Thursday 25th May


Another gorgeous North Hill morning, with wall-to-wall blue skies and warm sunshine and no wind to speak of, but what was this from the guys setting up the launch point? - it's a bit windy at the other end! Once again the 'North Hill micro-climate' was causing a challenge. Disappointingly a blue/yellow flag fluttered most of the day with large amounts of turbulent conditions and heavy sink at times. 
2-seat training continued with extra experience being gained by all, and Aston Key ( the only Blue card pilot present ) got the longest flight  in the Junior off the winch of 21 minutes finding a usable thermal off the point, but having headed back up wind found 6 down everywhere.  There was a call from one of the aerotows about some wave, but difficult to use in the blue. - J&P


And in the evening.......
A trial lesson evening for the Air Cadets tonight went very well despite the almost blue conditions. There were 10 to fly and after an inital flight with James we warned them that they might not get value for money as the flights would be short and unlikely they would get to have a go at the controls. The wind was South Easterly and quite turbulent at times but we achieved flights with everyone and they all went away very happy. James and Stirling had the last flight of the day with a little bit of planned turbulence upside down and hangar landing.
James & Stirling for hangar flight (Lisa Humphries)
On the way home the sunset was just too good not to stop for a picture.

Sunset in Devon (Lisa Humphries)
All in all a lovely evening, thanks to James Flory, James Hood, Stirling Melhuish, Aston Key, James Smart, George Sanderson, Hans Jenssen and Tim Petty. 
Lets hope we have more of this in the coming months. - Lisa Humphries

Wednesday 24th May

We are certainly getting big contrasts in the weather, today we had hot humid conditions with a mostly blue sky and hardly any wind, we set up shop in the S/W corner with the forecast giving an East wind.
To start with the cloud base was about 1,200ft with some thermal activity, as the day progressed the thermals managed to top at 2,500ft.
Roly entertaining the visitors (John Street)
We had two trial lessons today and glider pilot from the US. Pete Warren was tuggie, Jeff, Nigel and Tim Johns flew their own gliders, those who flew at the right time had reasonable soaring flights.
The order of the day was plenty to drink and a good hat, makes a welcome change from sheltering from the wind and cold! - John Street

Sunday 21st May

A boisterous, blustery wind from the south plagued the airfield all day. Before lunch it had a pronounced westerly element, so the airfield was set up accordingly. After lunch, a fickle touch of easterly began to predominate, which necessitated a change of ends.  The wind strength and turbulence ruled out trial lesson flights as a Blue Card became the order. Club members enjoyed some character building but rewarding conditions.
David Cowley practising an imaginary field landing  (Peter Smith)
There was good lift up to 2500QFE, if you could stay in the broken thermals, with the sky gradually clearing and going blue by 5pm with splendid visibility. Several members had extended flights including Peter Warren in the Junior.  David Cowley was challenged to land  from the north into an imaginary land-out field which he managed so well that we had to wait for the retrieve find us.  The Devon countryside looked glorious in the afternoon sun. 

Cloudstreets from Honiton (Peter Smith)
The only private glider out was JPT which Robin Willis-Fleming kept airborne for around two hours.
An enjoyable day, but with only 13 launches,  it would have been good to see more members taking advantage of it,  but the Duty Instructors, Ron Johns (am) and Peter Smith (pm) were nonetheless kept busy - with some help from Peter Warren and John Street. Thanks also to the DLMs: Trevor Russell and Nigel Everett who looked after the ground operations.  -  (ed: mashup from Wendy Willis-Fleming and Peter Smith and J&P)

Saturday 20th May

The bright start quickly gave way to low cloud and increasingly frequent and persistent showers. So there were a few jobs to do..... The Gator has been suitably named.
Remembering Nick with Steph (Mark Courtney)
And round the other side of the hangar......
The call had gone out for help on the water pump and treatment room project and in spite of the forecast we had an excellent turnout with willing and good humoured helpers. Nick the digger man had the biggest toys to play with, but everyone mucked in and we managed to excavate and lay a drain to carry roof and field water from the VG hangar to the main system, divert the roof water from the rear of the ground equipment hangar similarly and divert and relay the main incoming BT cable thus clearing the way for access to the void under the main hangar. This now has a concrete base for the building (large cupboard really)  which will house the distribution/pressure pump, UV and particle filter and associated pipe and switchgear currently located in a damp, gloomy and cramped subterranean cave.
Some of the crew mixing concrete in the rain (Peter Smith)
This has got the project well on the way with the only cost to the club being the materials used.

Many thanks to everyone on the crew, (not necessarily in order of appearance and please forgive me if I have missed anyone) Rowan, Allan M, Simon Collier, Simon Leeson for fetching and carrying, JB, Nick the digger and concrete mixer man, Jimbob, Paul Summers, and Tom the treasurer (who wields a mean shovel). It was a great atmosphere despite the weather. - Peter Smith

Thursday 18th May

After a day of much needed rain yesterday, Thursday had a rather mixed forecast with strong conditions but likelihood of heavy showers developing. First thing there was beautiful North Hill sunshine, but then that other local phenomena North Hill orographic cloud made it presence. So the opportunity to do some scattering of grass seed on the newly flattened areas was taken.
Thanks to Tim Petty, Ray Dodd and Aston Key for scattering grass seed (Jill Harmer)

Having carefully selected the launch run for the westerly wind (to avoid the parachute landing on the seeded areas), flying got started.

The winch launch was going all day and in between, there were quite a few aerotow checks required and two Trial Lessons  which kept Mark Courtney (Tug Pilot) busy.
Aerotow into a cumulus sky (Mike Sloggett)
Ron & Chris 711 headed off for Okehampton, but weren't particularly impressed by the conditions with spreadout and low cloud bases. 
Pete Startup 230 gave up after 2 winches launches into a blue sky and took an aerotow and then (was unusually not attempting a Club 100) was lucky to stumble upon a sea breeze convergence from Wellington to Dulverton getting to 4700ft QFE.

Congratulations to Peter March who resoloed today after 6 years with just the occasional 2-seater flight.
Congrats to Peter March solo again (John Alcroft)

Thermals were generally 2 knots with 4 knot cores, to 3,800ft locally, but during the late afternoon another convergence set up between Honiton and Wellington, and Pete Harmer and Malcolm Vest in K13 played with this for a while. Peter Smith and James Sydney in K21 also enjoyed a long flight. Nigel Everett FAJ ventured away from North Hill for the first time flew Crediton- Chard.
Convergence Honiton to Wellington (Malcolm Vest)
On the point of packing up, there were 2 last launches with James Smart in K21 on his 3rd solo of the day soaring for an hour and Ray Dodd in Junior also soaring overhead for more than an hour.

There were 49 winch launches and 11 aerotows  and no rain at North Hill -although it did get close. - J&P

Tuesday 16th May - Fayence

Today I took a launch at 11:00am and flew the local ridge until I found a thermal to cloud base 7,000 feet over the site. Headed north in fairly strong lift. 
The wind changed somewhere on the trip and I failed to understand where the lift was, so I got prepared to land at Thorame, only to come across a beautiful buzzard, who led me back to cloudbase. 
Thermal Assistant - not yet available on an Oudie! (Wyn Davies)
 There was more cloud hopping than mountain soaring to-day, with reliable lift and staggering sink in between. Had a long glide over the valley at GAP on the way to Pic de Bure, to find the  sun-warmed rocks of Mtgne de Charance to propel me back to a comfortable height, before going over the snow covered mountain. The soaring back was pleasant with a predictable sky, and plenty of height in reserve. 
Pic De Bure (Wyn Davies)
The fragrance of crushed  lavender  greets you at the end of the flight. A pleasant day out in the mountains. - Wyn and Marie

Sunday 14th May

The Club was again relatively quiet first thing  with only a few members' names on the flying list. A promising day, though rain showers were forecast for a few hours in the middle. But an enthusiastic crew unpacked the hangar with Peter Field (Duty Instructor) and John Sillett, and flying started shortly before 10:00am.

Josh Funnell and Charlie Stuckey both began their day with good flights. Then, to the surprise of everyone, Mike Sloggett actually rigged his ASW-20, launched and flew it for over 2 hours. (We were sure BBC Spotlight was going to come back for interviews given this rare occurrence!)
Devon countryside and large cloud streets developing (Mike Sloggett)
The cloud streets started lining up, so Ron Johns and Pete Warren took flight in in ASH25, then Simon Minson ASW20, Rowan Smith Libelle and Pete Startup in Discus promptly followed suit, finding convergence and showers along the way. Locally, the rain came just about as scheduled, but the worst of it bypassed the field and flying quickly resumed.  The result was booming lift but also equally daunting sink with some challenging turbulence on the approach prompting the flag colour to be changed four times during the day.

At lunchtime Guy Adams took over instructing duties and as the afternoon progressed so did the flying list. During the day the sky 're-cycled' several times providing continuing opportunities for soaring flights in Club and private gliders

Three happy Trial Lesson flights and a few family and friends aerotows kept Pete Stapleton busy in the tug.

Mike Sloggett (ASW20 ENW), Rowan Smith (Libelle CLM), Paul Medlock (DG100 HMS), Ron Johns and Pete Warren (ASH25 711), Robin Willis-Fleming (ASW27 JPM), Jeff Taberham (Mosquito 380) all enjoyed some local soaring.

Pete Startup and Simon Minson both got to Shepton Mallett, Pete managed to park at Crewkerne before getting back, but commiserations to Simon for getting caught in the sink and finding what looked to be the perfect field under a cloud street in which to land.
Simon's perfect field - but just look at the sky! (Simon Minson)
And with everyone happy from a very pleasant day's gliding, the gliders and kit were all put away shortly after 5pm... - (ed:mashup from Tom Sides, Mike Sloggett and J&P)

Saturday 13th May - Mendips

Forecasts for a potentially fresh wind from a S-SW quarter had the "Expeditions" WhatsApp group bombarded with streams of consciousness from Matt Williamson about the Quantocks or the Mendips. As the exact direction looked hard to predict the South Coast and Quantocks options were forsaken for a Saturday drive up to Halesland.

The complete absence of any discernible breeze on the way up was ignored and rigging 611 started with the windsock only just starting to point up not down the hill. By the end of a comprehensive briefing in the clubhouse the mighty Disco rolled in with the Eagle and the final flurry of rigging was completed just as the first launches started. 

The sky started to break up and the wind was a useful direction but still rather soft. Phil Morrison took an acclimatising trip round in 611 as the locals also hopped up and back. The Eagle was fortunate to launch when the sun was shining and used some weak thermals to augment the ridge and loiter, but inevitably ended up testing the height at which the ridge really worked. Constant figures of eight in a bowl near low key at a little over 300 feet were rewarded as the thermals started coming to life and the day moved up a gear. 

Phil in 611 took the thermal option and climbed away for a jaunt out to Glastonbury. After 2 and half hours, the Eagle returned to swap Nick Jones for Stirling Melhuish and allow the driver (JP) a comfort break...
JP and Nick in the Eagle (JP)
 The wind had definitely perked up and exploration of the ridge (as a ridge) was now possible. Curiously strong but broken thermals tied up with a wavy looking sky but as ever wave proper was elusive. Matt W had taken over from Phil and tamed one of the gnarly climbs to get a 6.8 kt average. He also got close to 4000 ft in a wave like beat near Wells but it collapsed almost as soon as it started. 
Wavy looking clouds over Cheddar reservoir (JP)
The weather held out to allow flying til six and with a collective 11 hours airtime the team were happy to head home and the Keepers Cottage. 

As ever a great welcome from the Mendip club, good briefings and a helpful cadre of members. Well worth a visit in a SW to S wind day and anyone flying in from NHL in a wooden glider can claim back the inter-club trophy! - JP

Saturday 13th May

A surprisingly quiet day at the club - where were you all! Anyway with a very strong south-westerly ending more southerly, the conditions were challenging for everyone. Several trial lessons including Mile High flights and usual training with Martin Woolner, Stuart Procter, Mark Courtney, James Flory and Rowan Smith, we even saw James Hood instructing this morning. 
Simon Minson flies Jean Awdas for her Trial lesson flight (Mark Courtney)
Regional Examiner Simon Minson flew a 90 year old lady who thoroughly enjoyed her flight. Ian Mitchell was busy doing navigation flights and all in all a very nice day. The afternoon wind was 90 degrees cross, so testing for all who participated, this is England after all! Great club atmosphere and definitely better than Eurovision this evening! 

The BGA hosted an Instructors A Module course at the club today, Mike Fox took a flight soaring the south ridge at the end of the day, great to be able to host these events as THE largest volunteer club in the Southwest. - Lisa Humphries

Friday 12th May - Course Week

The last day.
All good things have to come to an end and so the May course week ended with a damp and drizzly sky with cloud down to treetop height,  but after four good flying days,  nobody was complaining. The course was rounded off with ground equipment training and coffee and lunch with Zoe and Emma.
May Course (Tim Petty)
There were 109 flights and a total of 15hours 10 minutes airborne. There was a big vote of thanks to the hard working instructors Peter Smith and Mike Sloggett and all the helpers who made the week work so well. (Paul Medlock, Allan Mounce, Richard Harris and  Ian Hunt).

New members Steve Carter and Andy Williams both with previous gliding experience clocked up over 40 instructional flights between them  and vowed to return on normal club days. On the best soaring day, Wednesday Hans Jenssen completed his first one hour soaring flight. All in all a great week - John Borland