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Saturday 14/10/17

Airfield Blog - Sun, 10/15/2017 - 08:38

What a grey day. The airfield was wreathed in rain and low cloud for most of the morning and it wasn't until mid-day that we could finally get airborne. Thereafter the two-seaters were kept busy flying an enthusiastic group of UWE students and Indi and Lee on the one-day course. We didn't quite have to line up car headlights for the last landing, but it was dark by the time we got the toys away. Many thanks to Richard Cawsey for driving the winch.
We all wish Chairman David Roberts a speedy recovery after his heart surgery.

23-24th Sept Balloon Fest

Airfield Blog - Sun, 09/24/2017 - 15:57

We were delighted to share the airfield with around a dozen hot air balloonists, using Aston Down as a base for their weekend competition.
The balloons couldn't fly on Saturday morning, so a number of the pilots had a go at gliding - I am told they found it quite refreshing to fly an aircraft that actually goes where you point it and can land back where it started from.
Conditions were better on Sunday morning and at around 8am the balloons launched from Oaksey Park and in the easterly wind flew over AD to Chalford.
Paul Lazenby and yours truly took off in the Falke to watch them from the air. There are more photos at https://flic.kr/s/aHsm8izY3y
Team Semichon and the Scouts deserve a mention for stepping into the breach and cooking breakfast for the forty or so pilots and crew.

Club members give go-ahead to investment in new workshop

Airfield Blog - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 17:27

Last Saturday (16th September 2017) members who attended a Special General Meeting gave the go-ahead to the committee to implement a plan to invest in a new glider maintenance workshop facility. After a very well coherent and well-balanced debate, and after considering all other options, the decision was for a new building 12m x 20m rather than 12m x 28m. This will be situated at the rear of the present workshop with access from the approach road to the Gun Butts. Members tasked the committee with exploring the possibility of grant funding from a relatively recent fund established in Sport England, ahead of a decision to partly fund the development with loan finance from the Phillip Wills Memorial Fund (BGA).
At the conclusion of the meeting the Chairman thanked John McWilliam for his efforts in putting together alternative solutions. But the Chairman overlooked the contributions of others, and in particular Richard Carter, who had moved these proposals along over the last year or two. He wishes to thank Richard and others who has contributed to the proposals for getting us to a decision point.
DGR / chairman

Congratulations George

Airfield Blog - Thu, 09/07/2017 - 17:24

We have a newly minted solo pilot! Many congratulations to George Bullock who completed three immaculate first solo flights today.

Cracking day for September

Airfield Blog - Sun, 09/03/2017 - 16:17

Early conditions were tricky at Aston Down with almost no wind and low cloudbase but worth the effort as it turned into a cracking day.
The BGA ladder flights logged for yesterday - Andy Smith in the Ventus completed a 519km task, as did David Briggs and Mike Weston in the Arcus, Doug Gardner, after fixing a technical problem completed 409km, John McWilliam and Stuart Pepler in the Nimbus did 508km. Mike Randle 310km with Geoff Dixon completing several laps of the club 100km and Tom Gooch after a late arrival at the club did the club 100km.

Not bad for September! Let's hope that there are still more to come!

Thanks to the ground crew who helped us all get into the air.

Perhaps someone who was at AD all day could comment how the day went, I'm sure that everyone local flying had a good day as well.

Unusual achievement

Airfield Blog - Thu, 08/31/2017 - 08:30

Last week 's course saw an unusual achievement. Robert, a course member well into his twenties went solo without any previous flying experience whatever, although not quite in the five days. As he was nearly solo on Friday he stayed on for the Saturday and Stan our course instructor flew with him so he could send him solo. Robert lives in Bristol and intends to join the club as a full member so congratulations to him and to Stan for his very effective instruction.

It his highly unusual for anyone not still in their teens to go solo on a course without any previous flying or sailing. The only other case I know about was a 25 year old Laser dinghy champion. Sailing experience does help.

New golf buggy

Airfield Blog - Sat, 08/26/2017 - 11:47

We have acquired a new buggy, for use for example on trial lessons for ferrying temporary members from the glider to the bus when landing long way from the launch point. It is a four seater (!) and most important it is ELECTRIC, with a new extensive set of batteries within the purchase price. We are told that when in use on a golf course the charged batteries last 2 days, which should be the equivalent of 10 to 11 miles' use. But it is more prudent to put it on charge each evening; Richard is fixing a charging point inside the hangar on the LH side, and is modifying it by addition of a tow bar, yellow beacon light etc. Richard is also arranging for a charging point from the bus, should the buggy run out of charge on the runway. Also remember to disconnect the charging lead each morning before driving off. Big reminder notices will be displayed !
It is in excellent condition, only a year or so old from a golf course that changes its kit every year, and unmarked by any misuse. Please let's try and keep it in excellent condition........

DGR / Chairman

Sportability Day

Airfield Blog - Wed, 08/16/2017 - 11:23

Cracking weather for our Sportability visitors to enjoy gliding and blokarting. A moderate westerly meant the blokarting was great fun and with some strong thermals and a 3500' cloudbase the gliding was fantastic. All 9 of our visitors had some great flights (including two who had never been in any type of aircraft before!) and the clear visibility meant some brilliant views of the countryside. Thanks to Graham Turner, Andy Smart, Roger Smith and Steve Purkiss for their valued help on the day to give people less able than ourselves the opportunity to enjoy gliding.

Well done also to Andy Smith who flew yet another 500km today.

A good day out

Airfield Blog - Mon, 08/14/2017 - 10:10

Sunday 13th was good for both cross country and training achievements.

According to National Ladder postings there were five flights of over 300 km including two of the big two seaters completing over 400 Km on the same course, though why the Ladder calculator made them slightly different distances is a mystery to me. In addition, one usually far flying pilot had not posted his flight by the time of writing

There was the usual training and trial lesson merry-go-round. Two members achieved conversions, one to the K23 and one to the Astir.

Mike

Tuesday 8th August - Kemble Scholarship Cadet Flying

Airfield Blog - Wed, 08/09/2017 - 11:33

The plan today, apart from the normal course operation was to fly 12 cadets on the Cotswold Airport scholarship program but the forecast wasn’t great and the cloudbase was around 800’. The expectation was that it wasn’t going to improve much so Stan’s morning briefing was all about launch failures. The cadets were spending the morning at Brize Norton, so we had a few hours to hope that weather would improve and luckily from about 12:30 it did. Rather timely as I was just about to call off the event!

With Ed Foggin in the K21, me in the DG500 and with help from Graham Turner, Dave Hart and the course members we managed to fly all 12 cadets, some weak soaring was available so most had some extended flights with the ‘occasional’ aerobatics.

The scholarship program is interesting, it is a fully funded program for young adults from 14-18 from the area of the local counties and provides the opportunity to experience career options in the aviation industry. One of the cadets told me that for 2017 there were 400 applicants, reduced to 20 after application reviews with 12 selected after formal interviews. The 12 then get 10 days of activities including various flying opportunities at Kemble, gliding with us, visits to Brize Norton, Bristol Airport and Rolls Royce. Several of the cadets that I flew with yesterday hoped to have careers in commercial flying or in the services. It was a very interesting day.

We packed away the gliders just minutes before a torrential downpour!

Thanks to everyone that helped.

Weekend 5/6 August

Airfield Blog - Tue, 08/08/2017 - 07:08

Back to normal after the competition. Both days were flyable albeit with thundery showers interrupting Saturday. Sunday was better than forecast and the thermals were ready almost before first launch. There were a couple of cycles of over-development but all the cross country pilots got away by lunch time and despite challenges along the way, everyone got back. A small band of club flyers made good use of the fleet with everyone getting a soaring flight. Very nice to be flying with members who've returned to Gliding after first sampling it in the 20th century! The Trial lessons included a "recovering stag party". Fortunately, sick bags, though available, were not deployed. ;-)

UK airspace heat-map of gliding 2000 to 2017

Airfield Blog - Wed, 07/19/2017 - 18:00

Interesting portrayal of where gliding is done in the UK. We know it already of course in relation to no-go areas of controlled airspace, but all the same, some gliding ventures to places we would not think of automatically ! Data from flights uploaded to the BGA Ladder since 2000. There are many more not recorded on the ladder of course, especially in earlier years.

BGA Glide Britain arrives

Airfield Blog - Tue, 07/18/2017 - 22:01

Bit of late news. The Glide Britain team arrived at Aston Down this evening from Mendip Club with the Lasham Ka21 - by road as there were no thermals to fly from Mendip to Aston Down. On Wednesday morning (19th) the cameramen will be pointing his lens at our activities as part of the making of a marketing film for gliding. Although very late to be asked to organise this, we have a young member, one of the Lazenby 'boys' lined up to talk to camera about our wonderful sport, and we have our oldest active pilot also lined up - Ken Lloyd who at 88 is still flying one of the hottest gliders at the Club, his ASH 25.
For late night owls, if you want to be on film tomorrow for posterity - and maybe TV next year - do turn up by 09.00 please and smile sweetly at the lens !

Work continues for the Nationals

Airfield Blog - Tue, 07/18/2017 - 21:53

Mike Oliver was busy mowing the north end of the airfield late this afternoon. This follows others including Jules Eaton, Richard Carter and David Breeze who have been cutting other areas over the last few days. There is more to do before the weekend. 110 acres plus of grass does take a lot of time to cut - probably around 2.5 to 3 days ! So thanks to the grass cutting team of volunteers. More volunteers are needed; training is essential and mandatory to use the equipment.

Mass balloon arrival at AD 23 and 24 Sept 2017

Airfield Blog - Thu, 07/13/2017 - 09:05

Subject to weather, there is a planned mass competition balloon arrival early morning (est. 06.30 to 08.00 BST) on Sat 23 and Sun 24 Sept. The last time this event took place was two years ago. Come to see the spectacle and mingle with balloonists. Breakfast first come first served. There may be opportunities to fly in a balloon for free, but it will mean getting up very early. If interested please let Gill have your name for a list. Again, FCFS.
DGR / chairman

Aim Higher

Airfield Blog - Thu, 07/13/2017 - 00:01

A busy launchpoint for the Aim Higher course

Andy's 750km achievement

Airfield Blog - Tue, 07/04/2017 - 12:10

Thanks to Paul Lazenby who was at club 06.30 to get the kit out including winches, replacing all the ferrules before I arrived 8.45. We gave Andy Smith his launch at 9.45 for his declared 750 km task. Here's a pic of Andy after he crawled out of the cockpit after some 9.5 hours. Sorry about the finger over the LH corner of the lens.

What surprised me was that there were only four other private gliders at the launch point at 10.30 and the club gliders weren't arriving until a few minutes later.Where was everyone on the best weekend day of the year so far ? Even during the peak of the day I think only about 12 privately owned gliders had launched. The duty team was also very thin on the ground in the morning, other than the instructors and one other person.

Anyway, those who did turn up had a great day - there was a 515km (John McWilliam) a 450 for Jon Huband, a 333 for Rob Corbin and 246 for Tom Gooch. There was even a 818km done from Lasham !

So, great day out, eh Grommit?

DGR / chairman

First 750 K from Aston Down

Airfield Blog - Tue, 07/04/2017 - 09:41

Sunday 2nd July was the day the first 750 K from Aston Down was completed by Andy Smith in his recently acquired Ventus 2CX, flying 751.1 km at an average speed of 80.6 kph.

His declared task was:

ASTON DOWN
BUTSER HILL
SHOBDON
COCKING
HEREFORD RACECOURSE
ASTON DOWN

Here is Andy's account as entered on the National Ladder:

"Started at 10am with lots of help from the Aston Down regulars. Forecast was spot on from Dave Masson, great improvement around 1:30. Bad task setting meant that I had to cross the Severn Valley after the sea breeze had gone through about 6pm (wouldn't have done it if I didn't have a turbo). My early start allowed me to faff around at May Hill and contact the sea breeze."

Several other highly experienced pilots reported that it wasn't an easy day with thermal cores being difficult to find and a tendency for good-looking clouds to produce little worthwhile, which makes Andy's achievement all the more remarkable.

Saturday 1st July

Airfield Blog - Mon, 07/03/2017 - 11:58

It was a day of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. We were all set for a first launch by 9.30 but had to wait for the low clag to lift and break- typical 1st July weather. We eventually got airborne at 11.00, but a cable break and some winch problems caused further delays, By the time we'd fixed the winch, the wind had backed and we were forced to change ends. The afternoon's forecast tempted a number of private owners out, but most of them found the conditions weren't as good as they looked - few of the clouds worked and there was some really chunky sink around. Despite the problems we had a good day's flying and, with the assistance of Barry Key, we ended up with two happy customers on the one-day course.
Thanks are due to winch drivers Martyn Hayward and Richard Cawsey, and the ground team of Stuart Thakray, Paul McTurk, Richard Burgoyne, Helen Wilson and Peter Laws.

First 750 K from Aston Down

Airfield Blog - Mon, 07/03/2017 - 07:42

Sunday 2nd July was the day the first 750 K from Aston Down was completed by Andy Smith in his recently acquired Ventus 2CX, flying 751.1 km at an average speed of 80.6 kph.

His declared task was:

AST ASTON DOWN
BUT BUTSER HILL
SH3 SHOBDON E
COK COCKING
HER HEREFORD RACECOURSE
AST ASTON DOWN

Here is Andy's account as entered on the National Ladder:

"Started at 10am with lots of help from the Aston Down regulars. Forecast was spot on from Dave Masson, great improvement around 1:30. Bad task setting meant that I had to cross the Severn Valley after the sea breeze had gone through about 6pm (wouldn't have done it if I didn't have a turbo). My early start allowed me to faff around at May Hill and contact the sea breeze."

Many highly experienced pilots reported that it wasn't an easy day with thermal cores being difficult to find and a tendency for good-looking clouds to produce little worthwhile, which makes Andy's flight all the more remarkable.