Saturday 31st December

For the last day of 2016, it was foggy to start with, but then it cleared enough to fly. Karen King passed her check flights but was confounded by the misting canopies and we all went for tea/early lunch.  With the continued lack of flying, James Flory practised a briefing on Ruth Comer for his Ass Cat prep, with Martin Woolner watching on -  Then we packed up. - Ruth Comer

And then in true North Hill fashion, a bit later on the sun came out,  Paul Summers wanted to fly so we pulled a glider back out and Stu Procter got the tug out and we had a lovely Mile High aerotow.  - Stu Procter
The sunny end to 2016 (Stu Procter)
Happy New Year to all our readers.

Thursday 29th December

North Hill was sticking out the top of the freezing fog again, so after some slippery, foggy journeys to the Club, the gliders were put out in the sun to enjoy the rays. Sunglasses were an essential during the morning in the very light southwesterly wind. With really good launches to 1500ft, and a very gentle float down in smooth air, most flights were 8 or 9 minutes with John Pursey in SF27 holding on the longest. 
Clear blue sky all morning at North Hill (Mike Sloggett)

Whilst John was exploring the south ridge, he was surprised to find some clouds forming underneath him at 800ft, and then just before lunch the whole sky filled in very quickly at just under 1000ft, which rather messed up the aerotow!
The low clouds started thinning at sunset (Jill Harmer)

After lunch, it was much less pleasant with no sun and it got a lot colder, but we continued with various card checks and other low circuit practice until the clouds started thinning again at sunset. - 36 flights in total. Happy New Year to everyone from the Thursday Regulars. - J&P

Wednesday 28th December

Most members left home in freezing fog with sub-zero temperatures and the prospect of a southeasterly wind -  so it was no surprise there were few members here today.
North Hill (Lisa Humphries)
Well - the last Wednesday of 2016 went out with some superb flying. Apart from the first two flights all launches contacted wave at the top of the winch launch, the wave was strong and easy with every  flight having to airbrake it down after 45min so all could fly. 
Above the clouds (John Street)

Richard from Dartmoor joined us today and joined in the fun.
John Street & Richard Roberts in K21 (Rich Roberts)
Lisa was treated to a Sillett special descent shaking up the Christmas leftovers.
John Sillett just before the upside down bit (Lisa Humphries)

So with wave experience being a first for some members, lets hope the winter continues with some good flying. - John Street

Monday 26th December - Boxing Day

With a call to action on Google groups by CFI Stu, a small group of members took advantage of the quiet Boxing Day weather (to avoid the Sales and Relatives) by  going flying.
James doing his Fred Flintstone magic trick (Jill Harmer)
 A nice ridge of high pressure brought a light north westerly, but not quite enough wind for the ridge to work, although there was some wavy-like reduced sink. 
Stu and Georgie (Jill Harmer)
 With a few mince pies and sweets and quite a number of visiting walkers (including Muggles and family) the assembled few enjoyed 8 aerotows with some family and friends. - J&P

Thursday 22nd December

A clear blue sky and light westerly wind after a cold damp night meant a lot of dripping gliders initially, but the sun had  a bit of warmth in it (even though it's as far away as it can get!) and we were up and running by 10:30am.

There were quite a few names on the flying lists keen to make the most of the calm before the next storm (Barbara). With Pete Harmer working his way through the check flights and Martin Woolner  completing Instructor checks with James Flory. Pete Bennett flew Stuart from Queens College Taunton and some family and friends flights. 
The first signs of cloud (Mark Courtney)
At lunchtime the first signs of the cirrus started invading the sky, and the lovely warm morning had turned into an increasingly chilly afternoon. The cloud quickly filled in but with continuing high launches,  most flights were extended by some "wavy" lift, with Paul Little in his Open Cirrus managing the longest of 20 mins.
Martin checking out Hans (Mark Courtney)
The second Trial lesson flight was for Peter (on Christmas holiday from Harare) and should have been a Mile High, but had to be split into two flights due to a horseshoe shaped cloud of light rain which suddenly almost enveloped the aerotow - the second flight fared a lot better.
Bit of a squall line (Paul Little)
Thanks to everyone for making it a pleasant winters day of flying (39 flights) after yesterday's gathering at Washfield Church. - J&P

Wednesday 21st December

Today, many of our members and gliding friends from other clubs remembered the coolest ‘dude’ Matt at a special service in Washfield Church, Tiverton. 
Matt Wright  1969 - 2016
 It was a privilege to meet Matt's family and to hear his childrens tributes to their father,  I am sure Matt would have been very proud.
Thank you to JB for his excellent organisational skills which enabled the day to run as smoothly as possible. 

A very sad, but lovely way for us to all remember him. - Lisa Humphries

Sunday 18th December

Another quiet day at North Hill, -there were only 4 people wanting to train and a few regulars who flew the Junior. 
The weather slowed the morning as we feared the cloud would rise from the valley over the field. 

I had the first two flights after Mark Courtney and Matt Williamson took the Falke for a trip; we were hesitant about launching as the cloud was climbing through the trees. However,  the cloud was the least of our worries as our canopies would mist up instantly. 
Low cloud and fog surrounds North Hill (Simon Minson)
Spectacular views from the top of the launch and the air so smooth that everyone enjoyed a few short flights above the clouds. 
Another lovely North Hill sunset (Mark Courtney)
22 flights in total, everyone flew and Ellie and Mike Harris from St Austell went solo after check flights. Ending at 4 o'clock with a lovely sunset on the drive home. - Reuben Buss (first time blogger)

Wednesday 14th December

Considering the sunny weather, there were very few members early on  so we were contemplating aerotow only, but then enough members turned up to make winching viable.
Walking up the field (John Street)
The wind was southeasterly to southerly and quite fresh, we walked the two K21s up to the northwest corner, there were bits of low cloud about, but we managed to launch above it and had some good flights on South ridge.
A fresh southerly wind (John Street)
It was a day of two halves, good up to 1:00pm when we stopped for lunch but by 2:00pm the low cloud had filled in with a low cloud base of 500ft it was time to stop flying, unfortunately two members didn't fly.  - John Street.

Sunday 11th December

A large number of members turned up today optimistic that the fog and mist would lift and offer a chance of flying. John Sillett led a gang to get the equipment out and DI'd, no sooner had the canopies been cleaned the mist came back in force. We retreated to the Clubhouse for tea and moaning, this gave opportunity for us to welcome new member Simon and his daughter Molly, returning after a trial lesson and temporary membership period.
Foggy morning (Will Stainer)
The fog kept threatening to disappear but seemed to come back thicker each time it did. Slowly the numbers dwindled so the kit was put away; more tea and moaning.

As usual, the members leaving prompted the weather to perk up at about 2 o'clock, under the supervision of JB the 2 K21's were pulled onto line and the tug brought out. JB and H5 Matt had the first tow up to 4,000ft,   the views were staggering. 
Fog in the valleys (H5 Matt)
The fog was kept down in the valley by an inversion, evident by the smoke rising to a ceiling beneath it before dispersing. After using some height taking in the beautiful scenery the excess energy was expelled with some loops and chandelles.
Matt Williamson and JB (H5 Matt)
Paul Summers also flew and took Guy Adams along as ballast, Stuart Proctor took Simon Minson for the last flight of the day before a thin layer of mist appeared over the airfield. Thanks for everyone who helped out today and hung around waiting to fly, a very humbling day with breathtaking views which reminded us how privileged we are to be able enjoy such a fantastic sport with such close friends. - Matt Williamson

Thursday 8th December

The forecast wasn't very optimistic for any flying being possible, and the low orographic cloud remained all day. 
There were lectures discussing various winch launching concepts, and some general housekeeping tasks. - J&P

Wednesday 7th December

The weather was more like early spring than mid-December, this encouraged a good turnout. As the gliders were taken out of the hanger there was quite a condensation problem, after the di's were done we had to wait for the canopies to clear.
After much polishing the canopies stayed clear Mike Fitz & John Street were first off to a quite robust launch, the wind at ground level was about 10kt southwesterly but at the top of the launch the wind veered to a westerly and a wind speed of over 40kt, this gave us some interesting launches to good heights.
Spring-like weather (John Street)
There was obviously some wave in action with lots of lenticulars about but mostly out of reach although some flights managed bits of smooth air -  but nothing you could climb in.
Wavey sky (John Street)
Pete Warren was tuggie and managed six aerotows after much soliciting - but none of them contacted wave, Robert didn't have the longest flight today this honour went to Roly with 31min but that was with an aerotow! Mike Fitz managed 23min with a winch launch in some kind of wave lift.
Mike Fitz getting ready to fly (John Street)
 The canopy misting problem returned at about 3:30pm, but by this time everyone had flown, at close of play all the gliders were washed and cleaned ready for the BGA audit visit. - John Street

Matt Wright - Sunday 4th December

It is with great sadness that I have to report that Matt Wright has been fatally injured in his glider at Brentor today. We do not know any details and the AAIB are investigating.

 Matt was a highly experienced pilot and friend to all of us at the Devon and Somerset Gliding Club. He was always full of energy and loved every aspect of aviation. Not only was he an expert glider pilot, but also an accomplished commercial Airline Captain, film maker and cartoonist. 

Our sincere condolences go to his family at this sad time.

Lisa Humphries
Chairman, DSGC

Sunday 4th December

Sunday's good weather forecast, albeit predicting a cold and fresh Easterly wind, saw a small but enthusiastic group of members arrive at the Club keen to make the most of the day.

Both K21s, the DG505 and a Junior were taken out of the hangar whilst both winches were prepared for use on what was being called SupaCat Sunday.
Clear blue sky (Mike Sloggett)
The launch point was initially set up in the South West corner and with an immediate Blue Card recognising the wind direction and strength.

There was optimism that there might be wave lift to the West of the field nearer the motorway with a plan to fly the DG505 downwind to see if  there was any wave 'back there' and with a retrieve crew being organised 'just in case'.

Meanwhile the first launch of the day was a K21 to primarily complete a weather check flight but after a launch to 1500' in the fresh Easterly it was evident that there was wave lift already in existence to the East of the Club.

The wave lift was not particularly strong but more than sufficient to provide flights for as long as people wanted - as ever in the spirit of teamwork and so that everyone could have the fun of trying to find and then stay in the wave, training flights were generally kept to no more than half an hour.

Part-way through the day the SupaCat was brought into use and with suitable feedback on launch speeds, either post launch or through 'too fast signals', overall everyone seemed pretty happy with the launches provided by the SupaCat and it's drivers (well done all involved).

Just after lunch a decision was made to change sides in terms of the launch point and winch positions and even though the wind had changed slightly in direction and speed it was evident that the wave was continuing in various parts of the sky around the field.
North Hill (Mike Sloggett)
As ever patience was needed in looking for same and some flights were successful in finding wave during the afternoon and some were not.

With canopies misting and with the sun rapidly going down hangar flights were completed late afternoon by which time everyone who wanted to fly had done so. - Mike Sloggett

Saturday 3rd December

I checked the weather forecast yesterday evening to be presented with strong Easterly winds gusting up to 24-25 kts. For once I hoped that the forecast would be wrong and the winds in our favour. As I arrived at the Clubhouse things were looking good, there was little or no wind present. This was not to be the case at the northwest end of the field, with 20 kts averaging on the ground.
Wind sock showing the strength of the wind even before being raised (Will Stainer)
Due to lack of members (2 present at 9am) and the wind strengthening only one K21 was brought out. Lukasz Kieruczenko was first to be put through his paces with some simulated launch failures for his white card checks. Conditions were turbulent with plenty of sink around, most winch launches lasting around 3-4 mins.

After lunch Martin Woolner and myself took an aerotow to 2000ft. Somehow, we managed to make it last only 12 mins. With 8 kts down on final approach it was one of the shortest aerotows I’ve ever had!
A spot of winch driving (Will Stainer)
Towards the afternoon several more flights were carried out, with James Flory undergoing some instructor checks. By 3:30pm everyone on the list had flown and kit was packed away. Total of 9 flights on another brisk North Hill weekend. - Will Stainer

Thursday 1st December

Most members had a foggy trip to the club today, but halfway up the hill it turned into bright sunshine. With a slight delay to get the airframes and canopies up to temperatures  that were usable, the launchpoint was setup in the southeast corner with just a very slight northwesterly draught.

Being artistic (Mark Courtney)
As soon as it was possible, the Thursday regulars were keen to get into the air to view the spectacular views all around the Blackdown Hills. So it was 1 flight each to make sure everyone got the opportunity. 

And a large selection of photos to choose from that didn't quite do the serene views justice.

From the DG505 (James Hood)
Fog receding from the Blackdown Hills (Peter Smith)
Low sun emphasised the great  views along the ridge (Mark Layton)
Trees popping up through the fog in the valley (Mark Layton)
We got going again quickly after lunch and found that the fog started reforming again in the valleys, but it wasn't a problem over the Blackdown Hills. 
Congratulations to John Borland for converting to the Junior in the excellent conditions.
John Borland converted to Junior (Jill Harmer)

In fact we were able to continue flying until the shadows lengthened behind the Beech trees with the last two launches landing from the west to avoid the low sun. 36 flights in total and one of the most spectacular days that we have seen at North Hill. - J&P
Turning out over Broadhembury (M5Matt)
A perfect day for a tow (M5Matt)

Wednesday 30th November

The forecast was for a very cold frosty day so all who turned up were wearing as many clothes as they could get on. We walked the two K21s and a Junior to the southwest corner, but by the time we had the arrived at the launch point some of us were a bit on the warm side in the bright sunshine and lack of wind and some even took a layer or two of clothes off! 
Well wrapped up (Dave Clements)
The flying was very pleasant with perfect visibility but with no hint of lift, everyone flew and we finished flying at 4.00pm because of the danger of  canopy misting.
Hooking on (Mark Layton)
Lumberjack JB was clearing fallen branches from the footpath and Matt was putting his drone through its paces.
Junior on finals (Dave Clements)
Robert again claimed the longest flight - but had to have a 3,000ft aerotow to claim it. - John Street

Monday 28th November

It was such a lovely day today, with plenty of sunshine, and a fresh easterly wind, and a small group of members opened the Club for a special Birthday treat for Ellie Carter -14years today. 
Having got special permission to take the day off school, JB put Ellie through her paces with all the usual handling and launch failure checks and as luck would have it, the wind also dropped at just the right time.

So after a lot of delicious birthday cake, one final check flight with Pete Harmer and as the sun was starting to head downwards, Ellie enjoyed two perfect circuits in K21 solo "without that noisy Instructor in the back".

Ellie Carter - solo
- Congratulations to Ellie for a very special birthday treat, and thanks to all the helpers for making it possible - J&P

Saturday 26th November

Yet again another cold winters day with the wind chill on the airfield making it feel like 2° to 3°. Members unfortunately were greeted by low cloud and poor visibility, which scuppered  flying for the first part of the morning.

After much debating, plenty of tea and mid-morning snacks a decision was made to unpack kit in the hope that some flying could be achieved, albeit only cable breaks. Kit was walked to the SW corner and flying commenced a little before noon. Initially it was red card conditions which quickly turned into yellow with the freshening wind.
To start, it was cable breaks and check flights because of the cloud. Most launches were around 700-900ft. Several hours later there were enough gaps in the cloud to gain full launch height allowing members to fly around for 6-7 minutes.
Another North Hill sunset (Lizzie Westcott)
Towards mid-afternoon around 3:30, kit was packed away in preparation for the AGM that evening. Total of 19 flights. - Will Stainer

The clubhouse was packed to the brim with 90 members. It was a good meeting with constructive comments and friendly atmosphere was enjoyed by all. The new Committee can now work towards fulfilling the members wishes over the coming year. Thanks to all of those who attended ....
Wide angle makes the clubhouse look huge (Mark Courtney)
 .....and a special thanks to Cheryl and Graham for the excellent food they provided for 40 members. - Lisa Humphries

The AGM was followed by the annual presentation of trophies. 
Trophy winners (Robert Lee)
 Thank you to Martin Woolner  for presenting the trophies, stepping down as CFI, and congratulations to all the winners. - J&P  

Sunday 20th November

Today was a slightly warmer day than yesterday, but still noticeably cold. Sadly, once again very few members with a very short flying list by 9:30am. After last night’s torrential rainstorm, kit was slowly unpacked allowing the field to drain enough.  Flying began just after 10:30am with Matt Williamson in 611 taking an aerotow to 2000ft. Conditions once again were very smooth with little or no wind throughout the day. Very strange for mid-winter!

As the day progressed more and more instructors started to appear. This left more instructors than students and at one point we had 9 instructors and only 3 students to fly.  Evidently the instructors were bored so a game of “rate your landing” was played.
K21 landing (Will Stainer)
Towards the afternoon it was reported there may be some lift coming off the NW ridge. Timing was everything and those who were lucky to catch it were rewarded to a few more minutes extra in the air. With the weather closing in cloud base began to lower to around 2,000ft. This did not stop us though and several more training flights and aerotows were flown in-between the gaps.
Above the clouds in the Pawnee (James Hood)
At the end of the day and after a few check flights Karen King was sent off solo. Congratulations Karen for soloing again after so many years.
Karen solo again after 16 years (Mark Courtney)
By 3:30pm everybody had flown and kit was packed away. Once again many thanks to all who made it possible. Overall a pretty good flying day for late November with a total of 23 flights. - Will Stainer

Saturday 19th November

The day started off icy cold with the previous day's snow shower frozen to the field. Clearly most members had either seen the weather forecast or did not want to venture out into the cold. 
Frozen snow melt (Oscar Leeson)
By 9:30 and with a very bare flying list, a handful of members walked the gliders over to the NE corner to begin flying. Check flights post and pre-solo training seemed to be the main agenda for the day, although there were a few Junior flights including a father and son aerotow with Oscar Leeson piloting the Junior and his dad Simon flying the tug. Conditions in the air were benign although there was some noticeable sink on the NW ridge. At around 1pm flying was stopped for lunch. With the weather deteriorating rapidly 2 quick flights were squeezed in after lunch before a decision was made to pack up due to rain
A total of 18 flights today. Thanks to all who made it possible. - Will Stainer

Thursday 17th November

The windy showery forecast was timed just about right, but there was hope to squeeze in some flying first thing. 
When the first two launches struggled to keep the speed down and there were two broken weak links, in a mixture of rough rotor type wave there was a short consultation between Pete and Peter before repacking the hangar. The promised rain belt turned up as forecast at lunchtime, but was followed by a series of rapid troughlines.  So after more debate on the proposed AGM motions we called it a day. - J&P

Wednesday 16th November

The forecast for today was for a strong westerly wind with low cloud to start with and rain arriving after 2:00pm.
Peter Smith who was standing in for John Sillett, started the ball rolling with a met flight closely followed by John Street and Mike Fitz who had a launch to 1,700ft, although the launch was high we were back on the ground in 8min with the constant sink everywhere.
The first few launches were uncomfortably rough, Matt Wright and Pete Startup dragged out the DG505 to show us how its done, but were no more successful, as the day progressed it got calmer and less rough and the ridge began to work.
Eric Alston rejoined us again after his two and half month exile in Turkey looking as brown as a Turk and feeling the change in temperature from the Meditteranean.
Eric and Robert launching at lunchtime (John Street)
Whilst the rest of the club went to lunch Eric in the DG505 and Robert Lee in the Junior spent the next hour on the ridge, Robert allegedly had the longest flight of the day and allegedly air braked down.
We welcomed Pat Wiseman a new member to the fold, and there was some lively discussions about the winches and new clubhouse.
It was a very interesting day and plenty of soaring for those lucky enough to fly at the right time, the rain that was forecast arrived about 3:30pm and we managed to get the kit away without getting too wet.  - John Street

Sunday 13th November

A clear forecast for the day looked promising. Sure enough by around 9am the flying list was already fairly long.  Initially 2 K21’s and a Junior were walked up to the SW corner. Shortly after a K13 joined us to help ease the flow. A change in schedule today as the Supacat was brought on line alongside the Skylaunch. The first couple of launches, mostly training and check flights went smoothly with no drama.
Skylaunch and SupaCat side by side (Mike Sloggett)
At 11am all gliders were grounded briefly and a 2 minute silence was held to remember those that had fallen.

Conditions in the air were relatively smooth with a slight crosswind from the North. A red flag was raised and remained throughout the day. At times the northerly ridge was known to be working, but only to provide an extra couple of minute’s flight time for the lucky few.
Clean air (Mike Sloggett)
At around midday, wave clouds were spotted off into the distance. Sadly this was too far and too high to fly to. With winter in full swing the light started fading at a mere 3:30pm shortening our day.
Fading light
At around 4pm the field became very cold, a decision was made to pack up. Unfortunately due to misfortune the Supacat’s a parachute link broke, so the last few hangar flights were launched via Skylaunch.
Broken swivel (Will Stainer)
A good days flying for November, with everyone on the list flown. Thanks to everyone. Total of 43 launches - Will Stainer

The French Silene - so good they only made 10
Sunday saw a subset of Team Eagle ably assisted by H5Matt, H5 Claire and Stirling picking up a new 2 seat project glider from Nympsfield. The open trailer for this was until recently a garden feature so not immediately seen as motorway ready. Lord Jones of Hemyock brought forth the novel solution of using a car transporter for the 10m long glider trailer. 500 kg of steel ballast and warning flags made it all seem sensible but the journey south at 48mph max demonstrated that even the best 4x4 by far has its limits! Safely installed in a secret establishment on the Blackdowns, the project begins…