today. And some of that was responding to Andrew’s request to put the K13 into the workshop for the annual (which we found out the Saturday team had already done). But we did get to welcome John Si back from his sunny holiday, who had the audacity to show up in the insulated winter  overalls but with a super tan.
After a bacon sarnie break, it was decided not to pull the kit out, but other work continued. Thanks go out to Liam and Ollie  for cleaning off and repainting all the white reference markers at both ends of the field. Boy it was cold out there!! - Tom

Saturday 9th March - Master Chef and the Doghouse

The kit was got out, the field was set up, and the kettle was on - all quite early, unfortunately all we could do is drink tea and wait!
The Rotax Falke set off to establish cloudbase which turned out to be only 700ft above the site, so it was back to drinking tea. Super Stu and the rest of the Super Falke gang headed off to Dunkeswell,  to rig their pride and joy after it had a new rear canopy fitted.  They had to wait until a big shower went through before they could fly her home to North Hill so they also drank tea - all be it at another airfield.
Paul S flew in the Rotax to practise patter and stalling in preparation for his May instructors course, Simon L and Mark C also flew in the Falke to practise the aerotow rope break exercise.
In the club house it was very busy, some people were listening to Pete and Jill chatting about their NZ exploits, I think we could have an evening organised on this subject - any chance Pete? (ed: may take a while to sort out the photos)
The workshops were kept busy, Rowan and Adrian were grappling with trailers, getting them ready for the fantastic summer we are going to get!  
The Fournier RF5 with Simon J did a low pass over the airfield whilst we had lunch followed by the Super Dimona from Dunkeswell, although concentrating hard on piloting the low pass Ian M was still able to see that Mark C had left the DV panel open by 1 inch on his "baby" (Rotax) whilst it was raining! That's Mark in the Doghouse once again.
Mark tries to make amends by cleaning and polishing Ian's Falke

Rowan tried to  made an impression in the kitchen today, after recently winning 'Master Chef' he was keen to show off his new uniform in the kitchen, but with bacon sandwiches tainted with grease and rust he was never going to impress this fussy clientele! 
Rowan fails to impress even with his new uniform
Members are really chomping at the bit now, they can sense that summer is just around the corner, in fact most of us are praying hard for a cracker - anything to cheer up old grumpy chops (Pete St) !!

Thursday 8th March - Burn, Burn, Burn - our ring of fire

No flying today but a whole lot of fun ! Very few members of the crazy gang (Thursday crew) turned up today, but those who did set about the great clear out . We welcomed back our travellers from afar-  Pete and Jill.
 All the MT equipment was taken out of the old hanger so work could commence , Paul S was left in charge of lighting  the bonfire, unfortunately he failed his test for a "Ray Mears fire lighting badge" . With a bit of help from a can of avgas though he managed it , I wouldn't say that everything was burnt today but it was close to it ! 
Paul and his ring of fire
Apologies to Adrian P as we burnt his tatty sandwich box unknown to us it did contain some lovely fresh caviar rolls with Nigerian beaver cheese - yummy !
Some heavy items are now in John S 's tunnel , we will be attacking that soon but we need the old wizard to be there before we make his prized  possessions disappear ! 
What a clean floor!
After lunch Pete displayed one of his flights from NZ onto the projector screen , it was fascinating and humbling at the same time, that sort of gliding is the stuff of dreams and well worth seeing if you get the chance !
Quick reminder that anyone with items stored at the club have until the 31st March to either remove them or gain permission for storage. Only the Tug hanger , Tunnel , and surrounding areas to be tidied now ! - MC 

PS from Pete & Jill (for those who don't read google groups)

1) Thanks to everyone for holding the fort whilst we were away
2) Red Arrows night dinner- unfortunately the dinner list has gone missing so I have started a new list, Please email me if you were on the list, I will also see if we can expand into the cleared briefing room, to accomodate a few more. I'll put a new list up by the kitchen at the weekend.
3) CAA charts -  I shall place an order on 18th March for both new southern England and older (latest) Scottish charts. Please see list on noticeboard or email me.

Wednesday 7th March

Well yet again the weather Gods got it completely wrong and instead of a day of rain as forecast we had a full days flying and not a drop of rain was seen!

A reasonably early start paid off for a lucky few when wave set up of the back of the West ridge. The surface wind wasn't great but it increased rapidly with height - perfect for wave setting up. Unfortunately it didn't last long(enough), the end being marked by Pete S dragging 230 up the field for the first time this year and promptly managing 2 short circuits. Said he was still happy though as it tested his new vario - whatever. Day winner by far was treasurer Tom who flew for well over an hour in the Junior.

Everybody had a good if unremarkable days flying, but when will this Easterly driven air mass go away and bring us "proper" soaring weather?

The Committee met last night and we await their deliberations.

Sunday 3rd March

Most members were dressed more for a trans-antartic trek than for gliding but we managed to get all the gliders up to the N/W corner without frostbite, Mark & Roly did a met flight to report a 600ft cloud base, so back to the clubhouse for an early lunch.
After lunch and after a lot fumbling and heated debate we at last started flying, there was a hint of wave but apart from some extended flights nobody managed to contact it.
JB & Rowan continued Rowan's training in prep for his instructer rating in the K13, there were several BI flights flown by Roly & Mike S, also there was a good showing from Exeter Uni, everybody flew, last glider landed about 5.30pm.
Normally at this time of the year we eagerly await the return of the swallows but it has been reported, but not confirmed that penguins were seen in the N/W corner!  JS.

Thursday 28th Feb - Life in the Freezer

Well If I had my way we would move the clubhouse to the West end of the field as we seem to spend most of our time there at the moment!
Bitterly cold again this week but people seem to be adjusting to Life in the Freezer, we even had Chris W turning up dressed like a polar bear complete with his little Penguin Thermos Flask. The instructor team consisted of Chris W, Steve W, and Mark C and they were kept busy all day from just before 10 am till hanger closing just before 6 pm. A tricky day with large areas of sink, the wind was NE , and  at times around 20mph, there was an upper wind gradient that caused several fast launches at the top and broken links .
We had a visitor today from Brentor,Steve Raine. Steve is converting from wooden gliders to fiberglass as he has purchased a Grob. The usual Thursday members all continue to progress and there has been a very marked improvement in everyone’s flying of late showing that it pays to fly in all conditions not just calm white card days - (remember them boys and girls?). As conditions began to calm a few members flew solo in either the junior or the K21.
Despite the now compulsory instructor short breakfast break we managed approx 30 launches again, winch only, with the tug going away for its annual inspection for two weeks.  It is a relief to see the field in such amazing condition.
Another great day with good company. Pete and Jill are back next week so normal service will resume from next Thursday. Steve and I will be regular attendees from now on but Pete will have his capable hands firmly on the tiller. From a personal point of view I can say that I have a had a fantastic time looking after Pete’s babies whilst he was away, the best thing about being an uncle is that you can always give them back ! (Only joking lads thanks for your support).
Steve looks content after his breakfast!

Steve from Brentor looks to be enjoying himself!

The now compulsory Instructor breakfast break!
Mark C