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:

Task:

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:

Task:

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:

Task:

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:

Task:

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:

Task:

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:

Task:

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:

Task:

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!

 

 

 

 

Saturday 7th Flying High

A quieter day than usual, Saturday saw many pilots away at the Bidford Regional gliding competition.

Those pilots that arrived at Snitterfield however had a purpose in mind.

Soon after her check ride, Emily launched in the SZD Junior attempting both her 2 hour bronze duration and her FAI Silver height gain.

The Silver height gain achievement requires a climb of 1000 meters (3281 feet) above the lowest point recorded on a flight logger after the glider’s launch.

Emily succeeded in gaining her height gain during the day’s early soaring conditions and stayed up to complete her 2 hour soaring duration for her Bronze endorsement.

Emily’s father Ed also wanted his Silver height gain and launched in his current favourite glider the club’s Standard Astir. Ed had difficulty contacting the lift initially. He came back for a couple of relights but kept trying for the goal.

The third launch got him away with a solid climb taking him toward his height gain but also on a task around local turnpoints totaling 43km. Once Ed completes his Bronze Cross-Country Endorsement , he will be able to fly further afield in the club’s gliders.

Later in the day, Emily also flew through a series of checks of her general handling and launch failure handling with senior Stratford instructor Steve F to clear her ‘off checks’.

All new solo pilots at Stratford are required to complete at least 20 days of check-flights with instructors each flying day before they can fly solo. Once the check days are completed, the pilot can be considered for the ‘off-checks’ test. If they meet the required standard, they will be signed off and will be able to fly solo on subsequent days without a check flight subject to conditions and the duty instructor’s discretion.

Later that weekend, with a shortage of winch drivers at Snitterfield, newly qualified winch driver Ed was pressed into service as a fully-fledged cat 1 winch driver which includes daily inspection, towout and set up of our 340bhp Skylaunch 2 winch.

Sunday 10/6/18 – That One Thermal

Sunday was a busy, hot and tricky day.

It was possible that the soaring conditions would develop well so a number of private gliders turned up at the west-end launchpoint along with the busy club flying fleet.

The club’s LS4 was back online and flying thanks to Barry as well as the in-demand SZD Junior. The actual soaring conditions were limited with no well-defined cumulus and top cover moving over the sun at intervals.

Team Kerby & Kerby in Duo Discus 666 optimistically tasked out to the south-west, hoping to get some practice in before the Bidford Regionals. They had to abort somewhere out past Bidford when it became apparent that staying aloft was the hardest task.

One fairly reliable line of energy was present beginning near the village to the east of the field and extending past the south edge of the field.

At one point, pretty well all of the private gliders and flying club aircraft occupied the same thermal just to the south of the field. Iain R captured some brilliant photos of this gaggle while flying as a passenger in DG500 “LSL”. For the pilots, good lookout was paramount!

Achievements wise, Bob made a heroic attempt at his Brone 2 hours duration but the lift didn’t quite play ball. Other members undertook their annual refresher flying to ensure their flying skills are maintained at the required standard through 2018.

Sunday 3 June 2018 – Neil Goes Long

On an improving RASP forecast by the morning of the 3rd, Sunday was shaping up to be a decent cross-country day for our glider pilots at Snitterfield.

With Steve B on duty, an early morning briefing saw the first launch up the wire at 10am as the check-rides and instructional flying began.

The sky took a little while to get going and the first soaring flight got away about an hour later.

Neil C launched not long after in his private LS4 “S5” on an attempt at his first 50km flight for Silver C.

Junior pilot Emily also launched in club SZD Junior “HDB” attempting a Bronze duration flight.

Numerous privateers launched in their gliders, among them Andy B and Mike C on cross-country taskings.

Junior Thermalling With K21

K21 viewed from the club Junior (Photo: Emily S)

Junior pilot Emily landed back at Snitterfield having completed her one hour duration for her Bronze C X/C endorsement. While she will need to turn 16 to hold the cross-country endorsement, she can complete the duration flights beforehand and on Sunday’s performance, her 2 hour duration is easily within reach.

Junior Thermal Climb

Thermal climb in the Junior (Photo: Emily S)

Neil who had taken a little time to get going was working his way down the country towards the BIC turnpoint at Bicester. Having a bit of a torrid time, getting low around Banbury, he gained a keen following of club members intently staring at their phones as they watched the drama unfold on live.glidernet.org!

Turning BIC after 3 hours flight time, he began making better progress back to his next turnpoint at Bidford but not before getting into another low and desperate scratch at Shennington. Making the last hop back to Snitterfield, he was on for his 5 hour Silver C duration so he set himself up local-soaring to bag the last hour for a total flight time of 5hrs 7minutes.

Neil's Silver Distance

Neil’s Silver Distance

All in, Neil flew 122km gaining both his Silver distance and Silver duration as well as his UK 100km diploma leg-1. Having already attained his Silver height gain, Neil is now a Silver Pilot! Well done Neil!

Mike and Andy were out for quite a time too.

Both tasking 315km SN2>GRM>ALT>SN2, Mike needed a sustainer engine run in LS10 “TT” to get home after 93% task completion but Andy in LS8 “UG” got round for 2181 points on the BGA Ladder.

After a long day’s flying with a total of 57 launched from Snitterfield, Neil C “rang the bell” at the Snitterfield Arms and bought a round as he was congratulated by his new glidernet fan-club! 🙂

Saturday 19/5/18 Flying Report – Alistair gets a leg-up.

There were fewer members than usual on site on Saturday as some of the membership were on the Sutton Bank expedition in Yorkshire. Still, some enthusiastic pilots were ready to do some flying and Andy S was our duty instructor.

The morning briefing centred around the Article 239 RA(T) at Ragley Hall for the Midlands Air Festival. This restricted airspace 6 nautical miles west of the field presented a problem for cross-country task planning and local soaring. As well as this, two ‘holding areas’ were defined East and West of the RA(T) as nav-warnings for aircraft displaying at the event. The closest of these, centred on the large solar farm extended to a point as close as the Birmingham road.

With light winds, Andy set the field out with the winch at the east end so we would be coming off the wire at a point as far as possible from the nav warning area.

Just Mike C and David M decided to task. Mike planned to task south and then northeast in the LS10 and David planned club task Bicester out-and-return to stay well clear of the RA(T).

The RASP forecast was for a 5* soaring day but we were taking that with a pinch of salt on past experience and sure enough the first cumulus was very shallow with a notable haze layer aloft.

Mike launched early in the LS10 tasking SNI>OXN>NEW>MAH>CAL>SNI. David declared SN2>BIC>SN2 in the club’s SZD Junior as the LS4 was away with the club Sutton Bank expedition.

Peter C went up in the Astir to mark a thermal for David who was launching after him but unfortunately he ended up in a low scratch while David climbed to the East. Peter did however manage to get a picture of David as he came out of the SN2 start on task.

David starts his task in the Junior

David starts his task in the Junior

By early afternoon, David was back, finishing with a 27km final glide from a point south of Shennington and 106.9km flight total. The task had been a bit tricky due to wide gaps and poor visibility in the working band.

SZD Junior 27km Final Glide

Half way down a 27km final glide in the club's SZD Junior yesterday.Lots of height in hand but it always feels like you need it in the Junior ;-)#pilotlife #gliding #sailplanes #crosscountry

Posted by Stratford on Avon Gliding Club on Saturday, 19 May 2018

 

Next up with a tasking was junior glider pilot Alistair who we encouraged to try his Silver Height gain which requires a total climb of 1000m (3280′) above the lowest recorded point. Peter C kindly furnished him with a Nano barometric logger and he launched in the club’s SZD Junior.

He was back in 5 minutes having contacted nothing but sink from a relatively low launch.

Not willing to give up, Alistair launched again and this time got away.

We watched as he made a couple of solid climbs in the airspace available to us away from the Ragley Hall event, the highest being directly over the airfield at Snitterfield.

We were confident he had made the height gain but watched with anguish as he returned to circuit height after about 50 minutes. Just 10 minutes more would net him a Bronze X/C duration achievement.

Unfortunately, Alistair landed just short of the 1 hr duration goal at 55 minutes from release. This didn’t put too much of a spoiler on his flight though as he’d managed to brake his previous best soaring flight of 18 minutes by a round sum.

Official Observer Peter also verified that he’d completed his Silver Height gain by a comfortable margin meaning he now holds one of his Silver legs before completion of his Bronze C.

Well done Alistair!

Mike also completed his tasking which gained him 1968 points on the BGA ladder for 346km at 79kph.

More photos from Peter C:

As the afternoon went on we saw several of the aircraft displaying at Ragley Hall including encountering some manoeuvring east of the holding area over Stratford. It was definitely a day for solid lookout!

A P51 Mustang gives us a wide berth as it transits out to the North East:

 

  1. In the late evening, long after flying had finished at Stratford, we watched the distant mass-launch of hot-air balloons from Ragley Hall.

Sunday 13/5/18 Flying Report – Launching With Purpose

On Sunday we had club members on the field practically at the crack of dawn. Peter and Phil will deny it but they were probably in competition to get on the flying list first to bag the club’s LS4 for cross-country flying.

The forecast soaring conditions were bordering on the fantastic according to RASP but we were taking it with a pinch of salt due to the visible top-cover and previous model inaccuracy.

There were various requests for task and achievement flight attempts in club gliders including cross-country coaching. This meant checking out the club trailers for serviceability. The new K21 trailer was loaded with the club’s new K21 which is soon to enter service so we had to dig out the ‘Silver Torpedo’ for the other K21.

It took quite an effort as it had sunk into the glider park which had been saturated for so long over winter. It was found to be in generally good condition although the overrun brake was broken so Barry fashioned us a replacement part in the workshop.

On-check pilots got their check flights out of the way as early as possible to allow for their intended task flying while others took pre-solo training including local airspace training in the TMG. We also had a significant number of trial-lessons to fly which Andy D started flying in the K13 to allow GAG to be used for cross-country coaching.

Early on, it turned out Chris E was looking to do his Silver distance and Peter and Phil yielded their claim to flying the LS4 for his worthy cause.

After his check ride, Ed launched in the club SZD Junior G-CHDB attempting “a ten minute flight that might take two hours” for his Bronze X/C endorsement duration requirement. Completing all the requirements of the Bronze X/C endorsement will enable Ed to fly solo cross country in gliders.

The task flying began early. Originally planning to task out around 1300, the sky was developing quickly by mid morning.

Chris E launched in club LS4 G-DEMG tasking out-and-return SN2-BIC-SN2 to cover his 50km Silver distance achievement then flying back to Snitterfield after turning Bicester.

Chris moments before launching on his first solo cross-country to Bicester and back.

Junior glider pilots Dan and Emily launched in K21 G-CGAG on a 80km planned tasking SN2 > EVE > ETT > ALC > SN2. This would be Emily’s first cross-country flying experience. Dan, who is a cross country and competition pilot is used to flying a fair bit quicker than is possible in a two-seat basic trainer.

Ben E also took off in the club’s Astir G-FECO and followed GAG for part of their task, limited by his requirement to remain in gliding range until he can hold his Bronze cross-country endorsement when he turns 16.

Despite the forecast, the actual soaring conditions weren’t quite epic so only a limited number of private aircraft turned out. Neil in LS4 S5 went out on a local soaring flight to the south, Barry M brought out LS8T UG to blow out the cobwebs and CFI Steve went soaring in his LAK 19T FA.

Chris E made fairly short work of his task. He only stopped briefly to gain sufficient height to cross Stratford on Avon town on the way home.

Junior glider pilots cross country in the club’s K21

Dan and Emily returned having completed their task for a comp finish at SN2. Dan felt the task was fun but a bit laborious due to the performance limitations of the K21. Emily thought cross country flying was about the best thing ever, second only to aerobatics.

Trace from the K21 task

By this time, Ed’s 10 minute flight had turned into 2 hours and he finally returned in the Junior for a 2 hour 13 minute total meaning he now only requires another 1 hour soaring flight to complete the duration requirements of his X/C endorsement.

Next up, Emily loaded out the Junior for a 1 hour duration attempt. However, the sky was changing rapidly and although she managed a soaring flight, the sky dumped all of our gliders back on the airfield in fairly short order.

Phil C and David M who were yet to fly by mid-afternoon got in K21 G-CGAG but were advised to wait over the radio by Dan B who was now struggling to climb away over the ‘ridge’ in his syndicate LAK 19T.

Waiting out some better looking clouds, Phil and David launched towards a nice looking one which turned out to be 10km or more away when viewed from the top of the launch. After a very brief excursion out toward the sunlit ground at Edstone Hall, they returned to the airfield with their tail between their legs.

More grid-squatting ensued as Phil and David in the K21, Dan in the LAK and Emily in the Junior lined up in their aircraft for another go. A very decent looking cloud approached to the south-west so David and Phil took a dash toward it in the K21. Finding nothing but sink, they ran back for the field into a low scratch for lift near the A46.

Emily took an even more determined run at the same cloud but encountered the same conditions, having to return to the field minutes later as did Dan in the LAK. Only the K21 climbed away in a 30 feet per minute initial climb out to the sunlit east.

It was around 6pm by the time we’d finished flying and the beer garden at the Snitterfield Arms was ever so welcoming to our tired but happy pilots.

 

A gallery of photos from Peter C’s afternoon local soaring flight in the club’s LS4

 

Sunday 29/4/18 – A New Experience

A waterlogged airfield sparks a mini-expedition

Saturday brought a lot of steady drizzle to Snitterfield and by Sunday morning the airfield had a good soaking.

A north-easterly wind required flying from the far end so duty instructors Baz and Steve P disappeared off to the west in the cable retrieve car. Coming back some 25 minutes later, Steve had a liberal coating of mud up his back and it transpired they’d had to abandon the car and walk to even reach the far end of the field. There was no way we were going to be able to operate the airfield.

Still there were tasks to be done. The main one being getting the club’s SZD Junior into to the workshop so the wheel-brake could be examined. Naturally it was at the back of the hangar so we assembled a team to unpack five aircraft and repack four. The Junior was derigged into the workshop.

One of our members had their birthday and brought in some excellent home-made cakes which began to disappear pretty quickly! 😉

A bit before midday, we had word from one of our members that Bidford, the next gliding club down the road had enough dry areas that they were going to be operating.

Undeterred from flying by our own waterlogged field, a plan was quickly formed. Some of our members had never experienced aerotow launching so we would organise an on-the-spot mini club expedition down the road to get some flying done.

Several cars set off for the 30 minute drive over to Bidford. As our 10 pilot mini-expedition arrived, the tug and two K13s were on their way to the 06 launchpoint.

Two of our junior glider pilots, Jenna and Alistair had no hands-on experience of aerotow launching so they were sat down with one of Bidford’s instructors who gave them the long-brief on aerotow flying.

Stratford Junior Pilots Experience Aerotow

On Sunday due to a waterlogged airfield at Snitterfield, a group from Stratford on Avon Gliding club went over to Bidford airfield for some aerotow practice.Two of Stratford's junior glider pilots experienced aerotow launching for the first time.When you've learned to fly exclusively on winch launch, aerotow presents many new challenges!#juniorgliding #aerotow #sailplanes #adventure

Posted by Stratford on Avon Gliding Club on Monday, 30 April 2018

 

When you’ve exclusively learned to fly gliders on winch launches, aerotowing provides new challenges, not least flying level in close proximity to the ground at the start of the tow.

Stratford pilot Chris is also a tug pilot at Bidford and he towed both Jenna and Alistair’s flights to 2,000′ with the Bellanca Scout tug plane. Flying from Bidford also gave them the opportunity to practice planning a circuit into a field other than their home airfield and flying around Bidford airfield which can be difficult to spot from the air when you are unfamiliar with it’s layout.

Stratford junior pilot Ben who has experience of launching on aerotow and is understood to be close to flying aerotows solo also took a training launch.

Later on, Stratford’s CFI Steve B flew with Stratford’s membership secretary Dan for what was the longest flight of the day at 20 minutes.

While sailplane launches at Snittefield are all on the winch, Stratford pilots often need to aerotow during expeditions and competitions so frequent practice can be necessary.

At the end of flying, we helped pack the gliders and tug away then dutifully drove the 30 minutes back to the Snitterfield Arms for our expedition debrief 🙂

Thanks to the members and instructors of Bidford Gliding & Flying Club for being so accommodating of our members and letting our mini-expedition get some flying done!

Step-up Sunday – 22/4/18 Flying Report

68 launches and a raft of achievements for Stratford on Avon Gliding Club pilots.

Late on Saturday night, a few members had made their way back up to the club from the Snitterfield Arms and witnessed a spectacular light-show in the form of large storm cells passing over the field. The inevitable downpour that accompanied them set the scene for the field conditions the next day.

 

While the airfield had been drying fairly well, the situation on Sunday morning was a bit hit and miss. We could tow two cables directly to the launchpoint but the landing area was alternately firm and completely unstable depending on where you went.

The worst bits were coned off and with a very solid turn-out of members on the flying list, we began flying.

There was a little light rain around for a while but nothing we couldn’t work around. The post-frontal sky wasn’t particularly orderly but there was lift to be had with several pilots going off soaring early on in both the two seaters and the single seaters.

An early achievement flight was had by Ed who despite having flown most of the glass fleet had never solo’d a wooden glider. He launched solo in vintage K13 G-DCBW after a couple of check rides with Allan R.

Ed solo's his first vintage glider type

Club member Ed who has flown several 'glass' sailplane types and converted onto our Astir on Saturday, solo'd his first vintage glider type on Sunday.Ed flew solo in vintage K13: G-DCBW.#pilotlife #vintagegliding #aviation #sailplanes

Posted by Stratford on Avon Gliding Club on Monday, 23 April 2018

This adds to Ed’s achievement on Saturday when he moved onto his second single-seat sailplane type, the club’s Astir CS77.

Other pilots were getting their hand in both remembering how to or learning how to thermal depending on their experience level. The lift conditions were cycling frequently giving many opportunities.

Along with the whole club fleet, two private LS4s and a DG 300 were rigged and flown.

Next up for achievements was Ben E converting onto the club’s LS4 G-DEMG. 15 year old Ben flew his first glider solo with us on his 14th birthday and had flown both the club’s SZD Junior and the Astir as well as a few high performance two-seaters.

Junior Glider Pilot Ben E converts onto the LS4

Also on Sunday, 15 year old junior glider pilot Ben E converted onto Stratford on Avon Gliding Club's LS4 G-DEMG.Ben who solo'd with us on his 14th birthday is looking forward to being able to fly solo cross-country at the age of 16.#pilottraining #gliderpilot #sailplanes #juniorgliding

Posted by Stratford on Avon Gliding Club on Monday, 23 April 2018

Ben took several launches including soaring flights in the LS4 and commented that it is a fantastic aircraft to fly. 😎

With a number of pilots looking for field-selection practice, Mike took the club’s TMG for a short flight to test the field conditions but unfortunately it wasn’t quite firm enough for two-up use at the moment.

After briefing by instructor Mike, 15 year old junior glider pilot Emily converted onto the club’s Junior. Flying with us since the age of 13, the SZD 51-1 Junior is Emily’s first single-seat sailplane type.

Junior Glider Pilot Emily converts onto the Junior

Another first on Sunday was 15 year old junior glider pilot Emily's first flight in a single seat glider.She converted onto Stratford on Avon Gliding Club's SZD 51-1 Junior. Emily who started gliding with us at the age of 13 had several flights in the Junior including thermal soaring. 8-)#juniorgliding #pilotlife #aviation #sailplanes

Posted by Stratford on Avon Gliding Club on Monday, 23 April 2018

Hard to be sure if she liked flying single seaters as she took several launches and an extended soaring flight in an apparent effort to make up her mind 😉

Richard H also converted onto the club’s LS4 on Sunday. Having flown the rest of the fleet, Richard now has the LS4 available to him for local and cross-country soaring flights. The LS4 allows cross-country endorsed pilots to develop their task flying skills and also allows for competition flying.

Richard H converts onto Stratford's LS4

On Sunday, member Richard H converted onto Stratford on Avon Gliding Club's LS4. The all-composite LS4 is a high performance single-seat sailplane which allows cross-country development and competition flying for club members of Stratford on Avon Gliding Club.#pilottraining #competition #racing #aviation

Posted by Stratford on Avon Gliding Club on Monday, 23 April 2018

For pre-solo junior glider pilot Jenna, landings finally ‘clicked’ and she felt she’d made real progress flying with instructor Mike. Onwards to first solo!

The launch rate was steady throughout the day with few hold-ups. After 68 launches and a very long day, we were starting to feel it a bit but the enthusiasm for flying and the progress made by our pilots made it worth it!

Midweek Soaring – 7/3/18

We were lucky again and had a really good day with plenty of sunshine and some good flying for the time of year. The wind was around 10kts mostly from due west but later in the afternoon it did go round to south west and also became much lighter but it was never a problem. Showers were forecast but we were lucky and only had one and that was in the afternoon and it only lasted about 20mins, just enough time for a cup of tea. The glider retrieve was a little long winded but it worked well and we were on single cable all day.

Everybody flew and several had 2 or 3 flights. Dave C. had 47mins in the morning in the Junior and got to 3500′ and then Dave M. had another great flight of 63mins later in the afternoon, also in the Junior. Both came back to give others a go so the flights could both have been longer.

A good day and well worth the effort. Statistics are,

Total Launches………………26
Longest Flights………………63 min and 47 min well done to both of them.
Average Flight Time……….13 min
Total Flight Time………………5hr. 50min.

Steve P.

One-Five – Sunday 18th February 2018

The local TAFs were indicating an unflyable day for Sunday with low cloud and rain all afternoon. On the basis of the quality of previous forecasts, club members turned out to fly anyway.

Initial conditions weren’t far off forecast with mist at the airfield although you could see blue if you looked straight up. As our duty instructor Andy set off around the field to find somewhere usable to take-off and land, we readied the ground equipment and sailplanes for use.

Field set-up was one of our less common arrangements with the launchpoint at the top of the south-east stub runway and the winch as far around the track as we could get it for a maximum-length run albeit cross-wind.

The landing area was along the edge of the cross runway on a “One-Five” 150 degree heading marked on the right by the cross runway itself and on the left by a white sheet marker ~100m from the north fence . This marker indicated a “not before and not left-of” point to avoid the soft ground giving a total solid landing area of ~8x300m.

Displaced landing marker just visible left of the cross-track

In practice, the objective of rolling to a stop parallel to and just behind the launchpoint so that the aircraft could be pulled online by hand meant actual landing distances of <200m.

By morning briefing we had a keen bunch of solo and pre-solo pilots ready to fly. The newer pilots got to experience flying approaches across the north field onto what is a slight down-slope on “one-five” for the first time.

Launch heights weren’t the highest due to the short run and the negligible headwind component so actually getting from the top of the launch back to a high-key point south-east of the field for a left-hand circuit would pretty well deliver you to the circuit “on energy”.

All of the student pilots achieved a left-hand circuit although some less optimistic solo pilots took the easy option and shot right-hand circuits instead.

We opted early in the day for single-cable towout due to the soft areas of the field but the cable retrieve landrover decided to cut-out and have a day off. We re-tasked one of our glider retrieve vehicles to tow the cable out instead which worked rather well. A very brisk cycle of launches and landings meant the cable retrieve was in near continuous motion.

The weather proceeded to defy the forecasts with increasing visibility and cloudbase and no sign of rain. Although it was never going to get as good as the last couple of days, it was no hindrance to training flights.

SZD Junior Playing Around The Clouds

SZD Junior playing around the clouds at Snitterfield #gliding #sailplanes #aviation #pilots

Posted by Stratford on Avon Gliding Club on Sunday, 18 February 2018

Dave P and Archie managed to get four flights each in, Archie getting back into solo flying as did Bob. The unusual circuit allowed for approach-control demos including side-slip approaches. The quick manual landing-area clearances meant that the ‘alternate’ landing area along the eastern perimeter track was never used.

Phil C flew with Andy in GAG, training towards his P1 rating and possibly IFP rating which allows flying with other club members in the two-seat gliders.

Bingo and Geoff worked hard for most of the day over at the main hangar applying new paint to the structural metal to prevent long-term corrosion.

Around mid-afternoon Peter C finally joined the exclusive group of operators who can call themselves *real* winch drivers, an achievement we celebrated later at the Snitterfield Arms.

Despite the low visibility at the start of the day and single-cable ops, we managed to get 38 launches done, the majority of which were training flights for our student pilots.

A huge thanks to everyone who stayed late for the big team effort at the end of the day when we ran into trouble putting the kit away. Especially Bingo who provided the method and solution. We’d have been truly stuck without you.