Cloudscapes & Checkflights – Flying Report 5/1/20

It was bustling at Sunday’s briefing as the favourable weather forecast combined with a drier field had enticed many members to come to fly.

With our neighbouring club Bidford still suffering from a water logged field we also welcomed two of their members to join us and to experience winch launches for the first time.

With the field set up to dodge the wet areas whilst catering for the brisk South Westerly wind, instructors Barry K and Steve P set to work carrying out currency check flights and training our ab initio pilots.

K21 about to launch from the stub.
K21 about to launch from the stub.

Due to the position of the launch point we weren’t able to use the full length of the field however we still managed to get launches up to 1700ft.

Skylaunch to sending SZD Junior up the wire.
Skylaunch sending SZD Junior up the wire.

Best flight of the day goes to Richard H who managed to exploit the hints of wave we were getting and got a very respectable 21minute flight time in the Junior. (This is the club’s best flight of the year, and also the decade – and he still wouldn’t buy us all a beer for this big achievement!)

The scraggy cloud and the wave influence combined with the low sun provided us all with some stunning cloudscapes to enjoy.

Stats for the day:

35 flights, 25 different people flown and 25 people had a great day.

Bidford Regionals – Flying Report by Peter Capron

The following diary of the event provides an insight into my participation in the competition and the achievements of our fellow SoAGC pilots.

Friday 6th July:

And so for the second year running, I made my way over to Bidford in readiness for the Regionals Competition. As this was my second competition there were no pre-comp nerves as there were in the previous year. Perhaps I was a bit too relaxed about it as until that day I had not done any preparation for the event!

The committee had kindly allowed me the use of our clubs LS4. To save the hassle of de-rigging it, my ferry pilot (Dave M) flew it over for me that afternoon.

Stratford was well represented at the comp. We had Barry and Sharon (Kerby & Kerby) in their Duo Discus, Mike C in his LS10, Andy B with is LS8 and finally Dan B with his ‘Battle’ Lak 19.

As I did last year, I gave myself a few targets to aim for during the week as I knew I’d never be in contention for any trophies.

They were:

  • Fly faster
  • Beat my personal height record
  • Get my second land out under my belt
  • Not come lower than my 25th last year
  • Oh, and perform a better competition finish for the cameras!

With the weather forecast predicting great conditions, we were all looking forward to a cracking week of fun and flying.

Saturday 7th July:

Day 1 of the competition had arrived. Going back to my competition preparation, or lack of it. It is probably worth mentioning I hadn’t actually been cross country since September 2017.

Despite my enthusiasm to get into the air, my lack of experience was countered by the knowledge that I could always just follow my fellow SoAGC pilots around. – Surely they wouldn’t leave a man behind?….

7th - photo 1 - First day on the gridThe Task:

BIDford – ETTington – NOW-Northampton West – GRW-Grafham Water – KWO-Kibworth – ETTington – SFW-Stratford West – BD1-Bidford Finish E.

Handicapped Task distance = 209.3 km

My strategy was to go slow and steady and not to land out on the first day. The flight was quite straight forward and it only got a little eventful towards the end when I started getting low which forced me to route towards Shennington, just in case.

Luckily I found a thermal above the munition stores at MoD Kineton which got me back on track. With a little top up near Ettington I was soon on final glide and racing back to finish.

Day Results

5th Andy B

8th Dan B

9th Kerby & Kerby

10th Mike C

22nd Me

Sunday 8th July:


BIDford – WOC-Worcester Racecourse – MYNd – NWT-Newent – STP-Stourport – EVEsham – BD2-Bidford Finish W

Handicapped Task distance = 210.1 km

As we got ourselves prepared on the grid the sky was beginning to look amazing to the East. However our task was to go West and into the blue. My experience of flying in the blue to date had been a few occasions wafting around locally to Snitterfield.

So with over 200km to fly in the cloudless conditions my strategy was to, a) Follow other gliders!, b) Fly straight and hope to bump into lift. c) Route over towns.

As soon as I came off tow I hit a good thermal over Bidford and gained 3000ft. This boosted my confidence that things would be all okay.

Once the start gate was opened I put my strategy into place and started to follow the other gliders. Andy led the pack and I was not far behind.

Everyone was doing the same and the gaggles soon become quite large and the climbs inefficient. I therefore chose to go alone. Quite often I’d find a thermal and then straight away gliders would rush to you like a swarm of angry bees! Fortunately I was soon left alone due to my slow flying speeds.

Beyond Tenbury Wells the sky changed and we had the luxury of cumulus clouds to mark out the thermals going forward.

The visibility that day was amazing, from 5000ft I could make out the sea at Cardigan Bay and the mountains of Snowdonia. I’ve since checked on the map and the sea would have been about 60miles away from where I was.

It was quite a straightforward task once the clouds were out and it wasn’t long before I was high enough to complete 45km final glide to finish the day.

Day Results

4th Dan B

6th Kerby & Kerby

8th Andy

14th Mike

22nd Me

Monday 9th July:


BIDford – BC3-Bicester N – ETTington – GRM-Great Malvern – EVEsham – BD2-Bidford Finish W

Handicapped Task distance = 153.3 km

This all started so well. I romped down to Bicester North bouncing off the thermals and only taking 2 very good climbs to keep me near cloud base.

I turned for Ettington and again everything was working as planned and I felt like I was flying the fastest cross country I had ever done.

My hopes of a good day result were dashed when, after Ettington I just couldn’t find another climb, nothing seemed to work. From down within the weeds I managed to get a little bit of lift to stop me looking for field landing options.

I crawled on looking for a decent climb to get me going again. Finally I picked up one near the airfield at Bidford and gained over 3000ft. As I was heading towards the Malvern turnpoint I got myself on final glide after which I enjoyed the stress free 46km of straight line flying all the way to Malvern and then the finish line at Bidford.

Day Results

1st Dan B

3rd Kerby & Kerby

13th Andy B

18th Mike

23rd Me

A fantastic day for Dan. His first ever day winner at a Regionals Competition.

Tuesday 10th July:


BIDford – BRIdgnorth – NWT-Newent – SH3-Shobdon E – EVEsham – BD2-Bidford Finish W

Handicapped Task distance = 205.0 km

Off we set towards a not very inspiring sky. My cross-country speed wasn’t that fast but nor was anyone else’s and initially manged to keep up as best I could.

It was uneventful up to Newent, but things were all about to change. As I turned Newent I was presented with a routing dilemma to Shobdon. Do I go under the overcast sky and seek out embedded CU or do I go for blue and hope it is still working?

I chose the overcast route and went hunting for lift. It wasn’t long until I found an embedded CU with lift and so I began to think I had chosen the right option…That lift was my last proper thermal that day.

Things were getting desperate as I turned Shobdon E (Quite close to Leominster). I frantically searched for sources of lift to give me an option of landing out at Shobdon Airfield but I just couldn’t get high enough for a safe glide there.

This area of the county is not renowned for its landout options because of the undulating ground and the very small fields. I must have been still just over 2000ft high when I switched my focus from searching out lift to looking for a possible landing field.

I spotted a nice but smallish pasture that ticked all the boxes. I decided I wasn’t going to leave this unless I got back up to cloud base. (wishful thinking)

As I drifted lower I noticed Barry and Sharon in their Duo coming towards me. Surely they wouldn’t leave a man behind and would help by joining my search for a good thermal to get me home? Of course not, they were struggling themselves and so they went on by leaving me to prepare to land.

I spent a while planning my circuit into the field and so when I got to the point of no return it was all very straightforward getting down safely into the field.

I should have mentioned earlier. Dave M had offered to be my Crew during the comp, and so he was put into action to come and get me and the glider from a village called Humber. It was bit unfortunate for him/me that I had pretty much landed out the furthest possible distance from Bidford I could do that day.

In the 2hrs from landing until Dave turned up I tracked down the farmer’s wife to explain the situation. She was great about it and later on brought her whole family over to take a look at the glider. All her kids took up my offer to sit in the cockpit and pose for pictures.

Dave and I got back to Bidford about 21:15 that night. A very long day in the end but all part of the fun of pure gliding.

Annie prepared the late-arriving landouts with a delicious gammon, egg and chips dinner!

Day Results

4th Mike C

6th Andy

9th Dan

14th Kerby & Kerby

19th Me

Wednesday 11th July:


BIDford – BRIdgnorth – PENdock – BA1-Banbury W – EVEsham – BD2-Bidford Finish W

Handicapped Task distance = 192.7 km

A straightforward and a quick task for me which was good, given my land out the day before.

I was able to build on what I had learned in the last few days and I was rewarded with my equal best placing of the competition – 18th

Dan had a cracking race again and picked up his second 1st place of the week.

Day Results

1st Dan

4th Andy B

5th Mike C

17th Kerby & Kerby

18th Me

Thursday 12th July:


BIDford – BCL-Bishop’s Cleeve NW – ETTington – EVEsham – BIDford

Task distance: 86.07 km

The weather meant a wait until mid-afternoon before we were sent on a quick romp around the local area.

I was slow but once again Dan cleaned up!

Day Results

1st Dan (119km/h!)

3rd Kerby & Kerby

5th Andy B

15th Mike C

21st Me

Friday 13th July:

Rest day

Saturday 14th July:


BIDford – WALford – WTM-Worthen – TSW-Telford SW – BRY-Bromyard – SFW-Stratford West – BD1-Bidford Finish E

Handicapped Task distance = 210.1 km

I was feeling confident so I decided to put some water ballast in for the first time in the week. It wasn’t good going so I dumped it over Clee Hill as the thermals were very weak. But typically a few kilometers later the sky started working properly and I wished I had kept my water.

It was great to overfly the Long Mynd for first time and to look down at the gliding club in action below.

Andy in his first competition was the day winner and Dan was top of the overall leader board still with just one day to go.

Day Results

1st Andy B

3rd Dan B

6th Mike

13th Kerby & Kerby

20th Me

Sunday 15th July:


CWA-Chipping Warden – COB-Corby South – POTton – CHT-Chatteris – WATford Gap – ETTington – SFW-Stratford West – BD1-Bidford Finish E

Handicapped Task distance = 275.8 km

The final day and it was time to fill the wings with water ballast to hopefully quicken my cross country speed but more importantly to give me a more dramatic finish at the end!

The forecast was great for the day and so they sent us out East to make full use of the best conditions.

The weather delivered as per the forecast and I experienced some of the best conditions I have ever flown in, which included getting my new personal height record of 6500ft.

The only tricky bit of the flight was the last 50km when it went blue and we were constrained by the airspace. At one point I routed right along the runway at Gaydon hoping the asphalt would kick off a thermal – fortunately it did.

Once the runway at Bidford was in sight I sped up to about 150mph and released the water to complete my competition week in style.

Unfortunately for Dan he couldn’t keep hold of his lead and Peter Stafford-Allen pipped him to the coveted first place trophy.

Peter Finishing in the club LS4 at Bidford Regionals 2018

Peter finishes in Stratford on Avon Gliding Club's LS4 at the Bidford Regionals Gliding Competition 2018.

Posted by Stratford on Avon Gliding Club on Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Day Results

3rd Kerby & Kerby

4th Andy B

6th Dan B

12th Mike C

18th Me

Total Results and Final Positions

1st Peter Stafford-Allen 5476pts

2nd Dan Brown 5439pts

4th Andy Balkwill 5345pts

7th Mike Coffee 4952pts

9th Kerby & Kerby 4894pts

19th Me (Peter Capron) 3194pts

A great performance from the Stratford pilots!

Final thoughts and thanks

We were fortunate to have some of the best soaring weather for a competition for many years. Over the 8 days of flying I added 27 more hours and 1500 more kilometres to my log book but more importantly I had the opportunity to develop and to better my cross country flying skills.

I set out to do better than last year and so I was really happy to get 19th overall. A few more years and I might be able to give the other Stratford pilots a run for their money!

The Bidford Regionals is a very well run but relaxed competition. I would highly recommend anyone who wants a fun week of flying to enter next year.

I wouldn’t have been able to participate without the use of the club’s LS4. I therefore would like to thank our committee for allowing me to hire it.

A big thanks goes to Dave M who was my dedicated crew. He was always there to assist me at the beginning and at the end of the each day and it made my week so much easier.

Lastly Stratford pilots were very much involved in helping to launch the grid each day. We had Chris E as one of the tug pilots, Ben E running the wings, and ‘Emerly’ S plus Dave M drawing out the tug ropes. Thank you to you all.

Bring on next year!





Bidford Regionals 2017 – Peter Capron’s flying report.

The following is a diary of the event mainly focused around my personal trials and tribulations from the 9 day competition.

Friday 4th August:

The day had finally arrived, I de-rigged the club’s LS4, hitched up the trailer and I was off to my first gliding competition.

They always say preparation is the key, well with just 5 cross country flights under my belt, only one solo aero tow and no retrieve crew it could be said I was far from prepared for what I was about to experience. At least I wasn’t going to be alone, there was a contingent from SoAGC also participating – Dan Brown with his Lak 19, Mike Coffee and his LS10 and finally the Kerby’s with their Duo Discus.

As Dan had flown many comps recently he was our unofficial team captain and made sure we (well mainly me) knew what to do, reminded us on the rules and comp procedures, and offered various tips for the week.

As I had no chance of winning I had set myself a few targets of my own to try and achieve throughout the week.

  • Land out for the first time (pessimistic I know!)
  • Come last but one or better in the overall rankings
  • Fly with water ballast
  • Complete my first high energy finish. aka. Beat Up the airfield! (Different rules there Mr CFI!)
  • To gain more X/C experience and to improve my flying skills

Saturday 5th August:

Day 1 of the competition and with unpredictable weather expected a 2hr Assigned Area Task was set with the plan to fit it in between the passing fronts. As I had never flown an AAT I was glad the rain kept coming and the comp director finally scrubbed the day at 15:30. Day 1 of my comp complete and so far I was joint first – this competition malarkey was easy!

Bidford Sat 5th - waiting for the day to be scrubbed

Sunday 6th August:

Unfortunately I couldn’t rely on the rain to keep me in first position. The sky wasn’t that appealing and nor was the forecast as it predicted an early cut off from the west and to make matters it was rather breezy.

The Task:

Turnpoints:BIDford – BUG-Burley Gate – STW-Stow-on-the-wold – CWA-Chipping Warden – SFW-Stratford West – BD1-Bidford Finish E

Task distance: 194.72 km, Handicapped Task distance = 178.0km

Once airborne it was case of hanging around high waiting for the start gate to open. This was my initial issue, I was struggling to stay high and once the gate had opened I wasted valuable time getting back to a good height to start the task. I was probably last to call start and off I went towards the Malverns. The first part seemed to go quite well and I made some good progress. However it looked extremely gloomy beyond the hills, just where I needed to go. The forecast cut off was turning into a reality and after tuning Burley Gate I was soon trying to spot good fields. A very hard task in itself as west of the hills there is literally only a few average ones at best. I really needed to gain some height and resorted to trying a spot of ridge soaring ( a first for me apart from flying our “ridge” at Snitterfield) . I left the hills and finally found a thermal to take me east and closer to better land out options which was good as I was soon down in the weeds again preparing for my first field landing. After much scratching I got away and realised I was high enough to make it back to Bidford safely. I opted to abort the task and to head home as I had enough drama for one day and there wasn’t enough time left in the weather window for me to get around.

Bidford Sunday 6th - heading to the Malverns

Day Results:

2nd The Kerby’s

3rd Dan

11th Mike

24th Me After completing 88km of the task.

Monday 7th August:

Another day of rubbish soaring prospects but the task setter thought differently. He set the following optimistic task

Turnpoints:BIDford – BCL-Bishop’s Cleeve NW – KIDderminster – SFW-Stratford West – BD1-Bidford Finish E

Task distance: 120.83 km, Handicapped Task distance = 105.0 km

There’s not a lot I can I say about this. I was dropped into a very grey featureless sky and I wafted around trying to hunt out some lift. I was too cautious to go out of gliding range before the start gate was opened and so it wasn’t long before I was calling downwind to land. To my fortune the gate opened whilst I was in circuit and because I landed long I completed 370m of the task after crossing the start line during finals. I was gutted to find 2 pilots recorded shorter task distances than me!


Day Results:

7th The Kerby’s

9th Dan

25th Mike

28th Me – Completing 0.37km!

Tuesday 8th August:

Scrub day

Wednesday 9th August:

We were treated to another uninspiring day and it was only at 15:30 the sky became vaguely promising to launch the grid.

The Task:

Turnpoints:BIDford – BRM-Bromsgrove – TEWkesbury North – BROadway – EVEsham – BD2-Bidford Finish W

Task distance: 91.60 km

I decided to refuse my launch (I wasn’t the only one) as I was reluctant to repeat the previous day’s achievement. So I pushed my glider out of the way and to the back and watched the lack of progress of those who had taken a launch. The gate had opened and I continued to sit out until I finally thought I better give it a bash. It was 17:10 when I finally crossed the start line (the last one again) and I set out on what I knew would be a one way journey.

I only managed one decent climb on the task and that was enough to get me around the Bromsgrove TP. From then onwards my aim was to ignore the task and get myself back to Bidford somehow. This was tall order as the sky had now died and so it wasn’t long until I was looking for fields. After pre-selecting an ok one I was setting myself up for a circuit until I spotted a perfect field and so re-set myself for that one. It was an uneventful landing into an empty cow field near Abbots Morton. The only issue was the cow muck flung up on the underside of the fuselage.

Phil C had been tracking my demise on Spot the Glider and so he was soon over from work to gloat de-rig. (thank you Phil for your help) A quick call to Dan and he rocked up with trailer as I was only about 6 miles from Bidford. The 3 of us soon had the glider packed away and back at the club.

It was good to finally get a field landing under my belt and it helped me relax a bit during the rest of the week. The farmer’s son was initially a little concerned that I may have had spooked the cows in the adjacent field but once he had come over to see the glider he was fine. In the past they have had issues with helicopters and hot air balloons scaring the cows. The following morning I left them a bottle of wine and some beer for any inconvenience I may have caused.

Day Results:

5th Kerby’s

10th Dan

19th Mike

22nd Me – After completing 46km (only 9 actually completed the whole task)

Thursday 10th August:

Finally a day with a proper soaring forecast and so the task setter set the following

Turnpoints:BIDford – SWL-Swalcliffe – LES-Leicester South – OUNdle – WATford Gap – OLNey – ETTington – SFW-Stratford West – BD1-Bidford Finish E

Task distance: 301.00 km, Handicapped Task distance = 262.0 km

I decided this would be the day I would try flying with water and so I put in a barrel a side ( 50kgs total). As I was near the front of the grid I had to wait for over an hour at cloud base before I could start. It was relatively straight forward, I didn’t push too hard as I wanted to complete the task and I didn’t like the idea of landing out near Oundle and asking for a really long retrieve.

There was a moment when I did struggle over Kettering and I was down to 1800ft AGL. However Dan was nearby and calling a good climb on the radio. I therefore back tracked a few Km to use his thermal to get me out of trouble before continuing with the task.

Bidford 10th August - getting on to final glideThe sky was beginning to go a bit flat as I was on my way back from Olney and so I kept topping up regularly until I was on final glide. I had plenty of spare height and so did my best to burn it off eventually flying at VNE through the finish line dumping my water as I went.

Peter Finishing LS4 Water Dump

It was a good day and I believe everyone completed the task

Day Results:

3rd Dan

14th Mike

26th The Kerby’s

28th me – in 3hrs 45mins

Friday 11th August:

Scrubbed – therefore it was a day of Pool and Darts.

1st Me – Shame I’m not as good as comp flying than I am at pub sports!

Saturday 12th August:

The Task:

Turnpoints:BIDford – DROitwich – PENdock – ALCester – SFW-Stratford West – BD1-Bidford Finish E

Task distance: 110.88 km, Handicapped Task distance = 98.7 km

I struggled once the gate had opened with a strong head wind and with loads of sink I kept finding myself in. A couple of times I pushed forward only to find myself drifting back to the safety of the airfield when I couldn’t connect with any decent lift. I was just about to give up and go into circuit after the 3rd attempt when I hit a strong thermal and soon gained 3000ft out of it. There was street ahead so I called a re-start and headed for it. This line of lift got me to Droitwich at which point the sky developed into a classic soaring vista. From then onwards it was quite easy and I upped my speed culminating in a 36km final glide finishing with a 130+ kts competition finish over the airfield.

Bidford Saturday 12th - task 5 - on my 36km final glide

Day Results:

6th The Kerby’s

12th Dan (Though he was the quickest around the task and was scored lower due to a “technicality”)

14th Me – 1hr 17mins. My best position all week

26th Mike

Sunday 13th August:

As it was the last day of the comp I was hoping they would set a smallish task in order that everyone would be back in reasonable time before heading home. It wasn’t the case as with RASP showing a cracking forecast they gave us Thursday’s task to undertake again.

The Task:

Turnpoints:BIDford – SWL-Swalcliffe – LES-Leicester South – OUNdle – WATford Gap – OLNey – ETTington – SFW-Stratford West – BD1-Bidford Finish E

Task distance: 301.00 km., Handicapped Task distance = 257.2 km

When I launched the conditions were already great so as soon as the start gate opened I headed out on task. I soon got myself into a rhythm and put into practice what I had learnt during the week and from the Aim Higher course I attended in June.

For once it felt easy and I was soon ticking off the km’s whilst keeping my task speed in the 80’s kph. However this wasn’t going to last as when I got close to Husbands Bosworth the sky started to become overcast and after I turned LES it was 8/8th on the route I had to take (this was not in the forecast!). From then onwards it was a real struggle to search out the thermals and if it wasn’t for others marking them I would have been on the deck. By staying high I tip toed around the next part of the task.

Bidford 13th of August_over northamptonI was glad for the change of conditions over Northampton where the sun had found a route to the ground and I climbed to 6000ft under a decent cloud – my height record to date. Then onwards it was back to the fully over cast sky ‘leaching’ off others to stay airborne to give me a chance to make it back. Once the pros had left me for Bidford I kept pushing ahead alone but getting lower and lower in the progress. I gained a few feet scratching around over Kineton but I was still not higher enough to make it back. A field landing looked on the cards but my last hope was to find some lift off the village of Ettington and so I dumped my water and headed towards it. My gamble paid off and I found myself a bubble which slowly took me above glide. Typically I then kept flying through lift but that gave me some extra height to finish my first competition in style with a final beat up of the field.

Day Results:

8th Dan

13th The Kerby’s

20th Me – 3hrs 53min

25th Mike


Final overall results (out of 32):

1st Cook & Marriott 3673 pts (Lasham)

2nd Bill Inglis 3530 pts (Bidford)

3rd Moulang & Moulang 3389 pts (Southdowns)

4th Dan Brown 3274 pts

7th Kerby & Kerby 3072 pts

21st Mike Coffee 2198 pts

25th Me 1807 pts

Dan also gets a special mention as he picked up 2 trophies, best junior and top placed in the 15m glider category.

Bidford 13th August - Dan picking up one of his trophiesIf anyone is interested all the results can be seen in detail here

You can also download all the traces for each task if you’re super keen.

Post competition reflections

Flying at Bidford was a great introduction to competition flying. It was a very friendly and relaxed atmosphere where everyone was there to have fun, to fly as much as possible and to not take the competing element of the week too seriously. For me it was a great experience doing something I had always wanted to. Throughout the week I further developed my flying skills and cross country techniques – all of which should help me fly further and faster in the future. Looking back to my original pre-comp targets I fortunately managed to tick off each one. With the two most memorable being my first field landing and crossing the finish line at VNE whilst dumping my water ballast. Thanks to Dave M for filming this, I’ve being boring many people with this footage of me ever since!

I highly recommend it to anyone from our club who has their Silver and wants to try something a bit different. Any lack of experience isn’t a problem at Bidford, there was a pilot from Talgarth who prior to the comp had only flown a maximum distance of 50km. He completed the 250Km task in his Vega earning himself special recognition at the next briefing and a bottle of wine for his achievement.

Finally a few thanks

  • Ben E for being our Crew Chief for the whole week. Not only did he help the Stratford pilots, he assisted all the other competitors. On the days he didn’t manage to bagsy a back seat ride in the Nimbus 4DT he was found compressing and launching the grid and generally getting stuck in with the comp operations.
  • Chris E & Dave M for being at Bidford for a lot of the week and making our lives easier with the gridding, launching, rigging etc. Also for offering to be my retrieve crew should I have landed out miles away
  • To those at the club who also messaged me to offer retrieve services should I have got stuck for help
  • Dan B for coaching me during the season and making sure I was as prepared as possible
  • Bidford Gliding & Flying Club for putting on a fantastic comp. It was brilliantly organised with slick operations and everyone will agree Annie’s food was a highlight.
  • Finally to the committee for allowing me to hire the LS4 as without this none of the above would have been possible.


Flying Report 18th April 2017 – Another 300 First.

The briefing room was unusually full for a Tuesday morning but with the RASP forecast showing 5* red over most of England you could see why. I wasn’t the only one to ‘skive’ work that day and the numbers were further bolstered by a few Juniors on their school holiday who all wanted to make the most out of great predicted soaring conditions.

Dan and I declared a 308km task of Snitterfield SW – Aylesbury – Alcester – Thame Airfield – Snitterfield and Dave M declared a 147km task of Snitterfield SW – Thame Airfield – Snitterfield SW.

The mini-grid of single seaters before launch

The mini-grid of single seaters before launch

Dan in his Lak and myself in the club’s LS4 got ourselves airborne around midday and after checking the conditions over Stratford we returned through the start gate and tentatively made our way to Aylesbury. Things started improving and the second leg back to Alcester was quite good helped with some very strong climbs. The third leg had a bit of dead patch in the middle around Bicester but here we bumped into Dave in the Astir who kindly marked us a thermal. The 3 Amigos? circled over Bicester Airfield with the local boys joining us below. Once at cloud base we parted company, Dave back towards Stratford and two of us towards Thame. Just before the turnpoint we hit a stonking thermal – a much needed boost. The final leg was slow after Bicester as the sky was beginning to die and I had to scrape a final glide to get home where at times I thought I’d be paying Wellesbourne an unscheduled visit.

The task was meant to be a pairs training flight for the forthcoming Bidford Regionals competition however this was made quite difficult with failed batteries for 2/3’s of the flight. I’m still new to this X/C malarkey, so loads of areas to improve on before the comp.

It was great day out of the office and my first 300km.

[Editors note: Peter’s flight in the club LS4 is the first recorded 300km+ flight from Snitterfield in a club aircraft]

Peter Looking Tired and Emotional

Peter looking a little tired after his first 300km flight.


Dan & Peter’s Flights

Other notable achievements:

Well done to our 14 year Junior Ben for completing his 2 hours in the Junior. He wasn’t that short from his Silver Height too, next time?

Dave M completing his longest X/C flight to date.

[Editors note: Also his longest final glide at 31km 😉 )

David's Astir Flight

David’s Astir Flight

Mike C completing the longest flight of the year – 350km (‘underset’ in his words for the conditions)

Mike's 350km Task

Mike’s 350km Task

It was great day at the club and everyone had a good flight or two. It is just a shame we didn’t have more single and two seaters for people to enjoy longer flights.

Thank you to Alan W and Nick J who instructed all day and for making sure everyone had a good flight. With only 2 two seaters available (one is in maintenance) they were kept very busy all day. A final thanks for Dave M who graciously gave up the LS4 after having first call on it to allow me to attempt the 300km.

On a side note I have recently registered our club’s LS4’s FLARM ID with , this now means we can track it on Spot the glider when it is flying. If you’re interested follow this link and look for EMG to see how they’re getting on, or how they’re not getting on! (Most of our X/C privateers have registered their aircraft too so also look out for their competition ID’s such as FA, TT, UG etc.)

Peter C.

Flying Report Sunday 2nd April – Launching the 2017 Cross Country Season

With RASP and TopMeteo suggesting in the days before that Sunday would be a good day, our members were looking forward to it’s arrival. For this time of the year it certainly didn’t disappoint and the following report gives a small insight to what we got up to from Snitterfield that day.

One of the most fought-over trophies at our club is the one awarded for the first 300km of the year. Andy our Chairman, and Mike decided they’d go head to head to try and win the accolade and the first bragging rights of the season.

Initially the sky didn’t look too promising so whilst we eagerly awaited it becoming thermic the ab-initios cracked on with their training and check flights.

Once the first gliders began to stay up Andy took a launch in his LS8 which was soon followed by Mike in his LS10. As they set off we placed bets on who would complete the task first!

With the cloud base starting to rise, Ben our 14 year old solo pilot, set himself the target to complete his 1hr Bronze soaring achievement and so took a launch in one of our K13’s.

Peter looking totally calm and collected before tasking.

Dan in his Lak 19 and myself in the club’s LS4 set ourselves a 121 km task to blow away the winter cobwebs and to practise team flying in readiness for the Bidford Regionals later in the season. The task Dan suggested was Snitterfield W – Pershore – Banbury W – Alcester – Snitterfield. Dan launched first and I followed 10mins later – (Thank you Ben for marking my first thermal!) After a couple of climbs over Stratford to warm up we went through the start line and set off towards Pershore. We went around the majority of the task together working the sky between as we progressed. Apart from one low point over Shennington GC it was relatively straight forward to get around task ending with my first competition style finish.

For those who are interested the traces of our flights can be found here:



Meanwhile back at the club everyone was making the most of the conditions.

Ben could have easily completed his 2 hour achievement but the need for two-seat gliders meant he came down after 1hr 20mins to allow others to fly. Well done still on your completing your 1hr on the first attempt and showing your dad up on the day!
Nick rigged the “best Dart in the country” and flew for a couple of hours with the rumours suggesting he ventured as far as Wilmcote.
Neil and Kit, both yet to complete their X/C endorsement still managed to tick off some local turnpoints in the club’s Astir whilst staying in gliding range.

And Dave tried out his new selfie stick! – [insert photo here]

Meh – Selfie sticks are overrated.

Back to the main event – the 300km battle. In the end Andy was the first to complete the task crossing the line about 5mins before Mike. Well done to both, but the winner of the trophy goes to Andy.

You can view his flight details here.

Stats for the day

Total Launches: 44

Total hours: 37

Thank you to all the instructors on duty that day especially as you missed the chance to fly your own gliders.

And finally. With Ben completing his 1 hour Bronze soaring flight he is starting to cement his position at the top of the achievements badge ladder. But who’s going to win it this year? Click here for further information and the current standings.

Peter C.

Peter C’s first 100km in the LS4

Peter C completed his first 100km X/C task in Stratford’s LS4 on Sunday along with his Silver Duration and Silver Height gain achievements. He sent the following write-up:

With the first favourable forecast for many months, I dragged myself out of bed early to guarantee the LS4 as mine for the day. Phil had the same intentions but his delay of 15 mins meant he was relegated to the mighty Astir…..sorry.

Having done my 50km Silver Distance last season all I needed now was just my 5hrs and 1000m height to complete my Silver Badge so I “declared” 5hrs and with the sky already looking good at briefing, I was keen to get going.

It was “jokingly” suggested to me that taking the clubs hot ship for 5hrs of local soaring was not the done thing. Fortunately Dan and Keith came to the rescue and persuaded me to join them on a 100km task. (Snitterfield – Edge Hill/Shennington – Worcester –Snitterfield).

Dan in FA and Keith in 302 got themselves airborne and loitered around whilst I waited for my launch. Luckily I came off the wire straight into a thermal and I soon got up to nearly 4000ft and with a quick radio frequency change to 130.4 I got myself through the start line. The task was now on and we were Shennington bound.

Overlooking Gaydon

Overlooking Gaydon

It was great fun of the 3 us flying in formation and sharing thermals together. Flying efficiency was somewhat reduced due to us all taking photos of each other. It was more about positioning our gliders centre in frame and not centre in thermal whilst keeping lookout for other traffic!

Keith in his LS8 and Dan in his LAK19

Keith in his LS8 and Dan in his LAK19

With Shennington reached we then took it in turns to lead towards Worcester. All was going well until I got cautious and I stopped to take a climb and unlike the SAS, Dan and Keith at this point left a man behind. It was then just me and my poor thermalling technique to get me to Worcester. With the sky ahead not looking great I drifted back to the sanctuary of the sky above Snitterfield. Here I floated about until I got high and confident again to crack on towards Worcester. (Keith and Dan had already completed the task at this point and were already back on the ground).

Gaining Height over the Stratford River Festival

Gaining Height over the Stratford River Festival

With no obvious land-out fields below I tentatively made my way to the Worcester turn point. The next issue was a gaggle of competition gliders on task from the Shennington regionals right in the area I needed to go to turn Worcester. Eventually I eased myself within the group, turned Worcester and soon got above final glide and I made my way back to Stratford with no issues. At this point I still had 1.5hrs to go and so I kept high going through the finish line and then set about staying high until the 5hrs was up.

Turning WORcester over the Sixways Stadium

Turning WORcester over the Sixways Stadium

Ragley Hall and Alcester & Ragley Park Cricket Club where I played for many years

Ragley Hall and Alcester & Ragley Park Cricket Club where I played for many years

The next hour went quickly as I was enjoying climbing high, playing with the clouds, taking photos and finally getting my Silver Height. The best I got was 5750ft QNH just west of Stratford – the views were amazing.

The flight time was now 4.5hrs. The next 30mins seemed to take an age to get through. I kept looking at the time and each minute dragged by so slowly. I kept saying to myself, stay high, stay high.

5hrs up and time to relax. I radioed to Snitterfield Base to confirm my time but the reply came back that I had a lot of beers to buy. I took that as the confirmation.

As the conditions were still great I went on another quick tour to Alcester to take a photo of my old house and then tried to burn up some height by flying at 135knts. My fastest speed to date – it was great covering the ground so quickly.

Alcester from above.

Alcester from above.

5.5hrs now up and I thought I better come down as everyone was starting to get thirsty. After using the air brakes to lose 2000ft I entered the circuit and landed on 27.

Subject to the BGA’s rubber stamp, I’ve now completed my Silver Badge, my Part 1 100km Diploma and I also now have a significantly lighter wallet (thank you Chris for organising the monster round, I owe you one!)

Thanks must go to Dan and Keith for persuading me to do the unexpected 100km and for Phil who cleaned the LS4 wings after I landed even though he didn’t get to fly it. I promise it is all yours next time and I’ll return the cleaning favour.

Peter C

Sutton Bank Spring 2016 Expedition Report

For over 20 years Stratford on Avon Gliding Club has been making the twice yearly pilgrimage to the YGC at Sutton Bank. The following gives a brief insight into what our 15 club members got up to on our latest adventure up north.

Friday 20th May
With great trepidation and with many excuses made at work to leave early, the journey northbound started. For the first time in many years a club aircraft was to be taken to SB and so Peter C joined the trailer convey with the Astir, nervously towing for the first time. Some were brave and tackled the 25% Sutton Bank climb head on, whereas the “youngsters” in their small cars chose the scenic but less steep back-route to reach the club and more importantly the bar.

Preparing the Astir’s trailer before the journey

Preparing the Astir’s trailer before the journey

Saturday 21st May
With rain and low cloud, flying was scrubbed and so the day was our own. Peter C and Neil C were introduced to YGC’s fantastic simulator. After some virtual aerotow practise and site familiarisation we soon progressed rapidly from flying the K21, to mid-air refuelling a Tornado and finally to low level formation flying through the Lake District in F-35’s!
We all reconvened for the traditional meal out at the Forrester’s Arms in Kilburn and this was followed up with more drink and games back at the Club house.

Neil C mastering the F-35

Neil C mastering the F-35

Sunday 22nd May
The weather seemed to be on our side and so the SoAGC pundits rigged their machines and those requiring check flights/instruction patiently awaited their turn to get airborne. Conditions in the end weren’t that great and so only Barry K and Barry M in the Duo Discus T went cross country whilst the other pundits explored the local scenery.

Keith L having his check flight in YGC’s DG 1000

Keith L having his check flight in YGC’s DG 1000

Sun setting over the Pennines

Sun setting over the Pennines

Monday 23d May
Whilst the privateers awaited for optimum conditions to develop, the club’s Astir was rigged and prepared for its first Sutton Bank adventure. Phil C was first into the seat and we all eagerly watched to see what he could achieve. Well, at about 500ft we all saw him come off the tow and with no chance of returning to the airfield he was last seen heading north towards what we hoped a nice grass field. Confirmation from Dan aloft in his Lak that Phil was down safe, 4 of us hitched up the trailer and set out to find him and the Astir. It wasn’t a nice green pasture as we hoped, but a newly planted potato field. (All credit for Phil landing in one of the furrows and for completing his first field landing) It took a couple of hours to de-rig and to carry the wings and fuselage out of the field to the trailer. Many of the Stratford pundits enjoyed watching us hard at work from their gliders high above!
Flying wise, not a lot to report. Those optimum conditions never really materialised so most of Stratford pilots stayed close to the airfield.

Tuesday 24th May
After confirmation that the Astir’s early departure from the tug was not due to a mechanical problem and was probably because of an inadvertently early release, Peter C jumped in for his first air tow solo. The thermals didn’t materialise as hoped and he was down in 12mins. With deteriorating conditions Phil C managed to complete a full tow to 2000ft but soon returned after 9mins. At least Kit B managed to scratch out 24mins in the Astir before he too returned to terra firma.
Barry K and Barry M in the Duo tasked 300km but were forced to use the engine a couple of times to get back. All other pilots reported poor conditions and stayed within gliding range of SB.

Duo landing at Sutton Bank

Duo landing at Sutton Bank

Wednesday 25th
With low cloud and rain forecast flying was cancelled for the day and so many of the party hit the roads south and headed home.

Thurs 26th to Fri 27th
No further flying to conclude the club expedition.

A big thank you to the Yorkshire Gliding Club for being great hosts. We look forward to returning again in September and hopefully for better weather.