Tuesday 18th to Saturday 22nd September 2018
Posted: 23/09/2018 17:05
Tuesday 18th The course members had some more time in the briefing room as the first named storm of the autumn, Ali, brought some light rain in the morning and strong S'ly veering to SSW'ly winds that gusted over 50 kts throughout the day.
Wednesday 19th. Storm Ali continued to make its presence felt with its narrow cold front depositing 3.8 mm of rain around 1400 hrs and its now SW'ly winds being fresh to strong with gusts again exceeding 50 kts. Consequently there was no flying.
Thursday 20th. Thursday morning dawned sunny and clear so flying got underway just after 1000 hrs with the Eurofox tugging off runway 20 into a light to moderate S'ly wind. The skies, however, soon clouded over as the second named storm of the autumn, Bronah, approached from the Atlantic. Rain associated with the storm reached the site around 1400 hrs, curtailing flying for the day but not before 11 ATs had been flown for the course members, 4 First Flight pupils and members. A distinct lack of lift meant that only three of the day's flights exceeded or equalled 30 minutes, John Carter having 32 minutes, the longest of the day with Derek Waite, a First Flight pupil.
Friday 21st. Storm Bronah crossed the UK overnight depositing 22 mm of rain accompanied by strong winds, but its residual cloud, showers and still fresh and gusty WSW'ly winds meant that flying was not possible. A reduction in wind strength around 1600 hrs came to late to rescue the day from a flying perspective.
Saturday 22nd. A waving front over the south of England extended its high cover over the site, the winds being initially moderate SW'lies, these reducing in strength and veering into the west as the day progressed, blue skies eventually spreading down from the northwest at the end of the flying day. Initially, winching was the order of the day, but this was replaced by ATing off runway 24 as the wind speed declined around 1400 hrs, although there was something of an overlap in launch method. Winch launches numbered 20, with ATs 15, and although there was little sign of it, it was a case of the early launch catching the wave and delivering some good climbs. Steve Thompson in his Discus, taking off at 1125 and the last flight to get an appreciable climb, reached 7,900' asl over the site but couldn't find much else as he ventured west to beyond Ripon so returned to hill soaring the local ridges with a couple of trips to the Tontine, total distance 112 km. Those taking off earlier fared somewhat better with Graham Morris in his ASW27 climbing to 8,000' over the site from his winch launch and then proceeding west where a climb to 11,600' asl resulted and the TPs at Pateley Bridge, Aysgarth and Harrogate North were visited as was the Tontine on the way back to Sutton, the distance covered being 167 km. Darren Lodge in his LS8-18 and Malcolm Morgan in the club Discus, launching 2nd and 3rd on the day, both had good climbs, Darren getting to just under 10,000' asl and Malcolm 11,000' asl as they both ventured west. Malcolm returned with thoughts of a Gold C height gain in mind but analysis of his trace indicated that he had missed the mark by 12', so commiserations to Malcolm. Those not contacting the wave consoled themselves with hill soaring and 30 of the day's 35 flights exceeded 30 minutes with 14 exceeding an hour, Graham Morris' 5:05 being the longest of the day, and Malcolm Morgan's 3:13 being the longest in a club aircraft. 3 of the day's two seater flights exceeded an hour, Paul Whitehead and Geoff Turner in the DG500 having 2:36 and reaching 4,200' asl, John Marsh and Lee Grinrod 1:36 in K21 KLW and Graham Evison and Paul Frost exactly an hour in K21 KLW. Geoff Turner later had his first flight in Astir HVK so congratulations to him. A few hill soaring pilots made there way north to Black Hambleton but considered that the remaining kms to the Tontine were probably a ridge too far, the exception being Chris Teagle who reached there in his Kestrel, being helped by some weak thermal on the way back. The day was also special for Toby Wilson as he took a first flight at Sutton in his newly acquired Standard Cirrus, this lasting 42 minutes and later took a 2nd flight lasing 55 minutesm both off ATs.