Thursday 29th to Friday 30th April

Thursday 29th.  A SW’lyairstream that slowly veered into the W brought withit virtually total cloud cover down to a level that prevented flying, withrain starting in the late afternoon.  In  the absence of flying Peter Wright gave the launch cabin a spring clean, Ian Plant gave the winch a maintenance check and Andy Parish caught up with his paperwork.

Friday 30th.  A moderate WSW’ly promised and delivered a day of hill soaring, but the very unstable air mass also delivered frequent showers, some of hail, though their frequency died off in the early afternoon as the sky clouded over and more general rain spread in later.  12 winch launches and 2 ATs were flown off runway 24 with both K21’s, the DG1000 and the Discus in action.  The showers resulted in some truncated flights and repeated dewatering of canopies, wings and tail planes.  Cumulus growth was very rapid in the morning giving some good thermals and three of the day’s flights were around or over the hour, with Martyn Johnson/Hugh O’Neill having 1:23 in the K21, the early part of the flight being in marginal hill lift before some good thermal climbs resulted in a maximum height of around 4000′ QNH being reached over Boultby.   Brian Wise, mindful of the need to get his solo hours up, had about an hour in the Discus and a number of members took the opportunity to maintain their winching currency in terms of both flying and driving.

Sunday 25th to Wednesday 28th April

Sunday 25th.  A light to moderate SE’ly brought cloudy skies and eventually rain so flying was restricted to 8 ATs, 3 of these being for Trial Lesson pupils.  2 of the club  2 seaters and 2 of the single seaters flew but there were no private owner flights.  Tim Howle had 1:23 in the Astir while Brian Wise/H Dalrymple had 43 minutes in the K21.

Monday 26th.  A steadily increasing W’ly saw operations start with ATs off runway 24 but after only 4 of these, winch operations took over and an additional 17 launches were flown.  On  the very first flight of the day, Ian Plant/Tony Waddoup took the K21 to 10,000′ in wave and subsequently there were 13 flights of over an hour, with flying continuing until 1815.   All  the club single seaters were flown as well as 3 of the 2 seaters and there were 11 private owner launches.  Jesper Mjels had over 5 hours in his Pik 20, one of several pilots to exceed 3 hours in the air, while John Marsh had 1:51 in the club Discus.   Simona Latimer took the last AT flight in  her Discus but was one of the last pilots to land, her flight time of 5:47 gaining her Silver Duration.  Congratulations to her.

Tuesday 27th.    A moderate S’ly brought initially bright skies but these soon clouded over as a very weak warm front moved east.  Thermal acivity did develop under the generally high overcast and from the 22 ATs,  8 flights exceeded an hour.  The club’s K21’s, DG1000, Ka8, Astir and Discus were flown and there were 10 private owner launches.  Visitor Rob Rose flew his Cirrus for 3:25 while Rob Bailey kept the Discus aloft for 1:20 and  the Coles flew the DG1000 for 1:30.

Wednesday 28th.  A moderate SSW strengthened and went into the SSE as the day progressed providing a somewhat confusing sky early on, with medium level lenticulars suggesting W’ly and S”ly wave trains.  Only the K21 and DG1000 of the club gliders were flown, 2 being Trial Lesson flights,  but there were 7 private owner launches.  Lift at low level, ie below 3500-4000′ , was relatively plentiful  once thermal activity started,  but the rotor thermals, sometimes accompanied by very ragged looking clouds, were very rough and transition into the wave difficult.  Peter Clay in his Ventus and George Rowden  in his LS 8 both found weak and inconsistent wave to 7000′ QNH and both fell out of the wave trying to explore the system.  Peter going off  to Northallerton and George to Ripon. Rob Bottomley in his Discus T and one other pilot had over 5 hours aloft,  the latter returning to the site around 1830  hrs having climbed to 16,000′ and visited Carlise.    On the last flight of the day, Mike Wood/John Dixon had 50 minutes in the K21, while earlier, Mike Smith continued his BI training with Andy Parish in the DG1000  and Dick Cole flew shotgun in the Super Cub with John Ellis.

PS. You may remember my reference to Gordon Wallace’s enhanced sunny disposition following his Solo flight last  Friday, the  23rd.  Just to prove I wasn’t exaggerating, here’s a picture of Gordon just after the flight with CFI Andy Parish and Tuggie/Instructor Ian Plant.  I would have posted Hugh O’Neill’s post solo picture too if one had been taken.

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Friday 23rd to Saturday 24th April

Friday 23rd.  A light W’ly that briefly went onto the S and strengthened before moderating and going back into the W was accompanied by a persistent medium level overcast that was however thin enough to allow thermic activity during the afternoon.  17 ATs were flown utilising the club k21s and Ka8 and there was a single Trial Lesson flight.  Two of the launches resulted in flights of over an hour, Duncan Pask keeping the Ka8 up for 2 hours and Sue Aherne/Mike Smith having 1:06 in the K21.  The relatively quiet conditions were ideal for Hugh O’Neill’s 2nd solo in the K21 and Gordon Wallace’s first solo, which he enjoyed so much he stayed up for 32 minutes.  Gordon’s normally happy disposition was greatly enhanced by the experience, so well done Gordon.

Saturday 24th.  A warm, hazy day with a light to moderate SSE’ly that slowly went into the SE, saw the site busy with members plus Scouts and their supporters from Bedale as well as other visitors.  Thermal activity started up around lunch time but remained blue and limited to around 2500′ QFE.  51 ATs were flown off runway 20 with all the club fleet in action and there were 15 private owner launches, a number of these by Mike Wood in the privately owned T21 who gave some of the Scouts that distinctive open air introduction to gliding.  4 Trial Lesson pupils also took to the skies and 4 of the day’s flights exceeded an hour.  Bob Calvert in his Astir came to the end of his Winter Membership and said goodbye in typical fashion by having the longest flight of the day, 2:25.  We hope to see Bob again.  Mr Preston had 2:07 in the Discus and Andy Hatfield 1:20 in the Ka8.  Andy Darlington had his first flight in Fred Brown’s Cirrus having purchased an insurance share and is looking forward to a good soaring year.  The hive of activity at the launch point proved a little too much for some as the following photo shows while the Easter bonnet tradition showed no sign of abating.

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In the evening an instructors and tug pilot’s meeting was followed by the AGM which reported a profit for the year and the outlines of a 5 year plan which the members were encouraged to comment on and get involved with.

Wednesday 21st to Thursday 22nd April.

Wednesday 21st.  A cold air mass covered the country, promising a very good soaring day andthe wind had decreased to a light NNW’ly.  A number of private owners were off early from runway 24 to make the most of the conditions and by the end of the day 25 ATs had been flown and many kms covered with 10 private owner launches and the club K21. DG1000 and Discus flying.  Rory O’Conor in his DG800 and Lindsay McLane in his Ventus attempted  750 km triangles.  Lindsay hid a poor patch in Wales and had to resort to his engine while Rory turned the Mynd and Lasham but has to resort to his engine 13 Kms short of his 750 km target at Linton on Ouse.  John Ellis flew his Nimbus 3 to Royston and back for a 500 km, while Bob Calvert, flying his Astir visited his home site at Skelling Farm below Cross Fell.  Phil Lazenby/Stuart Heaton in their DG1000T toured Yorkshire to cover 322 km, including a look at Chesterfields crooked spire, and Martyn Johnson covered 209 km in his DG600.    Rory spent 10:35 in the air and 12 of the day’s flights exceeded an hour.  Local soaring was enjoyed by many at Sutton, including 4 Trial Lesson pupils, while a TV company, under the watchful eye of Ken Arkley, did some filming of Club President Moyra taking to the skies for a 41 minute flight in the K21 with Andy Parish.  Simona Latimer had 2:48 in the K21 solo and towards the end of the day, Tuggie Ian Plant spent a happy hour flying the Discus.

Thursday 22nd.  Conditions continued to be good on Thursday, with a light W’ly, strong thermals and a  high cloud base.  21 ATs were flown off runway 24 with again, some of the 13 private owners who flew, launching early.  There was a single Falke flight, down to Bagby for routine maintenance, and 2 Trial Lesson pupils were flown.    John Ellis repeated his task of Wednesday with another 500 km  O/R to Royston, this time at a slightly higher speed, while Martyn Johnson continued his tour of turning points in Yorkshire, plus at least a couple in Durham, with his excursion to the N and NW.  Stuart Heaton/Phil Lazenby reversed pilot and navigator roles in their DG1000T for a 179 km flight, turning Beverley and Pontefract, while Dave Ashby was accompanied by Sue Aherne on a day out at the Humber Bridge and then up  the Yorkshire Coast to Scarborough in the club DG1000.  George Rowden flew 340 kms in his LS8T down into Lincolnshire and then up to Masham and Harrogate N, enjoying a 91 km straight glide after leaving a good thermal over Drax where cloud base was 6000′ QNH.  Back at Sutton, Ken Duxbury had 3:10 in the Astir and Andy Parish/Hugh O’Neill in the K21, one of the 16 flights to exceed an hour.  Simona Latimer, flying her Discus had an interesting flight of 1:38  and an even more interesting approach and landing,  when an instrument failure left her with no ASI.

Sunday 18th to Tuesday 20th April.

Sunday 18th.  A light and variable wind, mainly from the NW quadrant, saw flying start just after 1000 hrs and continue until 1700 hrs with 25 ATs completed.  With soaring conditions difficult, only 1 private owner rigged, the indomitable Bob Calvert with his Astir, although even he had to have two launches before staying airborne, his flight of 1:12 being the best of the day.  The club’s DG 1000, K21 KLW, Astir and Discus also flew, with Mike Smith continuing with his BI training, the second of his 2 flights with John Marsh in the DG1000 securing the longest 2 seater flight of the day at 40 minutes.  The lack of soaring opportunities limited most flights to less than 30 minutes but Rob Bailey, flying the Discus on the last flight of the day had 31 minutes in the air.

Monday 19th.  A dissipating front brought cloudy skies, a low cloud base and bits and pieces of rain, all wrapped up in a light to moderate SE’ly that slowly went into the S.  Consequently, there was no flying.

Tuesday 20th.  The passage of the dissipating front overnight, left the site under blue skies in an fresh and gusty NW’ly airstream.  With gusts of around 27 kts and the wind at ground level rapidly varying in strength and direction, no flying was possible, so those pilots who remained on site looked at the nice fat, high cloudbase cumulus and the wave that was clearly visible on the satpics and pondered what might have been.  Mike Smith and George Rowden retired to the windowless simulator room where, in the theatre of light winds and benign flying conditions,  George took the part of a willing, if slightly ham fisted pupil, to Mike’s BI.

Tuesday 13th to Saturday 17th April.

Tuesday 13th.  A weak cold front that went S during the day was characterised by a lack of  rain but  predominately cloudy skies with a low base that precluded most flying.  The Falke ventured forth  for one flight and the simulator also had a run out.

Wednesday 14th.  A fresh to strong NE’ly that slowly moderated during the  day brought some wave that eventually collapsed and was replaced by  thermal activity.  14 ATs were flown off runway 02 in the club K21s and DG1000 with 5 Trial Lesson pupils being flown.  3 of the flights exceeded an hour with Roger Burghall/Ken Duxbury having 1:08 and Andy Parish/Hugh O’Neill 1:04.  Ken Duxbury then had a further 20 minutes solo in the K21.  As well as the above there were 2 Falke flights.

Thursday 15th.  The cold wind from the Northerly quarter continued to decrease, the wind chill being 2 C, under generally cloudy skies.  8 ATs were flown off runway 02 using one of the clubs K21s and the DG1000 but lift was elusive.  1 Trial Lesson pupil was flown, Mike Wood using his skill to give him 38 minutes in the air, helped by the designers of the DG1000.  Andy Parish/Peter Wright has 35 minutes in the K21.  The highlight of the day was the first solo of Hugh O’Neill who joined the club  some 5 weeks and 25 flights ago as a trainee power pilot refugee.  Congratulations to him.

Friday 16th.  Thursday dawned cloudy with a light NE’ly blowing, but the cloud soon broke up to leave a good thermic day, albeit with very narrow cored thermals.  Cloudbase rose to around 4000′ QNH before disappearing entirely by mid afternoon, by which time the wind had switched into the SW.  17 ATs were flown, the majority off 02, with the remainder off 24, the club K21s, Discus and Astir flying as well as 6 private owners.  Lindsay McLane and Bill Payton in their respective Ventus’ or should that be Venti, initially headed NW, but with conditions deteriorating turned around at  Catterick and headed for the sunny skies to the south east, eventually turning Kirton in Lindsey before returning to Sutton, a flight of around 250 km.  Bill reported a 7.5 kt, but smelly, thermal over Scunthorpe.  Andy Wright headed south in his Nimbus 3, but abandoned his declared task, turning Tuxford Junction and Fridaythorpe for a flight of 244 km, while George Rowden flew a 155 km O/R to the Humber Bridge in his LS8.  Back at Sutton, Dick Cole had 1:50 in the Discus and Steve Ball/Chris Stothard, launching late, had 1:58  in the Duo Discus.  In all a good soaring day with 8 of the flights exceeding an hour and 1 Trial Lesson pupil flown.

Saturday 17th.  The wind was now from the W as  the centre of the High Pressure slipped S of Sutton.   Initially light, the wind steadily freshened as the day progressed with initial ATs off runway 24 with landings on 20 being replaced mid afternoon by winch launches and landings on 24.  50 launches resulted, 37 Ats and 13 by winch, with all  the club 2 seaters and most of the available single seaters utilised, the club gliders being supplemented by a goodly number of private owners.  Visibility was moderate , as was thermal activity, but this was more than augmented by blue wave which was used by a number of cross country pilots.  Derek Taylor visited the Lake District in his ASW 22, covering 244 kms,  Peter Clay turned Ripon, Gainsborough and Barnard Castle using a mixture of wave and thermal in his Ventus, while John Ellis abandoned his declared task south of Doncaster as thermal conditions deteriorated but still managed to cover 355 km, contacting wave near Linton on Ouse on his return N and then using the wave to turn  Haydon Bridge and Harrogate N before returning to Sutton.  Rory O’Conor, in the longest flight of the day, 7:16, did a thermal based tour of most of the Class D and ATZs in the North of England on his flight of 392 km around Camphill and Husband Bosworth, having to resort to his DG800 engine over Linton on  Ouse to return to Sutton.  Congratulations are due to Bob Calvert, a very enthusiastic Winter Member, who flew his Astir to Burn and back for his Silver Distance, again using a mixture of thermal and wave and reaching some 10,000′ QNH in the process.  This completes Bob’s Silver C.  Those pilots local soaring around Sutton also enjoyed themselves, with Peter Goodchild having 2:07 in the club Astir, John Marsh giving Wayne Richardson a first taste of wave flying via a 1:58 flight in the DG500, Les Rayment and Colin Troise spending 1:18  happily criticising each other’s flying in the club DG1000, Ron Beezer leaving behind the cares of instructing to have 2:02 in the DG500 and club Chairman Graham Evison getting to 6000′ QNH in his glider so thoughtfully rigged for him by his syndicate partner.  Among this flurry of soaring activity, with 9 of the day’s flights exceeding 3 hours, 6 Trial Lesson pupils were amazed and delighted  by the experience of soaring flight and Ross Cleave converted to the Astir.  Well done Ross.

PS  The recent activity to encourage pilots to record their flights on the National Ladder certainly had an effect in March, with the total height gained being a whopping 140,000′, firmly establishing Sutton Bank  in 2nd position for this parameter.  Let’s keep up the good work for both height gains and cross country kms.

Saturday 10th to Monday 12th April

Saturday 10th.  A sunny day of light and variable winds and persistent, but thin, high cover saw 41 ATs, with14 private owner flights and all of the available club fleet apart from the DG303 flying.   4 Trial lesson pupils were introduced to gliding and 13 of the flights exceeded an hour, with the Falke contributing a further 4 flights.  Steve Ball and Jon May flew their Duo Discus for 4 minutes under 3 hours, covering 114 kms and taking in Malton, Pocklington and the Tontine. The last leg back to Sutton defeated them so it was out with the engine.  Peter Clay had 2:32 in his Ventus and Klaus Schneider Zapphad 1:42 in the club Astir.  Mike Wood, flying Trial Lesson Pupil Mr Clark made sure the latter got his money’s worth with a flight of 32 minutes in the DG500.

Saturday evening saw a much smarter bunch of pilots and partners assemble at the Golden Fleece in Thirsk for the annual dinner and presentation of Trophies.  After dinner, Martin Withers, chief pilot of the restored Vulcan,who also flew the first Vulcan bombing raid during the Falklands war, gave an interesting account of that raid and the continuing efforts to keep the Vulcan flying.  He then presented the Trophies for 2009. the presentation allowing those present to see the familiar face and the certainly less familiar bodies of Andy Wright.

Sunday 11th.  A light E’ly that was somewhat variable, and initial high cover that burned off over the midday period before returning mid afternoon, allowed 15 ATs, mainly by the club 2 seaters although Bob Calvert flew his Astir and the club Astir also flew.  Initial operations were off runway 20 but then changed to 02 before a third change to 06 later in the day.  The day was marked by a number of annual spin checks in the DG1000 with thermal conditions intially blue and height limited.  Rory O’Conor  optimistically declared an 300 km O/R to Belvoir in his DG800, giving up a valiant struggle on reaching Rufforth on the return leg for a distance of 273.4 km, not getting to 3000 QNH until Syerston on the outward leg.  Back at Sutton Bob Calvert had just under an hour in his Astir while John Marsh/Sam Bidgood had 31 minutes in the K21.

Monday 12th.  Another anticyclonic day saw a light and variable wind that initially started in the NNE, went into the SW before returning to the NE and freshening as the day died.  The start of operations was delayed by low cloud, but cloud base had risen sufficiently by around 1100 hrs for ATs to start off runway 24 with landings on 20.  10 ATswere flown with the club 2 seaters in action and 2 private owners rigging.    2 Trial lesson pupils were flown in  the late morning with a cloud base of around 1400′ QFE, this being very variable.  Conditions improved after lunch with the cloud base rising to over 3000′ QFE allowing Martin Johnson in his DG 600 and Chris Stothard in his Vega to get in some good thermal practice in their flights of 2:34 and 2:15 respectively.  Ian Plant had 2 flights of around an hour in the K21 with pupils Rory McGill and Hugh O’Neill.  The freshening wind from the NE late in the day led to the interesting spectacle of Martin Johnson landing on the eastern side of 02 while simultaneously the K21 with Ian Plant/Hugh O’Neill landed on the western side of 20, all three pilots being well aware of the other glider as they started their approaches.  An expanse of blue sky gradually approached the site from the NW during the late afternoon, significantly  improving the visibility which had been very poor in the morning.  Chris Stothard reported maintaining  zero sink in a straight line under the the boundary between  the clear air and the Cumulus to its east late on in the day.

Wednesday 7th to Friday 9th April.

Wednesday 7th.  Rain in the morning and early pm in a light to moderate N’ly kept the gliders in the hangars, but brightening skies saw operations start around 1400 hrs.  Consequently, 6 ATs and 4 Falkesorties were flown, the latter withDick Cole doing launch failure and field landing checks with members.  Only one of the club K21’s were flown, but Bob Calvert rigged his Astir to register the only private owner flight of the day.  Conditions were  not soarable, but Bob managed 25 minutes while the Smiths, Derek and Mike had 20 minutes in the K21.

Thursday 8th.  A mostly sunny day with initially a light W’ly saw morning operations off runway 24 via AT.  7 ATswere flown, with all the club 2 seaters  utilised and Bob Calvert an early private owner launch.  The wind then freshened sufficiently from around midday to necessitate a change to winching, with an additional 20 launches flown, the resulting hill lift and thermals generating 8 flights of over an hour with 4 pilots being aloft for over 5 hours.    One of these was Bob Calvert who had 5:37 in his Astir, while Bill Payton in his Ventus and Dean Crosby in his DG200 were also 5hr+ pilots.  Stuart Heaton and Albert Newbery had good shakedown flight of 2:28 in their DG1000T after its return to site from its over winter, lowland hibernation.   John Carter/Peter Goodchild had 1:03 in the club DG500 and Harry Clark 47 minutes in the DG303.  2 Trial Lesson pupils had flights before midday and Dick Cole continued giving launch failure/field landing checks in the Falke with another 3 sorties. 

Friday 9th.  A very light W’ly that went into the E late in the day led to 28 ATs off runway 24 with landings on 20.  All the club 2 seaters were flown, as were the Astir and Ka8 while the  DG303 remained in the hangar and the Discus was off site for its CoA.  The day was characterised by continuous high cover and thermal cycling, so staying up through the over-convected parts of the day were a  challenge.  It was definitely an Astir pilot day with Bob Calvert in his Astir staying up for 2:34 and E Preston having 2:03 in the club aircraft while one other pilot stayed up for over an hour.  Andy Parish/Hugh O’Neil had 46 minutes in the K21 and Dick Cole rounded off his week of check flights in the Falke with another 3 sorties, one of which preceded Sue Aherne’s successful attempt to add the Sutton Falke  to  her list of light aircraft flown.  Mike Smith, flying from the back seat of the K21 with Les Rayment, as part of his BI training, mistook tuggie Ian Plant’s attempts to give him a challenging ride as a wave off,  so released early and added a successful downwind landing on 24 to his future reminiscences.

Thursday 1st to Monday 5th April

Thursday 1st.  A fresh to strong W’ly that slowly decreased during the afternoon brought good hill soaring and strong thermal conditions.  19 winch launches were flown with 12 of the flights exceeding an hour andmost of the club fleet in action as well as 2 private owners.  Mike Smith, flying the club DG303, used thermals in his Silver duration flight of 5:06, the only threat to the completion of his 5 hours coming from internal sources that were overcome by traditional means.  This flight completes Mike’s Silver Badge so congratulations to him.  Bob Beck and Nigel Burke had 2 hours in the DG1000 to record the longest 2 seater flight of the day.

Friday 2nd.  Friday brought a moderate SE’ly and generally cloudy skies.  The low cloud base first delayed launching and then rain arrived that stopped it all together.  Consequently, only 2 ATs were flown in the K21, although the simulator was also brought into action.

Saturday 3rd.  The wind had stayed in the S’ly quadrant again bringing in cloudy skies and showers, some of them heavy, before more general rain arrived in the late afternoon.  No flying was possible, with the result that the simulator was again put to good use.

Sunday 4th.  A light to moderate W’ly was a feature of the day that also initially saw  generally cloudy skies. These gave way to brighter conditions in the afternoon, although some showers led to a break in operations.  16 ATs were flown from a carefully selected dry area on runway 20, as most of the airfield was extremely wet after the rain of the preceding days.  Only the  K21s  of the club’s fleet were flown but there were 5 launches by private owners, including visiting pilots from Gransden Lodge.  One of these, Peter Baker, flying his LS8 had a flight of  2:10 in the thermal conditions that developed, while home pilots Steve Ball/Jon May flying their Duo Discus had 2:45, visiting Masham during the course of their flight.

Monday 5th.  A  front with associated rain cleared to the east by 1000 hrs, leaving the site in a cloudy SW airstream, the overnight rain, although light, adding to the sodden nature of the airfield.   The low cloud base kept the gliders in their hangars, an improvement in cloudbase and visibility coming too late to provide a flying day.   Dick Cole kept himself busy leading an instructor’s training course, while an informal discussion on instructing developed among members who assembled for morning coffee/lunch.