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

Sutton Bank Spring 2016 Expedition Report

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

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

Preparing the Astir’s trailer before the journey

Preparing the Astir’s trailer before the journey

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

Neil C mastering the F-35

Neil C mastering the F-35

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

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

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

Sun setting over the Pennines

Sun setting over the Pennines

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

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

Duo landing at Sutton Bank

Duo landing at Sutton Bank

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

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

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