Day 5 - Road trip to Poland

After discussion between the three of us looking at various potential destinations for today, John declared an ‘out and return’ to Kraków, circa 150 km in total.
Wave clouds (Mike Sloggett)
After a very pleasant drive to the North East, John, Vicky and I spent a good few hours in Kraków including a visit to the Christmas market in the main square.
Day out (Mike Sloggett)
And then it was back to the Hotel for our final evening and to plan for the first day of our return journey tomorrow - with an eventual plan to cover around 500/550 miles of the journey through Poland and on into Germany, leaving us with around 350 miles to travel to Dunkirk on Thursday. - Mike Sloggett

Day 4 - Road Trip to Poland

We started the day by returning to the workshop at Zar Airfield to handover the K21 and related paperwork and then we were shown around all the various departments of the workshop - at every turn and corner more and more gliders were being worked on in various stages of refurbishing and in some cases major repairs. And that did not include our visit to other buildings down the road where even more gliders were in storage, either awaiting collection or to be used for spares!

Having checked over the London Gliding Club trailer, into which was already loaded a shiny refurbished K21 ready for rerun to the UK, and ahead of us towing it back from Wednesday onwards we then considered our plan for the day. We had established that as with most gliding clubs we should have been at Zar Airfield on a previous day (Saturday) when there had been wave flights to several thousand metres, but with no wave on the forecast there was unlikely to be any gliding today.

So, with google maps out we found that the SZD factory, where the DSGC Perkoz is being built, is located around 25 miles to the North of where we are - therefore an easy decision to try and find that factory and to see how the new Club glider is getting along.
Momento from the visit? (Mike Sloggett)
Bearing in mind our unannounced and unplanned visit it was much appreciated that we were warmly welcomed by Andrzej the joint designer of the Perkoz, and General Manager - who then kindly gave us over an hour of his time, taking us to the main factory location a few kilometres down the road and showing us the process of building a glider from start to finish. 
Checking up on the build of our Perkoz (Mike Sloggett)
 And then we saw the DSGC glider which has had the main components built and is now awaiting the cockpit to be fitted out, after which the glider will be painted, test flown and then returned to the factory for final painting and finishing touches to be completed.
Ready for cockpit to be fitted out (Mike Sloggett)
As with the workshop at Zar Airfield the factory had numerous gliders either being built, being refurbished or being repaired - one having been sent across to Poland from the US!

We then visited Bielsko-Biała Aeroklub and found the gliding club there. We said “Hallo” (one of the easier Polish words to learn) to a local glider pilot and under a bright sunny sky, with evident wave clouds not that far from the airfield and with a good weather forecast for tomorrow, we asked whether there might be any gliding available. The local glider pilot said ‘No chance, we had such a good weekend......I was only on aerotow for a few minutes before I found the wave right above the airfield, and climbed to 6000 metres......”

Clearly John and I should have been there yesterday! - Mike Sloggett

Sunday 26th November

Myself and Sam Flory arrived nice and early at the club, expecting it to be busy. The weather was looking promising ahead of the forecast rain later in the afternoon with clear skies and even a little weak sunshine, although it was very cold! 
However, the club house was empty; possibly either due to the effects of the AGM the night before or just the chilly conditions. Not daunted we took the opportunity to discuss the spinning exercise Sam needed to complete. 

Soon after Peter Field the duty instructor arrived followed by John Sillett and new member Mark. With slowly increasing numbers by about 09:00 we had enough members to start getting the ground kit and gliders out. By around 10:00 we were prepping the field for flight. The  instructors were now outnumbering the trainees 3 to 1! 
Instructors hunting in packs for the elusive student (James Flory)
Flying started with Robert Lee towing myself and Sam to 3000ft for the planned spinning exercises. The air was crystal clear and as smooth as a mill pond, beautiful. Peter Field then took over and started on the very short training list with some good flights for Mark. 
Peter Field flying with Mark (James Flory)

By this stage the instructors were taking it turn to fly the Junior with the promise of the ridge working in the light westerly wind. Glenn Turpin was the first to try. Martin Woolner then followed and took the prize for the longest Junior flight at 19 mins, despite John Street’s best efforts to beat him. James Hood took a flight in the DG with Michael Harris, and John Street and Peter Warren took R37 up to explore the conditions on the ridge. 

By this stage both motor gliders were active and for a while we had three gliders the tug and two Falkes airborne. John Sillett was able to complete the scheduled mile high trial lesson and Tim Petty took on his new role as membership secretary to good effect showing a prospective new member around who had visited during the open weekend. Flying continued into the afternoon until everyone who wanted to fly had and the approaching rain began to be felt. A cold day but a great opportunity to stay current and enjoy some very pleasant flying; soon be time to invest in the Treasurers winter offer! Thanks to all those who helped and ensured that we all flew. - James Flory

Day 3 - Road Trip to Poland

When we left our overnight hotel in Erfurt in central Germany we were pleased to see that John’s Discovery and the K21 trailer were just where we left them late last night.
Just where we left it (Mike Sloggett)
A quick stop for coffee and croissants, as well as another tank full of diesel, and we were soon on our way to Poland, our end destination still some 450 miles away. As with yesterday John and Mike took turns with driving and navigating and again kilometre by kilometre the journey continued on through Germany and into Poland.

And by mid evening we were very close to Zar Airfield - it was now a question of finding it! Despite our mistrust of the satnav which was encouraging us to drive into a destination half way up the side of a rather large mountain the sight of various glider trailers confirmed we had found what we were looking for. With the K21 trailer unhitched and secured for the night, the next destination was our hotel for the next few nights.
Zar airfield half way up the mountain (Mike Sloggett)
Just a few miles down the road from Zar Airfield we had a very pleasant evening meal in the hotel with some local beers and wine refreshing us suitably from the last couple of days’ journey. - Mike Sloggett

Saturday 25th November

A cold and  bright start with a light north westerly breeze. There was a goodly gathering to fly, unfortunately gliders were less plentiful with KEK on the way to Poland and HCX still in the workshop, restricting us to the DG505 and K13 for 2 seater flying. Simon Minson stepped in to help tackle the list in R37.Meanwhile Pete Harmer and some of the Juniors (and Dads) rigged K6 DRE. Eliie Carter had two more flights in K6 whilst Simon checked out Charlie Stuckey in the K13, before Charlie converted to the K6 and also enjoyed a good ridge flight.
Charlie Stuckey converts to K6 (Pete Harmer)
Meanwhile after a couple of flights in the DG505, David Woodward was cleared for his first flight in a Junior and enjoyed another before the end of the day. 
David Woodward converts to Junior (Peter Smith)
Andy Davey renewed acquaintance with the 505 with 2 extended flights along the ridge. Richard Roberts did similarly as did David Buss but from an aerotow to catch up on lost time in recent months. Thermals developed during the afternoon providing more interest in the slightly brisker winds and some cloud and shower dodging provided added interest. Junior LRD did a total of 6 flights and all reported favourably following its recent refurbishment.
Interesting cloud formation near Uffculme off aerotow with David Buss(Peter Smith)
JB had a long flight in the Junior and won the prize for finding the strongest sink behind a passing cloud. James Flory took over for the afternoon in the back seat of R37 but despite our best endeavours we couldn’t complete the list when rapidly dropping temperatures and a blinding low sun brought flying to a slightly premature close. 
Lovely November day in East Devon - crisp and cold (Peter Smith)
27 flights with 4 gliders made it another case of making the most of a short day though so well done and thank you to all who helped.- Peter Smith

Day 2 - The Road Trip to Poland 

It was an uneventful crossing to Caen in what was a calm sea, albeit with the dulcet tones of the wake up call in the cabins at 4:45am making for a short night of sleep. When the car and trailer were driven into the ferry garage last evening we had noticed that we were at the front of the ferry and this meant that we were first vehicle off allowing us a “clean start” to the next leg of our road trip.

With Mike driving and reminding himself ‘on the right in the right’ and with John and Vicky navigating us out of Caen and on to the main roads of France we headed for North East France. And so our road trip continued for kilometre after kilometre after kilometre, to the North of Paris and into Belgium, and then into Germany with John and Mike switching driving and navigating responsibilities during the day and with Vicky helping Mike and John with the navigating.

Late afternoon it was decided to make the most of the good weather conditions and ‘push on’ to Erfurt for an overnight stay, completing just over 750 miles of the outward journey to Poland from Caen today, and leaving around 450 miles for the rest of the outward journey tomorrow - all being well enabling us to get to Zar Airfield at a reasonable time tomorrow afternoon. - Mike Sloggett 

Annual General Meeting

There was a good turnout of 71 members for the AGM, which started at 18:00hrs with the customary welcome from the Chairman Lisa Humphries who is stepping down after a stint of 5 years at the helm. - Thanks Lisa.

The proceedings continued with Jill Harmer presenting the Treasurers Financial and membership report  whilst Tom is enjoying himself in New Zealand, followed by Stuart Procter giving his first CFI report. The new Management Committee were elected with Nick Jones stepping up to Chairman, and Peter Smith becoming Vice-Chairman, the remaining Committee members were re-elected. 

There were the usual discussions and voting around the AGM motions and then it was time for the Trophies for the year to be awarded. (More details will be on the website.) Congratulations to all. 
Some of the trophy winners with DSGC President Dave Minson (Robert Lee)
The gathering was concluded by another lovely meal from North Hill cafe for 37 members. Thanks to Cheryl and Graham. - J&P

Day 1 of the road trip to Poland

With passports checked for the umpteenth time, and with the trailer securely attached to John Borland’s Discovery, mid-morning John, Vicky and myself set off on our road trip taking a K21 glider (KEK) to Poland for a full refurbishment and other related work.

We had been asked by Tim Dews at Airborne Composites to take some glider parts to Poland with us so that was our first destination.With various interesting gliders and aircraft on site at Airborne Composites it would have been easy to talk with Tim and look around the workshop for the rest of the day but with a suitable schedule to work to by early afternoon we were back on the road heading to Portsmouth ahead of checking in for the night ferry sailing to Caen.
Waiting to board (Mike Sloggett)
No surprise that in the ferry port car park the trailer, and more specifically it’s contents, saw some interest from fellow travellers. - Mike

Thursday 23rd November - bright 'n breezy

Bright and breezy from the off the conditions were forecast for the wind to increase with associated gusts around lunchtime so bit of a blue card day. We had a WSW wind of 20kts gusting 30 which abated to around 12-15kts as the afternoon wore on with just one or two rogue showers thrown in. Despite this it was actually soarable in very broken thermals which allowed for most of the 15 flights to extend their air time. Pete Startup hogged the air for an hour over lunchtime in FZF (longest flight of the day) and was heard muttering "Should've rigged blah, blah, blah".
Soarable - broken thermals -possible wave rotor (Peter Smith)

All available gliders were out today including LRD which was rigged and flown by Pete Harmer.
LRD back online (Dave Clements)

Andy Davey enjoyed some stalling and spinning fun with Woolly on the only aerotow of the day.
Great sky and good visibility (Mike Sloggett)
Mitch did some more work on HCX to get it back in service asap and Pete Smith galvanised a team of drain warriors to clean out the guttering in front of the hangar.
A long while since KEK has been in the trailer (Mike Horwood)
 Finally KEK was cleaned inside and out then de-rigged for the long haul to Poland tomorrow - best wishes to Mike and John for the trip ahead.- Pete Startup

Sunday 19th November

A better day for visibility and cloudbase today, with just a veil of high cloud initially and a very light westerly wind. 

Simon Minson got stuck in to the flying list, and with help from James Flory, John Sillett, John Street and JB, all the available gliders were in use all day. Everyone was making the most of the last day with two K21s available before the planned trip to Poland with KEK. 
Congratulations to Ross Pratt - First solo (JB)
Congratulations to Ross Pratt, who got is spinning exercises completed in K13 and then had a few more simulated launch failures  before flying his first solo. Ellie Carter was also pleased to fly her first solo aerotow. 
Ellie Carter - solo aerotow (Fiona Bennett)
But it wasn't all Junior members today, Roly Clarke completed his first Nav flight with Ian Mitchell in Rotax Falke, and Paul Summers entertained all the Trial lesson visitors today. 43 flights in total today - thanks to everyone, great teamwork - J&P

Saturday 18th November

Starting out with a deceiving cloud base, the instructors guessed its height, this admittedly came to be a bit of a shock as our 'seven thousand feet cloud' turned out to be 700 feet on the first launch. Off to a good start and with most of us up there today being Devon lads we decided to make the most of the opportunity and get into gear. Albeit without the aerotows for the spin checks that I was looking forward too.
Many simulated launch failures later and having been to Antarctic and back (it was a bit cold!) we all decided to go in for lunch hoping that the nice sunny big wide gap in the cloud, upwind of us would drift over North Hill, clearing the skies. “You may have said to yourself that this would had been too much to ask!” Well...that’s right of course! So having been motivated by my nice warm ham, egg and chips it was time to get back out and get every last bit of flying.
Just a little murky at cloudbase (Ross Pratt)
A few icy hours later and I find myself soaring the ridge with John Pursey at cloudbas e-  which was an experience in itself. However picking up some lift in front of the west ridge we pushed out, finding a small, sunny spot between the gloom, where the cloud lifted and thinned. I saw BLUE, blue sky and sun, so this was where it was all happening!  1700 hours comes and the sun is setting so its probably a good idea to go in to circuit and think about going down. But now it’s warmer???? Just 18 launches today, but our longest flight was 58 minutes - Ross Pratt

Thursday 16th November

The sun was out early, but the grass was rather damp, and there was a light westerly wind and the usual Thursday regulars. By the time the launchpoint was set up, some of that orographic cloud was developing on the west ridge, although it was perfectly clear to the south.

There were a few exploratory launches finding cloudbase at 950ft at times, but the orographic was fairly thin and tending to form in streets. The K13 and one of the K21s was on the solo list with the Junior, whilst training continued in a K21 and DG505.

The forecast was going for a band of rain on a cold front reaching North Hill by 14:00 so there was a plan to fly for as long as possible. Reports from those flying were that there was no sign of the rain upwind, but the rainfall radar display was still convinced. 
Dark clouds gathering (Mike Sloggett)
For a short time, while the front caused the wind to veer, the ridge started to work and Geoff Lawrence managed the longest flight of the day in the Junior of 17 minutes. Tom Sides tried out a few back seat flights with Ron, and Hans Jenssen was signed off for winch driving.
For a time it started to look a bit wavy (Jill Harmer)

The rain suddenly arrived and it was a push back to the hangar after 32 launches.

Well done to Chris Warnes who successfully passed his Bronze exam. Just after dark the Junior LRD arrived back from Tim Dews, thanks to Robert Lee for collecting it. - J&P

Sunday 12th November

After Saturday's washout, at the start of Sunday the Instructors in the Clubhouse outnumbered all the other members present and with a fresh Northerly wind, albeit against a bright blue sky, there was suitable pause for thought re the potential benefit in the gliders and ground equipment being taken out on to the airfield.
As a few more members arrived, and with several layers of clothing being put on, fortified by teas, coffees and in some cases breakfast, the decision was made to get both K21s out of the hangar with the winch being put in the North West corner of the airfield.
However as the gliders were being walked up to the launchpoint it became increasingly evident that the wind was continuing to freshen and in particular that the gusts were becoming 'sharper and stronger'.
A rather gusty crosswind (Mike Sloggett)
And no sooner had the gliders been parked then the next decision was to put everything away.
Models and chit chat (Mark Courtney)
With a return to the Clubhouse completed just before some rain arrived, and with the wind "blowing" in and amongst the rafters, it was agreed all round that the right decision had been made - as ever much better to say 'It would have been nice to have flown" rather than "It would have been better not to have flown". - Mike Sloggett

Thursday 9th November

It was a foggy start with the hope of an afternoon clearance, but sadly the 'North Hill effect' continued for most of the day, with bursts of heavy drizzle.
No sign of the Beech trees

We watched a few time-lapse cloudscape sequences, a recent flight trace from low-level Snowdonia,  and looked at the new Junior Flight Manual. Peter Smith and Dave Clements tidied up around the water pump room and Mike Sloggett and John Borland were preparing the K21 trailer for its trip to Poland. - J&P

Wednesday 8th November

Another bright sunny day at North Hill but a bit on the cold side, we had quite a long flying list so the two K21s, the DG 505 and a Junior were quickly set up at the launch point,  the wind was Northerly and forecast to back to a more Westerly direction later in the day. In the fairly brisk Northerly and sometimes having a little bit of East in it, the launches were subsequently not much above 1,000ft, but it was good practice for crosswind take- offs and landings.
Last flight of the day (John Street)
There was only one trial lesson that nearly beat the tug down from 2,000ft, Andy one of our country members and also a member from Brentor joined us today and after the usual checks had a couple of solo flights.
Sunset over the Exe (John Street)
Nick Harrison had the longest soaring flight in the Junior of 17min in some late weak thermal in the afternoon. It was a pleasant day if a little cold and the green one piece overalls made their first appearance this Autumn worn by the less hardy members! - John Street.

Sunday 5th November

Sunday was a surprisingly busy day considering we were dashing in and out of rain. Which made for some varied cross wind flying, from calm blue skies to turbulent 8 knot thermals in the drizzle which was a bit of a “WOW” moment as I ran out of elevator control, being throw around only to fall into a 8knot down, almost immediately. 
Sun setting at North Hill (Ross Pratt)

All in all it was a good day providing some exciting, but useful learning for someone at my stage of flying. - Ross Pratt

Saturday 4th November

With a fresh northwesterly wind after the overnight cold front clearance, the ridge was working, albeit a touch gusty with thermals going through. A good start was made with the flying list and 4 private owners were rigging. There was a short break for a rain shower just before lunch and another just after lunch, but flying was slotted in around the weather, in the clear skies.

There were also 3 Trial lesson visitors and some Family and friends flights,  and more than 30 flights in total, but John Pursey made the most of the day..... J&P

JP in HOG exploring the sky (JP)

"Sometimes things go wrong for a reason and today the LAK’s refusal to hold on to the winch launch beyond up slack led to an aerotow which put JP up near the base of the clouds. Having sat out the rain sitting in the cockpit on the ground, wet wings and a grey sky didn’t bode well but with the lower parts of the clouds near 2000ft the 3000ft tow allowed exploration of the edges of the cloud  which proved to be most energetic. Circling alongside a wall of cloud an amazing 3-6 kts to 5000ft was only stopped by an upper cloud layer. The cloud appeared to be streeting but with convergence characteristics allowing the old 'half in-half out' turns to maintain a 1000+ feet above cloud base for an hour. Getting more into the cloud mix, lower down, the extreme violence of the lift (and sink) started to shout wave and the next 2 hours were spent chasing all the known NW wave entry points but to no avail. As the day slowed, a return to the hill and 20mins maintaining 1100ft above the under used Hembury ridge was icing on on the cake. November it maybe but still the Devon sky has energy and the power to entertain" -JP

Thursday 2nd November

We were expecting a foggy start but North Hill was sticking out the top in glorious sunshine, calm wind with just some cirrus clouds. The grass was very wet from the overnight moisture. The light wind was forecast to start from the north west and then veer during the day to easterly, so we were expecting an end change at lunchtime.
Ready for the first launch (Dave Clements)
The two-seat and single seat lists got going quickly, but in the very light wind, the launches were not that high and most had short circuits. Throughout the morning some low-level cumulus started to appear but with no useful lift, and the cumulus were seen to be moving westwards with an increasing wind shear at 500ft.
Changing ends completed (Mark Layton)
Just as we were considering lunch, the light surface wind swung round and a lunch-time end change was perfected. Following a short break, flying resumed at the west end, but within an hour a thick patch of cirrus covered the sun, and a chill in the air was apparent. The moisture in the grass almost instantly settled on all the gliders and so at 15:15 everything had to be walked back to the hangar with dripping wet gliders and canopies.

Gordon Bonny in K13 and James Smart in Junior shared the longest flight award for 7 minutes. Chris Woodward resoled after a couple of years, and son Dave Woodward who has recently joined us from Yeovilton  was cleared solo and flew K21, but unfortunately missed out on a planned Junior flight. We welcomed Alistair Worsley who has moved to Exeter from Cheltenham having flown some training flights at Nympsfield.

Unfortunately some missed out on flights due to the early finish. 25 flights in total. - J&P

Wednesday 1st November

Another sunny Wednesday, the wind was Southeasterly, so it was up to the Northwest corner with the two K21s, the Junior and the DG505.
Robert about to fly DG505 (John Street)
All went well until the wind went round to show a little bit of Westerly so we changed ends after we had flown all the gliders to the N/E take off point and stopped for lunch.
Warm or cold for 1st November? (John Street)
In the afternoon the nice weather continued and we flew until everyone had flown that wanted to a total of 28 launches.
William doing some engine runs (John Street)
Peter Smith demolished the old upper water pump house. Nick and JB were making an access track behind the lower glider trailer park leading to a posh new shed. - John Street.