Sunday 25th February - Escape to the hills

The fresh Easterly, Siberian blast, whilst not always good news at North Hill, can bring much excitement further up the M5 at Nympsfield where the cognoscente have been using Easterlies for years as a ticket to ride in the Welsh mountains. Whilst the Nympsfield maestro Trevor Stuart frequently performs by taking this downwind dash and ride with a magic wave climb to come home, the normal order of the day is a turbo slog to get back. 

Too many reflections - Wear a hat next time Phil (John Pursey)
With some cunning tactics, my Whatsapp correspondence with the turbo equipped but initially reticent Phil, broke down his negative thoughts about the cold and early mornings and got him to agree a Sunday trip to Nympsfield. The cunning had been to lure him in with thoughts of soaring the east facing cliffs from Dawlish to Babbacombe. Whilst initially attractive as a less early start and a previously untested location they became less attractive as the "untested location" part of the mix sank in. Perhaps Eric can brief us one day on the only apparently land-able field in the whole area and maybe the next windy easterly day...
Ridge soaring the hills (John Pursey)
Nick, the noble soul, readily agreed to provide transport and a 7:15am reveille at Hemyock meant a sensible 'on parade' time of around 10:30 on the BGGC grid.  The ever-friendly crew at Nympsfield soon had DD3 off on tow and since the marked inversion made visibility poor, caution meant a high tow and an engine test run such that arrival at the Malverns was high enough not to trouble the walkers. However, warming up to the ever beckoning slope lift and teasie thermals, a few low passes with lots of waving got the hill soaring spirit going. 
On the Malverns (John Pursey)
The Welsh hills were lost in the haze, but an Oudie driven departure track and engine run soon meant neither Malverns or Black Mountains could be seen. But, like magic, Hay Bluff and the run to Pandy appeared ahead and with the engine stowed the fun began. 

For those that haven't soared the eastern slopes of the Black Mountains then the only thing to say is you are "missing out"! As freshmen, Phil and I took a fairly cautious trip down towards the south from Hay Bluff, testing the line and the lie of the hills. I spoke with great authority with my entirely theoretical knowledge of the route gleaned from Trevor Stuart's SeeYou ladder trace replays and You Tube video from you know who. The maestro arrived as we headed south and duly showed us what can be done with balls of steel and years of experience. 

Phil may have the years but non-ferrous balls and with fears of monkeys in the cold was not to be lured and a more gentlemanly passage was made with alternate runs made by P1 and P2. A small foray up the valley from Abergavenny was about as brave as it got before the "iron topsail " was unfurled and we headed back, again reliant on an electronic track on a gadget. As a bright light test I can attest to the wonder of the Kobo compared to the Oudie in terms of readability. Not that it mattered because the Oudie simply said "map load error" for most of the day.

De-rig in daylight followed by a clubhouse beer and a catch up with Trevor and Dan Welch, brought a fine end to the day. For those who looked at Spot The Glider today (Monday) you would have seen Trevor, Dan and friends having yet more fun on the hills, this time with thermals to 5000' (and -10C outside air temp). Good old Russian air. - John Pursey

Sunday 25th February

In gliding one always has to be optimistic that the actual weather at the airfield is going to be better than the forecast. Despite the forecast wind strength and resultant predicted wind chill the Clubhouse, and in turn flying list, was rather full by 9:00am. After discussion about the current and forecast wind strength for the day, and no doubt encouraged by the reports of wave flying yesterday, the general consensus was that if it was flyable then we would do so. Ron Johns as Duty Instructor decided to go down to the East end of the airfield to assess the anticipated flying conditions and returned to the Clubhouse with a decision that we would set up the launch run for the South West to North East corner of the field and see what the actual flying conditions were.

The winch was set up in the North East corner of the field whilst the K21 and DG505 were taken out and daily inspections started, with the Juniors and K13 left in the hangar. Ron Johns and Nick Redfern completed a ‘met flight’ and after safely landing the decision was made to not complete any further flying for a while - after discussion it was decided that the gliders would be safer being parked nearer the hangar so both two seaters were towed back down to the other end of the field.
Just a bit too windy (Mike Sloggett)
And then it became a question of seeing how many cups of coffee and tea could be drunk and how much hot food could be consumed whilst patiently waiting for a potential reduction in the wind speed, particularly the gusts which were the main worry.

James Flory completed some ground briefings with various members whilst others kept checking the anemometer (and trees) to see if there was any sign of the wind strength reducing. By shortly after midday it was evident that the wind was not going to reduce so a decision was made that the gliders and ground equipment would be put away on the basis that it is ‘better to be on the ground wishing we had flown than being in the air asking why we had!’

Meanwhile Kris Pratt, Ross Pratt and Simon Leeson continued the work on the simulator.
Kris and Ross Pratt continuing the revamp of the simulator (Simon Leeson)
Thank you to all for the teamwork today, better days ahead, hopefully... Mike Sloggett
And in snowy  Poland ....a DSGC trip to the museum


Saturday 24th February

Great news from snowy Poland, where Ian Mitchell and Stu Procter are checking out our shiny new Perkoz.
Not long now... (Stu Procter)
To say that it was cold at North Hill today would be something of an understatement.  The dozen or so members who arrived to fly in the morning were heard to be questioning their own sanity.  Nevertheless this hardy bunch dragged a K21 and a Junior to the south west corner of the airfield, and anyone who wasn't inside an aircraft or a vehicle huddled in the shelter of the LPV.  At least it was sunny.
Simon and Oscar Leeson in wave (Simon Leeson)
Winch launches offered extended circuits with tantalizing hints of wave.  Roly in the Junior, having achieved the longest flight off the winch with 24 minutes, decided he hadn't quite had his fill and took an aerotow.  Martin Woolner with Ruth Comer,  followed by Simon Leeson with Oscar in the K21 followed suit.  The wave had indeed set up to the north west of the club, but kept repositioning itself so the search had to repeated over and over.  Good for practising and actually quite pleasantly warm with the sun shining through the canopy.  It's going to get even colder next week.... Ruth Comer
North Hill sunset (Simon Leeson)
We welcomed Daniel to the Club - two years after his initial introduction to gliding at Open Weekend, having grown tall enough to reach the rudder pedals and start his training.  Thanks to those who stayed to help fix the puncture from the K21 hangar flight.

RT Training (Jill Harmer)
In the Clubhouse, there was another session of RT training for a group of members given by Simon Baily. And Nick Jones and James Flory attended the regional CFI / Safety session at Yeovilton.

Thursday 22nd February

Another cold day was forecast, with an uncertain amount of cloud with the light easterly wind. The Thursday regulars arrived early with the prospect of winching again after weeks of rain and aerotow-only days. There was a slight hesitation over which side of the field to launch from with quite a bit of shear between ground and launch height, and a delay with some low cloud. The sun came out at 11:00 and flying started.

K13 with some crepuscular rays (Mark Courtney)
With so many currency checks and simulated launch failures, the launch rate was fairly slow. Several flights found some lift under the streets or was there some wave? and managed 20mins ish.

Mainly cloudy skies over North Hill (Mike Sloggett)
Steve Westlake had some flights with Mark Courtney in DG505 and resoloed after a long break.
Steve back in the saddle (Mark Courtney)
Late in the afternoon, it became noticeably cooler, and the clouds melted away for some late sunshine. 
North Hill sunset (Wyn Davies)
 It was a good day with 34 launches and the flying list completed. Thanks to everyone for enduring the cold (but it is going to get colder...)  - J&P

Wednesday 21st February

A nice sunny start to the day although the forecast was for overcast conditions, the wind was from the East and was quite fresh so plenty of warm clothes was the order of the day.
All available gliders were walked up to the S/W corner, we had Mike Sloggett helping us, because we had three Brentor members with us again. Mike and John Sillett looked after them and John Street and Glenn Turpin looked after the rest.
Jeff Taberham getting ready to fly (John Street)
Both Juniors were in use all day, everyone flew as much as they wanted and the tug was kept busy with Robert and Pete Warren taking turns with the aerotows.
There was little in the way of lift, although a little bit of wave was encountered to the North of the airfield, after lunch it was a bit thermic with a few flights managing a bit of soaring, John Street had the longest flight of 32min in a Junior.
New shiny mower (Robert Lee)
The new shiny mower was delivered ready for the grass to grow. Trimax representatives will return to brief those who do the mowing on daily servicing and operation in the field.

All in all a good day and not quite so cold as some had been expecting. - John Street.

Saturday 17th February

It’s been at least 5 weeks since we’ve flown on a Saturday, so a promising forecast brought members out in their droves. By 9:00am, there were cars parked everywhere, the flying list was already as long as your arm and all the kit was being marshalled on to the field. There was however one problem; low cloud and drizzle! After some gnashing of teeth Peter Smith (who was helping to cover for Mark Courtney as Duty Instructor whilst Mark continued to help our friends from Brentor with their instructor training) decided the best thing to do was to retreat to the clubhouse and drink tea. A few minutes latter the clubhouse looked like a scene from an AGM with members everywhere. In the middle of this, Tom Sides had to fend off numerous comments of “what’s that then” as he skilfully built the new clubroom honesty bar, under close supervision from our Chair Nick Jones. Meanwhile strange stirrings could be heard from the hanger and reports of a small black and yellow craft emerging into the improving weather were confirmed as “Fred’s” first outing for 2018. William Pope and our CFI Stu Procter then proceeded to try and coax Fred into life. After several attempts it fired up and William had the chance to do some taxi practice, Fred style. 
Stu coaxing Fred before taxi checks (James Flory)
By now the weather had finally got the message, and the low cloud and drizzle was quickly replaced by white fluffy cumulus and blue skies; forgotten what that looked like!  The launch grid was quickly established with Peter taking Alan Turner up for a currency flight and weather check in the K21. James Flory then jumped into the DG505 with Reuben Buss and followed suit. Alan was soon off solo in the Junior; great to see someone who does so much for the club - keeping the ground kit running -finally getting to fly after 6 weeks grounded by weather. Mark Courtney took the K13 with a Brentor instructor for a spin or two or possibly several, with Stu doing the honours in the tug. 
Stu now tugging (Stuart Procter)
  The two Juniors were well utilised as everyone took the chance to get airborne.  By early afternoon several private owners KMV, G29, V5, 230 joined the grid to take advantage of the soarable conditions. Although we had no Trial lesson flights, there were a couple of friends and family flights with James Hood and Stu sharing the tugging. 
A busy day at North Hill (Stuart Procter)
Lisa Humphries then took over as Duty Instructor in the afternoon and continued to do a stirling job of working through the list. Both Falkes were also very active. James Flory started his towplane rating training with Ian Mitchell in G-CDSC, with  Martin Woolner bravely agreeing to be the guinea pig in the Junior at the end of the the rope. As the sun began to lower and the canopies started to mist Dave Albasiny enjoyed the last flight of the day. The kit was then all safely returned with the gliders getting a good wash under the ever attentive supervision of Mark. 
Puffy white clouds again (Lisa Humphries)
As always none of this would have been possible without great team work. 41 flights in total, so thanks to everyone who turned up and helped, a great day at North Hill. Watch this space lots more to come this season! - James F
Team Fox arriving at Nottingham Belfry (BGA)
Meanwhile at the BGA Conference, Pete and Jill Harmer enjoyed  the varied programme of Speakers including our very own Sir Chris, meeting up with old friends, and looking round the new toys on show.

Thursday 15th February

For a change Thursday promised a lot, with a light westerly wind after another wet day. The Thursday crowd were ready with the kit out early on, .........
It really did get very dark (Mark Courtney)
The chosen one - Wyn Davies  interrupted on a Daily Inspection (Matk Courtney)
 ........but there was just a little delay with a passing shower.
The Thursday regulars watching the sleet (Mark Courtney)
But it wasn't long before the sun came back and the gliders were ready for an aerotow-only day (due to the wet field) with some promising looking streets developing a bit later.
Private owners join the launch queue (Jill Harmer)
Mark Courtney, Robert Lee and Pete Harmer shared the tugging and during a quiet moment on the ground whilst everyone was soaring, the rest of the team went for lunch.
With everyone refreshed, the soaring continued in the afternoon until one of the local streets got very angry looking and a sleet/hailstorm appeared just upwind of the field. It swept quickly across the field with horizontal graupel and severe gusts. Fortunately all the airborne gliders managed to soar round the edges of the storm  and the tug extended the circuit until it had cleared through 5 minutes later. 
A curtain of hail and sleet (Mark Courtney)
Better on the sunny side (Chris Wool)
Wyn Davies W7 and Peter Startup 230 enjoyed 2 hour flights with most people also visiting Cullompton. For most of the day there was 4-6 knots lift with the streets topping out at 3300ft and for a short period some were able to climb up the sides of the street for another 1000ft.
Storm cleared over North Hill airfield (Wyn Davies)
Several members used the day to get their 3000ft aerotow signed up on the winter refresher package. But with 23 aerotows in total - the Treasurer was grateful for a good flying day. Late in the day Junior FZF was rigged after its Annual - thanks to Carl Tharme for the fast turnround. 

Thanks to Pete Harmer, Chris Wool, Mark Courtney and Ron Johns for back seat driving. A really nice day was enjoyed by all. - J&P

Sunday 11th February

After yet another poor weather day on Saturday, (I make that about 5 in a row), the weather looked a little more promising for Sunday. However, as the day dawned it soon became apparent that we were going to be blessed with regular snowy showers in the blustery cold northwesterly wind.  

Not deterred a band of committed aviators still arrived at the club, although once again the instructor to club member ratio was pretty high. The field was still very wet after Saturday’s rain so Simon Minson our Duty Instructor decided on an aerotow only day; at least Ian Mitchell as the duty tug pilot was smiling even if the Treasurer probably wasn’t! 
CB's blowing through (Mike Sloggett)
Both the DG505 and K21 were taken out of the hangar and the LPV was set up just outside of the hangar. However, the snowy showers intervened and the first launch was delayed. Soon after though, we were able to launch three flights in-between the showers. These were all supervised by Martin Woolner, Mike Sloggett and Simon Minson in the back seat in the blue card conditions. 
Cloud shadow crossing North Hill (Mike Sloggett)
 Geoff Laurence was able to continue his aerotow sign-off and Richard Copus enjoyed good flights with the ridge working well. In the meantime the Junior FZF was escorted down to the workshop and de-rigged ready for it’s Annual. 
Snow shower over Blackborough (James Flory)
 A further band of snowy showers then stopped play and everyone retreated to the club house to refuel on tea. Looking at the weather radar there looked like one more chance to get airborne and James Flory and Martin Woolner stepped forward. The resulting aerotow was bumpy over the north west corner of the field but we were greeted by significant lift as Ian towed the K21 skyward. 
Aerotow towards the lift (James Flory)
On release Martin and James then managed to find lift ahead of the next band of showers. Unfortunately though the weather didn’t want to play ball for long and as the snow shower headed towards the field Martin and James took the safe option and airbraked down from 2200 feet to land across the field, just as the snow shower began to reach the field.

Only 4 flights today, but everyone thoroughly enjoyed their air time with everyone who wanted to fly being able to go home with a smile on their face. Surely the weather must start to get better shortly! But as always unless you turn up you’ll never know. - James Flory

Wednesday 7th February

At last! a nice flyable Wednesday and in the absence of a strong wind, it was almost pleasant at the southwest corner of the airfield (under several layers of clothes).
Ready to launch (Mark Layton)
Three keen Brentor pilots after a long drive to North Hill were at or near the top of the long flying list, all available kit was out early and all instructors in place for a busy day in prospect.
John Street preparing to fly the Junior (Tim Johns)
 The weather was reasonably benign so both Juniors were in use all day, there where bits of lift on the north ridge and a sniff of the occasional thermal so some of flights were a bit extended - Pete Startup claiming the longest flight from the winch of 14 minutes. And we finally had some weather that was suitable for the Trial lesson visitor Andy.
Hangar flying (Tim Johns)
On the two-seater list we had three instructors on the go all day and Robert was kept very busy in the tug with a bit of help from Peter Field. Everyone flew, we started to fly all the gliders back to the hangar just after 4pm. We hope to welcome more of our Brentor friends in the near future. - John Street.

Sunday 4th February

As with any sport gliding is all about teamwork, whether within an individual Club or when different Clubs work together to help their members. So it was great to find, on arriving at North Hill today, that we had some Dartmoor Gliding Society members joining us for the day, as we continue to build the teamwork between our two Clubs. With a flying list already quite long before 9:00am, it was then a question of deciding whether the airfield had dried out enough to allow winch launching as being able to do so would allow more flights to be completed during the day. Whilst this was being decided both DSGC and DGS members organised getting the K21 and DG505 out of the hangar.
Winching again (Mike Sloggett)
With a number of instructors present and all keen to make the most of the opportunity to retain/regain flying currency this enabled a group discussion on what would be the best decision for the day, particularly taking into account the anticipated ‘Blue Card’ conditions at the launch point in the South West corner of the airfield.
Stu Procter and James Hood getting back in check (Stu Procter)
With all the various instructors having contributed their views and opinions the decision was made to complete daily inspections on the two-seaters and set up for winch launching on the basis that the field was continuing to drain and dry well in the strong wind and that the cable retrieve runs could be varied to avoid unnecessary damage to the field. Meanwhile the Pawnee was brought out of the hangar and with everyone keen to get into the air gliders were soon being walked down to the other end of the airfield.

First launches of the day were taken by instructors keen to get back into the air after various unflyable days and then it was on with the flying list - with enough instructors and ground helpers a decision was made to continue flying through lunchtime.

With various optimistic views re potential strong wave to the West of the airfield a Junior was brought down early afternoon but the potential strong wave remained just that.
Small puffy white clouds (Mike Sloggett)
By late afternoon the flying list had been completed and after a check to make sure everyone who wanted to fly had flown, hangar flights were soon being completed.

With a total of 32 winch and aerotow launches today a really good day when everyone, whether from DSGC or DGS, ‘played their part’ to get others into the air - thank you everyone! - Mike Sloggett
Wyn and Trevor in Wales (Wyn Davies)
And Wyn Davies had sneaked off to Nympsfield to fly the Brecon Beacons with Trevor Stuart.

Thursday 1st February

With yet more rain at North Hill overnight, the pitch inspection suggested that winching was not advisable, so with gorgeous blue skies (for a change) and a rather chilly breeze developing, the kit was readied for an aerotow day.
Ready for an aerotow (Jill Harmer)
But there was just one more small consideration - the wind was from the north and it wasn't long before the windsock was fluctuating between horizontal and fairly limp. It was such a nice clear blue sky that we felt we had to try the conditions. 

Mark Courtney lined up the Pawnee in front of the Junior with Aston Key and the aerotow was off. Mark landed the tug back across the field, and taxied back to the launchpoint.  Aston landed  the Junior after 15 minutes. 
Windsock horizontal crosswind and rotor clouds (Jill Harmer)

The general consensus was that it was just too rough with rotor all over the field, so after a period of 'waiting to see' and drinking tea, and rechecking that the forecast hadn't improved, the kit was returned to the hangar.  - Better safe than sorry - we'll try again next week! - J&P