Sun 31st May

With an east south easterly wind the day started slowly with only a few club members and a long trip to the far end of the field. John Sillett took the first launch, the first for him since March, and with a 40 minute flight in a Junior proved that the promised thermals had started. 9 privateers soon launched with several impressive flights. Andy Davey had the greatest height 7050ft QFE. Wyn Davies had the longest at 4 hours 52 minutes. Andy Williams had the shortest flight in FUN due to an ASI failure (soon fixed by Andy and Peter Smith). 

Cloudbases were so high (7500ft msl) that everyone had to be careful to keep out the airways.

There were 20 launches, most from the winch but James Flory gave aerotows to Pete Startup in 230, Ron Johns in the ASH and Team Harmer in their Duo Discus.

The view of NHL clearly showed the lack of rain, most of the field is nearly as brown as the recently levelled areas.
NHL in the sea air late afternoon (Wyn Davies)
The BGA ladder shows flights logged by Pete Startup and Phil Morrison both completing NHL-CAC-NHL, 307km while Eric Alston G29 flew NHL-SHA-KNO-NHL 215km, Ron Johns 711 did O/R to Salisbury from the front cockpit! Wyn Davies flew O/R to Salisbury  plus a bit on Exmoor 304kms,  Pete & Jill completed 167kms The Park - Wells. Mike Harris also had a good local soaring flight in his Open Cirrus.

Last flight landed at 1720, by which time the club equipment had all been disinfected and stowed away. A special mention to Gordon Hutchinson who arrived first, DI'd all the ground equipment and then operated the winch all day, thank you. And also to the invisible Ian Hunt who has single-handed cut all the long grass prior to the weekend. - James Smart

And in the evening it was another Condor race 100kms NH2- TIE-YEO-HHL,  with more emphasis on the navigation this time, both Dan Hender and Matt Howard set off quickly but both managed to get low just out of Yeovil, and lost some time recovering height, David Clements also had a sticky patch near Yeovil, but Geoff Lawrence took the advice from the coaches and stayed high, and came in a creditable 2nd place behind Matt. Dan suffered some penalties for just clipping the finish line height band.  A good task to help build up the cross-country knowledge - well done all. - J&P

Sat 30th May

Another good soaring forecast for North Hill but with the sea air coming in at some stage to stop the fun. Both Juniors and K21s solo were out flying and the K6 and a number of private owners joined in as well. It was soarable from early and the the cloudbase gradually increased as the low level inversion was broken. The south easterly wind  had picked up and veered southerly  by lunch time.
Wimbleball Reservoir from W7 (Wyn Davies)
Notable flights were from Pete Startup 230 who completed O/R to Wantage 306Kms, 
" Launched as soon as a few Cu appeared over the Blackdowns and set off. Soon left the Cu behind and it was pretty much blue-ish after that, around WAN and back as far as Melksham where there were some better wispies which turned into solid Cu with a high cloudbase across the Somerset Levels - they obviously haven't read the script this year! Just as well - it was a long old glide back into the brisk Southerly sea breeze back to NHL. First 'proper' x-c since lockdown, slow and steady, still a bit nervy............."

Wyn Davies W7 who turned Dunkery Beacon and Bridgwater, Eric Alston in G29 who completed Wellington, Dulverton and Langport. The latecomers Jill and Pete Harmer in OL took a long aerotow to the convergence which was now setup over the spine of Exmoor and enjoyed 136kms of straight line flying.

Thanks to all the non-flying helpers for running the operation, hopefully we will be flying two-seater training / check flights  again soon. - J&P

Thurs 28th May

An easterly breeze  and blue sky initially, but a slow start due to a power fault on the LPV. Eventually backup, backup comms with the winch was set up and launching commenced with clouds popping over the airfield.
Nearly an empty launch point (Mike Horwood)
Chris Wool was first to launch in a K21 - first time for a few weeks, then the 2 Juniors and the private owners, and the launch point emptied quickly with good soaring to nearly 3000ft above North Hill for everyone.
A red kite watching Pete Harmer's circuit (Rob Hender)

A socially distanced lunch at the launch point was followed by the Club gliders being called down for crew changes, Unfortunately the convergence had then started to move north and out of reach, but it was possible to stay up for extended circuits on the south ridge if you were lucky. 
North Hill from the west (Mike Horwood)
Longest flight was John Borland in FAJ  just short of 3 hours. 21 winch launches in total.

Tim Petty and John Davis explored all the comms points on the airfield to check for continuity of the field telephone system. Mike Horwood competed for the multimeter to sort out the continuity in the LPV.

Thanks to all those who helped at the launch point / winch etc and still can't fly because of the 2-seater limitation. - J&P

Wed 27th May

With a fantastic day forecast, I was surprised to see so few members. The Juniors were getting the K6  ready and a few private owners were doing their DIs etc, Glenn Turpin was Duty Instructor, we took a K21 and  a Junior to the west end of the field. 
Booming sky all day (John Street)
By the time we had walked the gliders to the southwest corner, the sky was booming, Tim Petty AKA Buffalo Bill was first away and launched straight into a 6knot thermal and soon disappeared followed by young Dan Hender in K6. Meanwhile Team Hender managed the LPV and the launch point and everyone who flew managed an hour or more. 
Team Hender manning the launch point (John Street)
Dan, Josh and Charlie made good use of the K6 and between them kept it in the air all day.
Jeff Taberham 380, Gordon Bonny LRN, Paul Medlock HMS, flew their own  gliders and Pete Startup 230 did his usual trick disappearing for nearly 3hrs and completing Axminster - Mudford Gate - Chard - Crediton West for 200kms.
Slight hiccup (John Street)
The day went smoothly except of a slight hiccup with crossed cables.  - John Street

Mon 25th May

Only a few, but keen members arrived first thing, but by 11am James Smart took the first aerotow in LRD, to keep his currency but managed a reasonable 26 min flight. Peter Smith then took the next and had 28min with a few loops for good measure! Dan Hender DRE and Robert Lee LRD then tried their luck with the winch but only managed 5 and 12 min respectively.

A couple more aerotows were attempted, and then most decided to wishfully wait for the far off cloud to reach us!
Rowan in CLM (Sally Hender)
At about 2pm, Rowan took an aerotow and seemed to be successful, so was immediately followed by  more aerotows Pete Startup 230, Eric Alston  G29 and Mark Wallis CEC on the winch. Pete had the longest flight just short of 3 hours, turned South Molton and was last to land.
Mark Wallis in CEC (Sally Hender)
Thereafter followed various attempts to get away .... Peter Smith LRD, Wyn Davies W7, were more successful than others, but with 28 launches in total, a fun and steady day. All packed up by 5.30pm - Sally Hender

Sun 24th May

My first time back at the Club since lockdown, I'd volunteered to do some winching as it is well worth keeping current with that. Several members were already there in the sunshine when I arrived and the ground equipment was all out and DI'd by 9am. There followed some socially distanced chat and a briefing from Duty Instructor Simon Leeson with lots of talk about the still quite blustery north westerly wind and eventually the field was set up with the winch in the north west corner and launch point close to the Beech tree to launch into wind as much as possible. 

Meanwhile, Andrew Logan with help from George Sanderson and several helpful members rigged the Perkoz after its annual and replaced it safely in the hangar. Simon was first off in K21 KEK to see what conditions were like and after a second go on the other cable, it was decided to move things around to use the much longer east-west strip in between the newly levelled areas of the field as the cross-wind was quite manageable. 
Promising sky (Sally Hender)
Things were quickly up and running again with Charlie Stuckey in K6 DRE (which he shared for the day with Dan Hender) first to go into a promising looking sky, but was soon down having successfully found some good sink. James Flory was next off in Falke VG with daughter Emma being one of the few able to take advantage of two-seater flying with a family member.

John Pursey was next in KEK using his skill and instructor's discretion to get away from a high rope break (self now current on splicing again too) and soar away for the best part of three hours! Charlie S gave the winch a very clear "Too Fast" signal as he went up again in the K6 which was appreciated by the winch driver (me). As conditions improved several private owners flew their gliders and the Junior's K6, both K-21s and Junior LRD were kept busy all day. 

With calmer winds in the afternoon four hopeful pilots had individual briefings with instructors Simon Leeson and James Flory. Dave Cowley, Mark Layton, Mark Wallis and myself were all able to regain currency flying solo thanks to the current flexibility of the normal rules when conditions are favourable. Dave set the ball rolling launching in HCX after lunch, getting called down after 68 minutes. Mark Layton was next in LRD, staying aloft for 1h 25m.  Later on I got my chance in HCX in what was by then a completely clear blue sky. I was delighted to find good lift in several places and got my first climb over the campsite, managing 54 minutes. Last but not least, Mark Wallis flew his Open Cirrus for half an hour towards the end of play. 

Also regaining currency after lockdown was Simon Minson who jumped in Junior LRD at the end of the day, rounding off a good soaring flight with a few loops.What with social distance and all that, we'll all have to give ourselves a pat on the back. Despite an often slow launch rate due to the narrow strip left by the areas of field levelling resulting in landing gliders usually being in the way of the next launch, there were 37 flights today, the longest of 3 hours 2 minutes unsurprisingly being Pete Startup in Discus 230. 

Thanks to Paul Summers for winching all afternoon, Sally Hender for manning (or should that be womaning/personing) the launch point all day, and everyone for pitching in, keeping socially distanced and reminding everyone there what a friendly and sociable club we have. - Hans Jensson

In the evening, the Condor racers flew the Club 100 - Tiverton, Crewkerne  with Stewart Henshall leading the way, with Phil Morrison coming in 2nd and well done to David Clements for a very credible 3rd place  and his longest flight so far.

Thurs 21st May

After a weak front went through over night, the forecast gave the hope of some soaring with some sea air by mid-afternoon. We set up the launch point at the extreme east end to avoid the pinch point at the normal south east corner.  All the solo pilots lined up to enjoy the winch launches. Simon Jordy was on standby for tugging but ended up retrieving gliders on the buggy, as there was no demand for aerotows. 
Clouds to the north (Jill Harmer)

Lines of cumulus developed  a long way to the north with North Hill airfield under a beautiful blue sky, and one by one, pilots returned claiming poor launches  -1100ft and masses of sink everywhere. 
First gaggles (Rob Hender)

It wasn't until 14:00 that the magic 'turn on' started  accompanied by a slight change in wind.  Andy Davey in his Libelle M was the first to make contact to the south, followed swiftly by Geoff Lawrence in K21, Pete Startup in 230 and Dan Hender in K6 DRE. 
Dan in DRE (Rob Hender)

The next tranche of pilots were Aston Key in LRD, John Borland in FAJ, Josh Funnell in DRE and Wyn Davies in W7 (on a second attempt) who all enjoyed long flights up to 4000ft. 

Pete and Wyn enjoyed a few trips along a nice convergence line which set up between Tiverton and Watchford Farm. 

A swift change of ends allowed the last few members to get airborne, but unfortunately too late for the soaring.  Great to see everyone enjoying the social distanced fresh air. Thanks to all who helped make it happen. - J&P

Wed 20th May

Whilst a lot of the west country started with misty conditions, North Hill was bathed in sunshine. All the kit was out ready to go and after James Flory had given the briefing for the day and the importance of social distancing, the small contingent of Wednesday regulars were itching to get going. Most members hadn't flown since mid-March but luckily noone needed a check flight as two-seater flying is suspended for the time being.

It was decided that we would start winch launching again (thanks to those who checked out the winch and ropes) in addition to aerotowing. As the telecoms were playing up, we set up the comms with radios which worked very well, in the meantime Tim Petty tried to sort the telecom problem, -Tim looked more like Buffalo Bill with his longer hair and wide brimmed hat.

Pete Warren gets back in the air (John Street)
The flying started and ran very smoothly with the winch launches and occasional aerotow, continued to work well all day, James Flory and Pete Warren shared the aerotowing and kindly let Stu Procter do the last one.
The flying was fairly easy and there was some broken lift usually below1,000ft, many flights managed to stay up for a reasonable extended circuit the longest was 17min off the winch.
Nick Harrison and Andy Davey flew there own gliders Andy had a slight plumbing problem with his first flight and landed pretty smartly to sort it, the two K21s and a Junior were used for the rest of us.
Let's hope this lovely weather lasts with just the occasional rain to let the grass seed germinate. - John Street.

Meanwhile today's DSGC, Condor virtual task was from Hembury Hill with turn points at Crediton West, and Witheridge, finishing at North Hill North. The wind was from the North, northwest at 10 knots with a cloud base of 5500 feet above sea level with moderate thermals. Jill and Pete set the parameters of the task in a Duo Discus (with the option to take a P2 as ballast) and Dan input the data into Condor, then hosted the task.

Not so many could join us today for varying reasons, the nice weather and the fact that people can actually go out a little bit more now with real solo flying at North Hill probably had something to do with it! We still managed to get five people on the grid, Stewart Henshall, Matt Howard, Geoff Lawrence, Dan and Rob Hender.
Stewart waiting for the start line to open (Stewart Henshall)
From the launch (winch) there was not much lift to be had with the exception of a nice-looking cloud on Dunkeswell’s approach. Rob made an executive decision and decided that Dunkeswell weren't operating today and that it would be okay to take that thermal. The others struggled to get lift legally, so they eventually decided to join the thermal Rob was marking.

By the time that everybody had got to height and Dan opened the start gate we all had to fly quite some way just to start! Rob had drifted ahead of the start gate and had to fly back towards it to go through it and then turn back again, All the others had a reasonably good start and left Rob a couple of minutes behind.
Good conditions on track (Stewart Henshall)
Stewart, Dan and Matt carried on as normal leaving Rob and Geoff to catch up (it was never going to happen). Unfortunately, 15 kilometres into the task, Geoff's PC decided it had had enough and froze up on him and he had to exit Condor. Once he had reset his PC, he could only re-join as a spectator (which I think he enjoyed).

With Stewart, Matt and Dan out in front and Geoff now spectating, Rob was left at the back of the pack about 9 kilometres behind the rest. 
Matt puts the smoke on (Matt Howard)
Stewart completed the task first in about 40 minutes followed by Matt about 10 minutes later with Dan hot on his tail about 10 seconds after that. Then came the long wait for Rob who came in about 10 minutes later.

All in all, an enjoyable flight that had been purposely designed to challenge us more in making decisions whether to take the lift or hope we had enough height to get to the next thermal.

Thanks to Jill and Pete for setting the task and to Jill for the minute by minute coaching helping Rob get round. - Rob Hender

Mon 18th May

 A small but keen group of pilots gathered at North Hill at 9am all looking forward to getting airborne again after the long lay off. One Junior and both K21s were pulled out of the hangar and readied for flying. The launch point was set up at the far east of the remaining strip as was the washing station,that was put to full use all day. A comprehensive briefing was given by Mark Courtney regarding the new airfield layout, flight safety as well as other things, with good social distancing evident.

First to launch was Andy Davey who had an extended flight in the blue conditions, reporting possible wave/rotor to the south west of the airfield. Tom Sides (K21), George Sanderson (K21), Andrew Logan (ASW15 FMS) and Andy Williams (Junior) all launched and managed some success at soaring.

After a leisurely lunch Wyn Davies (LS7 W7) and Eric Alston (ASG29 G29) launched. Eric having the best flight of the day of just over 2½ hours eventually climbing in wave (in the now southerly wind) over Ashill to almost 5000ft. Andy Davey (Junior) and Andy Williams (K21) also had further flights, both managing just over an hour each.
Mark Courtney on the south coast in Rotax Falke (Mark Courtney)
Mark Courtney let Robert Lee have a go in the tug (thank you both) and then jumped into Falke CDSC and had a trip down to the cliffs on the south coast,which were working in the southerly wind.

At various points in the day other club members turned up doing various works on the airfield. Chairman Nick seemed determined to set off a thermal with his rolling of the newly rotavated area, and eventually did. It was quite spectacular watching the thermal drawing a dust plume high into the air.
A big thank you to Mark for organising the day, a very quiet one but thoroughly enjoyable. Lets hope we can start 2-seater training soon for those who are missing out !- Andy Williams

Sun 17th May

Following on from yesterday’s successful return of gliding at North Hill, there was more solo flying to take place today. After a ‘socially distanced’ briefing, a few private owners rigged their gliders whilst the Club K21s and Juniors were brought out of the hangar for use by various members to enjoy their first soaring of the year.
Socially distanced briefing (Mike Sloggett)
The skies were a tad grey initially and cloudbase limited some of the first aerotows to 1500’ release height, but as the day progressed then so the skies improved and aerotow release heights went to 2000’ - the Club gliders were in continuous use throughout the day with anti bacterial spray used regularly to protect pilots changing over and with everyone getting good local soaring flights.

During the day Andrew Logan (ASW15 FMS), Eric Alston (ASG29 G29), Steve Westlake (Discus FER), Ron Johns (ASH25 711) and Rowan Smith (Libelle CLM) all enjoyed the local soaring conditions.
Ron flying from the front seat (Mike Sloggett)
Mark Courtney, Simon Leeson, James Hood and Ian Mitchell all re-familiarised themselves with the Pawnee, whilst both Falkes were similarly used by various members.

After a stone picking session by a small group of members before flying started, Nick Jones then spent many hours rolling the recently levelled area of the airfield just in front of the trailer park.

And a special ‘mention’ for Dan and Sally Hender who spent all day helping everyone else to fly with Dan evidently looking forward to getting ‘signed off’ for solo aerotow again soon. A good day had by all. -  Mike Sloggett 

For those unable to fly and wishing to keep their hand in, the Condor racing group pushed up to a 75k task, with TPs at MUD and DUL and a wind northwesterly 9knots.  Conditions were good with strong wide thermals, as everyone was flying a Duo, some for the first time (unless they’d put in a bit of practice after Pete and Jill set the task the evening before.  
Heading west  for MUD (Condor screenshot)

With social distancing not a problem, Dan Hender took full advantage of Condor’s adaptable settings by flying with a virtual second pilot to shift the polar curve (ballast that doesn’t talk…bliss) and romped around the course at an average speed of 107Kph, with Matt and Phil also notching up 100+ speeds .  And well done to David Clements  and Geoff Lawrence for completing their longest tasks so far.  Dan went back up the final leg after finishing to help John Davis get that last thermal. 

There’s talk of less strong conditions for the next one… watch out for details on the Whats App group. - Geoff Lawrence (first time blogger)

Sat 16th May

Small steps back to flying again with Covid19, and today the first 14 members who were current on aerotow lined up to fly at North Hill. 
Aerotow operation from the end of the field (Simon Leeson)
The small group set up the aerotow operation to check out the social distancing rules  and cleaning practices at the airfield. As requested, everybody stayed reasonably local, even though the soaring conditions could have taken us much further. Pete Startup managed a total of 300kms in 3 triangles.
Grass has already started growing on the levelled area to the north side.(Stuart Procter)
Only solo flying has been allowed so far, apart from the 'same household rule',  that enabled James and Sam Flory and Jill and Pete Harmer to fly together. 
Pete and Jill passing Clatworthy Reservoir  (Jill Harmer)
Further small steps will continue with solo flying and moving on to running the winch operation safely.  We will be following the government guidelines for when we can restart training / check flights in two-seaters.

Thanks to everyone - lovely to get back in the air again. - J&P

Wed 13th May

Today's DSGC virtual task went with flying colours (mostly from the tips of Charlie Broderick's wings)!
The task was set up and hosted by Dan Hender, with conditions requested by Jill and Pete Harmer. We did the familiar triangle, but in reverse so NHL - Wellington - Tiverton - NHL, with the wind from the East at 10kts, making the TIV - NHL leg into wind so not quite as straight forward as you may like.

The runners and riders in no particular order were: Stewart Henshall, Dan Hender, Matt Howard, Geoff Lawrence, Phil  Morrison, John Davis, Charlie Broderick and Rob Hender and we had Jill and Pete spectating / acting as ATC for those brave enough to do a radio call to enter Dunks airspace. We also had some silent spectators of Robert Lee, Ben Watkins and David Clements, who hopefully will join in next time.
On the grid at  virtual North Hill (Stewart Henshall)
After the initial winch launch and time allowed to gain altitude, Dan opened the start gate and the task began.
Geoff at the top of the winch launch (Stewart Henshall)
Early leaders were Matt and Rob, but that was never going to last and we were passed before the first turn point by the Condor Pro’s. (You know who you are!). Further into the task, various pilots started to thermal to gain height, (some sooner than others), Dan nearly left it too late  and had to make the big decision, pick a field or try the big cloud on the right. Fortunately the big cloud,  that Stewart was marking, worked and he went up like a train (would he have made the same decision if he was flying the real thing)?
Stewart and Dan racing for the finish (Stewart Henshall)
Eventually, all but one finished and everybody seemed to have a great time. Stewart narrowly beat Dan, with Rob coming in third.

Thanks to all participants and spectators. Join us next time on Sunday evening - details will be on WhatsApp. - Rob Hender

Sun 10th May

On Sunday evening the virtual skies of Devon and Somerset were filled again, as 8 Club members took off to complete the DSGC twice-weekly task.
Winch launching (Stewart Henshall)
Once again still smoothing out some technical details, we flew the route from the North Hill, up to Tiverton, across to Wellington and back, but this time we had our highest success rate yet with all 8 pilots that started the race, finishing the race in one piece.
Landing back at North Hill (Ben Watkins)
After some troubled starts and some 'outstanding lift' being used, all the Standard Cirrus' crossed the start line heading off  towards Tiverton. 

Matt Howard  and Dan Hender led most of the race being almost 5nm ahead of third place Stewart Henshall  (who was probably a bit tired after competing in the Condor Grand Prix race). Then a slight error with height judgement left Matt and Dan needing another climb before the finish, giving enough time for Stewart to sneak in and take the victory. And a 200 point penalty for Matt allowed Phil Morrison to take third place. 

The Hender household are now flying in two rooms.... where's Sally?

For this race we were also testing the new spectator mode that Condor has added to allow for spectators to watch the race. Jill and Pete Harmer struggled to get the new feature to work but supported via Matt's live stream instead.

Well done also to Rob Hender, Geoff Lawrence, John Davis and David Clements for all completing their first tasks.

Thanks to Ben Watkins  for hosting the server (and has promised to join the race as well next time.) - Matt Howard

Wed 6th May

Wednesday evening was another busy one for Club flying…online of course. Our Condor racing events are gathering popularity and six members lined themselves up on the virtual grid to take part this time – Dan Hender, Matt Howard, Geoff Lawrence, John Davis, Phil Morrison and Ben Watkins. The task was the club 50k again (NHL – TIV – WEG – NHL) however a few changes were made to help make it more competitive. The keys to the expensive gliders were confiscated and competitors limited to Club Class which meant most flew the humble Standard Cirrus. A maximum start height of 3000ft and a minimum finish of 1500ft was imposed and to mix things up a bit we winch launched to start. 
Waiting to start at North Hill (John Davis)
The launches were true to life with some getting away, straight away and others landing back for a relight, but eventually everyone was airborne together. It quickly became apparent that the conditions were tricky. Cloudbase was a reasonable 4000ftQNH but thermals were weak low down and cycled quickly. Most pilots experienced at least one long glide to a thermal that vaporised in front of them.
On task (John Davis)
Eventually only three gliders turned the first turnpoint with the remainder either landing out or suffering technical hiccups with the wiggly amps. Matt was in the lead and turned Tiverton first with Ben following behind. There was no clear line of energy between Tiverton and Wellington and the lead pair split their strategies with Matt going South and Ben North. In the end the sky to the North won and Matt landed out near Willand leaving only Ben and Phil to complete the task.
Plans are afoot to establish regular competitions on designated days of the week with the potential for additional ad-hoc contests in between. If you want to get involved or would like some help getting set up get in touch via the DSGC Condor Racing WhatsApp group - email Jill for details. - Ben Watkins (first-time blogger)

Fri 1st May

We're learning all the time with another Condor race this afternoon, NHL - TIV -WEG -NHL and this time with streaming for the spectators. The  Juniors  - Dan Hender, Matt Howard and Charlie Broderick were ready at the front of the grid, and today we were joined by Geoff Lawrence, John Davis, Stewart Henshall, James Hood and Phil Morrison. 
Dan flying the Antares (Sally Hender)

Dan was flying the Antares and didn't have to find many thermals en-route to win the task, Phil missed the start gate and  Novice John had a relight and then put the thermal helpers on, to start understanding thermals.  
Task completed (Matt Howard)

Ready to join us yet? join the DSGC Condor Racing WhatsApp group to keep in touch - J&P