Thursday 30th April

The forecast on RASP was one of the best for our region so far this year, and members turned out in force. It started off a little slowly, bright and cool, fresh north westerly, but lowish clouds, by the time we were ready to launch it was soarable to cloudbase at 2000ft.
There were some heavy showers in the morning over Tiverton and the motorway, but they missed North Hill, but did cause the Junior pilots to rush back to site. 
During the morning, the Supacat winch was given an airing by William and Aston, there were a couple of 'interesting launches' but the vast majority of them were OK. By lunchtime, it was decided to revert to the Skylaunch and we had an empty launchpoint at various times during the afternoon. 
Pete St 230 launching into a lovely sky (Mark L)
New member Martin with his T31 enjoyed the circuits of North Hill with a variety of Thursday regulars experiencing their first open cockpit flights. 
Martin with Ray in T31 (Mark L)
The private owners completed a variety of Club 100's in various directions, but most gliders found their way into the convergence along the south coast at some point. 
Superb convergence (Ron)
Cloudbase rose to just over 5000ft above North Hill and well done to Dave C  in Pilatus B4 for his best Ladder flight so far taking in all the local turnpoints in 2:34. 
Congratulations to George for completing his Bronze Flying tests with Chris W.
A very nice day for North Hill this spring. - J&P

Wednesday 29th April

All the forecasts for today seemed correct and resulted in a low turnout initially, by 10:30 though, we had enough bodies to get the kit out.
We started with rain and low cloud, but by the time the kit was out, there was a big improvement and we were soon soaring, even with the strong westerly wind, the ridge didn't seem to be working, - but the thermals were, and very strong up to 4000ft. 
Paul L flew the SF27 and Nigel his DG300, we had three two-seaters out and a Junior and there were three Trial lesson flights.
Everyone had long soaring flights and and it was a very worthwhile day in spite of the forecast. Many thanks to Paul C and Eric for helping out. - JSt

Tuesday 28th April - Denbigh at it's best

For us glider pilots Denbigh has a great ridge. The Clwydian range. A 30km line of hills stretching from Prestatyn in the north to Llandegla in the south, designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty. Oh, it is beautiful, the purple, heather covered flanks of the slopes, gullies and ridges channel and deflect the wind providing us with seemingly boundless energy to fuel anything between high adrenaline, low level, terrain hugging, speed runs or min sink, lost in the view, floating. When the wind is from 250 it is perfect for the ridge and being in the lee of Snowdonia here is a good chance of wave too.
The ridge basks in the evening sun
Tuesday dawned clear and with a good westerly blow. Still in the cold unstable air-mass of the past few days, thermals would be in abundance too but no showers to mess with our chances of completing the almost full length task of 5 beats between Dyserth(DYS) in the north and Denbigh ridge south( DRS) for a distance of 140 km.  The topography of the ridge between the 2 turn points isn't constant so it isn't just a case of stick to the front and hold on. A bit like a race track there are places to go as fast as you can and others where you have to change down going as fast as you dare. It's all about trying to follow the best line.

The ridge was ballistic, 230 and M5 climbed to nearly 4000' behind the start and went through the gate at about 120 kts, to make use of the 1000m height loss allowance for ladder flights and trade the height for speed over the less defined first 10km of the ridge where going super fast low down isn't really possible. M5 and 230 both managed came up with personal bests, clocking in with 56 and 61 minutes respectively equating to 137kph and 151kph. Smoking!
Clouds over the Clwydian range, there is wave about!
To get our breath back, we went to investigate some thermals over Ruthin and M5 connected with some very weak wave which took him to almost 6000' over Denbigh town and gave the opportunity of pushing west into wind and to a good looking cumulus with a wave sculpted top near Conwy. A strong thermal climb to cloud base and then a push out front into the primary wave and a steady climb to over 12000'. Snowdon beckoned. Pushing into the 40kt head wind burnt 5000' to cover the 25km or so to get to the turn point, just skimming the tops of the clouds over the mountains and then turning for home.
Climbing over the Conwy Valley
230 meanwhile had not managed to connect with the wave at Ruthin and bored with trying, went back for another go at the ridge task but at a more gentlemanly pace. Another 140km completed and evidence of better wave started appearing over the ridge and as M5 arrived back from Snodwonia 230 was climbing above the clouds. M5 suffering a little chill after the wave climb went thaw out by doing a second run of the ridge task. A little over an hour later, task complete(at only 137kph this time - slow for Matt!), 230 reported passing 11000'.
Still cold and satiated from an all encompassing, ridge thermal and wave day, M5 went in to land and de-rig. About an hour later, 230 was back too, having lost 5000' jumping to the primary where he climbed back to 12500' and then bagged the coveted Snowdon turn point into the bargain(above cloud - didn't even see it!). We had each covered more than 380 km and climbed over 11000' in wave, epic doesn't quite do it justice. Captain Slow was happy, "In 30 years of flying gliders, that has to be my most spectacular single day out - it had everything!"
The mouth of the Menai Strait

Denbigh, Monday 27th April - a day of sightseeing

Conwy River and the Welsh Riviera
With a forecast of fairly light winds but good thermals and a high cloudbase again, after yesterdays declared task which pretty much defines where you go, we decided to go where the energy(and fancy) took us today and take in the views. And what views they were! Again it was almost possible to see most of Wales from the 6000' cloudbase that we enjoyed in the afternoon. A wander of around 150km going to Conwy, Llanrwst and as far South as Lake Vyrnwy(one of our turnpoints yesterday too). Matt M5 did try to get to Snowdon again in a moment of mountain madness but it was being rained on at the time. After many hours of soaring it was time to land so Martin could de-rig and set off on the drive home, prior commitments meant he had to fore-sake tomorrow's promise of a more Westerly blow and the beckoning of some ridge running!
Snowdonia beckons
Rain over Snowdon

Denbigh Sunday 26th April - Over the hills and far away

Today the forecast was for a slack Northerly breeze - no good at all for a ridge and wave site that needs a Westerly. But hang on, what's this? The airmass after the cold front promised good soaring in Wales and so we looked at some cross country tasks. Local guru Kevin suggested a 330km out and return task straight up and down the middle of Wales. That seemed along way to go South as we feared the day may weaken early or blue out(as it was neither happened although the wind did increase), so we set a yo-yo task of Lleweni Parc(LLE) - Llandrindod Wells(LLW) - Vyrnwy(VRY) - Rhayader(RHY) - Lleweni Parc(LLE) for 313km.
Going south on the first leg over the Llantysillo mountains
Although Pete S in 230 needed a re-light(muppet), thermals from the off were good with climbs initially to 3000' locally which rapidly rose to 4000' then as the day progressed cloudbases rose to 6000' with the best of the climbs between 5 and 6kts.

The visibility was astonishing with the whole of Wales being visible laid out like a map around you.

The ridge just south of Barmouth
While the task itself wasn't particularly difficult, the 6000' cloudbase is only relative to the terrain you're flying over and with some of it being almost 3000' some areas felt quite intimidating with landout options at times looking 'interesting', at least to Pete and Martin - Mountain Matt probably thought it was like East Anglia! Apart from the hills, every field had sheep in it. Pete S had one tricky bit on the last leg getting down to 3000' indicated in the lee of a ridge with a 2,800' hill in front of him - interesting. But M5, not wanting to miss a rare chance, decided to divert around the peak of Snowdon on the return leg, wave to walkers and get a takeaway coffee from the cafe on top as he went by and in so doing added an extra 40km to his task! A truly enterprising effort and the pictures tell the story.
Abeam Barmouth looking south west to the Gower Peninsula
Looking west over Snowdon and the Lleyn Peninsula
So everybody got home(Martin with no electrics for the last 80km), a couple of the other guys went further South and found the conditions around Hereford/Brecon/Talgarth even better.

A brilliant x-c day from somewhere you don't expect to go x-c so new terrain for all of us. I'm sure I saw Matts cheesy grin go 360 round his head and join up at the back and rightly so!

Denbigh Drizzle - Saturday 25th April

Today the forecast was for a Southwesterly at 20kts but with rain approaching. After the usual faffing and tea drinking we got airborne and started the standard Denbigh ridge run. Either we were too late or the front was early but we only managed 75km before the rain arrived and stopped play. Spent the afternoon in a fantastic model shop where Dan(the Nympsfield organiser) managed to empty his wallet and Pete S bought some sticks of wood for a 'project'. Dan made a chilli for is all.

Saturday 25th April

There was low cloud at 1200ft to start with and then there was some low 'convergency orographic thingy' along the south ridge and the Hembury ridge line to 700-800ft but it was marginally soarable along both edges. Longest flights were about 25 mins in this low level convergence, Liam in Junior, Stuart and James in DG505 and Lisa in the Junior.  Congratulations to James F who completed his first solo aerotow. 
In the afternoon, it rained (first time for a few weeks) and everything was put away.-  LV
L-R, Peter B, James H, Ian M, Dick, Liam, Matthew W, Pete H (Jill)
We welcomed Dick Dixon, a trustee of the Philip Wills Memorial Fund (PWMF), and his wife Mary. Dick kindly presented some of our younger pilots with PWMF  2015 scholarships for Instructor training. 
James H was also presented with his PWMF scholarship from 2014, having successfully completed his NPPL with Ian during the year. - Jill

Friday 24th April - Denbigh Off to a good start!

Captain Slow was adamant we had to be Off Chocks North Hill by 0700. "We’ll be rigged and ready to launch by 1300”, he said more than once and with his “this is a great plan” voice. By contrast to our more hopeful than enthusiastic mood, given the earliness of the alarm call, North Hill was in thick fog as we hitched up the trailers and Mrs Proctor was out hunting for her dogs in the gloom after she had finished cleaning the club house. So only 2 minutes behind schedule we were on our way to Denbigh despite the forecast. We might get a small window of opportunity before the rain arrives. Fingers crossed. Please let the rain be late!

Popping into the Lleweni Parc club house to say our hellos to Kevin and co delayed Pete’s schedule a little more and we were actually rigged and ready to go by 1400. Our mad rush had been dampened somewhat by the lack of wind and gloomy looking sky here too. Dan self launched in the Arcus and was seen just about level with the top of the ridge reporting the wind to be about 12kts SSW. Hey Ho we had come to fly so 230 Pete went next, followed by M5 Matt with KMV Martin playing tail gun charlie. 230 and M5 slowly fought their way up the slope and were able to sneak over The Tusk and move to a better part of the ridge but KMV had a tougher time of it and ended up popping back to Denbigh for a relight.

Within half an hour the wind picked up to a good 18kts and the ridge switched from usable to ballistic. We didn’t venture North of Bodfari gap as we were not convinced the lower ridge there would work given the amount of southerly component in the wind so whizzing down to the Southern turn point and back a few times consumed the first hour of our flights. Cheesy grins all round.
Martin finds the wave
By now the sky had also opened up and there were promising signs of wave. Martin was first to call getting established in strong lift just to the North of Moel Famau. So we abandoned the ridge in the quest for height. There was a lot of moisture in the air and clouds formed and dissolved as the wave moved around, adding to the challenge of trying to stay in the lift. As is usually the case the higher we climbed the easier it became to read the sky and a classic flying saucer lenticular near Ryl took us all up over 8000’ in amongst the incredible cloudscapes.
Pete S guides 230 above the clouds
Running the wave bar over Rhyl with view to Snodonia
The front that was forecast to arrive late afternoon was becoming evident by the clear air between the clouds rapidly filling with even more cloud giving us an excuse to forsake the cold heights and make a beeline for the club before we needed an instrument rating to land. An unexpected gem of a day. Mega cheesy grins all round.
Wave bars joining up as the front approaches

Thursday 23rd April

Low cloud and rather cold start kept most people in the Clubhouse for a while, but slowly the kit appeared and we waited for the expected clearance.
As time went by, the cloud started to break although it wasn't getting much higher, we set up launching into the south easterly wind and then suddenly the cloud was all gone, and blue sky flying was back.
Perfectly held off landing in the Junior by Chris (Mark L)

From first launch there were some hints of thermals, topping out at about 1000ft, but they didn't develop into anything significant. 
Spot the moon (Mark L)

Mid-afternoon the wind shifted requiring a slick end change.
K21 launching from the dusty end (Mark L)

So not the most memorable for soaring opportunities but once it had warmed up it was certainly very pleasant. 
Matt W tugging for Mark C (Mark L)

The three trial lessons all enjoyed their flights too. - J&P

Wednesday 22nd April

The present run of High Pressure Easterlies continues with a strong wind and bright sun.
The two K21s and a Junior were walked to the west end of the field, Mike Fitz and JSt were again first off to bat yet again, without much expectation of any soaring in the strong wind. The launch was very rough and the air was full of rotor, after a 15min struggle, Mike managed to contact good strong wave, John Si took the second cable and contacted wave at the top of the launch, both K21s climbed to 3,000ft.
Matt in M5, much enthused by the wave launched on the 3rd cable but could not contact the wave, but managed to stay up for over 2hrs in very difficult and tiring conditions.
Aston getting ready to fly
 The difficult conditions continued until about 4pm when good strong thermals gave easy climbs to well over 2,000ft.
We finished flying about 5.30 after everyone had flown on a very interesting day. - JSt

Monday 20th April - VGS Instructors Day

DSGC had been selected by the BGA to host selected Instructors from 624 Volunteer Gliding Squadron (VGS) Chivenor and 626 VGS Predannick for some gliding continuation training, as part of a nationwide grant scheme provided by RAFA.
VGS Instructors Training Day (Jill)
With clear blue skies and light easterly winds, the weather was perfect for the planned sorties.
Six Instructors enjoyed four aerotows each, with training in spinning and aerobatics, even the formation flying of aerotowing was a new experience for most of them.
Unusual  view of North Hill from the aerotow (Matt W)
Thanks to Ian M, John Si and JB for the intensive day of upsidedown-ness, Pete H and Matt for tugging (Pete managed to climb 75,000 feet throughout the day) and James F and Jill for running the launch point. -J&P

Sunday 19th April

The wind was still a rather bracing north easterly, and a much smaller flying list than yesterday, but the sun was out, and later, there were signs of  developing cumulus clouds in a crosswind line upwind, and similarly downwind.
It wasn't til after lunch that some of these clouds became useable initially only from aerotow, but then from the winch as well. Throughout the afternoon the patch of soarable sky moved downwind. Pete St flew the DG505 for over an hour. The remaining stragglers from upcountry returned  home with tales to tell. - J&P

Long Mynd – Saturday 18 (Staggering Saturday)

After consulting the experts (the same ones that had predicted good soaring on Friday) the remainder of the group decided to head for Talgarth. The easterly was still forecast to be in action, and those of you that have read the current Sailplane and Gliding magazine will know that Talgarth is obliged to 'wave' in an easterly using a 'hydraulic pump' mechanism? Ooo-err.
Traversing the face of the Mynd

The easterly wave on the way out at 0700

At 6:30am, 5 gliders (JD7, H5, JZK, 477 and ENW) waved goodbye to the Long Mynd and set off in convoy with Henry in the lead. That was until 10 minutes later when Henry realised he'd forgotten his sandwiches. These weren't just any sandwiches... these were 'posh' sandwiches from a very lovely little Church Stretton delicatessen. Henry abandoned his glider and returned. This left Matthew Wi in the lead. Luckily, as Mark noted, Matthew drives like a bl***y 90 year old geriatric (Mike Sl translation: Matthew drives very sensibly when towing a trailer), so Henry caught us up at the Mark C enforced coffee stop.

Despite temporarily losing Mike, we still arrived at Talgarth before Derbyshire and Lancashire Gliding Club (Camp Hill). Mark made it perfectly clear that if this hadn't transpired, his grumpy setting would definitely have been 'moderately high'. Unfortunately the water on site had run out meaning Mark couldn't utilise the water closet in the way he was used to. This set the grumpy setting to 'moderately high' anyway. The disadvantages of coffee.

The east wind at Talgarth was brisk. There was some nervousness about launching, but a couple of local pundits gave it a go. The briefing followed, after which the first couple of gliders were reporting reaching the limit of the airspace (FL125). After a brief interlude when the wind picked up slightly more than was comfortable, Mark C and Matthew prepped for the first flight in the DG.
Mark C and Matthew prepped for the first flight in the DG
There was some trepidation about launching the DG due to its weight and the Pawnee's power (235 hp instead of 265 hp for all you tug geeks). After a careful check of available fields and a chat with the pilot, it was decided to go. No wonder Mark C wanted functioning toilet facilities. With almost everyone on sight lined up to watch the spectacle, Mark confessed to some stage fright, but all went as smoothly as can be expected when launching into rotor. Wave was contactable from above 1,500 ft and after an hour of exploring and BI training they returned.

The wave was reliable throughout the day, enabling everyone to fly. Henry JD7, Matthew H5, Paul 477, Simon ENW, Mike Sl ENW all flew, with Mike Sl and Tim P following Matthew in the DG. Everyone managed at least 11,000 ft to enjoy the breathtaking views. Despite Timid Tim discovering that Mark C gets very very nervous over 9,000 ft, he still coached him up to 11,000 ft. Who'd have thought it.
Simon L with his facial pee bag

Henry with his copy-cat impression of Simon L

Matthew Wi spotted the opportunity to achieve his gold height claim. Feeling optimistic (as always ... obviously) he released from the tug at 1,500 ft only to find himself back on the ground after 12 minutes of rotor. After talking to the local members about the best way to climb in rotor he had another shot. This time taking a higher launch and enjoying the wave up to the base of the airway, meeting up with Henry. Henry didn't need much persuasion to join in and attempt a gold height. Returning to the 'washing machine' at 1,500 ft, after a 20 minute 'fight', Matthew escaped but Henry succumbed and ended up back on the ground. Either the locals knew what they were talking about, or luck played its part. On return his gold height claim was verified by a local Official Observer. Congratulations! Henry seemed happy as it meant he could return to attempt it another time. Simon L's flight in ENW also possibly achieved his gold height subject to confirmation...
Matt W at FL120

Henry at 10,500 ft QFE (FL118)

Mark, Simon and Mike left to return via the Costa Coffee equipped service stations and Henry, Matthew and Tim took the slow route home via a local pub. It was here they stumbled across the tug driver Keith, who was keen to share his many years of gliding tales and offer Matthew spares for H5. An hour and a half, and some delicious home cooked food later, they left for North Hill.

Mark C declared this his 'best gliding holiday yet' and no-one protested this claim.

On behalf of the whole group we'd like to thank Mark C and Simon L for instructing, leading, organising, arguing, whining, swearing and generally taking on the role of 'responsible adults' for this week of adventure. Ah the irony. Also a big thank-you to Henry for doing the boring stuff involving spreadsheets and lists on boards and Matt W for doing the flight logs.

Looking forward to July already.

Saturday 18th April

Had a slight re-jig of duties with Stuart  helped by Peter Sm  and Phil M- and Robin Tug Pilot. There was some local lift occasionally, and the K21s had a few soaring flights of 20 mins to 30 mins. But mainly circuits or slow descents from the aerotow. It was Blue card all day and the Trial lesson flights had to be postponed due to the gusty turbulence. Pleasant club day all round, despite the challenging conditions aloft! Wendy did a very short stint as DLM, so that rostered could have a couple of flights. Hardly a day that needed much in the way of organisation though. Lovely sunshine, a constant trickle of members, lots of winch launches, a couple of aero tows but practically zero lift most of the time. Can’t wait for this high pressure to buzz off and a few westerly winds to clear the air. - Wendy 

The strong easterly wind with gusts reaching 30kts recorded in the LPV and the satpics showing wave clouds in Wales (see Happy Exped. news from Talgarth) gave hopes for those of us still at North Hill that we might be lucky enough to get some wave too. M5 Matt took a very turbulent 3000ft tow, downwind of the club to investigate and despite the promising signs couldn't make anything work and was only just able to not beat Robin in the tug back to the ground. Stuart meanwhile had managed a longer soaring flight off the winch in a K21. 

After lunch John P in Lak12 HOG, after 2 winch attempts, towed to 4000' even further downwind around Cullompton but was spotted back near the club not long after. With no more interest in aerotows, Robin and Wendy went off to put the tug to bed. The wind by now had settled down to a relatively steady 16kts and it even felt a bit warmer. Flights off the winch started soaring with strong narrow thermals and even stronger sink in-between. Phil and Ruth in KEK established that the Flarm was working with the help of M5 who tried to share their narrow thermal. It required concentrated effort to use the thermals and any faffing around in the sink soon had you back on the ground. 

John P in HOG, put in the most concentration and after dropping back down to about 1500ft over Forest Glade from his tow worked his way up to 4600ft in what he assumed to be wave-boosted thermal - easily securing the longest flight of the day with nearly 4 hours. Jonathan outperformed the many other winch drivers with over 2 hours of hauling people into the sky and as that hadn't exhausted his altruistic nature he put in some 'bubble' (aka LPV) duty and some cable retrieving into the bargain. Thanks to him and everyone else who mucked in to get everyone who wanted to fly into the air. - JP
West end turbulent approach needed height and speed

Long Mynd – Friday 17 (Fresh Out of Thermals Friday)

With a great soaring day forecast, Matthew Wi was awake at 4am (think child at Christmas) and already didn't like what he heard – a gusting easterly.  At 9am briefing course instructor Dave confirmed the worst. The weather had changed from the forecast, and with limited launching options in a strong easterly the chances of flying looked slim. The only hope, he explained, was if a very obvious, visible wave bar set up to the west of the club. In these conditions, modus operandi is to make a dash towards it and hope. In the event of failure, you're in a field in the valley. Dave volunteered to try it first... if it happened. Unfortunately it didn't happen. This caused some of the group to set off for home, and some to repeat Thursday mornings antics of coffee and cake. Anther great evening meal finished the day off.

Friday 17th April - Course week

Whilst the Course were busy at the other end, and with a little help from some 'out-of-work' students........
Matt Sm and Liam help upgrade the Flarm receiver ( Matt W)
.........we managed to upgrade the UKNHL Flarm receiver to the new version, so that Spot the Gliders is now working again for those who like to watch from the ground. (We still have a little problem when the gliders at the western end are not quite seen by the aerial on the Clubhouse, but we have a new aerial on order, which will hopefully address this. - Jill 

The Course meanwhile enjoyed yet another blue sky day..........
April Course members and Helpers

Thursday 16th April - Course week

Thursday arrived with a spring in its step – another blue sky day. Being a club day, there were plenty of bods about to shake out the vehicles and empty the hanger etc. Those with more gliding experience than me (which, as the Jack Russell hadn’t resumed his role co-piloting Launch Control, was everyone...) discussed the implications of a wind shift from Westerly to Easterly. There was also a good amount of chit-chat about important sounding factors such as ‘thermals’ – which, contrary to my mountain climbing experience, were expected to be found in warm weather, not worn in cold.
The clubhouse was alive with the whiff of bacon and sun-cream. With the gliders DI’ed and sheep rounded into their pen, we course students were rounded into the lecture room. Here JB primed us on circuit planning and launch failures, while I practiced aileron/rudder coord. under the table. With the grey cells fried like the aforementioned bacon, we took to the field to start the fun.
Team JB kicked off with Chris, who practiced an approach and landing on the West end of the field before being unleashed on the Junior. He seemed to have good success in the Junior and went MIA (ed: Missing In Action) for long periods of the day as, to the envy of the assembled crowds, he sniffed out the best of the thermals.
I was next into the hot seat. JB handed me the controls after we had left the ground, and I was starting to settle into my climb routine. Then, with speed that would impress an agitated warlord, JB pulled off a ruthless coup and seized control. Next thing I knew, we were nose to the ground and heading back for an unexpected cross-field landing. It turned out that, using the sixth sense acquired in the course of  2400 hours (or was it 24,000?) in the sky, he had spotted a loss of power and done the necessary to extract us from the sticky situation, before I’d noticed that anything was amiss. Once established on terra firma he explained that this was his first ever unexpected loss of power. I felt strangely privileged, and better informed as to why British pilots had the better of Baron von what’s-his-name back when JB was a lad. Flights two to four were less eventful, and I enjoyed practicing the circuit and counting through the shrinking animals as we rounded out. For those not in-the-know, the animals are JB’s method of rounding out smoothly: aim for the elephant, then the cow, then the dog (not the one in Launch Control), then the mouse etc.
Team Paul seemed busy and happy... We forgot that Paul K and Paul C existed for part of the afternoon when they disappeared for 42 minutes – the longest of the day. Rob R flew it himself allowing Paul a nice snooze in the back – much needed rest after 42 minutes locked in with Paul K. Meanwhile, Rob F scooted here there and everywhere on the Gaitor and, like the 1990s Spice Girls hit ‘When 2-Become-1,’ successfully synced aileron and rudder.
Konrad seemed to be having terrible luck. Every cable he attached to broke, and he struggled to get past 700 feet.(ed: expect JB had something to do with this!)  He remained unfazed and brought JB back down time after time with cool panache. All in all, another fantastic day. We’re so lucky to have such fantastic instruction, and of course the able help of Aston, William and Allan. HUGE thanks to all. Looking forward to Friday!! - David L 
(ed: David had a trial lesson day with Blundells School 14 years ago at North Hill, and has now found time to take up gliding with DSGC)

The wind was fickle today requiring three different launch points, and a few very interesting cloud formations. 

Altocumulus castellanus with virga (Dave Cl)
There was just the short period of soaring mid-afternoon as an almost invisible sea breeze front came through with Paul and Paul in K21 Matt W in K6 HEB, Gordon B in Junior and Chris M in Junior all managing nearly an hour.  Dave tried out his new camera....and Matt W completed BI renewal checks.
Pete H and Matt W (Dave Cl)
Peter Sm spent a productive afternoon rolling the area of bare earth.........

View from the back of the tractor (Peter Sm)
...........and now all we need is some rain to make the grass grow again!  In the evening the course members and hangerson  enjoyed  night out at The Viceroy in Dunkeswell. -  J&P

Long Mynd - Thursday 16 (Coffee, Antiques Emporium and Sliding in)

A change in wind direction meant the forecast for today was not so great. That was all the excuse Mark C needed to write the morning off, head to Church Stretton to drink coffee, tour the Antiques Emporium and look for other things that caught his fancy.
Mark and his sign
Henry and Matthew waiting for the film to start in the Antiques Emporium

On return, Henry and Rowan geeked around with laptops, wires, PDAs and instruments, Matthew and Roger (Mynd Maintenance Man) bonded over a welder and tow out gear, John B wrote extensive personal notes on the weeks activities, Mark C munched Anchovy biscuits while Mike S hung around acting as his translator.

After lunch, conditions improved slightly and it looked like it might have turned at least slightly thermic. John B and Mike S launched just prior to a tangle with the retrieve winch. This took at least an hour to untangle and involved some very pleasant walking around the field to look for lost bits of cable. Dave the course instructor perfectly timed the longest flight of the day of 48 minutes to land just as the winch came back on-line.

Matthew Wi then fancied his chances, but only managed a slightly extended circuit. Simon L and Tim P took a couple of short flights, the second of which involved a lunge at the best looking cloud downwind of the ridge. On arrival, finding no lift and turning around to look at the Mynd, a swear word might have slipped out of Simon's mouth before he busily checked out the available fields. Some off the cuff training on eeking out every last hint of lift later, followed by a demonstration of 'sliding in' to the Vega Strip and they arrived back at the field in time to pack away.

Everyone was looking forward to the Thursday evening Steak Night at the Mynd, but obviously not before some model flying. Simon wouldn't let Mark land on top of his van, so Mike volunteered his head instead. He didn't land it, but did manage a touch and go!

Steaks were up to the usual high standard - cooked by Dave, and the chips were equally amazing.

A slightly lower-key day, but equally fun, especially with the knowledge that tomorrow is looking like a promising thermic day. Andy Holmes and Rob (Mynd course instructor) are going to set some tasks to challenge the North Hill members. Matthew Wi has already handed Tim his van keys...
A perfect evening after a relaxing day

Long Mynd - Wednesday 15 (Wednesday Wave)

The gliders were unpacked and ready to go prior to the usual Dave brief this morning.  The forecast was for optimal ridge conditions in the morning with the wind swinging around to the north in the afternoon. This didn't stop Mark C and Simon L having a blast on the ridge with their models prior to 'full size' flying.

H5 Matthew was first on-line in a busy grid and quickly assumed the position of 0 ft QFE on the ridge along with Rowan in his Libelle. The next few gliders to launch joined in until the 'duvets' got in the way. Shortly after launching, Stuart in MV reported contacting the wave just off of the ridge, and pilots were soon reporting wave straight off of the launch. The retrieve winch made short work of the long queue, and everything that went up stayed up. Max height in the wave was 6100 ft QNH. Other North Hill pilots to join in the fun were Roger Appleboom K6, Rowan Libelle, Birthday Boy Summers in 477, Toms Sides DG1, and Henry Ford JD7.
Paul in 477

Mr Sloggs arrived today after a long, long trip towing ENW, trailer still dirty from James' field landing last weekend. He then helped rig and clean the glider, and tow it to the launch point. It was at this point that Mark C jumped in it and flew it all morning leaving Mike to share an 'introduction to The Mynd' flight with Simon L.

Dan Welch offered to take a North Hill member for a flight in the Arcus, so a very excited looking John B hopped in. They managed a 128 km flight in wave into Wales but were scuppered by 8/8ths over west Wales.
John B with Dan Welch
More low-level runs of the ridge with Mark C in ENW, Mike in JZK and Henry in JD7.

By the time the afternoon arrived, conditions changed markedly. Slowly everyone scuttled back to the ridge, but even that stopped working and by early afternoon everyone was back on the ground after some flights of 3+ hours. After watching Dave manage nothing more than circuits for a couple of hours, club member Roger managed to find a couple of weak thermals in his DFS Olympia Meise. Nick Harrison was inspired and had a few more flights in the club Discus. Unfortunately he couldn't repeat Roger’s success.

It was at around 4pm that Simon L and Mark C arrived back from drinking coffee and announced that ‘there’s wave up there’. Simon insisted he could ‘keep it up’ and launched in ENW only to return a few minutes later. However by this time, the contagious optimism had taken over and everyone wanted a launch. Unfortunately it was all in vain, and everyone ended back up on the ground shortly after launch. The wind then started to change direction and flying was abandoned for the day.

After the gliders were put away, Simon L, Mark C, Stuart P and Matthew Wi decided they hadn’t flown enough models so far this week and went off to find a ridge that would work in a northerly wind. They found themselves enveloped in mist and were eventually ‘retrieved’ by Paul S, Mike S and Tim P. The swearing, shouting and giggling was heard a long time before they were seen. ‘Gorillas in the Mist’ came to mind...
The mist descended!

Fish’n’chips finished off the Long Mynd Wednesday followed by sheep shaped birthday cake.

Another great day at the Mynd. A poorer forecast for tomorrow... but there’s always coffee to drink and Mark C storytelling to listen to.

Wednesday 15th April - Course week

Wednesday has arrived, beautiful bright clear day, very warm from the get go!  The gliders were out of the hanger with a spring in their step ready and willing to bear us into the air.  Then the club members arrived, so we retired to the club house for our morning briefing.
Everyone had enjoyed the previous days flying and although feeling slightly tired, were raring to go.

Rob R headed off to the winch for the morning  to spend some time familiarising with the Skylaunch where Alan M explained the four second rule and how he counted the squares, ably assisted by Aston K on cable retrieve and close at hand for questions.  Meanwhile the rest of the course guys were supposed to be getting their flights in. 

At lunch time it was apparent that flying had run a little slower integrated with the Wednesday club members, but David L had used this opportunity to freeload on John S' aerotow to 4,000 feet followed by aerobatics all the way down.  His legs were still wobbly at lunch.  Konrad and David L enjoyed the delights of the K13 with JB who perhaps found it all too much as he was forced to grab 40 winks after his lunch.

The afternoon draws on and many gliders are launched and swiftly returned to the field for retrieval, flights were mostly very short, one of the longest of the day was around 15 minutes.
All course members had a good share and thoroughly enjoyed the warm weather and scorching sun.  Rob R finished up the last flight of the day gradually improving on his circuits and landing, which went well and always included a pleasant long walk.

The instructors and helpers were brilliant throughout encouraged and supported us superbly, carrying us through to the end of another excellent day. - Rob R

April Course week Mon13th & Tues 14th

So was it hot for the first course of the year at North Hill today? Did it warm up after all that morning fog and orographic cloud? JB and Konrad were sitting in KEK waiting for a cable and chewing the fat with Chris M, Rob Rand et al when Rob's nostrils began to twitch. He looked around for the source of that strange and elusive smell, then he focused on JB, no - not for the fascination of what he was saying but because it seemed to be coming from him, no, not from him - just behind him - just behind his head..... "GOOD GOD JOHN, YOUR GLIDER'S ON FIRE". The curvature of the open canopy had focused the sun's rays to a point on the top of John's headrest and set it merrily aflame. A few well aimed blows from the observant Rob combined with some frantic groping with spittle-moistened fingers from John saved the plane - and JB's venerable locks - from the conflagration. A black scar remains as a reminder that it could have been worse, - Sorry!

The course has been a great success so far, both days a bit slow to start due to low cloud, fog etc., but followed by lots of up and down activity. Flights have been brief due to complete lack of lift but lots of launches for the novices and crosswind landing practice for the (slightly) more advanced. Apart from the above usual suspects, Paul  K and new member Robert F have had good days and made excellent progress, joined by trainee anaesthetist David L who hails from Chard and has already caught the gliding bug in two days, let's hope he doesn't know a cure!

Many thanks to JB and Paul C for their expert and tireless tuition. Sitting in hot gliders being thrown about all day must be an exhausting experience but they have borne it with great good humour and endless enthusiasm. Ground crew have been led by Aston and William and these stalwarts have given us two wonderful days of gliding together with Allan M who has gone from novice to winching hero in two days and given us consistently great launches. Thanks too to all the others who have stepped in to assist when gaps needed filling. - Chris M.

Long Mynd - Tuesday 14 (Tuesday Treats)

Mark C asked for a ‘short factual blog’ yesterday, but on inspection of said blog, immediately asked for ‘a slightly longer blog’ (this was the Simon L guess of the Mike Sloggett translation).

The day began with the usual 0900 briefing from an excited looking Dave who was confidently predicting wave. This news immediately put the Mark C grumpy setting to ‘very low’. Rowan Libelle, Stuart LS3 and the DG with Mark and Tim were first North Hill members to launch alongside Andy Holmes (of BGA winch fame). A short but tense climb through some rotor, to around 1500 ft QFE and all went smooth as wave was contacted. Mark C immediately declared the week a success and himself ‘satisfied’ from the back seat of the DG. The next one/four hours, were spent exploring the valley in front of the Mynd ridge. Stunning views of the lenticular clouds to the north west were on offer, while floating above the patchwork quilt of fields and weaving between the wispy clouds scattered throughout the valley. Stuart earned the Mark C designated ‘star pilot’ title having reached 6000 ft and 4.5 hours before returning for a loo break. Mark and Tim got impatient and lost out after trying to reach the next wave bar ‘only’ managing just over an hour.

Meanwhile Dan Welch (Nympsfield) had motored up to the Mynd, and Matthew Wi hitched a ride. Launching slightly later meant wave was more difficult to contact. It was managed by Rob (Mynd instructor), but after a hardy hour or so of effort, Dan and Matthew eventually had to motor towards Denbigh where the locals were reporting strong wave. From here, they managed to get to over 10000 ft (limited by lack of oxygen) and eventually reach Snowdon along with Andy Holmes and Rob who had pushed forward earlier (no motor involved!).

Back at the Mynd, Nick H had managed to fly three new types – Twin Astir, K23 and Discus and is now fully ‘Mynd inducted’. John B had a couple of sessions in the DG with Mark and returned grinning from ear to ear. Simon and Mark shared a session in the DG to get a break from instructing and demonstrated their maturity with a ‘fly-by’ up the field, past the launch point and back onto the ridge.

Despite a strong west wind, ridge lift varied throughout the day due to wave suppression, but full beats between 500 and 600 ft were possible throughout the day and well into the evening.

At the end of full-size flying, the adults extracted their toys from the cupboard and flew the ridge as the ‘duvets’ and hang-gliders floated past in the evening air. Simon L had a lucky escape after not performing his pre-flight checks and launching a glider with both transmitter AND aircraft receiver switched off. The model flew a perfect right hand circuit on its own and did the best landing it has ever experienced.

Matthew Wi shared some of his birthday cake with Mark C (bribery?). It seemed to work as Mark declared it ‘staggering’.

An epic second day, full of sunshine, flying and cake eating. Let’s hope day 3 continues the success. Dave was heard to mutter the words ‘wave tomorrow’ over evening dinner...

Long Mynd - Monday 13

Most people arrived Sunday, with some further 'stragglers' arriving throughout today. No noticeable dramas on most peoples journeys, although Matthew W and Tim P did pass a field with SEVEN tractors working in it. Strangely no one seemed very impressed with this find.
Wave at Long Mynd
First launch of the day, Mark and Stuart launched into weak wave ... and didn’t 
we hear about it.

Later Stuart was seen to be driving the retrieve winch with a cheeky grin!
Stu on the retrieve winch
Simon L and Mark C managed to fly everyone throughout the day – both site checks and flights for those without their own gliders. Amazingly by the end of the day Mark was only scoring a ‘low’ on the grumpy scale, despite not repeating the wave find of earlier.

Long flights were possible with the ridge working and thermals appearing in the afternoon. Paul S, Henry F, Roger A, Rowan S, Stuart P and Matthew Wi all managed significant flights.

Let’s hope the week continues as it began.