Wednesday 18th September – Blue thermals galore!

Again a glorious sunny day with plenty of blue thermals for local soaring. Graham managed 2.27 hours with a height of 2,900ft. Several flights of approximately an hour with JKW holding it`s own against BNH even though it was what we would typically call the day “a K6 day”.                                              First launch at 11.28 after we de-rigged LPM for a minor repair job to keep Nick busy for a while in the workshop. Last launch at 16.09 saw 15 winch launches and 2 motor glider flights makin a total of 9.10 flying hours for the very enjoyable afternoon.

Many thanks to Mike J and our trusty midweek volunteer winchers for giving their time, in addition to their weekend rostered duties.

Chris Chappell 

British Glider Aerobatic Nationals

Hi all,

Last week, I spent the week at Lasham Gliding competing in the 2019 Advanced Glider Aerobatic Nationals. This was the first time in recent years that the Nationals were held at Lasham, so we were all competing in a new aerobatic box which proved to be a challenge as there wasn’t a great deal marking the boundaries.

The first sequence was our Free Known which we are allowed to design and practice. This sequence went well for me as I scored 1364 points which was 200 points clear of the next competitor. The contest director had decided that we were going to do 2 flights a day so the next flight was unknown 1 – we are given these sequences a few hours before we fly them. Again this flight went well for me as I scored 1044 points winning this flight also.

The next day we had 2 flights left to do, the first one was the free unknown. We are allowed to design this sequence but not practice it!
I tactically chose my closest competitors sequence as it was silly to risk doing poorly on a separate sequence and him doing well. Should bad luck have it, I rolled the wrong way part way through his sequence resulting in my lowest score ever at 405 points ( I had a few words to say about it, when I realised I was the wrong way round). So after landing I thought I was out of the competition….

I had one flight left to do, and after talking to Maz the owner of the fox he helped me through what I needed to do for the last flight. Surprisingly it went really well, so well in fact I won the last flight!

3 wins out of 4 flights. But was it enough?

Unfortunately not.

Dave Gethin had beaten me by 1.2%. Silver medal it is.

This competition I learned a lot, and I feel even more determined and excited to do well in future competitions. Even though this season went well with 2 gold medals and 1 silver and 8,138 points (Which I believe is the most anyone scored this season in the UK)  there is always room for improvement.

You can find the scores here: https://www.aerobatics.org.uk/contest/result/164

The last image was taken on the Sunday, when our coach decided he wanted to winch the Primary as we had free day. Soon as I have 200 hours I’m going to ask to fly it. Carl a team member is stood by the glider in the picture.

Launching the Fox at 9am

Wallop!

A unique opportunity presented itself on Sunday when a few members visited Middle Wallop under the invitation of PNGC.
A Brief History (from internet sources and my local knowledge):
Middle Wallop has long been an active station and at some time or another been host to all three UK services and the USAAF. The station opened 1940 as RAF Middle Wallop which operated the Spitfire, Hurricane and Beaufighters.
In 1943 the USAAF operated the P38 Lightning and P51 Mustang. 1944 saw the RAF return with Mosquito’s before transfer in 1945 to the RN and back to the RAF in 1946 until 1957.
1954 saw the first operation of helicopters and the formation of the Joint Experimental Helicopter Unit in 1955. In 1957 army aviation became independent of the RAF and the new Army Air Corps was born at Middle Wallop.
Mostly this comprised of rotary aircraft with helicopters such as the Gazelle, Lynx, Apache and Wildcat.
Activity has been much reduced in recent years with I believe much of the operation moving to Shawbury.

As I’m sure many of you are aware Portsmouth Naval Gliding Centre ceased operation at it’s long term home at the Former HMS Daedalus last year. Unfortunately the whole site was taken over by the council and subsequent commercial pressures left the PNGC with no option but to cease flying activity there after 69 years.
PNGC has since seen it’s fleet somewhat dispersed to the four winds with it’s tug on loan to Talgarth and gliders being utilised at various sites. PNGC has been operating from Upavon in conjunction with Wyvern and has been seeking a permanent home.
This weekend was an opportunity for PNGC to trial an operation at Middle Wallop and saw circa 50 launches by winch and tug on the Saturday.
A varied fleet of aircraft was present in the guise of K21’s, Puchacz, Duo Discus, Discus and numerous private gliders including a ‘flaming’ libelle.
A familiar runway designation of 26 / 08 was in operation with the winch and tug lines operating next to each other, there was even a familiar dip (although no slope) and some tree’s! A vast expanse of neatly mown grass was beckoning.
The opportunity arose to fly a Duo Discus and it would have been foolish to turn it down never having previously flown such a machine! After a briefing I was ready and the instructor having finished his cuppa (rarely seen without one) sat behind we were positioned behind the Robin for a 2k tow.
Not being the world’s most profilic tug customer there was a degree of apprehension as we set off (don’t drop the wing, don’t drop the wing) what felt like a fairly long ground run saw the Discus flapping its wings as we became unstuck! I was immediately struck by it’s stability and the silence! I have definitely never experienced anything as quiet and with the exception of the air vent it was super silent!
We were soon at 2k after an uneventful tow and released alongside the danger area of Porton Down turning back towards Broughton (undercarriage, check!). The lift was pretty much non existent but we didn’t encounter much sink either. I had been warned about the ‘slippery’ characteristics of the Discus and I was struck by how it retained height, it just kept going and going!
There was an excellent view to the coast with Fawley and the Isle of Wight tantalisingly close.
A very different outlook to the Park with nothing like the unudlating ground that we enjoy in our immediate playground.
We headed back towards the airfield with the LX9050 barking ‘Airspace’ yup we were in it (legally) and enjoying it too! After a couple of orbits over the houses of Middle Wallop and pre-landing landing checks complete (undercarriage, check!) we positioned for a right hand circuit (powered on a left hand circuit).
I had been warned about the very flat approach attitude and how closing the brakes would see the aircraft rapidly gain speed, this being an aircraft with a minimum 60kt approach with barely a sniff of headwind.
A long base leg and into the final turn saw me lined up (unusually) neatly to the left of the trees, speed on, brakes open, looking good, in the undershoot, brakes reduced, speed good, floating, over the peri track, touchdown! A landing I was very pleased with which earned a metaphoric pat on the back from the instructor too!
A real buzz and an ear to ear grin ensued.
Being a low hours, pre bronze solo pilot I have flown at a couple of different sites and in different aircraft each time (first time on type each time) and have found it really fulfilling. In my opinion it is really useful to fly as many different aircraft as possible as every aircraft flies differently BUT you have the skills to fly them (I’m sure there are some caveats in there somewhere).
To add to that, the same aircraft types also fly very differently in my (limited) experience.
Thanks to PNGC and the opportunity to fly a different aircraft in a very unique environment (I’ll take up the invitation to fly 805 the single seater Discus another time).

A Blue Saturday to reward tenacious scratchers.

Sat 14th Sept was a beautiful sunny one.  Not a cloud in sight, and a gentle SE wind.  Hardly the glider pilot’s vision of a great gliding day!  Several were rewarded with prolonged flights though after Chris Teasdale showed us where to find the lift, in HTR, over the higher ground.  The whole club fleet was out and well used during the lovely warm day.  Cady eked out the last dregs of the day, scratching for over 40 minutes above the same spot on the ridge, honing his turning skills after a summer lay-off.

The Longleat balloons were on show in the morning and evening, book-ending a very pleasant autumnal day.

(For KTrax flight log enthusiasts, don’t believe all of the exaggerated times on yesterday’s log file.  There were obviously some logging issues.  I don’t think anyone flew much over an hour and a half. )

Glorious Friday 13th

Well what a glorious day today! Beautiful clear air which is quite unusual with an inversion as predicted.                                                                                               For those of us up early enough and living local there was the extra wonderful sight of over a hundred hot air balloons taking part in the Longleat 3 day balloon festival. So be sure to be about early tomorrow and Sunday morning to see this amazing sight. A couple of years ago we had a few land on the airfield early in the morning – quite a sight to see.

Steve L managed a very respectable 2.45 hours of local soaring in totally blue thermals – not a whisper of a cloud! With Ron having a more challenging flight in LPM for nearly half an hour – which he declared was really hard work.  With members enjoying two seater training and check flights with Mike J, and the rest of us, well sitting in the Autumn sun with plenty of chit chat and tea. We were joined late afternoon by Dick and Mary flying in for visit in G-COBLY,  having been to Old Sarum for lunch before returning to Compton Abbas.  Mike T took himself off to Portland Bill in or very own motor Faulke – which I`m sure he may well add some pictures and blog himself.

16 flights in all, including one aerotow and one motor glider launch. Approximately 6.30 hours of flying time. First launch 11.27 and last launch 16.24. What a great relaxing day, flying and much socialising listening to some of the great stories of the early days of tug flying from Ron L.

Chris 

Sunday 8th September

It turned out to be a better day than many of us expected I think and it gave really excellent soaring conditions. I thought it might be worth posting a few pictures from my flight, as it was one of the most satisfying in the last few years.

I enjoy visiting exciting soaring locations, and the Isle Of  Wight ranks high on my list. I have only been able to fly there once before as suitable days are rare and it’s a 300K flight to St Catherine’s Point and back. The flight is normally only possible in August or September due to the sea breezes that occur earlier in the year. The secret it seems to me is that it’s not difficult to cross the Solent, but it’s important to be able to be high enough to get to a good climb on the other side, which will likely be twice the crossing distance.

Isn’t this what gliding is all about?

Approaching Portsmouth

Looking to the IOW

Looking west

Ryde

St Catherine’s Point Lighthouse! 

Heading Home, looking NE

Portsmouth

Give it a try, it’s not difficult.
Alastair

Saturday 31st August

Only three launches were possible today before the conditions became too difficult with low cloud and some rain.

The ridge was working though and it gave Roy a taste of how to fly on a ridge. The wind was 185 degrees at 15kts on the first flight, but it was not quite strong enough to maintain height. On the second flight the wind was 185 degrees again, but at 20kts and the ridge just about allowed sustained flight up to 1000ft, but it was necessary to work hard with S turns in the best parts. On the third and last flight the wind had increased and veered to 220 degrees at 26kts and it was working very easily up to the cloudbase of 1900ft QFE.

These were the best set of ridge flights I have had at The Park, so if you see a forecast of 20+ kts from 180 – 220 degrees, it’s well worth flying. 1500 feet or so may not sound very exciting, but the practice it gives in working weak ridge and thermal lift is very satisfying.

Thursday 29th August. “Refreshingly Cool 😎”.

Good evening fellow aviators.

After some very warm days this week already, today at the park was a very pleasant and clement 18 degrees celcius. The wind varying between 230 – 250 degrees, 10 – 15 knot ground wind, 20 knot flying wind. This made for respectable launch heights, and some very welcome assistance in staying aloft from our local ridge.

The forecast was a respectable one for local soaring, and although not a stellar day for soaring, extended flights were enjoyed throughout the day.

There was only a small scattering of aviators at the Park today, but fortunately Barts dog ‘Google’ was available to lend a “paw” at the launch point.

Until retiring to her “lunch” point after a busy mornings work 🐶🦴🙂.

The skies to the South West of the Park reverberated to the sounds of multiple military fast jets and helicopters performing “high energy training manoeuvres”.

Merv and Gordon were so inspired by the days soaring opportunities, that in the absence of a spare Glider began experimenting with alternative methods for achieving a quick solo flight 😂🙂.

A total of 27 Glider flights today. First launch at 11:05, last landing at 17:50.

A refreshingly cool and enjoyable day at the Park dear aviators.

Kind regards.

Damien.

Wednesday 21st August. “Terrific local soaring, but more challenging for Cross Country”.

Good evening fellow aviators.

It was a good forecast for today, and there was some terrific local soaring from very early in the day, right through to the very last flight of the day.

By the time the Gliders and launch point were prepared and ready, the sky was already showing promise.

2 Club Puchacz, all the club single seaters, and an array of private gliders lined up at the launch point, with up to a dozen online at a time. No pictures of this unfortunately as I was in the launch point line getting ready to fly with everyone else 🙂.

Locally soaring opportunities were plentiful, but the Cross Country guys reported conditions were more challenging out on task, with weak lift and cloud bases as low as 2000ft at times. Mark H fared better than most however, and managed to strike out to Northampton and complete a 250k task.

Former club members Steve & Kath Grzeskowiak made a welcome visit to the Park today. They have travelled back from Australia on a whistle stop tour visiting family and friends in the UK. Steve took to the skies around the park once again this afternoon with Stuart N in the Motor Glider. Taking the controls for all but the take off and landing, on a 1:20 flight, Steve managed a respectable engine off Glide time of approx 40 mins during the flight.

41 Glider flights today, 1 Motor Glider flight, plus an aero tow home for a visiting Dorset Gliding Club member Richard, who landed at the Park after completing a 50k.

First launch 10:43, final club glider landed at 18:04.

Another great day at the Park dear aviators 🙂.

Kind regards.

Damien.

Tuesday 20th August. “Good soaring day 🙂”.

Good evening fellow aviators.

A good forecast preceded a good days soaring from the Park  today.

A steady 10 -15 kt WNW wind was present throughout the day, but glorious sunshine persisted and the temperatures remained warm and comfortable all day.

The Cross Country Pilots were out in force, tackling a variety of tasks, and travelling as far and wide as Bridgnorth and Milton Keynes. Alastair encountered one particular thermal that averaged 11.5kts up during a 1000ft climb!

Mike J, was kept busy locally with training duties, and even tried his hand at a bit of inflight photography. Please see picture below dear aviators 😂🙂!Good first attempt Mike 😂🙂. 

The launch point took a momentary step back in time at one point this afternoon, with a trio of K6’s on line ready to launch 🙂.

32 Glider flights in total today. Plus a welcome visit from a Mendip motor glider.

Tomorrows forecast looks promising again fellow aviators 🙂👍.

Kind regards.

Damien.

Monday 19th August. “Soaring between the showers”.

Good evening fellow aviators.

After consulting with the oracle (RASP 😉), we knew today wouldn’t be a strong soaring day, but sometimes its just nice to get off the ground, even for just a few minutes. For those pilots wanting instruction, Mike J was on hand, and was kept busy all day training.

Showers were frequent but short throughout the day, and we were generally managing two launches then parking the Gliders for 10 minutes to let a shower pass through, before wiping the gliders dry and launching again. The enthusiasm to fly remained undiminished throughout the day, with every opportunity to launch being grasped.

At ground level a steady 10 – 15 knot westerly wind, occasionally gusted to 20 knots. The wind was very slightly warm, and brilliant sunshine was there to be enjoyed between showers. The flying wind up to 20 knots westerly.

Conditions delivered excellent launch heights, giving pilots the opportunity to make the most of the limited lift to be found. The Puchacz launching between 1500 – 1600 ft, the Astir 1700 – 1800ft.

Merv B re-solo’d today 🙂. Merv returned to gliding last year, after 15 years away from the sport. He took to the skies this afternoon, once again a solo pilot. Well done Merv 👍🙂.

16 Glider Flights in total today. A very productive instructional day, and a very pleasant days flying for the soloists.

Tomorrows forecast looks promising, so we will take to the skies and try our luck once more fellow aviators.

Kind regards.

Damien.

Saturday 17th August. “A day at the Park, Streets ahead of a day spent anywhere else 😉” (Updated version).

(Good afternoon fellow aviators, I have updated Saturdays blog with a motor glider flight made by John H. I didn’t hear about this flight until Sunday morning, but it was well worth a mention in the blog, so I have included it below).

Good evening fellow aviators.

RASP predicted workable local lift at the Park today and Mother Nature didn’t disappoint.

Soaring got off to a slow start in the morning, but from lunch time onwards long workable energy lines of cloud streets started to appear at the Park.

A 10- 15 knot westerly wind made progress a challenge at times, but many sustained soaring flights were enjoyed during the day.

After the Motor Gliders 50 hour inspection was completed, John H ran it down to view the team setting up next weeks Steam Rally at Blandford. On the return leg he noticed a large cloud street south of Gillingham. He switched off the engine & glid out getting to 1500 amsl before hitting a bit of lift. This took him to the edge of the Yeovilton MATZ in a gentle climb to 2000ft. Starting to feel the effects of a bit of jet lag from his and Julies recent transatlantic adventure, he turned for home. About 5 miles west of Wincanton John took a 5knot climb to 3900ft, then glided all the way home. 35 mins engine time, 40 mins noise free.

Later in the afternoon, Mike T managed to ride a convergence to Castle Cary and back in the motor glider. I tried valiantly to ride the same convergence in the Astir, but was a little too low to make the most of that one.

Weather conditions through the day were very pleasant. The westerly wind was very slightly warm, and very refreshing. Bright sunshine most of the time too, reminding me how rejuvenating just helping out on the airfield between flights at the Park can be. The perfect tonic after a weeks work.

A total of 27 Glider flights, and 2 Motor Glider flights today.

Not the strongest of soaring days at the Park, but still ‘streets’ ahead of a day spent almost anywhere else 😉 .

Monday 12th August

Many thanks to Alistair for test flying our new syndicate DG101 Elan (Hugh, Bill and myself) and subsequent briefing. Hugh then taking an aerotow and Bill a winch launch, with excellent local soaring conditions (I need to eat some more doughnuts, being a little too close for comfort to the minimum weight – more lead ballast to be made by the technical team for me!)                 With a bit of a grey, low cloud start to the day, first launch at 11.19 and final launch at 16.08 we had Mark and Stuart giving two seater training to members and an aerotow for completion of an annual check.                               Many thanks to Chris Basham for winching for the day, Mark and Stuart for instructing.                                                                                                                                      The afternoon gave us excellent clear air and good soaring conditions. 14 winch launches and 3 aerotows.

Chris Chappell

Sunday, 11th August

We were thin on the ground, with only two booked pupils because of a strong wind forecast, with the likelihood of an early bath ( around 1400, when the occluded front was due to dampen our spirits).  With that scenario, we could only manage two Puchacz on the field and we switched Roy C to morning, to beat the expected weather.  We also had an interesting visitor, who made his way from Bristol by train and taxi, to fly with us before his return to France in the week ( more explanation later).

The 240 wind was supposed to reduce slowly and veer to around 280 but actually did neither!  By mid pm, it had backed and maintained or even strengthened.  The starting direction allowed us to gain some support from the White Sheet ridge and take thermals as they came through.  There were lots of slope-soaring modellers down there; we didn’t cross over them and I only saw two gliders up at a time, doing some “high energy” ridge bashing. Roy and I had two good flights, getting to a cloudbase of 2900′ but then, heading into wind,  finding ourselves above the lower cloudbase of 2600′ to port.  I cannot explain that; it wasn’t a convergence or a step from sea air (non visible and a good soarable cloudscape).  We followed the line but didn’t find any special lift effects, so maybe it was simply that we had a higher cloudbase to the north of the A303 than the south, because of the lower ground to the south.

We had a short break with a little rain but John G. had checked Andy N out.  We could see heavy rain towards Shepton Mallet but that was not coming towards us.  Andy then flew solo and, because the wind had backed by then, was able to try the Brimsdown ridge and thermals as they moved through.

Our visitor was very interesting.  He is involved with teaching commercial pilots and air traffic controllers to communicate in the international aviation languages, English and French, to those whose native language is neither eg. Africans, Chinese etc ( no jokes about Aussies or western atlantic colonial cousins please).  He had flights with John and myself and expressed his gratitude for those, the warm welcome and the lift Mick gave him back to Warminster station – thanks Mick.  The visitor, Nick, is planning to come back in the autumn, maybe to organise some flying for French pilots and ATC, so start brushing up your language skills!

Although we didn’t get the forecast storms on time, everybody had done enough to be satisfied when lightning was seen in the Longleat/Frome direction, so time to retrieve Dennis from the winch; he doesn’t need defibrillating!

As I left the site, big drops were starting to fall and the roads back to and beyond Frome had many deep water traps.  We  were lucky to have had a good day.