Friday 24th to Tuesday 28th February.

Friday 24th.   A moderate W’ly blew all day and after a delayed start due to showers and low cloud, the day improved,  providing a mixture of hill lift and wave, although the latter was of the restricted altitude variety.  9 ATs were flown with one of the K21s, the DG1000 and the DG303 utilised.  John Ellis and Colin Troise sharing a flight in the DG1000 had the longest 2 seater flight of the day, 1:15, while Mike Smith took his Trial Lesson pupil Russel Wright for 38 minutes in the K21, giving Russel a taste of wave flying to 5,500′ asl and some mild aerobatics which he thoroughly enjoyed.  Rob Bailey, flying the DG303 stayed aloft for 2:13.

Saturday 25th.  The wind had freshened a little compared to Friday but remained W’ly, so  the same mixture of hill lift and wave was available.  It was a busy day with two groups visiting, one of 7 Scouts and the other a group from Durham University.  The day was also notable as there were a mixture of ATs and winch launches, 14 of the former and 29 of the latter, giving 43 launches in total.  All the available club gliders were flown, the Falke chipped in with a single sortie and there were 5 private owner launches.  Reg Watson took the DG303 for the longest flight of the day, 3:50, one of 11 flights of over an  hour, while Derek Smith successfully air tested the engine of his Ventus 2t, the engine allowing him to contact the wave to climb to 12,176′ asl and post the first YGC cross country of the year on the National Ladder.  Fred Brown and Robin Hutchinson shared the longest 2 seater flight of the day, 1:22 in the DG1000, while Andy Hatfield had a cold 2:18 in the Ka8 during which time he climbed to 3,540′ asl.

Sunday 26th.  The wind had decreased to  moderate and backed  SW’ly, so soaring was much more difficult and a cloudy interlude around midday caused flying  to be suspended for 3 hours.  The day’s flying included 7 ATs, a single Falke sortie and a flight on  the simulator, with only 3 of the two seaters utilised.  The Durham University group contributed to the day’s activities, but with little chance of staying up, flight times were typically 15-20 minutes.  Kevin and Liz Keily bucked the trend with 29 minutes in the K21 while Andy Wilson, the only private owner to rig, had 22 minutes in his Skylark 4. 

Monday 27th.  The club was closed as a mark of respect to our late President, Moyra Johnson, whose funeral was held in All Saints on the Pavement church in York, the church being packed with over 300 attendees, including a good representation from the YGC.  The eulogy illustrated Moyra’s full and active life, a life based on 4 important Fs.  Flying, Friendships, Freemen and Faith and the service was a great tribute and celebration of Moyra’s contribution to life.

Tuesday 28th.  After Monday’s rain, the skies cleared but the moderate SW’ly  flow continued, this being the 17th consecutive day that the wind has come from a W’ly quarter.  Low orographic cloud delayed flying until  1115 hrs but, thereafter, 13 ATs were flown into a sky that gradually cleared of cloud, while those left on the ground enjoyed some balmy sunshine and spring like temperatures.  Most of the day’s flights contacted wave, which was limited in vertical extent, the best height reached being 5,500′ asl by Jesper Mjels in the DG303, a flight of 4:34 during which he had to retreat to the hill before recontacting the wave again and getting to Barnard Castle.  Mike Wood flying the Ka8 and George Rowden flying  the Astir both had over an hour, reaching around 4,600′ asl but the wave was generally weak, with the best lift being well forward of the low level wave bar.  Mark Robinson flying the Astir fell out of the wave but was happily soaring the hill and contemplating completing his second 1 hour flight for his Bronze C when the hill lift died and Mark landed after a flight of 53 minutes.  Towards the end of the day Dick Cole took David Watsham for some aerobatic practice in the K21,  this reducing their height to 900′ QFE, at which point a low level wave cloud formed which allowed a slow climb to just under 1500′ QFE and prolonged their flight to 53 minutes.  Among all the above activity, the Falke was busy with 4 flights.

Wednesday 22nd to Thursday 23rd February.

Wednesday 22nd.  A cloudy, wet SSW’lyairstream, with gusts around 35 kn, kept the gliders in the hangar and the pilots at home.  The opportunity was however taken to transport the Discus down the hill for its ARC.

Thursday 23rd.  A very mild day in a moderate WSWly that increased to fresh and veered into the W, provided a day of 2 halves in terms of conditions and launch method.  5 ATs were the order of the day until early afternoon, with initially high cloudbases and good gaps allowing John Tayler/Lindsay McLane to climb to 11,000′ asl in the K21 in a flight of just under 2 hours.  Most of the climb was around 2 kn, and was terminated due to the fact that the K21 doesn’t carry oxygen.  Andy Parish/Mike Smith were second into the air and climbed to 7,900′ asl in the DG1000, their flight lasting 1:42.  Both sets of pilots used the height gained to practice their aerobatics, with Andy and Mike  having the unusual experience of finishing loops higher than they started.  The late morning until early afternoon period was characterised by increasing cloud of increasingly low base, the closing up of all available slots causing Simon Richardson to land out on his first flight in his newly acquired Cirrus.  This period saw the cloud base lower to between 5-600′ QFE,  restricting George Rowden and Trial Lesson pupil Stephany Briggstock to 30 minutes in fairly turbulent hill lift.  Given the low cloud base and increasing windspeed, a change was then made to winching, with David Hill in the Astir the first of 7 winch launches and  happy not to extend his 30 minutes of free flying given the increasingly rough conditions on the hill.  As the afternoon progressed, conditions improved with the cloud base rising and the cloud breaking, allowing the wave to be contacted again.  Andy Parish, this time with Colin Hutchinson in the K21, reached 6000′ asl in a flight of 1:12 and Colin Troise, flying the DG1000 solo, reached 5000′ asl.  On the last flight of the day, Ian Bullous, flying the K21 with Albert Newbery, reached 3700′ asl, not bad for a winch check flight.  Albert also later featured in the BBC 1 TV programme, “Discovering Britain” which was shown in the evening, where we learned that the Sutton Bank escarpment was the result of glacial action.

Friday 17th to Tuesday 21st February

Friday 17th.  A light to moderate SW’ly blew all day bringing generally cloudy skies as a warm front passed through.  Flying was delayed until 1300 hrs and limited to 2 ATs which saw Jesper Mjels have 2:36 in the DG303, climbing to around 8,500′ asl in wave, while Rob Bailey had 1:20 in the Discus and climbed to around 7,000′ asl.   Colin Troise and Reg Rowlinsonmeanwhile investigated the lower reaches of the atmosphere as they flew their separate field landing checks with David Campbell in the Rotax Falke.

Saturday 18th.   The SW’ly flow continued but had picked up to moderate/fresh and with cloudy skies and bits and pieces of rain, flying was delayed until around 1300 hrs.  The morning was,  however, profitably spent with 5 of the visiting Scouts flying on the simulator.  Once outdoor flying had commenced, 16 winch launches were flown from runway 24, 2 being for the remaining Scouts and the balance for club members.  All the flying was undertaken in one or other of the club’s four 2 seaters, with Jesper Mjels and Colin Troise having 2:08 in the DG500 and Les Rayment/Steve Briggs having 1:00 in  the K21.  All the other flights were in  the 30-50 minute range with the exception being the only solo flight of the day when Fred Brown  had 20 minutes in the K21.

Sunday 19th.  A passing cold front left the site in an moderate and unstable NW’ly with good prospects for some early thermal soaring.  The first 2 launches off  and landings on 02 gave tug pilots Jamie and Albert some handling problems so operations were switched to 24 only for the wind to become gusty.  It was then decided to try a winch launch off 30, but this coincided with the wind strength decreasing and going more N’ly, so the resulting flight was soon back on the ground.  A flying break to see how the day developed allowed some of the visiting Scouts to be flown on the simulator and the Discus to be derigged and put in the workshop to be cleaned and polished prior to its ARC next week.  With the wind settling down, ATing  recommenced off runway 24  and continued for the rest of the day, with  landings on 24 or 30.  In all, 9 Scouts and 9 club members flew, with Rob Bailey having 1:02 in the DG303 and Jon May/Steve Ball having just under an  hour in the DG1000 as 4-6 kt thermals developed under a cloud base of over 4,500′ asl.

Monday 20th.  A fresh to strong SW’ly, gusting to around 35 kts and accompanied by overcast skies and periods of light rain kept the gliders in the hangars.

Tuesday 21st.  The SW’ly flow had moderated, providing a good hill soaring day with some prospect of wave.  Flying commenced  just after 1000 hrs when Mike Wood took a launch in the DG303, but by this time, early morning brightness had been replaced by a much cloudier picture.  Initially around 700-800′ QFE, but lowering by around 200′  approaching Boltby, the base gradually lowered to around 400′ QFE in the main bowl, causing the airborne gliders to land one by one.  A lunch break was then called to see if  the weather would improve.  Apart from the lowering cloud base, flying  in the morning was characterised by strong, smooth lift on the ridge except for an area of turbulence near the winch, the gliders having to be flown at speeds of 70-80 kts to remain clear of cloud and in sight of one another.  More broken skies and a higher cloudbase after lunch allowed flying to recommence and David Hill flying the DG303 and Nick Gaunt flying the K21 solo took advantage, Nick contacting wave and climbing to around 6,000′ asl in the only flight of the day to exceed an hour.  As shown by the photos below, Astir KRN, complete with its new canopy, was rigged and test flown by Mike Wood, Chris Gill having the last flight of the day in it too.  The conditions were deemed too windy for operations with the Rotax Falke so 2 would be visiting pilots each flew in the club 2 seaters to experience wave enhanced hill soaring, contributing to the 11 winch launches flown.  Over lunch time, Josephine, Ann and Vicky went off to lunch in Kilburn to celebrate Vicky’s impending xx birhday which is on Wednesday 22nd.  Happy Birthday Vicky.

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Tuesday 14th to Thursday 16th February

An addition is required before recounting the events of the above period, namely the YGC winch training at Pocklington on Friday 10th and Saturday 11th.   The snow covered airfield made locating it and roundoutsa little tricky but bothdays provided good training opportunities, with Friday the preferred day due to smaller number of people wanting to fly.  The higher demand for launches on Saturday by YGC and Wolds GC members resulting in some long waiting times,  not helped by the Wolds GC Puchacz being withdrawn from service due to landing damage. 

Tuesday 14th.  A moderate WNW’lybrought in a mild but cloudy airstream with little lift, and 5 ATs were flown from a soggy airfield, the snow having all melted.  John Tayler took one of the day’s two Trial Lesson pupils, J Stilgoe, for the longest flight of the day, 28 minutes in the K21, with Mark Robinson having the only solo flight of the day, 14 minutes,  also in the K21.  Thanks to the members who derigged and washed  the Astir EBM in preparation for its ARC starting on Thursday 16th.

Wednesday 15th.  The wind had increased to moderate to fresh and veered more  NW’ly with the result that the decision was taken not to fly given the relatively small number of members on site.  Instead, those members present hard waxed Astir EBM and loaded it into its trailer in readiness for its transfer to NY Sailplanes on Thursday.

Thursday 16th.  Astir EBM was duly delivered to NY Sailplanes, so thanks are due to all those who contributed to its preparation and delivery.  Conditions at site were initially characterised by bright skies, a high cloudbase,  a moderate SW’ly and some nice looking lenticulars.  The latter were, however, soon hidden from sight as the cloud thickened and lowered.  Colin Troise and Dick Cole took the first winch launch of the day in the K21 and made a very low inspection of the ridge and Hood Hill before landing on runway 20 after around 7 minutes in  the air.  Undeterred, Colin then took the K21 up solo and made up for his short first flight by posting the longest flight of the day, 1:18.  The other K21 was then made ready and winch launched before Derek Smith, having rigged his Ventus 2t, took an AT to air test the engine.  This was only partially successful, for although the engine repeatedly started, it sustainer description didn’t apply, with Derek landing just as the first drops of rain fell.  The rain coincided with lunch time so, after an hour’s break, flying re-started with Lewis Smith, a seventeen year old keen to join as a junior member, taken up for a 40 minute Trial lesson in the K21 by Albert Newbery while Dick Cole took a young visitor from the Essex GC, Alex Harris, for a 57 minute flight in the other K21 to give him his first taste of hill soaring.  The cloud base had lowered to around 800′ QFE after the rain and remained that way until the last flight of the day when clearing skies allowed Albert Newbery/Pauline Lumb to contact 2kts of wave and climb to 1300′ QFE before having to land as dusk approached.  The Falke also contributed a single sortie to the day’s flying while John Ellis and apprentice Mike Smith replaced another section of the Hangar doors.

Thursday 9th to Monday 13th February

Thursday 9th.  Another very cold day in a light to moderate SE’ly flow, this time enlivened by periods of rain, sleet, freezing rain and snow from overcast skies.  Needless to say, there was no flying.  In the evening, George Rowden gave a talk to the Yorkshire branch of the Royal Meterological Society  at Leed’s University entitled “Up close and personal – Weather from a Gliding perspective.”   The 35 strong audience included members from all the Yorkshire Gliding Clubs.

Friday 10th.  Although the high pressure cell over the UK had declined a little, the cold SE’ly flow continued to feed in overcast skies.  Additionally, the extra snow that fell on Thursday provided another disincentive to even getting to the site so it was again another non-flying day.

Saturday 11th.  Conditions remained similar to the previous day with a cold,  light SSE’ly flow, but with a higher cloud base flying was possible.  However, the additional snow meant some work with the large roller was required to provide a suitable area for operation.  Final checks on the Pawnee before the first launch resulted in a large, magneto related, revs drop, so the Pawnee was grounded and the Super Cub substituted, but not before the repeated attempts to get it started were finally successful.  By this time it was after 1200 noon and flying them continued for a couple of hours by which time everyone who wanted to  had flown, the day’s Trial Lesson pupils having been advised not to come due to the unsuitable conditions.  5 ATs were flown in K21 JVZ,  with Roger Burghall/J Mitchell having 22 minutes off a 3000′ tow and Peter Thirlwell having 18 minutes solo off a 2000′ tow. 2pm.   The week ended on a sad note as Club President, Moyra Johnson, died peacefull in her sleep during  Saturday night.   

Sunday 12th.  The high pressure had drifted from  the North Sea into the near Atlantic with the result that the wind was now a light W’ly and temperatures had climbed above freezing to a relatively balmy 5 C.  However, early rain and a low overcast meant there was no flying.

Monday 13th.  A moderate W’ly that quickly veered into the NW, was accompanied by temperatures approaching double figures, but also by the more important features from a flying point of view of light showers and a barely operational  cloud base.  Consequently, there was no flying.  The temperature meant that the lying snow became less visible as the day progressed but was replaced by pools of standing water as the ground was frozen.  The only activity on site, apart from Josephine busy in the office, was the Auditors scrutinising the accounts in the lounge.

Saturday 4th to Wednesday 8th February

Saturday 4th.  Initial brightness in a moderate SE’ly soon gave way to overcast skies and eventually snow by mid afternoon, but not before 9 ATs had been flown off runway 20 in one of the YGC K21s and the DG1000, with Pete Whitehead, the CFI from Skelling,Farm, rigging and flying their K21.  A distinct lack of lift mean typical flight times were around 15 minutes, but Mike Smith gave one of the day’s 2 Trial Lesson pupils 21 minutes off a 3000′ tow, while Jim McLean had the only solo flight of the day, 14 minutes in the DG1000.  There was a single Falke flight.

Sunday 5th.  Some 2-3″ of snow covered the airfield but thanks are due to the Skelling Farm and YGC members, under the able direction of Pete Whitehead and assisted by Nick Gaunt, who first compacted a take off and landing area with a couple of 4x4s and then flew 9 Scouts/Scouters plus a couple of members in the K21s from the YGC and Skelling Farm clubs.  The Scouts contributed to the flight preparations by removing snow lumps from the prepared area.  The very light SE’ly flow was lift less, but the most of the Scouts were entertained by taking photographs off the top of a loop, Nick Gaunt performing 9 loops in  the course of 7 flights.  Again flight times were typically 15 minutes. 

Monday 6th.  In spite of flyable conditions, a light and variable wind and generally clear skies, member turn out was noticeable by its absence and no flying was undertaken.

Tuesday 7th.  A day with brighter skies, the wind now a light to moderate SE’ly,  again experienced limited member turnout, although there was some flying, albeit a single sortie in the Falke.

Wednesday 8th.  The ridge from the intense Siberian anticyclone had strengthed and peaked at 1045 mb, keeping the site in a cold and light SE’ly that slowly strengthened during the day.  5 trainee fast jet pilots from RAF Linton on Ouse were on site for their introduction to gliding and although the cloudbase of the overcast remained stubbornly at around 1600′ QFE, they all enjoyed their short trips in the K21 or DG1000 under the tutelage of Dick Cole, Andy Parish and George Rowden, with  Albert Newbery and John Tayler providing the tugging.  Thereafter the visitors retreated to the much warmer briefing room for a talk on typical glding sorties from Sutton Bank given by Andy Parish before reassembling upstairs for goodly portions of Brian’s Steak and Kidney pie with chunky chips.  After lunch, new members Mike Cox and John Bailey had their first flights in the K21, Diane Thomas continued her training with a couple of flights and Trial Lesson pupil Peter, who had flown 50 years ago at Carlton Bank, completed the day’s  10 sorties.  John Tayler, meanwhile, flew Pawnee Tango Mike back to site from Bagby so it could be hangered and the source of  metal fragments in the oil filters investigated further.   With the temperature remaining well below freezing all day, the snow remained on the runways, as shown below, although the access road was completely clear.

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Thursday 2nd to Friday 3rd February

Thursday 2nd.  The anticyclone was still in charge and the wind remained in the East, but was very light.  The cloudier skies at the end of Wednesday were retained and with no direct sun it was cold on the airfield.  7 ATs were flown, all in one of the K21s, and although the absence of any lift kept average flight times in the range 15-20 minutes, Graham Evison and Karen had 22 minutes.  This was only bettered by Rob Bailey, who, flying the K21 solo, had 28 minutes off a 3000′ tow.

Friday 3rd.  The cloud of Thursday had all disappeared leaving a completely sunny day in a light W’ly although the temperature struggled to get above freezing.  11 ATs were flown off runway 24 with landings on 20 and the K21, DG1000, DG303 and Discus were all flown.  Mike Smith took the only Trial Lesson pupil of the day up for a 23 minute flight mid afternoon, while Ken Arkley and Rob Bailey also managed to exceed 20 minutes in the air in the DG303 and Discus respectively, the lack of any useable lift meaning that all these flights benefited from 3000′ tows.  Mike Smith on an earlier flight provided an exception to the rule when his annual spin check flight had him and Andy Parish on the ground in well under 20 minutes in spite of a tow to 3300′ QFE.   A feature of the flying day was steadily deteriorating visibilty, particularly when flying into the sun mid afternoon.

Sunday 29th to Wednesday 1st February

Sunday 29th.  A cold day in a light to moderate NE’ly that veered ENE’ly later, produced 9 ATs but little in the way of lift, with most flights being a graceful, or not so graceful,  continuous descent from the tow height.   No single seaters were flown, the days flying being shared by the K21, DG1000 and DG500.  Mike Smith gave Trial Lesson pupil Mr Grice, the longest flight of the day, 27 minutes in the DG500, the result of a 3000′ tow.   Tim Stanley, flying the K21 solo had 15 minutes to log the longest solo flight.

Monday 30th.  An even colder day with the temperature struggling up to 1C did not have any compensating features,  as the light to moderate E’ly wind brought in overcast skies with a low cloudbase that prevented any flying.

Tuesday 31st.  The ridge from the intense Siberian anticyclone continued to dominate the weather, and  overcast skies with a low cloud base continued to be fed in on the light to moderate E’ly, preventing any flying.

Wednesday 1st February.  A change of month brought a subtle change in the weather, the light to moderate E’ly flow continuing, but a higher cloudbase and broken cloud being the order of most of the day and 8 ATs were flown.  The first couple of take offs were from runway 20, but with the wind freshening a little and backing into the ENE, virtually all landings and all subsequent take offs used runway 02.   The cloud was in the form of streets and flying along these meant little loss of height with interspersed thermals.  Average thermal strength was of the order of 1-2 kns, but peaks of 4-6 kns were recorded, enabling George Rowden and Chris Thirkell to record 1:19 and 52 minute flights in the Discus.   Jonty Clarke, a visitor from Hus Bos, also took advantage of the available lift to have 41 minutes in the K21 with Andy Parish, Andy having earlier ignored the available lift by having an aerobatic session in the K21 with Rob Bottomley.  John Tayler took Chris Thirkell along in the K21 for a similar aerobatic session.  By the middle of the afternoon the cloudbase had risen to around 4,000′ asl, not bad for February, but thermal activity quickly died thereafter and with everybody who wanted to, having had a  flight, the hangars were repacked soon after.  The day also saw the Rotax Falke re-united with its canopy and back in the air in the hands of Dick Cole,  although Dick probably spent more time on the ground after the flight re-fastening an exhaust clamp which had come adrift.   A lunch time visit from a group of  cyclists from York kept Brian and Josephine busy in the kitchen.