Sun 30th June

Early morning was overcast with some drizzle around and low cloud scudding across the field.  - Disappointing after a reasonable forecast a couple of days ago.

Both K21s, the Perkoz and a Junior were readied and we set up NE-SW in hope of improvement. By the time of the first launch into a steady Westerly wind we released well below cloud base at 1300ft.  Paul Kane added 2 more flights and steadily regained skills and confidence. James Flory arrived to help instruct and set off for a series of flights with Gordon Hutchinson, culminating in Gordon re-soloing after a long break with big smiles all round.  
Cloudbase increased (Peter Smith)
The sky improved but not always reliably and getting away was far from guaranteed. 6 private gliders flew locally with Pete Startup in 230 taking the longest flight at just over 2 hours. It was nice to see Pete and Jill airborne in OL as well on a flight test for the new instrument fit.

Andy Davey needed to complete some eventualities satisfactorily in order to be cleared solo in the Perkoz and thus after being suitably challenged, he did and enjoyed his first solo in NH2.
Well done to Andy Davey for converting to Perkoz (Peter Smith)
Ian Mitchell took on the pm slot and flew with and Charlie and Andrew Broderick and both enjoyed some soaring flights before Ian flew with Chris Woodward to finish his day.

Various Club members flew the Junior with (mostly) extended flights. Treasurer Tom flew the trial lessons with Pete Warren as Tuggie.
North Hill (Jill Harmer)

With hopes for spinning in the Perkoz dashed by a flat tyre, Ruth took an aerotow in HCX, releasing at 2000ft and soaring to 3000ft for a 45minute flight, a nice way for me  to end the day as a passenger in the back seat.

Many thanks to James for stepping in at short notice and to Andy Davey and Chris Woodward who organised the ground ops and kept everything going all day, whilst also managing to fly. And to all who winched, retrieved and generally fetched and carried, as we were stretched to cover it all on occasions. Special thanks to Andrew Logan and team who set to after flying to repair a flat tyre on the Perkoz main wheel.  Everyone flew and some good soaring was had, so although not the day I was expecting a good result. - Peter Smith

Sat 29th June

The hottest day of the year saw a good turnout of members with John Pursey and James Flory the Instructors.  Martin Woolner flew the three trial flights,  and  James in the afternoon, alternating between training and flying the tug.
Karen King converts to Junior (Karen King)
The younger North Hill members Charlie and Josh assisted by Dan, brought out the K6 DRE for half a dozen enjoyable flights. 
Charlie shows Dan how to connect the controls (Rob Hender)

Mark Worsford did four solos, Karen did her first two flights in the Junior, Sandy re-soloed in the K21. 
Sally Hender on cable retrieve (Karen King)

Sally went solo on cable-retrieve and one of the new patio umbrellas got in on the act becoming airborne (thanks to Brian Knight for retrieving)!
Dan's first flight in a Slingsby Eagle (JB)

The Eagle has flown after wing recovering,  and young Dan flew with JB as if he'd been flying it for years.

Cheryl's advice (Karen King)
As everyone appeared to adhere to Cheryl's advice, despite very little thermal activity it was a successful North Hill day. - Karen King

Thurs 27th June

It looked like another blue sky North Hill start, but the wind sock told the story of a strong north easterly wind with increasing gusts.
Windsock tells the story (Jill Harmer)

A check at the western end confirmed the conditions, and led to various ground school briefings, the ground vehicles were treated to a spring clean and the mowers were out in force.

Meanwhile Spot the Gliders showed DD3 with Phil Morrison and Pete Startup completing some laps of the Pandy Run out of Nympsfield. - J&P

Wed 26th June

For the second successive week there was no flying during the day but a sense of optimism that some flying might be possible in the evening. The weather above and around the airfield was broadly the same as last Wednesday evening’s Club flying but with one key difference - this evening was a tad windier than last week.
Blue sky, but horizontal windsock (Mike Sloggett)
After suitable instructor visits to the West end of the airfield the decision was made to set up the winch in the North East corner of the airfield - whilst the large group of Club members present brought the K21s out of the hangar and parked them carefully in view of the strong wind. It was then a question of waiting in the hope that some flying might be possible - the waiting time was used to good effect with some ground school briefings being completed.

And then it was off to the West end of the airfield with both K21s, with everyone briefed fully about the importance of glider handling and parking in the evident windy conditions.

James Flory and JB took a K21 off for a met flight after which two training flights were completed. But then with a freshening wind the decision was made to put everything away in to the safety of the hangars

It was really good to see so many Club members at the airfield for this evening’s flying - thanks to everyone for helping, all being well better weather next Wednesday evening. - Mike Sloggett

Sun 23rd June

After a very enjoyable but long day of flying yesterday, and the Club Social last evening, it was perhaps no surprise that there were quite a few bleary eyed members in the Clubhouse having breakfast and endeavouring to show some enthusiasm for flying.

The forecast and actual weather was not very encouraging either, but as ever it was a question of making the most of a potential weather slot ahead of rain forecast to arrive around lunchtime - so with Simon Leeson, as Duty Instructor, leading the way the winch was set up in the middle of the field at the East end, with the objective of both minimising wear and tear and also helping to reduce the ‘rope bows’ at the launch point.

With inclement weather not far away, just the K21s were walked down to the North West corner of the airfield and it became evident from the met flight completed by Simon and Mark Courtney that the sky was as interesting as it looked - with strong sink around the circuit and an approach which needed suitable diligence from handling pilots. But also with the suggestion of potential wave around the airfield - so the next couple of flights were used to explore same, albeit with limited success.

With rain coming increasingly closer a decision was made to fly HCX back to the other end but which gave Mike Sloggett to provide Sally Hender with a flight to remind her of what fun Rob and Dan have each time they fly - with Sally demonstrating an evident skill in flying the glider it was no surprise that Mike was heard encouraging Sally to become the third member of the Hender family to start learning to fly!

Late morning two visitors turned up for their Trial Lessons and having travelled from Manchester for same every effort was made to get their Trial Lessons completed - but unfortunately the rain arrived as expected and so it was time to put the gliders away, wipe down the wings and fuselages and plan for (dream of) a better day. - Mike Sloggett

Sat 22nd June

With a bright and sunny day the Club was awash with hopeful sky dreamers. The launch point was setup in the North West corner and Mike Sloggett took the first pupil aloft at 10:45 and launched straight into a cloudstreet that had formed from Honiton across the field.
Nice early cumulus (Mike Sloggett)
With cu popping downwind to the North and limited cumulus forming to the South, it was evident that the sea air was being pushed inland by the southeast/southwest wind just as RASP had predicted. This encouraged me to take the next launch in Libelle CLM into a relatively low cloud base, in the hope that I could push downwind to the North and outrun the thermal-killing sea air. It wasn't easy work but I slowly tiptoed up to Wimbleball Reservoir on Exmoor. Although finding the thermal cores proved difficult, there was 5kt averages to be found. 
Wimbleball Reservoir (Rowan Smith)
After Exmoor, I set my sights on visiting Yeovil reservoir. By now the cloudbase had risen and the thermals were much more predictable. Alas by Taunton, nature was calling so I cut my lake tour short to come home, finding a big blue hole over NHL.
North Hill Sea air (Mike Sloggett)

Meanwhile training, family and friends flights and trial lessons continued with Mike Sloggett with help from Steve Westlake and Pete Bennett. The cross/tailwind proved tricky and the ends were changed causing delays, Pete Harmer, duty tuggie was kept busy, there were several private gliders out ASW20 FUN, Libelle M and CLM, Open Cirrus CEC, ASW28 JPT, HES Pegase, DuoDiscus DD3. But as ever launch timing was the key factor with some gliders climbing away from the winch launch and others simply having extended circuits.

Phil Morrison, bolstered by Peter Smith, Rowan Smith and Mike Sloggett took the afternoon shift. Another change of ends was enacted. DD3 took an aerotow and enlisted the iron thermal to get to the good air and took a tour of Somerset. 
DD3 passing Halesland (Nick Jones)
The motor glider G-BKVG took to the air once again having had a new engine fitted. Training continued into the evening  to get everyone at least one flight and stopped just in time for the Hog roast…
Ian and Stu in the Stearman (Jill Harmer)
The Hog Roast (which is provided by the Club to thank all our Members for all their volunteering efforts) was kicked off by an impromptu flyby from Ian Mitchell and Stu Procter in a Boeing Stearman, and Brendan Procter in a Piper Cub. 
Lovely evening  for a social gathering (Rob Hender)
The warm evening was a very pleasant social gathering for members and their families, with Rob & Sally's game of 'Spot the photo' won by Oscar Leeson. Many thanks to Rob and Sally  for organising the evening, and to Steve Westlake  for the live music.- Rowan Smith, Mike Sloggett, J&P

W7 in France - Part 2

It’s now time to leave Barcelonnette and the glorious Alps.
The flights on this trip (Wyn Davies)
The weather has improved greatly and the closing score was Push bike 6, Glider 10.  
Over the Lac de Serre-Poncon (Wyn Davies)
The flights for the past week or so have been in fairly good conditions, and I have been able to tip-toe to Dent De Parrachee not quite making it to Val Thorens. 
Field checking – used to verify after flight, exactly which one to use if needed
Crossing the new valley between Modan and Sollieres was done at height with several gliders marking the lift on my arrival. Return trip was back towards the Glacier Blanc to which I am drawn like a magnet, with its now very familiar characteristics. 
Cloud scrape for the next leap (Wyn Davies)
A great trip, well worth the travel effort. Looking forward to gliding and Tea at North Hill! -Wyn Davies

Thurs 20th June

A day of soaring and showers which weren't quite as isolated as we had hoped. There was a series of walls of rain passing through Devon in the light north westerly wind. The first one lined up with an early lunch, and all the soaring gliders decided to land back in the rain.
Jack had time for some sightseeing on his 1:1 (Jack Raybould)
It was good to see Pete Bennett back from his studies at  Cardiff  University, and also Heather Clarke who has been away for a while. 
Sunlit launch (Mark Layton)
Well done to Rick Andrews for completing his conversion to the Perkoz.
Well done Rick solo in Perkoz (Mike Sloggett)
Due to the rain breaks,  the longest flights of the day were all just under 1 hour, but 40 winch launches in total with 8 aerotows, thanks to Mike and Barbie Fairclough for tugging.
A very pleasant day for non-flaming June, thanks to everyone for contributing. - J&P

Wed 19th Jun

With the weather suggesting that evening flying might be possible, we had a good number of Club members arrive at the airfield for the latest Wednesday flying evening. As there had been no Club flying today due to poor weather it was necessary to get gliders out of the hangar and for the winch and launch point to be set up for launches to the North West - with the windsock suggesting that the ridge might well be working well.
Lovely evening for flying (Mike Sloggett)
With a long flying list both K21s, the Perkoz and both Juniors were soon being brought up to the launch point and then it was on with the flying.
Perkoz landing (Mike Sloggett)
The evening brought some spectacular views of the Devon countryside against a stunning sky and it was evident that the ridge was working well in places with Hans Jenssen demonstrating same through a 24 minute flight.
Great visibility (Mike Sloggett)
The evening provided the opportunity for everyone present to get into the air and achieve their individual goals from their flights, a nice evening all round - thank you everyone who helped this evening in one way or another. - Mike Sloggett

Sun 16th June

Apparently we are in the month of June, although the general weather including wind strength and temperature today suggested it was more like February. The ‘not very optimistic’ forecast had, unsurprisingly, deterred a number of the Sunday regulars from turning up. But by mid-morning, enough members had arrived to be able to start to get the gliders and ground equipment out. But with grey clouds and regular rain showers, as well as the likelihood of more rain arriving from the West, the only decision which could be made was whether to have tea or coffee?
Decision making? (Mike Sloggett)
And then with some optimism about a positive break in the weather, together with enthusiasm being generated by those members present, the hangar doors were opened and gliders brought out - but almost as soon as the gliders were out in the open air then more rain arrived, followed by more rain.

It was then a question of whether to put the gliders away or wait for an improvement in the weather? - meanwhile Mark Courtney and Ian Mitchell had started to complete Mark’s 5 year refresher with some classroom discussions.
Brightening skies (Mike Sloggett)
With brightening skies and a suggestion from the weather radar that some flying might be possible both K21s were taken across to the North East corner of the airfield and soon gliders were being launched skywards - the only question now was whether full height launches could be achieved?
North hill Airfield (Mike Sloggett)
For Mark and Ian who had now moved from theory discussion to practical activities such question was irrelevant as simulated launch failures were clearly the order of the day.

Early afternoon the rain reappeared with a vengeance and with a freshening wind the decision to put everything away was under serious consideration. But after much looking at the weather radar there was an element of confidence that more flying might be possible during the afternoon and that is how the afternoon turned out - albeit the ‘interesting’ conditions on the approach and during landing made for some focused flying and handling of the gliders.

During the afternoon we welcomed Ben and Argentine Person, brother and sister solo pilots from Mendip GC at Halesland, who are visiting various gliding clubs to add to their gliding experience - and there was just enough time to get them both into the air.
Cloudbase (Mike Sloggett)
Then with everyone who wanted to, having flown by late afternoon, it was evidently a suitable time to put everything away. As someone said at the end of the day “Well we made as much as we could out of that day!”

Thanks as always to everyone for the teamwork to help get others into the air. - Mike Sloggett

Sat 15th June

Another low cloud start but a small group of members and Instructors gathered, and got on with some jobs whilst waiting patiently for the weather to improve. Thanks to all who helped to add an extra length of rope to the winch rope that had been shortened recently. Thanks also to Kris Pratt for updating the Simulator with the latest release of landscape scenery. 

And then by lunchtime, the sky opened up for flying  "Rubbish thermal day, but some awesome convergences with humungous rain showers at the end of them." (Pete Startup) and unusually Pete took some pictures.
Awesome Convergence (Pete Startup)
Thru' the tunnel (Pete Startup)
Lyme Bay sea air (Pete Startup)
Taunton under the wispies (Pete Startup)
The afternoon continued with training flights and a couple of Trial lessons - as usual it's always worth waiting. 

R151 arrived back from a D-Day re-enactment having landed on Saunton Sands, and  was immediately despatched to Popham on a mercy mission: 
Mike and Barbie R151 Piper Cub
Mike and Barbie Fairclough delivered the Passports and Holiday documents that had unfortunately been left at North Hill in the morning by one of our friends from Dartmoor Gliding Society. The oversight had only been noticed in the Car Park of Heathrow Terminal 5, and with no local taxis/couriers/bikes available to help, R151 and Crew stepped in to help. - J&P

Fri 14th June

A group of Flybe Diploma Course students from Exeter College arrived  for their day of Trial flights with some fairly dark skies and low-level cloud at North Hill. There had been quite a bit of rain on Thursday, but the airfield had drained well as usual. The introductory session was followed by some gliding videos and some sessions in the simulator. 
Flybe Diploma Course from Exeter College (Jill Harmer)
With an early lunch, the promised weather improvement arrived and the flying started. It was easily soarable from the first launch to 1500ft for extended circuits. As the day went on the cloudbase rose to 2000ft , but with  a short spell of cloud at 1300ft. The students all enjoyed the experience of gliding and soaring, with several considering coming back for more.
Sky opens up with convergence over South ridge (Jill Harmer)
As the students departed, the gliders were handed over to some gliding visitors from the Bath, Wilts and North Dorset Gliding Club (BWND). The Management team from The Park were visiting North Hill to try out the Perkoz and DG505 from our two-seater fleet for evaluation purposes. The experienced pilots alongside CFI Stu Procter and Pete Harmer were soon enjoying the improving soaring conditions with an increasing challenging southerly crosswind putting the two gliders through their paces. 
BWNDGC with Stu and Pete (Jill Harmer)
It turned into a remarkably good afternoon considering the forecast of hopeful breaks in the cloud.
It was good to host both students and experienced pilots at North Hill today - thanks to all the Helpers and Instructors. - J&P

W7 in France in June

On Monday 3rd June, undeterred by a poor forecast for the Alps I set off with W7 in tow to catch the evening ferry to Calais.
Napped on the ferry and then drove/napped (not simultaneously I might add) to arrive at Barcelonnette on Tuesday evening.
I was met by the usual “you should have been here last week/month”.  Had a rest on Wednesday and on Thursday decided to have my first flight, in W7, - a sort of short “self-check flight” as I am apparently still current, from last September.
A week on and I have spent more days on the push bike than flying. 

8th June
There was not a cloud in the sky, and the local ridges worked well enough to get away to the North. Then the fun began as I slowly appreciated that the ridges were not always working as expected due to very strong thermals, and on top of that, later in the day, some got a bit lively being in the lee of wave.  I never really worked it out but found a good wave bar in the blue to bring me back to base. Where are all the clouds when you need them, to mark the Wave/Thermal etc.? Nowhere to be seen, just pure Alpine blue. 
Pure Alpine Blue (Wyn Davies)
12th June
This was forecast to be better, and it was because there were clouds.  Good fast run to the North on the ridges and then back to Glacier Blanc – obscured by cloud. The usual run down the Ecrins was made more fun by the tops being in cloud. Crossed to the Morgon, which had its head in cloud and pushed out under some convergence in the Durance valley. The Parcour was not really accessible due to cloud, so flew various convergences and thermals back to base.
Convergences (Wyn Davies)
13th June
Briefing was for the prefect day. 700k potential according to TopTherm. Big challenge – it was blue again. I planned to press on further than usual into the North Alps. When I got past Briancon, I was not at all confident with the way the ridges didn’t deliver as hoped. Decided to return to familiar territory and climbed high to enter the Glacier Blanc. However, that endeavour was aborted, as part way in it was too lively, and a fast exit was required.  Found a nice climb into wave and reached 5000m, with views to match. Strong winds at height, and a pleasant push over Mt Guillaume and over to the Pic de Morgon well below. Had a short trip down beyond the Dormilouse, but it was not working in a classic way, so called it a day and came back to base. Later, at the usual chat and comparing flights, I was told, that strong SW winds make for “interesting” conditions on the ridges. How very true I thought.
WOW! What a view (Wyn Davies)
Score so far is, Push bike 6, Glider 3.  Hoping it improves.  
Hope it improves (Wyn Davies)
More rain so the Push bike wins again - Wyn Davies

Wed 12th June

Low cloud stopped the Wednesday Regulars from getting into the skies but the Met Office put in an order for the clouds to clear for their evening trial lessons. The skies cleared for 17:00 as requested so that the 10 eager 'sky flier wannabees' could enjoy the thrill of our incredible sport.
Group from the Met Office (Jill Harmer)
Jill Harmer manned the launch point whilst Pete Harmer helped with glider retrieves. Gordon Hutchinson on the launch point activities, Stirling Melhuish on the cable retrieves and Hans Jenssen on the winch. With this crack team JB and Rowan Smith gave everyone two flights each, with several coming back for a third.

Each flight brought back fresh tales of delight to the waiting group. They all thoroughly enjoyed themselves and after 24 flights and many grins we put the kit away with the same slickness that the evening was run. Many stayed for a drink to carry on sharing their experiences and asking questions about flying and gliding. Such a pleasure to have shared the evening with such an enthusiastic and fun group.

Many thanks for everyone who volunteered for the evening event. - Rowan Smith

Sun 9th June

Assuming the weather forecast for today was accurate the day was potentially going to be “interesting” - it was just a question of to what extent and whether the forecast heavy rain showers would bring an early end to the day’s flying activities.
Powerful skies today (James Hood)
With the morning evidently flyable, Peter Field and Rick Andrews, as the morning Duty team,  were soon organising Club gliders out of the hangar and for the launch point to be set up in the North East corner of the airfield.

Alongside Club training flights there were a number of Friends and Family flights to be completed so with good teamwork the gliders were soon being steadily launched into the air by either the Pawnee or winch and in turn retrieved back to the launchpoint.

During the morning, despite evident rain showers to the West of the airfield, the launches and landings continued undeterred whilst the flying list made steady progress - for some gliders there were good thermals to be used to climb to cloudbase at around 2000ft, but for some gliders there was simply lots of sinking air and a relatively quick return to the airfield.

And then around lunchtime greying skies and in turn drops of rain encouraged a stop for refreshments.
A sign of things to come (Mike Sloggett)
But with brightening skies and the weather radar suggesting that rain would stop play later in the afternoon, it was back to the launchpoint to endeavour to complete the flying list. No sooner had the decision been made to start flying then a rain shower appeared and with a warning from the winch that hailstones were starting to fall at the West end of the airfield it was now a question of seeing how many people could quickly fit inside the launchpoint vehicle!

After the rain had gone through the focus was then on completing the rest of the flying list -  once this had been achieved by mid-afternoon, against a backdrop of increasingly grey skies, the decision was made to put the gliders and ground equipment away and close the hangar doors on a day where as much flying as possible had been squeezed out of the day.
Time to put the gliders away (Mike Sloggett)
As ever great teamwork all round to get others into the air - and a particular thank you to Rob Hender who winched all day without flying. - Mike Sloggett

Sat 8th June

So today's forecast was such that I planned other things this morning earning my brownie points at home. When I did arrive at the Club at 3pm just to deliver eggs, I was met with a few hardy members who had been there all day and they had enjoyed the challenging conditions. Strong westerly winds and some rain showers but towards the end of the day the sky was definitely soarable. 
Lisa & Stu (Lisa Humphries)
I managed to time my arrival perfectly - jumping into a K21 with the CFI for a quick whizz around, I did put the glider away and help as well as I wouldn’t want to gain a reputation!
Cracking Devon visibility (Lisa Humphries)
After we landed, John Pursey requested a final launch and as I left the club 30 mins later he was seen high in the sky having a great flight in KEK.

As always Gliding beats shopping and housework, I was privileged to get into the sky today and thanks to all present for running the field. - Lisa Humphries

Fri 7th June - Course Summary

The starting point has to be thanks to our instructors, Guy Adams and John Sillett for helping us get the very most out of the weather. The course started at 08:30 Monday morning prompt with Tim  Powell, Jim Binning, Brian Knight, Sue Dyson, Mark Errington and Gordon Hutchinson defining their aims and wishes. Then straight into getting the aircraft ready and starting to fly. That willingness to work as a close team exchanging experience as well as stories kept us maximizing the opportunities we had to fly! all week. The great use of available weather just kept on giving us, a good flying return. 
June Course (Jill Harmer)
The week's weather forecast last Sunday had not been particularly good, but we managed to reach a total of 18hours in the air, over four very good flying days.
Preparing to fly (Jim Binning)
Our interaction with the mid-week flyers (reported elsewhere) increased the teamwork and chat, but more importantly reinforced the strong group enthusiasm. We all gained much and while doing lectures and course review on  Friday (the only day we lost to the changeable conditions) we all considered it a successful course.
Great Teamwork (Jim Binning)
Thanks also to Robert Lee, Hans Jenssen, Alann Mounce and Jill Harmer for providing the support to let us all, concentrate on the flying.

All of those of us on the course agreed the following outcomes, sufficient circuits (ticked), soaring flights (ticked), stretching conditions occasionally (ticked),great company (with an enjoyable course dinner on the Thursday night) (ticked) and FUN (multiple tick’s) all resulted in a very enjoyable week with the vast majority of our initial aims achieved. - Gordon Hutchinson