Soaring into September – Sunday Flying Report

We had a fantastic flying day on Sunday which was the first day of meteorological Autumn.

Members were on site getting the ground equipment out from 0800. The morning briefing was packed with club members as well as visiting pilots from other clubs. It became apparent at the briefing that there were a lot of instructional flights required as well as trial-lessons and check-flights.

The instructor team had their work cut out for them and all three two seaters (2x K21, 1x K13) saw full utilisation throughout the day.

Catherine J, a former member and now visiting pilot based at Portmoak, Scotland volunteered to start as launch point marshal for us. With ruthless efficiency she got a high launch rate and kept the instructional flights in order. In fact, she spent very nearly the entire day organising launch operations, achieving 57 launches by the end of the day.

Junior members launching a glider

The actual soaring conditions, as so often has been the case in the summer season were mixed. We had a solid wind of around 20 knots aloft combined with thermals, showers, blue holes and sometimes good cumulus. The occasional passing shower mostly went around us.

A couple of intrepid pilots planned and launched on short cross country flights but despite their best efforts had to fly back to Snitterfield without having completed due to cross-country conditions. At least they tried!

The last two launches were Stratford’s based K21 trainers on member’s mutual flights. Initially scratching away over the winch, both gliders climbed away together, ultimately attaining over 3,000feet in height after 1800 in what was, by then, somewhat calmer air.

The last K21 landed well after 1830 local to end what was a very productive flying day.

Four More February Flying Achievements for SoAGC

We had four more flying achievements in February this year…

Junior glider pilot Ben L converted onto the club’s Astir CS77 G-FECO which is his first retractable-undercarriage and ballast-capable sailplane type.

John H converted onto the club’s LS4 G-DEMG.

David R converted onto the club’s SZD Junior G-CHDB.

David P re-soloed with us at SoAGC in K-13 G-DCBW.

Well done to all of our pilots!

Ed flys his first glider solo at Stratford Gliding Club

Congratulation to Ed who flew his first sailplane solo flight at Stratford on Avon Gliding Club on Sunday!

Ed who is an experienced PPL (powered aircraft) pilot flew his first glider solo in Stratford’s K21 training sailplane G-CGAG. Ed’s daughter Emily, acting as launchpoint controller launched him on his first glider solo and later met and congratulated him upon landing.

As the 2017 badge ladder is now closed, Ed has taken joint 1st on the 2018 badge ladder ranking with recent solo pilot Bob.

Ed was tested and authorised for his first sailplane solo by senior Stratford instructor Barry K who also authorised Ed’s daughter’s first solo flight last month.

Archie, Emily, Alistair & Bob solo the K21 at SoAGC

Well done to Archie, Emily, Alistair and Bob who all solo’d in K21s at Stratford on Avon Gliding Club over a fantastic weekend of flying achievement.

Our junior sailplane pilots Archie, Emily & Alistair originally trained and flew their first solos in our vintage ‘wood’ K13 glider. The K21 type is their first, modern ‘glass’ (fibre-reinforced composite) two-seat trainer which they are now cleared to fly solo.

Next stop for them is our glass single-seater fleet, the Junior, Astir & LS4.

Bob also flew his first ever sailplane solo flight in Stratford’s K21 G-CGAG.

An honourable mention for Dave G who was also authorised solo on the K21 although he is already flying our glass single-seaters.

Many thanks to duty instructors Andy S on Saturday & Mike C on Sunday who flew the checkrides and authorised the new K21 pilots. Many thanks as well to all of the club members who turned up and helped make the weekend work.

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.