Saturday 31st December 2016 to Tuesday 3rd January 2017.
Posted: 03/01/2017 20:40
Saturday 31st. An initially light to moderate W'ly greeted those at morning briefing, with the strength of the wind increasing around lunch time to become moderate, with gusts into the mid to high 20 kts. The change in conditions led to a change in launch method, with 4 ATs complimented by 21 ATs, as hill soaring and some wave flying allowed pilots to enjoy the last day of 2016. Nick Gaunt, flying Astir KRN took a low tow to contact the wave over Dalton, eventually climbing to around 7,000' asl in his flight of just under 2 hours, but Dalton was a little too far for most other pilots who contented themselves with soaring closer to home. In all 11 flights exceeded an hour and a further ten 30 minutes, with John Marsh, launching first in the DG303, having 1:44, Les Rayment and Duncan Pask sharing a flight of 1:35 in the DG1000 and Ron Beezer and Christina Griffiths also sharing a flight of 1:24 in the same glider. Others to exceed the 1 hour mark included Colin Troise and Tony Drury with 1:20 in the DG500, Tony later having a 1:13 flight in the DG303, while Fred Brown and Lee Grimrod had 1:19 in K21 JVZ.
Sunday 1st January. The overnight passage of a cold front left the site in a cold and showery N'ly, the wintry nature of the latter turning some of the site white with a thin layer of snow. However, the inclement conditions, although not allowing any flying, did allow K21 JVZ to be degrigged, put in its trailer and taken down the hill by Derek Taylor so he could start on its ARC.
Monday 2nd. With a intense area of high pressure to the W of the UK, a light to moderate NNW'ly blew on a bright and sunny day at Sutton. Tantalising and localised areas of lift, mainly to the north of Lake Gormire, enabled 2 flights of the 10 ATs flown on the day to exceed 30 minutes, with both John Carter and Peter Marston in the DG500 and Mark Newburn in Astir KRN achieving flight times of 42 minutes. David Watson, flying K21 KLW solo had 28 minutes and John Carter and Chris Ogden has 25 minutes in the same glider. The day also saw the Falke have its first 2 flights of 2017.
Tuesday 3rd. Little change in the synoptic situation led to another bright but cold day at Sutton with initially a light NW'ly blowing, this increasing to moderate around lunch time as the cloud over the Pennines encroached eastwards. Operations started with Super Cub ATs off runway 24 with George Rowden taking the first launch of the day solo in K21 KLW, the lack of any signs of lift making those on site reluctant to fly. However, some weak but relatively consistent lift was to be found along the line of the ridge from Lake Gormire to Bolby enabling George to maintain a height of around 2,500' QFE. A soaring glider soon encouraged more launch activity with Rob Bailey in the Discus and Steve Thompson in Astir KRN soon soaring in the same area. George landed after an hour with the lift dying some 45 minutes later, resulting in all 4 gliders airborne at the time landing within a few minutes of each other, Rob Bailey after 1:35, Steve Thompson after 1:12 and John Carter and Alan Beaumont after 46 minutes in the DG1000. The increase in wind speed after lunch led to a change in launch method, so after 7 ATs, 5 winch launches were flown. The last AT flown saw Albert Newbery and Dave McKinney have 1:04 in KLW, they recording the highest altitude of the day, 4,400' asl, in front of a transient lenticular. Those utilising the winch to get airborne did so mainly to keep current, although Steve Thompson and Andy Evans in the DG1000 used the hill/wave lift to practice recoveries from simulated failed winch launches. The day also saw Richie Toon acquaint himself with the newest Eurofox as well as have a flight in the Falke with Andy Evans. The process of returning the gliders to the launch point prior to their cleaning and hangaring was accompanied by a fiery sunset, as the following photo, by John Carter, illustrates.