Anastassia Goes Solo At SoAGC

On Sunday, our French member Anastassia flew her first solo glider flight at Stratford on Avon Gliding Club.

Anastassia was checked out during the day for her first solo flight by senior Stratford instructor Barry K.

Anastassia flew her first solo sailplane flight in Stratford Gliding Club’s K21 G-CGAG.

Anastassia Goes Solo At SoAGC

She said afterwards that she was thrilled to have been joined in a thermal by a red kite. She flew Round and Round with the soaring bird, a species which has recently colonised our rural airfield.

Well done Anastassia!

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.

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


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 😎

October Gliding from the LS4

Sunday was an unseasonably good soaring day and Peter C sent some air to air photos from his flight in Stratford Gliding Club’s LS4 G-DEMG.

Sutton Bank Expedition Report September 2016

56,000 ft: The sum of all the maximum height gains from Stratford members flights at Sutton Bank – the most successful week in almost a decade.

The first week of September sees the Stratford bi-annual club expedition to Yorkshire Gliding Club at Sutton Bank. This year was no different with over a dozen members from early solo to pundits with several thousands of hours making the pilgrimage, with one straggler from Trent Valley Gliding club.

K21 CubPhoto of a K-21 launching at Sutton Bank. Image courtesy of Sharon Kerby.

Sunday 4th September.

With cloud base at approximately 500 ft QFE the day seemed all but scrubbed. However, late afternoon the front moved through to reveal a clear evening sky. The first flight took off at 16:00. Barry Kerby kindly aero-tow checked Paul Mcauley, Keith and Rois Lorenz. Neil and Richard Croxford proceeded to have several aero-tow training flights.

Left: Neil Croxford and John Right: Rois Lorenz and Barry Kerby. Images courtesy of Jeffery Gale.

Tuesday 6th.

With the met office forecasting good wave all the pundits scrambled to their gliders, with the remaining Stratford pilots setting up the launch point. Neil Croxford and Andy Parish proceeded to have one of the first flights in the DG 500 and quickly climbed to 7000 ft QFE, only having to return on account of the large flying list.

Barry Kerby and Keith Lorenz were the first privateers to launch contacting well organised wave almost immediately after release from aero-tow, and quickly out climbed Neil and Andy in the DG 500. They subsequently went for a 4:30 minute tour around the Yorkshire countryside in 666 reaching FL 125 with ease, only having to stop the ascent due to an active airway.

Barry Kerby and Keith Lorenz in 666 at FL125. Images courtesy of Barry Kerby.

Hearing of the quick success over the radio of the club gliders and 666 Barry Monslow, Sharon Kerby, Jeffrey Gale, Paul Mcauley and Rois Lorenz all took aero-tows and contacted strong lift. Jeffrey Gale reached an impressive height of 7500 ft QFE were he captured some fantastic photographs.

wave_sutton_bank_asw20Picture from 7000 ft QFE. The Yorkshire Dales are just visible in the distance. Image courtesy of Jeffrey Gale

Wednesday 7th

Wednesday saw a southerly wind bringing unusual some strong lift. All the pundits had several hours local soaring. Paul Mcauley set a 100 Km cross-country task, set off early and made good progress on track. However, the weather was less favourable down south and he landed out safely at Pocklington and consequently had an aero-tow retrieve back to Sutton Bank.

Thursday 8th

Thursdays wind was SW at 20 knots gusting 30, a classic day for the ridge to work with the Met Office predicting wave. Keith Lorenz participated in a aerobatics course ran by George Rizk from Saltby and practiced some manoeuvres from the basic aerobatics badge syllabus.

Barry Kerby and Rois Lorenz took an early winch launch in 666 along with Jeffrey Gale in 643 onto the ridge which seemed to work well. This was followed by Sharon Kerby and Barry Monslow taking an aero-tow in an attempt to contact wave.

Keith Lorenz took a late aero-tow at 16:10 in 302. By this time most of the privateers had little success with the wave and had been forced back on the ridge taking the occasional thermal. Sharon Kerby successfully contacted wave just North of Lake Gormire and radioed her find. Sharon very quickly climbed to 7500 ft QFE and marked the way for other gliders. Following this Keith Lorenz contacted the same lift and climbed to 11,800 ft QFE in a large blue gap.

ls8_gliding_wave_panoramaPanoramic picture of the evening sky from 302. Image courtesy of Keith Lorenz

Keith Lorenz then subsequently pushed into wind in search of lift but it seemed to bottom at the same altitude as the previous wave bar. Conscious of daylight and strong winds on the surface Keith headed back home and landed at 19:10 missing out on his gold height by 120 ft.

evening_sky_wave_flightPicture of the evening sky from 302. Image courtesy of Keith Lorenz

News quickly spread of the successful week to members back at Stratford which prompted Chris Edkins to fly up from Wellesbourne in a PA32 Saratoga. He landed at Bagby at 19:00.

Left: A picture of Chris flying the Saratoga into Bagby. Right: Picture of the flight to Sutton Bank. Images courtesy of the Saratoga’s in flight photography system.

Friday 9th

Friday saw a strong SW wind with the Met Office forecasting some wave. Barry Kerby and Chris E took a high aero-tow in 666 and contacted ‘difficult’ wave and climbed 5000 ft to 9000ft QFE. In addition to this Barry Monslow and Jeffrey Gale had similar flights in UG and 643 respectively. Both taking high aero-tows and contacting ‘difficult’ wave and making solid progress.

Saturday 10th

All members de-camped. Chris E and others, flew back from Bagby to Wellesbourne in difficult conditions – nothing too difficult for a man with 1000’s of hours powered flying.

-Keith Lorenz

Flying Report 21/7/16

Cross-country wise, we’ve been trying to make the most of the taskable days presented to us. Today was another day that looked sufficiently taskable to result in a turnout of cross-country pilots.

The expectation was that the milky top-cover would be thin enough to allow an early thermal start followed by an early shut-off as the top cover thickened. The topmeteo and RASP forecasts were broadly in agreement and they turned out to be right.

General tasking was South-East as far as Aylesbury or Thame and then North East to Alcester with a leg back to Edgehill. Several 18M ships took this tasking along with a Duo Discus. The club’s 15M LS4 tasked shorter along the same line with an out-and-return from Bicester.

The 18M ships made their Southern turnpoints but on returning to the Stratford area were met by an overcast sky with scarce thermals. The club’s LS4 turned Bicester and made it back around the same time. Meanwhile Duo Discus 666 managed to get around the whole task by taking some pretty long glides through thermal-less areas to reach better climbs.

X/C pilots are now generally very quick to upload and score their traces after a day’s flying so the (h’cap) results look like this:

Barry K (with Mike) in Duo Discus 666: 229.9km @ 72.1kph – 1367pts
David M in LS4 G-DEMG: 106.9km @ 63kph – 692pts
Keith L in LS8 302: 149.7km @ 54.1kph – 671pts
Sharon K in ASW28 777: 143.3km @ 56.5kph – 652pts

Flying report 6/3/16

With Barry K and Steve P on duty, today saw climbs available from the very first launch. Plenty of embedded Cu to play with and at one point we had all of the two seaters aloft plus the Junior.

Speaking of which, we’ve now rigged the club K21 and several pilots have had refreshers on it including cable breaks (even if they didn’t want them).

A privateer syndicate rigged their Ka6E, the gorgeous 715. The lift reliability wasn’t good enough across the local area to task so club and syndicate aircraft stayed close to home. Some good climbs were achieved and durations of up to 43mins although we set a limit on the club ships of 30mins to get everyone flown.

In spite of a broken cable for a while, we achieved 32 launches with Tony M heroically driving the winch without relief for most of the afternoon.

The day ended with both the field roller and the winch getting stuck in the soft ground. Many of the day’s pilots retired to the Navigation Inn, Wootton Wawen for dinner.