21st, Good launches and soaring

We certainly got the stiff easterly forecast, though it didn’t really feel cold – partly because we were dressed for it  but mainly because we were all kept active outside the caravan – no huddling allowed!   Richard H. gave us some very consistent launches; I thought 1900 feet was OK but take a look at the KTrax link on our website, where the launch heights are in metres ( and do your own maths)  🙂  

We did 14 flights in total, 2 of which were aerotows and about half were soaring.  Mark P. doing the best and I think his was the best winch launch too – a record???

We kept to the Covid19 guidelines very well but the rareity of a strong wind straight down the strip, combined with the “one person per vehicle” rule and solo flying only, gave us something to think about.  We couldn’t keep the Puchacz rudder on one side when towing out, so we stopped and got help.  Potentially the same problem after landing was solved by good short landings and someone walking out to hold the rudder.  If we get another similar day, we could put the caravan further east eg. just beyond the dew pond, then the retrieves would just be short tows forward.

Thanks to all the duty team and everyone for pulling together to make it happen in challenging times.

Phil

 

Looking forward to Saturday

I’m looking forward to flying on Saturday, 21st, with two clear objectives:

  1.  To conduct a safe flying operation on what is expected to be a bright, sunny but cold day in a relentless, brisk easterly wind.  Use of the caravan is restricted to one person at a time, so please come fully prepared in warm clothing and with food and your own drinking arrangements.  We are still under winter rules, so no cars to shelter in either.
  2. To respect the advice we’ve been given to avoid, as well as possible, any cross-contamination of the Covid19 virus.  Of course, you won’t turn up if you or anyone you live with are feeling unwell but we can be carriers without knowing it. 

Phil G.

Wednesday, 29th January

Having cancelled flying due to foul weather last Sunday, I was able to fill in as today’s instructor and enjoy a useful day’s flying.  Puchacz launches were good, around 16-1700′, in the chilly 10-15kt wind, which started more or less down the strip but backed a little later on.

I had candidates for annual checks, daily checks and pre-solo instruction.  We also had a visitor from The Long Mynd, who wanted spins and Stuart took care of him.  There were occasional patches of cloud but aerotow heights were not limited as they cleared through.  Solo and mutual pilots took advantage of the fine weather slot to maintain their currency, so important in these winter days, when we are sometimes limited by low cloud and rain.

Thanks to the whole team who shared the workload, without providing any extra work for the maintenance boys 🙂

Phil

 

Saturday, 7th December.

Turnout for a good weather Saturday was disappointing, especially given the poor forecast anticipated for Sunday.  I can only assume that people were out Christmas shopping or canvassing for an election 🙁

There were only two booked pupils; the Uni students had cancelled their block booking recently ( no idea why, maybe as above, or even studying?), so Mark just had one morning and one afternoon booking.

I was standing in for Mike J. as the ad hoc instructor but there were no names on the 2-seat list, although it was a good training day with the wind only a little south of the strip with the potential for more – possible ridge or even wave.  There were a good few on the Astir list.

We were pleased to see both Joy and Ron on the field and Ron’s expertise got him the highest launch of the day – 1850′ – though Julian wasn’t far behind with 1750′.  The wind didn’t back as expected; only Julian managed any time on the ridge, on the last flight.  We packed up mid afternoon because too much cloud moved in, below the achievable launch heights.

Thanks to all for helping to run a safe day smoothly and to Julie for sustaining us with bacon butties, leaving John somewhere up a ladder – or was he secretly shopping, canvassing etc?   🙂

Phil

 

Sunday 17th November

We had a useful day with a small but willing team on the ground, ably managed by LPC Nick M.   Initially, we had a light northerly across the strip.  As always it was tricky to decide which end  but I tossed the coin, expecting it to go slightly more easterly and we set the caravan up at the west end, winch with the shortest distance to go, in the northeast corner.  Field condition was quite good and with strict adherence to the winter rules, we were able to limit damage.  Of course, the wind didn’t follow the forecasts as I’d interpreted them – it didn’t veer at all but did strengthen slightly as expected.  From the start there was some patchy low cloud, so 1200′ winch launches took us above cloudbase but we could stay clear.  It eventually became more intrusive and canopy misting became a threat, so we packed up a little earlier than hoped, with a very light drizzle also starting.  We were fully booked, including Uni students in the afternoon, so were grateful that three Puchacz were still available; John and I had Julian’s help to fly them.  

Wednesday, 25th September – meeting the students

Many thanks to Andy, Matt and Jamie for organising our visit to Bath University for the “Freshers’ Day” recruiting campaign and special thanks to Graham and Anne for picking up LPM in heavy rain, trailing it over and returning it afterwards.

Mervyn  came along to help us rig, thanks Mervyn;  Adam and I had a busy day  greeting the potential pilots of the future and getting as many as we could into the cockpit, with it’s canopy obviously removed for safety 😉  Some were a bit reluctant to climb in but they all listened to our enthusiastic explanations.

Andy , Matt and Jamie had a job to keep up with collecting all the contact details but signed up ten new members on the day; an excellent result with many to follow up.  Some have had some limited previous flying experience, so they have an idea what to expect and we have some positive recruits to work with.

Negotiating and dealing with the University authorities isn’t easy, so well done Andy and team for their efforts.

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.

 

 

Saturday, 1st June – a walk around The Park

Whilst our Board of Directors were deliberating over our future, I went  for a walk outside our usual boundaries.  Many of you will not have done that but it was a beautiful evening, watching the Hares and the Skylarks as I wandered. I’ve added a few photos:  On  the  north side, the field (which looks very narrow)  adjacent  to the line  of trees,  is good to land in  and  has  a track  to  the  Maiden  Bradley  road  at  the west  end.   Looking east,  from  the  end  of  the  south gulley,  note  the steep sides;  nothing  could  land here.   From  the  east  end,  looking west,  the  sheep  were not impressed!  You  might  survive a landing  just  before  or  just  after  the  solitary  Ash  tree  but  note  the  very  rough  ground  at  right  angles  to  your  approach  if  you   don’t  get  the  spot  landing  exactly right!!!

Tuesday, 7th, Portmoak.

John Symonds took this photo of Loch Leven today.  The wind was just south of east,  sky was grey but with some cumulus.  Unusually, I was first out of our blocks ( some decided it wasn’t worth it with little chance of cross-country), so I took a winch launch, with a deliberate plan to start the motor immediately, to reach the cu.  The plan ( and the motor) worked and I found thermals enhanced by the gentle hill lift on the dip slopes of The Bishop.  Mike T. was towed past me  and helpfully radioed, from his thermal, that my wheel was still down 🙁   I had failed to do ” top of climb” checks!  Still, it was good practice in the lower performance machine.   Martin, John and Richard all joined in and Steve took Mel up in the club’s DG 505.  Rain was covering the mountains west of us and progressed into wind, almost to the airfield.  However, we all got down and derigged before any got to us, late afternoon.   Mike followed an energy line out to Leuchars, so he wins today’s prize for determined effort 🙂

Phil G.

 

 

Saturday, 6th April

In a cold north easterly, instructors took turns to fly the ASK21 on loan from Tim D, firstly from the back seat as PUI, then from the front as PIC with the next one in the back.  That kept up the concentration of our dedicated log-keepers too!  Alastair and Mark H. took a tow to spin it.  Thanks to Mark P. for getting the Pawnee back on line.

Ahead of another lovely meal from Julie & John ( mmm, luscious sauce ) and the Presentation & Safety Meeting, this is how we stacked the hangar with three single seaters, four twin seats, the Pawnee and the Venture ( plenty of room, even if it had a spinner in place).   More than one way to skin a cat ( oops, sorry pussycat lovers) …….

Sunday, 24th February.

It was blue all day with a light south-easterly wind and a very strong inversion, ideal for first time flyers ( Uni & Day members), annual & other checks and early solos.

Andy C. brought along four other students.  He was checked out on aerotow and John Symonds did annuals, both having 3000′ tows.  John H. gave Damien a check to convert to the Astir [ I’m too heavy to fly with him in KAN  🙁  ].  We flew two day members and new cadet, Lysander.

We were launching and landing away from the sun, which was good but by sunset the downwind leg was tricky and canopies were starting to mist, so we gave in just before legal night.

Apart from the Buzzard, which John knocked out with the Pawnee, we had a good day, with a total of 32 launches, including 4 aerotows.  Thanks to all, Phil.

TRAILER PARKING

Private owners please note.  Last week ( before the snow) we replaced the slot number plates on the South side of the trailer park.  S2 to S9, between the trees,  all have an equal amount.  S1, S10 & S11 have their “exclusive residences” bounded by trees. None of the allocations has been changed, so, as soon as possible please, return your trailer to your allocated position. [The plan on the clubroom noticeboard is up to date, if you’ve forgotten your number.]  This is especially important if your trailer has been sited in someone else’s space on the East or West sides, whilst work has been in progress – they want their spaces back now, in readiness for flying.

Last week we also gained a new syndicate trailer, allocated to E2.

Numbering of the East & West rows will be done as soon as we can; again, none of the previous allocations have been changed, so no random guesses please – check the notice if you’re unsure!

Thanks, Phil G.

Mice meanderings

What better place to find in a wood at the top of a hill than a warm, dry, ready built shed to build a cosy nest?  It’s unreasonable to expect that the local inhabitants, mice, squirrels, pheasant, badgers etc will not be investigating our trailers and, for the mice and squirrels at least, to be delighted to find even more luxurious accommodation inside the mobile sheds.

Many years ago, in our early days at The Park, squirrels found an ideal hiding place for their nuts, inside the wing tip of a glass single-seater.  Having discovered them, now consider how you might extract them?  There’s no easy access to the inside of a 7m wing tip.  You cannot simply poke anything down there and vacuum them out!

Our solution was to raise the very expensive, pristine wing to the vertical and shake them out.  It was not an easy task to accomplish without damage but we utilised the bridge from the field to the clubroom, with the root at ground level by the kitchen and people on the bridge to steady and shake the wing.  All went well.

How do we avoid the problem?  Very expensive and awkward to fix damage, not always easily visible or easy to track down (eg. radio antenna wiring down the fuselage), can be caused by rodents gnawing and they do seem to like electrical insulation ( as well as any tiny pieces of food left in the cockpit pockets).  I was advised that an effective deterrent for old wooden gliders and trailers was mothballs and, early every autumn, I used to scatter a few in my Astir trailer, placing some carefully near likely entry points ( it’s very difficult to seal a trailer completely against mice).  I never found any evidence that mice had been in there or any damage, so I reckon it worked.   I did have mousetraps in there – not baited of course – and none were ever triggered, other than by me.

I didn’t mind the lingering mothball smell and considered it far better than the potential damage.  You cannot buy the “original” mothballs any more ( health and safety for the factory workers) but substitutes are available.  Also, many animals are deterred by the chemical limonene, according to the contents on the packaging of many products in hardware or garden stores.   I never tried “car air fresheners” but they might work.  See what you can find and share your ideas.

Phil G.

Sunday, 6th January

A grey day but a light wind, so our brand new solo pilots,  Damien and Andy, were able to consolidate with more solo flying.  Congratulations to both!  A few old hands flew too and Harriet kept us all in order.  We did ten winch launches and the Venture few three times.

Just after we finished, four youngish local gents turned up to watch but we hope they will return as potential members.  Damien recognised one of them and had a chat,  so that’s a helpful start and a good finish to the day.

Progress around hangar.

Mick was on site early again, to get contractors digging a channel outside the south side of the hangar.  This will house new electrical cables and water drainage pipework.  They will continue work tomorrow.

Unfortunately, the other team of contractors did not arrive to cut the expansion slots in the southside hangar floor.  Hopefully, they will turn up to complete the job tomorrow.