Sunday 29th May

By soon after 8:00am the flying list was (very) long but with a large group of members keen to fly the launch point and winch were soon set up for the South West/North East run with the K21s and a Junior taken out of the hangar and prepared for the day's flying.

As the gliders were walked down to the launch point it was soon evident that the forecast wind strength was rather different to the actual wind blowing down the field. With a combination of the wind strength and general visibility being poor it was clear that the weather would be suitably "interesting" for flying.
Towing gliders back to the launch point (Mike Sloggett)
The morning saw the flying list make some progress, albeit with limited instructor availability meaning that trial lessons needed to be scheduled in amongst training flights.

The arrival of CFI Martin Woolner planning to complete Matt Williamson's BI acceptance checks allowed the DG505 to be brought down to the launch point - once Matt had had the fun of being put through his paces the DG505 was used for a trial lesson pending James Flory taking over the back seat of the DG505 for the afternoon to allow some check flights by CFI Martin.

In between flying the Pawnee, Guy Adams helped out with some instructing whilst Pete Smith, who had actually come up to complete some mowing, was also roped in to help keep the flying list moving along.

With the arrival of JB a decision was made to continue flying through lunch to try and ensure that the flying list was completed by the end of the day.
Clouds to the east (Mike Sloggett)
By early afternoon it became clear that with an increasing wind strength as well as a change in direction of the wind it was time to hoist the Blue flag above the launch point vehicle.

However every cloud and all that - whilst the wind had made flying conditions even more interesting the afternoon saw increasing signs of thermic activity. As ever it was a question of launching 'at the right time' to provide the best opportunity of making the most of the rough narrow thermals which were around - in between the strong lift pockets the heavy sink focused pilots' minds and required effective circuit planning.

By early evening those members on the flying list who had been helping out during the day were rewarded for their patience by some air time - following which with a suitable sigh of relief the gliders and ground equipment were all put away at just after 6pm.

Not the most spectacular of days but one which reflected how teamwork, collective commitment and patience are key ingredients of a successful and enjoyable day.

Well Done to James Flory and Matt Williamson who have now formally completed all the checks to be able to complete trial lessons in any of the Club two-seaters. - Mike Sloggett

Saturday 28th May

Everyone arriving at North Hill this morning agreed that it had the best weather for miles.  The field was high enough to not be affected by the fog, but instead we had to make do with a fairly decent haze.  Mark Courtney was quick to point out he wasn't duty instructor, although in the temporary absence of Stuart, was also quick to make the most of the opportunity to get people to do jobs he rather wouldn't.  Like walk the gliders to the west end of the field for example.  

Flights were short, but apart from the lack of horizon, conditions were fairly straightforward - no clutching hand to contend with.  An excellent day for circuit practice.  Matthew Williamson was busy in ASW20 611 doing just that, while getting used to all the additional knobs and levers.  Mark Courtney flew tug hangar electrician Mark on a couple of flights to try and impart the joy of gliding.  This produced the longest flight of the day at 14 whole minutes.  The view was minimal along with the lift, so a speedy jaunt along the south ridge followed by a side slip to land were used to inject some excitement.  Mark then introduced him to old grey men with hats and beards to balance out the excitement.  

The rest of the day consisted of 5 minute circuits with a few card checks thrown in to liven up Mark and Phil Morrisons day.  There were occasional annoying little spots of lift to the south, but they seemed fleeting. Apart from Mark, the only other person to be in the right place at the right time was Mr Williamson for an ELEVEN minute flight (as confirmed by spot the gliders log AND the impeccable club logging - never believe an Oudie - work of the devil).  Showers were predicted for 1pm initially, then 2.  Flying was hurried along in case they arrived, but they didn't. Students eventually dried up and everything was flown back to the hangar for a 3pm finish.  

Great day for circuit practice! - Tim Peters

Friday 27th May - Aim Higher week

Look a vortex!
The forecast never looked like it would be flyable today, so a gentle review of the difficult flying conditions yesterday, and a little more ground school finished off the Aim Higher course at North Hill. 

DSGC would like to thank Kevin Atkinson for bringing the Aim Higher initiative to North Hill and sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm with our members.  - J&P
Oh Lord of Instability send us your thermals!

Thursday 26th May - Aiming Higher

Thursday dawned sunny with a chilly start, and cumulus started forming early, the wind was a light easterly and the hangar was completely empty before 09:00 and the first launch was a soaring flight. It took a while for the cloudbase to rise above 2000ft giving the Aim Higher course members time for some more groundschool. 
Rowan Smith and Ray Dodd in K21 going cross-country (Mark Courtney)
The Thursday regulars continued flying  the K13s and Juniors until the grid were ready to launch 
Preparing for the grid launch (Peter Smith)
 and then "Lasham style" the two tugs set about clearing the 13 gliders on the aerotow line in just over an hour. - thanks to Robert Lee, Pete Harmer and Ian Mitchell.
The sky looked better than it was  (Mark Courtney)
Congratulations to John Borland for converting to the K13, to George Vojtisek for turning his first turnpoint at Hembury Hill, and to Rob Rand for his first hour soaring flight.
John Borland converted to K13 (Jill Harmer)
The wannabe cross-country pilots found the going tough  with most having grovels at either Tiverton or Taunton. Somehow Pete Startup - (Captain Slow) fresh from a speed awareness course! crept round the task 217km Tiverton, Taunton, The Park, Tiverton deserves a 'How I dunnit' tomorrow. 
CCY being overtaken by ASH25 (Peter Smith)
Well done also to Pete Bennett for turning Taunton and Honiton in the K6, having just passed his driving test on the first attempt and been let loose with Mum (Fiona's) car.

A busy day for North Hill which ran very smoothly -thanks to all the helpers - with 43 winch launches, 13 aerotows and just short of 50 hours soaring time. Thanks also to Graham and Cheryl for the excellent curry evening - J&P

Wednesday 25th May - Aim Higher week

The blinds were down in the Clubhouse with the cross-country course members deep in lectures, the Wednesday club members meanwhile walked a K21 to the Southwest corner.
John Sillett and Mike Fitz were first in the air with a good soaring flight, as more members turned up we walked another K21 up to the launch point as the course members didn't need it.
The soaring was very good with easy thermals eventually going up to 3.000ft many of the flights airbraking down, Pete Startup launched about midday and disappeared for the rest of the day (probably going around the club 100k several times).  
Ray Buzza check flights (John Street)
Ray Buzza had his red card checks with John Street, Robert Lee flew the John Deere all afternoon with the grass growing as fast as he could cut it.
Last flight of the day (Andre Tse)
It was a surprisinglĂ˝ good day but you wouldn't have thought so by looking at the sky, Pete Warren took the tug to the launch point but had no customers. - John Street.

Tuesday 24th May - Aim Higher Cross-country week

Day 2 of our Aim Higher Cross-country week and what lovely weather we had for it! Briefing at 9:00am and then flying from 11:00am. 
Some of the grid ready to launch (Paul Summers)
Some of us local soaring and practising our thermal techniques as taught in the classroom yesterday, others flew the declared tasks, Club 100kms Tiverton East- Yeovil  and  variations on the Club 200kms to The Park, Blandford and Cullompton. 

Despite nice weather we did experience lively aerotows well handled by Robert Lee and also some turbulent approaches, all good stuff and very enjoyable. There were 6-8 knot thermals , convergences, streeting and wave influence and a sea breeze front  not to mention that increasing easterly headwind. - Matt Wright was heard saying we should have all done 500's!! . Nick Hine ran the Launch vehicle and Dan Johns made sure the grid was well managed. 
Lovely looking sky with streeting and sea breezes (Lisa Humphries)
Matt went round the Club 100 twice in DG505 JZK with a crew change,  first with Steve Morris, (on his first experience of cross-country flying in a glider), and then with Tom Sides after he had flown the DG300 for a while. Both K21's flew round the Club 100 with Rowan Smith showing Ray Dodd  and Martin Woolner guiding Paul Summers.  

For the Club 200, Ron Johns and Paul Medlock in ASH25 711 completed Club 200 and got half way to Okehampton before turning back 293km. Kevin Atkinson and Nigel Everett in ASH25 RC  and Phil Morrison in ASW20 611 completed the Club 200, and Pete & Jill Harmer in Duo Discus OL completed Club 200 and went on to MUD and back 234km.

Where they went (Ruth Comer)
Peter Smith in Lak 19t 1UP , Nick Harrison in DG202/17 JDD,  Tom Sides in DG300 FAJ, Jeff Taberham in Mosquito 380, Steve Westlake in Discus FER, and Chris Heide in Libelle CLM, James Flory in ASW19 877  and Lisa Humphries in LS6 BA also flew locally. (waiting for flights to be posted on the ladder)
Lisa's lovely LS6 (Lisa Humphries)
Martin tried the LS6 after his cross-country in the K21,  More to come this week looking at the forecast and a great week so far! -  Lisa Humphries & Jill Harmer

Monday 23rd May - Aim Higher week

Today was the start of the Aim Higher Cross-country week with Kevin Atkinson. Everyone was ready for the 9am start and we all spent the whole day in the classroom listening to some very informative briefings and watching some good videos. Several of us were asked various questions being rewarded with chocolates from our coach, I was asked as to the sizes of in-flight plumbing for men offered on the BGA website - how Kevin thought I might know the answer baffles me…………
Briefings today (Robert Lee)
An excellent start to the week and we were lucky to secure Kevin's time as his courses are so popular. Flying tasks start tomorrow and the weather looks promising. Meanwhile today Stuart converted to the LS6 and we heard him taking 3 Aerotows filling his boots and keeping Robert Lee busy!
Stu took the opportunity to fly Lisa's LS6 (Stu Procter)
 As usual the North Hill Cafe kept everyone well fed and watered, thanks to Cheryl and Graham for looking after us on a non club day. - Lisa Humphries

Sunday 22nd May

After yesterday's incessant rain and fog, Sunday's weather forecast was all over the place running up to today, with various shades of 'not great, especially in the morning'.  It wasn't therefore a huge surprise to find a somewhat reduced number of members in attendance.  However on arrival things were looking up.  Some low cloud was hanging around the west ridge, but there was plenty of blue to be seen (as the tug pilots were keen to point out).  Mike Sloggett and Ron Johns set about instructional flights with new/temporary members Tim Petty and Adam Fox Edwards.  Initially a couple of aerotows, as the winch was having a 'moment', before normal service was resumed.  Dave Herbert was up next after soloing during a week at Lasham, keen to remember how to fly from a small field again!

Matthew Williamson had an attempt at multitasking - DLM and simulator fettling, but found this didn't work well.  Doing what he does best, the simulator fettling was delegated to Matt Wright.  A break during the later part of the morning waiting for showers to pass enabled all those members who had realised their mistake in believing the forecast, to get themselves up to the club.  Together with trial lesson attendees who turned up with their families, this suddenly made the quietness of the morning vanish.

In between the showers (Mike Sloggett)
After the showers came a further brightening sky, with some excellent looking clouds.  The walking talking liftometer Mr Startup, suddenly appeared in the queue for an aerotow.  Nick Hine, who had been biding his time in the launch point all day, persuaded Matt Wright that a flight in the DG was in order.  They took a trip to Tiverton to fly over Nick's house followed by a push even further north west to cover Matt's house followed by a check out at MUD for a score of 67 minutes.  A surprise downwind radio call for a left hand circuit had everyone slightly perplexed, as they had been spotted north of the club only minutes earlier.  It all became clear as the DG 'appeared' at about 30ft above the field height on the south ridge, at a 'reasonably brisk' pace.  Allegedly (so Matt's story went) the usually mild mannered Nick got all demanding and made him do it.  
Nice sky later with good streeting (Mike Sloggett)
Ron had uncovered the ASH and took Adam for a fly in the frankly fantastic looking sky.  Rumour has it he also made up with Exeter ATC, albeit with some help from Adam acting as intermediary ;)  Pete Warren was putting Mike Robinson through his red card checks, to enable Mike to fly solo again after a good few months.  By this time almost everyone had flown and the launch point was pretty much empty.  Mike Sloggett was (still) instructing, with James Sydney as his next student.  Matthew Williamson had persuaded Pete Harmer that instead of flying the Junior on his own in peace, he should instead fly the DG505 with Matthew as observer.  Pete looked ecstatic at the suggestion so off they went for well over an hour of heading to Bampton and some general bimbling.  James returned looking very happy with his soaring flight after missing out on the best part of the day last weekend.  Pete Startup had timed his launch well and made it very close to the Moltons - somewhere in between North and South and then went on to Taunton and Tiverton for 148km. 

A caravan or two began to arrive at the club later in the day in preparation for next week's cross-country week, Kevin Atkinson and his ASH25 arrived and Jill could be found scouring the internet looking for the most optimistic forecast. 

Another fun day out at North Hill, especially once the showers had passed. - Tim Peters

Thursday 19th May

With an incoming warm front, we expected a reasonable start to the day with a gentle westerly wind, with decreasing cloudbase throughout the day and rain in the afternoon. Pretty good forecast really , the rain got held up over Dartmoor as usual but once it started moving it came in pretty quick. 

We planned to get started early and carry on until the rain with a late lunch.The 2-seater list was handled by Pete Harmer, Peter Smith and Chris Wool  with Matt Wright flying the Trial lesson, and was all completed just in time for the first drops of rain. Meanwhile both Juniors were keeping the single seat list rotating.
The one aerotow today (Mark Layton)
Ray Dodd with Mark Courtney practised some field landings in the Rotax Falke, and Zoe had a ride to look an aerial view of their farm.

Longest flight was Chris Wool and Mark Layton in DG505  with 24mins who found some pre-frontal wave off a thermal. Well done  to Richard Davies who resoloed after a bit of a layoff over the winter. 

After lunch, a wet visitor was spotted inspecting the webcam installation.....
Squirrel caught on camera (Mark Layton)

Not a bad morning's flying with 38 winch launches and 1 aerotow. - J&P

Wednesday 18th May

There was an ongoing bad forecast for Wednesday this week, so it wasn't surprising that so few members turned up, by 10:30 we had just enough to fly so we decided to get the field set up "just in case" the weather should improve. As soon as we had set the field up we had a downpour and a few members shaking their heads.
Storms retreating to the East (John Street)
As the field was set up it was decided to have an early lunch and see what the afternoon threw at us, surprise, surprise the weather started to clear up.
From the first flight it was soarable, all five members of the skeleton crew had good soaring flights and all air braked down, we even hijacked Graham from the clubhouse to man the LPV so we could have two gliders in the air at once. 
Good thermals to the West (John Street)
The conditions were very interesting at times and all who flew left with big grins on their faces and for those who went early or didn't like the forecast, hard cheese! - John Street.

Sunday 15th May

With 14 names on the two-seater flying list by 08:30 it was always going to be a busy day. Rasp had been forecasting a reasonable day from last Thursday, and the Private owners were also out in force and full of expectation (although some  had got stuck on the A38.)

Although as seems to be increasingly common at North Hill, the wind kept blowing from behind us (Ron has a theory about the Somerset levels....)

Eventually the clouds started forming close enough to catch from the aerotow, and winch launches also managed to get away.

The flying list was steadily worked through thanks to Peter Field and Guy Adams the Duty Instructors and ably assisted by John Sillett and Peter Warren who kept going all day. The DLM's  Chris Woodward and Rob Rand kept everything running very smoothly, and tugging was shared by Robert Lee, Stu Procter and Simon Leeson.

The pundits task was to The Park, Blandford, but due to the spreadout, the actual routes tended to be a little more flexible making use of some convergences. After several potential field landings were called, the air cycled enough to get everyone home, with cloudbases up to 5000ft at times.
Wimbleball Reservoir  from OL (Jill Harmer)

Pete Startup had the longest flight of over 4 hours, and there were 13 aerotows  and just short of 50 winch launches - J&P

Saturday 14th May

A lot of weather talk was happening in the clubhouse on 'late' (10am) arrival at North Hill this morning.  A cold front was forecast to have passed overnight, but there was no sign of the typical post cold front loveliness.  Questions being asked by at least one weather amateur (ahem); Had it passed?  Was it still passing?  Where was the rain?  After some chart checking, all of these questions were superceeded in favour of the 'it'll be fine later on' theory.  Quite a few private owners seemed satisfied with this outcome and set about rigging in the cold, cloudy conditions. 

Meanwhile in a galaxy far, far away . . or the west end of the field as its normally referred to, James Hood was busy covering instructing duties for the holidaying Mark Courtney.  Silence at the back - stop that 'not another one?' chat.  He works hard and deserves it.  James was joined by Mike Sloggett, clearly not satisfied with instructing all week on the course.  There weren't many members present but plenty enough for things to run smoothly under this morning's DLM Andrew Logan.  Maybe the Mark Courtney fans had heard about his holiday? 

By mid-morning, no one had yet discovered any lift and the first trial lesson of the day was back on the ground in 15 minutes after a 2000ft aerotow.  As the morning progressed, the cloud began to clear and the heat of the sun began to take effect.  William Pope was the first to find some decent air and stayed aloft for 23 minutes.  He was willing to share some of his methods with less experienced members if you paid attention ;).  He was also willing to put some of it down to luck!  Let's hear no more of that nonsense. 

By early afternoon the sky looked like it had much more potential and the private owners began to grace the launch point with their presence.  JP, in LAK12 HOG, Matt Williamson getting more practice in ASW20 611, Tom Sides in DG300 FAJ and Ron Johns and Phil Morrison in ASH25 711.  Lower down conditions were more challenging.  In fact even from a 2000ft aerotow and with big wings, conditions could be challenging!  There was some vicious sink around, especially on circuit it seemed, but given enough height, scampering to the next cloud became easier and longer flights were possible.  Most flights stayed reasonably local to North Hill apart from the ASH that made it around The Park, Blandford and Cullompton for 205 Km. 

Matt in 611 found some turbo charged (wave) cumulus (Matt Williamson)
Rowan took over for the afternoon instructing slot, with DLM Aston.  Mike Sloggett was finishing up for his day by flying new boy Liam!  Apparently he showed potential...  Team 'J' was also back, with JB carrying out 3 year checks on JP.  Rumour has it, JP was reading an actual book about gliding and muttering something about 'spinning' on the trip to the club this morning.  After the flights he was looking slightly ill and JB was chuckling.  Weather professionals Pete and Jill Harmer obviously knew exactly what the weather was going to do, so turned up at lunchtime, rigged Duo Discus OL for its first airing of the year and flew for 2 hours towards the later part of the afternoon.

Once the usual post gliding ritual of sitting outside of the clubhouse drinking tea was performed, an evening of first aid training began.

Roly giving Little Annie  a blast (Cheryl Smith)

15 members enjoyed the excellent training on the new defibrillator, CPR and choking by Debbie Ledger. This was followed by another great dining in from Cheryl and Graham, disguised as an ad-hoc Eurovision party.
Eurovision party (Cheryl Smith)
North Hill just served up another great days adventuring in the sky.  Thanks to all those that helped out so efficiently to keep things flowing. - Tim Peters

Friday the 13th - Lucky for some!

If you are prone to superstition then you would probably avoid attempting your first Southdowns experience on the 13th day of the month which also happened to be a Friday but being logical engineer types Rowan and Phil were oblivious to this kind of woolly thinking and had succumbed to the goading from 611Matt (formerly H5Matt) that Parham was the place to be for gliding epicness. David Masson the Lasham weather guru added further incentive with a perfect forecast and even Trevor Stuart was planning a 6000' aerotow from Nympsfield to get to the Southdowns, fly the ridge and then turbo or even tow home! It had to be good. 

M5Matt to felt the pressure not to miss out and committed which made up Phil's mind and so Phil set-about the not insignificant task of getting all his ducks in a row so he could go too. No sooner had he got them all lined up when the Parham office lady blew all their heads off with one shot saying that Friday wasn't a club day and there would probably not be a tug pilot. Quite taken aback by Matt's disbelief however she did offer to call back if she heard different and about half an hour later it was all back on again. Phew! Rowan jumped on the band wagon too taking advantage of some stored up overtime.

Phil and M5Matt travelled up on Thursday so as to be fully rested for the adventure, and after a leisurely meal at the pub round the corner they had a text from Pete saying to save in him a place in the grid, he too would be arriving in the morning with Rowan. The 3 amigo's would become the 4 Musketeers!
Phil, Rowan and Pete
The wind was perfect 020-20kts and it was warm for a change, very warm. Surprisingly the ridge seemed to be pretty soft and we suspect this was as a result of thermal interference or something?? It did mean that we spent a good 45min together with most of the Parham grid and probably a couple of Lasham gliders stuck on the Chanctonbury Ring trying to get enough height to jump the Steyning Gap. The traffic made climbing difficult as trying to turn in lift often resulted in getting in someone else's way. A couple of the local Duo Discii eventually made the jump and Matt soon followed suit reporting back sensible heights for Rowan and Phil to have a go. A little later we had all made a start at Lewes but not before Phil had taken the long way around to the front of the ridge near Jack and Jill which had him looking up at the weeds with his wheel down before scratching his way back up the side of the hill to a more comfortable height. We had declared 5 trips between Lewes and Butser Hill for a distance of 340km which Pete, Phil and Matt completed without any further stressful moments. Rowan was suffering from a late night and an Oh my God it's early start so having flown to both ends of the ridge decided to land and call it not a bad day.

The drive home that night had us fall right in amoungst the Friday the 13th demons. Still definitely worth the trip though.
Throttle wide open heading for Lewes

Friday 13th May - Course week

"If in doubt, don't..."
The weather forecast for the final day of the May course week had provided suitable optimism of a good day to finish what had been an 'interesting' week weather wise. However with the weather forecasts and actual weather over the previous 4 days being rather changeable there should not have been much surprise that the wind was stronger than forecast and not just in general speed but particularly the strong gusts.

Over an early morning cup of tea the course members had an opportunity to talk through what they had learnt from Jill's meteorology briefings the previous day, but despite much endeavours to do so were not quite able to find any forecast that suggested there would be some flying at some stage in the afternoon.

That the end of course photo was taken mid-morning reflected the general acceptance that launching gliders would not take place but a decision was made to review matters again at lunchtime in the fervent hope that the wind would calm down suitably during the day.
Course members, Instructors and Helpers (Mike Sloggett)
With the members pretty well 'briefed out' due to the weather seen during the week the new flight simulator was used by several members to see whether they could complete a winch launch or  aerotow and in turn landing. (Thanks to Martin Woolner and Pawel Belskinski for getting the simulator finished - it will now be handed over to Matt Williamson to organise how it will be used)
First chance to use the new simulator in unflyable weather (Mike Sloggett)
Around lunchtime there was an increased optimism of some flying but with the wind continuing to gust quite strongly the decision was made to scrub the day so that those who wanted to do so could go off and get something out of the day.

Thank you to the Helpers Richard Harris, Roly Clarke, Ian Hunt, Aston Key, David Clements, not to mention the Instructors Mike Sloggett and Peter Smith for helping the course members get airborne during the week. - Mike Sloggett

Thursday 12th May

"Worth the wait...."
After a Wednesday of no flying, the weather forecast suggested some optimism of maybe, possibly, some gliding at some stage during the day. With the course members and a number of Thursday regulars filling the Clubhouse, whilst everyone waited for the weather to improve the morning was used to good effect on various briefings including 'Navigation and Field Selection, Air Law and Meterology including RASP predictions'.

With an increasing brightness to the sky an early lunch was called with an evident keenness by all those present to get the field set up ready to start flying as soon as the weather would allow same. Soon the K21s, a Junior and a K13 were being taken out of the hangar and the field set up for a South West launch point. Even as the gliders were being walked down to the other end of the field there was still much looking up at the sky and the lowish looking cloud.

However by the time everything was ready to start flying for the day the weather had improved sufficiently enough to allow gliders to be launched.
Medium level instability (Mark Layton)
And then followed an afternoon of pleasant if unspectacular gliding - for some it was about retaining currency, for some it was about consolidating solo flying and for some it was about finding out as to how many different parts of the field could be used after an eventuality or other shortened circuit.
Unspectacular gliding but interesting skies (Mark Layton)
Apart from the odd threat of a rain shower (which never actually transpired) and some interesting cloud formations, flying continued throughout the afternoon with hangar flights being completed just after 6pm.
Threatening cloud passed by (Mark Layton)
Late afternoon, George Sanderson completed his first solo flight at North Hill in K13 CCY.
George solos at North Hill (Mark Layton)
Thanks to Simon Leeson for standing in for Mark as Tuggie even though there weren't many customers.
Just two aerotows today (Mark Layton)
After all the kit was put away and 38 winch launches in the half day,  the course dinner took place at The Wyndham Arms in Kentisbeare. - Mike Sloggett

PS - And belated Congratulations to Chris Mew  who hadn't realised that the Flarm was recording his Silver Height claim at Long Mynd  on 13th April in DG100 LRN - J&P

Wednesday 11th May

"Briefings, briefings..."
The third day of the course week started with tea and discussion followed by much looking out of the windows and reviews of various weather forecasts. The general agreement was that it was not likely to be a very good day for flying.

So the morning provided the opportunity for briefings on 'How instruments work, The primary and secondary effect of the controls and Altimetry' followed by an early lunch and more looking out of the windows and further reviews of various weather forecasts.

The afternoon saw a return to the lecture room with a briefing on 'Circuit Planning' after which it was time for one final desperate optimistic and expectant look out of the windows and review of various weather forecasts. However with no immediate sign of an improvement to the weather the decision was made to 'scrub' any plans to fly with some (some) optimism that Thursday might bring better weather to enable some gliding to take place.
Nice view of the Devon countryside during the walk to Dunkeswell .(Mike Sloggett)
Various individuals went off to do other 'stuff' and to earn brownie points at home whilst some members decided that if it was not possible to fly over to/around Dunkeswell then a walk that way and back would be a good alternative - particularly with a cup of tea and some cake at the Aviator Cafe being a 'half time' reward for all involved. Unfortunately with just under 4 miles completed on the outward journey the planned cup of tea and cake was not available as the cafe was closed!
Well on the way back to North Hill... (Mike Sloggett)
 The return journey of just under 4 miles seemed to be completed quicker - nothing to do with a planned visit to The Sidmouth Arms, or maybe it was... - Mike Sloggett

Tuesday 10th May - Course week

"Today just goes to show..."
Around mid afternoon on Monday the general level of optimism for any flying on Tuesday was rather minimal - all the weather forecasts suggested a strong likelihood of rain at various stages throughout the day and with a "low risk" warning of thunderstorms to also be considered. As a result during Monday evening the course instructors were spending time looking at a plan for a day of briefings.

The course members had been advised "not to rush" on Tuesday morning so were somewhat surprised to arrive at the Club under sunny skies with patches of blue amongst the patchy high cloud cover and with Roly Clarke and Richard Harris having optimistically set up the winch and launch point for the North East/South West run respectively. With a look at the weather forecast suggesting rain by mid morning the decision was made to take the K21s and a Junior out of the hangar and complete as much flying as possible before the forecast rain arrived.
And one by one, the gliders were walked down the field (Mike Sloggett)
Gliders were duly walked down to the other end and during which journey it was evident that the valleys around the airfield were full of fog - by the time the gliders were ready for launching and before one could say 'up slack' a rather eerie orographic cloud had moved rapidly up and across the airfield delaying a start to the day's flying.
Where did that come from? (Mike Sloggett)
And then as quickly as it had arrived it had dissipated and the first launches of the day were away - whilst 'simply circuits' nevertheless the cloudbase required appropriate circuit planning.
Flying at last (Mike Sloggett)
Mid morning and a light but persistent rain shower resulted in an extended break for 'coffee and cake' during which time various briefings were completed by the course instructors in and amongst suitable looking out of the windows to see if the weather was improving enough to allow more flying to be completed.

Late morning and it was decided to start flying again - a few flights later and the next rain shower arrived but at a suitable time to stop  for lunch. Post lunch and with the rain having stopped, concurrently with the forecast indicating that there would not be rain until late afternoon, it was back down to the other end of the field to start flying again.

And it was soon evident that the course was missing a few members - the lure of the gliding simulator had won their attention over and above the discussion topics in the clubhouse and they had not been told about the re-start of flying for the afternoon!

The afternoon saw more training flights being completed in the K21s whilst Paul Kane and Rob Rand enjoyed having a Junior all to themselves, each consolidating their solo flying. Towards the end of the afternoon it became clear that further rain was moving ever closer from the South so the decision was made to stop flying for the day.
It looks wet from the hangar (Mike Sloggett)
As was evident by the smiles in the clubhouse, over a cup of tea to finish the day, one of those days when every flight (and there were quite a few of them today) was one more than everyone had been expecting based on the weather forecast. - Mike Sloggett

Monday 9th May - Course week

"A day of two halves"
The May course members arrived with some optimism that there might be flying on the first day of the course.

After the usual Course Welcome particularly to Roy Love as the only non-member taking part in the week (everyone else being established Club members) and a discussion as to what individual personal goals were for the week, it was over to the hangar to get the K21s out ahead of a long walk to the North West corner of the field.

The weather forecast for the day suggested that the morning should stay flyable albeit with increasing chance of showers and that is how it turned out.
North Hill from the South (Mike Sloggett)
By late morning 8 flights had been completed of which the standout flight in and amongst the simple circuits was one of 26 minutes by Peter Smith and Paul Kane in KEK - that flight turned out to be the last flight of the morning as after KEK had landed a passing rain shower was heavy enough to bring flying to a halt for the morning and an early lunch was called.

During lunch a review of the weather forecast for the remainder of the day suggested that there might be time to complete some more flights before more rain arrived.

Lunch over and a return to the launch point, but by the time the gliders were ready to be launched it was evident that the forecast rain was not that far off so the decision was made to put everything away.

A demonstration "land ahead" eventuality provided the opportunity for HCX to be flown down to the other end whilst Peter Smith completed the final flight of the day with Roy Love meaning that all of the course attendees had flown to one extent or another.

Gliders and kit put away for the day, the afternoon saw briefings and related discussion on thermals and spinning/spiral dives before an early finish to the day.

Peter Smith as ever keen to make the most of the day spent several hours planning the next area of the field to be considered for levelling. - Mike Sloggett

Sunday 8th May

"Better safe than sorry"

On a day of blue skies and hazy cloud with an evident South Easterly wind direction the launch point was set up in the North West corner of the field. Both K21s and a Junior were taken out of the hangar and walked down to the other end of the field and flying started mid morning.

Despite the strength of the wind other than the expected wind gradient encouraging sensible circuit planning and particularly to not go too far back behind the hill,  instructors reported generally smooth flying conditions. 
The calm before the storm (Mike Sloggett)
The flying list was steadily worked through as the morning progressed with the DG505 being brought down to allow an aerotow Trial Lesson to be completed by Paul Summers.

As lunchtime arrived the wind started to strengthen and veer making the launches and approaches more and more interesting as the afternoon unfolded. Soon it became evident that to continue flying in the rather unpredictable conditions, with instructors reporting a turbulent approach and a wide range of both strong lift and even stronger sink on same, would not be appropriate and the gliders were walked back to the safer surroundings of the hangar.
The long walk back to the hangar (Mike Sloggett)
Much discussion over mugs of tea then ensued with agreement that whilst flying might have continued it is always better to wonder what might have happened than to be dealing with what had actually happened..... Mike Sloggett

A big thank you to Pete Startup for spending most of the day changing the radio in LRD.

Saturday 7th May

An average number of members arrived at North Hill bright'n'early this morning in anticipation of . . . well . . averageness to be honest.  The forecast predicted nothing more than some sunshine.  Unfortunately forecasts change, and a morning of rain had entered the picture by 8:00am.  This was forecast to last until 11:00am.  Rain radar images backed this up, so a few hours were invested in breakfast eating, tea drinking and a lecture by Phil Morrison on how wings work.  The lecture was unprepared, but was fully-furnished with formulas and graphs and everything - good stuff.

The 11am prediction was correct, so the trek to the west end of the field began.  Fashion fans will be interested to hear that now spring has sprung, Game of Thrones style tops (circa Jan 2016) have been abandoned in favour of flip flops, as sported by trend setter JP.  Conditions were indeed average.  Winch launched flights didn't last longer than 8 minutes.  Paul Summers gave Trial lesson visitors Sarah and Nick their first experience of silent flight from 2000ft aerotows, but even they struggled to hit 15 minutes.  Lisa Humphries flew K13 CCY with a prospective purchaser.  

Winch launches were short (Ellie Carter)
JB arrived to augment the one-man instructing team of JP.  The 'J's continued work on the flying list, which although not long, began to look like a difficult task in light of the late start.  Wendy Willis-Fleming had stepped into role of Duty Launch Marshall for the whole day and the small team worked seamlessly together to keep things moving.  Roly Clarke arrived in time to give Paul a lunch break and fly Michelle, the final trial lesson visitor.  For those who listened carefully, the dulcet tones of Roly recounting tales of some incredible distance flown, (200km was it?) could be heard emanating from the LPV . . soothing stuff.

As the sun made an appearance around lunchtime, conditions became much more boistorous, so the blue card was hoisted.  Approaches looked exciting and some students thought they may have heard the usually unflappable JP make uncomfortable noises in the back seat.   

Unflappable J's in the back seat (Ellie Carter)
Flying continued until 6:30pm by which time the conditions had calmed down somewhat.  Everyone got to fly at least once thanks to the 'dog licked rock bun' (ask Lisa) fuelled enthusiasm of the 'J' combo and Roy Boddy agreeing to do overtime in the winch (thank you Sir).  Despite JPs egging-on of JB to visit the east side Hembury Hill on the final flight, JB decided (probably wisely considering JPs reluctance to do the job himself) not to, and instead have a bimble over Broadhembury in 'the best air all day'. Still didn't break 8 minutes though!

Average conditions maybe, but still a great day out! - Tim Peters

Thursday 5th May

A bright sunny morning with a fresh south easterly breeze meant a pleasant walk to the west end of the field with all the kit. 
There was a strong inversion but there were enough hints of thermals to keep everyone interested. Longest flight was Matt Wright in the DG505 at lunchtime - just over the hour.

At last - warm enough for some sunbathing (Jill Harmer)
Rob Rand and George Vojtisek had  a go at navigation and field spotting from the Rotax Falke with Pete Harmer.
Thanks to Simon Leeson for standing in for Mark Courtney on the Tug Duty.  J&P

Wednesday 5th May

At last some warmer weather, the wind couldn't make up it's mind but eventually  gave a little bit of West with the Southerly.
All quiet after lunch (John Street)
The thermals were few and far between but Pete Warren managed nearly an hour in the Junior, Eric Alston had the longest flight but had to cheat by using his turbo.
Mike Fairclough and Malcolm Vest fly in with the Cub (John Street)
Pete Startup kindly diagnosed the vario problem in KEK (loose wire) which he sent his minion Matt Wright to fix and they both spent the afternoon completing the installation of the new LXV7 vario in the DG505.
Stu Procter watching Matt Wright and Pete Startup ripping out wires (John Street)
We had four two seaters in use today and everyone flew, Ray Dodd managed part of his winter/spring refresher course with John Sillett, Robert & Pete Warren were the tuggies and Roly flew the Trial lesson visitor - John Street