Saturday 28th February

There was low cloud and drizzle to start, but hopeful that it would clear before the main rain band came in late afternoon. By lunchtime there were some glimmers of hope, but the first Wellington School morning had to make do with safety briefings and videos. - If only we had the simulator ready.....
The winch was set up to test drive the demo Gator towing cables out, which was quite successful.
Demonstrator Gator tows out the cables (Stu)
After lunch, frustration beat common sense and an aerotow was attempted as the field was still quite wet. 
Unfortunately during the aerotow, the cloud lowered again and it started to rain - 1000ft and 8 mins longest and only flight of the day. 

Pete H gave another presentation on Flying with Flarm, followed by the last of this year's Winter talks - About the Volunteer Gliding Squadrons (VGS) presented by James Flory who has now been flying with us since end of September and soloed on gliders last weekend. Thanks also to Cheryl & Graham who catered for a small but perfectly formed group of members.

Friday 27th February - ad-hoc flying day

"Gators and capers"
Today was the second of DSGC's 2015 ad hoc flying days. Following the success of "terrific Tuesday" Chris C had the idea that today maybe the best day of the week, and so it turned out.
The normal suspects arrived just after 8:30 and quickly started to get the kit out.
The mottley crew (Mark C)
DSGC's living vario (230) rigged so it looked promising and with Matt W in attendance people started to get excited. Just as we were about to launch the next instalment in our quest for future proofing our transport fleet arrived for DSGC testing.- A John Deere Gator, a tough looking machine but there again it needs to be. Everyone who drove it loved it, we retrieved/ towed and drove it all round the field. Road test verdict 10/10.
Gator on trial (Mark C)
From the first launch the thermals were popping, indeed Chris C (sacrificial lamb) immediately had over an hour in the Junior.
Without an two-seater instructor until later in the morning the solo pilots filled their boots, whilst Matt W and Roly climbed aboard the DG for fun and capers ( see Matts story below) another "epic" adventure.

Mr Vario (230) launched and got away as per normal, heading off to a rather large blue hole over the great thermal town of Tiverton......

James arrived at 11 ish and immediately  started instructing, Ray D was the first victim continuing his journey to solo aerotow.
After two flights he was given the green light by James and promptly flew a perfect aerotow, later in the day he went one step further and solo'd the Junior, "what a perfectly flown early part of the aerotow" said Roly, praise indeed !
He didn't come back for quite some time using the remaining thermals and ridge lift, looks like he's been paying attention to his instructors!
Beaming smile from Ray (Mark C)
Paul L took time off from pumping iron and got a green light from James for his next visit.
Henry's forecasted front tried to make an appearance at 3pm but it was a fickle affair the sky still looking good after the kit had been retired to bed at 3:30 pm with everyone having filled their boots.

Another fantastic ad-hoc day, thanks to all those who turned up and worked hard to make things work so well.
The Gator was washed and put into its cage in the hanger quivering at the thought of the weekend "testers". -Mark C 

A Large Dose of Luck
Having missed out on "Terrific Tuesday" I was keen to be part of "Fabulous Friday" and with half price soaring fees I thought it would be nice to take the DG for a burn and besides it looked so sad, languishing in the hangar. You could almost hear it keening as the ever improving sky called to it. Roly, ever mindful of looking after the pride of North Hill, snuggled up in the back seat to share the flight and Mark C hauled us to 3000' near junction 27 in the hope of contacting wave. No wave but this lucky decision gave us the height to make an all or nothing foray out to a great looking street near Tiverton. I had to bribe Roly into going for this plan by offering to pay for the whole flight if we landed out.  We were soon at cloud base though and exuberantly now decided on giving the club hundred a go. Round Tiverton easy enough and a brilliant energy line had us smoking round Crewkerne in what seemed like no time. Back into wind we cruised back abeam the club having stopped to savour a couple of booming thermals. Back up at cloud base we now could jump the Culm valley again to the clouds near Tiverton, nip round TIV and 1 final climb allowed us to properly complete the Club hundred albeit in reverse and with a respectable speed of 82kph. Not bad for February. As we crossed the finish line  I could have sworn I heard the DG purring but I could be mistaken, and now I think about it, Roly did mention something about sphincter clenching.
The DG goes X-country

Wednesday 25th & Thursday 26th February

Both Wednesday and Thursday this week had a similar format - wet! - fog low cloud or rain.
Pete St and William continued the Flarm installations in the Club fleet. Whilst Pete H trialled the Understanding Flarm presentation. About 30 members have so far seen the presentation. - J&P

Sunday 22nd February

An early window of opportunity was missed as few people turned up, probably because the forecast for Sunday was very poor, with rain due to hit by 11:00.
The rain started an hour earlier than expected and didn't stop for the rest of the day, dropping 16.4 mm (5/8 inch) of water on us.
The DG tail battery was refitted and attention must now turn to the wiring.
A private glider gets loaded into the workshop with keen onlookers (Henry)
The mule was returned to its owner, watch this space as feedback was positive.

Saturday 21st February

The day began early at North Hill today.  Matthew Wi after spending the night in his mobile hotel (cleverly disguised as a white van) complete with 20 tog feather duvet and central heating, was showered and leaving site by 7am for another ridge soaring session at Nympsfield with Trevor Stuart.  If you were to peer bleary eyed out of a caravan window before 8am, you'd have seen sunshine, blue sky, white clouds and half the vehicles already out of the hangar ready to go, -thanks to an impressively keen Alan T.  You'd have probably also heard profanities drifting across the airfield as Mark C found that the temperature outside wasn't quite as warm as the view from inside suggested.

Despite the preparations, flying had to be put on hold temporarily while an excited Mark C familiarised himself with a borrowed 'mule'.  The plan was to assess its suitability for towing gliders.  It would seem that this involved taking it to a very muddy corner of the field and getting it stuck in order to test the 4WD capabilities and also towing a land rover up the steepest slope that could be found.  Anyone questioning the truth behind the cartoon on the club notice board would quickly have been convinced.  Once this 'job' had been completed, flying had to wait just a little longer as the instructors were busy surveying the field to assess which section it would be best to level first in the future field improvement programme.  Despite this, first flights still managed to launch prior to the 10am discount cut-off.  Impressive. 
Testing the mule (Mark C)
Mark C and James H began the days instructing.  Andrew L completed card checks and James F continued his training.  James H then handed James F over to Mark C for some final checks before flying his first glider solo at North Hill.  Congratulations James.  
Mark congratulates James (Pete Sm)

On the ground, new members Hans and Paul began to learn the ropes before their flights - welcome!  The brisk north westerly wind was creating some ridge lift, but its unreliability meant flights weren't passing the 15 minute mark.  Nick R decided to break this limit and enjoy the rather splendid views by taking a 4000ft aerotow.

After being retrieved by a land rover one time too many, Mark C couldn't contain his enthusiasm any longer.  It was deemed necessary to briefly pause glider instruction and carry out some 'mule' instruction to some of the die hard land rover fans.  It seems the enthusiasm was catching.  The unconfirmed rumour on the street is that even the most sceptical were heard to utter positive sentiments.
Trying out the borrowed mule (Mark C)
 As the morning progressed, conditions began to turn thermic.  By lunchtime the launch point was largely empty as flight times started to increase.  By the afternoon some impressive cloud streets had started to form, and staying aloft became very easy indeed.  It became possible to reach cloud base and visit the motorway under a cloud street at 70+ knots.  In fact for those wanting to practice landings it became all rather inconvenient.  Some people are never happy!  Pete B took an aerotow in K6 HEB and clocked up the longest flight of the day of 1hr 59 minutes beating Pete St's attempt in the same glider - good work.

Impressive cloud street set up over the airfield (Mark C)
Various instructors helped out to ensure the flying list was completed.  Thanks to Steve W, Rowan, Peter Sm, Pete H and Stuart.

News had reached North Hill on the phone of Matthew Wi.  180km on a ridge in tough conditions were described as 'sick'. If Matthew was 'down wit da kids' this would have been positive. Unfortunately Matthew isn't 'down wit da kids' and it had a more literal meaning!!  Sympathy from the North Hill club house was very vocal.
         "Matthew Wi snapped at the opportunity to fly again with Trevor, The Maestro, Stewart. Leaving NHL just after 7:00  for the journey up to Nympsfield there were  fantastic looking wave clouds all across Devon and Somerset. With the wind at 290 Trevor suggested that the whole Cotswolds escarpment would just about be doable. After numerous low saves and hours of hard work by Trevor, they managed to dodge the showers and complete a 180k ridge task: NYM - BATH - LOWER CLOPTON - NYM. Many thanks to Trevor Stewart and the guys at Nympsfield." - Matthew Wi

James H had left site around midday to carry out his motor glider flying skills test in the Rotax Falke.  It must have been a thorough test, as by the time most people had left for the day at 6pm, The Falke was still to return (James had  passed and then managed to blag a ride in a Stearman at Dunks.)

Yet another great winter's day at North Hill. - Tim P

Wednesday 18th February

Another productive Wednesday with a huge list and much enthusiasm (helped by a poor forecast for Thursday), the forecast was just about right with a bright start and not so cold as it has been of late.
The wind was a light South-westerly that freshened during the day and gave us some thermals at midday there was also some weak wave early in the day.
Some light maintenance (Jess)
Liam brought up some Exeter Uni members and we had two visitors who had booked Trial lesson flights thanks to Eric they were all flown, thanks also to Paul C for his help.
We managed 50 flights in all with over 8 hours soaring, 
Tim getting the ASW19 out of hibernation (John St)
Tim J flew his ASW19 and Peter B the K6 HEB. - JSt

Tuesday 17th February - ad-hoc aerotow training day

With an encouraging forecast for Tuesday and a less than optimistic one for Wednesday and Thursday the suggestion went out on Google Groups for flying on Tuesday, primarily aimed at aerotow training and checks.  Interest was quick to show and a crew were assembled to run the day.  Mark and Simon had the tug out and ready to go by 08:30 under a cloudless clear blue sky and Members and Tuggies were quick to appear.
Race for the tug (Mark C)
Both K21s and a Junior were readied and after a quick cuppa and briefing the first launch was under way with Oscar seeking to be cleared for solo aerotow.

Others were soon airborne and enjoying stunning visibility. By mid morning the first tremors of lift were making themselves felt and by midday flights were getting longer and private gliders, 3 in total, appeared in the aerotow queue.

A great February sky (Mark C)
Everyone enjoyed extended flights with thermals aplenty to 3,500 ft  and smiles all round, and for once North Hill appeared to be the epicentre of lift with large blue areas around.

Empty launchpoint (Peter Sm)
Oscar achieved solo aerotow in the K21 and then the Junior and then promptly stayed aloft for 2 hours 27 minutes. Well done!
Oscar first aerotow in Junior (Mark C)
Pete St (230) as always ventured forth and made it to Tiverton , Chard and back to Tiverton with the normal Crewkerne turnpoint cut off in sea air, achieving 109 km.
Allan and Martin patiently waiting their turn (Mark C)
Many thanks to all who pitched in to make it work and turned it into a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding day. And with both Falkes joining in the fun, there was a total of 19 hours soaring. An excellent start to the season and the first of hopefully many more extra flying days to come this year. - Peter Sm
Great ad-hoc flying day (Mark C)
and if you missed it - you should have been watching DSGC Google groups. - (ed)

Saturday 14th February

Although the weather predictions for today seemed to have employed the 'random bad weather generator' algorithm over the last two days, a surprisingly large bunch of members were to be found in the clubhouse this morning.  Unfortunately the weather was indeed poor as (sort of) predicted. This meant Graham and Cheryl, looking rather tanned after their recent excursion, were kept busy providing sustenance.

While we all hung around drinking tea, waiting for an improvement in the weather, a few people kept themselves gainfully occupied. Nick was busy showing off his new tattoo of the DG505. Roly was busy pretending he didn't care that he'd not thought up that idea first. Pete Sm was busy showing off and installing his ingenious new sliding door locking mechanism for the M/T Hangar. There appeared to be only two sliding door lock enthusiasts, but they were suitably impressed, and used words like 'elegant' to describe his method.  Note to members: please don't break them! Paul S and James H were busy looking lovingly into each others eyes and buying cake with hearts on as Valentines gifts for each other, before posting pictures on Facebook. 
Lovey cake (Cheryl)

- Very sweet. Henry was busy ... hold on ... we haven't got to lunch and Henry was here? Strange but true. Henry was busy repairing batteries and also running a kind of walk in IT service to anyone that needed it. JP was busy launching in a K13 to find out exactly how high cloud base was. Or should that be how low cloud base was? Low was the answer. Confronted by a wall of cloud he retreated.  Pete St was busy commentating on Matt's latest videos from Parham and Nympsfield.

Anyway, back to actual gliding. After lunch, cloud base had lifted and gaps had appeared, so flying began at 2:15pm from the south west corner. Amazingly most people were still around after 'toughing out' the morning in the clubhouse.  Maybe the wise words "you won't fly if you're not there" are being noted! JP and Ian M were on instructing duties. Conditions weren't great, but there were some hints of thermals in places. Georgina experienced her first flight in a glider with JP.  Neil E returned to continue his learning after not flying since July. Roly and Henry both took advantage of the return of the Pawnee to take aerotows. Henry was optimistic of finding wave after some seeing some vaguely promising signs but returned disappointed.
Henry tows above cloud looking for wave (Henry)

Nick refreshed himself on how 'the bubble' worked, probably so he can hang his 'inked' arm out of the window (lorry driver style) once the weather improves. Despite the short day, everyone that wanted to fly, flew.  

Love you North Hill. - Tim P

Thursday 12th February

With the pessimistic weather forecast repeated by Pete on Google groups yesterday, it was rather surprising to find the carpark full this morning, but everybody must have looked out the window! The cloud was thin and quite high with glints of brightness, and there was very little wind, just a light south easterly flow. 
Mark C trying to drum up business for aerotows (Mark C)
The launches weren't very high due to the lack of wind, and there wasn't much time for exploring in the circuit, Ian had the longest flight off the winch of 10 minutes. By mid-afternoon, the wind suddenly picked up a little and swung round to south westerly, so there was a swift change of ends. 
Changing ends (Mark C)

As we reached the end of the flying list, the cloud lowered and the canopies started misting. Thanks to Tom and Graham H who spent all day replacing the shower doors and didn't get to fly. 
So an unexpected - but pleasant day's flying. - Don't always believe the forecast! - J&P

Wednesday 11th February

Low cloud and an indifferent wind direction led to us deciding to wait to see what the weather was going to do before we set the field up.
Mike Fitz and team decided to change the R/H cable on the Skylaunch which had been giving trouble on Saturday, whilst John St. and team prepared the two K21s and a Junior and walked them up to the N/W corner. By the time the gliders were in place the winch was ready to launch and the murky weather had improved and the cloud base had risen to over 1500ft. 
Tony and Peter in K21 (John St)
Thanks to Peter Sm for looking after Wednesday flying whilst John Si has been away.
It was nice to see Mike Fitz back and looking well after his recent absence, after the delayed start everyone had as much flying as they wanted, Nick H had the longest flight of 15min. - JSt

Sunday 8th February

With blue skies and bright sunshine as well as a good forecast it was somewhat surprising that only a small group of members were at the Club first thing, although as the morning progressed the numbers gradually increased.

As there was little or no wind and with a forecast of North Westerly later in the day the launch point was initially set up in the South East corner of the field but before flying had started the wind had freshened and settled down as a North Easterly so the launch point was repositioned in the South West corner of the field.
Launch point was set up (Mike Sl)
Pawnee back in action providing aerotows (Mike Sl)
Flying got underway just before 11:00am and the flying list was steadily worked through before a stop for lunch - just before lunch Matt took a new temporary member (Paul Kane from Kentisbeare) on an aerotow in K13 (R37) for what was planned to be a 'simple flight'. As everyone returned from lunch Matt and Paul were still airborne, an hour and a half after take off, having found some wave to the North of the field. 

" Paul Kane, a plumber from Kentisbeare, who has been planning to try gliding for ages, finally came up, met Tom, who brokered a deal for a 3000’ tow as a good intro. probably sold him a place on the April course into the bargain.

Given the wind direction I thought we might find wave around Culmstock so asked Simon Jordy to tow us  to 3000 in that direction, best lift was just north of the north ridge though so off tow we turned back towards the club reconnecting at 2300’ near Blackborough car dump.  With Paul having a go at the controls we were able to yoyo between 2500' and 3100’ in a fairly narrow area of lift while every one else had lunch. We enjoyed excellent views of the north and south coasts in the wonderful sunshine finally returning to North Hill as the other members finished their lunch and came back out onto the field." - Matt W

After lunch the flying continued apace with various members taking advantage of the blue skies to practice their aerotow skills and in some cases the 'fun of spinning'.

More aerotows (Mike Sl)
Tom in Junior (KHA) achieved just over two hours in the same wave lift found earlier in the day by Matt and Paul.

During the day Guy and Lisa had fun sightseeing in and around Minehead and the North coast of Somerset and Devon in Falke G-BKVG.

Those North coast cliffs from VG! (Lisa)
A day of good teamwork all round with everyone flown and gliders washed and put away by soon after 5:00pm. - Mike Sl 

Mini-Expedition to Parham
Abandoned by the old men, H5 Matt awoke alone at Parham on Sunday morning. The wind was still blowing northerly so he had a 1000ft aerotow onto the ridge which was working to 1000'.

As forecast at 12:00 the wind started to die off and the ridge got soft and very crowded. Thankfully by this time the thermals were plentiful and allowed flying upto 1500ft, -stratospheric compared to the standard of flying on this trip!
View from the South Downs (Matt W)
Thanks to the guys at Parham for being so helpful and welcoming.- Matt H5

Mini-Expedition to Talgarth
Sadly no wind, so no soaring, Simon M ended up doing a little Instructing,  good news - 

KMV waiting for the wind (Stu)
Stu did his first solo at Talgarth in his LS3. - Simon M

Saturday 7th February

"Fifty shades of grey? "
Arriving at the club in my warm Audi taxi the airfield looked inviting, deep blue sky with hints of wave!
The club house had several members drinking tea by the time the depleted Plymouth gang members arrived. You see some had ventured to Parham gliding club, some were at football games, others were sat in the sun in Portugal, which left just two from the south.

When we ventured outside our car the wind cut through us like a knife, the wind chill was reading -7c on the clubhouse weather station.

Soon our hearts were warmed by the expression on the members faces when we told them that we needed to march the fleet to that warmest of corners the airfield, known to locals as Ice Station Zebra ( look it up youngsters).
Guess who (Mark C)
Rowan and Stu were on duty and quickly worked their way through the huge flying list, well the two people needing training that is.

There were wave clouds everywhere, but getting to them was proving to be a leap of faith that pilots seemed reluctant to take, maybe it was the thought of de rigging in a cold damp field that put them off!

The sky to the East looked ominous as the predicted front started to creep towards us, soon we were covered by a sheet of cloud that had many shades, but alas all of them grey.

With the sun now blotted out the temperature appeared to dip so an early lunch was called for, it was some time before any of us could hold a conversation let alone a knife and fork we were that cold.
Never the less at the rallying call of "Let's Fly" the members leapt up --- and ordered more hot tea.
Soon though a few mad/keen/foolish/insane/desperate members took the long drive to Iceland.
Peter B in the back seat with Martin (Jess)
Peter B started his back seat career with Martin W, Dave W and Mark had two desperate attempts at finding more than 4 down.
Roly and Jess (selfie)
Poor Roly nearly froze in the shelter of the launch point vehicle before winch driving for the rest of the day, he did complain that he burn his hand on the heater in the winch as he had left his purple winch driving gloves at home.
Nick H enjoyed the last flight of the day with Mark C  at about half past three.

Not the most epic day at NH but surprisingly everyone seemed to be smiling, unless the grimace was frozen on their faces. - Mark C

Parham mini-expedition
 At 15:00 on Friday after young rascal H5 Matt put out a wanted ad for some pilots with a good sense of humour and willing to drop all plans for the weekend to go flying - JB, M5 Matt and 230 Pete obliged. The last glider arrived on location at midnight, the two old men slept in one van and the two Matt's in the other. A freezing night was spent huddled up together in the driveway of South Downs Gliding Club!

The wind was strong NNE and the ridge was working to its full extent. The local hotshot dumped his water over 230 as they got stuck at Devil's Dyke, but as the day progressed the whole run was do-able with the glassboys doing a 337km ridge task.

Feel the need for Speed
H5 downwind from Parham
After a check ride with the duty instructor H5 Matthew took to the ridge in the SF27, the larger gaps looked rather intimidating and he couldn't quite get to the recommended height to jump them in wood! But had great fun scraping up from the smaller gaps and racing along the local ridges.
Everyone landed safely at the end of the day grinning from ear to ear, over 18hrs flying from just 5 flights. Last minute plans are always the best. - H5 Matt

Thursday 5th February

Another cold north-easterly day, but the Thursday regulars were all keen to fly. Two K21s and a Junior were walked up the field, -thanks to Pete St and team for getting the Junior KHA out of the workshop promptly after its Annual. There was top cover cutting off the warmth from the sun, due to an approaching 'warm' front, but there were noticeable gaps in the lower clouds.
After the A/D and Annual maintenance work, it was good to see the Pawnee out on the field again, - thanks to Ian for all his hard work in the cold / damp working conditions.
Pawnee waiting for customers (Jill)
There were a number of check flights and Roger A from Dartmoor GS was briefed to fly the Junior. Just after lunch our first Trial lesson of the year enjoyed an aerotow to 2000ft with Eric. Mark C was trying to drum up some more business for the Tug to explore the gaps in the clouds, when a slight delay for cable repair saw Pete H and Joe take an aerotow and disappear for 47mins - the longest flight of the day.
Ron and Nigel also took an aerotow, and both K21s were above cloud for a while before the front arrived and closed up the gaps, causing controlled descents and landings in some light snow. The top surface of the field started to cut up a little although the temperature hadn't risen much (and the hose was still frozen!)
After walking the gliders back to the hangar, Pete H gave a mini-lecture on wave conditions and why the gaps had closed so suddenly. - J&P

Wednesday 4th February

To say it was cold today would would be a gross understatement, it took all the powers of persuasion of John S and Peter S to extradite the club members from their warm cacoon and tea in the clubhouse.
We also had the joys of flying from the S/W corner in the brisk N/E wind not the warmest place at the best of times, still we all had an interesting day Chris C renewed his yellow card all the rest had good practice in laying off in strong crosswind conditions. 
Time for a nice hot cuppa' (John St)
We managed 21 flights, the high launches were soon lost in the heavy sink that seemed to be everywhere, there was some tanterlising wave downwind of the airfield but due to prudence and the cold we did not investigate it, at last we put the gliders away they didn't need cleaning, anyway the hose was frozen. - JSt

Sunday 1st February

"An ill wind blows no good" (or "Patience rewarded")

After yesterday's disappointing weather, it was somewhat surprising that with a reasonable forecast, and the potential for the West ridge to be working if the wind was as predicted, that there were not more members at the Club at the start of the day.

With the wind much stronger and more Northerly than forecast much consideration was given to whether to set the field up and get gliders out of the hangar or to wait for the wind to all being well abate and/or change direction.
LPV windsock horizontal (Mike Sl)
With optimism that the wind would become more helpful as the morning progressed the launch point was set up in the South East corner of the field whilst both K21s were taken out of the hangar and parked carefully at the launch point.

After a weather check flight it was decided that on the balance of "risk v reward" the gliders would be better on the ground than being launched  - after the K21s had been left with a suitable quantity of tyres and parked vehicles to provide some protection from the gusting wind, hot drinks and brunch were soon being ordered

And then it became a question of whether members' patience would run out before the wind reduced in strength and level of gusts. With much looking out of the clubhouse windows an early lunch was called for...

And then the wind reduced in strength and levels of gust to the extent that the second launch of the day was soon underway and then the third and then the fourth...and by late afternoon everyone had flown.Whilst the flights were not particularly long (the longest flight of the day was 10 minutes) the afternoon provided the opportunity for members to fly in the Blue Card conditions including Mark C completing further work with Matthew on his BI training.
Wave clouds - so near yet so far (Mark C)
A total of 16 flights (1hr 40m) for the day...
Another sunset behind the beech trees (Mike Sl)
Whilst some of us were having fun in the sun Ian M, Stu and James worked away in the tug hangar finishing off the work on the Pawnee. - Mike Sl