Wednesday. The day started blue with a moderate S’ly and initially thermals were limited to around 2500′ . Around 2pm the cumulus which was visible to the west advanced towards the site and climbs were then possible to around 4000′ but the cloud base was very variable with up to 5500′ being reached. 11 ATs were flown, 3 by private owners and the rest by the club 2 seaters, Discus and DG303. Most of the private owners again went W with Lindsay McClane managing to cross the Pennines in his Ventus, while Bill Payton/Stewart Heaton in their DG1000t were thwarted by lower cloud and rising ground and decided to return to Sutton after reaching Hawes. Martyn Johnson also explored the Pennines in his flight of 4.8 hrs while David Ryall had just over an hour soaring locally to Sutton in the Discus.
Thursday. The wind remained in the SSE’ly quadrant and visibility was again poor, but thermal activity was limited and thermals difficult to utilise. 5 ATs were flown, all in the club K21s, 4 of the 5 flights being with Trial Lesson pupils. Flight times were generally in the 15-25 minute range but Albert Newbery flying one of 2 brothers on a Trial flight made it an official soaring day by staying up for 30 minutes. 2 pilots decided to use the better soaring weather on the simulator.
Friday. The same air mass covered Sutton, with the wind a moderate SSE’ly and poor visibility. This time however there was a layer of cirrustratus courtesy of a front over Northern Ireland. This slowly moved westwards during the day (the front, not Northern Ireland). Thermal activity was somewhat better than on Thursday and wave was also present. 10 ATs were flown off runway 20, all in the club 2 seaters, including 5 Trial Lesson pupils. Flight times were in the 14-42 minute range but John Marsh/Steve Briggs had 1.25 hrs in the DG500, in the course of which they reached 5000′ asl in weak wave. The Falke returned to site after having its new engine fitted at Bagby.
Saturday. The same airmass as on the previous days prevailed but the wind was now a moderate E’ly, but the morning briefing forecast the passage of a weak cold front during the afternoon. Operations were again off runway 20 resulting in some good cross wind landing practice plus low level turbulence downwind of the trees. Thermal activity was reasonable with a very murky cloud base around 4500 asl, allowing the Day Course member to try out his thermalling techniques on his 3rd flight. 6 Trial Lesson pupils were flown, with some of these flights turning out to be very interesting indeed. George Rowden, flying one of these pupils, had just touched down after a particularly turbulent approach onto runway 20 when 4 Deer in line came up over the W ridge and ran across the runway, into the path of the approaching glider. With full wheel brake applied, a collision was narrowly avoided with the 3rd Deer by virtue of it leaping over the nose of the glider, while the 4th Deer fortunately turned back and disappeared over the edge of the ridge. The Trial Lesson pupil, a lady. was quite unperturbed, and regarded the incident as a bonus to a very enjoyable flight.
During the early afternoon the weak Cold Front arrived , marked by a zone of increased cloudiness and a few showers. Albert Newbery/ David Everett in the club K21 and George Rowden with another Trial Lesson pupil in the other club K21 both took off with what looked like a light shower approaching from the E . The shower quickly developed into large rain/hail storm, passing over and completely obliterating the site and surronding countryside from view. As it moved away to the NW a rumble of thunder was heard. Albert and David found strong lift in front of the storm but were then caught in the rain/hail and had to turn on the blind flying instruments to escape. George and his Trial Lesson pupil, skirting the southern edges of the storm found solid and smooth 8kts lift just to the rear of the rain. Both gliders used the plentiful lift around and in the vicinity of the storm to remain airborne until the storm had cleared the site and a landing was possible into what was now a light SE’ly. The passage of the front brought superb gliding conditions with big, fat thermals, high cloudbases and tremendous visibility, tempting pilots into the air for some early evening soaring with Andy Darlington taking the last launch at 1730 hrs in the DG500 and returning just over an hour later with the sky still looking terrific until after 1930 hours. In all, 27 ATs were flown with 9 flights of >an hour, with all the club 2 seaters in action as well as the Astir. Flying was only terminated by the fact that the YGC AGM was held that evening, preceeded by some very welcome Lasangne, chips and salad courtesy of Brian and helpers. While not as exciting as the day’s flying, the AGM certainly proved to be an lively event. But that’s another story.