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.



Wind, Hail & Soaring – Sunday 11th Feb 2018

Wind, Hail, Soaring and climbs to 3,800 feet…

Every forecast except UKMO said the conditions would be flyable on Sunday but overnight rain put a big question mark over the usability of the field.

Members were on site from 0745 getting kit out and when the CFI arrived, we sent him out on the airfield, tasked with finding us something dry-ish to fly from 😉

We set up an unusual field configuration. With the winch at the west end and the launchpoint on the SE stub, the landing area was marked out with our new ‘hi-visibility’ technique between the clubhouse and the cross-track parallel to the north fence. This gave us a 20x200m landing area, easily achievable in the ~25kt westerly wind. With this area of the field being solid enough to support the aircraft, they could then be retrieved south down the hard runway.

We kicked off with a K13 and the Junior as the club’s K21 was parked at the back of the hangar and we wanted to test the load-bearing ability of the airfield. Pre-solo and early solo members requiring checks had their mettle tested by conditions that were generally described as ‘sporting’. Launch heights were excellent and there were early soaring flights in the Junior. The K21 came on line in the late morning to pick up the demand for instructional flying while the wind strength increased somewhat.

The density of the cumulus cover increased until it became apparent that there were wintry squalls around. The darkness of some areas of cloud bottoms suggesting cumulonimbus in places. Thankfully, the squalls were going around us so we could keep the launches going.

Our luck couldn’t hold out forever however and a fast-developing local squall appeared just north-west of us. A recently-landed K13 beat a hasty retreat back to the relative shelter in front of the hangar and the cable retrieve Land Rover abandoned it’s normal duties and sprinted across the field to provide shelter to the K21 as it arrived back in the landing area.

Wind & Hail Aviators

Lots of wind, some light hail and some pretty good climbs today for the pilots at Stratford on Avon Gliding Club. #pilots #sailplanes #soaring

Posted by Stratford on Avon Gliding Club on Sunday, 11 February 2018

The squall brought in a significant increase in wind strength and light sleet/hail so the landed K21 held position behind its Land Rover shelter for quarter of an hour. Even before the squall had gone through, it was apparent that conditions beyond still looked good so as the hail dissipated and the wind reduced, the K21 was towed back on-line to launch. As we launched the K21, the K13 was brought back on-line from the hangar area so we could continue around the flying list a second time.

As well-developed streets of cumulus passed over the field, Dan took pre-solo junior glider pilot Jenna up as a passenger in the K21. Contacting strong lift, they had a soaring flight of over half an hour, encountering lift as strong as 6 knots and peaking at 3,800feet AMSL.

The sky-scape in the mid afternoon had it all with cumulus formations, distant squalls and sunrays playing across the landscape below.

Towards the end of the day, another fast building squall developed just upwind of the airfield. Coupled with fading light and the expediencies of airmanship, we decided it was the last flight and took the aircraft back to the hangar for a wash-down.

From a doubtful start, to an awesome flying day. Well worth the launches 😎

Wednesday 7th February 2018 Flying Report

We had a great day yesterday with pretty well wall to wall sunshine. It was cold first thing but was not too bad later on. We had a blue sky all day with just some high cloud later on in the afternoon. It was thermic during the afternoon with some long flights for the time of year. We managed a two cable tow out all day on the north side of the field with no problems but on the south side there were a few soft patches but they were not a problem.

Statistics are as follows,

Total Launches……………………28

Longest Flight…………………….54 mins. Well done to Dave J. who took a day off work, well worth it.

Second and third longest……..24 mins and 23 mins. Well done to John H. and Phillip C. with 24 and to Barry M. with 23. The 3 longest were all done in the Junior.

Total Flight Time………………….4 hrs. 50 min.

Average Flight Time…………….10 mins. First time in double figures this year.

Steve P.

2018 Flying Season Starts

Two weeks into the New Year and three weeks since we last operated the airfield at Snitterfield, we are flying again at Stratford on Avon Gliding Club.

The weather towards the very end of 2017 was unkind and our airfield became water-logged meaning we were unable to launch from our grass.

Finally, on Saturday we were able to find sufficient dry areas to set up a workable field with the launchpoint at the western end. Although pretty chilly and with only moderate but VFR visibility, a decent turnout of members, all keen to fly managed a tentative first 21 launches.

Sunday saw a similarly good turnout of eager members who operated from the same dry areas of the field in similar although less windy conditions. The landing areas were marked out with sheeting and what may be the first valid use of hi-vis workwear on a glider field 😉

2018-season-startDespite having to operate from the far end, single cable operations and only three gliders in use (two 2-seaters + the Junior), the Sunday crew managed a stonking 40 launches including aerobatic flights and mandatory precision landings.

Well done to Bob who made his conversion to the K13 (yes, really) on Sunday and thanks to all the members who made on-the-spot surface repairs to the field and put effort into cleaning the (relatively un-muddied) aircraft after flying.

As flying and field conditions hopefully become suitable, we look forward to being able to resume visitor flying.

Our 2018 Flying Season has finally begun.

Flying Report 5/12/17

We had a good day today with the wind as expected from S.W. to West and just enough to give us launches to 1700′. It stayed dry all day with a cloudbase of around 3000′.

Unfortunately we did not get much sun but it was nice when it occasionally did show itself. The visibility was however very good, not only could we see Bredon Hill and the Malverns very clearly you could also see the Black Mountains in south Wales !

We started to fly nice and early and it was just as well we did as the winch had a wrap up later in the afternoon which took a long time to clear. Many thanks to those who stopped behind to make sure it was all clear and repaired for the weekend. It did take a long time and it was dark before the winch came back to be put away.

There were 2 flights of note, both in the Junior.


Total Launches……………………..20

Total Flight Time……………………2 hrs. 34mins.

Longest Flights……………………..13mins. Well Done to Dave C. closely followed by Bob H. who had 11mins.

Average Flight Time………………..7 mins.

Thanks to Tony P. for running the day and getting us going early, it really pays off when the days are short.

Steve P.

Flying Report Tuesday 28/11/17

We had a great day today and the weather was very kind to us. The wind was just as expected with a gentle WNW. first thing and then slowly veering to the North West during the day. It did increase to around 15kts but was never a problem so we were able to operate from outside the clubhouse all day.

Early on there was some cloud about and we could see showers out to the West and to the North but it soon cleared to a beautiful blue sky autumn day. We stopped for lunch as Charlie unexpectedly brought one of his delicious curries, it was as always “Delicious” thanks Charlie.

There were plenty of members there and we were kept busy all day, we stayed dry all day and although it did cloud over a little around lunch time by the time we had finished lunch it was a blue sky again and so it stayed for the rest of the day. We had no problems with the canopies misting and as we were landing on 33 even the low sun was not a problem, so we flew until the sun went down. Great day and well worth the effort.


Total Launches……………….23.
Total Flight Time………………3 hrs. 6 mins.
Average Flight Time…………8 mins.
Longest Flight…………………18 min. Very well done to John H. in the Junior, an exceptional flight in very light conditions. Well ahead of everyone else.

Steve P.

Sunday 26/11/17 – Wave Contact at Snitterfield

Sunday was a really chilly and frosted start but we had a solid turn out of members. The airfield was set-up up for operations by 0910 and we were briefing by 0930.

We had to wait a short while after briefing for misted aircraft canopies to clear but we were soon flying. The whole fleet was flying and we rigged K-21 G-CGAG as it completed it’s ARC maintenance.

Despite the Met Office F214 showing strong upper winds, there was no MTW forecast on the F215 for our area. After a blue start, there was a gradual procession of lenticular clouds towards us from the welsh mountains and by mid-afternoon, some gliders had contacted weak wave conditions gaining small climbs. The longest flight was 22 minutes and the maximum launch height was available by winch due to the steady wind velocity.

We were lucky at the end of the day as the canopies remained clear allowing the last flight which was flown by our CFI who took a junior member along as a passenger to land about 10 minutes after local sunset.

49 launches in total at this time of year is not to be sniffed at! 😉

Flying Report Sat 11th / Sun 12th November

Saturday’s forecast suggested it would be flyable after the clearance of a second front heading south. However, we were initially greeted by rain and low-cloud followed by low cloud that reported higher at met stations north of us and then, frustratingly lower.

We decided to hang on until after 1200 when the first front went by and somebody caught sight of just a bit of blue sky. The remaining band of willing pilots readied and launched the two-seaters just as the second front was passing. The second front was tame with a high-enough cloudbase and it couldn’t stop us as we provided training flights for our ab-initios and early solo students. Due to a short-ish flying list by the time we started, we were able to go round the list twice for instructional flying.

Sunday looked rather better forecast wise from the get-go although the wind promised a cross-field stiff blow. We set up on the south stub as early as we could and got to flying after our CFI Steve gave us a demo of parachute operation (using an expired chute) in the morning briefing.

It was really a bit parky and it paid to wrap up warm (or bag the job of driving the cable retrieve which has a good heater!) Some of our members appeared to go into their winter hibernation states at the launchpoint but we had enough heroes to keep the operation going. We made good enough progress that we were able to offer the student pilots extra flying towards the end of the day and the instructors put solid effort into making sure everyone was satisfied!

39 launches in all for Sunday.

Flying Report 10/11/17

Yesterday was just as predicted with wall to wall sunshine, it was a little cold first thing but soon warmed up to a reasonable temperature. The cloud did increase around lunch time but quickly dispersed to give us a clear afternoon. We had a busy day with all 3 two seaters working for most of the time. A special thanks to Allan W. who stepped in at short notice to help out with instructing as we were down to one instructor before Allan agreed to help out. We certainly made good use of him!

Well done to Derek H. who was cleared to fly the K21 solo and then proceeded to have the longest flight of the day in it. No mean feat in very light conditions. It stayed dry all day but we finally had to stop flying when the canopies started to mist up.

A really good turnout meant all the Mince Pies (sorry but Tesco and Sainsbury’s had sold out of Doughnuts) went early on and every one who wanted too flew. And finally many thanks to Charlie who brought down one of his excellent curries. He has promised to bring down a vegetable one next time, this will be great as some of our members are vegetarian so cannot enjoy the usual ones.

Statistics are……….

Total Launches……………………….32
Total Flight Time………………………4 hrs. 02mins.
Longest Flight…………………………17mins. Well done to Derek in the K21, he was closely followed by David S in the Junior and Nigel M. in C.B.W. well done to them all.
Average Flight Time………………….7 mins. This included several S.C.B.s.

Steve P.