Monday 30th June - Comp Enterprise

The task was a Compass Rose - there was a cross placed on NYM runnig north to south and east to west,  the idea was to do an out and return to whatever point in that sector you chose and to repeat in each sector. 
I had decided to do a small 10k O/R to the NE and then set out into Wales as far as I could, I had Snowdon set in my PDA. So I took a launch into a horrible sky with all the Cumulus receding to the north thinking I could get there. I couldn't, I encountered no lift at all and ended up in a field, 
Comp Ent - Field number two, 6km from Nympsfield
many people ended up doing about the same including Muggles who launched after I got back to the airfield (thanks to my supercrew Cheryl and Graham) landed a minute after the tug who launched him landed. Oh well there is always tomorrow. - Liam

Sunday 29th June - ICL North Hill

'A day of much anticipation and optimism, and then the weather took over...'

With the first day of the Inter Club League having been 'scrubbed ' yesterday the weather forecast suggested a much better day for flying, for both the ICL and also general Club flying.With the wind forecast to start as a North Easterly, albeit predicted to change during the day to a North Westerly, there was little alternative but to set up the launch point in the South West corner of the field with the K21s and a Junior being 'walked down' whilst a steady convoy of private owners planning to take part in the ICL set off with their trailers to set up a suitable rigging area at that end of the field.
With the skies not suggesting anything other than, potentially, extended circuits, there was little enthusiasm for the ICL pilots to get into the air so Club flying got underway whilst Pete Smith started to work with the digger on the new trench for the communications line at the Westerly end of the field.
Various light rain showers interrupted the morning's flying and at one stage the rain set in to the extent late morning that a tea break was called for.
However, as is often the case, no sooner had the tea break started then the weather improved and with a potential start for the ICL task(s) declared for 1pm following the rebrief, it was soon a question of seeing how much Club flying could be completed before the ICL took precedence for launches.

As it happened the afternoon saw good teamwork in and around the launch lines with both Club flying and ICL launches being completed together. And then, with everything going (too) well,  the wind decided to change to the previously predicted North Westerly and so it was 'change ends time' - following which Club flying continued until around 6pm and the various ICL gliders 'out on task' started to return home. 
not an inspirational sky!
 And. as ever,  the weather decided to improve just as all the gliders were being put away or de-rigged with the tea and biscuits discussion in front of the Clubhouse, about how the day had been, completed in bright sunshine under a blue sky.
Still, there is always next time... - Mike S

How did North Hill team do?
Met was a little tricky initially with models differing, but after a later briefing, Assigned area tasks with Taunton and Chard turnpoints were set.
Traces and scores are still being assessed, but Matthew W in SF27Novice turned Taunton and Chard landing near the turnpoint.
James in ASW20 flying Intermediate and Simon M in ASW20 Pundit both completed the tasks. 

Matthew's tale
Whilst 2/3 of team NHL sat drinking tea, their gliders still in their trailers, the pundits convinced Matthew W to make a leap of faith in the SF. After a few weak thermals I took the decision, at 2500ft, to go through the start line and probably land out on the way to Taunton but clock up some mileage, how wrong was I. It was streeting all the way to Taunton. Unfortunately around Chard the sky wasn't co-operating and ended up in a field! Joined an hour later by another glider!
SF27 & Matthew selfie near Chard
Considering the weather in the morning and early afternoon a fantastic time was had, thanks Muggles et al for organising! - Matthew

James review
ICL Intermediate - Good over Taunton, Good over Chard, Rubbish over BEA and got low over CHA coming home, managed to pick up the sea breeze and shot home. - James

Competition Enterprise Day 2
Pilgrims Way Out and Return, 7 turn points were set out towards the east, CLP, RIV, FMA, PAR, ENW, ADS and WDP. The idea was to do a out and return to a waypoint and then do another one closer in. I set myself the task of Parham (about 250k) and then leave out the second o/r with a fall back of going to Rivar Hill and then doing another to Clyffe Pypard (about 200k). The start was very scratchy with some massive blue gaps that the pointier gliders breezed through. I managed to get to RIV and decided not to push on, so began the run home. I had underestimated the strength of the wind drastically with a 15 knot headwind and a massive gap in front of me near CLP I scratched around for a while hoping for the gap to close in a bit. However it didn't, so I got bored and went on a suicide mission across it, ended up in a field near CLP and am now currently awaiting someone to collect me. 
Comp Ent Field number one -Ka6 - near Swindon

Not a great start to the comp but I was reasured  by control who said 5 other gliders landed out very close to me, and one of them was a Ventus! - Liam

Saturday 28th June - ICL North Hill

With a distinctly dodgy forecast, ICL Team Captain Andrew scrubbed the Saturday tasks on Friday afternoon. Which turned out to be a good call with 36mm of rain in the last 24 hours and most of it falling from 11:00am, the airfield became river-like. 

The weather station said it's raining cats and dogs......
The Club kit which had been readied, was returned to undercover in between the tumults. At about 18:00pm it became quite pleasant and warm (or even hot) in the early evening sun with the field draining and everything gently steaming. 
Visitors campsite
The barbeque was lit and the evening sport and entertainment began. We hope that more visitors will arrive before Briefing tomorrow morning.

News from Competition Enterprise at Nympsfield
I woke up to the sound of very heavy rain on my tent, always a good start to a competition. The rain carried on all the way through the opening briefing where the day was scrubbed. 
Severn Estuary
After a short nap it had all cleared up so I decided to rig and thought I would have a flight before the comp to familiarise myself with the site, had a nice hour flying along the ridges that were kicking of bit of thermal, tomorrow looks like it could be good! 
New friends?
 Oh, I also made some new friends... Liam

Friday 27th June - Tip-toeing to the Glacier Blanc

I set off at mid-day from Barcelonnette, with some local ridge soaring to gain height. Went North along a ridge I knew and then into new territory. First error found me making for a land-out at Mont-Dauphin - Saint-Crépin, as I came off the wrong side of a ridge. Once in the valley I soon found a strong climb back to cloud base and the task was still on. I resolved to keep high, so progress was slow, as I took most climbs that offered themselves. 
Glacier Blanc
Arrived the wrong side of the ridge at the Glacier and spent 20 minutes going 5 kms. Eventually I worked it out and flew amongst the crags and gullies until I could get over the glacier, as high as the cloudbase would let me.
Glacier Blanc
After spending what seemed ages getting to the Glacier, I then had some ridge soaring south to the Lac Sainte Croix and played on the Parcour until landing at 7pm.
Lac Sainte Croix
Awesome views and a great outing for my second day of cross country in the Alps.- Wyn

Thursday 26th June

Today was a race against the forecast rain, would Dartmoor hold it up long enough for all to fly? The forecast yesterday was for it arriving by 15:00, but this morning that had come forward to lunchtime. 
It's restful work being an Instructor (waiting for the rain)

The south easterly wind was quite a bit stronger as well. But we could clearly see the rain advancing across the ground and by the time it went past the motorway, we had to call it a day. It was thermic and the south ridge was working up to 900ft, so it wasn't too bad - sorry for those who didn't get to fly.

Wednesday 25th June

For reasons of which we are all aware Wednesday was somewhat subdued anyway but the heat and deteriorating weather didn’t do much to lift the spirits. Flying instruction continued apace but with ten minute circuits being the norm there was a lot of scampering around to retrieve gliders from all parts of the field with the wind varying from straight down the field to , mostly, a 90degree cross wind and from time to time a weak tail wind. Some private gliders joined the line displaying admirable determination and optimism and indeed Pete S and Matt disappeared for a couple of hours to find a convergence front out to Crewkerne… the others didn’t!

The Wiley Old Bird put his hanky away just after mid day and did the longest local flight at 42 mins in R37 but cloud base was below 2000ft, grey and wispy,  and of no help at all in identifying lift. Those of us who stumble about until we bump into a thermal and then fly in optimistic circles on the basis that 60% ‘up’ and then 40% null or ‘down’ is some sort of result came into our own. One pilot, retreating to the security of the club Junior, managed 36 minutes in this fashion; and I know dear reader, for I was that pilot!

Finally, at the end of the day, CFI Pete held an informal chat about the previous weeks incident. Peter has a gentle, clear authority backed by years of experience and accumulated wisdom. His observations were reassuring and helpful to those of us who were there. I’m sure members will be conscious of the pressure he will be under at the moment and will wish to offer him support as needed. - TJ

When Matt and I launched the clouds off the South ridge already had that scrappy sea air appearance about them and the broken climbs and reducing cloudbase confirmed that. We persevered until we had enough height to push North to where there were still 'proper' thermals and by the time we had climbed to about 3000' agl the sea breeze, now quite well established, had caught us up at Culmstock. Fortuitously it was oriented pretty much West-East in line with the Club 100 task TIVerton-CRewKerne so off we went. We followed the energy line from Culmstock to Tiverton and then to Crewkerne without stopping to turn - not at great speed as the line was a bit broken. Matt went on to Yeovil and then realised that the sky behind us was quickly deteriorating so he came back and we returned to North Hill along a much scrappier front and routing via S.Taunton which is where the front was now lying. An interesting little flight.- PS

Sunday 22nd June

Launchpoint was back at the western end of the field in the light easterly wind today. Contrary to the pessimistic RASP forecast, the thermals started early and were quite plentiful, but not many members.
Josh, Lizzie and Oscar (all junior members) made progress with their training today. 
Ed enjoys his first soaring flight in the Junior

Ed was beaming after Ron converted him to the Junior  and a soaring flight of over an hour and took him to cloudbase at 3000 ft. Paul M flew the Junior for nearly 2hrs 30.

Ian enjoys his 'mile high' flight
Ian was one of today's trial lessons with a 'mile high'  flight booked and he enjoyed flying that bit higher than normal.

For cross-country flights today, John P in SF27 H5 made a second attempt to get to Lasham in a wooden glider, but had to turn back at Middle Wallop due to the poorer conditions further east.
JB flew K6 HEB  round Taunton and Yeovil Reservoir. Rowan flew Libelle CLM round Taunton and Tiverton.  Pete & Jill in DuoDiscus OL flew round Wimbleball Lake, Mudford Gate, and Cadbury Cross.

News from Barcellonette in Alps: Both Wyn and Dylan in LS7 W7 have been checked out and enjoyed their solo explorations,  Dylan achived 133 km today. 

Dylan's first mountain solo. It was a normal day to start off with, thinking that I was going to be doing dual flights for my time in the alps. as I don't have my glider pilots license. Then Jo my instructor at Barcelonnette asked me if I wanted to fly by myself and off I went. I had a good launch on aerotow and I went soaring on the ridge until 9000 ft and the thermallled to cloud base 11000ft and off along the local ridges for nearly 3 hours and came back and landed. After a very nervous start to the flight I was soon relaxed and enjoying it! Hopefully will be XC endorsed soon after I get back to DSGC to have more adventures. Dylan.
First solo in the Mountains
High on O2

Saturday 21st June - Summer solstice

A group of younger members were up at the crack of sparrows to ensure a pre-sunrise flight, but they had to save some stamina for the evening session. So after one flight each starting at 04:33 led by Liam, Henry, Mike F, Andrew, Lizzy assisted by Nick and then they went back to bed. 
Henry in the Cirrus at Sunrise
Normal flying started at the usual time with it soarable in the blue before the cumulus started popping nicely. Tasks were set 300 km Woolley Down - Chippenham, 200 km The Park - Blandford Forum, and the usual Club 100 km.
Many members had nice local soaring flights although cloudbase was rather disappointingly low. 

Pete St in Discus 230 completed the 302 km flight and Henry in Cirrus JD7 completed the 200 km. James in ASW20 NW and Liam in K6 HEB completed the 100 km, with James managing a fast time at 87.5 km/h (had to get home early for birthday celebrations).

Simon M and Stu flew the DG505, but had to turn short of Woolley Down, and Pete & Jill in Duo Discus fired up at the turnpoint, as the conditions had temporarily collapsed. 

Phil M and Lisa in ASH25 711 bumbled around Chard, Okehampton and Wimbleball (local soaring for an ASH).

In the evening, Henry, Liam & Heather assisted by Nick and Lizzy completed the longest day flying.
K21 at Sunset

Friday 20th June

Three of our members John P, Matthew W and Tim P organised an afternoon / evening group session  for work colleagues from UTC Aerospace. The weather conditions were perfect for trial lessons with blue skies and a light south westerly breeze, with just a little soaring to extend most of the flights. After the first round of flights, half of the group decided to experience the aerobatic side of gliding. 
Late evening sunshine for UTC Aerospace
 The evening was rounded off with a curry prepared by Cheryl & Graham, and the CFI was keen to get a new type in his logbook by trying out a Segway which Matthew had brought along. Later on, preparations were being made for tomorrow's early start.
Cirrus ready to launch when the sun comes round again

Monday 16th June - La Motte - The Road Home

Alas all good things must come to an end and with bad weather predicted for the next couple of days the decision was taken to depart a day earlier than originally planned with the benefit of traveling on a Sunday, when the traffic is light and lorries are relatively rare.
Time to wake up, it's been light for some time, pack up bed, brush teeth and wheels turning by 06.00 am. The first part of the journey entails driving 10 miles or so in the wrong direction, toward Sisteron, to get out of the valley. Then a gentle and picturesque drive up the neighbouring valley past Serres, another gliding site favoured by the Germans and Claus Ollmann who takes them all on a low level lead and follow procession round the mountains. Whilst flying in the mountains they can often be seen like a string of geese as they wind their way round the lower slopes several hundred meters below. From here the route winds up to the Col de Croix Haute and thence down into the murk of Grenoble. No point in hurrying this first part and keep your fingers crossed you don't come up behind a dawdling Dutchman in a massive campervan.
Passing Grenoble
Shortly before Grenoble you enter the Peage toll road system which takes you all the way to Dieppe. Fortunately the toll booths, a right pain for the solo right hand driver, are relatively few these days just grab a ticket and pay handsomely many miles and junctions later.
Procedure: stop, apply hand brake, wind down passenger window (electric is helpful), unbuckle and lean/clamber over consol and passenger seat making sure you don't knock the car into gear, grab ticket or insert credit card, retrieve and move off, re-buckling and winding up the window simultaneously as you vie for lane domination in the acceleration zone. On entering the toll lane good judgement is required to get your near side close enough to reach the ticket machine without wiping out your wing mirror or near side trailer wheel on the barrier.
Once on the open road the miles (kilometres) pass by pleasantly enough. Here the cruise control is a real boon. The worst of the traffic is round Lyon up to Dijon where the heavy stuff is heading for Paris but once past Dijon we branch out to the East and the relatively new roads are smooth and quiet with very little traffic; especially on a Sunday.
Prior to departure the locals had been warning of storms in the mountains but there was little to show of the bad weather apart from some mist and mild drizzle passing over the Col. Once into the Rhone Valley, I was greated by clear blue skies with a fresh Northerly wind. I hoped this Mistral would portend a change in the air mass for those fortunate enough to be left behind.
As Dijon approached: high, regularly spaced cumulus started to appear and this amazing X-country sky continued almost to Dieppe. This eventually overdeveloped into a grey overcast as the English effect approached
After only fuel and pee stops (I had taken the precaution of preparing French bread baguettes and other nibbles the night before), and using only slightly illegal speeds I arrived at Dieppe 4.30 pm and was assigned for the 17.55 ferry. I had taken the precaution of paying a little extra for a "flexible" ticket. I used the time to revue my traces for the trip and fill out my log book. This usually gets left 'till September when I have forgotten most of it! 35 hours and 1,864 km from 9 flights plus a 15 min check flight with Christian. Not bad for effectively 12 days on site:-)
My longest flight - 370km OLC
The 90 min crossing was crowded: coach loads of foreign school kids showing off their smart phones. I managed to find a quiet corner and resisted the temptation; there was no signal anyway. Then off the ferry and back to reality: traffic, rough bumpy roads and dwindling light. Despite a few hold ups on the M25 (traffic coming up from the coast on Sunday night?) I eventually made it to North Hill at 23.30 (00.30 French time). I still felt remarkably fresh considering. I love my SAAB for that, though I'm not so enamoured when the engine warning light comes on and it goes into "limp home" mode halfway through France! Thankfully temporarily on this occasion.
Back to Blighty
La Motte du Caire to North Hill is 854 miles (1,374km) plus 22 miles on a boat. Or, if you want to try it, it's a 1,000 k one way flight! Either way well worth the effort.
Now.......we could virtually halve the cost if we had a double trailer and two drivers! -Phil 

Sunday 15th June

It may have been because of Fathers' Day, it may have been because of World Cup hangovers..... Whatever the reason, very few members turned up to fly at North Hill today.

We did have an abundance of new faces, with several trial lessons and several trial lesson returnees from both the Open Weekend and recent club days.  Fortunately we also had an abundance of instructors who got busy introducing the delights of winch and aerotow to put smiles on those new faces.

In the morning after some checks, Ed managed to clock up a couple more solos following his first on Course Week in May.  He even pulled off a 14 minute solo when everyone else was still doing circuits.  Later the sky was streeting beautifully, but many a frustrated member came down quickly, muttering darkly about wave interference.  Only Paul in SF27 managed to find the right part of the wave and climb away, taking the prize for longest flight of the day at 78 minutes.  Towards evening as the wind died, a K13 (Steve W and Roy B), a Junior (Henry) and a Ka6 (Matt S) could be seen playing amongst the clouds.

Thanks to everyone who worked hard to keep the day going, particularly those who didn't take a launch themselves. - Ruth

Saturday 14th June

'A long hot day, with teamwork the key ingredient...'
That the first winch launch of the day, from the South West corner of the field, took place before 10am demonstrated an evident keenness to fly by those members present.
With a K21, K13 and a Junior selected as the gliders for the starting grid for the day, good teamwork by all ensured that the flying list was worked through steadily and also that three trial lessons were completed as the day unfolded.
A promising looking sky....
During the morning the second K21 and the DG505 were brought on line whilst Andrew rigged K6 (GDE). The day proved 'interesting' with some gliders 'getting away' from a winch launch and others finding nothing other than strong sink all the way around the circuit (Mike Fitz showing his experience and skills by soaring well both the Junior and K21 in turn during the day).

Another promising looking sky....

Pete Sm completed his final 'sign off' exercises with Stu by having some 'fun' spinning the K13.
Some of the best lift of the day, ironically, was on the last two DG505 flights of the late afternoon.

Wellington School completed their visits to North Hill as part of the Saturday extra-curriculum activities with Paul S leading today's morning session with the students.

A number of the Wellington School students have experienced gliding for the first time over the past weeks and through the 'pilot initiative' between DSGC and the School, it is hoped that a more permanent connection will now be established for the next term.

By the end of the day, through good teamwork those who wanted to fly had done so - with 49 flights in total (44 winch and 5 aerotow) for a total of nearly 9 hours total flying time of which 4 flights were between 30 and 60 minutes and none over an hour, the flying stats tell you more about the day than this blog.... - Mike Sl

Friday the 13th - is that a bad day to fly?

Thanks to Peter F, the field was open today as announced on DSGC Google groups. Not many took advantage of it though - so this is what we did:
Peter F - duty inst and tug pilot, Rick A wing runner before going off to the dentist, and Pete St who was the retrieve crew for the 4 who wanted to fly x-c.
The RASP forecast had become less optimistic overnight, with a shorter x/c window and less convection than the long-range predictions.  The hoped-for 300km day had slipped away, but there was still a chance of a good task and so 175km was set from Hembury Hill to Bishop’s Caundel, back to Crediton, and a return to Hembury Hill for Andrew in Cirrus KEB and James in ASW20 NW. Matthew W in SF27 H5 and Matt Sm K6 HEB turned up and set themselves the shiny new Club 100,  with Matthew looking for his 100km diploma and Matt looking for his first 50km.

"Launching started at 11.30 into a promising looking sky, my first climb was 5kt and the run as far as Crewkerne was pretty good.  It got more difficult beyond there, with the sea air already creeping in at Yeovil and no lift to be seen around the turnpoint BCA.  Accepted a couple of weak climbs to get in and out again, then a decent climb North of Yeovil reservoir got me back on track.  Things improved beyond Crewkerne but it was completely blue 10k short of Crediton so a climb to the 3,600’ cloudbase and an all-or-nothing dash there and back again was needed.  The return to NHL via Hembury was a slow creep in minimal lift, and James elected to dispense with a return to Hembury in favour of a long final glide to NHL." 

Glad to report that they all got round and this was a great achievement especially for the wooden twosome as the conditions between Yeovil and Chard were particularly 'difficult', the sea air having come all the way South from Bridgewater Bay and wiping out much of the task area. I believe Crediton too was in sea air when Jim and Mugs got there.
NW crossing the Exe
"Matthew and Matt smoked around the club 100 -it was blue West of NHL for the last 20km so a dash out into the wilderness was in order, both made it back but Matt Sm got very low trying to get silver height."
Matt in HEB (earlier in the year)
Congratulations to Matt Sm getting his silver distance but with slight technicalities it's probably only a practice at 100kms for both with  more tutorials on start and finish lines required.
Rick (choppers fettled) later managed to fly with Peter F in the Falke  VG and get some field selection practice in.
Many thanks to Pete F for this Friday intiative - and giving me a great tow! 
A challenging but rewarding day, I think we maximised the use of it – a longer task would almost certainly have seen us in a field – and definitely worth opening the club for the day.  Shame more people couldn’t make it......Pete St, Andrew, Matthew

Tim Gardner (1918 - 2014)
A group of members gathered at Bampton Church with family and friends to celebrate the life of Tim Gardner who sadly passed away at the end of May. Tim was remembered for his contributions to the Club - Instructing,  cross-country flying and on expeditions.

Thursday 12th June - La Motte - Beating the Bounds

Thursday was forecast much as the previous days: high pressure, dry unstable air with a chance of isolated thunderstorms later in the day. But as we have learned, subtle variations can make considerable differences to the soaring conditions.
For once the Dynamic Quadro got away cleanly and vaguely at the same time. It was a basically thermal day so little reason to stick rigidly to the accepted sources of lift, though the thermals were usually to be found close to these places.
The view south from the near Le Grave
Strong thermals with an inspiring sky lead to a bold move to the East to a peak on the Parcour called the White Horse; no not a pub in sight:-) From here we went further East into unknown territory toward Italy. With a cautious eye on the hight of the ridges behind we pressed on until a clear valley to the relative safety of the airfield at Barcelonette became visible. From here we pressed North but seeing the peak of Monte Viso was in cloud we kept more West in our track and ventured further North than any of us had been before, into the mountain range to the North of the Col on the route between Briançon and Grenoble close to an off piste ski resort called La Grave.
EZ climing over Pelvoux
By this time the cloud base had risen to 4,300m (14,000ft) and Phil was beginning to feel the effects of altitude. So the Team turned South to the Glacier Blanc and the Barre d' Ecrin down at 4,000m. The route South from here involves a bewildering hotchpotch of peaks and ridges where you have to be mindfull of your escape route should you get low. The Team became split with Matt and Phil eventually meeting up at the South of the range  and crossing to the Pic du Bure where an impressive cloudscape beckoned. Hotly persued by Dave and JB; Matt and his faithfull wing man sped South at 80 knots, for 122 km to the Montagne du Lure. By this time towering CuNims were popping up all over the horizon. This combined with some airspace issues inhibited our progress South so we beat a hastily retreat to the relative safety of La Motte for tea, beer and biscuits. Later that evening we had a little rain and thunder rolled round the valley but by then we were downloading logs of 370 km OLC flights  (297 km for those who insist on a purist triangle) and enjoying the delights of the Apprentice's cooking once again.
The Apprentice (Rowan) had spent his second solo in the club's Pegase expanding his knowledge and experience of the local area. This included pushing out to Blayeul one of the primary jumping off points to the East and crossing to the other side of the Durance valley in the other direction. Plans to offer guidance from other members of the Team were thwarted by requirements for a second launch (a fate which can befall the best at La Motte) and the inability to change the club gliders radio to 130.10  which has preset frequencies. They don't like us prattling on using the local frequency which is also used for launch control.
Alltogether the best day so far in Paradise.


Thursday 12th June

Best day of the week (so far), and the good forecast brought out plenty of members. There was a light and variable wind with a hint of north easterly. Cumulus was forming early and it was easy soaring from the first launch, with cloudbase around 2600ft. 
After a while, it became more difficult to get away reliably from the winch launch, but once above 1500ft lift was strong and plentiful. Those that took aerotows were straight into the strong conditions, but the winchers struggled at times.
It got easier again in the afternoon, and soaring continued till gone 6:00pm. 

Congratulations to Ian in DG1 and Heather in K6 for completing 2 hours towards cross-country endorsement, and to Douglas in K21 and George in Junior who both completed their first hour soaring. Aston also was 4 minutes short  of 3 hours in Junior - his longest flight at North Hill. 
Heather soars for 2 hours in K6
For cross-country flying, Ron & Dan in ASH25 completed one of the many 500km flights today across the country, turning Launceston, Lasham and Membury in 6hrs 30 mins. Pete St in 230  completed 300km turning Tiverton, Chilbolton and Axminster. Adrian in FDX  attempted Salisbury but got stuck at Compton Abbas and beetled home. Liam flew K6 HEB round the Club 100. Tom had a coaching flight with Woolly in DG505.

In addition to the normal training flights there were also 3 Trial lessons with all our visitors enjoying their first flights in a glider.

Wednesday 11th June - La Motte - The Kings Road

Christian wanted the K21 at the launch position right after the morning briefing so he could do a couple of cable break practices with Rowan. Once those had been completed they put the K21 away and pulled out the club's Pegase so Rowan could become the first English person to utilise his freshly minted EASA licence to fly solo in a French registered glider from La Motte.

Meanwhile, as the rest of us were uming and aaghing about when to start launching, the thermal winds eventually starting stirring the hot valley air and we volunteered  David J's LS8 to front of the launch queue. The thermal god of Blachere was not in a generous mood, swatting down both David and Phil before allowing the rest of the grid to climb their way up the side of it's mountain. Rowan was lucky or skill-full enough to come off the winch straight into a thermal and get away easily and wonder what all the fuss was about.

Matt camera'd up M5 with the hope of getting some footage of the high mountains and wanting to get there before the batteries died, set off in the direction of Guillume and the start of the King's Road on the shore of Lac Serre Ponçon. JB following about 10km behind missed one of the climbs en route and had to put some of his previous training to good use and scratch his way up again after arriving in the weeds.

The Kings Road is the name given to the approved route North  from Lac Serre Ponçon to Glacier Blanc over the Ecrin Massive. The ridge line is like the bones of some giant contorted spine, jutting peaks like vertibrae creating ever higher obstacles to climb over before being able to move on and rib like, the ridges branching off, create spectacular steep valleys on either side which provide escape routes to the safety fields of St Crepan in the East and Pellafol in the west.
Looking North up the Kings Road
As we worked our way ever closer to the towering peak of Barre de Ecrins, to the south east of La Motte we could see a massive cumulonimbus cloud forming and we decided that it would be prudent to head back towards the club. Luckily all our hard work climbing up the Ecrin had us easily on final glide for home and it was a long cruise out over the Gap valley into the gloomy void under the anvil's shadow. 
150º degree view from the south western edge of the Ecrin
It was, however, still soarable at the club which was only just in the shadow and Rowan, who was under orders to stay local, was up at 3000m keeping a wary eye on conditions to maximise his his first solo in the mountains. Phil and Matt having arrived back found a strong climb over Early Morning which enabled a short foray out to the west, into the sun where conditions were still stonking before landing back at La Motte and de-rigging the gliders in case the forecast hail made an appearance.
Gliding out of the gloom
Into the Epicness to the west
After the usual post flight wind down over drinks and nibbles, Rowan concocted yet another culinary feast which we enjoyed on the club's veranda, while watching the sun set on another day of firsts.

Wednesday 11th June

A strange day with a reasonable forecast, but not as many members turned up as I would have expected. 
Although the sky looked good it was difficult to stay up but we did manage several soaring flights, there were several Trial lessons flown.
Four two seaters were in use all day and at times we were a bit thin on the ground.
Well done to Dave F for converting to the Junior and Andreas for re-soloing after a bit of a break from solo flying. - JSt
Congratulations to Pete St for completing 2000 hours  whilst on yet another Club 100 in Discus 230.
Capital Aviation corporate evening - gliding and barbeque
 In the evening, Chairman Lisa brought a group of friends and colleagues from Capital for glider flights and barbeque.

Tuesday 10th June - La Motte - No Rest for the Wicked!

Whilst the others had a "well deserved" rest I (Rowan) was put through my paces for another day. This is my second trip to the La Motte du Caire, with a gap of a year. Two steps forward one step back springs to mind.

Flying in the mountains is hard. Remembering a dozen French ridge and mountain names and various French phrases for taking off and landing for a monolingual Englishman is challenging. As is learning to deal with 8 knot thermals next to and amongst the jagged, inhospitable, spires of the towering mountains. Taking off in a perspex greenhouse and fighting to get away from a winch launch in 30 °C with beads of sweat rolling down your face is testing. So you might, as I have, ask, is it worth it?

I fell in love with the mountains the first time I visited them, it might be because I grew up next to the sea. People, often, are attracted to landscapes that are in contrast to that of their home. And the French Alps are in stark contrast to the flat bay of Exmouth. I have fond memories of hitchhiking across France as a young man into the alps. I fell in love with the mountain air, the crystal clear glacial rivers and fresh French bread drenched in honey. (French bread is so much better here)

To fly amongst the majesty of snow capped peaks, to soar high over the alpine rock-scapes, to bear witness to the thermic power of its ridges and rock faces is an awe-inspiring experience; and all the while I feel that I'm growing as a pilot.

Rowan in the highly visible MC

Monday 9th June - La Motte - Smokin'

Still with high pressure: the whole of Europe is almost all at the same pressure. Once again the briefing, held under the trees for some shelter from the heat of the 10.15 sun, warned of thunderstorms.
 JB had decided not to fly and departed early to visit a family friend. Meanwhile the rest of the team sat somewhat reluctantly in the shade by the launch point 'till  Christian and Momo chivvied us into action. Matt was pushed to the front, the agneau sacrifie (my French).  I won't say he got away; more remained aloft while Phil and Dave launched. The initial problem was not staying up but gaining sufficient height under the inversion to progress to the next stage. At this time of day with the temperature rising rapidly the ceiling rose rapidly allowing Matt to escape to the East first while the more timorous followed after. By the time the mice were tiptoeing East Matt had already completed his "cheating" OLC leg down the Parcour. Phil maintaining more faith in the thermals than ridges met up with him over Dormilleuse with sufficient height to cross the lake directly to the southern peaks of the Ecran.
4000' cloud base
By this time large cumulus congestus were visible to the East and so it was decided to head North into an inviting sky. This involves going quite deep (for Phil's taste) into the mountain range  in order to follow the best ridges; the only saving grace being we were now climbing to 4,000m (13,000 ft) and in gliding range of La Motte and certainly Gap Tallard airfield at 20:1. As we progressed the clouds ahead started to over develop and a call from Dave suggested the developing storm in the East was moving toward La Motte so discretion indicated a circuitous return to base fairly soon was in order. A call to Chrsitian soaring the 21 with the apprentice (Rowan) confirmed this information. So with some reluctance but the prospect of  some magnificent clouds in the South West we turned in that direction and started what turned out to be our final glide for home, only taking one superfluous turn in a thermal so strong you just had to, to enjoy the surge. Off the clock all the way round then press on!
Going North with merde to the east
Meanwhile Rowan continued his time with Christian pushing further afield to the Pic du Bure, a snow capped, formidable vertical bowl. Perfect for some figure of eight training, mere meters from the jagged rock face.
Looking over Pic de Bure to the storm south east of La Motte
By now our course had effectively taken us in a grand tour around the Pic and from the far side of that 2,700 m peak some 1,000 m below us we headed South and then finally East into the gloom at 90+ knots. Smokin', as someone you may know well might say. We landed in time to pack the gliders back in their trailers before the hail, which never materialised, started.
A short but epic day! 
An over view of our play ground

Sunday 8th June - La Motte - A string of Pearls

In some ways, if conditions are close to normal, flying in the Alps is the antithesis of North Hill. By this I am not referring to the warm sunshine, 12,000 ft cloud bases, and vigorous thermals. Rather the perception that it is often the first half of the flight; getting started and flying away from the airfield is the hard part. Unlike North Hill, where the sea air and low cloud bases often make the return difficult, the return to La Motte is regularly a pleasant long and (relatively) smooth final glide.
This is because most of our adventures involve climbing into the higher mountains to the North and East of here. This is done in a series of steps climbing as high as possible (in our case) on one mountain or ridge before proceeding to the next higher peak like a series of stepping stones. A String of Pearls to the high mountains. Compared to the experienced local pilots we are still learning and exploring the boundaries of the more basic of these routes; all the time considering likely outcomes and potential pitfalls of our plan. Often having more than one eye on our escape route should it all go pear shaped. On the way out there is often very little time to relax and enjoy the view. Which is why, as you will have read, we so often route via the Parcour. This is a fairly reliable base camp before venturing further into the crags and crannies.
This week things have been behaving differently not allowing us to follow the familiar routes too easily. In fact moving some of us, ever so slightly, toward proper mountain pilots where you have to read the clouds and terrain intimately. The high pressure and descending air over the Alps has tended to inhibit the "valley brise" which organises the thermal activity in a predictable fashion so the lift can be unpredictable and much more akin to the "ratty high pressure" thermals of England but on a grand scale. All chart heights are in meters so after a while we start thinking in meters and in the scale of things it doesn't seem that much different to feet back home; they seem to come and go at a similar rate. Having said that there have been some spectacular climbs especially where the high ground helps the thermals break the inversion.
Mt Viso (in Italy)
Despite these difficulties, or maybe because of them the team still managed some inspiring flights. Matt and JB reaching Monte Viso on the Italian border before Matt continued to the Glacier Blanc where he met up with David J. Phil, this time really solo 'cos he had taken two launches to get away and the others were long gone, managed to push NE close to the approach to the Glacier Blanc before an approaching band of spread out persuaded him to turn for home. He was particularly proud of taking a short cut home which involved following a ridge to hop over into the Barcelonette valley and thence returning by an alternative route unfamiliar to him.
David climbing the north face of Glacier Blanc
The arrival of Rowan collected from Marseilles airport by Matt and JB last night has certainly upped the culinary standards. The praise for his food serving to offset the relentless "advice"of Christian the CFI with whom he is having some lessons in mountain flying in the club K21 "Mike Charlie". We all have to have check flights with Christian who is a brilliant pilot and a really pleasant guy but he does put you through it in the air: for your own benefit of course. We are all sure Rowan is benefiting enormously :-) 
- Phil
JB engrossed in the day's footage

Sunday 8th June - To the Cliffs?

The forecast a few days ago had sparked off some interest in flying the south coast cliffs, but as we have learnt before the forecast does change as the day gets nearer, and the airmass in the southerly wind  has to be just right. But Mark and James were determined to have a go,  so  Mark in ASW20 ENW and James and Mike Sl in DG505 went through the cliffs procedure carefully (as it was a couple of years since we last attempted this.)
The south coast run

In the event both gliders managed a few beats of the cliffs with the wind being a little light for epicness, but the main problem was the showers developing and the cloud base lowering. So they both headed back to the safe haven of Farway Common which was just a little bit soggy. Thanks to retrieve crew Simon L and Pete Sm.
Farway Common

Due to the low cloudbase and crosswind, club flying with a long list was also hampered somewhat and the rain in the afternoon called an early end. We welcomed back Agnes to the Club, who has picked up the bug for gliding since her flights on the Youth day.

Roly was kept busy with a group of 5 celebrating a 50th birthday, unfortunately only 1 of them flew due to the weather, but they plan to book another day.
Sally celebrates a 50th Birthday
Meanwhile The DSGC team at InterClub League at Keevil with the weather up country looking better, they  were set some tasks......
Pete St in Discus 230  flew 230kms! flying Pundit  class   "I've never seen such a stunning looking sky be so hard to fathom and use. Had it not been an ICL task I would have abandoned long before I did. After the first 2 legs I thought I'd be home by lunchtime - in the end I was lucky to see teatime! Got low at Membury when I couldn't find a cloud that worked and I just never got going again. After a long grind towards GLA into a 20kt+ wind I just couldn't reach the TP and not land out so after the N'th attempt and getting rained on I gave up and ran home while I still could."

ICL Keevil (Sat 7 and Sun 8 June)


The Park 37
Bannerdown 34
Wyvern 22
North Hill 18
Mendip 11
Dartmoor 8
Shalborne 0


Name Points
Pundit John Arnold - Bannerdown 7

John Garland - The Park 6

Andrew Mugleston - N Hill DNS

Mendip DNS

Wyvern DNS

Dartmoor DNS

Intermediate Steve Wareham - The Park 7

Simon Foster - Bannerdown 6

Jack Tonkin - Mendip 5

Andy Gibson - Wyvern 4

Henry Ford - North Hill 3

Gerald Nevinsky - Dartmoor DNS

Novice Tim Dutton - Wyvern 7

John Symonds - The Park 6

Michael Gadd - Dartmoor 5

Tom Hogarth - Mendip 4

Mike Swanson - Bannerdown 3

Tom Sides - N Hill DNS


Name Points
Pundit Mark Hawkins - The Park 7

Pete Startup - North Hill 6

Andy Miller - Bannerdown 5

Jack Tomkin - Mendip DNS

Wyvern DNS

Dartmoor DNS

Intermediate Simon Foster - Bannerdown 7

Steve Lambourne - The Park 6

Henry Ford - North Hill 5

Andy Gibson - Wyvern 4

Gerald Nevisky - Dartmoor 3

Patrick Hogarth - Mendip 2

Novice Sam Prin - Wyvern 7

Ron Peach - Bannerdown 6

John Symonds - The Park 5

Jonathon Stoneman - North Hill 4

Matt Wills - Dartmoor DNS

Mendip DNS