Sunday 28th June - Last day in sunny La Motte

For the final day of flying Christian decided to show H5 Matt the glacier. Barre des Ecrins is a huge mountain in the Alps whose northern flank is draped in ice which extends like a veil down into the valley. The lowest fringes are rent and broken as the glacier melts into the sun baked rocks, exposing blue tinged ice under the dust tinted snow. According to Christian, over the past 20 years it has shrunken approximately 30% in size and it is shrinking faster with each passing year. 
JB heads towards Glacier Blanc
All of the training throughout the week had started to come together, with Matt’s flying attracting far less abuse and even the occasional compliment from Christian. They worked their way out of the La Motte valley and skimmed across the mountain stepping stones, each higher than the last and heading north east into the Ecrins. The glacier was breath taking, evidence of avalanches and ice overhangs do not put off the walkers and climbers!  Much better to do the climb in a glider. H5 Matt and Christian thermalled to 13000 feet with Mont Blanc in the background, the air crystal clear and the views spectacular. What a way to end a brilliant weeks flying.
H5 Matt incognito against Barre des Ecrins
Halfway through their 1000 mile journey back to NHL news got to the guys that the French were on strike at Calais, who’d have thought! A plan B was frantically crafted and a couple of slots on a Dieppe ferry booked. After a night in the truck stop in the back of cars the gang pressed on to Dieppe, setting up camp again and enjoying a relaxing last day before catching the alternative ferry.
Luxurious digs
After nearly 3 weeks in France JB’s pigeon French was improving, at a Dieppe water-front restaurant he ordered what he thought was fillet of white fish, however the delivered dish didn’t quite look as expected and tasted even worse than the appalling road-kill gizzard sausage that H5 Matt had selected in the services the night before. Google translate deduced JB had actually ordered rare Monkfish Liver! Yummy! H5 Matt didn’t fare any better as his Fruits de Mer platter proved to be a collection of gruesome snails, limpets and only a couple of edible prawns which JB pounced upon immediately.
Always safe with Pizza
After a hearty French meal the trio expelled their remaining energy with a swim in the English Channel, and yes it is English right up to the point where it touches the sand, this was however disputed by the locals because water this polluted had to be French. - H5 Matt

A great end to the expedition totaling:

Holiday Statistics:
JB, 10 flights 43 hours 1738 OLC km
H5 Matt, 7 flights 19 hours 1001 OLC km
M5 Matt, 12 flights 64 hours 3401 OLC km
611 Phil  29 hrs 1194 OLC km
Estimated cups of tea: 300 + 18 boxes of French Bastonge biscuits

Saturday 27th June

A very busy day at the Club today, nearly 20 people on the two-seater flying list and with good flying weather lots of private gliders too. Everyone flew thankfully and I had some lovely time in the air with Charlie one of our Junior members who soared us nicely to cloudbase 3500ft above his home in Kentisbeare followed by a little trip to Cullompton and Uffculme School.
Charlie flying to Cullompton (Lisa)
 Congratulations to James F for completing his 2 hour soaring flight for cross-country endorsement (just waiting for either a cylinder head or a propeller now for the nav test!) Michael H converted to the Junior, and Paul S was kept busy by the over-full complement of trial lessons. 
And the collective noun for K6s is............? (Pete)

James managed to fit in the front of the ASH25 and enjoyed a nice flight with Ron in the sea breeze front round the Club 100. 
Its days like this which test the members and thanks to all who helped keeping the launchpoint moving. - Lisa.

Friday 26th June - Le Mistral

Standard protocol whilst flying in the southern French Alps is to use the thermals generated by the sun facing slopes. The anabatic winds created by this rising air causes a valley breeze strong enough so that the south facing ridges also work dynamically. A light northerly gradient wind interferes with the valley breeze and can make conditions really tricky requiring a more analytical approach to choosing where to look for lift. If this north westerly gradient wind gets even stronger it is known as Le Mistral by the locals. When the Mistral blows it overpowers the valley breeze and chops the thermals to bits but it also opens up a variety of new ridges that can be flown dynamically and linked together to create XC ridge flights to the areas where the wave is best. 

The winch launch into the NW wind is lively and the winch driver invariably calls for ‘corrige route’ (correct towards the road!) and the pilots call for more or less speed as the glider climbs through the rotor. It sounds scary but it’s soon over and you head for the ‘ravine’ which is a large NW facing gully on the lower levels of Blachere, the mountain by the air strip that propels you skywards as you start a series of ‘eights’ to maximise the lift before switching to circles as the mountain top is reached.
Matt steers MC, La Motte's inconspicuous K21, towards Le Gache
1450m and you jump 3k to a west facing rock face of Jouerre that climbs from 1300 to 1890m in about 1km. You join the ridge just above the top and as you follow it you climb, faster than the ridge climbs, and at the top head west 3km to a pair of vertical west facing rock faces nicknamed the Camel because from the airfield it just looks like a couple of humps. Don’t stop here, just turn south and run the ridges to the Gache – a massive and very well known north facing, ochre coloured escarpment that just ‘goes like a train!’ You can stop there and climb high, just soaking up the views to the north in the crystal clear air before heading west over Sisteron town in search of the wave.
Getting into the wave usually involves tight turns in rotor thermals that are humongusly rough; Dave Rilley once described flying the rotor thermals in Cerdanya as like wrestling with an Alligator. Well the alpine Alligators are just as energetic as their Spanish cousins and just as reluctant to let you get into the wave without having a bit of sport with you on the way!! Although once established well worth the struggle, the air becomes silky smooth with off the clock climbs. During the week the team managed to climb to just beneath the airspace at FL195 the local ceiling at Pic de Burre from where they could glide into the higher mountains sightseeing and collecting OLC distance points before returning to La Motte. The views from that height are just breath taking, the Mistral brings with it crystal clear air and Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn dominate the distant skyline. Boring…. Time for tea. 

Into the delirious burning blue

Friday 26th June

The weather forecast suggested the potential for some flying at the end of the day, assuming the rain and low mist forecast for the morning and lunchtime part of the day cleared as expected - with suitable discussion between James and Mike Sl as the day unfolded, and with increasing optimism as to the forecast turning out to be correct, the Gales family from the Wellington area decided they would turn up in the hope of flying, whilst James "mobilised" the Club members including Mike Sl and Paul.
Preparing the gliders (Mike Sl)
The evening had been organised by Dan Gales, as his Christmas present to the family, and the decision to fly was vindicated with the early evening flights managing to use both ridge and thermal lift to complete extended flights - but as the evening progressed then so did the lift gradually decay.

By the end of the evening all of the Gales  family who wanted to fly had done so.
Another North Hill sunset (Mike Sl)

A big thank you from James, Mike Sl and Paul to the Club members who worked hard and efficiently throughout the evening to get the gliders into the air. - Mike Sl

Thursday 25th June

Summer at last! - It was a lovely start this morning with light south westerly wind, warm sunshine and those lovely white puffy clouds. First to launch was Pete H and Paul K, and after some final check flights, Pete stepped out of the glider and Paul had a couple of solo, short soaring flights. Congratulations to Paul who only had his first ever glider flight at North Hill on 8th February and has been cramming in the training flights ever since - hooked on gliding!.
Congratulations to Paul on his first solo (Mark)

It was soarable until about lunchtime when the sea air came through, and it went blue, thermals disappeared and the southerly wind picked up. There were wonderful looking wave clouds but not reachable, but the south ridge was working and extending flights.

Everybody commented on what a lovely enjoyable day of gliding it had been. - J&P

Wednesday 24th June

A small band of regulars arrived today so the list was small and we were thin on the ground at the launch point. The weather was almost exactly as forecast with some thermal activity before the decaying front passed to leave a bright evening. Local flights were mainly quite (or even very) short but Joe found lift from somewhere under the high cloud to achieve 42 minutes off the winch - we suspect it was generated by the cheesey beans he had for lunch.

Pete St 230 tested the extremities of the NHL soarable area:
"Knowing we were in for a short day with a combination of sea air and high cover, I thought I'd fly 'round the box' and see what the limits of the useable area were.
The Somerset Levels to the east were almost totally blue from quite early on, north to south so uncrossable(as someone found out!). To the west beyond MUD thermals were very weak and it looked totally dead further west than that due to the top cover.
South to Crediton and sea air had come up the Exe estuary and around the northern edge of Dartmoor but with no useable convergence.
To the North I had to go through the sea air convergence to go round BWE but the convergence here was quite good and I had some fun soaring it like a ridge. Just as well really as I needed the height for the glide home in the now totally lifeless air and an increasing Southerly breeze.Within these boundaries the conditions were actually quite good for a couple of hours.
No great distance or speed, but what an interesting little flight!" 

We welcomed Peter Hayes for a trial lesson on his birthday (I won't mention which one in case he sees this!) and hope to see him again during his temporary membership.

Those who did turn up had a good day flying and all had to work hard to keep the launch point and winch going. Thanks to all.

We handed over to the evening group a party of friends and family of Julia and Rob and hope they enjoyed the good weather we left them. - John Si

Tuesday 23rd June - Ad hoc Flying Day

With a call to action on Sunday by Pete B - (keen to spot a good day now he has finished his exams), a small group assembled  at North Hill this morning. 

First launch was just gone 11:00 as the very early cumulus clouds became within reach with Pete B in the K6 HEB leading the way. There were some discussions as to whether Silver distance to the Park or Club 100km would be best but Pete settled for the Park out and return - and he nearly made it back landing just short near Honiton. Well done Pete on your Silver distance, longest flight so far of 150kms, second field landing and just a pity that he couldn't squeeze another 12 minutes to get the 5 hours as well!
Pete's field near the mast (Pete)
The task was set as Club 200kms NHL - Cullompton, The Park, Blandford - NHL. Tom in DG1 changed his mind at Merryfield and ran for home. Adrian in FDX got to the Henstridge area, but then turned back. Liam picked up the sea breeze convergence and turned Blandford but got stuck on the wrong side as the convergence moved inland and landed near Chard. 

Pete St 230 completed the task in 2 hours 47, and Pete & Jill in OL (last to launch) decided to go to Cullompton on the way back, completing in 2 hours 44.

Jeff T in 380 didn't fancy the task but flew up to the foothills of Exmoor.
Pete and Liam back from their retrieves (Jill)
It was an interesting day with high cloudbases , low cloudbases, spreadout, convergences.......
Start of the sea breeze run home, South of Blandford (Jill)

 and in places some very good thermals. Thanks to our Tuggie for making it happen. - J&P

La Motte 22 June - Another BSD

Another BSD (Boring Sunny Day) in La Motte.
Despite potentially the best forecast since we arrived and a twinkle in Christian's eye at briefing, JB decided to have a day of rest, in preparation for the promised epicness to come. I suspect this was a mistake. Admittedly the day started with bands of high cirrus damping the thermal activity. This 'made for some struggles to get away but then "boom". Matt and Phil were off like 'robbers dogs' leaving Matt Deux (H5) to experience his first flight in the Alps. We'll leave him to relate his experiences later. Needless to say he went nearly everywhere we went, only faster and lower, with the expert guidance of Christian.

In reply to the question "where did we go?", the simple answer is, we didn't go to Mont Ventoux. Phil will have to leave that particular target 'till next time as he is homeward bound tomorrow.
If you are going to end a gliding holiday on a high then this was the way to do it. Superlatives all round. 250 km triangle, if you're counting, and over 350 k on Matt's cheating OLC meter. The point is, we romped and soared around the familiar area. Matt's attempt to draw Phil into the dragon territory failed due to the severe turbulence in this area and Phil's desire to protect his gel coat. 

611 heading south towards Mte de Feraud
At the north western extremity looking down toward Grenoble and the long ridge which always look so tantalising as we stop for tea on the drive down. Toward the evening, when the sky everywhere, particularly to the south east, looked like something out of a text book. The duo pushed south into uncharted territory (for Phil at least); finally turning north for home at the southern end of Lac de Sainte Croix, halfway to Cannes! The flight finished with a calm evening cruise at 7.00pm for a slow decent to home. Six hours of fantastic fun and fear. Roll on 2016. - Phil
Lac St Croix
Matt Deux
Towing out MC La Motte's K21
After a car, a plane, 2 trains, a cancelled train, a bus, another car and 16 hours of travelling H5 Matt finally got to La Motte and was met JB,  M5 Matt and Phil. The site is surrounded by fantastic looking mountains, making the hills in the UK seem like mere bumps in the road. Phil cooked a lamb bhuna and then it was straight to bed to be fully rested for excellent forecast for the next day!

A fantastic first day of flying! I launched just after lunch with the instructor Christian, immediately remembering just how intimidating mountains are when you are flying only feet from them. We worked our way around all of the local mountains, Christian keen to show me the area, the local clubs and emergency landing fields.

We climbed up to a 60km long ridge called Parcour, which runs North / South across the alps, at 10,000 feet the wind was blowing directly on to it created lift so strong that the needle of the variometer got stuck on maximum and needed a tap to free it!
I quickly found that Christian is a hard task master, the whole flight I was interrogated on our position on the map and French mountain names, after 4 ½ hours they all began to start looking alike! A great first days flying and brilliant introduction to the alps. - H5 Matt

Sunday 21st June

There was a very long list with some partial hangovers, but flying got going quite quickly with several Instructors joining in to help out  the flying list.
First launch was the Mendip Falke which had flown in early to collect R37, Ian M aerotowed it to Mendip GC to help them out with their Open Day and evening flying this week. (One of their K13's is still being worked on after the major inspection.)

The clouds were fairly low at times but they were cycling every half hour, the ridge was sort of working at times. By lunchtime cloudbase had started to go up and by mid-afternoon it was quite soarable under 2500ft cloudbase. 
Pete St 230 and SM completed the Club 100.

Thanks to Richard H and Mike H as they have now renovated the wiring rat's nest in the LPV and got the solar panel working to charge either battery without the previous interference. This enables us to operate more efficiently during the long summer days and evenings (the LPV still needs charging overnight though). - J&P

Saturday 20th June

Longest Day flying was planned........but called off, as there was fog forecast early morning, in fact the forecast was not very good for the whole day.... it just started to get flyable late afternoon, but unfortunately the beer for the evening had already been sampled!

What a super evening at DSGC tonight.......
Orderly queue for the hog roast (Heather)
........unfortunately some members couldn't join us for the Hog Roast and they were all missed, but those who came seemed to have a good time. 

Jaz (looking guilty) (Rowan)
What a great Club we have, and thanks to everyone for making it so special! - Chairman Lisa

La Motte Saturday 20th June - Back into the blue

After yesterday's excitement and the year's shortest night, the NHL contingent were rather sluggish in gearing up for today's fun. Similar conditions to yesterday but with more wind, oh horray. It will be easier to get away but the landings will be even more exciting.
JB plumbed in
It was indeed easy to get away and the trio were quickly across the Durance valley to the west of Sisteron hunting for wave again. Despite the much stronger wind, the wave proved to be elusive and we endured a number of vicious rotor thermals trying to claw our way higher. Matt hooked into a particularly gnarly one and need both hands with a white knuckle death grip on the stick to try and keep M5 roughly the right way up. He used the rapid gain of height to push forward into wind to what looked like a promising line of rotor cumulus near where we contacted wave the day before, and spent all the hard won height even more rapidly and with interest. Phil, mean while, found the same ballistic thermal but managed to stay with it and was soon getting his breath back in 4knots of silk smooth wave. JB who was uncharacteristically nearby, soon followed suit. Matt had fallen into the weeds and spent the next hour or so fighting with ratty thermals more or less just maintaining height rather than actually climbing. His frustration was compounded by listening to Phil and JB complaining about bumping up against the FL115 airspace and unable to use their helpful advice of "the wave is just by the big ridge that runs by the mountain next to the river" or other constructive tit bits.

Phil and JB, bored of waiting and out of ideas, pushed north east aiming for Pic de Bure again. Phil aimed a bit more east and ended up falling out of the wave and soaring the northern slopes of the mountains around La Motte, using them to push upwind in the hunt for possible wave near Gap. Alas it was not to be.
Pic de Bure, the beast beacons once again
Matt had finally managed to climb up, joined JB near Serre and embarked on another dive into the lee of Pic de Bure, this time though, the feeling of flying into the gaping maw of some massive beast was over whelming. The sustained sink with no apparent progress into wind made Matt chicken out and turn for home. The day wasn't over yet though! Running downwind towarrds La Motte another zone of turbulence gave way to strong smooth lift, we had to stop. It wasn't too long before we were approaching 5000m and heading North East for the Erins.
Glacier Blanc
JB off on his own mission had a wrestle with an alligator in some rotor near the ski resort of the Champsaur valley while Matt tiptoed his way over the gnarly stuff to catch a glimpse of glacier Blanc before burning off the height with a 110km final glide back to La Motte.

We are thinking of having a day off tomorrow, lets see what the forecast holds!
Heading home

La Motte Friday 19th June - and so it was to be!

...and so it was to be. 

Forecast blue skies and NW wind increasing with height caused mutterings of wave to ripple though the assembly at briefing. The relaxed NH contingent decided to have a leisurely morning, they prepared their chariots, checked their orifices for earwigs and dragged them to the south end of the field, your scribe of the day was seen fitting his oxygen bottle; well you never know and its no use on the ground, and "nor is your camera" said Matt as he handed it to me.

Our trio then settled in to a Gallic style lunch (without the wine) before taking to the skies.
Matt was first away as usual (l'agneau sacrificiel) but this time it was relatively easy the NW wind giving dynamic lift off of the local hillside. A little thermal off the top, then back to Jouere for more ridge soaring, although on this occasion it did not work with its usual alacrity. Clue, push forward for a big fat thermal off of the small hills and gullies in front of it. Good height, so head toward the Gache and Sisteron (the town). Arrive well above both, so with Matt's encouragement cross the river and along a small ridge to the Roc d'Aigle. At this point I'm joined by a bunch of gliders from Sisteron, also on 130.1, with some guy giving an almost continual running commentary interspersed with nervous bleats from his flock. 

The ridge of Montaine de Lure
I start thermaling over the Roc d'Aigle only to be joined by these guys. Getting a bit crowded, so push on along the ridge to higher ground only to be met by horrendous turbulence. After bashing my head on the canopy a couple of times I heaved down on my straps and returned to the Roc with my tail between my legs. The Sisteron boys had left so I managed a climb to 1900m in relative peace and dropped back to the Lure; a large and dominant ridge running west from Sisteron. This was working well. I joined Matt and several others near the mass of dishes and aerials, looking like something out of a James Bond movie, at the highest point. We then ran the ridge to the far end and back (Matt had already been down and back waiting for me and JB). From the far end we could see the tantalising peak of Mont Ventoux in the distance to the SW, but not today.

JB has been having radio problems this week and establishing contact was proving troublesome, however we eventually all met up back at the Roc d'Aigle on the way north in our search for wave. This involved crossing several ridges with small climbs in ratty (rotor) thermals. It's hard work climbing three gliders in these small broken thermals made only marginally  easier by the fact that we know we can trust the other guys. Any foreigner joining in will soon split the pack.

Eventually over a wideish valley a little smooth lift, only brief and weak but enough to push on to the next valley, 4 knots and smooth, Matt and JB spread out. Over here, 8 knots! We both join Matt in a climb to the base of the airspace (FL115). Push forward; Pic du Bure here we come.
Now, where is it? We can see gliders way above as we approach from the south west: we fan out, each encountering turbulence and nerve wracking off the clock sink. JB who has been here before is first to find it, just off the south eastern corner. I scramble in next remembering the waterfall clouds of previous years as a vital clue. Matt hits such bad sink in the lee of the Pic that he seemed (and was) really "down in the weeds" but had the sense to drop back and managed to establish as well.
Waterfall cloud next to Pic de Bure
 I know these Blogs are a bit overloaded with superlatives, some of you may be a bit fed up or even jealous, but come with us on this one. Vario banged against the stop at times, smooth clear blue sky with the massive Pic du Bure off your left wing tip which rapidly falls below you as you climb to 18,000ft (5500m). Indescribably awesome!
Against the stops
Couldn't resist a selfie
 At this point JB does a JB and looses us from his Flarm. We put this down to Matt and I being some way directly below him and our signals are shielded by his carbon fibre cockpit and he later told us that he heard a radio call suggesting I had gone south and so had followed suit. (plus, a recent thought from your scribe; Flarm aerials are not designed to work in the vertical direction! and the call was probably the Sisteron guys heading home.). 
Looking Over the Ecrin to Mt Blanc
Minus JB, Matt and I flew N E from the Pic over the Ecrins (the real gnarly stuff as Matt would say). I was going to say into the Ecrans but that would be inaccurate for  from 5000m they are spread out beneath us with a bank of cloud to our east and scraggy bits on the tops of the mountains below.
Not loosing much height we fly within spitting distance of the Barre d'Ecrin (4100m) with the Glacier Blanc hidden behind it. This is just silly, the Oudie says we can get home with 3,000m in hand requiring a glide angle of 12:1. With 7.00pm approaching and thoughts of the traditional Friday barbecue in mind we turned for home. Matt cannot resist playing with the clouds on our left and his faithful wingman duly follows, dipping a wingtip in, zooming over turrets: just pure champagne (not that I like the stuff).
611 Over to the Ecrins
Clear of the clouds and out over the valley, calm evening air now, just an occasional ripple, I notice we are still higher than the Pic du Bure away to our right. It takes some time to loose this much height unless you pull the air brakes and who wants to do this on a beautiful evening like this?
We eventually land around 7.30 clean up and cover the gliders and enjoy a barbeque and a few beers or a glass of wine or two in the cool evening air.

Now that's what we came for!


Friday 19th June

A lovely sunny evening and plenty of enthusiastic Scouts from Ottery to fly, all three 2-seaters busy for a few hours and everyone enjoyed their introduction to proper flying!
Ottery Scouts (Lisa)
A nice start to the weekend, and thanks to all of the helpers tonight for setting up the field and making it happen!- Lisa

La Motte June 2015 - The Good, The Bad And The Downright Ugly!

You could say its been a mixed bag. The first week of our Alpine trip has offered a whole lot of all three. The journey south passed painlessly, punctuated with regular stops for tea and we arrived at La Motte Du Caire to the usual warm welcome from Christian and co. We managed to set up camp before the heavens opened and spent the following day watching the deluge with the associated tea and moaning - just like being back home!
Last taste of English tea???
Saturday 13th got the check flights out of the way and gave us a short window for soaring staying local to La Motte under the threat of thunder storms which duly arrived and stayed for the next day too. So Matt  put his culinary expertise to good use and cooked a gluten-free vegetarian feast which put Phil in Hospital the next day. Nothing wrong with the feast but Phil's Gall-bladder took exception.
A not so lovely nurse
Phil spent the night under the observation of two lovely nurses and JB was looking for excuses to try and stay as well. When we asked what the prognosis was, one of them said with a wry smile"prepare for the worst!" So of course we went home to get ready for flying next day. While Phil languished in bed, bored of french TV, Matt and JB flew locally dodging the thunder storms. Matt collected Phil that evening - fully rested, hydrated and clutching a large manila envelope of holiday snaps!

While Phil's saga was going on there was a small weather window which allowed Gordon to take the only launch of the day to sample the local mountains which were spectacular enough to get him exited about returning next year.
Gordon buckles up with a storm over Sisteron
Clouds in the way of height
Tuesday 16th and the first day without thunder storms giving long flights but the low cloud base prevented us from sampling the higher mountains. On Wednesday and Thursday the airmass was drier which gave us even longer flights but a northerly airflow made for some interesting challenges for the novice mountain pilots.
Le Gache, brilliant in a northerly wind
Looking North over the Durance valley
The forecast is improving in readiness for the weekend and arrival of Matt Williamson...


Thursday 18th June

The Cold front cleared at midnight but the ridge rushed in, giving the wind  in the morning a lot more north than was forecast, and there was gusty turbulence everywhere (wave interference?) which chopped up the thermals. Gordon B was the first to soar, and eventually broke through the 1800ft inversion, but the other Junior pilots struggled to get away until Richard H showed them how to do it. The two-seat trainees struggled with the difficult conditions low down and there was a spate of landing from the "wrong end" of the field.
Peter Sm decided to rig 1UP as he wanted to check out the engine starting and managed the longest flight of the day, but hang on - who was this flying with 18m wings? After 1400 hours in a Discus, Pete St had blagged a ride in LAK19T. - "Noticeably lighter controls, more sluggish in roll than the Discus due to the 18 metre span - but goes a lot further! Very nice - thanks Pete."
Pete St in 18m (Peter Sm)
 In the evening.....
Whimple Scouts

........another large group from Whimple Scouts enjoyed extended flights on the ridge.
- J&P

Wednesday 17th June

Quite a large gathering of hopefuls today and everything ready to go by 9.30am the only problem was the low cloud which didn't seem to be in any hurry to lift. So JSt organised a team to change the L/H cable on the winch that looked pretty worn, that finished it was decided an early lunch was called for.
At about 1.30pm with members drifting away and not much prospect of a change in the weather we decided to put the kit away, by late afternoon the weather brightened up nicely - hey ho! - JSt

Monday 15th June - VGS Instructors Day

Today was the second day of continuation training for selected Instructors from 624 Volunteer Gliding Squadron (VGS) Chivenor, as part of a nationwide grant scheme provided by RAF Charitable Trust.
Daryl, Jack, Steve - VGS Instructors
The forecast was hopeful of giving cloudbases high enough for spinning and aerobatic exercises. After briefings in the Clubhouse waiting for the cloudbase, there were good breaks developing  and we started flying by 11:30.
 The day improved significantly and culminated in 7 knot average climbs to 4000ft. -J&P

Sunday 14th June

After the very busy day on Saturday, it was surprising that Sunday was so quiet. The flying list was relatively short and the weather didn't really live up to the forecast. Inter Club League at The Park had already been scrubbed yesterday. The longest cross-country was by Pete St - Wellington - Tiverton! 
Thanks to a goodly crew who pitched in and did a stone-picking sweep of the levelled area before flying, thus enabling the area to be rolled.- J&P

Saturday 13th June

A slow start to the day today but a very enjoyable one, Martin and Stuart kept busy during the morning and then Paul S arrived to fly the trial lesson Diana who had a lovely flight. 
Surprisingly although the cloud base was 2400ft at best during the afternoon there were some long flights. Jess flew me around 3 times and we enjoyed her thermalling skills taking us to cloud base with the Bennetts (Peter and Martin) in the other K21 trying to keep up with us. 
Pete P1 with Dad Martin (Jess)
Karen, one of our new members from Open Weekend, also had 3 lovely flights this afternoon and is doing really well considering it was some time ago that she was a solo pilot at another club. 
Lisa checking up on the Ashill Beer and music festival  (Lisa)
Lizzie also flew with Rowan and her granddad helped us pack the hangar, so we have another volunteer who was a great help. ICL at The Park was scrubbed so Henry, Liam and co arrived back to enjoy the far better conditions at North Hill (I wonder if Pete Startup is reading this!). A 'real girl power day' for me today, way to go! - Lisa

Thursday 11th June

What a strange day of weather! It started off with a howling, cold, easterly wind and a cloud sheet at about 4000 ft. Before getting going, we emptied the hangar so that we could rig CCY out of the wind, following it's extended inspection.
Once we got the gliders down the far end it was obvious it was going to be a 'hat and coat day' .
The first flights proved that it was tricky for training, and a limit on single seat flying, with good height winch launches lasting 3-4 mins in a pile of sink and turbulence. After lunch, it got noticeably warmer and humid and the wind swung more positively to the south east, and just at that time the gliders stayed up and we were able to make a swift change of sides whilst the gliders were airborne. Aston had the longest flight of the day of 41 minutes in the Junior until the the very last flight of the afternoon when Pete and Malcolm bettered it with 46 minutes. 
Erika (Met Office) & Rowan - (Henry)
A second evening group for the Met Office enjoyed 14 flights in the pleasant but cloudy conditions, complete with barbeque. - J&P

Wednesday 10th June

The forecast was for a strong wind and cold, and we had just that -  the wind was easterly so we walked two K21s and a Junior to the southwest corner.
The early launches were very rough and quite testing, there were some strong thermals to over 2,000ft but the sink was widespread and some launches although high, didn't last long.
Pete W (wrapped up for winter!) has longest flight of the day (JSt)
Mike Sl, a rare visitor on Wednesday, gave some welcome help with the instructing and we flew everyone who wanted to fly.
Leona (Met Office) with Pete H - (Henry)

We handed over to the Evening flyers at about 6.00pm to Henry and a group from the Met Office. - JSt

Sunday 7th June

With a steady breeze from the North East the launch point was set up in the South West corner of the field and daily inspections completed on both K21s, both Juniors and a K13 (R37).

Mid-morning the thermals started, but as ever getting away from the winch was down to whether pilots could make the most of the opportunity to do so.

Several private owners, seeing some gliders not getting away off the winch, chose to aero-tow instead .

K13 at the launch-point (Mike Sl)

Around lunchtime the thermals became a little sparse but then "re-cycled" providing an afternoon of thermals all over the sky - with climbs up to circa 4000 ft cloud base achieved by some.

Great Devon sky (Mike Sl)
During the day we had some aero-tow Trial Lesson flights, some returning Open Day visitors using their temporary membership and several newly joined Junior members keen to learn flying and ground skills. 
But the big news of the day was: 
Josh goes solo and soars for nearly an hour (Simon L)

Congratulations to Josh, having just turned 14yrs, had all the right conditions (and ticks in boxes) for his first solo, and then soared for almost an hour on his first flight.
- Mike Sl

Cross-country flights

Simon M ASW20 SM, Henry Cirrus COR, James ASW20 ENW, all completed NHL - Blandford, The Park, Cullompton -NHL for 203 km.
Tom  DG100 DG1 attempted a 300 km but fell back to out and return to Chilbolton. 
Rowan Libelle CLM completed NHL- Wimbleball, Tiverton, Beer Head, Crewkerne for 144 km.
Pete St Discus 230 completed NHL - Iwerne Minster, Tetbury, Sturminster Newton -NHL for 303 km.

Saturday 6th June

An extremely busy club day: twenty names on the instructional flying list, three booked Trial Lessons, at least ten private gliders rigged and both motor gliders out. There was a blustery, mainly westerly wind all day, which made for rather difficult thermals and at times a turbulent approach. However, there was much soaring to be had, as well as check flights in the circuit and cable break practice. Thanks must go to the Duty Instructors – John P and Martin W, who without the help of Mark C, Simon L, Rowan S, James H and Paul S would have been hard-pressed to get through that intimidatingly long instructional list. Tug Pilot, Robin W-F, was also kept busy all day. DLMs and club members worked unstintingly to ensure that airfield jobs were shared, so that the winch rate turn-round was not allowed to lag. Flying finished around 6 pm. - WWF

Cross-country pilots

It proved extremely difficult to get away from North Hill until quite late when Pete St 230 completed 100 km following the energy NHL - Tiverton - Okehampton - NHL and checking out the new FLARM receiver at UKMUD. 

On a day when Lasham set various tasks round Hembury Hill and Dave Masson completed a double out and return of 645 km in 7 hrs 28 mins at a speed of over  80 km/h!

Friday 6th June - Course Week

Day 5 - A day of three halves. The morning started with a fairly light southsouthwesterly wind, unsoarable, so we flew lots of circuits. The weak cold front passed through North Hill at lunch time so we took an extended break. When we resumed, the wind had veered to west north west and strengthened. Initially the west ridge was soarable, then the thermals kicked off and the fun began. All the course members ended the day with a good soaring flight and left with smiles on their faces. We hope to see them all again.

A big thank you to all the ground helpers especially the winch crew on Thursday when they had a very trying time, (ed: and thanks to John and Guy for Instructing). - John Si
In the evening, another local scout group from Ottery St Mary enjoyed pleasant evening flights for their Scout aeronautics badge. - J&P

Thursday 4th June

A bright sunny start with a light south easterly wind, meant a walk up the field for the course members, while the Thursday gang enjoyed a lecture by Pete on spin avoidance and spin recovery. However the normal tricky conditions with a south easterly prevailed, with some hints of thermals off the south ridge and Pete and John managed to find an interlude of smooth air at 2000 ft. After lunch the wind couldn't really decide what to do, the windsock flailed around and was always pointing the wrong way!
Changed ends but still downwind! (Hans)

There was a short delay when the Skylaunch refused to start, but the Supacat came to the rescue, the ropes were wound in by hand and the electronics were fettled and normal service was resumed after a change of ends.
A short delay gave time for a course photo (Hans)
In the evening, the Course members went for dinner at the Keepers Cottage, and the late team turned up...
Whimple Scouts (Mark C) fly a group from Whimple Scouts, (after another change of ends), finding some late evening wave to extend the flights. - J&P