Not Quite So Epic Wednesday
Yes, Tuesday did qualify as Epic for flights from Lxxxxm and elsewhere but this blog is for Aston Down. We have a nucleus of pilots who regularly fly over 500 Km and who are an inspiration to us all. Today two of them were absent at work or abroad, nevertheless we had flights of 503 Km, 416 Km and 316 Km. One other enjoyed spectacular conditions at the south coast before returning.
The day started with good thermals but later in the afternoon wave conditions enhanced thermals at times and suppressed them with massive sink at others. A few pilots reported climbing into wave, reaching 5-6000. Those who launched when the massive sink was over the airfield had very short flights. The course and the Wednesday regulars had a very good day's flying.
A forecast promising an "Epic" day didn't quite live up to that but nevertheless tempted so many to rush to the airfield that the launch queue looked like a busy weekend day. The good conditions produced two flights over 500 km and two over 400 km plus numerous lesser achievements. Thermal strengths ranged up to 7 kts and cloudbase almost 6000 ft ASL.
A Sportability day enabled 9 people with disabilities to experience the joys of soaring flight.
An excellent training and cross country day, or it would have been a good training day if there had been more U/T members to take advantage of it, so a lot of two seaters were sitting on the ground much of the time.
Long wings completed their 300k tasks but shorter wings had difficulties and one landed out
Course Week 3rd -7th April
I had the pleasure of running the course this week which was for me a unique experience for several reasons. First we flew on five consecutive soarable days and only had flying interrupted briefly on the Tuesday. Second we had 3 enthusiastic visitors, Steve, Alice and Harry (more on them later), Thirdly I learned something about how instructing is carried out in Poland from our new resident instructor, Stan. Some useful ideas we could perhaps adopt. Finally I managed to go through a considerable portion of the solo syllabus in a really concentrated session of flying which I miss with just weekend instructor duties.
Steve was flying his 17m Cirrus and was joined by his syndicate partner Mike early in the week. Steve had a great week completing his first flight in his Cirrus and going on to completing a 1.5 and 3 hour soaring flight later in the week. Understandably he left at the end of the week a happy man. Well done Steve.
Our ab initios on the course were Alice and Harry. Harry returned to CGC, having not been put off from a previous one week course last October. Alice was (almost) new to flying gliders.
Both made great progress during the week flying with both myself and Stan, and Alice was keen to drive every type of vehicle the club had; and by the end of the week could probably qualify as a London bus driver as long as she didn't have to park the bus ! Both Alice and Harry became accomplished at soaring and enjoyed some great views on clear day with birds of prey circling with us in the thermals. By the end of the week they were both doing all the flying so great progress.
Our CFI Gerry and regional examiner Tony were present as some point on each day and it was great to have them as a source of advice and support. Unfortunately Gerry had a cold so could not fly from Tuesday onwards ( the day after he had his flights with Stan - no connection there I think ??). Gerry was certainly under the weather as he did not even recognize( or possibly even know of ) one of his syndicate partners Pat who seemed rather surprised at his apparent anonymity when he turned up to fly on Wednesday!
We all enjoyed a meal at a local pub on Thursday. Thanks to our local members who helped out ( especially Dave and Lesley on Mon/Tues) and our winch driver Dave provided good reliable launches throughout the week.
UK Junior Gliding
A big thank you to the club for letting the juniors borrow the DG500 for the Winter Series events over the past few months. We had three very successful trips to Portmoak, Long Mynd and Nympsfield which gave many young pilots the opportunity to experience ridge, wave and thermal soaring at different airfields.
The Winter Series is organised by the UK Junior Gliding group which promotes gliding to young people throughout the UK. The Winter Series and other events play an important part in getting more young people into gliding and ensuring a prosperous future for our sport.
Here are a few photos from a ridge day in Scotland and cross-country flying in the Cotswolds. Thank you all for your continued support of our junior members.
First course last day (with tractor again)
The first course final day had similar conditions to those pertaining all week i.e strong winds which made approaches and landings difficult. Nevertheless they all seemed to go away happy.
The tractor appeared again without warning driving on the runway in use in the middle of the morning while we were flying. It then operated on the grass on the east side of it, holding us up for some 2.5 hours. It came back again at 3.20 and raked the grass between the control tower and the runway for the rest of the afternoon.
A bevy of two seaters from the Juniors event at Nympsfield descended on us during the afternoon. If they had contacted us beforehand we could have warned them about the tractor but fortunately none of them hit it.
First agricultural hiatus of 2017
The first course of 2017 had a good day apart from a 50 minute break in the middle of the afternoon due to agricultural operations which started as usual without warning or consultation.
Sat 11th March
Mist and Low cloud at the start of the day was forecast to lift, so 2 K21s, the K13 and K23 were DI'd and parked on the runway. First launch was onto a 500' cloudbase but the aim was lauch failures for a WR so not a problem. CB lifted to 700, then 800 feet before finally melting away so that we could take launches all the way to the top. Steady breeze from SSE - good training conditions. Over 50 lauches by the end of the day. Of course there had to be a winch issue on the last lauch of the day with a loop thrown, so the winch team got their night rating. Many thanks to all who helped - hope you got what you wanted from the day.
Awards for Cotswold GC members
I am delighted to let all members know that two members of the Club have been granted awards from, firstly, the Royal Aero Club and secondly the British Gliding Association.
Larry Bleaken, the President of the Cotswold GC has been awarded a Bronze Medal of the Royal Aero Club of the UK. The citation for his award is below.
"Larry Bleaken is a founding member of the Cotswold Gliding Club on 1st August 1964. He is the only founding member who remains a member of the Club to this day. In 1980 when the Government of the day put the ex-RAF airfield at Aston Down up for sale by auction, Larry was instrumental in the complicated processes and various negotiations that resulted in the Club acquiring a significant part of the airfield. As a property man his expertise, skills and contacts were vital in ensuring success, not least in finding and securing alternative finance when a major bank pulled its support just weeks before the auction. With a commercial acumen that left others in his wake, he did a variety of deals that left those involved spellbound. In the following 35 years Larry has been continuously a member of the 5 person board of directors of the land-owning company established by the Club. His wisdom, advice, guidance and sheer ‘nouse’ has meant that the Club has a very significant freehold unencumbered airfield asset that provides long-term security for gliding in the Cotswolds. Whilst his flying has reduced with advancing years, he is still able to climb into his Stemme S10 Touring Motor Glider to get a view of the airfield that he was absolutely pivotal in securing".
Richard Carter has been awarded a BGA Diploma. He was unable to attend the presentation on Saturday at the BGA Conference, but I was able to accept it on his behalf. Again, the citation for his award is given below.
"Richard Carter has been the key volunteer ground equipment engineer at Cotswold Gliding Club, Aston Down, for very many years. The gliding movement relies upon people such as Richard to keep clubs operating. Throughout each year come rain, snow, hail, winds, sunshine or a glorious gliding day he can be found on at least one day a week, invariably more, working in the club’s workshop on some essential piece of equipment. His ability to find solutions to engineering or mechanical problems, without spending a fortune, is legendary. He can turn his hand to most things that need a solution. Only at the AGM - when the club chairman acknowledges formally the work of people like Richard - are many members fully aware of what efforts go on behind the scenes by volunteers such as Richard to keep everyone else flying. Richard was made a life member by the Club a few years ago in recognition of his work. The time is right to now recognise him nationally by this nomination for a BGA Diploma".
Many congratulations to both Larry and Richard for these well-deserved honours.
David Roberts / Chairman / CGC
Saturday 4th Feb 2017
A gem of day for early February. After a grey start the mist cleared and we enjoyed a good few hours of sunshine ....and cumulus clouds (remember them?). Fresh from his trip in Oz., Alex Pepler completed his winter refreshers, mostly without an altimeter. Also completing winter refreshers were John Docherty and Adrian Giles. The sunshine tempted out some private owners: Tom Gooch had the longest flight of the day in his ASW27 and Martin Hayward gave his LS6 a good outing. We were pleased to welcome new member Guy Palmer from Sussex Club (Ringmer). Many thanks to Phil Mead and Kevin Russel for driving the winch.
The final Saturday in January was forecast cold and possibly wet with lots of hot air in the evening at the AGM.
Four Air Cadets arrived for their first flights, along with three Semichons and three other Junior pilots. Gary Cross was almost the only other member present who wasn't on the duty rota, which proves its worth.
The first task to show the cadets was how to rig a K21. Geoff didn't manage to frighten them off doing this and they all flew during the day. The rain never showed up, Gary did his winter refreshers and best of all several Semichons and other youngsters managed to re-solo after a gap of several months. The final task was de-rigging the K13 for its ARC.
The AGM was an excellent evening, with great food from Steve Glassett. Thanks Steve. Andy Smith took a lot of cups for flying too far and too fast for an old chap, and Matt Page was awarded the Mike Weston Award for service to the club over several years. Matt has helped with IT, Junior gliding, and last year the competition. Helen Wilson was the Best Junior in 2016. A full list of prizes will be published in Polebender, except the White Stick Award.
A cold but sunny winter day. By the time we had towed the K21's to the launch point a layer of frost had formed on the wings. However, a test flight found no effect on stalling speed or any other aspect.
A 10 knot wind straight down runway 09 gave launches up to 1500 ft., so a useful day was had by the few members present and the day's batch of Air Cadets.
The new K21's main wheel tyre mysteriously deflated on landing. Since nobody fancied working on it exposed to the wintery conditions it was derigged into the syndicate K21 trailer and a K13 brought out instead.
Correction to the previous posting from the office:
The AGMs of ADF Ltd and Cotswold GC will be on Saturday 28th JANUARY 2017 not 28th February. The formal notice and agenda for the CGC AGM will be published later next week.
David Roberts / Chairman