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

Wednesday, 7th October.

John H. was first up to stress FUY and de-stress himself with an aerobatic air test.  Duly passed,  it was returned to the hangar for John to finish off a few extras before getting it back into service.  Many thanks for all the work, John.

The RASP wind was pretty accurate, 270/10~15 kts, which gave the K21 a first launch of 1600′, above the broken cloudbase.  I was flying it with Mervyn B. and on his second he got us to 1800′, or rather Alec driving the winch did, with light cloud still around 1600′.  Andy took over winching in the afternoon, having already mowed the grass.  Many thanks to both of them for good high launches all day.

Adam took over the K21 to fly Mark S., our latest full member, following his trial flight and subsequent training on his “30 day ticket”.  Keep up the good progress Mark!

Chrissy had the longest flight, thermalling to around 2100′ cloudbase in the early afternoon.  At times, the cloud built up and threatened rain but it didn’t happen ( until I was well on my way home), so we had another useful autumn weekday of flying.

Many thanks to all for helping, even if not themselvs flying,  Phil G.

Tuesday, 29th September.

From the forecasts, we expected a sunny start and a mostly bright day with some Cu.  Indeed, travelling from west of Bristol airport, I was driving into the sun most of the way, until I got to Frome.  Then heading south towards The Park, I could see cloud close to the hill tops.   This was stubborn to clear and resulted in a late start.  Steve and Lesley in the Venture reported cloudbase  of only 700′ at 1030, which improved a little to 900′ when they landed just after 1100.  From then, it did get better.  Four private owners rigged and some good soaring was done, though there was more cloud cover than initially expected.

On the training flights, “Bart” got his first flying in a K21 and we welcomed back Mark S. on his “30 day ticket” and new member Charlie H. ( after escaping from work).

Keith converted to a “complex” type, having to raise and lower the undercarriage on JKW.  He’s done this n.thousand times before, by pressing buttons, flicking switches or small levers but possibly never before by moving  a large painted lever, operating a gravity assisted over-centre system, with no back up – such is the excitement of flying an Astir!

Many thanks to all who kept the launching going on a very pleasant late September day.  Carpe diem;  the rest of the week, into October, isn’t holding much flying promise.

Phil G.

Saturday, 19th and Monday, 21st September

Saturday, we had a brisk north-easterly, which gave some very good winch launches ( Nigel highest with 1900′, I think) but an unusually rough final approach over the fence.

We welcomed back Amy W on a “30 day ticket”, to try the winch launch, having had an aerotow a couple of weeks ago.  Amy has a PPL and flies out of Compton Abbas, so we hope we can convert her to a purer form of flying.

We also welcomed a brand new full member, Charlie H who signed up before taking a trial flight.  He did a solo at Lee-on-Solent  nine years ago, so knew more or less what to expect, though our lush grass and surrounding countryside must surely be more appealing than a hard runway near the sea.

Monday,  Mick undid a few nuts and bolts on the black Landrover; see the photo for what dropped out (sort of), when we raised the lift.  I hope someone knows how to put it back in!


Saturday, 27th June

In spite of high winds and multiple showers expected ( it would have been “Glastonbury Saturday”), I didn’t scrub because I knew that we needed some useful bodies on site. Thanks to all those who turned out.

John H quietly worked on a tug tow rope.  Geoff P was donating blood to the cause, trying to access and fix a tricky (minor) problem with LPM’S release mechanism.  Chris T and Andy F were socially distanced fettling, Phil D was in the workshop.    Nick B led Rob, Andy N, Damien & myself in de-rigging VN, then gave us more lessons in hangar stacking, to make space for a “Covid secure” K21.  We couldn’t find it to rig it but I’m told that its arrival is imminent, probably tomorrow.

The forecast was accurate; the rain varied from heavy to light and the wind remained strong.  The brief spells of sunshine were quicky extinguished by more developing showers, so no flying but a good day’s work done.


Sunday, 31st May

Today was an exceptionally good day, with a brisk ESE wind but local cloudbases above 6000′ !  We were limited to three Club gliders, with six allocated pilots and of course worked as a team to comply with our Covid19 mitigation restrictions.   Many thanks to all, especially John H. for standing in at short notice to fly the tug, even though he was on duty yesterday (and doesn’t need the practice), interrupting his ARC inspection work and extra thanks to the two LPCs ( Chris B & Chris R), who have additional  workload at these times.

We did 19 winch launches and 4 tows and, third time lucky from the winch, Andy N. exceeded 6000′ for his Silver height gain ( to be confirmed).  Our cross-country exponents romped round their tasks in such good conditions; check out the daily scores in the National Ladder ( from our website link).

Phil G.

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.



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 🙂



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?   🙂



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.