Wednesday 19th to Thursday 20th November.

November 20th, 2014

Wednesday 19th.  Another day of poor to moderate visibility as early morning murk slowly lifted into low cloud in the light to moderate ESE’ly flow.  Conditions never improved sufficiently in terms of horizontal visibility or cloud base for any flying to take place.

Thursday 20th.  The weather was a repeat of Wednesday with more fog to start the day, the ESE’ly flow having declined to light.  Conditions slowly improved, so that by 1500 hrs, the site was in clear air with a broken layer of medium level altocumulus above.  However, low level horizontal visibility remained poor in the Vales of Pickering and York, Sutton village being barely visible from the public footpath running along the edge of the main bowl.  Consequently, the only aviation activity on site was DG1000’s KND syndicate busy in the workshop puzzling  out the wiring in order to replace their exisiting iPAC based navigation system with Oudies and Dick Cole taking out the unresponsive radio from the Eurofox in order to place it in a warm and dry environment (the boiler room).  This treatment, it was hoped, would be sufficient to bring it back to life.

Sunday 16th to Monday 17th November

November 18th, 2014

Sunday 16th.  A light NW’ly blew all day and, after the clearence of some low level cloud/murk, the high general cloudbase allowed flying to continue for the rest of the day, although horizontal visibility never improved beyond moderate.  18 ATs were flown, 8 of these being for a group of Scouts from Sowerby.  The lack of any lift meant it was a day of continuous descents from the launch height and, as one of the 3 First Flight pupils of the day, Scot Harris, was a Mile High pupil, he and instructor Mike Smith posted the longest flight of the day at 30 minutes.  They were closely followed by Steve Wilson and M White who had 28 minutes in the DG500 from a 3,000′ tow and Colin Troise and Simona Latimer who had 27 minutes in the DG1000 off a 3,400′ tow.  Assuming a constant climb rate behind the tug, however, means that Steve Wilson and M White posted the longest flight post launch, followed by Colin and Simona and then Mike Smith and his Mile High pupil.

Monday 17th.  A spell of overnight rain from a westward moving front cleared the area mid morning but the clearance in the light to moderate NE’ly  was short lived as showers soon developed and became frequent.  As a result there was no flying except on the simulator where John Carter and Graham Evison spent an useful hour.

Tuesday 18th.   With a ridge of high pressure from a centre over Scandinavia keeping Atlantic depressions at bay, there was some hope of flying, albeit with a light to moderate E’ly flow.  However, the day dawned with the site in cloud, but this slowly rose and broke to give an afternoon of sunny intervals, the interspersed, extensive Cu showing some moderate  vertical development that fortunately didn’t give rise to any showers.  Prior to lunch, George Rowden got in some more cloud flying time on the simulator and Albert Newbery and David McKinney spent time in the briefing room discussing circuit flying.  After lunch, with the cloud base now around 600′ QFE, Albert and David put theory into practice as they took the Falke out for circuit training and launch failure practice before Albert repeated the exercise with Peter Robinson.   Dick Cole also took advantage of the conditions to air test the Eurofox  post its annual check, Dick being accompanied by George Rowden who acted as scribe to ensure the requisite information was logged down.

Thursday 13th to Saturday 15th November

November 15th, 2014

Thursday 13th.  The persistent SE’lys, which increased from moderate to fresh over the day, gusting to around 40 kts, brought in low cloud and very poor visibility in the morning and, after the cloud lifted off the hill in the early afternoon, rain.  The non-flying conditions meant that all the activity was on the simulator, where Brian Wise and George Rowden continued their cloud flying training with Derek Smith followed by Andy Parish and newish member Chris Knapp  (ex Camphill GC) who went for a orientation flight around  the local area.  With the chosen conditions on the simulator being a 17 kt W’ly, the flight turned into an O/R to Osmotherley, or rather an almost O/R, as the forward ridge refused to offer sufficient lift for a final return to Sutton and a land out at Felixkirk resulted.  At least the retrieve was instantaneous.

Friday 14th.  The overnight rain intensified in the morning, the moderate to fresh, yes you’ve guessed it,  SE’ly, initially gusting to the high 20s before declining to light as a very active front crossed the area.  The site remained in cloud all day so there was no flying.

Saturday 15th.  A very foggy drive to the site found clearer conditions east of Sutton village, including the site, which was in clear air under a high overcast, the wind being a light ENE’ly, the previous day’s rain having left the extreme northern end of runway 02 flooded.    Briefing was attended by the duty crew and no one else, but  Jesper Mjels,  John Ellis, Fred Brown and Andy Wright turned up later.  Any thoughts of flying were soon dispelled as patches of fog/low cloud came and went and eventually came and didn’t went!!  During one of the clearer interludes, some maintenance work was done on the Super Cub by Bob Beck, Jim Mclean, Andy Parish and George Rowden, and they were joined by Colin Troise and John Shaw in order to derig and trailer the Discus in readiness for its trip to Poland next week for an overall refurbishment.  After this was completed, John Shaw and Colin Troise brushed up on their cloud flying techniques on the simulator with George Rowden acting as check pilot.

Sunday 9th to Wednesday 12th November.

November 13th, 2014

Sunday 9th. Once the remains of the bonfire were cleared away from the edge of runway 24, 20 ATs were flown off runway 20 into a light SE’ly, the day developing from a rather murky start to become bright and dry under a high, thin overcast.  The lack of any lift meant it was a day for gentle descents, with the longest flight times being provided by those taking high tows.  These included some of the First Flight pupils of the day, with Ian Scotson having 25 minutes with Martyn Johnson in the DG1000 from a 3,000′ tow and Louise Saxton and Smara Nobasc having 23 minutes each, the former with Nick Gaunt in the DG500 and the latter with Martyn Johnson also in the DG500.  Steve Ogden also managed 23 minutes in Astir GBK off a 3,000′ tow, being one of a couple of pilots to fly solo.

Monday 10th.  The light to moderate SSE’ly flow continued but was accompanied by very murky conditions, there being early morning fog in the Vale of York with little improvement during the day.  Consequently, there was no flying except on the simulator where some cloud flying training was carried out.

Tuesday 11th.  The continuing SE’ly flow had increased to moderate under a low overcast, so Derek  Smith took the opportunity to provide a couple of members with the introductory lecture on cloud flying as the first step in achieving the BGA clould flying endorsement.  This was followed by some practical training on the simulator for pupils Graham Bell and Brian Wise with the weather improving sufficiently during the day to allow a couple of ATs to be flown.  One of these saw Derek take Graham for a flight in the DG1000, a tow to 5,000′ being taken to allow some real clouds to be entered, the flight lasting 54 minutes.  The other AT involved Andy Parish and Learn to Fly package pupil Linda Jowitt in a 13 minute flight in K21 JVZ.

Wednesday 12th. The  large, low pressure system in the mid Atlantic continued to feed cloudy SE’lys over the site, with an associated front giving some 3 mm or rain overnight and into the day.  The front eventually moved away NE’ly and allowed skies to clear.  The clearance, however, did not arrive until mid afternoon, revealing the presence of some nice looking lenticulars in the local area.  However, given the limited time available before sunset, the skies could not even tempt that doyen of late landings Jesper Mjels to rig and fly so it was again a no flying day.

Tuesday 4th to Saturday 8th November

November 8th, 2014

Tuesday 4th.  A light NW’ly and a cold night under clear skies provided ideal conditions for extensive fog to develop in the Vale of York, the site and neighbouring Hood Hill being high enough to remain in the sunshine as the following photos, taken by John Carter, show.

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There was, however, sufficient clear fields to the south of the site to allow flying to commence, but as the second flight of the day was preparing to take off, the fog suddenly enveloped the site, also preventing the take off of the Falke with John Taylor and Dave McKinney  on board. as the next photo shows.

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After a couple of  hours the fog/low cloud lifted sufficiently for flying to recommence, with an additional 8 ATs flown and the Falke contributing 3 flights.  Ron Bottomley even rigged and flew his Discus, but in the absence of any lift it was a day of gentle  descents from the top of the tow, John Carter and one of  the day’s First Flight pupils, making the most of their tow to 3,000′ QFE to have 24 minutes in the air.

Wednesday 5th.  A cold, light to moderate NNW’ly blew all day, providing excellent visibility but potentially making  AT’s off runway 02 turbulent at low level.  As the only demand for flying was for First Flight pupils, the decision was taken to keep the hangar doors shut.

Thursday 6th.  An approaching depression resulted in the site being in a cold, moderate to fresh SSE’ly that gusted to over 25 kts towards the end of the day.  The wind chill temperature was only 3C, so the 3 First Flight pupils of the day, certainly got their share of fresh air.  They also were able to experience some soaring on the southern ridge, with Derek Smith taking one of them for 41 minutes in K21 JVZ, one of 2 flights of the 4 of the day to exceed 30 minutes in the air.

Friday 7th.  An eastwards travelling depression meant it was a wet night and morning at Sutton, the accompanying cloud being low enough to envelop the site.  Although the cold front passed through in the morning the post front airmass was very unstable and the resulting frequent heavy showers and continuing low cloud base meant there was no flying.  There was even a report of a thunderstorm in the local area.

Saturday 8th.  An early start was made to get  the gliders to the launch point before briefing  in view of a forecast  deterioration in the weather, but this initiative came to naught as the initially sunny skies were soon filled with orographic forming on the southern ridge in the light to moderate ESE’ly.  Thoughts of flying were abandoned altogether as the site became enveloped in cloud and members turned their attention and muscle into getting K21 KLW into its trailer ready for its trip down the hill for its ARC and building the bonfire for the evening’s Guy Fawkes party.  The former task was completed in the dry, but the latter turned into a wet activity as the rain set in late morning and continued for much of the afternoon, leading to fears for the bonfire and firework party later in the evening. These fears proved to be unfounded as the rain stopped and the cloud lifted in  the late afternoon, to late for any flying but well in time for a splendid bonfire and firework party that was preceded  by a convivial  2 course meal for over 70 people in the club house provided by Liz and helpers. Photos of some of those attending the bonfire and fireworks are shown below, the attendees being provided with chairs from which they could appreciate both the warmth of the bonfire and the splendid spectacle of the fireworks, as ever organised by Dave Latimer and Co. Those using the chairs had the unusual, but nevertheless strangely satisfying, opportunity to  throw the chairs on the bonfire when they left,  the chairs having become surplus to requirements.

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Friday 31st October to Monday 3rd November

November 3rd, 2014

Friday 31st.  The warmest Halloween ever recorded in the UK saw a cloudy start to the day at Sutton as a moderate SSE’ly blew all day, occasionally gusting to around 25 kts, the temperature reaching 16.1C.  The early low overcast, which delayed the start of flying until around 1430 hrs, was replaced by a thin high overcast,  but, with little in the way of significant lift, none of the 7 ATs of the day led to flights in excess of an hour, although Andy Parish and Learn to Fly package pupil Brian Jowett almost made it  with 58 minutes in K21 KLW.    4 of the  other of the day’s flights exceeded 30 minutes, with Mike Smith taking one of the day’s First Flight pupils for 33 minutes in the DG1000.  The day’s pleasant if unspectacular conditions didn’t tempt anybody to get out any of the club single seaters or indeed for anyone to fly solo in the two 2 seaters used on the day.

Saturday 1st November.  An overnight cold front left the site in a sunny, light to moderate SW’ly that slowly increased in strength to moderate as it backed into the SSE, allowing flying to take place over 6 and a half hours starting at 1000 hrs.  During this time 26 ATs were flown, the majority in 7 of the club fleet gliders, 4 private owner launches making up the eventual total.  Some hill lift and afternoon thermal activity provided an opportunity for some soaring, with 7 of the day’s flights exceeding an hour, this particular list being headed by Duncan Pask in his DG300 who had 2:20.  Mr B Collins  came next with 1:20 in the club Discus, followed by Howard Marshall with 1:07 in  the Ka8, Naomi Kennard with 59 minutes in Astir GBK and Tony Drury with 56 minutes in the Discus.  5 First Flight pupils had a day of good visibility as they kept the 2 seaters busy, as did Rob Bailey and son who had  1:11 aloft in the DG 1000, while Jim McLean and Polly Whitehead shared 1:08 in K21 JVZ.

Sunday  2nd.  A moderate WSW’ly opened the day, the opportunity for some winching and hill soaring being eagerly seized by John Marsh who took off in the Discus at 1000 hrs and landed just in time for lunch at 1204 hrs.  He was followed by 3 other pilots before the decreasing wind strength led to a change to ATing, this contributing 15 launches to the days totalbefore flying stopped at around 1615 hrs with the last landing of the day.  Ron Beezer, also flying the Discus, was another of the winch launched pilots to exceed an hour with 1:20, while the AT launched flights contributed 3 flights of over an hour.  One of these was by Albert Newbery and Chris Ogden who took a high tow in order to do some spinning exercises.  This objective was temporarily put on hold as they encountered some wave lift which took them up to around 5,800′ asl.  The delayed spinning exercise was then undertaken but the loss of height and position resulted in contact with the wave being lost and the flight ended after 1:23.  This time was also achieved by Rob Bottomley flying his Discus, the only private owner to launch, while Colin Troise and Roger Burghall flying a mutual in the DG1000 had 1:10.  6 First Flight pupils were flown on the day, including Peter Foster’s  Mile High flight with Fred Brown in K21 JVZ which lasted for just under an hour.

Monday 3rd.  Another sunny day, with the moderate SW’ly soon showing signs of backing into the SE which it did comprehensively later in the day as well as decreasing in strength, these changes leading to the runway in use changing from 24 to 20 around midday.  22 ATs were flown, the majority in 3 of the club 2 seaters as 3 First Flight pupils and 3 guests of Steve Ogden enjoyed a day of sunny skies, excellent visibility and enough bits and pieces of wave lift to make life interesting.  Duncan Pask flying his DG300 made the best use of the patchy wave by climbing to around 5,000′ asl in  the first of his 2 flights of the day, this lasting for 56 minutes.  No one else improved on this time or this altitude, with Colin Troise coming closest in time as he flew the DG1000 solo for 47 minutes.  Brian Wise took First Flight pupil Craig Santes for 45 minutes, also in the DG1000, while George Rowden took Steve Ogden’s 3 guests for flights of 30, 40 and 30 minutes in the DG500, each flight making use of the patchy wave lift.  Welcome visitors to the site in the late afternoon were Mo and Desmond Fay, Desmond being currently in a wheel chair as he slowly  recovers from a stroke earlier in the year.

Thursday 30th October.

October 30th, 2014

Thursday 30th.  The northward travelling warm front passed the site overnight, depositing 4 mm of rain and leaving the site in cloud with a light to moderate SSE’ly blowing.  Hopes of a clearance were never high and so it proved, the site remaining in cloud during daylight hours, even though away from the NY Moors, the overcast was much higher with glimmers of sunshine by mid afternoon.  The only flying to be done was therefore on the simulator where John Tayler took George Rowden for an initial lesson as part of the BGA Cloud Flying Endorsement course, this following a Power Point presentation of all aspects of cloud flying earlier in the day.

Wednesday 30th October

October 30th, 2014

Wednesday 30th.  The passage of cold front the previous day left the site in a cool, light, SE’ly flow that provided a good day’s gliding which started  just after 1000 hrs and continued until 1645 hrs, even encompassing a couple of hours of thermal soaring during the early afternoon.  By the middle of the afternoon,  the first of the  cloud from a northward moving warm front that had its origins in yesterday’s cold front  was over the site.   30 ATs were flown for members, visitors, guests and  4 First Flight pupils, the visitors from the Nene Valley GC, who provided the majority of the 5 private owner launches of the day,  getting in on the soaring activity as Mr Horsley flew his Swallow for 40 minutes.  Rob Bailey flew the club Discus for just under 2 hours, finding the thermals, the best of which peaked at around 4 kts, didn’t extend beyond the confines of the North Yorks Moors, while John Carter and Brian Jowitt were the other pilots to exceed an hour in the air with 1:03 in K21 JVZ.    A keen First Flight pupil, Graham Taylor, was treated to 48 minutes of soaring flight with Andy Parish in K21 KLW, and had a second flight later in the day as did his son Luc.  The other noteworthy feature of the day was Steve Ogden’s conversion to the Astir, Steve having 3 flights in GBK, the best of which, in terms of duration was 39 minutes, so well done Steve.

Thursday 23rd to Tuesday 28th October

October 28th, 2014

Thursday 23rd.  2 mm of rain overnight preceded a otherwise dry day, the light to moderate wind from the SSW being accompanied by a bright morning but increasingly cloudy skies as the day progressed.   This increasing cloud put an early  stop to John Carter and Steve Ogden’s wave climb in the DG1000, the climb being broken off at around 4,000 asl while still in 4 kts as the wave slot progressively closed, their flight landing after 33 minutes.  The increasingly low cloud base also put a stop to flying after 4 ATs, all but one of which were in one or  more of the club 2 seaters, the exception being the only private owner launch of the day, this being by John Ellis in his DG800.  John made good use of his engine to contact the wave west of the site by climbing to around 3,400′ asl and then exploiting the wave to climb to 16,719′ asl, during which time he made use of his phone’s video capability, the results of which he is hoping to send to me for later inclusion in the Blog.  John was aloft for 3:19 to record the longest flight of  the day, with the next best being by Andy Parish and David McKinnley who had 41 minutes in K21 JVZ, while the Falke had a single sortie.

Friday 24th.  Another cloudy day with the light to moderate, mainly SW’ly, wind again persisting, saw John Ellis repeat his wave climbing exploits of the previous day, the engine of his DG800 again being used to contact the wave, again west of the site , but this time at just over 5,000′ asl.  John then climbed in the wave to just over 14,000′ asl in his flight of 2:35.  this being the longest of the day, although a number of other pilots exceeded an hour.  These included Bill Payton and his guest Mr Bunford who had 1:06 in K21 JVZ and one of the visitors from the Nene Valley GC who had 1:04 in his DG300.  The latter was one of 6 private owners to fly, the remaining 7 launches all being in K21 JVZ, this glider being used by Andy Parish and J Hartley to record a flight of 48 minutes of the last AT of the day.

Saturday 25th.  The wind remained in the SW but had increased to moderate, with gusts into the high 20’s, with the result that launches were initially by AT but reverted to winching after midday, 13 ATs being flown followed by 21 winch launches.   None of the ATs, which included 3 Scouts and 2 First Flight pupils plus 2 private owners,  resulted in any flights of over an hour, the best being 59 minutes by Steve Thompson in the Discus, with Andy Parish and Dave Hartley having 48 minutes in the DG1000 off the first flight of the day and Charlie Jessop and A Sammut having 40 minutes in the DG500 off the last AT of the day.  Soaring conditions had improved once winching became the launch method with 15 of these launches leading to flights of over an  hour.  Robin Hutchinson and Colin Troise set the mark  in K21 JVZ with 1:23 off the first winch launch of the day, with Bill Payton again treating his guest Mr Bunford to the longest 2 seater flight of the day, 2:53 in the DG500.  Steve Thompson and Joan Wilson shared a flight of 1:29 in K21 KLW as all 4  club 2 seaters were flown, while Ken Duxbury recorded 1:33 in Astir KRN, one of the 3 club single seaters to fly.  Among the 6 private owners to launch by winch, Paul Whitehead had 2:20 in his Ventus while Rob Bailey had 1:48 in his ASG 29.

Sunday 26th.  Initially moderate, the mild SSW’ly increased to moderate to fresh during the day, with gusts to the mid to  high 20’s.  Consequently, it was another winching day with 28 flown, 10 of which produced flights of over an hour.  All the club 2 seaters were flown but only one of the single seaters, the Discus, while 4 private owners launched.  One of these, Club President Nick Gaunt, flying his LS7, posted the longest flight of the day, 3:51  during which he reached around 7,000′ asl in wave.  Nick reported that getting into the wave was somewhat frustrating due to the extensive cloud, but eventually he contacted some good lift off the northern end of the forward ridge and climbed through the cloud into the pristine air above.  The wave pattern was difficult to work out, possibly due to a significant S’ly component to the wind, and Nick failed to climb up to some prominent lenticulars above which he estimated to be around 15,000′ asl.  The descent prior to landing required  the traversing of some 2,000′ of cloud.  John Ellis, another of the private owners to fly, spent some 50 minutes in cloud during which time episodes of an  brightening environment suggested that his emergence into clear air was soon to take place only for his hopes to be repeatedly  dashed.     Tony Drury, flying K21 JVZ solo, had 1:45,  while private owners J Donovan and R Williams flying their DG505 had 2 flights, one of 1:30 and the other of 1:42 minutes.  Jim McLean, flying the Discus had 1:30 and Roger Burghall, flying first with Steve Ogden in K21 KLW had 1:05 and followed this with the same time in the same glider with Robbie Norman on a day when 4 First Flight pupils were introduced to hill soaring.

Monday 27th.  The club welcomed 3 ATC instructors from Essex, G Hayes, T Horsley and S Cuthew and introduced them to the more informal ways of civilian gliding on a day when 9 ATs were flown in either of the 2 club K21s, the initially moderate S’ly slowly decreasing to become light to moderate as the day advanced.  Overcast skies didn’t promise much in the way of lift but John Carter and Colin Troise flying KLW managed to eke out their flying time to 48 minutes by making use of some broken areas of lift in front of the  the southern ridge.  Theirs was the only flight to exceed 30 minutes in the air, with Dick Coles’ flights with the 2 First Flight pupils of the day being next best with 23 and 20 minutes respectively.

Tuesday 28th.  A bright start to the day was followed by increasingly cloudy skies as an active cold front moved SE’wards over the country.  12 ATs were flown before the reducing cloud base and declining light levels led to flying stopping just before 1400 hrs, the gliders, tugs, Falke and ground equipment being returned to the hangars etc before the rain arrived around 1600 hrs.  4 First Flight pupils were flown as well as a Day Course pupil, Mr Fox, his introduction to gliding comprising a flight in the Falke with Albert Newbery followed by a 30 minute flight in K21 KLW, again with Albert.  8 of the day’s flights managed 30 minutes or more, with the Southern ridge and some bits and pieces of weak wave slowing down sink rates rather than providing consistent lift for the majority of pilots.  3 of the club’s 2 seaters were flown as well as 2 of  the single seaters with Naomi Kennard making the most of her flight in the Discus with 42 minutes, with Andy Parish and ATC instructor T Horsley coming close to this marker with 41 minutes in K21 KLW.  However, one of the other ATC visitors, S Cuthew, made it a personal achievement day by successfully flying his first solo AT in K21 JVZ and then showing how it should be done by remaining airborne for 1:14.

Sunday 19th to Wednesday 22nd October.

October 22nd, 2014

Sunday 19th.  A moderate to fresh SW’ly, gusting to over 30 kts, saw the winch deployed and a couple of exploratory flights by John Marsh and John Carter in K21 KLW to test the water so to speak.  However, a low level cable break on the next flight with John Carter and Nick Gaunt on board, in combination with an increase in the  wind speed  caused flying to be abandoned for the day, the longest flight only lasting around 7 minutes.  The wind speed  continued to increase into the early afternoon, becoming fresh to strong and gusting over 40 kts, before declining slightly by evening and becoming W’ly, a somewhat windy welcome for a group of visitors from the Nene GC at the start of their week at Sutton Bank.

Monday 20th.  A deep low to the N of Scotland kept the site in a moderate WSWly flow, the promising flying prospects of this combination of  wind strength and direction  being negated by a low cloud base and  frequent showers that deposited 2,5 mm of rain on the site over the day, only the occasional brief, bright interval promising but not delivering anything better.

Tuesday 21st.  The remains of hurricane Gonzalo crossed the UK bringing 3.6 mm of rain to the site, mainly overnight, but more noticeably some very strong winds from the WNW that peaked during the early afternoon to reach fresh to strong with gusts around 45 kts.  Correspondingly, there was no flying.

Wednesday 22nd.  Clear blue skies and a light S’ly wind allowed operations to commence off runway 20 soon after 1000 hrs.  Conditions then went downhill quite quickly as a warm front made progress from the west, bringing extensive cloud cover, a veer in the wind to W’ly and an increase in wind speed to moderate, the change in wind speed and direction providing some challenging approaches for tug and glider pilots alike.  The 9 ATs flown before flying stopped just after midday, did allow members of the visiting Nene GC group to get checked out on site before rigging and flying their DG300 and Pilatus gliders, with Chris Sheppard managing 20 minutes in the latter glider.  The morning’s flying also allowed 2 First Flight pupils to be flown, Andy Parish taking Mr Connolly for the longest flight of the day, 23 minutes in K21 KLW,  while the second First Flight pupil had the additional experience of landing in light rain.