North Hill Nomads do Denbigh on New Years Eve (30/31December)

At the start of the Christmas Holiday’s I thought with nearly 2 weeks off there must have been an opportunity to get some good end of year flying in but the forecast thought otherwise! So with only a handful of days left of 2017 the email from Chris Gill suggesting a string of WSW’s and nice weather at Denbigh was all it took for a small group of NHL Nomads to make the journey to North Wales.
For those who haven’t been, or even those who have, Denbigh has been under new management this year and now has a decent shower block, bunkrooms or posh pods for those impromptu trips away. Situated in the lee of Snowdonia, Denbigh has a magic weather system which provides fantastic wave and also tends to keep the rain at bay whilst the rest of the Wales and the Southwest seem to be in torrential downpour! 
There were several gliders there ranging from an Astir to an Arcus M, with individuals from Camphill, Bicester, Essex and Suffolk, Nympsfield and Seighford. The evening pub trips with new friends resulted in much banter. 
Pete Bennett heading towards the sea along the ridge
Denbigh delivered on both days with great ridge and wave flying, Pete Startup (230) topping out at 10.5k due to lack of O2 but managed a trip over the sea on day 2, Matthew W (611) topping out at 12.5k and pressing on towards a snow capped Snowdonia and Pete Bennett flying with Chris Gill in the clubs DG1000M for his first sample of Denbigh conditions, sampling both the ridge run and the wave to 10,000' - I think he liked it! The ridge was working well both days and fast low down, but as always there it was rough!
And climbing in wave
   An amazing way to spend the last couple days of 2017 with great friends and great flying. - Matt Williamson

Thursday 28th December

With the weather of the last few weeks limiting Club flying it was no surprise that with a sunny and bright day with light westerly wind anticipated today, the flying list was quite long with members looking to make the most of the positive forecast and retain/regain flying currency.

The K21, DG505, K13 and both Juniors were soon being brought out of the hangar whilst the winch was taken to the North West corner of the airfield - with some concern that the field might ‘cut up’ once the overnight frost had disappeared, the Pawnee was also readied for use.
Interesting cloudscape (Mark Courtney)
And then with launching ready to start from the South East corner of the airfield it was evident that the glider wings were ‘icing up’ with the canopies also misting - and so under a brightening sky it was a question of being patient, waiting for the sun to break through the upper cloud...
Interesting fieldscape showing the northerly slope on North Hill still frozen at lunchtime (Lisa Humphries)
Eventually late morning, everyone’s patience was rewarded with a decision made to start flying using both winch and aerotow launches.

With an expectation that later in the day there would be similar problems as the start of the day, a decision was made to go through the flying list once to ensure that everyone could get into the air for one flight at least, with various instructors also looking to maintain their flying currency after several non flyable days due to poor weather.

A number of members took advantage of the “Winter Refresher Package” aerotow element during the day.
Ellie Carter after her 3000ft aerotow (Neil Carter)
As predicted mid-afternoon the glider wings started to ice up again so with the flying list completed, a decision was made to put all the toys away.
Wings icing up again (David Clements)
Taking advantage of the sunny skies, James Hood and then James / Sam Flory flew Rotax Falke, and Carl Tharme/David Cottingham and then Stu Procter/Lisa Humphries flew VG.

A good day all round, thank you to everyone for the teamwork to get others into the air today. - 15 winch launches and 6 aerotows - Mike Sloggett

Thursday 21st December

Another foggy, drizzly day at North Hill, saw the Thursday regulars gather for more words of wisdom. So after a bit of tea-drinking, and general chat, it was off to the Simulator to see how well the refurbishing has progressed and provide some feedback to Kris Pratt.

Reuben Buss, John Alcroft, Rob Rand, Dave Clements, John Borland and Geoff Lawrence had a go soaring in a Discus from 5000ft over North Hill to Merryfield and back, - pity we don't get 6 knot thermals to 5000ft very often in Devon.

Well done to Andy Davey for successfully completing  his Bronze exam. - J&P

Saturday 16th December

The day started slowly, as most people arrived at 9:00 with a few (Alan Turner) who got all the ground kit out ready for a good day of ridge running. 
North Hill Airfield looking serene with a winter sky........ (Simon Leeson)
Martin Woolner opened the hanger eager to fly; even whispering about rigging his own glider. The flying list continued to grow throughout the morning as the launch point was set up and a few circuits of minimal sink were enjoyed in the K21, DG 505, Junior and K6, while the other Junior was thrown around for a very brief while off an aerotow. 
....and long shadows (Simon Leeson)

A Mile High trial lesson was completed and all the members of the extended family were very positive about the experience. 
As the morning was ending the ridge started bubbling and allowed those both skilful and redcard holding pilots to stay up. 
Lisa spent the morning driving retrieve (Lisa Humphries)

The longest flight being Pete Startup in the Junior with an hour… (should have rigged 230). Oscar Leeson and Reuben Buss making the most of soaring the K6 on the ridge, and Ross Pratt with his first solo ridge running in the K21.
K6 keeping the Juniors happy (Simon Leeson)

Unfortunately, the calm, sunny weather didn’t last, with brief rain showers from 2:00pm, resulted in packing all the gliders away around 3:00pm. 

A great day for all who flew with 32 flights in total - 28 winch launches and 4 aerotows - Reuben Buss

Thursday 14th December

Another day with rain showers rushing through preventing flying. There were requests for field selection briefings from the Thursday Regulars, and the BGA presentation  on field selection was viewed and discussed. Peter Smith checked out his prototype new parachute cupboard. Aston Key went through the BI 'Meet and Greet' with Mark Courtney. 
Getting the hang of the A109 (Rick Andrews)
Wyn in the Apache (Rick Andrews)
Flying in Snowdonia (Rick Andrews)
In the evening, a group of 15 members enjoyed flying the helicopter simulators at SFS - Selective Fidelity Simulation with Ross Pratt and Dad Kris. - J&P

Saturday 9th December

The day before the storm was calm, cloudy and cold, and Junior members Reuben, Josh and Ellie were keen to get some more solos in the K6 DRE, while Ross was consolidating his recent solo in K21. Alan Turner hogged the Junior, and DG505 was used for mutual flying and a Spanish visitor. 
Tuggie Pete Harmer from DG505 (Lisa Humphries)
New quarterly members Harry and Mike Rigby arrived and decided to get some extra sticktime by having aerotows.  
Ellie in her 64year old friend (Neil Carter)
Well done to Ellie who completed her 50th solo flight just over 1 year from her first. -  A perfect winter's day for early solo flying -27 flights in total.  Thanks to Cheryl for decorating the Christmas tree and making the Clubhouse look festive- J&P

Wednesday 6th December

After a slow start due to low cloud and the warm comfort of the clubhouse and after much persuading, we eventually managed to extradite the Wednesday crew after convincing them the wisdom of getting the gliders out of the hangar.
Low cloud delayed the start (John Street)
 The conditions at first seemed quite benign but as the day progressed things became quite lively, the three launches before lunch all found good lift on the South ridge.
Discussions with new Chairman Nick presiding (John Street)
After an early lunch due to some light rain, the afternoon started with low cloud once again, as luck would have it the cloud lifted enough to work the South ridge and all the flights were in the region of 30min, all who wanted fly flew and flying stopped at dusk. Unfortunately the conditions precluded flying today's Trial flight. - John Street.

Sunday 3rd December

Not many members at the club today. Low and dark clouds at first but with indications that it may brighten up. Pete Stapleton arrived from Newquay in his Cessna to do his Tug Duty so it only seemed right that Ron decided it was aerotow only.

A moderate north wind produced rotor low down on the ridge but this gave way to smoother air above. Dave Cowley and Ron Johns took the first launch and released north of Blackborough. Andrew Logan took advantage of the day in FZF for a pleasant aerotow (unfortunately not high enough to qualify for the special winter refresher package. He released  further north abeam Uffculme and stayed for a time in wave. The K21 returning to base, Andrew would have liked to stay for longer enjoying the skyscape above the clouds but the hole started to fill in.
Andrew Logan in the Junior enjoying a wave slot.(Andrew Logan)
There were two other flights but the deteriorating weather meant that everything was put away in time for lunch. - Andrew Logan

Saturday 2nd December

After the clear blue skies of the last few days Saturday dawned rather grey; typical it’s always nicer when you’re at work!  But on the bright side the temperature was a little, just a little warmer and the wind was a light west north westerly. The hanger was soon unpacked and the ground equipment made ready. 
By the time we were ready to fly we had an impressive 5 gliders on the flight line; DG505, K21, K13, Junior and K6. Martin Woolner as Duty Instructor then took on the challenge of working out who was doing what in what glider. After a little discussion a cunning plan was soon put into place and flying began. 
Martin started with Josh Funnell in the K13. Josh was keen to solo this so that he could covert into the junior member's K6. Our CFI Stu Procter took the DG505 with one of our new Junior members Jack Raybould and James Flory took the K21 with David Buss. 
Mollie helps out as Duty Launch Marshall (Lisa Humphries)
The cloud base was initially low around 1100 feet due to the orographic effect of the ridge, but soon lifted to around 2000 feet and then higher as the day progressed. It’s fair to say there was little opportunity for soaring flight, but the conditions made the flying silky smooth and provided the ideal conditions for type conversion.
Josh was soon solo in the K13 executing some very nice landings, before moving across to solo in the K6. Meanwhile Ellie Carter was driving the winch and providing some equally silky smooth launches. Simon Leeson flew the only trial lesson flight of the day with James Hood providing the motive power in the tug. 
Junior members kept the K6 busy (Neil Carter)
Flying continued through the day without a lunch break with (amongst others) Ross Pratt adding some more solos in K21, Dave Woodward and Allan Turner flying the Junior and Josh, Charlie Stuckey, Oscar Leeson and Ellie flying the K6 under the watchful eye of Pete Harmer.  Reuben Buss finished his currency flying with Martin in the K13 and soon re-joined the the K6 flying gang; a popular aircraft - the K6, it's great to see our junior members being able to enjoy flying it. 
Late afternoon aerotow James and Lisa (James Flory)
As the day began to draw in James Flory and Lisa Humphries had a pleasant aerotow in the DG505, followed by Mike Willmott with Rowan Smith, the afternoon duty instructor having the last aerotow in the K21. Karen King and Rowan then had the last winch launch in the K21 around 16:00. 
Overall a really good day with all members flying. Congratulations to Josh for soloing in the K6 and to Reuben for re-soloing in it. Just goes to show winter days may not offer long flights, but they do offer a great opportunity to try something new and to stay current. 38 flights in total (10 in K6 DRE)  - James Flory

Day 8 - O/R to Poland

With the weather looking reasonable if not spectacular, John and I helped the local members get various gliders out of the LGC hangar in optimism of some gliding taking place.

The forecast suggested that low cloud might be an issue but as the launch point was set up for winch launching the skies got lighter and lighter with soon a high enough cloud base for aerotows to also be planned.
John Borland adds Dunstable to his site list (Mike Sloggett)
John was first on the flying list and after a briefing on various aspects of the site and local area John was soon being winched airborne with an LGC instructor.
Time to head home (Mike Sloggett)
After being shown the 'Lion enclosure', fortunately from the air, it was soon time for John to get back into circuit and have the fun of landing into the Dunstable dip which he did perfectly. And then we decided it was time to head home  to the South West. - Mike Sloggett

And a big thank you from DSGC to Mike, John and Vicky for their epic road trip - which we have all enjoyed hearing about.

Brrr - p-p-parham & p-p-poland


Some of the North Hill Nomads in the shape of 230 Pete, SM Simon, W7 Wyn, 611 Matt and DD3 with Phil, Nick, JB and Pete Smith decided that Parham looked the place to be today with a brisk Northerly wind forecast so some of us travelled down last night and stayed locally, some made a crack of dawn start and drove down in the morning.
Parham grid (Simon Minson)

The day didn't start well - it was freezing cold and we rigged with low cloud and spits of icy drizzle mixed in but with the promise of improving conditions we carried on regardless (a bit like the Captain of the Titanic!). First launch 09:00 sharp - 800 foot aerotows.
Great pic of the South Downs (Simon Minson)
Ditchling Beacon looking South(W7 Wyn)

The ridge was working from end to end from the word go and just got better as the day went on with gin clear viz and even the odd thermal - even the normally testing gaps were easy to cross today. We completed tasks of around 350km + the extra 60-ish kms to get to/from the start and finish points for flights of over 400kms. DD3 did several trips along the ridge with a couple of crew swaps along the way. - Pete Startup

Day 7 of the Out and Return to Poland

With our ferry back to the UK not until early afternoon John, Vicky and I decided to leave the LGC K21 trailer in the hotel car park (suitably wheel clamped as John has become very accomplished at doing over the last week or so) and go into Dunkirk for a walk around this historic town. No surprise that there are numerous reminders of the events of 1940 on every street.
Walk around Dunkirk (Mike Sloggett)
Then it was back to the hotel to collect the K21 trailer and head to the ferry terminal.
Farewell to Europe (Mike Sloggett)
After a pleasant journey back to the UK across the Channel we were soon off the ferry mid-afternoon and wending our way around the M25 to the London Gliding Club at Dunstable - several hours later, and with only one delay of any note due to an accident further up the motorway, we arrived at Dunstable early evening.

And so ended our road trip driving to Poland and back, taking DSGC K21 KEK and bringing LGC K21 FYF back - over 2000 miles across five different countries, a journey which had not been started this time last week!

John, Vicky and I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to complete this journey - a great experience full of many memories!

Thank You to all the readers of our journey blog(s). - Mike Sloggett

Thursday 30th November

It was hoped that the showery convergence originating in the Irish Sea would stay to the west of North Hill, but the High pressure had just moved slightly and there was quite a lot of unusable cloud. The wind was northerly and once again the solo flying list had to be limited to the more experienced pilots. The list for training and check flights progressed with Tuggie Mark helping out Pete and Peter with the 3 two-seaters available. (Thanks to Ian for completing the Annual and the Wednesday crew for rigging HCX).

Stopped  for lunch for everyone to warm up (Dave Clements)
For about an hour, there was an opportunity for some extended flights with Nigel Everett in LRD managing the longest flight of 18mins using the North ridge and managing to get back.
After lunch, there was more of the same with a short hail shower just before the cloud disappeared back to the west. Unfortunately the wind conditions got worse, the crosswind picked up and increased gusts made an easy decision to pack up early, sorry a few missed out on flying.
Clear skies eventually (Jill Harmer)

In the evening, there was news that some of the expedition to Parham had arrived and made it to the pub - hoping for a good day on the South Downs tomorrow.
The advance party (Matt Williamson)

Day 7 - Road Trip to Poland and back

After a long day yesterday we allowed ourselves a slightly later start this morning and over breakfast in the hotel we looked at the various routes to Dunkirk.

Snow on most routes (Mike Sloggett)
The routes were all very similar in terms of distance and travel time so we decided that we would add Holland to the ‘countries visited’ list and planned our route accordingly - snow of varying degrees was being forecast for various parts of West Europe and we were aware that the UK was forecast to have snow down the East coast which might well make it across to Europe.

A light snow shower had started as we left the Hotel car park and for the first 150 miles or so we drove through countryside where snow had either happened already or was steadily falling as we drove along the autobahns of Germany.

Still going (Mike Sloggett)

We continued our journey steadily but surely through Germany into Holland, Belgium and finally France with the kilometres travelled increasing all the time - by the time we arrived in Dunkirk late evening the distance driven to date from North Hill to Poland and back is just over 2100 miles, across five different European countries!

And tomorrow we catch the ferry back to the UK early afternoon heading for London Gliding Club at Dunstable to return their now shiny K21. - Mike Sloggett

Wednesday 29th November

It was certainly a day to get wrapped up against the elements, the wind was a strengthening Northerly and with an overnight frost, the resulting wind chill factor made it quite bracing to say the least!
Interesting cloud formations (John Street)
 The DG505 the K13 and a Junior were soon at the launch point a couple of launches later with poor height achieved we decided to look at launching from the Southwest corner. As so often with a strong Northerly it is difficult to judge which end to fly from. It seemed whilst standing in the Southwest corner there was an advantage to fly from this end with a slight Easterly in it,-- so the gliders were flown up to that launch point.
The launches and landings were quite interesting in the gusty conditions, one practice launch failure was especially interesting as the cable was reluctant to release from the K13!
There were no trial lessons today and most of the flights were short except for Roly's epic 19min on the North ridge -  it seems obvious this white gloves gave him a distinct advantage over the rest of us.
A team was busy rigging K21 HCX after its Annual (thanks Ian) and it will be ready for flying on Thursday. - John Street.

Day 6 - Road trip to Poland

So, having enjoyed our stay in Poland it was a question of an early alarm call today ahead of going up to the workshop at Zar Airfield to collect the London Gliding Club trailer and related paperwork for their K21. In leaving the hotel we discovered that overnight snow had turned the area around the hotel into a winter wonderland.... 
Zar airfield looking different after the snow (Mike Sloggett)
At the workshop we had an opportunity to see a K21 from Holland which has had a week of the existing paint being taken off entirely by hand ahead of the next stages of the refurbishing including repainting of the glider top to bottom or should that be wing to wing...
Refinishing (Mike Sloggett)
And then it was time to leave - as the kilometres up into the centre of Poland went by it was evident that the overnight snow had been widespread but overall the driving conditions were good.
Driving conditions were good (Mike Sloggett)
Joining the A4 heading West the snowy countryside steadily turned green and our journey out of Poland continued, well on into Germany and with around 490 miles of driving completed between John and Mike we decided to stay overnight at Eisenach leaving us with just over 400 miles to Dunkirk to travel on Thursday ahead of our ferry crossing just after lunch on Friday. - Mike Sloggett