Thursday 31st December - New Year's Eve

Fortunately the fears of a waterlogged field were unfounded, another aerotow-only day providing more classic and challenging winter flying conditions.
Ready to go for an early start (Mike Sl)
The hanger was unpacked and kit DI'd in time for first launch at 9:30 with Mike S mentoring Paul K in the blue card conditions. 
Passing showers (Mark C)
 From the word 'Go' everyone had soaring flights with tuggie Courtney dropping the gliders off into the abundant SSW wave to the South of the site, the strong wind at altitude made for near-stationary climbs and also required careful attention of groundtrack.  
Above the clouds again (H5Matt W)
Paul S made the most of the wave with a flight of 68 minutes climbing up to 3500ft, 
Paul in DG505 (H5Matt W)
.....airbraking down only to let James H and Pete St fly in the DG505. Flights were then purposefully limited to ensure that everyone could experience the conditions. Ron also helped instruct and flew with Sam,while  Rick and James F shared the Junior - also having excellent fun. The gliders were washed in plenty of time before the approaching cold front. 
Lovely blue winter sky (Mike Sl)
Another excellent morning flying, proving that you need to turn up to make the most of the limited opportunities to fly during the winter. 

Definitely the last flying day before 2016! -  H5Matt W

Happy New Year to all our DSGC Blog readers - here's hoping for some good soaring weather next year - DSGC Blog team

Tuesday 29th December - Ad-hoc flying day

Today it was obvious that the members have had enough of the festivities so not much encouragement was needed to go flying, a call by the Chairman and reduced price aerotows were more than enough. A K21, DG505 and Junior were towed to a more central, but less soggy, launch point location. Lisa was thanked for her enthusiasm by finding herself being looped by Sir Chris on the first flight at 9.30 this morning.
Nice gloves Ray! (Lisa)
 Rowan was disheartened with conditions but H5 Matt’s enthusiasm rubbed off on him after he diligently advised him of gliding rule number 2: “Always Rig.” Rowan (CLM) and Matt (H5) were both pleased that yet again this did not fail having fun out to the West, although challenging, the weather conditions provided some classic winter flying conditions for those in attendance.

The blustery southwesterly wind made launches and approaches spritely, thankfully there was an abundance of Instructors to put the students through their paces, even James H was seen in the back of a 2 seater! Tim P was keen to make use of the cheap tows and had several aerotow practice flights with JB in the back encouraging some aeros for good measure. A mix of boisterous thermals, southerly ridge and soft wave were available during the day with H5 Matt making the most of all of them with the longest flight of 81 minutes.
Above the clouds (James H)
After having had his fill of Pawnee driving, Guy handed over the keys to Stuart, who then got to experience the sporting approaches over the trees whilst Guy went gallivanting to the south coast with James Hood in the Falke. All the toys were washed and put away with everyone having flown and satisfied.
Winter sunshine (James H)
The Treasurer should be happy for some last minute end of year flying and the CFI for the large number of members able to maintain currency! Thanks to everyone for turning up and providing a lovely atmosphere, Happy New Year and see you all in 2016! - Matt H5 
(ed: although we haven't given up all hope of flying on Thursday yet!)

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all our DSGC Blog readers

Wednesday 23rd December

With a hat trick of flyable Wednesdays so far in December, it was nice to see such a large turnout of members - some desperate to fly, the Thursday club have been unlucky with the weather this winter so far and many of them  joined us today.
John and Chris ready to launch (David C)
After a pitch inspection John Si and Mike Fitz rightly decided the field too wet for winch launching today so it was all aerotow, Treasurer Tom was more than happy to agree to discounted aerotows (I think!).
The SF27 team were out in force (David C)
We were flying all day with just a short break because of a short shower and everyone flew. Robert did sterling work with his aerotowing with a bit of help from Matt and Pete H.
22 Aerotows in all (David C)
A Happy Christmas and a safe New Year to all our blog readers and of course all our club members.- 
James about to be put through his paces by John (M5Matt)
The Sunset at it's southernmost extreme - It will soon be soarable (M5 Matt)

Sunday 20th December

Surprisingly quiet this morning with most members presumably Christmas shopping or on an away day at Mendip GC. Stu P arrived with the expectation of flying the LS3,  but stepped in to cover the Instructing slot this morning. The weather was pretty poor initially, and too muddy for the winch today, but after an early lunch things picked up and some superb flights were had by the hardy few with a combination of ridge, thermals and wave!.
North Hill  in the sunshine again (Lisa)
  A total of 14 Aerotows, mostly to keep instructors and pupils current, longest flight of the day at 61 mins with Lisa and Stu  in the DG505. 
Longest flight for Lisa & Stu in DG505 (Lisa)
And after cleaning all the gliders and the Pawnee, KEK was derigged ready for its Annual inspection.
North Hill sunset (Lisa)
An unexpected very nice day out indeed! Beats shopping any day!  - Lisa

Awayday to Mendip GC

The bickering over the flying list for ENW started at least the afternoon before, in fact the foundations were laid several weeks prior when Simon cleaned the trailer ensuring the syndicate members would be forever indebted to him. Nevertheless a small band of members arrived at North Hill on  Saturday night, hooked up the trailers and were ready to leave at 7:00am the next day following Christmas festivities in the caravan. A restless night was had, a combination of the blistering temperatures, the locals at the bottom of the hill celebrating the upcoming solstice and the excitement of a blustery southerly on the Mendip hills were to blame.
The team arrived at Mendip GC and were rigged before briefing, JP turned up with the Eagle sporting new trailer livery just in time.
Slingsby Eagle trailer (Nick J)

Expectations for the ridge were high, with a risk of showers. Mark C launched first into the sky in ENW, the ridge was working well from the extent at Wells down to the M5 junction, a 20km beat, it would have been working well down to Weston-Super-Mare; however no one dared risk a field landing with most of the fields resembling cheddar reservoir!
Oscar flew with a local instructor in a K13 and was greeted by the challenging Mendip conditions. Their field only allows a single strip that is perpendicular to the hill, resulting in a dominant crosswind component on good ridge days, a valuable training experience for Oscar preparing him for future visits.
H5 from the Eagle (JP)
H5 Matt joined ENW Mark in his trusty SF, the visibility quite poor made the beats into sun particularly tricky, however the hill was working the best he had ever experienced there. One of the forecast showers slowly approached, Matthew and Mark landed with enough time to retrieve the gliders and take shelter, in the double decker bus LPV, before the downpour! Both were feeling contented with the opportunity of even their relatively short flights with the run of recent weather.
The Mendip locals were very welcoming in the club house, providing a log burning stove and bacon sandwiches for everyone! Coinciding with the final mince pie being washed down the rain stopped, the sky was glorious, crystal clear with wave clouds in abundance, everyone scurried back to the launch point to get airborne.
Spectacular Cheddar Gorge (MattH5)
The shower improved the visibility, the North Hill pilots got airborne once more, this time with Simon L in the driving seat of the 20 for an hour before handing over the keys to James. JP flew one of the visiting Nympsfield pilots as well as one of relatives of Nick J in the Eagle. 
Winter skies at Mendip (Mark C)
 The wave was tantalising all afternoon, quite rotary below 1000’ but silky smooth above this topping out at 2500’ for the most capable pilots, it was soarable well past sunset with the last gliders being packed away in the twilight.
A fantastic winter's day flying, with over 7 cumulative hours and several hundred km flown -  the gliding addiction was sufficiently fulfilled for a number of North Hill pilots. As always thanks to the Mendip GC for their hospitality and fantastic ridge. - Matt H5

Thursday 17th December

Despite being a bit brighter and less damp feeling  (than of late) initially, it wasn't long before it started raining, but Tom was still out there guiding the electrician with the trailer hookups - Job well done-.. David C, John A and John B washed the winch and the cable change was again put off because of the rain. - J&P

Wednesday 16th December

A small bunch of hopefuls turned up today hoping the forecast was wrong. The cloud base was about 5-600ft and looked as if it might improve so we put the winch in the southwest corner to service and check the cables, and if the weather did improve we would at least have the winch in place.
The left hand cable needed a new reel on it so a team got to work, the right hand cable was also in poor condition with 12 joins in its length and a lot of wear. We were going to change this also but it looked if rain was on the way so we gave up on that idea and put the winch away, hope for better weather next week.- JSt

Sunday 13th December

A Sunday and flyable weather?.......
Clearly some members had decided that the lure of Christmas shopping or present wrapping was much more exciting than the potential for sitting in the Clubhouse drinking and eating, and lamenting the weather outside, although to be fair Cheryl and Graham had a captive audience for their Christmas food menu.
Mark's face when he arrived and saw all the kit still in the hangar (Mike Sl)
The arrival of "Mr Motivator" (Mark C) asking in a focused polite and questionable way (well actually there was quite an expletive word count in same) stirred the small group of members into action and soon gliders were being taken out of the hanger to be prepared for flying - with the limited numbers it was decided to only use the two K21s and the launch point was set up in the North East corner of the field.

Meanwhile a count up of winch drivers did not take long and despite the worry that the "Scrooge of Christmas Present" (our Club Treasurer quite understandably trying to protect Club funds) might well have had a different view it was decided to use the Pawnee rather than winch .

But then someone opened the Advent Door marked 'Winch Driver' (well actually the Clubhouse door on to the field) and through stepped Jonathan who had decided to come out for some fresh air and ended up winching all morning.
Let's get going (Mike Sl)
Winch launches continued during the morning with at one stage the winch deciding to 'not work' - those present saw the apparent launch failure and commented "That is an interesting height" only to find that it was nothing to do with Santa's Little Helper in the back seat pulling the release !

Whilst the winch was kindly sorted by Mike R, aerotow launches started with Mark C and James continuing with the latter's Basic Instructor training - and again Mark C had a present for James of a simulated rope break early in the aerotow after which Mark C decided that James had earned the opportunity for a higher launch height. 
Landing back after a simulated rope break (Mike Sl)
With so few on the ground to keep flying a decision was made to stop for lunch during which the orographic cloud, which had threatened to get lower during the day, had clearly become lower.

One more aerotow and one more winch launch (which was aborted due to the low cloud in and around the field) and it was time to stop flying having got various, sadly not all, members up into the air, well overdue smiles evident from same.

Thank you to those members who gave their time to help others fly, appreciated by those of us who did so.

Not a Christmas Cracker of a day but as noted in the blog for last Thursday, unless you are at North Hill you will not fly...-  Mike Sl (ed:getting into the Christmas spirit)

And a big thank you to Rowan and Mark C for getting the new webcams up and running, you can find them on the DSGC website with a latest view and an optional time lapse through daylight hours. Rowan is also making some progress with resurrecting the North Hill weather station data. - J&P

Thursday 10th December

The forecast had been for rain all day with a front that wasn't even going to "wiggle" and so a plan for a lazy start for some ground school was promulgated. 
But that's the problem with forecasts... they don't always go to schedule! The normal Thursday crew gathered at the Clubhouse, but it wasn't raining and there were wave clouds in the sky, so after a pitch inspection Pete made the call -"Let's go flying".
There were always nice bright slots to the south (Jill)

The wind was buoyant and the launches were spirited - (initially pulling off at 80knots at the top of the launch), but there was some sort of lift to extend the flights - it wasn't smooth wave though probably just rotor underneath, but with up to 1900ft launches (not to mention a couple of rope breaks and a weak link) we managed to get 7 flights in before time was called as the wind was gusting and the cloud base came down to 1000ft at the end of the last flight.  But it was the longest flight for Pete H and Rob - 39 mins.
Cloud increasing from the north west (Peter Sm)

So unfortunately not everyone got to fly, but the moral is, even the best forecasts can be wrong, and you certainly won't fly if you are not at North Hill. - J&P

Wednesday 9th December

Another good Wednesday - we were lucky again with a repeat  of last week's wave from the word go, the two K21s, a K13 and the Junior were pulled out and were all soaring at once in the easy soaring conditions.
John solo but only for 5 minutes (John St)
The good conditions continued all morning and everyone who flew had long flights..... until Matt and Pete St tried their hand and both fell out of the sky after very short flights.
Matt before his less than epic flight (John St)
In the afternoon, the forecast strong wind arrived and with it a Blue card and some interesting landings, the soaring continued on and off until the end of the day and everyone had flown with 37 flights. - JSt

Sunday 6th December

Another Saturday and yet another poor weather day!
followed by....
Another Sunday and yet another poor weather day!

Despite some optimism that the weather might improve it became evident by lunchtime that whilst the wind had abated the low cloud showed little or no sign of lifting - the few Club members on site started to drift away to make something out of the day.
Tidying up the trench (Mike Sl)
The morning had been used to some good purpose using Club vehicles to "roll" some of the loose earth/sow some grass seed in and around the new electrical supply trenches for the glider trailers.
Sowing seed (Mike Sl)

Thanks to Cheryl for completing the Christmas decorations in the Clubhouse.......
As viewed by our new webcam - soon to be released - (thanks Rowan & Mark)

- bringing at least a little bit of Cheeer! - Mike Sl

Thursday 3rd December

The forecast (yesterday) had a possible glimmer of hope for the morning, but the wiggle in the front did not play ball. So it was coffee and bacon butties in the clubhouse while outside the southerly wind sent the windsock horizontal and the low cloud scudded past the window at an alarming speed.
Pete talked about the flight envelope and reviewed gliding books for Christmas with the Thursday lunch group. - J&P

Wednesday 2nd December

Thank goodness November is out of the way so we can get on with some flying, the first flights in what is now officially winter started well with some good early wave flights, Mike Fitz & JSt airbraked it down from 3,500ft after nearly an hour closely followed by Pete St in the Junior.
An early abundance of wave (John St)
Those lucky enough to find wave had a good time, with not many members today because of the poor forecast we managed to fly everyone before the low cloud and poor visibility arrived.
Members mucking in (Robert)
The power supply for the glider trailers is coming along apace with plenty of muddy boots and help from club members - JSt