Welcome to the 2017 UK National VGC Rally, Cotswold Gliding Club 27 May-2 June, 2017

The Cotswold Gliding Club has operated at Aston Down airfield in Gloucestershire, UK, since 1967, some three years after the club was formed on 1 August 1964, at Long Newnton airfield near Tetbury.

For the first 13 years the club’s tenure was far from secure as the airfield was provided by the Ministry of Defence on a licence basis with one week’s notice! Aston Down started life as a grass airfield in 1918 when Australians were based there. Later, in about 1938, the hard runways were created; 03/21 which is some 5,000 feet long and 09/27 about 3,500 feet. A third runway, 15/33 fell into disuse and some of it is now grass again. The two main runways are still in excellent condition.

After the RAF finished using the airfield for “touch and goes” from nearby Central Flying School at Little Rissington, the Club had the opportunity to purchase the airfield in 1980-81 and was successful in doing so, though it took several years before we arrived at the current land holdings. It was a complicated business, buying an airfield. We own well over 50% of the land - some 135 acres (68 hectares) - mainly within the perimeter track, and two farming interests own the rest of the land.

As a venue for the VGC Rally, Aston Down has near perfect conditions and facilities; the long main runway with adjacent extensive grass take-off and landing areas, a flat site without any hazards, 2 x Skylaunch winches, a double-decker bus as the “mobile control tower”. The buildings include a control tower converted as a clubhouse with lounge / dining area, kitchen, bar, briefing room, 4 bedrooms (8 beds), hangars and workshops, and also a caravan parking area. There is plenty of space for visiting gliders and trailers to be parked. For owners of vintage gliders who want to keep them rigged during the rally we can probably persuade some club private owners to give up their hangar positions for the week to enable vintage gliders to be stored in the hangars.

Aston Down lies within a beautiful part of England, the Cotswold hills. The surrounding countryside has delightful honey-coloured stone cottages, houses and excellent pubs and eating places. There are lots of things to do and places to see if the weather doesn’t behave well for gliding.

And most of all if the weather does behave well, the thermal soaring can be first-class, with possibilities of cross-country flights in all directions without any airspace restrictions that create a complete barrier on a route. In a W to NW wind direction we can often contact wave, and some 12km west of site is the neighbouring gliding club at Nympsfield which is on Cotswold ridge running roughly 05 / 23 for some 100 km.

So, the Club looks forward with enthusiasm to hosting the VGC to Aston Down from 26 May to 2 June 2017 - you will be made very welcome and some of our members with older gliders will be joining in the flying as well.

David Roberts
Chairman, Cotswold Gliding Club

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The VGC National Rally dates have been amended to coincide with school half-term. This will allow our few remaining non grey-haired members to bring their families and these will be the dates for future UK National Rallies.

The rally now officially opens on Saturday 27th May, taking in Whitsun Bank Holiday and officially closes on Friday 2nd June. Expect heavy traffic on Friday 26th May, so early starts are needed.
We plan a special welcome for our aeromodelling members, who often get a rather short straw at our rallies. The local aeromodelling club will also participate.

There is plenty of camping space, together with an excellent kitchen in the club house. Although there are never enough electrical hook-ups for camping and caravans, we will do our best. Sockets for battery charging are plentiful.

We can provide four or five hangar spaces for hard-to-rig gliders. These will be allocated by a very complicated formula, taking in date of registration, claimed time to rig and likeability of the owner, and offers of beer to Robin Birch, the man in charge.

It would be nice to have an RAF theme in this classic ex-military site, so gliders with roundels will be especially welcome. The apres-ski and the dreaded wet-weather programme has not been forgotten, with planned attractions that will include a museum visit, quiz night, and classic film evening. So something for everyone!

Robin Birch and Andrew Jarvis

To register for the rally please download and complete the form below. Return instructions are on the form.