Thursday 25th to Saturday 27th September

September 30th, 2014

Thursday 25th.  A moderate SW’ly blew for most of the day under mainly cloudy skies, with the result that 15 winch launches were flown between 1045 hrs  and 1515 hrs when  the decreasing wind speed caused a change to ATing, this contributing 9 launches.  A feature of the day was a visit from a group of Army personnel who were introduced to gliding, with the majority of the 12 who flew, having the more exciting winch launch.  3 of the club’s 2 seaters were flown as well as the club DG303 and 5 private owners also took to the skies providing 3 of the flights to exceed an hour on the day.  Visitor Graham Morris in his ASW 27 made the most of the conditions with a flight time of 6:41 while Derek Smith flew his Ventus for 2:26 and Jesper Mjels his DG400 for 1:33.  Jesper later took the last launch of the day in his DG400 but the log doesn’t record his landing time so I don’t know if he exceeded the 1 hr flight time for the second time.   Rob Bailey forsook  his ASG29 for the club DG303 and posted the 4th flight of the day to exceed an hour with 1:33.   The majority of the day’s flights exceeded 30 minutes with John Carter and Steve Ogden having 44 minutes in K21 JVZ off an AT, just beating the 43 minutes achieved by John Tayler and Steve’s son Chris in K21 KLW.  However, Steve’s bragging rights were somewhat dented as his AT took him to 3000′ QFE while son Chris’ only went to 1000′ QFE.

Friday 26th.  The wind, while remaining moderate, had veered more into the west but the day still resulted in a mix of winch launches and ATs, with 38 of the latter being flown and 8 of the former.  Winch launching started off the day and visitor Graham Morris again took advantage of the conditions to post the longest flight of the day with just under 6 hours in his ASW27.  The 38 ATs included 12 for another group of Army personnel with all the club 2 seaters and 3 of the single seaters flown, while 10 private owners also rigged and launched, the last flight landing around 1730 hrs.  The day generated 14 flights of over an hour with the 3 hr target being exceeded by Bill Payton and Mr Bunford in Bill’s DG1000t with 3:20,  John Ellis in his DG800 also with 3:20, Nick Gaunt in his LS7 with 3:19, Ian Bullous in his DG800 with 3:06 and Martyn Johnson in his DG600 with 3:02.  Martyn reached just under 8,000′ asl in wave while John Ellis reached just over 8,000′ asl in his DG800, contacting the wave on his return to Sutton after having to resort to  his engine just north of York after turning Pocklington and Burn in a flight of 101 km.   Back at site, Frank Wilson had 2:15 in Astir GBK and Phil Westerby Jones/Paul Whitehead had 1:28 in the DG500.

Saturday 27th.  The day started with sunny skies and a light to moderate SE’ly blowing so it was AT’s off runway 20 for members, First Flight pupils and a group of helpful Scouts. Hopes of a reasonable thermic day were, however, dashed by the arrival of a medium level overcast mid morning, so that although the day was just the job for flying the Scouts and the 9 First Flight pupils, there was no opportunity to soar.  However, the benign conditions did allow Naomi Kennard to convert to the Discus and have a flight of 27 minutes, the longest of the day so far, with the exception of John Carter and Mile High pupil Janet Bibby’s 39 minutes, so congratulations to Naomi.   By mid afternoon the 8 or so private owners who had rigged in expectation of a good day’s soaring called it a day and departed to the trailer park which was soon a hive of de-rigging activity.  No sooner than this got under way than the overcast cleared and he wind veered into the SW and increased to around 15 kts.  This resulted in both a change in runway to 24 and also a change in launch method, with the winch now in operation, but not before Paul Whitehead took First Flight pupil Mr E Wilson off in the DG500 on the last AT of the day, contacted the wave that was well marked by lenticulars and climbed to 8,000′ asl at a 6 kt climb rate before returning to site after a flight time of 45 minutes.  Mr Wilson was  so pleased with the experience that he undertook an assessment of the club’s airfield fire fighting equipment for free, this being his line of work.  This climb to 8,000′ asl was not the best achieved on the day as Axel Manhke reached 12,5000′ asl in his ASW20, but all subsequent flights failed to get much higher than 3,500′ asl in 1-2 kts of lift and later the wave and hill lift collapsed resulting in a rather congested landing area.  The 6 winch launches contributed the only 3 flights to exceed an hour, this comprising Roger Burghall/P Robinson in the DG1000 with 1:10, Brian Wise in the Discus with 1:23 and John Carter and Steve Ogden who had 1:01.  Adrian Melia on his first solo winch launch in Astir GBK, almost breached the 1 hour tape, but had to be content with 58 minutes.   Adrian later took the following photo of an attractive sky scape that developed in the early evening.

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Tuesday 23rd to Wednesday 24th September

September 24th, 2014

Tuesday 23rd.  A bright start to the day soon changed to increasing cloudiness as a front approached from the NW, the wind, initially a light to moderate S’ly, slowly veering into the SW.  Only 3 ATs were flown, 2  in the DG1000 where Ron Beezer took the 2 First Flight pupils of the day, Helen Lawrence and William Fletcher for flights of 27 and 23 minutes respectively.  The 3rd and final  AT  was for Derek Smith who flew his Ventus for 28 minutes before flying stopped around 1315 hrs due to the progressively lowering base of the, by now, overcast with the rain also arriving.

Wednesday 24th.  The overnight fronts deposited 7 mm of rain, the  front crossing the site around 0630 hrs its legacy of cloud clearing a little later to leave the site in a very clear airmass and clear blue skies, theses soon filled with nice looking Cu and some early lenticulars.  The wind was a moderate NW’ly and the first flight, flown solo in one of the K21s by Deputy Chief Flying Instructor John Carter to assess the conditions on take off and landing, concluded that the conditions were not suitable for flying. During the subsequent break, the Discus was rigged, a couple of private owners washed their trailers and Ian Johnston impressed the assembled multitudes with his rope splicing expertise as demonstrated in the following photo taken by Adrian Melia.

20140924_105334By late afternoon, conditions had calmed down enough for flying to begin and Steve and son Chris Ogden obliged, both flying in K21 JVZ in the company of John Carter.  Both took advantage of the still thermic conditions to soar, with Dad Steve’s 34 minutes being superseded by Son Chris’s 48 minutes.

Gliding’s charms and challenges are often difficult to express to the  non-flying public, but I think Nick Gaunt’s description of a recent flight in Scotland goes a long way to capturing the lure of gliding so  I have reproduced it below.  I certainly think it deserves to be brought to the attention of a wider audience.

The car, freed of the glider trailer bounded off towards the Dee-side digs, friendly glider pilots and magical beer. Tomorrow’s forecast looked good, early morning clear skies, Cumulus the engines of the sky, forming by ten am, a dry polar atmosphere and a ten knot Westerly; promising. Sure enough at six thirty the sun was shining from a cloudless sky and the Grampians sharp and blue black on the horizon. Early breakfast, down to the airfield to meet old friends and rig the glider.

“Any plans Nick?” “Loch Ness, the Atlantic sea coast around Skye and perhaps Ben Nevis ” “Aye, well good luck ye old beggar, I’ll buy you a pint if ye do all that”. The tow behind the old crop sprayer aeroplane took me to two thousand feet and a sunny south facing slope soon produced my first thermal of the day to a very satisfactory four thousand feet and the base of the cumulus clouds. The idea is to fly to the next cloud which marks where the lift will be and cross the country using a series of stepping stones so to speak.

The countryside is majestic, the Dee valley meandering to the West past Balmoral, Balater and Breamar towards the Lynn of Dee with ever higher Grampian Mountains on either side. I took the Southern route over Locnavar, the first of the major Munroes in the Grampians seeing my shadow on the crags where the warmer air rises up the mountainside. Unpopulated countryside this with just the odd climber already on the crags and deer in great herds of thirty and more but none see the soundless glider ‘in the sun’.

The ground gets higher as I go further west and with it the base of the clouds and by the time I’m over the Lynn of Dee, cloud base is nearly seven and a half thousand feet and air rising at twenty feet per second and the altimeter going round like the second hand of a watch. As I’m circling with forty five degrees of bank, nearly at the base of the cloud a crow joins me just inside my wing tip, a compliment indeed, it’s usually me who joins them with their uncanny ability to find the better lift.

So far this has been a pretty easy jaunt but as I cross the wide Spey valley and move into the great amorphous land mass that I have to cross to get to Fort Augustus , at the Southern tip of Loch Ness, I feel more nervous. Even the name is alien, ‘The Monadhliath Mountains’ and no one, but no one lives here, there is no sign of habitation, no fields and no where to land if things go wrong. My glider and I we have to get it right. We are still amongst three thousand foot Munroes and the cloud base is not so high as we move west towards the sea and fly through damper air. A different technique must be used, so I don’t stop at the base of the next cloud but continue climbing inside.

I’m no airline pilot and concentrating on the blind flying instruments requires great concentration. As we rise to nine thousand feet the noise changes, subtle but definite indications that ice is beginning to form on the wing and the performance of the glider will deteriorate if it accumulates, so time to get out. Lining up on a heading and flying straight feels as if we are turning hard in the opposite direction from our climbing circle and it’s very difficult to believe the instruments. The fog thins and suddenly we burst into brilliant sunshine. Far below and stretching to the North is Scotland ’s magical and mysterious Loch Ness, brilliant blue in the sunshine with black-blue shadows from the clouds. Too high to see Nessy ploughing through the ripples!

Ahead is another towering cloud with tops at thirteen or fourteen thousand feet and I enter at the side. Now if you have air rising at fifteen feet a second in the middle of a cloud it’s usually going down at about the same speed at the edge and it’s rough, very rough. Feet jump off the rudder peddles, head bumps against the top of the plastic canopy, cockpit full of dust full and fast movement of the controls inside a big black rough cloud which could be dying, in which case I’ll sink like a brick instead of climbing. I did judge it right and rise like a cork in a champagne bottle.

This time I break cloud at just under twelve thousand feet and have the most fantastic view of my life. Fortunately its all recognisable and my dead reckoning was right, below was the Sound of Sleap ahead the Isle of Skye, to the north west the Kyle of Loch Alshe. I was right over Glenelg and spot on track. As I went forward to actually get over Skye and one hundred and seventy five kilometres from home, I moved into very gently rising air. The wind was about fifteen knots westerly at this height and I guessed blowing over the Culins to the west and undulating in a wave formation and so giving me lift in clear air with no cloud with it. A true bonus.

Turn around, back through the wall of cloud, around Fort Augustus and down the great Glen to Ben Nevis . Cloud base getting very low and not much above the mountain top here. From just five hundred feet above the summit of Ben Nevis I could see two climbers fooling about in the patch of snow just below the top, but I hurried away to the East where less damp air was to be found and better lift to go with it. Past Loch Rannoch to Loch Tummel and then time to head for home.

On any other day the ride back to the Lynn of Dee up Loch Ericht via Glenfeshie Forest and so to Aboyne would have been memorable and indeed it was, but masked by the wonderful magnificence of where I had been..

Sunday 21 to Monday 22nd September.

September 23rd, 2014

Sunday 21st.  The passage of the cold front left the site in an initially light N’ly, but this increased briefly to moderate in the early afternoon, bringing with it some significant turbulence on the take off and approach  that caused a temporary cessation of flying from around 1230 to 1600  hrs.  However, this was not the only interruption due to the weather, as the first flight of the day found that the extensive cloud layer was only at 800′ QFE so this caused  flying to be delayed until just before midday.  Following the latter of these  interruptions, flying continued until around 1530 by which time 10 ATs had been flown in either one of the K21s or the DG1000, the cloud deck having broken up somewhat with a cloud base of just over 2,000′ QFE.  The lack of lift meant that no one managed more than 20 minutes in the air, this pinnacle of achievement being reached by Roger Burghall and I Albiston in the DG1000.  The conditions were such as to prevent a Group of visiting Scouts from flying, but they had the compensation of spending some time on the simulator with Mike Smith who took one of the Scouts for a flight over his house near York and then landed in an adjacent field.  The day’s flying activities were completed by 4 flights in the Falke.

Monday 22nd.   The prospect of a day’s soaring as another high pressure system started to establish, resulted in a busy morning briefing followed by a equally busy trailer park as 9 private owners rigged.  Convection was slow to get going in the initially light NW’ly, as high cover to the east and west of the site further limited the sun’s heating potential.  However, a nicely placed blue  strip of sky running N/S allowed Cu to start forming late morning and soon a number of cross country pilots set off, led by Peter Clay in his Ventus who launched just after 1215 hrs.  Peter found it hard going at first as the cloud base was only around 2,500 asl, but things improved as he  flew and  completed the 100 km Sut/Rufforth/Pocklington/Sut triangle in his Ventus although all pilots reported poor horizontal visibility, particularly approaching cloud base, so that it was very difficult  to see and select the best clouds up track.  . John Ellis in his DG800 and George Rowden in his LS8, both completed their tasks, John a 132 km Sut/Snainton/Market Weighton/Sut triangle and George a 107 km Sut/Snainton/Stamford Bridge/Sut triangle , sharing a couple of thermals on the way and using a rather irregular conversion south west of Snainton marked by some ragged cloud that formed low down, well below the regular convective cloud base which eventually reached around 4,000′ asl.  .  Rob Bailey in his ASG29t attempted a more ambitious triangle with TPs at Garforth and Market Weighton but ran into some dead air east of Garforth that mean a engine start. Reconnecting with the convection, he then flew NW and found some weak wave over the A1 that took him to 5,200′ asl, some 500′ over cloud base,  but a further foray west over Pately Bridge did not result in a higher climb.   Lindsay McLane, travelling south and following the weather, turned Burn and Pontefract but ran out of lift on the way to Sheffield and had to resort to the engine of his Ventus. Retracing his steps and regaining the convection around  Pontefract, he then flew to Pocklington only to find a complete convective shut down around 1600 hrs, so it was back to the engine in order to get back to Sutton where convection was still active, this allowing him to do some local soaring until around 1730 hrs giving him the day’s longest flight of just under 4 hours.  These local soaring conditions were also appreciated by Chris Thirkell in his Standard Cirrus who, taking off at 1600 hrs, managed a flight of an hour.  Graham Morris in is ASW27, Martyn Johnson in his DG600 and Phil Lazenby in his Pegase did not fly a task but visited TPs to the North and West including the Tontine, Northallerton and Ripon.  Martyn found the going to be relatively straightforward, but on passing Sutton on his way south from Northallerton, encountered some non working clouds and had little option but to land back on site.  His flight was also  enlivened by a formatting Buzzard and a close encounter with a star shaped Helium party balloon. Another pilot to have avian neighbours was Mike Smith, who, flying the DG1000 with First Flight pupil John Smith, no relation, had 2 Peregrine Falcons for company in a thermal.  The 2 Day Course members, Andrew Turner and Martin Johnson thoroughly enjoyed their day, Martin having the longest 2 seater flight of the day, 50 minutes with John Carter in K21 JVZ and is likely to join the club, while Frank Wilson had 1:33 in the DG303 on a day when 23 ATs were flown and the light NW’ly slowly backed into the west.

Friday 19th to Saturday 20th September

September 21st, 2014

Friday 19th.  The light, predominately N’ly wind, was again accompanied by very poor visibility and  low cloud, the latter being thick enough to generate some drizzle and light rain for the majority of the day so again no flying was possible.  The Stratford GC visitors departed having not got their gliders out of their trailers, the first time this has happened during around 30 years of visiting Sutton Bank.

Saturday 20th.  A weak cold front approaching from the NW was forecast to bring in some cooler, drier and clearer air, but it did not arrive at site until after sunset so it was another non-flyable day due to low cloud, poor visibilty and light rain and drizzle at times.  This, however, did not stop Ian Kennard cutting the grass on runway 20 or for George Rowden, briefily aided by Graham Evison, from taking a group of Scouts and Joe, a 13 year old First Flight pupil, for some flying on the recently refurbished simulator.

Wednesday 17th to Thursday 18th.

September 18th, 2014

Wednesday 17th.  Apart from the wind being now from  the NNE, nothing else had changed so it was again a day of initially low cloud which eventually broke to give sunny intervals, albeit under very murky conditions.  The Eurofox was flown to determine if the conditions were suitable for operation, but quickly returned after confirming the very poor visibility and a cloud base of under 500′ QFE.  Consequently there was no other flying.

Thursday 18th.  The writer arrived at site late morning to again find a low overcast drifting slowly along in a light NE’ly that slowly veered into the E.  As on previous days, the overcast finally broke around midday to yield very hazy sunshine, the visibility being so poor that the Howardian Hills to the SE of the site could not be seen from the club house.  Although there was no flying, the morning was enlivened by the visit of a group of Primary School children who were shown the gliders and tugs before departing for a visit to the visitor centre at the top of Sutton Bank.

Tuesday 16th September.

September 16th, 2014

Tuesday 16th.  The light, now E’ly, wind, hazy, warm and low cloud base conditions continued, with little change in the synoptic situation and it was again a case of sitting out the morning’s low overcast and hoping for an improvement.  By around lunch time the skies started to clear, with the featureless overcast breaking up into recognisable Cu, some of which showed significant vertical development.  However, a single flight in the Falke by Albert Newbery and a Day Course pupil confirmed that the cloud base was still low, being only 1100′ QFE, so although a glider and tug had been parked out on the airfield ready for action,  they were finally put away around 1600 hrs.  Attention then turned to the ongoing work on the septic tank with preparations being made for the installation of a new concrete lid with access manholes.  After preparing the form work the ready mix lorry arrived around 1600 hrs and the pouring of the concrete began, the following photos showing two of the stages of the work.

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The work was completed by 1700 hrs, with some excess concrete being used to fill in a gulley in the dirt road  leading to the member’s car park by the side of the north hangar.

Thursday 11th to Sunday 14th September

September 16th, 2014

Thursday 11th.  The intensifying anticyclone resulted in a hazy day with low cloud to start, in a light SSE’ly flow, this delaying flying until the mid afternoon.  Thereafter, 8 ATs were flown in either of the 2 K21s with the last flight landing at around 1800 hrs.  The lack of any significant lift meant that only 1 flight exceeded 30 minutes and that was by Andy Parish with returning First Flight pupil Paul Wall at 31 minutes, courtesy of a tow to 3000′ QFE.  Earlier, Andy and Ron Linton had 21 minutes off the first flight of the day from a 2000′ QFE tow.  During the unflyable morning, the simulator was put to good use.

Friday 12th.   The blocking high continued to intensify, with hazy conditions and early low cloud and mist as a result, the wind remaining light from the SSE.  Flying started at around 1400 hrs and, as on Thursday, contributed 8 ATs to the month’s total, these being in either K21 KLW or the DG1000, with a further 2 flights in the Falke.  The complete and featureless overcast meant soaring opportunities were not expected, but Andy Parish with First Flight pupil D Sanderson in KLW, was able to maintain a height of 2000′ QFE and even climb a little in a couple of “thermals” to post the longest flight of the day at 31 minutes.  Later in the day, Andy and Ray Wilkins flying in the DG1000, again found some weak lift of the 0.5 to 1 fpm variety to give them a flight time of 22 minutes.  Steve Ogden made the most of the benign conditions to consolidate his circuit planning with 3 flights in the company of John Carter .  The simulator was again in use during the morning.

Saturday 13th.  With little change in the synoptic situation, the day was again characterised by poor visibility, overcast skies,  light winds, this time mainly from the E, and a lack of lift.  The absence of early low cloud and mist did mean, however, that flying started at around 1100 hrs  with 19 ATs flown over the day, 7 of these being for a group of Scouts from Hurworth and 4 being for First Flight pupils.  The overcast meant that there were no soaring flights, indeed no one managed a flight in excess of 30 minutes, with Roger Burghall and First Flight pupil Sue Harban coming closest with 28 minutes in the DG1000 from a 2,800′ QFE tow, with the same flight time being achieved later in the day again with Roger Burghall as P1  in the same glider and from the same tow height, but this time the First Flight pupil was another Sue, Sue Horobin,.  On the last flight of the day, Martin Joyce did a successful conversion to the DG303, so congratulations Martin.  The club also welcomed our regular visitors from the Stratford GC at the start of their week’s visit with a low level rainbow providing a timely welcome .  In addition to the real flying , there was some virtual flying on the simulator.

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Sunday 14th.  The high pressure showed signs of declining, but this made little difference to the local weather , the skies remaining overcast with no lift, although the wind, while still light, was now from the NNE.  After some virtual flying on the simulator for a group  of visiting Scouts, real flying commenced around midday and continued until the late afternoon with 3 Falke flights and 16 ATs flown, 7 of the latter for the Scouts from Hurworth who had camped on site overnight.  The member’s flying log entries were dominated by the flights of Steve Ogden who, after 6 flights with John Marsh in K21 KLW from tow heights of between 700 and 1400′ QFE, was sent solo and did 2 flights, the second of which, from a tow height of 1600′ QFE, resulted in the longest flight of the day at 13 minutes.  So congratulations to  Steve on his solo.  The only other solo flight of the day was by Dick Cole in KLW, which, given the launch height and flight duration of 9 minutes, I assume was an aerobatic sortie.  Tony Dury on the other hand spent part of the day fettling the DG303 trailer in preparation for the forthcoming club member’s visit to Millfield.  A photo of a very happy Steve with an equally happy John Marsh is shown below.

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Monday 15th.  A weak frontal feature moving in from the E brought a day of low cloud and light rain at times, this amounting to 0.5 mm in total.  Although the weather occasionally improved to sunshine, the improvements were very brief and no flying was possible other than on the simulator.  The non-flying day did allow work to start on the malfunctioning septic tank in front of the hangars, which when emptied of its contents was found to have been wrongly installed so that the inlet pipe was lower than the outlet pipe with the result that the inlet drain and transfer drain between the two tanks were almost completely blocked, as the following photos show.

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A completely new inlet  drain was therefore installed as was the  the outlet drain and  the connection between the 1st and 2nd tanks, as the following photo shows.

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Tuesday 9th to Wednesday 10th September

September 10th, 2014

Tuesday 9th.  Tuesday commenced with a low overcast that soon burned off, allowing flying to start just after 1100 hrs.  The course members were soon brushing up  their flying skills and were joined by a number of club members and 3 First Flight pupils as 75% and of the club’s 2 seater fleet, 40 % of the club’s single seater fleet and 100% of the motor glider fleet were employed, the latter for 2 flights.  The launch total for the day was 17, all ATs off runway 20 into a light SSE’ly that slowly veered in to the SW as the day progressed.  Steve Thompson, the only private owner to launch, had the longest flight of the day,  2:51 in his Discus, the other two > 1 hr pilots being Nigel Gregson with 1:59 in Astir KRN and Frank Wilson with 1:26 in the DG303 as convection got going by early afternoon.  None of  the two seater flights exceeded an hour, but John Carter and course member Diane Kermode came closest with 53 minutes in K21 JVZ.

Wednesday 10th.  The anticyclone responsible for the fine, dry weather and light winds continued to build, the result being a somewhat misty early morning in the Vale of York and a repeat low overcast that delayed the start of flying until around 1130 hrs.  Thereafter, 18 ATs were flown off runway 20 as the light E’ly slowly strengthened to become light to moderate by the end of the flying day.  Convection again got going by early afternoon with cloud base rising to around 3,500′ asl, but some spreadout developed and while the vertical visibility was OK horizontal visibility was poor with no discernable horizon.  John Carter and Diane Kermode had an interesting first flight of their particular day in K21 JVZ when the tow rope from the Eurofox pulled out of the bullet at the glider end while on  tow.  Fortunately, their height and position was such as to allow a return to the airfield.  No private owners flew so the 2 flights exceeding an hour were logged by club gliders, Frank Wilson having 1:46 in the DG303 and Nick Covill having 1:26 in Astir KRN.  Bill Payton posted the longest 2 seater flight as he took a guest for 48 minutes in K21 KLW while John Carter and course member Paul Clark had 42 minutes in K21 JVZ.  The day saw 4 First Flight pupils flown with one of these flights providing the unusual spectacle of the normally tail heavy DG1000 coming to rest with  the underside of its nose in contact with the grass, thankfully without any damage,  much to the surprise of P1 George Rowden.  Flying operations ceased just after 1700 hrs with the last few landings on runway 06 due to the strengthened E’ly flow.  Thereafter the skies were graced with a De Havilland Beaver and a Spitfire as Nigel Gregson flew a couple of  his electrically powered models over runway 20 in the turbulent air down wind of the hangars and club house.

Wednesday 3rd to Monday 8th September

September 9th, 2014

Addendum to Saturday 30th Sugust.  My report for Saturday 30th August included reference to Martin Joyce’s 5 hour flight in Astir KRN but failed to mention that this was Martin’s completion of the duration portion of  his Silver C badge.  So simultaneous apologies and congratulations Martin.

Wednesday 3rd.  A light to moderate ESE’ly flow brought in overcast skies and a low cloudbase that delayed flying until midday before the skies lightened.  The brightening skies did not produce any significant lift however,  and  the day’s pilots had to be content with  circuits, although Day Course pupil Gary Martin, flying with John Marsh on one of his 3 flights, did log the longest flight of the day with 25 minutes in K21 KLW.  Ian Bateman flying the Discus was the only pilot to fly solo  and did so twice, recording the same time for both flights, 20 minutes.  By the middle of the afternoon the brightness disappeared as the cloud cover increased and lowered, flying terminating just before 1600 hrs after 10 ATs had been flown, including one for the day’s only First Flight pupil while the Falke contributed  a single flight to the day’s activities.

Thursday 4th.  A light and variable wind was accompanied by initially hazy conditions, but flying was not delayed much, the first flight taking off around 1045 hrs.  Another Day Course pupil, Thomas Marks, and 3 First Flight pupils were welcomed to the site, with one of the latter, Philip French, being a Mile High aspirant and, as a consequence, posting one of the longest flights of the day, 47 minutes with John Marsh in K21 KLW.   This was almost the closest anyone got to breaking the 1 hour barrier, but Ron Linton and Andy Parish in the same glider bettered that time by 2 minutes to record 49, while John Carter and Resh Khodabocus came close with 45 minutes in the DG1000, all these flights taking place over a short period in the early afternoon as some convective activity briefly erupted.  The only pilot of fly solo was Mark Walton who had 21 minutes later in the day in the Ka8, while the Falke had another single sortie to add to the 14 ATs of the day.

Friday 5th.  The wind had become a light to moderate NW’ly and a light morning shower with an accompanying low cloud base delayed the start of flying until early afternoon, but flying then continued until almost 1800 hrs.  The 2 seaters were kept busy with 7 First Flight pupils and members with two of the former, Helen Willis in the DG1000 with Andy Parish and M Kendrick in the same glider with Robin Hutchinson posting 2 of the 5 flights of the day to exceed 30 minutes.  No one exceeded an hour on a day with limited lift, but Ian Bateman came closest with 50 minutes in the Discus.

Saturday 6th.  A slow moving depression provided a dull and overcast day with mainly light  rain at times, the daily accumulation amounting to 5 mm, as the  light  wind slowly backed into the E after being initially from the N.  Accordingly there was no flying.

Sunday 7th.  Sunday dawned bright and sunny with a light to moderate N wind and, with Cu starting to pop by mid morning, the private owner trailer park became a  hive of activity.  In the event there were 12 private owner launches contributing to the 33 flown on the day,  as private owners, other members and 7 First Flight pupils enjoyed a good day’s soaring that saw a number of cross countries flown and 16 flights exceeding an hour.  Axel Mahnke topped the duration list with 4:59 in his ASW20, while Ian Bullous in his DG800, Martyn Johnson in his DG600 and Ken Arkley in his LS8 all had between 3:25 and 3:42 aloft.  Ian ventured as far as the Humber Bridge while Martyn, having got stuck at Northallerton trying to get to Catterick, decided to cut his losses and spent the rest of his flight exploring the eastern part of the Yorkshire Dales. Fred Brown flew the club 100 km triangle with TPs at Pocklington and Rufforth in his Ventus before landing and allowing syndicate partner Paul Whitehead to do an 107 km O/R to Staindrop at 78 kph.  Jesper Mjels, taking off late in his DG400, contacted wave to the NW of the site and climbed to 8,000′ asl.  Adrian Melia, flying Astir KRN enjoyed a flight of 2:26, his longest solo flight so far, while Kevin and Liz Keily shared 1:21 in K21 JVZ on a great September day for soaring.

Monday 8th.  Another sunny start, as an Atlantic high pressure system edged into the UK with a low over the Northern North Sea threatening to bring in some top/medium cover  later in the day.  25 ATs were flown off runway 24, the very light N’ly wind resulting in the Super Cub being the chosen tug for the heavier 2 seaters with the Eurofox being the choice for the rest.  Cloud base eventually reached around 4,000′ asl but was significantly variable, with those on cross countries finding a lowering of cloudbase to below 3,000′ asl around the Pocklingon area with higher cloudbases to the NE and  SE.  Thermals had strong but narrow cores that required tight turns and frequent re-centring.  Paul Whitehead, one of 7 private owners to launch in his Ventus,  completed his 205 km declared task with TPs at the Humber Bridge, Pontefract and Ripon in 3:16 but found the return from Ripon to Sutton a bit of a struggle.  George Rowden, flying the same task in his LS8 and setting off earlier than Paul, abandoned the  task at the Humber Bridge due to a lack of clouds on the leg to Pontefract and returned to Sutton, half of the  return leg being under a complete and murky overcast that did however, provide a climb above glide some 25 km out, the final glide ending in a marginal straight in approach to runway 02 after a flight time of 2:28.  Martyn Johnson abandoned his SE’ly orientated cross country at Pocklington due to the lowering cloud base before returning to Sutton and exploring part of the North Yorks Moors in his flight of 2:51,  while Andy Hatfield, flying the DG200, abandoned his Beverley/Burn task due to the worsening conditions and instead flew the club 100 km triangle with TP’s at Pocklington and Rufforth in 2:16, being justifiably pleased to get back home.  Jesper Mjels, meanwhile, went as far South as the Humber but decided against going any further as conditions there looked decidedly unhelpful.  A climb over Drax power station helped his return home after 2:10 in the air.  The day’s 25 ATs included 7 by private owners and 3 for First Flight pupils, and the soaring conditions provided a good start to the last holiday course of the year with members, Diane Kermode, John Lennard and Konrad Kawalec able to get in some good flights in both the 2 seaters and the Falke under the tutorship of CFI Andy Parish and Deputy CFI John Carter.  John and Nick Covill posted the longest 2 seater flight of the day with 54 minutes in K21 JVZ while Nigel Gregson enjoyed 1:10 of local soaring in the DG303.  Flying continued until just before 1800 hrs, the mid afternoon overcast clearing to leave brighter skies and some late thermal activity.

Thursday 28th August to Tuesday 2nd September

September 3rd, 2014

Thursday 28th.  Rain and low cloud in a light to moderate SW’ly delayed the start of flying until after midday, with 8 ATs being flown in the afternoon/early evening.  All but one of the launches were in club 2 seaters with the exception being one of the Slingsby Week visitors, Mr Winch, who had 40 minutes in his Swallow.  Jesper Mjels and P Thomas had 1:26 in the DG500  and Bob Beck and B Fasa had 1:00 in K21 JVZ to record the two flights to exceed or equal an hour in the air and make it another soaring day at Sutton.  The day also included a single First Flight pupil flight.

Friday 29th.  The SW’ly wind had increased to  moderate to fresh with gusts to around 30 kts, the airstream bringing with it a number of showers.  This didn’t put a stop to flying activities , however,  with 16 winch launches, 4 of which were for the Slingsby visitors, 3 of whom posted the longest flights of the day.  These were David Cornelius and Ron Page with 2:06, Peter Thomas with 2:36 and top of the list Mr Goldsmith with 3:35, with 2 other flights also exceeding an hour.  Club flying was limited to the 2 seaters, these being used to give 3 First Flight pupils a taste of hill soaring while Bob Beck and Mark Walton shared 46 minutes in the DG1000 and the Falke had a single flight.

Saturday 30th.  Yet another Saturday in August produced a good hill soaring and wave day, as a moderate to fresh W’ly, briefly gusting to  the high 20’s, encouraged most, if not all of the Slingsby visitors to launch, as well as 6 First Flight pupils and a goodly number of members.  The day’s launch total was 51, comprising 49 winch launches and 2 ATs, with 36 of these launches generating flights of over an hour.  Top of these was Axel Mahnke in his ASW 20 with 6:34, but most notable was Slingsby visitor Mr Liddiard who completed his Silver C duration in his Oly 263 which he had bought for the princely sum of £1.   So congratulations to him on 2 counts.  26 private owner launches were flown, with a several recording good climbs on the National Ladder.  Bill Payton and Stuart Heaton flew their DG1000t for 4:05, visiting Harrogate North, Guisborough and Carlton to cover 136 km and climb to just over 14,000′ asl.  Stuart has kindly provided the following photo of the gliding club taken from around this height, the white blob left of centre being the White Horse.  Their flight also included a track of around 17 km some 2-4 km offshore to the SE of Saltburn.  As indicated from Stuart’s photo the wave was not well marked and became increasingly blue as the day progressed.

stuart-14500Other YGC pilots to record their flights on the ladder were Phil Lazenby, who reached just over 9,000′ asl and Rob Bailey who reached around 12,400′,  Rob providing the following photo while over the Pennines, the wave pattern again being not particularly obvious.

rob-bailey-30th-aug-11500Saturday marked the end of a successful Slingsby and Vintage Glider meet with lots of flying and social, particularly culinary, activities.  As well as providing a colourful set of characters, vintage glider meets also provide some colourful airframes to offset the monochrome white of modern gliders and this is illustrated in the next couple of photos provided by Jon Hart, which contrast the colour scheme of a vintage glider with a modern one.  The photos also show the well marked wave clouds which were present during the early part of the day, including the one illustrated to the north east of the site. Other  pilots to take advantage of the conditions were Martin Joyce who flew Astir KRN for just over 5 hours, while the 2 seaters were not to be left out, Bob Beck and John Tayler having 1:27 in the DG1000 and John Marsh and Adrian Melia 1:26 in K21 JVZ.

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Sunday 31st.  The W’ly wind had decreased to light to moderate with the conditions providing a good thermic day that was much appreciated by those who flew.  37 ATs were flown, the majority of the club fleet being utilised and 8 private owners taking to the air.  The day saw 7 First Flight pupils flown, a single Falke flight and 12 flights of over an hour, with some good cross country tasks.  Rob Bailey went for a tour of the Pennines, visiting Hawes, Ullswater, Dufton and Brough to cover 230 km and provide the following photograph of Ullswater  in his flight of 3:35.

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Phil Lazenby spent a similar time flying a 218 km task taking in Tockwith, Pocklington, Richmond and Harrogate North in his Pegase while others breaking the 3/4 hour barrier included Paul Whitehead with 4.24 in  his Ventus, Martyn Johnson with 3:25 in his DG600, Tony Drury with 3:97 in the Discus and Axel Mahnke with 3:02 in his ASW20.  The day was also marked by Will Andrew’s solo, so congratulations to him and the following photos showing Will receiving his wings from John Marsh after his flight.

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So ended August 2014 which turned out to be a very good month for wave flights, the total of height gained, at almost 130,000′  being  the highest total ever recorded for August.  Given that not all pilots post their wave flights on the National ladder, the  actual height gained would have been significantly greater.

Monday 1st September.   A weak cold front deposited 4 mm of rain on the site in the early morning and left a legacy of low cloud that delayed flying until the afternoon, the wind being a light to moderate N’ly.  7 Ats were eventually flown, 4 for First Flight pupils with John Tayler taking 2 of them, Peter Oliver and Julie Collins for 24 minutes each in the DG1000, these proving to be the longest flights of the day.

Tuesday 2nd.  A sunny morning tempted 3 private owners to rig as the wind remained light and variable, mainly from an E’ly direction.  Promising Cu development soon led to overcast skies, the cloud base being around 2500′ asl and this led  George Rowden to abandon his proposed cross country task and land his LS8 t after 48 minutes.  Albert Newbery and Stuart Heaton, taking off a little later in their DG1000t, decided to use their engine to get to brighter conditions further south and subsequently did an O/R to Burn, diverting to the west to stay in the better conditions and finding sufficient lift under the overcast on the return to Sutton to do a straight in approach to runway 02 after a flight of 2:32.  Peter Crawley took off in his DG800 and did some exploring to the west and east, with some recourse to his engine, to record 2:30, ending up soaring some large, but weak areas of lift under the overcast with visitor Ian Bateman in the Ka8 late in the afternoon.  Ian, who had had a significant break in his gliding, first had a 36 minute check flight with Andy Parish in the DG1000 followed by an earlier 12 minute flight in the Ka8 but, in his later flight in the same glider, recorded a very commendable 1:15.   Liz Keily had a busy day taking  guest Carnell for 2 flights in K21 JVZ and having 2 solo flights herself,  first in the Ka8 and then solo in K21 JVZ and made a significant contribution to the 21 ATs flown off runway 24, mainly by the Eurofox, although the Super Cub was used for some of the 2 seater launches.   These included 4 flights for First Flight pupils, one of who had two launches as the relatively low cloudbase and lack of lift meant a restricted time in the air.