Thurs 27th December

A lovely winter's day in Twixmas, but the Thursday Regulars were missing - either still with the relatives, in far-flung places or at the Sales!
Stunning skies (Mark Courtney)
But there were plenty of Instructors keen to take to the air and a sprinkling of members. There had been a touch of frost overnight, and the field was just a tad sticky with mud, so it was decided to leave the winch parked up and aerotow only. 
Fog in the valleys (Mike Sloggett)
The fog in the Exe estuary, the Crediton valley and to the East of the Blackdowns persisted all day, but North Hill was resplendent in the sunshine.
North Hill in the sunshine (Lisa Humphries)
The Tug Pilots took turns until James Flory decided it was a perfect day for his first aerotow  and then we couldn't get him out of the Pawnee- welcome to the DSGC Tuggie team!
Raif's first flight in a glider (James Hood)
The Chairman's grandson Raif enjoyed his first flight  in a glider, spotting his house, granddad's works and the kart track at Dunks.

Late in the day, a young solo pilot from Lasham Ollie, on holiday in Devon saw a glider flying and turned up to fly.
Clear blue skies (Stu Procter)
15 aerotows and  both Falkes were going round. - Thanks to everyone for a really nice day out. - J&P

Sat 22nd December

An early field inspection suggested the possibility of winch launching but low and orographic cloud  was a worry. This though, was slightly academic given the lack of potential flyers. Slowly the numbers grew until we had enough to aerotow and then by 10ish to winch launch. A second trip to the west end confirmed that we could set up with the winch on the north side of the field and with the launch point moved more into the field than we usually do to create a cable retrieve run along the centre of the field, which fortunately was straight into wind.  So the K21s and Junior LRD were readied for flight and the order of the day was again to land short and avoid wheel brakes unless essential.
The sky opened up (Peter Smith)
The first flights were close to cloudbase but the sky soon opened and launch heights improved.  It was then possible to achieve extended flights with elements of ridge lift and some lift we thought related to the passing clouds.  The flying list grew so we set our sights on 2 flights each to have the best chance of everyone flying.
Pete Startup  (Lisa Humphries)
  CFI Stu and James Flory also brought out NH2 to do a mutual currency check and then others took advantage of that as well.  We had a couple of short interruptions by light showers but kept flying until dusk approached with a total of 29 flights and over 9 hours in the air. By the time the gliders were washed and put to bed the light had gone. There were several flights around the half hour mark.
Stu and James in Perkoz (Stu Procter)
It was a good day with everyone helping and  working together to get the most out of it.
All the gliders were soaring (Lisa Humphries)
 Thanks to John Sillett for helping with the back seat work, also Martin Woolner, Glenn Turpin, and James Flory for stepping in as well. Most importantly though to all the club members who made it possible.  - Peter Smith

With the weather looking unlikely for any flying tomorrow, DSGC would like to wish all our members and followers a Merry Christmas, and we'll be looking for any hopeful days to fly over the holiday period (keep an eye on North Hill GG). - J&P

Thurs 20th December

As we left Plymouth in the dark, and drizzle, we lamented the lack of flying in recent weeks and potentially another day of no flying. So with a number of Club days having been unflyable in recent weeks due to poor weather of various aspects it was pleasantly surprising to arrive at the airfield under blue skies and a light South Westerly wind.
Blue skies to start (Mike Sloggett)
Rain showers were forecast for later in the morning but with members steadily arriving two by two it was clear that we needed to make the most of every available minute of flying time to get as many people in the air during the day and there was a suitable air of anticipation in and around the Clubhouse

An airfield ‘pitch inspection’ confirmed that as thought the overnight rain had drained away well but nevertheless with the rain of recent days,  aerotow launching only would be the plan
(Mark C, as Duty Tug Pilot, managing to keep his excitement at hearing such decision under control as he ran with a skip and a jump to the tug hangar and threw the doors open!)
Club gliders on the grid (Mike Sloggett)
With a number of currency flights needed (including Instructors) both K21s, the DG505 and the Perkoz were all brought out of the hangar and readied for the day’s flying with a Junior also made available for “current” solo pilots.

And then it was on with the day’s flying with a pre-flight briefing agreeing that activity would continue through lunch to make the most of the day and with members encouraged to land short by judgment, rather than using the glider wheelbrakes, so as to not damage the airfield too much.
Lunchtime storm  (Mark Courtney)
As it happened some rain showers worked their  way across the airfield around lunchtime so an ‘enforced’ break in flying was needed but early afternoon the gliders were again in continuous action. Throughout the day the weather moved through in phases, ranging from orographic cloud hanging around the circuit to nice blue skies and everything in between. 
A bright slot is on the way (Peter Smith)

Some flights were extended by convection under the clouds, and others by some wave in front of the clouds, but nothing spectacular except for the cloudscapes. 
Some gentle wave (Mike Sloggett)

Rob Hender enjoyed his "Amey Community Day", working at the launchpoint and on the simulator wiring, just fitting in a small cross-country triangle in the simulator at lunchtime.
Cloudscapes and rainbows (Mike Sloggett)
As the afternoon came to an end the flying list was not quite beaten, with just one member missing out due to a darkening sky of the next rain and cloud heading towards the airfield concurrently with the Pawnee needing it’s second refuel of the day (sorry Andrew!)

A nice early Christmas present for everyone else today in terms of some flying after a torrid run of poor weather - Thank You to everyone for the teamwork to get others into the air.. 18 flights in total. - Mike Sloggett

In the evening,  there was a DD3 / Eagle Christmas Party  with JP spending hours on the catering with the 'hangers-on' doing the washing up.
Washing up (Nick Jones)

Wed 19th December

Wednesday morning experienced a very reduced collection of Club members - no doubt discouraged by Tuesday's all day heavy rain and expecting the field to be too wet to fly on.
After a field inspection it was decided to fly aerotow only, we quickly readied a K21 and one of the Juniors, only to find the canopies would not demist, so it was off to the Clubhouse for refreshments.
The sun dries the canopies (John Street)
After about 30mins and a light shower the canopies managed to clear themselves, so we were ready to fly.
John Sillett.was first to fly and indeed the first Club member to fly this December from North Hill and everyone commented that it was good to get in the air again after the long lay off due to the adverse weather conditions, we managed 7 aerotows in very pleasant conditions.
Pete Warren and Robert Lee were tuggies today. - John Street

Sun 16th December

With the prospect of the possibility of some flying, after so many days of bad, we were a little surprised to see only the Duty Instructor (Pete Smith) at the club when we arrived from Plymouth at 8:45. A quick pitch inspection and the field was declared fit for flying! (North Hill has the amazing ability of draining quickly).

Simon Minson  RE was running a five-year refresher course for three of our Instructors in the lecture room but the rest unpacked the hangar for the first time for what seemed like months.
The tug was readied, batteries fitted into gliders, parachutes dusted off and the gliders DI’d, but alas the weather had other ideas, with the humidity at 98% the canopies refused to clear.

During the DI’s we found several “presents” left by one or more Xmas mice, it is thought that the odd sweet wrapper left in the cockpits had attracted our little friends.
If anyone would like to donate a cat to the club that would be great, (he will have to live in the hangar).

After the toys were reluctantly put to bed the Instructors were invited to sit in on the five-year refresher course. We watched some video clips on how “not to do that” and some videos on “how to do that”, discussion ensued, the “B” word never came up once!
Simon Minson leading the 5-year refresher (Mark Courtney)
Lunch temporarily interrupted the proceedings, and for an hour or so the club house was quite busy with everyone in a good pre-xmas mood, no doubt encouraged by the splendid decorations and tree, but with the notice on the table about max cockpit weight the mince pies were nowhere to be seen!

The instructors returned to their “den” and by the time they emerged there weren’t many members left. (Ed: There were still a few working in the Simulator Room, with the help of Test Pilot Daniel making some more tweaks to the system.)

I have asked Santa very nicely for some wonderful cold blue days in January, I even wrote a letter, AND I have been a good boy so let’s hope this big boy's dreams come true for all our sakes!
- Mark Courtney

Sat 1st December

After a day of rigging K21 HCX after Annual inspection - thanks all,  the new grasscutter annual maintenance - thanks to Peter Smith and the team - and some more Cross-country training in the Simulator, there was a crowded Clubhouse for the AGM.

There were the usual Management Committee Reports, Thanks to practically everyone and Voting for Committee posts and useful general discussions. Welcome to the new Committee for the first time - John Borland and George Sanderson.
2018 Trophy winners (Robert Lee)
Congratulations to all the members who achieved or surpassed their personal objectives this year, and special congratulations to all the Trophy winners. 

The AGM was followed by a super supper from Graham and Cheryl, North Hill Cafe, and Karen King organised a "Nick's raffle" in aid of the Samaritans. - J&P

Thurs 29th November

Its been a wet week and last night was quite wild, so the field was soggy and the strong southerly would have been a handful. A select group of Thursday regulars met up for tea and a chat.
Rob completing Club 100 (Jill Harmer)
Mike Horwood wanted to practice some spins in the simulator, and then Geoff Lawrence, Ray Dodd, John Borland, and Rob Rand all tried some local cross-country tasks with mentors Pete and Jill Harmer. We started off with some nice high cloud bases and plan to introduce more challenging conditions and competitive racing on the non-flying Thursdays over the winter. Rob took the prize today for a completed Club 100 Tiverton - Crewkerne. - J&P

Thur 22nd November

Wave or not to wave? - that was the question. Early on the bars to the west, out in the valley, (downwind) looked promising. The wind had picked up to a brisk easterly at the launchpoint, but the clouds were all moving with a strong southeasterly, so there was quite a shear. 
Juniors waiting patiently for the results of  the weather check (Jill Harmer)
The first flights were all quite short in patches of quite strong sink, and no-one dared to make a dash for the downwind bar. 

Eric Alston with the excuse of checking his vario in G29 took an aerotow and dropped back to the bar and found some lift, he managed to climb to 3000ft but broke off due to the very poor visibility. Pete Harmer and Ray Dodd in Perkoz aerotowed to a similar area and climbed a little in front of the lenticular but also opted out due to the visibility. 
Aerotowing to the wave (Mike Sloggett)

After lunch, it was clear  that misting canopies was becoming an issue as the moister air had pushed in from the south, so a combination of hangar flights and walking back was completed for an early finish. 

But by this time everyone had flown - 20 flights - J&P

Wed 21 November

Wednesday started on a very misty note and although we could see up, we couldn't see across the field; this was sufficient to discourage some of the lightweights. 

The remaining seven, some might call magnificent, hung on and the ordering of early lunch produced an instant improvement in the weather. 
Pleasant  afternoon (Mike Sloggett)
We set up at the West end with the wind light Easterly veering South East and enjoyed a pleasant afternoon dodging the showers. David Clements and Chris Warnes found a little bit of zero climb to claim joint 'Hogs of the day', a role they are eminently suited to!- Glenn Turpin

Sun 18th November

First thing this morning, one could see that the assembled members were balancing the potential of flying in a nice blue sky against staying inside the warm Clubhouse away from the evident Easterly, and no doubt chilly, wind.

In the end there was only one decision to be made - how many items of warm clothing to be worn before getting gliders and ground equipment ready for the day’s flying.

A K21, the DG505, the Perkoz and a Junior were then all taken to the South West corner of the airfield where the launch point had been set up for the day.
DG505 at the launchpoint (Mike Sloggett)
And then by mid-morning, with everything ready to go, it was on with the flying list with various members taking it in turn to maintain currency in the fresh Easterly wind. All the gliders were kept busy all day - but with no lift sources available gliders were soon into the circuit with good planning needed to take into account the wind strength on the approach.

With enough Instructors and members available to keep flying going through lunchtime the decision was made to make the most of the day allowing our Trial Lesson visitors to all complete their flights.
Sunset (Mike Sloggett)
Both Falkes completed some local flying and James Flory enjoyed his first flight in the Pawnee.
Congratulations to James Flory converting to Pawnee (Mike Sloggett)
A rather pleasant day in the air, thank you to everyone who helped others to get airborne today. - Mike Sloggett

With Easterlies forecast all weekend Steve Westlake and I decided to visit Dartmoor Gliding Society at Brentor. For those who do not know, Brentor is a small club on the edge of Dartmoor just north of Tavistock. Steve and I arrived at the club earlier than expected and we were pleasantly surprised to see a few members already there, drawn by the lure of wave no doubt!

Launching started just after 9:30 with myself and a Dartmoor member doing a met flight, with a launch height of 1800 ft it was easy to step into the wave that had set up just in front of the winch.
Young Dan Hender from North Hill flew with me to 6000ft only returning to fly other members after 30 mins or so, he had a rather large grin on his face! The views across Dartmoor/Plymouth and Cornwall were spectacular. 

Mark Courtney and Dan Hender - needed a cushion! (Rob Hender)
Members were quick to launch and they all contacted the wave immediately, Andy Davey joint member of North Hill and Brentor climbed to 12000 ft above site in his Zugfugel closely followed by chairman Richard Roberts, every training flight aborted the climbs at 6000ft to return for the next member.
Steve Westlake had a high  cable break, as he pushed forward to position for a circuit bumped into the wave and went straight to 8000ft! 

CFI Mark Courtney at Dartmoor Gliding (Rob Hender)
Richard Roberts was tempted to head for Lands-end from 11000ft but was unsure about his retrieve! next time Richard!
Wind on the ground was at times very calm but wind at 2000ft was 40 mph! this made for careful circuit planning!

A truly amazing day, made special by the hospitality of the Brentor members and a very accommodating CFI  ;)
Just like trips to Mendip, DSGC intend to visit both local and not so local sites during the winter with a club two seater, so please keep your eye on GG and get your name down as soon as you see a chance! 

Sat 17th November

As the weather sets into winter mode, Saturday was a reminder that faith in forecasts and the faith to turn up does pay. 

With Saturday promising a bright sunny afternoon it was with faith that in thick fog Alan Turner organised getting ground equipment out and DI'd. With the cloud just above the trees the duty instructor turned up (having diverted via a field near Honiton for a recce of a potential bolt hole from what will probably be a future ill-judged attempt to soar a new local ridge) and found the faithful few keeping the cafe going. 

Top marks to young members Oliver and Ryan, who along with their Dads held out on the promises of "it will clear up". - And so it did. 

Midday and with a K21 out and a Junior the cloud had parted and launches were rewarded with a great view across the tops of local clouds, but enough of a hole to avoid too much tension... 
Clouds parting (John Pursey)
Ryan and Oliver got their much earned training and the other faithful a Junior flight. Local heavy sink in the fresh easterly gave witness to what was really happening and Andy Williams then William Pope with JP spent the money on aerotows to get into the wave downwind on the hill. 
Winter wave (John Pursey)
William had his first flight in NH2 and despite a severely misting canopy at the start of the tow did a masterful job of first finding, then milking the wave to 5,000' (above site). Still going up at 5,000 he was old and wise enough to realise that everyone had packed up and were waiting and so mosied off checking out the lee of the other N-S ridges before landing to help with the clubs stocks of Otter ale.
Brilliant sunsets (John Pursey)
 Lesson of the day -  as the weather takes on its winter personae, don't be too quick to dismiss a day, keep the faith, keep Graham busy and fingers crossed that at least half a day can be achieved and some brilliant sunsets witnessed. - John Pursey

North Hill (Andy Williams)

Congratulations to Andrew and Philippa (Lisa Humphries)

In Tetbury, Lisa and Malcolm and JB and Val helped to celebrate Andrew Mugleston and Phillipa Roberts wedding. 

Congratulations to the happy couple from all at North Hill. - J&P

Thur 15th November

Low cloud as forecast, but there was plenty to do today. Mark Courtney led a team painting the new approach reference marker paving slabs. 
Moving paving slabs across the waves of pine needles (Mark Courtney)
 There was a token gesture at clearing some of the pine needles that have accumulated everywhere.

Then Junior LRD was rigged following the Annual inspection - thanks to the Technical Team for the swift turnaround. So with an empty glider workshop, K21 HCX was derigged ready for its Annual inspection, just in time as the low cloud was turning into fog with drizzle. 

After lunch, a few of the Thursday regulars decided that they needed some flying and so the simulator was fired up for some aerotow practice and a short soaring task to Tiverton and back with some nice white puffy clouds. - J&P

Wed 14th November

Wednesday's forecast was for a strong Southerly wind and that is just what we received, the ridge was working from the first launch with Mike Fitz and John Street enjoying a flight of over 30min was a good start.
David Clements ready to soar the south ridge (John Street)
During the day most flights enjoyed soaring conditions on the South ridge the good lift lasted all day with short periods with quick circuits and sink.
In the strong wind some of launches were in excess of 1,500ft and our thanks go to the standard of winch driving in difficult conditions.
Landing after a good soaring flight (John Street)
Some of the landings were a little testing but everyone who flew handled the conditions well, at the end of the day, we had all three gliders soaring in good lift  with Glenn Turpin having the the longest flight of nearly an hour.  - John Street

Sun 11th November

It started off bright and sunny, with a gentle southwesterly wind and a small gathering of members and instructors. 

A small group of instructors headed off to Mendip Gliding Club for the day, and the rest got the club gliders ready for flying. 

A K21 and a Junior were moved to the launch point and Josh and Charlie rigged the K6, and they both managed to fly it before the wind picked up. By this time more members and instructors  had arrived, and another K21 was swiftly brought into action.
Sunny day after the recent wind and rain (Jill Harmer)

Round about lunchtime, the wind picked up significantly giving higher launches and extended flights with some lift developing to the south of the airfield. It wasn't until a nice convergence set up along a line of showery rain into the setting sun that Chris Warnes got the longest flight of 34mins, - forced to land due to the rain.
Long shadows in November (Jill Harmer)

35 launches in total (with a respectful pause at 11:00am) - J&P

At Mendip Gliding Club
A last minute decision to go to Mendip Gliding Club meant that Simon Minson had to leap out of bed leave his tea and rush to the Club. Steve Westlake and I were having breakfast by the time he arrived, Martin Woolner was hitched up by 9 and we all set off by 9:15.

We arrived at 10:15 to see the club pleasantly busy, the launch point set up and a glider ready to launch. The wind was bang on the ridge @SW15 gusting 25. Out of our group Si launched first followed by Martin and Steve in his Discus.

There was only one instructor on site and with a spare K13 at the launch point I was asked to instruct, with the ridge booming it was an easy decision! The ridge was working all the way to the motorway and back to Wells. To get to the motorway you have to get down to less than 600ft QFE at Cheddar Gorge which makes for a  fantastic view of the ridge, when you turn back the airfield is a very long way away! 

Cheddar Gorge (Mark Courtney)
Martin got into wave and because a “box” had been opened (an agreement with Bristol airport) he could explore to 4500 ft QNH cutting off before 5000ft as per agreement. Steve landed after a couple of hours to let me have a go in his Discus ( thanks!)
Cheddar reservoir (Mark Courtney)
The ridge was strong all day enabling long, low, fast beats for the entire length, with thermals being boosted by the ridge lift we had 5 kts lift at times.We all elected to land by 3:30 to de rig, we set off home feeling very content.

Many thanks to our friends at Mendip for making us feel so welcome.

Further trips are planned from North Hill with the Perkoz and/or the DG505, keep an eye on GG for info should you be interested. - Mark Courtney 

Thurs 1st November

Brilliant blue sky and a gentle north westerly wind welcomed the Thursday regulars at North Hill this morning. 
Club gliders ready....(Peter Smith)
The air felt buoyant from the first launch, but it took a little while for it to start working properly with the arrival of a few clouds from the North. 
North Hill (Mike Horwood)
For a few hours through the middle of the day it was really good with John Borland and Aston Key leading the way in the two Juniors. 

Seeing this, Pete Startup 230, Wyn Davies W7, Robert Lee DKU and David Clements CVV  pushed out to join in the launch queue. 

Some streets set up in nice lines from Tiverton to Axminster with Pete Startup enjoying following the energy for once for 133Kms.  There were 4 knot thermals to a main cloudbase at 3000ft, but occasionally flying round the front of the clouds it was possible to get to 3800ft above North Hill, - not bad for November!
K21 (Dave Clements)
Wyn was heard to call that he was low over Cullompton, but he made it back to the ridge, but when he set off again he was not so fortunate the second time - getting caught out south of Hembury Hill for a field landing.
South coast (Wyn Davies)
The convection had a very sharp cutoff, although slightly later than RASP forecast, the sky went blue. As the day drew to a close, the ridge started working really well, but heavy clouds appeared on the horizon and we were just 5 minutes too late in packing the hangar as the rain showers arrived. 

A great November day enjoyed by all, totalling 43 flights  - J&P

A weekend at Parham

For those that don't know, Parham is the home of the Southdown Gliding Club and is blessed with a North facing ridge which runs from Butser Hill near Petersfield in the West to Lewes in the East, a distance of 69km. In certain wind directions it is possible to reach Eastbourne (the Holy grail), which adds another 20km. So when a brisk Northerly wind is forecast gliders migrate there to join the locals. Pete S(230), Ron and Dan(711), Phil and JB(DD3) and Wyn(W7) made the trip this time.

Phil taking a picture of himself!
Saturday was a good day with the maximum 15 visiting gliders plus Southdown club members - there were about a dozen gliders on the grid when we arrived at 08:30 which were soon joined by many more. Southdowns super slick launching operarion is a joy to behold - 2 tugs, 18 launches per hour, release at 800-1000' on to the home ridge. It was a bit soft at times which is reflected in the task speeds for the day, although the fast boys seem to be able to go fast whatever the conditions - the locals always fly full of water. 230, DD3 and 711 all did tasks of c.340km. Real excitement for the day, for Phil and JB at least, was a full on birdstrike with a buzzard right on the front of the canopy which made Phil jump(understatement) and put a 9" crack in DD3's canopy(ouch). Buzzard came off worse, failed to look before turning and paid the price, a lesson for us all! Probably about 30 gliders launched from Parham plus the gliders that flew down from Lasham made for a busy ridge day.

Looking South towards Brighton (711)
Wyn arrived overnight to join in the fun as Ron and Dan departed but Sunday proved not quite so good with a lot of showers around and the wind off the ridge. There was a clue there when most of the locals didn't bother and those that did fly landed after a couple of beats of the ridge. But we were on a trip so we were going to fly! It was possible to avoid most of the showers but as they went past the ridge conditions became 'tricky' at times as the wind decreased was dragged off it even more than it already was, a case of parking on a bit that was still working until it got going again. A few gliders ended up in fields today but we all enoyed some good flying.

Looking East from Truleigh towards Devils Dyke (DD3)
 Pete and Phil had to leave Sunday but JB and Wyn stayed on with the promise of a good day Monday. Stirling made the trip down to fly with JB, JB hoping to get to Eastbourne given the NE wind direction with thermals to help. Turned out to be the best of the 3 days with the wind being close to optimal at c.030/20 and some decent thermal energy lines to boot which made crossing the bigger gaps much less stressful. Wyn(who scored the day 9/10), flew the 344 km Butser - Lewes 5 lap ridge task at a very respectable 103kph. JB didn't get to Eastbourne this time but Stirling enjoyed his 300km+ trip between Butser, Lewes and Devils Dyke.

Wyn somewhere on the ridge (James Hiley, Southdown GC)

Clocks having gone back over the weekend meant landing in good time to de-rig ready for the drive home but another very worthwhile trip. - Pete S.

Task - Lewes  - Butser, A clear sky greeted us on Monday morning, so the glider was moved into the sun to help with clearing the ice. Stirling arrived early to help JB prepare DD3. The wind was forecast to be NNE  and picking up later in the day. Soon after 10am the first stirrings of a breeze saw the first glider launched.
W7 (James Hiley, Southdown glider pilot)
Shortly after I  launched onto the local ridge, which was working but not very well.  I set off to the Chanctonbury rings, and slowly climbed to 1,100 feet above PAR. Crossed to Truleigh Hill without losing much height. The run to Devil's Dyke was a gentle climb all the way, but then the challenge started. To push north to Newtimber from Devil's Dyke was not easy and I struggled to get a climb a few times and then ran back downwind to climb again on the ridge. Eventually I got the height needed to cross the saddle next to the "Jack and Jill" windmills, pushing through eye watering sink at speed, to find the lift on the Northern ridge for an easy fast run to Lewes.

The wind gradually picked up and the rest of the day was fairly text book, with the crossings made easier with following thermal looking clouds and even the odd street, which aided. 
South Downs (Wyn Davies)
On one visit to Butser, I had Nigel Mallender in his LS8 flash by underneath , and I tried to follow him to understand the higher energy low down. The surprise was arriving below Butser and turning .5k short - until I realised he was using a barrel turn point. Followed him out and then slowly regained a sensible height to complete the rest of the task at a more leisurely height and speed.

Altogether a great day out on the Southdowns with DD3. Followed by a welcome cuppa from the JB cafe with  Stirling, to recount adventures before the trek home in the dark. - Wyn W7