The occurrences and happenings at Shalbourne Soaring Society. A gliding club near Andover, Newbury and Hungerford.

The blog is changing!

The blog is now available directly on the homepage (down the bottom) and also at 

This page will close in a short while.

Sat 6th December

It was a beautiful winters day to go gliding, the morning's hard frost clearing to give blue skies and a gentle wind on the surface increased with height to give good high Shalbourne launches. So much so that the inevitable discussion about who had the longest flight broke out although there wasnt any lift around.

The frosty start also provided spirited launch point chatter, as I understand it this was the scene at Paul P's house

and Chris K's drive the the airfield was somewhat like this...

It was pretty nippy.

Lastly a big thanks for your understanding of my late arrival and early departure due to nursing duties.

Wednesday 3rd December

What a delightful day.  Sun was out, wind blowing from the north.  Launches of up to 2,200' were available (in the K8 and 2,100' in the K13).  Not quite enogh wind to get the ridge working reliaby but it did improve as the day progressed.  Rod H just pipped Bill O for longest flight honours with his 26 minutes.  Unlike Sunday when no one made double digit flight times there were 10 today (of the 26 launches).
This is what midweek flying is about - enjoyable flying, good company and donuts :)
The Skybrid winch was in use thanks to Peter E (plus helpers) - radiator leak on Saturday then removed, repaired, refitted and back online on Wednesday - pretty impressive.

Saturday 29th

The sun made a welcome appearance and tempted a lot of folks out for the day, including visits from a couple of former members.  John T brought his nephew along for a birthday treat.  Another chap (sorry, didn't get his name) who was a member 16years ago turned up in a Morgan.

With no head wind (and not much in any direction) launch heights were modest and no thermals so flight times limited.  Nobody managed to better (or even match) Rob J's 9 minutes in the K8.  Canopy misting delayed the start of flying and eventually put an end to the day.  We still managed to clock up 30 launches.  Rowland P converted to the K8.  As the afternoon progressed and the sun got lower we were treated to impressive shadows of the glider when coming into land.  The low sun and the murk, however, meant left hand circuits became necessary as visibility westwards was rather limited.
While most of us were enjoying the sun and a chance to get bums off the ground Colin B and Steve B were busy at the other end of the airfield "breathing life into the Pajero".

Saturday 15th Nov

..will be known for all time as the mid-November day when it was too hot to have a jumper on...
The early morning fog and cloud lifted/dispersed - or at least split so there was some space between... The sun shone through the broken strata of cloud and with virtually no wind - lightest of southeasterlies - it was warm and pleasant. And SOOOOO pretty - although you had to be careful as, in defiance of all logic, a bank of cloud built up on the approach which meant circuits could be interesting - or indeed impossible. Even Steve Barber was flummoxed as to how a lee ridge appeared to be throwing up ororgraphic, but those who flew can attest that it did it all day. At heights between 200' and 700'. If you have a suggestion as to what it was about, do share it. I don't know about anyone else, but I had a great time!

Re: Remembrance Sunday (9th)

Pete's image has a particular poignance for me. I flew my Silver Distance from Shalbourne to Tarrant Rushton in 1974. At that time nearing the end of its life as an active airfield. Now all that is left are the traces of runways on the ploughed fields.

Pete's picture shows Horsa and Hamilcar gliders about to be towed by Halifax bombers, six of the former being dispatched to the legendary operation at Pegasus Bridge.

Remembrance Sunday (9th)

We flew today because they did.

Saturday 1st November.....soaring season over?.........Nah!

Someone forgot to tell the weather that it was November and therefore there shouldn't be any thermals around apart from the warm clothing type!

Needless to say the Janus was duly rigged and launched into a sort of promising sky. Cloudbase was 1700ft and there were patches of broken lift which kept us aloft for around 20 minutes before a prolonged area of sink brought us back down again.

A while later the air mass had changed for the better and after releasing at 1600ft we sped to a likely looking cloud street over Fosbury and was rewarded with good lift which took us to cloudbase at around 3200ft. By running up and down the street we stayed airborne for around 1hr 20 mins during which time we encountered areas of good lift and strong sink (-8 knots in places!).

Another cracking day at Shalbourne but looking at the forecast for the rest of the week the weather has finally caught on to the fact that it is November after all :-)


Tailend of October

Decided lack of blog entries so I'll just do a brief summary of the days remaining in October.

Wednesday 22nd
Not a very promising looking day but second launch had Ken H with a double digit flight time (just). It was Bill O who set the time to beat with 29 minutes in the Puchacz and no one got near that.  Mind, out of the 28 launches there were 7 of them in the 10 to 20 minute band.

Saturday 25th
Duty instructor Bob B was kept busy in the back seat of 10 of the 28 launches of the day.  Rob J claiming "soaring god for a day" award with 15 minutes.  Always good to welcome a pilot from another club - this time it was a visitor from Booker.

Sunday 26th
Looking at the log it appears to have been the day for annual checks.  All, bar 2, of the 23 flights had Phil M or Carol P in the back seat.  The 2 solo flights were both flown by Nigel B and were the only ones to get into double digits (15 and 16 minutes).

Wednesday 29th
Low cloud so no flying.  After eating donuts (one of the benefits of Wednesday flying) boredom resulted in Peter M deciding to demonstrate the self-parking gizmo on his car.  A sheet of ply was propped up against the barbeque to simulate one car and Bill C (rather bravely the rest of us thought) offered his car to act as the second car.  A few loops around occurred before Peter's car could be persuaded to have a go but we finally got to see the car parallel parking while Peter waved hi hands in the air.

Sunday 19th Oct - The Winchdrivers are revolting...

Well! The day started - as forecast by the Met Office - with a howling crosswind. It was - as forecast by me - also thermic with great-looking streets showing evidence of wave influence. First launch with John proved it nicely soarable and indeed other soaring flights followed. However - also as forecast - the wind picked up and got gustier during the day, and in spite of our best efforts laying off as well as swapping the 'flying' cable chutes for the small ones, we were unable to keep the falling cables reliably clear of the electric fence. After the hard-working winch crew had retrieved one not terribly well laid-off cable from the trees and kit in Dingley Dell, and at who knows what personal cost had retied the sheep fence a few times (being unable to find the power source and turn it off!), they staged a revolt - a deputation came up to the control van and said it couldn't continue. So, for the first time I've known it in a westerly, crosswind limits made us scrub the day. Mike - who was sat in the glider ready for his first flight when we scrubbed - and Tony are at the top of the list for next time!

Saturday 11th October

Cloudbase on Saturday was initially a bit low and with the forecast of rain by mid afternoon many thought we were a bit daft to rig the Janus.

We took our first launch just as what appeared to be an very low but active street was passing diagonally over the winch and released along the downwind edge of it at around 1400ft. With one wing tip in the side of the cloud we cruised up and down the street in zero until eventually we hit sink and had to land but not until we had clocked up around 13 minutes.

Our second flight was a lot shorter as we had to abort the launch due to low cloud.

But our Third flight was a bit different...............

Cloudbase was starting to rise and soon after release we contacted a thermal which after some serious scratching took us to cloudbase at around 1500ft.

 During the flight Cloudbase rose significantly and the lift became more predictable meaning we could take in Andover and Newbury even reaching the dizzy heights of 3,000ft! During the flight we noticed a cloud street has set up over the hill to the south of the airfield and by flying along underneath it climbed without turning with 4.8kts showing on the averager travelling a distance of some 5k towards Thruxton.

It just goes to show that even in October conditions can be far better than forecasted and both of us were quite pleased with our 2hrs 20mins :-)


Wednesday 15th

The low cloud failed to lift before the rain arrived - at 14:00 exactly on the time forecast.  The few of us there helped Colin get the reserve winch back online and both winches under the shelter.  This involved returning the old hoist to Dingly Dell (apparently from where we originally acquired it).  This involved towing it with ballast over the rear wheels to reduce the chances of it tipping over.
Multi-tasking: driving and posing

More Multi-tasking: Driving and taking a picture

Sunday Extra

Here's the evidence of being above the cloud and the fog in the distance.

There was a lot of circuit bashing with no one breaking into double digit flying time until launch 25 (4 hours after the first launch) when Selvam clocked up 13 minutes.  Couple of launches later Rod matched it and a couple of launches after that Trevor squeezed an additional 2 minutes from somewhere.

Sunday 12th October

As often happens when fog fills the valleys, Rivar Hill kept its head above the clouds. The sun never quite broke through but visibility was 'CAVOK' with inbound Heathrow traffic in clear view below featureless top cover. Despite early canopy misting and Alan P's best efforts to obscure the entire airfield with bonfire smog, flying commenced in the late a.m.

The airfield had been well attended from an early hour, but the absence of a duty team presented Richard D with the unenviable challenge of running it with little experienced backup. So, resourceful as ever, RD sends an SOS to Stephen O who then conjures up the requisite crew in short order. And so it came to pass that electronic jungle drums brought forth a surfeit of helpers, with four instructors ensuring that everyone who needed back seat assistance got it with a minimum of delay. Even so, steady demand kept three two-seaters busy until late afternoon.

It started to rain as the hangar curtains were drawn. Thanks to everyone who answered the call.

Sunday 28th in Norfolk

Holiday time and an opportunity to slope off and visit the local gliding club.  This time it was the Norfolk GC at the massive WW2 airfield at Tibbenham.  What luxury, the classic A set of hard core runways, several hangars and a substantial club house complete with mains supplies, briefing room, bar and bacon butties (other refreshments were available).
The practice is not to use the cross runway (the horizontal line of the A) because its condition is not too great (looked fine to the casual observer).  This meant we had a 90 degree cross wind and with the launch point at the runway intersection, the result was launches of only around 1,000.  Lots of runway behind the launch point meant it was very easy to land behind the launch point (in fact effort had to be made to get back to the launch point).  Launching was from the grass alongside the runway and landing on the hard runway.  Some folks landed into wind on the grass alongside the cross runway.  Interestingly (to me at least) only radio was used for launching.  The launch point vehicle had lights but apparently rarely used.

Launch point
A fairly quiet day so it wasn't long before I was able to go for a site check with Andy the DI in their K21.  Prior to my flight only short circuits were being flown.  I found some weak lift and scratched away gaining a whole 50' at one point but only managed 14 minutes.  The Vega that took the next launch and joined us and was less wimpy than I was about the drift and took the longest flight of the day (by a very large margin) of just over 1 hour.  Slightly higher launch of 1,100' in the club's Astir but only a couple of turns in zero within reach.  Then it was time to blag a ride in the privately owned T21.
Launch point seen from a T21 - end of the day with 2 gliders being towed to the hangar
At the end of the day almost all those who had been flying lent a hand to derig the K21 ready to be sent off for its ARC.

Many thanks to the members of Norfolk GC who made me most welcome and offered me the chance to sample the delights of facilities at Tibenham - next time hopefully there will be more in the way of thermal activity.  It's not very often one gets the chance to move from a K21 to a T21.
The T21 is called "The Barge" by it's owners so just in case it lands on one of the broads

Saturday 27th September

A modest turnout but another very enjoyable days flying at Shalbourne, by close of play we had flown a reasonable 31 flights.

It was one of those days were some where treated to extended flights whereas others could only do circuits, all in the timing.

Not that these conditions worried Tim or me as we were having great fun (well I was!) doing his 5 year instructor checks. On one flight we did manage to contact good lift which took us to 3,400ft which enabled us to spin and spiral dive to our hearts content which meant that Tim was duly signed off again.

But we weren't the only ones to stay up, Steve Gaze got top honours with 1:15 in the K8 and despite a valiant effort Paul P managed a creditable 1:09 (also in the K8). Alan P was next with 1:07 flying  his Oly.

Charles McCallin took me back up to 3,400ft in JPC and with all that height we got plenty of exercises signed off in his progress card during our 48 mins aloft.

Congratulations go to Graham Tanner for completing his XC endorsement at Bicester recently, he only turned up so that I could sign his forms but he took little persuading in taking a flight in Puchacz!

Thanks to Nigel B for helping with the trial lessons and to Richard D for also lending a hand.

Oh and after its 100 hours check the Puchacz was tested and returned to service after the customary looping and VNE stuff by yours truly.


Wednesday 24th

Colin B had sent out an email telling folks not to be put off by the rain in the morning as soaring would follow - and soaring there was (well, unless you were the HAX boys taking a K13 for a series of circuits).  Paul B set the days time to beat on the 4th launch of the day with 1:08 in the K8.  That was topped by Jonty H with 1:10 (again in the K8).  Jonty was looking to get the spot landing entry on his post solo card signed off by landing in line with the launch point.  The assembled gentlemen enjoying the sunshine in the lee of the caravan debated as to whether his landing back at the empty launch point qualified as a spot landing as he must have been all of half a meter short - these boys can be hard to impress.
Looking for gliders at an empty launch point
Bill C took the honours for longest flight in the Vega with 54 minutes.  Longest K13 flight was Rowland with 44 minutes, gaining a bronze leg on his 5th (or there abouts) solo flight.  King of the castle was claimed by Paul Mc who topped out at 3,400' in the Vega.
Footnote: I suppose it's not really fair to pick out the HAX boys as you had to be a bit lucky with the timing of your launch.  Only 8 of the 23 launches managed more than 20 minutes.  I also have to appologise to Jonty H as I stripped him of his longest flight honours.  I only took the K8 as it seemed rude to leave it sitting when there was spare cable sitting next to it.  Mind, it took 900' of the 2,000' launch to find my first (weak) climb.

Sunday 21st

What a difference a change of air overnight makes.  Saturday those who turned played the "is that a pylon I can see" game through the murk.  Sunday, great vis and decent wind from the north with just a touch of east boding well for the ridge.  Unfortunately (?) the ridge lift got mucked up by the thermals.  Lots of members appeared needing the attention of an instructor - without Richard D's help I would never have got through the list.  Lots of trial lessons too, which kept Peter E busy.  The entire club fleet had a good airing.
Stewart R from The Park turned up with his Ventus being drawn by the favourable forecast.  After 3 hours he returned with tales of a couple of low scrapes on his way back from Oxford.  Phil M and Carol P disappeared in their Janus for a couple of hours but I didn't hear where they got to.  Bill C had a decent flight in his K6 but the private Puchacz seemed to have the knack of launching into the sink between the thermals.
Almost 19 hours flown off 45 launches and 29 people flew.  A busy and excellent day.  Thanks to all who helped out (special thanks to Chris K who did most of the winching despite felling ropey and did training of new winch drivers).

Radio Telephony Course

Just in case the Blog gets to places that Yahoo Groups does not reach. The first session of the FRTO Licence course starts on Wednesday at 18:30 in the club house.

Whether wanting to qualify as a certified radio operator,

qualified but need a refresher,

or just interested in how to use the field radio correctly,

 this course is for you!

All for only a fiver (to cover costs - any surplus to club funds). Don't worry if you can't make the start time, just turn up asap.

Wednesday 17th

Third Wednesday in a row where we've been "blessed" with an easterly crosswind.  Only difference this time was the touch of northerly and a lot more of it. The challenge of the day (other than dealing with a lively cross wind) was to get into a double digit flight time.  Sitting in the back seat with Jonty H flying, he declared he would do a gentle turn onto his high key.  The vario chirped and Jonty got stuck in.  Wrestling broken lift and drift he eventually got to 1,200' at which point the "hot spot" we kept returning to went cold (a chilly 4 down).  I did comment that if that was a "gentle" turn I would appreciate plenty of warning for a steep turn.  Nobody else came close to Jonty's 23 minutes but there were another 5 (of the 26) that achieved double digits.
Interestingly (?) we did one more launch and 2 more minutes than Sunday and 15 people flew on both days.

Sunday 14th

Rob S had organised a photography group to fly alongside normal club operations and the following note was received from the group's organiser Paul (link to the photos will be added once received).

I just wanted to say a big thank you to you and everybody else who helped make last weekend’s gliding and photography day one of the best events we have had this year. Everybody really loved the flying, despite some initial apprehensions, and we were made so welcome that ii felt like were out with old friends. So please pass my thanks to everybody from the club who helped look after us.
I am trying to get a selection of photos and videos together from the day, and will try an set up an album somewhere (probably on facebook) for you to access. I will send you details when this is done.
Once again, many thanks to all at the gliding club from all of us in the photography club.

Wednesday 10th

Another Wednesday, another day with a 90 degree cross wind from the east.  This time Colin had promised soaring and soaring we got.  What we didn't get was great vis.  It was one of those days when the higher you climbed the smaller area you could see.
Apparently the day started with a bit of a double act preparing the winch.  It was decided to replace two joins close to each other with just a single join.  Joins replaced and it was found that the drums had been left engage so there was lots of loose cable on the other drum.  In sorting that cable fell off the other drum and the quickest way to sort the tangle was to cut out the new join (I was asked to recount that tale by one of the participants).
Flying did get started shortly before midday and the first 8 flights all enjoyed some soaring (between 26 minutes and 1:56).  Next 7 launches were just circuits and after that most were soaring flights.  After having one of the 7 circuits, off my second launch I made straight for a likely looking cloud over Ham.  The reading on the averager just kept getting better and from 2,000' to 4,000' (cloud base) it never went below 6 and peaked at 7.  After that the averager never got much above 2 up.
Longest flight honours went to Paul McG with 2:04 in the Vega.  With 35 launches we were somewhat behind Sunday's exceptional number of launches but the flying time was more than double that of Sunday's.  If you exclude the longest flight on each day then Wednesday's flying time was 3 time that of Sunday's.
It was also a day for a small gathering of folks who were members many moons ago.  Tony P rejoined after a lapse of about 25 years.  Adam C visited after a similar period away.  He was recently in Poland at the World championships as New Zealand's team captain and now taking time to visit old friends in the UK.  Adam and Colin had fun when Adam went as ballast in the Puchacz when Colin decided that the quickest way to get the Pauchacz to the back of the grid (as nobody was waiting to fly it at that time) was to launch and throw it about.  Adam got his own back in a K13 when he headed for the only cloud on offer competition pilot style.  The other person with a long gap between being a member was Jonty who flew at the club before Tony or Adam's time - but that was done sitting on his father's lap.
Adam C back "home" at Rivar Hill

Sunday 7th September 2014

Not what you would call a great soaring day but certainly flyable and very well attended. I know I make a lot of noise about the lack of enthusiasm some times but on Sunday there couldn't easily have had more enthusiasm from more members. The parking area on the field looked like the M25 on a bad day and the flying list was as long as I have seen it for a long time. There were several pre-booked TLs and more turned up on spec. No one left without  a flight, Nigel did a sterling job and I managed to fit in one extra for someone who was getting ready to leave due to a longish wait. Stephen O helped with the flying list and check flights and everyone flew although there wasn't much soaring (unless you count Colin in the LS3 at 3 hours plus). Final tally was 50 launches and the Plough was well and truly open by the time we had packed up. Stephen had a little look at the stats and apparently we manage 50+ launches on one day each year, however, if this level of enthusiasm can be maintained we could manage it again this year. Thanks to all who stayed and worked so hard to keep the field running smoothly and well done Selvam for getting cleared for solo winching.

Special blog header

for one day only to commemorate all Colin's and others hard work on manufacturing the pitched trailer cover and ensuring we have a serviceable 2 seater trailer now and for the future.

Wednesday 3rd

A slow start, even for a Wednesday, yielded some extended flights for those patient enough to wait for the morning mist to clear. Alternate patches of sunshine and overcast limited soaring time and out of three gliders that were rigged two managed and hour or so. The exception was EEF which steadfastly deigned not to soar in such poor conditions, sulking around the circuit instead. Nonetheless we managed to fill two log sheets and do some useful stuff, most useful of which was Rowland going solo, well done! (Especially for providing a good excuse for an evening tipple.)

Many thanks to Peter E and Stephen for helping out with TLs and other stuff. It would have been difficult to manage otherwise.

And by the way:

"The ASW 15 had just entered the full climb of a winch launch when its pilot saw the helicopter approaching. The Board highly commended him for his lookout; presence of mind and subsequent actions."

Thus recorded the UK Airprox Board on the prompt action taken by Steve Barber in avoiding a collision with an overflying helicopter.

Saturday 30th

Another day with a very modest turnout.  The stiff 90 degree cross-wind and the forecast of a better day on Sunday probably explained why only 7 folks flew on Saturday but 20 flew on Sunday.  Number of launches (and number of folks flying) was the same as Wednesday but this time cloud base was 3,700'.  The cross wind meant modest launch height and therefore there wasn't much time to find a reasonable climb (i.e. climb rate>drift rate).  Rowland very kindly took most of the short flights and the rest of us had some reasonable soaring.  I claimed longest flight time with 56 minutes - which included a little help from the western ridge, the first time I have ever found anything there.

Wednesday 27th

Not exactly a promising day with complete cloud cover and a south-easterly.  Not many folks in attendance with some of the regulars at Sutton Bank and of those there Colin B was getting the club trailer into a usable state and the HAX boys were busy fettling.  We threw a K13 into the air for a weather check and I was able to report cloud base at 1,600' - which just happened the be launch height.  After a couple of hours the cloud base got lower and it was time to put the toys away - besides there's a limit to how many 5 or 6 minute flights one wants to take.  A modest 11 launches.

Sunday 31st August

Good soaring conditions along with a light WNW wind gave us plenty of extended flights and produced many in excess of an hour.

Chris B in his LS7 set off to the west getting as far as Westbury Chimney before the approaching sea breeze stopped him from venturing any further. Unfortunately Chris managed to get back which was a shame as I was looking forward to making use of my fully charged video camera so that I could take revenge for him filming Carol and I's land out at Urchfont the previous weekend :-(

Despite a flight time of 3:08 this was not the longest flight of the day as Trevor, flying his Jantar, clocked up a very respectable 3:38 on his flight to Swindon........almost landing out I hear.

Cirrus pilots Rob Jarvis and Chris Keating flew HAX for 2:15 and 1:24 respectively whilst Paul Prentice, Steve Gaze and James Walters had over the hour each in the K8 and Vega.

Uncharacteristically some of the shortest flights of the day were flown by Liz but as I was putting her through her 5 yearly instructor checks and I was suffering from a bout of yellow bungitis I suppose Liz could be forgiven :-) Glad to say that after the customary exercises a signature in her logbook was duly applied. I would like to point out that the offer of an XC flight in the Duo Turbo next weekend did not affect the outcome at all!

Between the first flight at 10:47 (only cut short when the winch started moving towards the launching Puchacz) and the last at 18:19 we clocked up an quite reasonable 38 launches totalling about 21 hours 45 minutes.

All in all a very enjoyable day.

Saved by the Comps – a Rather Bendy 100K

As recounted in Chris's ribald tale, Saturday met promised much but delivered somewhat less. I launched just before Phil and Carol and climbed away, bemused by the 'ground fumbles' thwarting their attempts to get airborne. By the time they launched I was at 3500 QFE and heading west – so just for once didn't have the frustration of chasing a mystically buoyant Janus disappearing into the distance. The nominated task was round the Danger Area, but the sky didn't look like it would it would permit such an endeavour (at least not in an LS3 with me flying it at half past one in the afternoon). A top up at Burbage found me going like the clappers to keep out of a cloud street and shooting past Pewsey with little loss of height. The sky ahead said 'proceed at your peril', but a couple of 'kamikaze kids' from Lasham who I had been watching diving earthwards into the distance suddenly zoomed up over Devizes. So, the sky being less threatening behind than in front, the possibility of a stock 100k presented itself.

So in and out of Devizes and straight into a rain shower. To the north east, Marlborough was invisible under a deluge, so the only option was back the way I had come. Unfortunately the cloud street that had delivered me with such dispatch was now drifting over the Danger Area, so the return trip saw me scraping along the red line under the overcast in what little good air there was left behind. At Upavon just enough height for a straight glide back into Rivar. Then glory be! - a hang glider thermalling in a small pool of sunshine. Arriving just beneath him each climbing turn pushed me too close for comfort, so there followed an asymmetric gavotte requiring much effort but yielding little in return. Then right on cue another couple of kamikazes pulled up in a thermal close by; so join them and back up to the comfort zone. By now there were three deluges in sight, east, west and south and all the time a wall of of water creeping towards Wantage. But having chickened out once, I owed it to reliable old EEFy not to wimp back into Rivar without at least a bit of effort.

A line of cumulus had developed towards Newbury and a gaggle appeared over Vernham Dean. While there's life there's hope! So top up with the gaggle and head north ahead of the storm. The 'old reliable' thermal at Hungerford provided impetus to keep going and a solitary Cu under the overcast near Brightwalton delivered a welcome 4kt. Then a race against the rain to get to Wantage and stay dry, a final distant thermalling glider leading me home for tea.

I have to record my gratitude to the Lasham young bloods who marked most of the thermals on this most unusual flight and condolences to those who suffered the Icarian fate in the fields below. Their contribution to my enjoyment was immeasurable. (Even if they scared the bejazus out of me every time they set my Flarm flashing scarlet!)

Sutton Bank Slingsby week


Sunday 24th.  A light WNW’ly that slowly backed into the WSW as a ridge of high pressure moved in provided good soaring conditions that made for an excellent  start to  Slingsby and Vintage Rally week, the resultant demand at the launch point being satisfied by the operation of 3 tugs and yielding a 21st century record for ATs from Sutton Bank in a day, 70 being flown.  At least one  of the The Slingsby/Vintage week visitors had obviously come straight from  a tropical holiday as the following photo shows
but, more appropriately dressed he and his compatriots were soon spending  their air time exploring the local area.  Some ventured overhead the former Slingsby works at Kirbymoorside, while some went further east to Pickering, north to the Tontine and/or west to Thirsk and Topcliffe, personally contributing to the 41 flights by private owners as well as the  40 flights that exceeded an hour and even the 16 that exceeded 3 hours... [snip]

I was tim who wasnt steve whilst nigel was peter (sunday 24th august)

I think everyone else who turned up was themselves and pretty much every flight stuck apart from the first 2 and Nigel in the K8, but no shame in that, he only flew it because he'd flown and soared the entire fleet upto that point and felt it would be rude not to aviate in dha.

Chris managed to defeat the karma of the previous post and didnt land out and Tony learnt why we lookout all the time and especially behind the upper wing before coming out of a turn, having shared a gaggle climb with a bunch of junior champs pilots.

Heading Westerly in a Westerly...Lambourn, Melksham and back.

Having watched Carol & Phil landing back, reciprocal, having found a world of sink on their short foray I wondered at Pete's decision to take a launch. He took off in 737; I followed a few minutes later on the second wire in B1 thinking it was a nice day for a circuit.
As it happened there was lift; he was thermalling in better air (as well as thermalling better) than me with a 3.5 knot average climb compared to my 2 knot. Fifteen minutes later and 4k higher Pete struck out on the task, first TP Lambourn, not too far but with challenging conditions it made the leg difficult.
I decided to  top up a little at Hungerford, Pete blasted on turning Lambourn, only stopping halfway between Lambourn and Marlborough after the TP. The wind was about 25 km/h and any progress toward Melksham was painfully slow.
Stopping was counter-productive as the gain in height was quickly outweighed by the distance pushed back in anything other than the strongest of thermals.
I climbed again near Ogbourne St George but was blown back 4km. By the time I got to the same point on task I had only gained a measly 400 feet and Pete was 12km ahead and only 400 feet lower.
Our track took us both independently through Marlborough and to the South of our line but the sky looked better as did the clouds.
As we headed West we both aimed at Devizes which always seems to offer and produce a free ‘get out of jail’ card. Pete took a few turns and headed for Melksham. I took a couple of weak climbs that I shouldn't have, but being down to 1900 QFE I was starting to worry about finding any lift. By this time the wind had increased to 35 km/h and Pete was nearly 10km ahead but in the weeds at 1200 QFE. Still, the saving grace for both was that Keevil were throwing gliders into the sky so a safe landing there was now an option.
Pete got a small climb over Melksham, turned the TP and headed downwind and back to Rivar. He pulled ahead and was 11km in front, I stopped for a top-up at Devizes where I got enough to think about a final glide with 30km to go. Pete topped up at Manningford, 17km out, 1600 feet QFE.
By East Grafton we were neck and neck, Pete running in at 160km/h while I was edging towards him at 180km/h, 800 feet and 5km to go.
I passed Pete just 3km out, he was higher (well 800 feet higher than me) to my right. I only just nipping past him, by the time I got to the airfield I was 400 above it. I turned in and landed.(final turn 10/10, >300 feet. Circuit 1/10.

I was lucky, Pete wasn't trying….


Task week scores

I have finally managed to devise a scoring system:

24, 18, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 to the top pilots on each day. days are sorted on XC ladder points and then soaring time >10mins. Soaring time only gets half points.

sat1 - 9Aug14
P1 P2 Glider Takeoff Flight Time Points
Phil Morgan Carol Pike EOW 13:03 03:43 24
Chris Bessent FYW 13:06 00:00 18
Pete Smith 737 12:31 04:06 16
Jim Clarke John Douglass JPC 14:55 01:22 7
Stephen Ottner EEF 15:27 01:11 6
Mark Patterson EGF 12:47 01:07 5
Jim Clarke Paul Bradley JPC 12:49 00:57 4
Richard Dann EEF 14:07 00:54 3
Stephen Ottner Mike Garner HCF 13:48 00:49 2
Stephen Ottner Jodie Bradley HCF 12:35 00:41 1
Claire Willson JNG 13:29 00:41 1
weds - 13Aug14
P1 P2 Glider Takeoff Flight Time Points
Pete Smith 737 15:54 00:45 12
Phil Morgan Carol Pike EOW 13:29 00:14 9
Alan Holden JDR 15:33 00:12 8
fri - 15Aug 14
P1 P2 Glider Takeoff Flight Time Points
Claire Willson JNG 14:46 00:18 12
sat2 - 16Aug14
P1 P2 Glider Takeoff Flight Time Points
Chris Bessent FYW 12:26 02:09 24
Pete Smith 737 12:31 02:31 18
Alan Holden JDB 12:40 02:00 8
Stephen Ottner EEF 16:08 01:45 7
Colin Baines EEF 12:52 01:35 6
Carol Pike Phil Morgan EOW 13:36 01:23 5
Nigel Burt Jeremy Knight HCF 12:44 01:16 4
Steve Barber HZD 13:25 01:12 3
Ken Reid EGF 15:15 01:10 2
Richard Dann Alex Rawlins JMX 15:53 00:48 1

so the total points is....

Pete Smith 46
Chris Bessent 42
383 38
Alan Holden 16
Claire Willson 13
Stephen Ottner 13
Colin Baines 6
Mark Patterson 5
Jeremy Knight 4
Richard Dann 3
Steve Barber 3
Ken Reid 2
Mike Garner 2
Alex Rawlins 1
Jodie Bradley 1
isnt that a surprise ;-) (but as they say in the exam hall RTFQ)

by XC points

Pilot Glider Points
Chris Bessant B1 1185
Pete Smith 737 1070
Carol/Phil 383 650

STOP PRESS - Due to new European rules a winner cannot be declared as that is elitest and unharmonised and so the amended results are as follows
Pilot Position
Alan Holden =1 Certificate of attendance
Alex Rawlins =1 Certificate of attendance
Ben Purton =1 Certificate of attendance
Carol Pike =1 Certificate of attendance
Chris Bessent 2nd Must try harder
Claire Willson =1 Certificate of attendance
Colin Baines =1 Certificate of attendance
James Walters =1 Certificate of attendance
Jeremy Knight =1 Certificate of attendance
Jim Clarke =1 Certificate of attendance
Jodie Bradley =1 Certificate of attendance
Justin Butler =1 Certificate of attendance
Ken Reid =1 Certificate of attendance
Mark Patterson =1 Certificate of attendance
Mike Garner =1 Certificate of attendance
Nigel Burt =1 Certificate of attendance
Paul Bradley =1 Certificate of attendance
Paul Prentice =1 Certificate of attendance
Pete Smith =1 Certificate of attendance
Peter Ellison =1 Certificate of attendance
Phil Morgan =1 Certificate of attendance
Richard Dann =1 Certificate of attendance
Rob Jarvis =1 Certificate of attendance
Rowland Pantling =1 Certificate of attendance
Selvam Mudaliar =1 Certificate of attendance
Stephen Ottner =1 Certificate of attendance
Steve Barber =1 Certificate of attendance
Steve Gaze =1 Certificate of attendance
Stuart Thackray =1 Certificate of attendance
Trevor Greenwood =1 Certificate of attendance