Wednesday 20th. Bright blue, sunny skies promised a cloud free day’s flying but the variable, calm to 20 kt NNW’ly wind promised tricky take offs from runway 02. Both promises were delivered, but after 2 launches, the decision was taken to stop flying as the turbulence on climb out was threatening to fly the tug and glider rather than the pilots. Ian Plant and Duncan Pask had the longer of the two flights, 19 minutes in the K21.
Thursday 21st. A moderate to fresh W’ly with early signs of wave saw operations off runway 24, the tug being employed. 21 ATs were flown with 8 private owners supplementing the club launches in the K21, DG1000, Discus and Astir. Early launches were into a sky with high level lenticulars and Mike Smith climbed to 4500′ asl in the Astir before the arrival of extensive low cloud, base around 1800′ QFE, forced a descent. Thereafter, complete cloud cover over and to the west of the site limited wave climbs. Dean Crosby, flying Sam’s DG200, managed to find a transient slot and was climbing in the wave when the slot filled, with the resulting brief cloud climb icing up the glider, freezing level being around 2500′ asl. The climb was terminated at around 4500′ asl. Widespread cold feet were a reminder that winter was approaching. Jon Hart in his Vega has the longest flight of the day, 5:20, but like all but one of the 12 pilots to have over an hour in the air, spent the whole flight searching for and failing to contact the wave. Nevertheless, lift was widespread, with most pilots operating in a height band of 1000 to 2000′ QFE over a wide area. Jesper Mjels was the only pilot to contact the wave via a high tow. He reported broken wave near the East Coast Main Line and consistent wave further west which allowed him to climb to around 10,000′ asl and visit the Lake District. The wave was smooth until around 8000′ and turbulent thereafter. Back at Sutton, Dave Hill had 1:13 in the Astir and Ian Plant/D Altoft 55 minutes in the K21.