VGC Rally Kicks Off

Yesterday the National Vintage Rally started at the Park under sunny skies and rather splendid day was had by all with Justin Wills soaring for 4 and a half hours covering 130 Km between Halesland, Salisbury and the Park and in his Rhonebuzzard (apologies if spell wrong) and justifiably being awarded a bottle of bubbly for the best flight of the day.

Thanks to all the club members who have made this possible, we also did 50 launches and had a fabulous fish and chip supper in the clubroom after flying.


Soaring Saturday

A cold front cleared through a little earlier than forecast on the morning of Saturday 7th, leaving behind a crisp, clear  blue sky and a light north-easterly. The cumulus started to organise while the private gliders rigged, only three club gliders (FUY, JKW and LPM) making a showing.

Although tricky to get away from the winch, by the early afternoon those that did were rewarded with long flights and high cloud bases. James managed over four hours and 5000′ above The Park in JKW, bagging a Silver Height (congrats James), while the conditions and slow trade for the instructors enabled FUY to soar over 4500′ to the north, with a clear view of the Severn Bridges and South Wales.

Once JKW returned and the hangar was packed, it was time for a cold one in the bar!

View from Frome across the Severn Estuary

Today’s Flying

With 40 launches today and many 100’s of km’s flown and hours logged it was a grand day, if a somewhat slow process for the thermals to get going. Climbs to over 5000ft were the norm.
So congratulation go to Alan Bennet for completing a two hour flight off the winch and gaining his Silver Height in the process. Mark Smallwood got to fly his Pegase and Bill Prince survived an aeratow check with yours truly.
We finally got the hangar stacked and the doors closed at 18:30 then a few minutes later a glider from Nympsfield landed and wanted an aeratow retrieve. Gordon was the only person not to have sunk a pint or two by then so having done 14 tows already another was called for, alas this was probably the first time that we have put the tug three rows back so had to unstack the hangar again – all good fun, hangar doors closed at 19:40.

Mid-Week Flyers on Form

Wednesday 20th April saw a chilly start to the morning, but the cloud started to separate, the ground warmed up and the private gliders came out en-masse for some good soaring conditions (atleast until I went up a bit too late in the day..). LPM is still on its back, but JKW was in active use and some flew FUY solo. Chris demonstrated the art of delegation in running the LPC (from the seated position), although she was caught temporarily off guard hooking on JKW (evidence attached).  The great news of the day was Mike sending Roland solo – apparently his 13th solo having flown multiple fixed wing and helicopters in his career in the AAC – the last time however was in the early 1990’s, so a big congrats to Roland, and no doubt he will be onto LPM before too long to make it 14! Now for Rowan to catch up with his Dad!

Looking forward to the Flying Week next week!

The Early bird gets the worm….

The more experienced pilots are telling me that these are great conditions for March, so hopefully this heralds a good season ahead. “Blue Bird” was rigged by John and Gavin and they both had good soaring as well as instructing. Sadly it did not lead to John dropping his guard on my Bronze practical test, but having endured an air tow with the tug doing thermals, followed by “boxing”, various spins and stalls, heavy “sink” which appeared to disappear…and then came back with a vengeance…winch launches and circuits with no altimeter and a (very) awkward height cable break, I managed to persuade John that I was not too much of a hindrance to myself or others. Cross Country endorsement now awaits, so looking forward to trip or two in the motor glider. Mike turned up to do some solo flying, but naturally ended up giving up his time for some instruction/checks. Congrats are also due to Din who transitioned to soloing on LPM with an immediate 41 minute flight, so hopefully JKW will be back in action shortly. Another great day out.

As Spring rolls on

Another deceptively blue day at the Park yesterday saw much rocking’n’rolling in the air with good heights and durations achieved (not to mention a Bronze acquired – congrats, Mark!); on the ground there was much raking’n’rolling as the trailer park eased towards firm flatness.
After gliders were put to bed, a clattering of rollers on pebbles heralded the following image: perhaps an opportunity for a caption competition?

Arising from their winter slumber….

Stunning spring day at The Park on Friday, and as per Alastair’s comment, thanks to Chris for getting the mid-week flyers out on Friday after the rain on Wednesday. Great to see the private aircraft arising from their winter slumber and joining the action on the grid, whilst the trailer park is looking much tidier, albeit some rolling and compacting of the gravel as per Martin’s comments. Meanwhile Andy had rolled the airfield which despite recent rain has held up well and will firm up with the warm weather. Some photos from the ground….

Friday 18th March

View west towards The Park from Salisbury in 306 todayGood call from Chris Chappell to call Friday a flying day.
The day was a little slow to develop but by 13:00 the streeting was very good and thermal averages were up to 6kts.
Most club glider flights were over 30 minutes.
BT, 194 and D2 also flew.
Chris Roberts and Adrian flew the Venture to Lee on Solent.

Another Soaring Wednesday….

The fortunes of the mid-week flyers continues with another soaring Wednesday, making it every Wednesday so far this year that soaring flights have been achieved. Overcast conditions in the morning cleared to a large gap in the clouds early afternoon and Mike Jenks casually showed us how it can be done with a 19 minute flight in JKW. VN and the two Astirs were active, and Gordon took a tow up to 3,000 ft, using a scenic route nudging through and above the clouds, exploiting the gap over the airfield. It was nice post flying to congregate at the bar for a quick beer before heading home – hopefully that will become a more common feature as we emerge from Covid and spring and summer beckons.

“Honey…somebody shrunk the caravan….”

After 2 successive weeks of sunshine, the mid-week flyers had a more challenging day. Low cloud base led to a late start, but concurrent activity saw a number of members assisting Nick in putting the wings back on FUY which completed its annual, and KAN was de-winged for its annual. Soft ground led to a decision not to use the caravan and the Land Rover took over as the launch point station. Whilst some thought the cloud base would never lift, Mike stood firm and as usual he was correct as gaps appeared and both winch and tug launches took place. To prove the point Mike, accompanied by our new member Ronan, son of our recently new member Roland, managed a 23 minute flight into some wave – Ronan is clearly hooked – welcome Ronan! A good day out with us departing as the sun, which had finally appeared through the gaps, disappeared.

Mid-week flyers revel in the sunshine…again..

For the second week  in a row, the mid-week flyers experienced a glorious day, with little noticeable wind at the launch point (slight tail/no chill) seeing outer layers removed and silky smooth landings on a field which just stood up to the recent wet weather. All the club gliders as well as the tug and the motor glider were in action, and concurrent activities saw Greg commence his winch driver training (with some others in the wings to join him) and John introducing  3 new syndicate  members to the  delights of the Venture motor-glider  (Andy,  Roger  and  Trevor).  Another  great day!

Mr. Blue Sky was shining on 5th January 2022

After what seems like weeks of blustery overcast and damp conditions, Mr. Blue Sky shined brightly on us on this mid-week flying day. An excellent turn-out  saw  2 x Puch’s, 2 x Astirs and 2 x K6’s (unpacked from their winter slumber) take to the crisp blue skies. The tug was in operation,  and  pilots  were  seen  searching  for  some  wave  which evaded  their  short  desperate  struggle.  Meanwhile  thermals were  spotted  at 150ft,but  sadly  Keith  is  in Andorra, so unable to take  advantage.  Temperatures  around  1%,  but  quite  comfortable  with  most  pilots  doing  good  impressions  of  Russian  border  guards  or  in the  case of  Graham, Ernest Shackelton.  A thoroughly  good  day  out.

Monday, 3rd January, 2022.

Not quite the first launches in 2022 – Mike did those yesterday – but a flyable day was forecast, the only doubt being the possibility of the field being too soft.  As they did yesterday, we used the white Landrover as our launch point control.  The headlamps were the emergency stop light, operated from the high beam “flash” stick and not requiring the ignition on to do that – very visible from the winch and easy to line up.

We had to limit ourselves to one Puchacz only, because we didn’t have a full duty team and only two non-duty but experienced pilots turned up.  That was a pity, because the wind had more south in it and less strength than forecast but that meant we had good launch heights and the ridge worked.  George and Graham demonstrated that on their first flight.

The launches  were at or above the broken cloudbase of around 1300′.  We did eight in total and most were soaring flights over ten minutes, except for a high weak link break and check flights, including a simulated mid launch failure.  George, with his extensive ridge flying experience, did the longest flight of course, 20 minutes.

Thanks to all who turned out; we could have done with a few more!

Phil G