The forecast seemed uncertain after a night of rain with billowing grey cloud but nonetheless a good Sunday turnout ensued.
With the weather conditions improving all the time the cloud cleared and a bright sunny day was in the offing.
A fleet consisting of 3 Puchacz and 1 Astir were assembled by the dewpond ensuring we could all feel the benefit of the the fresh North Easterly wind.
A useful day of instruction followed with BI’s under training and Bath University members making the most of the relatively benign conditions.
A solitary private glider was fielded which made the most of the conditions with some engine assistance, reportedly even encountering some wave.
A good solid day with 33 winch launches and a few aerotows thanks to Nick Bowers impromptu tug duty.
With everything put to bed by 16:15 we were away by 17:00 (after a slight delay due to a flat battery on a motorcycle – Top tip, don’t leave your heated grips switched on!)
The field whilst in good condition has certainly become markedly softer and all should take extra care when operating any equipment so as to preserve the condition of the field going into the winter. Remember, how we look after it now will determine it’s condition for next years flying.
CHRISTMAS DINNER! – There are just 12 names on the list for Christmas Dinner! John and Julie go to great lengths to prepare this festive feast which is a great social evening. Unless names are forthcoming there is a distinct possibility that this won’t happen!
Disappointing start to the day! 10:10 and all is quiet! Incomplete duty team, 1 pupil, no gliders on the field. Its a beautiful day at the park. Days like these are numbered this time of year and the opportunity shouldn’t be missed! To quote the duty instructor ‘one is not impressed’
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 very gloomy overcast day at The Park for a majority of the day resulted in a lot of watching and waiting. But the wait for Steve Callaghan was over as John Hull sent him solo today – Congratulations Steve! That’s 2 members of the Callaghan clan who’ve solo’d at The Park.
Flightlog tell’s it’s own story with only couple of flights of any duration prior to 16:00 with most being sub 10 minutes, the best flight of the day was from a visiting discus with a time of 1:36 from a winch launch which launched at 16:49.
Whether any tasks were completed I’m not sure but not a fantastic competition day on the face of it.
A rare treat today as Julie unexpectedly provided ice creams and ice lollies in various forms at the launch point accompanied by Chris Roberts playing the tune of an ice cream van from his phone!
Having followed the competiton with interest it looked like today was a ‘goer’ as the pilots were briefed this morning and the gliders gridded. Unfortunately it has just resulted in a scrub again.
I think we can all relate to the snippet below (especially the last 2 lines).
On a more positive note Tim Fletcher remains in the lead after the last task on Tuesday!
Following on from the open day yesterday the weather appeared to hold more promise for today. Due to yesterday’s inclement weather visitors were encouraged to return today with the possibility of taking a flight.
Despite a low turnout of club members we fielded 3 Puchacz and 1 Astir with Phil and the CFI instructing and a brace of BI’s at the ready for visitor’s.
Under character building conditions with the wind 20kts at 270 it was a great opportunity for honing skills and making the most of the lofty launches. The afternoon provided some welcome sun and an easing of the conditions.
It was great to see 2 visitors today who bought vouchers at the open day in addition to others who turned up on the off chance who we were able to fly. Interestingly some of our visitor’s got the day wrong but it proved the advertising worked!
In other news………….
Tug Bugs: The tug is currently OOA and under investigation. Dick Yerburgh, Mark Player and others toiled all day but a fault persists and work is ongoing.
Overflight’s: With the Club Class Nationals at Aston Down this weekend we were graced with some overflights from fellow gliding aviators, we did spy Tim Fletcher in his Libelle slightly to the North of us. However on checking the results tonight it’s great to see that Tim has topped the scoreboard with a comfortable margin. Well done Tim! You can follow the competition at the link below which runs until 2nd June.
Rare Bird Visit: As a result of the club class nationals we saw an appearance from the Rare Robin Orangebreast, latin name G-TUGZ. Resplendent in it’s orange and white plumage it retrieved another visitor in the form of an ASW19B which was a little out of breath and stopped for a rest.
GAM in it’s pram: GAM and its trailer were cleaned and it was de-rigged this evening in anticipation of it’s return to Tim Dews. Thanks to Tim for making it available.
Did today mark a turning point in our fickle weather? After a decidedly slow start to the year today saw a flurry of activity on the field. Great to see a line of trailers on the field and private gliders at the launch point.
After much time fettling in the hangar numerous gliders, both club and private have fresh ARC’s and Annuals.
Unfortunately the tug is still having a minor tantrum but promises to be back in the air shortly after attention from our diligent maintainers.
The winch (and drivers) were kept busy today with 44 launches in total. All available club aircraft were utilised with added support from EZE.
Local soaring flights in excess of an hour were achieved in club and private gliders with the first solid shakedown tasks of the year being flown including 100 and 200 km tasks with durations of up to 3.5 hours.
A total in excess of 28 hours flown today!
Notably Dan Pike took a break from installation of our ‘smart’ electrical management system and took a flight in EZE (and enjoyed it). Rumour has it he’s catching the bug!
And the sun shone! a bit, after the fog!
A busy day at The Park today with many faces some new (welcome) and some not so (welcome also, we’d forgotten who you were!). Good to see Bath University at the club after a few logistical false starts. Well done Andy Callaghan for co-ordinating.
After a well attended briefing in the Hangar a number of club members departed for Air Traffic Control in the clubhouse.
GROUNDSCHOOL: Today was the culmination of John Garland’s excellent RT course with attendees conversing with ATC during the course of mock flights from and to various locations, through various airspace and with a few Pan Pan scenario’s thrown in for good measure.
I think it would be fair to say all attendees of the RT course were not feeling the most confident first thing but by the end were certainly feeling easier about talking to ATC whilst navigating cross country. Abeit this was a classroom scenario the requirement to speak to various ATC centres seems far less daunting now. In the future it may be a necessary requirement that we all hold RT licences so it is worth giving it some thought and maybe familiarising yourself now in preparation. Many thanks to John Garland and his ‘controllers’ Steve and Alastair.
ON THE FIELD: It was great to see the hangar empty of club aircraft today with all aircraft fielded except VN which is undergoing its annual in the workshop. The caravan was positioned at the South West end of the field with a southerly crosswind component to keep us all cool in the sun. Conditions were far from perfect due to the limited visibility but compared to where they have been it felt positively summery (once the fog had retreated enough). A great number of flights today, some for the first time, some currency flights and some just to, well fly!
YES a weekend flying report!
After a tiresome period of no weekend flying the weather declared a temporary truce.
A prompt 9 am briefing from Stuart was all the incentive we needed to get back in the air which saw us fielding 2 Puchacz.
With a strong crosswind from the South / South West we set up at the South East corner of the field.
Having ‘bagged’ the first launch an excellent launch from Doug was curtailed at a 1000ft cloudbase, just a couple of turns and a swift return to The Park. Unremarkable as it may seem the launch was a pre 10am launch. This has not happened for a while so top marks to all. I believe the CFI mentioned something recently about fizzical rewards for those achieving it!
It was great to see some of our new members today, a Father and Son (cadet) who both flew and another new cadet on a quick familiarisation visit. A total of 7 flights and a meagre but valuable 25 minutes total flight time saw the cloudbase descend around 11:30, the aircraft were put to bed and the hangar doors closed at 12:00! Amazing what can be achieved in a short time when we put our minds to it.
Work in the hangar of course continues unabated with VN waving it’s toes in the air in the comfort of the workshop. Additionally much work continues with private gliders and trailers in anticipation of the forthcoming season.
The work on providing us with a stable source of power has evolved at a staggering pace and changes take place on a daily basis. Take the opportunity to have a look around and see what is happening at your club!
Well the new year weekend weather has persisted in true style and offered us little in the way of constructive flying opportunity.
However as most of you will be aware winter lectures have continued unabated, almost! Ironically the meteorology lecture suffered a postponement due to the snow. FRIDAY: 4 members of BWNDGC attended Mendip GC on Friday evening for the rescheduled met lecture given by Gordon Dennis. It was an excellent lecture and taught me more about the weather in 5 minutes than I previously knew. If the opportunity arises I would thoroughly recommend attending one of Gordon’s lectures should the opportunity arise.
SATURDAY: John Garland hosted the second in his series of RT lectures at The Park with a number of Mendip GC members attending. It’s all beginning to make a little more sense now (to me anyway) and with John’s recounting of real world experience it really demonstrates how important RT can be. The various RT services available are there to help. As an example this was a tweet from D & D on the 13th February ‘Tonight Distress and Diversion personnel helped a lost microlight find their way in very challenging conditions. No transponder and very little radar coverage meant the team relied on experience and initiative to locate and direct the microlight home. 121.5 we are listening!’
Due to the poor weather and volume of liquid sunshine there will be no flying tomorrow AM. This will be reviewed for the afternoon after the lecture. Should flying be possible this be will be aerotow only.
Duty winch team to stand down, LPC may be required for afternoon.
As The Park was closed today it was the ideal opportunity to take a look from above. Apart from lots of snow there’s not much to show apart from an errant Yeti’s (Damiens!) footprints from yesterday.
The strip was fairly clear of snow and the track looked passable in a 4×4, however the farmer hadn’t been up and I wasn’t going to attempt to undo the padlock – far to cold!
Apologies for the dull photo’s it was late in the day and the light was flat.
Not an airfield report but imagine if we had no airfield to report on?
I have received a further update on the Lasham Judicial Review against the CAA granting additional airspace to Farnborough. In basic terms Lasham submitted 3 grounds of complaint of which 2 were accepted, significantly the 3rd ground has now also been accepted. Fundamentally if one of the 3 grounds is upheld at a review then the CAA’s decision can be struck out.
To date the funding campaign has only 300 donors, where are the rest considering there is a membership of around 7000 in the UK?
Whilst you may think it does not affect you directly and that you dont fly cross country, just think what could potentially happen if Bristol, Exeter, Bournemouth and Southampton all grabbed more airspace?
Please consider donating the cost of a winch launch to the funding campaign!
Finally! The sun dared to show itself and weekend flying resumed.
FLYING – After what seems like a very long time we had the opportunity to field 2 Puchacz, 1 Astir and the K6.
After much labouring by Mark Player and other dedicated members (I am not completely sure how many) the Pawnee returned to the sky today.
After a successful test flight the Pawnee resumed it’s tugging role with tows for a Puchacz and a visiting Shark.
There were 17 winch launches, 2 aerotows and a flight by the motorglider.
CADETS – Potential new cadet recruits from the waiting list visited the club today and I believe 5 were enrolled. Thanks to the committee members behind this initiative and the assistance of Tom & Nicky Pike.
RAVE FOR THE WAVE! – I am reliably informed by the CFI that the sun, moon, sky & earth were scared into alignment by the Pawnee’s return to the skies producing elusive WAVE on the first Puchacz aerotow of the year. A good omen indeed!
CLAG! Flying was never on the cards today! January is misbehaving, or at least the weekends are! Unfortunately no repeat of Thursday with cloudbase on the floor.
GROUNDSCHOOL Fortunately as if by magic, a double bill of lectures was planned for today. Firstly Simon Withey, Mendips CFI had the unenviable task of presenting the lecture on Air Law, Laws and Rules & Operational Procedures. An essential but less than exciting subject matter was presented with both enthusiasm and humour.
After a welcome bacon sarnie break the second of our double was presented by the workshop team comprising of Nick, Geoff & Joe. A vital lecture for glider owners covering the EASA Self Declared Maintenance Programme certainly opened a few eyes.
With only 2 Bronze lectures remaining the end is in sight! This will see then the groundschool moving on to the Full Radio Licence Lectures by John Garland.
MAINTENANCE With the multi skilled workshop team lecturing today does not mean there is no maintenance to do! Annuals on club aircraft carry on unabated. Phil our resident Farrier has been hard at work with the electric glue machine sticking metal together! His work on rebuilding a steel and aluminium glider trailer is an impressive sight!
CLAG! A main course of 0ft cloudbase with a liberal side of drizzle ensured that flying opportunities were most certainly limited to groundschool today.
GROUNDSCHOOL On Friday evening a number of BWND members were hosted by Halesland as part of the Bronze course. An excellent lecture on Airspace by David Close followed with a military viewpoint from an RAF perspective as an added bonus.
This was consolidated today with a Mendip members returning to The Park for lectures on Navigation by Alastair MacGregor. Having delved into the intricacies of airspace on Friday, Alastair set a number of challenges to consolidate this. The grey matter certainly had a workout with Saturday morning arithmetic!
It’s encouraging to see that already qualified members have been attending the lectures as refreshers and this was notable today due to the lack of flying.
MAINTENANCE continues with annual inspections by our ever attentive workshop crew, the tug is nearing completion and FUY was turned back on it’s toes with it’s rudder refitted. Alastair also replaced the radio in the caravan to meet the new standards.
MICE! It was discovered today that mice have a fondness for DI books and canopy cloths having nested in the cockpit pocket of a private glider, this is in addition to the vistor to the club glider LPM a few weeks ago. I would encourage all those with aircraft in the trailer park to check!
WOW! What a start to the year, that’s 2 solo’s in 2 flying days in the first week of January.
Congratulations to Andy Newman who was sent solo by Steve Wareham today and completed 2 solo flights.
Chris Bauer converted onto the K6 today and we understand that all being well he will be starting his conversion to fast jets in March courtesy of the RAF!
In other news – The Bronze Lectures continued with lectures in both Radio Communications from John Garland and Principles of Flight from Phil Gascoigne. Good to see members from Halesland at The Park!
A committee meeting was held simultaneously with the bronze lectures, maintenance tasks and flying all fortified with bacon butties provided by Sue & Julie!
A total of 29 winch launches and 2 motor glider flights today curbed by the impending gloom and misting canopies!
Don’t forget SUNDAYS NEED YOU! Now is an ideal opportunity for currency flights!
Finally with decorations stowed away, our feet left the ground on the 2nd of January after a very average December (2 days flying in 8). Note – these figures are pretty much the annual trend as corroborated by Alastair’s records. We achieved a respectable 34 flights today with 30 winch launches and 4 motor glider flights. With 2 Puchacz, the K6 and an Astir at our disposal it was certainly a great opportunity to give some of the fleet an airing. Thanks to Sue and Lesley for log keeping in bitter conditions. Notably we were delighted to see Mark Hawkins back on the controls after his enforced absence and Damien Murray solo’d – Was this the first solo of 2019? We’re claiming it! We had great opportunity to practise the new CBSIFTBEC + DBL pre launch checks. This is not significantly different to our usual process but formalises the hooking on procedure. Meanwhile our fairies have been busy altering radio frequencies in advance of the imminent change and the workshop are fully occupied with annuals and maintenance tasks. It never ceases to amaze me how much the infrastructure changes at the club with each visit. Please take the opportunity to have a look around at what has been achieved and is being achieved on a daily basis!
It really looks like 2019 is shaping up to be a great year.
After a ‘pitch inspection’ following the copious rain on Saturday we fielded 2 Puchacz and 1 Astir with a valiant attempt by the motor glider.
Unfortunately the forecast weather materialised earlier than anticipated which put paid to flying prematurely with the aircraft put to bed at 12:15!
The final flight from a total of 5, being abandoned after launch as a wall of water was observed heading for the park! Unfortunately the motor glider only achieved a taxi ride from the hangar to the launch point as the conditions deteriorated.
Meanwhile the workshop and members are busy carrying out annual maintenance tasks on club gliders, private gliders and the Pawnee tug.
As is often the case, Sundays have a great deal of spare flying capacity and today was certainly no exception!