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.

 

 

Wednesday 7th August “Dodging the showers”

Despite numerous showers during the day, members enjoyed a day of two seater training, check flights, solo flights, intrepid thermal hunting and plenty of cups of tea, briefings and social “chit chat” in the caravan between the “wet stuff” falling from the sky.                                                                                   Many thanks to our volunteer winch man, Dave P. Mike J and Steve L for covering the instruction for the day.

Chris Chappell 

Alan Milne’s funeral.

Past Instructor and CFI Alan Milne died 2 weeks ago.  Six of us went to his funeral in Poole today, lead by Vice President Dick Yerburgh.  Alan had a distinguished past in Gliding having started in the 1960s at Portmoak in his native Scotland.  He was Chairman of that club at one time, before moving south with his wife, Jane, to Ferndown in Dorset.  He was an instructor in the Dorset Gliding Club and moved to The Park soon after the Club began operations at its new home in Kingston Deverill.  He retained his friendships with members of the Dorset GC, several of whom were there today.

Alan was a hugely respected Pilot, Instructor, Committee member and a great supporter of the club in many quiet ways.  He retired from gliding when illness reduced his mobility, selling his then glider, Ventus 808, which now lives at Keevil.  Alan’s gliders always carried comp no 808.

May he rest in peace.

Mike Thorne

Flying Group. Friday 26th July

We flew a group on Friday from a Probus club in Romsey, returning for their third year running.  (Professional and and Retired Businessmen’s Association).

Despite the heat wave preceding the day, the forecast teased and prodded us but in the end the weather proved to be adequate to the task with no rain.  18 flights were made by a mix of aerotow and winch, totalling 6.5  hours.  Lots of smiling faces went away vowing to return next year if we’ll have them.

Thanks to the gallant band of Team Park helpers, lead by Nigel Warren clutching Polly’s cake, who made it all happen and were willing to give their time to this.  These events create a bit of money for the club and make for a sociable day sharing what we like doing.

If you can get a group together please liaise with Nigel about getting them booked in for a day of evening.  Our real target is prospective members but we’ll take anyone’s money….

Mike Thorne

Sunny Wednesday 24th July

Another beautiful sunny day, with a cooling SW breeze and with a forecast of an inversion and zero thermal activity, we yet again were pleasantly surprised with some soaring flights of up to 50 minutes. This “hat” goes to Adam (Berrisford) in LPM , with Mike (T) soaring away in the blue yonder (local of course) in BNH for 39 minutes. Many thanks to Stuart and Mike J for instructor cover and of course our ever faithful winch drivers Dave P and Andy H, Gordon, Adam and Alistair for volunteer areo-tows.                                 24 winch launches and 2 aero-tows. First launch 11.00 am, a very civilised lunch break relaxing in the shade of the caravan with the last launch at 16.07. flying time amounting to 6.25 hours.

Chris Chappell                      

Powering down when leaving The Park

Today’s the first time it’s happened I think but when the site was vacated this afternoon the domestic power was left on.

If you’re last out of the door please remember to touch the “Vacate Building” button on the display next to the exit door when you leave, to ensure that the building is left in a minimal consumption mode.

Mike T