Sunday 28th December

On arrival at North Hill today we were greeted by the weather station reading -0.5 deg C and an enthusiastic looking John Si emptying the hangar.  The -0.5 deg C was just a slight hint at what conditions on the south west corner of the airfield might be like.  With a 15 knot, average easterly, the general consensus once the first brave souls had arrived in the God forsaken corner, seemed to be " *** freezing!". These conditions also meant onesies were cleared for use (only if you're old enough - as per the handbook).  Once the huge rush to fill the vacant roles of winch driver, logger and cable retrieve had happened, the unlucky/slower members began launching/slowly freezing, under the control of Dave W.

John Si was first to be launched into a perfectly blue sky with Matt Sm.  After a whole term of not flying, and an amazing sounding Christmas Eve session on the ridges with Trevor Stuart (Nympsfield), he was keen to get 'checked out', and back in the air.  With James H instructing in the second aircraft, the modest size list looked like an easily achievable task.  The strong wind gave high launches which was useful as lift of any kind seemed absent.  Matt Wi got some further 'back seat' experience.  Flying that is. 

Being Christmas, the modest list had started to expand with 'friends and family' names.  Tom S bought his future son in law along and Monica visiting from Holland was with Paul S.  All other names were a 'job lot' by John P.  Andrew, Wendy, Max and daughter Anna. For those of you struggling to remember Anna, your memory hasn't failed you.  In all her 16 years, John has never taken her gliding.  Ever.  Anna, fellow club members, has been deprived by one of our own.  All this despite the fact she's good at Chemistry.  Feel free to have a friendly 'chat' with John next time you see him.  Meanwhile we have decided to assign her a mentor to assist with the situation.  Someone that can help persuade John to fly at any given opportunity.  Matt Wi it is.  See you soon Anna!  Feedback from family and friends was positive, no doubt aided by the amazing views on offer on such a sunny winters day.  

Pete W turned up around lunchtime to help instruct.  He decided to break with the day's tradition and go bravely in search of wave to the north west of Dunkeswell with Tim P.  Some possible rotor-like activity was found, but sadly no wave.  John Si carried on instructing, among others, Gerry who is learning the differences between microlights and gliders.  James H continued instructing in between supervising(?) the waxing and polishing of KEK.  JB and Matt Wr have been on this job for at least two solid days now.  Matt Wi did a stint as apprentice, with a beginners attempt of three hours.  Andrew L was also busy carrying out the other preparation for its inspection.  There are no doubt others involved in this and many other tasks which can easily go unnoticed by everyone, so the club thanks you gentlemen.  
Dunkeswell from the North Hill circuit (James H)

The wind had slowly dropped off in strength throughout the day (not before 3 black links had been broken) and the temperature slowly risen to what must have been a balmy 3 or 4 degrees C.  This put everyone in a much more jovial mood.  The word 'thermal' was heard at one point, although sometimes it seems tales of gliding can be similar to tales of fishing.  The flag had been downgraded to a yellow, and John Si was on the hunt for the final name on that list.  Dave W.  After not flying for quite some time, a flight with James saw him cleared for the last but one flight of the day in the Junior, and a hanger landing.  The last flight of the day of course was Hen. . . oh . . no it wasn't.  It was John Si with Matt Sm along for the ride - some aerobatics followed by a hanger landing.  "Hanger landings . . the only good thing about flying from the south west corner" was a phrase uttered this morning.

Many thanks to all those that hung around in the somewhat inclement conditions today to ensure everything ran smoothly including (but not limited to), Tom S, Paul S, Dave W and Gordon H on the winch, Barry who travelled all the way from Plymouth to drive the retrieve for most of the afternoon without flying, Pete W for standing in as instructor, and all the members that carried out retrieving and launching duties.  Not forgetting of course, the man/machine John Si who instructed all day!  Another worthwhile winter flying day. - Tim P

Saturday 27th December

'As someone we all know says, if you do not go to the Club you will not fly......'

That the gate to the Club was still locked at 8:30am when the first members arrived suggested that it was going to be a quiet day.

With the weather at the start of the day quite flyable albeit with a brisk Northerly wind there was some optimism that more members would turn up, so vehicles were inspected and hangar doors opened in anticipation of some flying at some stage during the day.
Launch point set up in optimism (Mike Sl)

Will it miss us? (Mike Sl)
The morning saw various short but sharp showers move across the field preventing the gliders from being taken out of the hangar - however by mid-morning and with the arrival of enough members to be able to start flying, eventually the patience of those present was rewarded by a blue sky and a wind direction suggesting that the North ridge may work well enough for extended flights.
A much better looking sky (Mike Sl)
After a couple of short breaks for further showers, following a quick lunch the weather gods allowed everyone to fly an enjoyable afternoon of 'fun in the sun' - as well as good ridge lift in places, there was even the odd thermal or two which provided the opportunity for pilots to try and use the lift available to best effect.
Time to put the toys away (Mike Sl)
With a rapidly approaching rain front towards the end of the day and with  everyone having had the chance to fly, a decision was made to wash and put the gliders away. 
Committee members washing gliders (Mike Sl)
Longest flight of the day was Eric (Junior KHA) with 24 minutes.
DG505 at the end of the rainbow (Mike Sl)
A good day had by all who were there - as someone often says... Mike Sl

And a mighty 'thank you' to JB and M5 Matt who spent the entire day in the workshop rubbing down and waxing the wings of KEK. Pete St

Wednesday 24th December - Christmas Eve

There was a rumour going about that there was no flying today, but those who hadn't heard it turned up to fly, but early on there wasn't enough members to get the kit out.
This was most frustrating because it was perfect weather, sunny with a brisk northwesterly wind, fortunately by 11:30am we had enough bodies to get started, we were ready to fly in record time and we were in the air by 12:00 noon. 
The conditions were as good as they looked with plenty of long flights but we had to limit them to around 30mins so everyone could get a flight, we managed 13 flights with nearly 5hrs soaring - very nice for midwinter. - JSt

And many  thanks to Jimbob, Mayor Rick, Oli, Liam and anybody I've missed for putting some time in cleaning KEK before flying - much appreciated - Pete St.

Merry Christmas to all our Blog readers

Saturday 20th December

With a reasonable westerly featuring in the forecast, a large but merry band of members turned up today.  At least that was everyone's official reason.  The words 'half price soaring' were heard whispered on a few occasions . . you canny bunch.  Two very impressive length lists formed faster than Matt W can rig SF27 H5 when he thinks he might get a half price launch (very fast, for those that haven't observed this 'phenomenon')  If you weren't on the ball, or got distracted by requests to tow gliders, you found yourself 'listed into oblivion' . . . ahem.
Todays' scribe Tim, taking notes for the blog (Mark E)
Two Johns were on instructor duties (P and Si) and with the first launch beginning a good few minutes prior to 10am, they both seemed keen to destroy aforementioned list.  The ridge was 'working' from the off, and it wasn't long before Eric was studying an empty launch point and a ridge that bore a passing resemblance to Piccadilly Circus.  With routinely long flights, not only did this start eating into that scary looking list, but it also gave some of the newer members their longest flights and a chance to realise that there is more to gliding than launching and landing.  Mia looked especially happy.  Or maybe it was JP's instructing style . . or his jokes?  Either way, smiling faces are good.  On the subject of long flights and smiling, Oscar L, not content with his first solo a few weeks ago, completed over an hour on the ridge in the Junior.  That'll be another tick on a training card box.

All morning a threatening looking cloud hung around just west of the airfield.   At lunch time the edge of it finally arrived.  Pete B in K6 HEB was first to relent (he insisted he just wanted a choice of landing spots) followed by everyone else.  It barely started before stopping again, but was enough to require some squeegee action, and for the coffee powered JP to drink coffee.  Flying was soon resumed, and by early afternoon the list was looking much less scary.  

Chris C was DLM and was busy allocating tasks and ensuring things got done.  As you'll all be aware, helping out around the airfield is part of the 'fun' of gliding, so now would be a good time to remind everyone that excuses for not doing as asked are . . well . . ignored frankly.  However, Chris did make an exception today.  Having some experience managing people with a career in the military, his decision is final on excuses as he's pretty much heard them all.  It's hard to tell whether he considered this particular 'excuse' worthy, or just hadn't heard it before, but either way the culprit escaped unscathed.  For those interested in an emergency excuse, please see Chris.  If that fails ask Matt Wi.
Spectacular light (Mark E)

Word of the working ridge obviously got around.  A few of the more seasoned pilots turned up later to enjoy flights in the really quite spectacular light as the clouds and sun interacted to create an ever changing vista.  Pete S extricated a K13 from the back of the hanger and took it for a fly, and Matt Wr turned up to fly the lucky Maddie.  Pete H helped out with a spot of instructing towards the end of the day to finish off the final names on the list.  He was also heard muttering something about "gliders not needing keys".  Who knows?  Not forgetting the final flight of the day, demonstrating that the ridge was still working - an hour by Henry in a Junior.  Obviously.
North Hill airfield in the late afternoon sky (James H)

Those turning up on the last two Saturdays must be feeling quite smug - winter flying is pretty special this year. - Tim P

Thursday 18th December

Undeterred by the forecast some of the Thursday regulars decided to chance their arm at the club. They were rewarded for their optimism with some quite unique flying.

The field was setup by 9:30am and flying started soon after. Blue card conditions with a WSW 20kt wind, on the ground.

The highest launch of the day was 700ft brushing orographic cloudbase, conditions were very challenging but Matthew W and Mark C proved that small beats from the SW corner to the west 'bowl' worked. With careful energy management they were able to continue to brush cloudbase, this set the trend for future flights. We only had one glider airborne at a time due to the ever changing rolling orographic cloud.
Matt's Butler delivers his dainty flying shoes (Mark C)

Light drizzle was in phase with the lunch break. 

The gliders were carefully parked over lunch in case any stronger gusts came through (Jill)
Due to the forecast of incoming rain at 13:30 we decided to put the toys away, whilst walking back to the launch point the drizzle had subsided so we threw Matt W and Aston up to the gliding Gods - they ventured as far as Blackborough. The gliding Gods were cooperative which enabled Pete H and Peter Sm to fly the remaining members on the flying list, longest flights were 12 minutes.

The gliders were washed and doors closed by 15:15. It was great to hear the clubhouse buzzing with enthusiasm, over tea and mince pies, on a day that only offered flights up to 700'!!

An excellent end to 2014 Thursday flying, thanks to all the instructors and pilots who have made this possible throughout the year.- Matthew W

Sunday 14th December

The forecast for Sunday was for strong to gale force winds and rain so few members turned up, but from early on the weather was quite flyable, when enough people turned up we got all the kit out and set up for a southwesterly launchpoint.
Guy turned up to fly the Falke but he gave a hand until JB turned up for the afternoon session.
It started raining after lunch but the rain didn't last long so we resumed flying.
The afternoon turned out quite nice and we managed to get through the list, it was very pleasant flying. All the flights were extended due to the high launches and the odd bits of lift with the South ridge helping a bit as well.
Guy managed to fly the Falke with William so they went home happy as well, so what at first seemed like a wasted day turned out well. - JSt.

Saturday 13th December

Some further good weather bought out a solid number of members eager to take advantage of the new reduced soaring rates and to keep their currency. During the slightly slow start, Roly was spotted with a momentary look of fear on his face as he passed the hangar and realised the DG was missing. Fortunately it was discovered safe and sound being DI'd prior to some 'friends and family' flights.  

Once canopies had de-misted, Rowan and James H started working through the moderate size list. James H seemed determined not to actually reach the top of the launch. Or maybe it was shivering causing accidental yellow knob activation. That would explain all his moaning about the cold? Meanwhile Matthew W had managed to 'persuade' John P to fly with him. Matthew was keen to go off on a trip to the North ridge. JP had to sap just a little of his enthusiasm by explaining a 3 knot wind wasn't quite enough. Don't worry though, there's plenty left. Enthusiasm that is.
James and Tim P  (Paul S)
The 'friends and family' all enjoyed the great views on a crisp winters day, Eric flying his son Alasdair and Roly flying Mike W's daughter Kirsten. A new junior member, Jordan, had his first North Hill experience.

John P was busy being all mature and grown up by securing himself a seat in the highest performance glider he could find in order to get the 'longest flight of the day' badge. A quick saunter to the launch point after every flight to check flight times, he eventually retired with 11 minutes in the bag, a full 2 clear of the nearest contender. Stuart P then arrived ready for an afternoon's instruction, and thought he might have a quick solo warm up flight. 12 minutes later ... JP had to take it on the chin like a man. He didn't even come out with any excuses about 'lucky thermals'...

Back at the clubhouse... Jill was explaining to Matthew W how important it was that the new North Hill Flarm receiver followed the correct OGN naming convention. Matthew fully appreciated the gravity of the situation and set about changing it. A few random button presses later... followed by a bit of a wait and we now have a fully functioning Flarm receiver with the all important correct ID. will display live positions of Flarm equipped aircraft.

Misting canopies eventually brought flying to a stop, although not before Henry had the last Junior flight of the day, obviously. Thanks to Eric and Chris C for some slick launch point management, ensuring everyone flew and the launch point ran smoothly. It was also good to see James F putting his new found winch operating skills to the test.  
Finished with the Winch? (Chris H)
James and Ian returned from another Falke sortie (Chris H)
A good day's flying for those who were prepared to put off Christmas shopping for far more important things! - Tim P 
After flying, in the Clubhouse with tea and biscuits, we enjoyed a discussion on oblate spheroids etc, and the good news is that the evenings will start drawing out now.

Thursday 11th December

The forecast was pretty lousy for Thursday, so it was a pleasant surprise to find the gliders prepared and ready to launch at 09:30am. The sky was pretty overcast, there was a strong westerly wind and showers kept blowing through. Unperturbed, the Thursday regulars were keen to reaquaint themselves with flying and soaring the ridge. Cloudbase was generally 1600-1800ft but reducing to 800ft in the showers. Launches were high and the ridge was working well to cloudbase,with the upper wind about 45 knots, the gliders were stationary for long periods ( or even going backwards).
 Longest flight was Pete H and Pete St (Blue card check) at 42 minutes - only curtailed by incoming rain  and gathering gloom. 
Packing the hangar (Mark C)

The sky looked at its best after we had packed up.....
Red sky at night..........? (Joe Sc)

Wednesday 10th December

Wednesday's forecast was for very strong winds and some blustery showers, but at the start of the day the wind was just fresh, but the poor forecast must have put people off coming, there where many regulars missing. 
A showers skims past to the south
 We had enough bodies to operate so we got the kit out, two K21s, the DG505, and a Junior. The wind was northwesterly and the the ridge was working to 1,800ft on occasion . There was also wave and thermals at times, we flew all day, managing 22 flights with a total of 12hrs of soaring.
Pete W scores some solo time in the afternoon sun
The rain didn't materialise except just as we were stopping for lunch and as we were putting the gliders away, so did not spoil,what was a very good day. - JSt
Just in time

Sunday 7th December

The cold front cleared as predicted and we were flying by about 11:15 am. A small but determined band flew all day in mostly blue card conditions with some quite interesting approaches. The worst of the showers missed us and the ridge worked for most of the day giving all the opportunity to soar.  I think Adrian had the longest flight by far - nice to see him back. 
The ridge was working to quite high levels all day
Matt Wil did some training with Woolly (yes on Sunday - he probably forgot the day of the week!). Mark W completed red card checks and John St's brother Robin made one of his infrequent visits, flying with John.
With few students, a number of instructors got some solo time in - which should please the CFI.
A good effort by all to keep flying in the cold, windy sunshine.- John Si

Saturday 6th December

With a bright weather forecast and the AGM later in the day, as well as an evening meal from Cheryl and Graham to look forward to, it was no surprise that the flying list was very long before the gliders were even taken out of the hangar.
But as ever many members make light work of all the various tasks around setting up the launch point, completing daily inspections of gliders and setting up the winch. 
Launch point ready

With the launch point set up in the light North North Westerly wind gliders were ready to be launched soon after 9:30, but as ever in the cold air canopies were too misted up to allow safe flying to start.
However flying was underway soon after 10:00 with both K21s, the DG505 and a K13 being used for training, and both Juniors popular with solo pilots keen to maintain currency. 
Busy launch point
Flying was kept going throughout the day albeit that all attempts to find lift of any form proved unsuccessful - nevertheless the day provided most members on the flying list with the opportunity to fly in the pleasant December weather.
Oscar converts to the Junior
Well Done to Oscar who after suitable  check flights and solos in a K21 converted to the Junior and after two solo flights had an even bigger grin than when he went solo for the first time. -Mike Sl 

The AGM started at 17:30 with a very full Clubhouse, the usual reports and Thanks were given. The new Committee were voted in as follows:

Chairman Lisa
Vice Chairman Stu
Treasurer Tom
Secretary Jill
CFI Pete
James, Paul S, John St, Tim, Mark C, Liam

This was followed by the annual awards of achievements and trophies. Congratulations to all.
Some of the trophy winners
 Full list of trophy winners

Trophy Awarded for Current Holder 2014
Brian Master's Trophy Winner of the Task Week Pete Startup
Dave Fewings Memorial Shield Best two-seater flight Ron Johns, Dan Johns
The Kennedy Trophy Best performance in a BGA rated competition Liam Vile
The Kelsey Plate Longest cross-country flight Ian Mitchell
Tim Parsons Trophy Earliest declared and completed flight over 300kms Wyn Davies
The Wily Old Bird personal presentation by the CFI for guile or cunning Family Bennett
The Rose Bowl Winner of the Club Ladder Pete Startup
The Ken Andrews Trophy Best flight in a wooden glider John Pursey
Tim's Challenge Trophy First O/R to Lasham in a wooden glider John Pursey, Matt Williamson
Francis Bustard Tankard Best gain of height Andrew Mugleston
Presidents Trophy
aka The Norman Whyte Shield
Best progress Matt Williamson
Instructor of the Year Member online vote Pete Harmer
Les' Tankard Best contribution to the Club by a Junior member Peter Bennett
The Dick Wolff Trophy Best contribution to the Club by helping others Adrian Phillips
Des Champ Vachables Trophy The member who achieved the greatest retrieve epicness  Henry Ford
Le Magnifique Pissoir The most flights scoring less than 100pts on the ladder Tom Sides

After the formal business, members enjoyed a superb Beef casserole prepared by Cheryl and Graham.

Thursday 4th December

It was cold and the padded onesie's were out in force, the wind was a fresh north easterly (not the warmest launch point on the field) and today the sun was missing! Those of the Thursday regulars who hadn't defected to sunny Wednesday this week, enjoyed good but cloudbase limited launches initially 1500ft  but reducing a little during the day. There were some extended circuits - of 8 minutes with a little lift on the northern side of the airfield. Highlight of the day was Chris M converting to the Junior.
Chris converts to the Junior
 It wasn't the best of gliding days but two temporary members Jon and Richard returned for their first taste of club operations following their trial lessons in October.
A reminder to Club Members that the AGM will be held at 17:30 on Saturday 6th December  with a last call for members votes for Instructor of the Year and nominations for the Dick Wolff Trophy - please login to the members area of the website by midnight Friday/Saturday to cast your vote.

Wednesday 3rd December

After a very mild November, December started very cold but bright, the wind was 15kts and northeasterly with a blue card just to keep us on our toes. 
Trying to keep warm
We had quite a long list so we had three two seaters and a Junior walked up to the southwest corner we flew all day and everyone flew, we finished flying at at just after 4pm.
Thanks to Pete St for collecting  HCX from its Annual and organising its rigging, it now looks very smart with its new front canopy.
Everyone was glad to get a hot drink in the warm clubhouse after a pleasant and rewarding day - JSt

Sunday 30th November

What a beautiful 'spring-like' day!
A small but enthusiastic band turned out on Sunday, a slow start while canopies cleared then the K21 and a K13 were towed to the SW corner to be joined later by the second K13. The wind was Northerly with a bit of Easterly and not strong enough to cause problems (well not for most!). 
 We all flew circuits in bright sunshine and benign air with the usual super views over Devon.
North Hill airfield from the southwest
Pete Sm rigged and successfully tested the winch hook on his beautiful machine. By the end of the day when the canopies started misting again everybody who wanted to fly had flown and importantly were keeping current. Why so few members on such a day at this time of year? 
Another setting sun
 Both motor gliders were out as well with pics on Facebook to prove it. -John Si