Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Spring will soon be here

The soaring season seems like an eternity ago, the shortest day seems like it will never come, on some level I think SAD (seasonal affective disorder) must be more prevalent in glider pilots. Our sport is so seasonally dependant and in the UK the soaring season always seems so short.

The club is now getting ready for Christmas, the office is closed from the 20th of December until the 2nd of January.

Members are welcome to organise groups to fly over the holiday period. the Google calendar can be found at https://www.google.com/calendar/render?gsessionid=XNHcTjrLfB6LXz8TbPLwdAe

Login details found in the news letter.

I for one will try to get a flight or two during the holidays.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Passenger to pilot August through October 2011

Work and family has me pretty tied up at the moment so I have been doing enough to maintain currency.

September I had some flying in DFR our Astir for a total time of around 40mins. Difficult day which was making it hard to get away for any lenth of time. I did a couple of winch flights in VE the twin acro aswell during September, finishing of the month with a flight short flight in a K13.

In October I managed to get converted into the Discus. After I had a check ride with one of the instructors I got a full brief and was told to take an aerotow to 4000ft to get a feel for it, after 3 attempts at getting airbourne behind the tug (small amount of PIO) the rest of the tow to 4k was fine. The Discus is a big step up in performance in comparison to the Astir and at times it almost seems as it does not want to come down, it is also a lot sharper on handling, hence the PIO on the initial ground run. After floating around for half an hour of so I carried out a good circuit and managed to get the thing landed reasonably smoothly, the picture looks a lot different when rounding out in a discus as compared to the astir and a K13. I decided I needed another go at the aerotow so took a 2k launch. The ground run was much better this time out, requiring only one attempt at getting airbourne. I managed to find some lift over the town and stayed airbourne for nearly 40mins before coming in. The landing was ok, got a tad slow on round out which meant it was a little bumpy, but hey its a learning curve.

I am now approaching 30hrs - with Bronze C done and my XC navigation exercise to do once we have a motor glider back I am looking forward to setting off into the blue (well with some nicely popped Cu's) next season.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Passenger to pilot windrushers style - August 2011

I had one last attempt at the silver duration in a K8 at the end of July, I landed 2hrs 29minutes into the bid with a sore back and numb legs so it would have been silly to continue, its going to have to be done in a much roomier ship.

Due to the poor weather on my flying days the remainder of my august flying has been confined to circuit flying off the winch, with one flight of 20 odd minutes thanks to some sort of ridge lift off of the railway bank in a stern south westerly maintaining me at 1200ft.

I took the K21 for a 3000ft aerotow for currency and after being towed through a massive sink street to near RAF croughton I released near a promising cloud only to find the Cu's were not honest, broken lift with more decending than climbing involved. I ran across the sink showing 8kts down in places at 80+kts and arrived back at the airfield at near circuit height. I then climbed to 1500ft in half a knot and then headed into land.

More circuit practice at the end of the month, three flights in a K13 using these to practice stalls, wing drops steep turns etc...

I have now revised my goals from getting silver to having my Bronze with XC wrapped up by the end of the year, work and a new baby have meant my flyign frequency has reduced and hey, whats the rush.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

The Rasp skew T explained

I have seen on a few occasions puzzled faces surrounding a computer screen, with lots of head scratching and discussions going on and most occurrences these are down to people trying to interpret a sounding for the following day.

I will do my best to explain as simply as possible, so here is a sample sounding.
So first we look at the scales, the left and right vertical axes are height shown in pressure hPa and 1000's of feet, with most soundings showing the boundary layer up to the tropopause. The horizontal axis shows us temperature in degrees Celsius.

The red line shows us the ELR or Environmental Lapse Rate which is the rate at which the atmosphere cools without any added energy. Our blue line shows us the dew point which is the temp the air needs to be in order for it to be fully saturated. Now, the key thing to note is a skew T is not like a standard graph with the point axis (temp) (moisture) travelling straight up the chart, you will notice the orange lines from the temps are slanted up to the right, you will also notice another set of orange diagonal lines sloping from bottom right to top left, these are our air parcel DALR or Dry Adiabatic Lapse Rate which is the rate at which the parcel cools while it is not saturated. The reason they slant is because if the were vertical the chart would be very large and wouldn't make much sense which is why they are skewed, hence the skew T (tephigram)

There are also two green lines, one dotted, which is the water content at a given temp or how saturated it is.we then have the solid green lines which are more vertical, these show the SALR or Saturated Adiabatic Lapse Rate which shows the cooling of the Parcel one it has become saturated.

Also on the right is the wind direction and speed with altitude.

So lets take a closer look,
So on this skew T we can see that the Environmental surface temp for the given time is going to be around 25dc we can also see that the dew point is around 15dc at the surface, Tracing both lines up the graph shows us the general state of the atmosphere in terms of temp and moisture content. Now we can also see a handy dotted line, this shows us the forcasted max temp for the day and what happens to a parcel of air once it reaches this temp. so lets look at its journey.

So our parcel of air (thermal bubble) reaches critical temp of say 26dc (can be higher if it remains on the ground longer, warming up more before it is triggered) it is then triggered into the air. As it begins to rise it expands and cools (I wont get into the intricacies of pressure etc...) at the DLAR or ~3dc per 1000ft which roughly follows the dotted line. As you follow our parcel up draw a line from the dew point Parallel to the nearest moisture content dotted line up until it meets our parcel (something like this)

What happens here is that our parcel has cooled to the dew point, this means it can no longer hold onto its water vapour so it starts to condense, this gives us the LCL or Lifted condensation level or Cloud base for glider pilots and if you look at the scales and apply the dew point difference of 10dc x 400 = 4000ft its almost bang on. from there on the parcel follows the green (more vertical) SALR of around 1.5dc per 1000ft the SALR is less than the DALR because condensation releases latent heat stored during the evapouration process.

A little further up the ELR (red line) you can see a bump indicating a slight inversion (where the air warms slightly or doesn't cool as quick) Now our parcel has saturated before reaching this hump meaning we will have clouds, if as in the example below the parcel does not saturate before the inversion then we have a blue day.

If it looks like this then we will have Cu's
You can see the LCL and then cloud formation begins until it bumps into the inversion, in this example the dew point drops away quickly afterwards which should produce classic Cu's with little spread out  or over development.

Our first example showed the parcel saturating and then following the SALR, it misses (more to the point punches through) the inversion because at that altitude the parcel is still warmer than the surrounding air so continues to rise, now we get into the classic over development situation that causes large CuNim's. The number of degrees between our parcel and the ELR at 500hPa or ~18kft gives us our lifted index in this case a -2, any minus number here indicates instability and the greater it is the more instability there is. The total area between the parcel dotted line and out ELR give us our CAPE or Convective Available Potential Energy which shows how much energy is potentially available, the larger the CAPE value the more powerful any resulting storm/rain shower would be.

The RASP skew T's are not bad, there are some inaccuracies, I usually compare 2 different tephigrams and also a couple of forecasts which give good boundary layer coverage. the only thing to bear in mind is that most models used to forecast diverge after around 48 hours becoming less accurate, they can show you a trend but I always say "oh this weekend looks OK" on Monday or Tuesday and then pick the day to fly on Friday as you have a much better idea.

Hope this helps all those that have been baffled by skew T's and if anyone has any other MET related questions please feel free to ask.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Bicester Regionals 2011 - Saturday 30th

Welcome to saturday two race fans.

Weather for today looks good for today, Cu's forming and RASP has scored it a five, it seems to go down hill out to the far west and east but a band running north west to south east looks great.

Lets see what we get on what could be the best day so far...

Friday, 29 July 2011

Bicester Regionals 2011 - Friday 29th

Grey orrible day!!

So we are Scrubbed!!

mind you who can really complain, A british summer and we have had more days of racing in a week than the guys at Nitra have done in three weeks.

I have heard that there is some Go-Karting to be done, or a Sports v Opens rounders match. My money would be on the sports and I will tell you why. Open class ships are generally rather expensive and are therefore flown by people who are at a certain stage in life!! know what I mean, there are some exceptions though. The sports class are generally the young whipper snappers who usually being of limited funds cant get an open ship. So it comes to pass that any sporting event between these two requiring some physical action is going to be won by the sports.

Thursdays results

Top four for the open class,
1. M2 Derren Francis Owain Walters / Ventus 2 12:23:18 15:18:47 02:55:29 92.8km/h 271.4km 1000
2. DW Watt Dave Ventus 2 12:22:45 15:18:40 02:55:55 92.6km/h 271.4km 996
3. 490 Eyles Steve LS 4 12:22:26 15:36:14 03:13:48 90.2km/h 291.5km 955
4. KPE Holden Mark Duo Discus 12:23:35 15:33:48 03:10:13 87.3km/h 276.9km 903

Top four for the sports class,
1. EAR Smith Darren PIK 20 D 12:04:18 15:05:29 03:01:11 84.1km/h 253.9km 1000
2. 768 Ellis Will LS 7 12:06:32 15:14:25 03:07:53 79.4km/h 248.6km 915
3. 224 Craig Gordon LS 4 12:03:33 15:20:41 03:17:08 77.3km/h 253.9km 877
4. 846 Roberts Philippa ASW 15 11:59:23 15:32:46 03:33:23 77.2km/h 274.5km 875
5. 615 Tomlinson Mike LS 4 11:56:22 15:19:10 03:22:48 74.3km/h 251.2km 824

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Bicester Regionals 2011 - Thursday 28th July

Good morning race fans,

Woke up this morning to some fog driffting around, which I am glad to say has burned off quite rapidly.

Weather for our area looks ok from now until around 1pm where there is then a risk of over development and spreadout.

Briefing is at 10am lets wait and see, I have also heard rumours that tasks are set already.

Bicester Regional - Wednesday 27th 2011

Well from wear I was sat the weather look really rubbish for today, there was plenty of grid squatting until midafternoon when the open class boys and girls were sent on a 2hr AAT

Here are the top five finishers for the day

1. 290  Bromwich Bob  ASG 29/18m 15:28:07 17:44:15 02:16:08  61.9km/h  140.4km 444 
2. K5  Mark Smith Bob King /  ASW 27 15:36:29 17:49:17 02:12:48  57.2km/h  126.6km 428 
3. M2  Derren Francis Owain Walters /  Ventus 2 15:26:50 18:16:08 02:49:18  53.7km/h  151.7km 416 
4. DW  Watt Dave  Ventus 2 15:21:47 17:35:22 02:13:35  52.8km/h  117.5km 413 
5. J15  Mitchell Terry  Nimbus 3/25.5m 15:21:29 17:48:20 02:26:51  46.5km/h  113.8km 392

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Bicester Regionals 2011 - Tuesday 26th July

Good morning race fans,

Well we have woken up to a overcast day, with forecasted heavy cloud cover and some light rain it looks as though we are going to get a day off, but we will wait and see.

Briefing is at 10am and its suspected the day will be scrubbed.

Well 12:35 and no scrub just yet, the MET folks have been watching a potential clearing in the sat images so are holding out, I am not optimistic.

12:48 its reportedly brightening up and opens will go on task A in around 15mins.

Sports and Open launched on Task A and some have set off already, time is 14:08

Finishers started arriving by 16:27, In the open class Derren F and Owain W pipped Mr.Watt by .1 of a km/h at 85.5km/h over 251kms with Mark Holden coming in third at 79.2km/h

Sports class started to arrive back at 16:50 first place for the day was Will Ellis again with 82.8km/h over 154.7kms, he may have this sown up if he keeps going like this. Second was Gerald Bass with 79.9km/h over 159kms. Third was Darren Smith with 77.9km/h over 157kms

So unofficially, Mr. Watt heads the open class and Will Ellis heads the sports class, can they keep it up for the rest of the week.

Weather looks to be generally improving for the rest of the competition with the exception of Friday perhaps so there should be plenty more quality racing to be had.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Bicester regionals 2011 - Monday 25th july

Modest tasks set today due to high cirrus and potentially ropey conditions on track.

Sports got a short 138km run out while the open class got a 191km run out.

Launching just after lunch time our first starters from the sports class headed out at 12:26 with the open class had there first starters some 15mins later.

The tasks were much better suited to the conditions today which resulted in most of the field making it around the course, including my mate Ollie Bosanko, unless he attached his logger to someone Else's glider.

Dave Watt took the day win again today with Steve Eyles and Bob Bromwich finishing 2nd and 3rd respectively.

Will Ellis took the sports class win in his LS7 with Pete Stratten in second and steve Codd in third

Not sure of the overall standings at the moment as they have not been published.
Check out http://www.windrushers.org.uk/competitions/regionals2011/index.htm#nogo for all the latest details on the competition.

Bicester Regionals 2011 - Sunday 24th

A fine day for flying, Bicester was a bit of a blue hole and the B/S ratio being near or under 5 meant thermals were a little ragged, whispy clouds started out at 2200 and then pushed up slowly before locally going blue I can confirm this after spending two and a half hours buzzing around in a K8, not that K8's buzz around you understand. North and south on task looked ok with a nice scattering of cu's

The tasks were set, Opens went on 406kms and sports went on 311kms. There was a short delay to the start after a couple of the club gliders were seen failing to get away. The sniffer was then launched and after a positive report the grid was fired into the sky.

The sports class day win was Will Ellis with Mr. Stratten in second and Norman Parry in third. 50% of the grid either didn't start or didn't get round which showed it was a tough task for yesterdays conditions.

The Open class day win was Dave Watt with an average speed of 92.5km/h, Martin Durham was second and Mark Holden was third. we had 8 non finishers out of 22 and my mate Ollie Bonsanko landed out again, I am beginning to wonder whether I should disregard all of the advice he ever gave me while teaching me to fly :O)

On a side note, we had the new 18m Shark demo with its gas turbine sustainer onsite yesterday and what a beautiful machine it is. a lucky few got to fly it and with a price tag of an on the road price of 118K I am not sure I'll see to many more. the reviews of the demo model were quite positive, common feedback indicates the left side of the cockpit needs a bit of a rethink but apart from that people loved it.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Bicester Regionals 2011

Today marked the first day of the regionals at Bicester and although I was not onsite today the large grid looked very impressive as I drove past the airfield this morning. Unfortunately my weather forecast held true with large spread out from the north east meaning that after the delayed, task reduced, and combined grid got away on a 166km course there were a large amount of landouts and some people even returning not long after the start. Ms Roberts landedout somewhere that enabled her to eat scones and cream tea......            The scores are yet to be on the doors so check out http://www.windrushers.org.uk/competitions/regionals2011/index.htm for the latest news and results.

The weather for tomorrow looks like a slight improvement on today with CB around 3500 - 4000ft but there is still some uncertainty on the extent of the moist layer being blown in from the north irish see. We could see some look cloud to start then looking fine until after lunch time where the risk of spread out is again a real possibility.

I will be around tomorrow doing some flying of my own so I am hoping it stays clear.


Friday, 22 July 2011

Weather for the 23rd and 24th of July

Good morning everyone, lets take a look at the weather for this weekend.

Saturday - Sea level pressure will be around 1013mb - winds from 0 - 4000ft amsl will be from the north east ranging from 10 - 15kts, above 4000ft amsl winds will be 20kts + Surface temp will be around 19dc by peak heating. visibiity will be around 20km cloud base will start out around 2500ft amsl and push up to 3500ft during the day where spread out is expected due to high level moist air being blown in from the north Irish sea.

Sunday - Sea level pressure will be around 1010mb - winds from 0 - 4000ft amsl will be from the north east again at around 10 - 15kts increasing above 4000ft to 25kts Surface temp will be around 21dc by peak heating, visibility will be in excess of 20km, cloud base will be starting out around 2500ft pushing up to nearly 6000ft amsl by the end of the day, early high level overcast expected to burn off leading to rapidly improving conditions.

RASP has scored Saturday as a 2 out of 5 and Sunday is scored as a 4 out of 5
The one major uncertainty with this forecast is the amount of moisture being carried in from the north irish sea, different models are not really in agreement yet as to the extent of the cloud cover over the forecast period.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Passenger to pilot windrushers style - June - July 2011

Well I have been pretty quiet recently, busy job schedule and a new baby arrival has seen my gliding activities take a hit. I have maintained currency flying when ever possible but as we are approaching mid July I would have liked to have been XC endorsed and on my way towards my silver by now, but as yet I still need to do the XC navigation exercise.

I had a flight on the 4th June in the Astir DFR, just a 2000ft Aetotow with the weather not being great I had 13mins of flight time, but I aced the landing. On the 20th I flew OUGC's astir FEF up the winch, I didn't manage to get away and landing back at the field I found that the wheel brake didn't work well and then seized up so it was declared U/S and I went home.

I was back at the airfield on the 14th of July after the misses, seeing me go stir crazy, gave me a hall pass. I got the to airfield nice and early knowing that a visiting pilot wanted the Astir for his 50k I had settled on flying the K8. I launched at 10am to 1400ft but was quickly down to circuit height, on the downwind leg and committed to landing I bumped into 2+kts up, I bypassed it and landed. 10mins later I took another launch and got 1600ft this time and immediately headed for the same spot the lift was at earlier. I ran into 1-2kts up and screwed away gradually gaining height, at 3000ft I was watching the club K13's trying to join me with out much success but it seemed the large aerotow grid was convinced and started to launch. At 4000ft I decided to make the 10k trip to upper heyford, arriving with plenty of height to spare I circled for a bit and headed back. I did a few stalls on the way back and arrived near the airfield at 2500ft, I was greeted with a stack of K13s and glass ships in a thermal and joined amongst them, very quickly however the K8 zipped up the middle of the thermal and I was soon on top of the pile as we all broke off and headed in different directions. After an hour and with a sore butt I popped the brakes and headed back. Later that afternoon with currency in mind I decided to aerotow the K8 to 2k for a quick flight, but continuing good conditions saw me at 5000ft flying alongside a k13 carrying our CEO and his student, they headed for silverstone but I bumped into the big red line on the map that exists for non XC pilots and headed back landing 43mins after launch.

Great day and I have to say despite the sore but my affection for the little K8 has grown a little more, ok it cant penetrate into wind but it climbs really well and is so easy to fly. Visiting Astir man had declared Lasham for his silver distance which would have been over 80K but he landed out somewhere short of that but hopefully still over 50K

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Weather for June 4th and 5th

Initial outlook for Saturday and Sunday look quite good, temps around 20dc on Saturday with scattered CU's at ~3500ft, winds out of the north east around 10kts. Sunday looks slightly cooler with the winds increased to 15kts, this may drag cool sea air across the region from the wash producing quite alot of cloud overnight into Sunday.

I will update tomorrow afternoon once the models are in a little better alignment.


Saturday - Pressure around 1024mb @ sea level - winds from the north east @ 10kts - temp ~20dc by peak heating with the dew point around 12dc putting scattered cumulus clouds around 3500ft by early afternoon. In general it should be an ok day, early low cloud caused by the cool sea air being blown in from the wash should lift quite quickly with the cloud base rising and slowly turning blue as we get well into the afternoon.

Sunday - Pressure around 1014mb @ sea level - winds from the north east @ 12-15kts - temp will be around 15dc with the dew point around 8dc this puts the cloud base around 2800ft at best and it looks as though the inversion will not lift during the day. Again with the forecasted cool air from the wash being blown in it will start out cloud and improve slightly during the day but it still looks to be around 4-6 /8s cloud cover.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Passenger to pilot windrushers style, May 2011 update

Hello all,

After a very hectic April getting my Bronze done May has been a relatively quiet month. I have been consolidating my Aerotow work taking a couple of flights in the Acro. OUGC's K21 is also back on line and I had a short flight in that also. The CFI is now happy for me to convert to the Astir and I aim to be up and running in this ship over the next few weeks, its key to fly this ship as much as possible locally to get used to it so I am ready when the time comes to break the apron strings and head away from the airfield. Vicky our midweek winch driver managed her 5 hours for silver over the weekend, after a broken weak link and some delays at the launch point it looked as though it was ebbing away. She got away after scratching around for 10mins leaving the wheel down as she went as it looked as though she would be back any minute. 5hours and 16mins later she returned to the airfield with a very square bum but pleased none the less.

On the same day I was introduced to Pat who pilots the aerobatic MDM Fox, we took a tow to 4000ft and Pat set about teaching me some aerobatics, we concentrated on the roll and I can tell you its a real rush flying inverted, you hang from your straps and can see the ground zipping along below as most of the manoeuvres start from around a 100kts. Awesome flight and something I will definitely do again.

On Friday the 27th we were turfed out of work at lunch times "I love Friday Fatwa's" I decided to head to the airfield with ambitions of getting into the clubs Asitir for a few short circuit flights as it was quite overcast and not doing much at all. Got to the field at 1pm and dragged the Astir over to the launch point, after a good amount of time getting a briefing the weather had begun to improve with the cloud cover breaking up rapidly. It was suggested at that point that I should take it for a nice high aerotow to get a good feel for the glider. 20mins later I was pulling the bung at 4000ft a couple of hundred feet above cloud base, after making a couple of nice easy turns at various speeds and doing some stalling exercises I was now nearly a 1000ft below cloud base. looking up at a nice dark solid base I could see the CFI's lead and follow team approaching cloud base rapidly, I was able to hook into the same thermal and rode 6kts up to the base of the cloud as they headed off into the distance. One of my ambitions ever since going solo was to be able to fly at cloud base having got there myself and then stick my hand out of DV panel and catch a bit of cloud, having now achieved that I can honestly say that I am more hooked on this sport than ever before. Over the next hour I pottered around repeating climbs from 2k back to cloud base which ended up being around 4500ft, a sore bum set in so I headed back, upon landing I found that I had been up for over two and a quarter hours, what an amazing couple of hours that was.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Weather for 28th 29th and 30th May 2011

Not to much to say about the weather this weekend really, in fact a really brief summary would be dull and damp.

Saturday, Sunday and Monday - Low pressure systems will be in charge for the weekend with frontal systems moving in from the west at regular intervals. the weekend will start out cloudy and damp and a bit blustery moving to more lively wet weather by the end of the weekend. temperatures will be around 14 -18 degress, winds out of the west ~15kts gusting to 30+kts at times.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Weather for the 21st and 22nd of May

Well things are looking quite good for this weekend, so lets take a look in detail. Currently there is a weak cold front pushing in from the North West off a twin low pressure system, this will become increasingly weak but produce enough instability over the weekend for some good soaring conditions.

Saturday - Pressure will be around the 1020 mark decreasing slowly as the low moves in. winds will be out of the South East steady around 12kts gusting to 17 - 20kts at times. Sfc temp will be around 18dc at lunch time with the dew point a good ten degrees behind. Cloud base is forecast to start around 2500ft AMSL and push up to nearly 4000ft AMSL by peak heating. a nice inversion followed by a rapid dew point depression should limit any over development and spread out.

Sunday - Pressure around the same as saturday slowly increasing during the day, temp will be around the same also. Winds will be much stronger - 18-20kts out of the west and there is also the risk of some over development due to a shallower inversion and higher CAPE values.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Flight & Bite

Windrushers Hosted its second successful flight and bite evening last night. Groups book in advance and then turn up at 5pm ready for the pre flight brief. after the briefing is completed in the class room the group heads out to the launch point where they are then introduced to the instructors and their flying machines. The group then spend a couple of hours experiencing the thrill of a winch launch and the spectacular evening views over rural Oxfordshire. After we are all flown out the group retires to the bar area where a beautiful BBQ spread is laid on and everyone gets to swap stories and photographs of their flights over what ever tipple takes your fancy.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Midweek forecast for weekend starting Fri 29th ""UPDATED**

Ok, here we go, dont think this weekend could be much different from last.

Friday - With High pressure to the north and a low to the south, winds will be out of the east at around 10-12kts gusting to ~18kts. there is forecast to be a stationary front over the region which will bring low cloud and drizzle to start the day. As the day progress early cloud will dissipate but due to the instability, forecast high CAPE values and a lifted index of -4 it could quickly over develop into storms with potential hail and strong winds. temps around 16 - 18 degrees C at peak heating during the day

Saturday - The developing cold front should start to push its way south over night into Saturday, a generally cloudy start will improve slowly as the day goes on. Cloud base is forecast to be around 2000ft by lunch time with only small CU's around, with the winds out of the north east at ~15kts gusting to ~20kts. Temps will be around the 20degree mark but will feel slightly cooler in the increased wind.

Sunday- Will be sunny and windy, winds out of the east around 15kts, inversion will be around 3500ft and with such a depress dew point it is likely to remain blue. The blue combined with the wind will make soaring quite difficult.

Monday - Will be an improvement on Sunday, slightly warmer and brighter, still windy and with a depressed dew point a blue day for sure. As with sunday the Blue and wind will mean any meaningful soaring will be difficult at best.


Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Easter weekend review

Recently the dominating high pressure has bought us calm blue days with low inversions and poor visibility. Good friday was a fine day a little cloudy to start but it turned blue quickly, with temps closing in on the early 20's and it being very hazy any serious flying was a little tough going.

Saturday was, in the words of a pundit, "bloody atomic" Started out blue but by 11am temps were well into the 20's. A high inversion and good dew point separation saw cu's forming by lunch time with the cloud base in excess of 6000ft AMSL, I unfortunately was not flying but I have heard of great reports of beautiful cross country flights in great visibilty and regular 7kt climbs to cloud base. I watched envious from my garden chores as glider after glider topped the winch found a near by thermal and then proceeded to climb very very quickly to cloud base and disappear into the distance. The only slight mis-hap of the day was a certain unnamed pilot in the Astir got a bit lost after mistaking Buckingham for Bicester. After realising the mistake and getting low heading back into the sun made a calmly executed field landing just outside Steeple Claydon to the east. A quick walk, interruption of a garden party and a few phone calls later the Astir was back in its trailer on its way back to the club.

Sunday although warm had very poor visibility and really was not a patch on Saturday. I was on Duty bank holiday Monday and it started out kinda slow, the pundits had they're ships on the grid early but it was not until well after noon that it started to get going, we watched John Potter take a launch in the K8 and climb his way downwind, to the point where we were thinking of starting a land out distance sweep stake, he then returned the airfield nicely at circuit height only to climb away again for a total of 1 and a 1/2hrs. By now the going was good varying tasks of 200K+ were called and the grid got away via a mixture of Aerotow and winch. Phil Gardner had an hour and a half plus flight in the twin acro locally and I finished off the day at 5pm by aerotowing it to 3000ft, a perfect evening flight with thermals still touching 4kts in places.

Well as I sit here writing this the weather has turned decidedly colder and the outlook for this weekend is not looking so good. I will produce a mid week forecast this week as I am in the country, stay tuned.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Condor soaring simulator

As an early solo pilot with out any cross country training as of yet, I am working towards my bronze, I have been looking at ways to practice soaring and cross country flying and so far I have identified three ways.

1) Local soaring - if you can time it so that you have one of the club machines during a part of the day when its soarable, not such an issue in the summer but spring and autum it can be difficult as the window is small, you can practice in the 5nm radius of the airfield.

2) Grab a ride - if you are lucky you can hitch a lift in a two seater with someone who is off on a cross country. You are generally limited to the hieght of the season and spare seats are few and far between.

3) Condor - is a simulator designed to closely mimic real soaring and cross country conditions and is accurate to such a degree that the BGA use it in their simulator and I have found vast communities of real life pilots around the world that use condor to train and keep in practice when they are not soaring for real. The best thing I have seen by far is condor boot camps, clubs set up a server to host LAN connections, you get a bunch of condor pilots together in the same room and go racing. The sessions are usually run by experienced cross country pilots and all that is required is a half desent laptop, condor and a joystick. from what I have seen and read its a great way to keep sharp or get some wisdom off old hands from the comfort of a training room and with minimal expense.

I guess where I am going with this is I would like to find out if there is a reasonably sized condor user base locally, even within the club, and if there is enough interest starting up maybe a boot camp or Monday night league style events, As well as LAN the server can host across the internet so people could also join remotely. these events have been a huge success in other parts of the world and especially in the states at improving cross country pilots skills and preventing rustyness in the off season.

Please check out http://soaringcafe.com/category/condor/ to see more on Condor style events and also http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kaHCUJvbEsc&feature=related to see a video of Condor multiplayer in action.

please leave a comment if you are a condor user and/or just interested in running one of these cool events. or drop me a mail at lhitchins@aiscorp,com


Tuesday, 15 March 2011

UPDATED 20th Mid week forecast for weekend 19th - 20th March

UPDATED - Forecast held for the weekend with Saturday being beautiful with plenty of soaring flights of over an hour. Sunday Started out with a high overcast as predicted which broke up towards the end of the day.

Saturday - Pressure - 1033 MSLP
Winds - South west 3-7kts
Temps - sfc temp 13:00 - 10dc dew point -2dc
Clouds - expect a blue day
Sun - Clear day cloud wise some haze expected below the inversion.
Rain - less than 10% chance
Soaring - Possible to ~2500ft amsl blue conditions will make it more difficult RASP
shows 3.5kt climbs

Sunday - Pressure - 1032
Winds - South easterly 5 - 10kts
Temps - sfc temp 13:00 - 10dc dew point -0.5dc
Clouds - Divergence of models indicates large dew point depression lower boundry level but high level cloud cover possible which could kill off thermal activity
Sun - Again clear skies with haze below the inversion at 3000ft amsl high level cloud possible at 10000ft amsl
Rain - less than 10% chance
Soaring - Possible to ~27ooft amsl RASP shows 3.5kt climbs

Monday, 14 March 2011

Weekend of the 12th and 13th

Unfortunately I had to watch a lovely day go by on Saturday from the streets of Oxford, there was plenty of flying done with some good soaring flights. The glass ships are all starting to be extracted from they're trailers and have they're legs stretched ready for the soaring season.
Sunday started out really grey and without checking the forecast one would of assumed it would remain that way for the rest of the day, The forecast however showed the cloud base breaking up into scattered Cu's, lifting and eventually bluing up. The airfield was reasonably quiet due to the early weather, come the afternoon glass ships were being unpacked again and our CFI had is ship out as well. I managed to grab a hand full of flights in the little K8 but my soaring skills let me down and I only managed to stay up for 18 minutes with a net gain of 600ft, still the weather is definitely on the change and it wont be long until we are well into the soaring season.

We also have a new ab-initio Katie Harris, Katie moved down to bicester to teach rug rats and being a bit of the adventurous type wanted to see what windrushers was about. She came, had a flight and now I am pleased to say is hooked, she has even taken a trip to Welshpool this weekend with some other club members in the robin. Andrew Preece did some check flights on Sunday and then continued with his early solo flying, nice work Andrew and keep it up.


Friday, 11 March 2011

weekend forecast 12th - 13th

Unfortunately I have been jetting around Europe this week so the forecasting has gone a little out the window.

Saturday looks flyable with some overcast and light to moderate wind conditions, clearing as the day goes on before rain moves in overnight.

Sunday looks as though it will be much the same but with an increased chance of rain in the morning brightening up after lunch.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Passenger to pilot windrushers style - March/April 2011

Hi All, Pretty short pluck for March and April, I have been traveling round with work for the majority of the time so I have been limited with my flying and blogging. March was rather quiet, two attempts at my half hour early in the month failed with one only 7mins short, I did manage to eek out 35mins though right at the end of the month after finding some time one Friday afternoon which gave me my second leg. I took the week of April the 4th off between work commitments to concentrate of getting some of my bronze work done. Luckily for me a guy dropped out of the going for solo course that week allowing more time for me to fly, I managed to get the rest of my bronze done, about 7 winch launches and 1 areotow for GFT's with 2 trips in the motor glider for my field landings, one of which was interesting after developing an oil leak on the return trip. I completed the week by doing the oral test, getting the CFI's endorsement and then converting to the twin acro and getting my solo aerotow done at the same time. Job done. Next up will be the cross country endorsement, however I am going to try and get a few genuine cross country trips in with an experienced cross country pilot before doing the tests. My Goal now is to be as close to silver C as possible by the end of the soaring season.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Weekend forecast for 5th and 6th March 2011

Forecast has stayed reasonably steady through the week with the only uncertainty being the amount of cloud during a given period. In a nutshell it looks as though Sunday will be the best day buy flyable throughout the weekend.

Saturday - Pressure - 1031
Winds - North eastly 8kts Gusting to 14kts
Temps - sfc temp 13:00 - 7dc dew point 3dc
Clouds - cloud base around 2000ft amsl extending up to the inversion at 2300ft amsl
Sun - Generally clear start with increading cloud from lunch time onwards.
Rain - less than 10% chance
Soaring - limited due to low inversion, limited visability and increasing overcast.

Sunday - Pressure - 1034
Winds - North eastly moving more eastly during the day 8kts Gusting to 15kts
Temps - sfc temp 13:00 - 6dc dew point 0.5dc
Clouds - cloud base around 2300t amsl extending up to the inversion at 2700ft amsl
Sun - 1/8 to 2/8 scattered cu all day Possible fog first thing
Rain - less than 5% chance
Soaring - possible 2kt climbs to 1800ft where rate drops below 200fpm before dropping below 150fpm at 2100ft.

The weekend played out pretty much as forecast, plenty of flying done and Sunday produced at least one hour long flight, well done Jon Verrill in the little K8, and plenty of 20 - 40 min flights. The Discus (T19) was rolled out with Pete Garrett and philippa Roberts stretching her legs.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Mid week weather forecast for the 5th - 6th March

Spring is here, but what does this mean for us weatherwise as we head into march?

Well it looks as though it is going to be a really pleasant weekend, a little chilly but with plenty of sunshine. I will update on Friday.

Saturday - Pressure - 1031 inc to 1036
Winds - North eastly 10kts Gusting to 15kts
Temps - sfc temp 13:00 - 10dc dew point 5dc
Clouds - cloud base around 2200ft amsl extending up to the inversion at 2500ft amsl
Sun - fog clearing to 1/8 clould cover early am increasing gradually throughout the day to 6/8
Rain - less than 15% chance
Soaring - limited due to low inversion, limited visability and increasing overcast.

Sunday - Pressure - 1037
Winds - North eastly 7kts Gusting to 10kts
Temps - sfc temp 13:00 - 6dc dew point -2dc
Clouds - cloud base around 3500t amsl extending up to the inversion at 3700ft amsl
Sun - 1/8 to 2/8 scattered cu all day
Rain - less than 5% chance
Soaring - possible 3kt climbs to 2300ft where rate drops below 200fpm before dropping below 150fpm at 2800ft.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Weather forecast weekend 26th-27th Feb "updated"

Well it looks as though the weekend could still go two ways now we have a developing low pressure system out to the east.

Most of the models are in agreement that Saturday will be the worst of the two days, but how much worse is still really not known, we will have to wait and see what the developing low pressure system does over the next 12 hours

generally Saturday will be cloudier and wetter as the low develops just off of east anglia and then slowly moves eastward Cloudbase will be between 1000 - 1500ft, temps around 7 degrees with dew point not far behind, winds will be out of the North averaging 14 - 20kts with gusts upto 35kts.

Sunday will more than likely end up being a lesser saturday, cloundbase between 1500 -2500ft temps around 8 degress with the dew point around 3 degrees, winds will be Northly around 15 - 20kts steady

Everyone face east and start blowing.

UPDATE - Saturday was basically a washout with very little activity around the airfield. Sunday morning saw a rather bright and chilly start and we managed to get about a dozen or so flights in before the rain stopped play. We did manage to get OUGC's K21 (GAM) derigged and into its trailer ready for inspections, not settled with that we quickly derigged and put the Astir (DFR) away aswell as it will be inspected after the glass two seaters.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Passenger to pilot, Windrushers style - FEB 2011

As we near the end of a short February I'd like to note that it has been a relatively quiet month for flying at the club, due mostly to the weather.

I flew right at the end of Jan and then again on the weekend of the 12th of Feb where I had 3 flights in the K8. The day looked promising but with the cloud base stuck a few hundred feet above the launch altitude there was nowhere really to go. I spent the flights practicing thermalling turns and stalling off the turns as the soaring season is now approaching. none the less we had quite a busy day on the field and managed a respectable number of flights even if we were down to a single cable on the winch (mechanical failure of the other drums drive shaft)

On the 19th I took my bronze theory exam along with Andrew preece and John potter, 90 questions on airlaw, airmanship, navigation, radiotelephony and meteorology. I am pleased to say we all passed and owe thanks to Danny Lamb for the very informative lectures. I also want to mention Robin Matinus, well done on passing your pre-solo exam taken at the same time.

I flew on the 27th of Feb, the weekend had been a washout but there was a small window on Sunday morning in which we could fly. As both of the Glass two seaters had been taken offline for inspections I decided to start my bronze practical work with none other than Danny Lamb. We took JXM (K13) and Danny briefed me on stalling, with out CB SIFT CBE and HASSLL checks completed we hooked on and went for a launch. As suspected Danny gave me a simulated cable break half way up which was handled ok except for the bend in the ground run due to the wind weather cocking the tail. we then took another launch in which we abandoned 2/3's the way up as it was a little fast, Danny used this one to do some mush stalls and put me in an out of position on the downwind leg as we had some height. We completed the session with a gradual power failure on the winch. I nabbed a quick solo flight before the rain front arrived and had a very quick interesting circuit in mostly 4-6kts of sink, I usually start high key at 800 and arrive at low key around 600 but tightening up the circuit running through sink I arrived at low key around 450 and luckily flew the diagonal and base leg in steady to make it back for a normal approach, otherwise it would have been an early turn in and long walk back to the launch point.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Mid week forecast for 26th 27th Feb

As we pass through mid week the forecast models are still in disagreement as to what will be happening this weekend, over the last few days however the trend has been moving toward one scenario.

Saturday is looking as though it will be the worst of the weekend, with 7/8 cloud cover and showers through out the day, there is even a small risk of storms in the afternoon. Winds will be from the west steady around 10kts gusting to 20kts

Sunday is forecast to be the better day with wide sunshine until late afternoon, winds will be coming out of the north west at 12kts gusting to 18kts. The afternoon calls for 2/8 cloud cover and the possibility of showers.

The uncertainty stems from how much the Azores high will affect our weather this weekend some models show it pushing quite far over the UK and others show a lesser influence, updating this on Friday I expect there could be some changes.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Passenger to pilot, Windrushers style - Dec 2010 Jan 2011

I managed to get 20 solo flights into December and January interlaced with check fights to make sure I was not getting any bad habits.

Two notable items, I managed to convert to the K8 single seater and have made 11 flights in it. An old ship probably older than me it handles similar to a K13 but being lighter will climb on almost no lift. Being 6ft tall and over 200 pounds its not the most comfortable aircraft for me to fly and is better suited to a slightly smaller and lighter pilot.

With that in mind and also looking forward to getting in the Astir (single seater glass body) I got myself converted to the K21 (GAM) owned by Oxford Uni gliding club. I had three check flights with my Chum Oli B and he sent me solo the very same day. Now it was a nothing day, thin overcast at 2000ft near the end of January, I took a launch and pulled the bung (release) at 1300ft. I headed out into a small patch of sunlight over a little village, feeling some slight bumps I thought I would practice some thermalling turns. After two complete circles I noticed the Vario was reading a big fat zero and I had not lost any altitude, result I thought and for the next 10mins I circled at 1200ft. Then slowly but surely the Vario started to indicate 1 1/2 knots up, then nearly 2, I looked at the altimeter but it still read 1200ft. I reached forward slowly and tapped the panel and it jumped up 150ft, I could not believe it my first solo in GAM and I was soaring. 20mins later I was climing through 1800ft slowly but surely and not very well centered, by this time I had been joined by Gail stevens and student in the Acro and we climbed to just under cloud base at 2000ft all the time watching others trying to join us from the air field but not being successful. Then all of sudden I was into massive sink and it took me only a few minutes to drop down to circuit height. Landing a few minutes later I had achieved 41mins and was massively chuffed as Max the Duty instructor was kind enough to sign off my first bronze leg.

With Danny Lambs winter lectures well under way I am going to be aiming to take my Bronze theory exam at the end along with a couple of the other early solo pilots, I will report in once we are done at the end of Feb.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Passenger to pilot, Windrushers style - part 2

September and October 2010 where the busiest of my short flying career so far, totaling 24 flights spread over five or six weekends. To this point I had only flown with Matt and Dave but on my first weekends flying in September I was to fly with an instructor called Robert King, Bob, as he is known around the airfield. Now I had been used to a softly softly approach from Matt and Dave, lots of demo's followed by you doing the exercises, Bob on the other hand works the other way round, you fly and he corrects when necessary. My first brief with Bob he asked me what I had been up to and I had explained that my general flying was coming along and I had been allowed to fly the second half of the launch, so after a thorough briefing on winch launching Bob had made it quite clear that I was going to be flying the entire launch where he would only take over if I made a complete stuff up of it. we carried out our preflight checks and hooked up to the cable in one of the clubs ASK13's. What followed were two launches that started out ok, nice ground run and a gentle rotation into the climb, it was at this point I messed up, after several clear and rather stern commands from the back seat to increase back pressure Bob took control and increased the angle of climb as we were no where steep enough. The second flight of the day resulted in the same scenario with Bob taking over about halfway up the climb, by the third attempt however I had it and after pulling the release at the top I heard "that was much much better" come from the rear, I was beaming. Bob then ran through an in flight brief and demo'd some stalling from mushing to steep stalling. The mush is nice and easy the glider just seems to float downwards rather quickly, the steep stall on the other hand requires a higher nose attitude and the stall is a lot more pronounced, the nose falls away and you are left swallowing your stomach during the recovery. Bob let me do a couple and then it was time to join the circuit for landing, I made a good effort of it and manage to land the glider not to far from the bus.

So that was it, my first three lessons with Bob, the instructor that would eventually send me solo. Windrushers has plenty of instructors and I enjoy flying with all of them and with a multitude of different teaching styles any pupil will be able to find the right instructor for them.

I then spent a day in reasonably poor weather (low cloud base) circuit bashing with Matt. he spent the time and gave me a really good run down on circuit planning and then let me fly my own circuits. the comments I had placed into my log book simply said "prefers to be a bit close" Dam right I was going to be a bit close, flying a contraption without an engine there was no way I was wandering to far from the landing area and it would take a little while for me to get used to the right distance to fly during the circuit, it depends on a lot of factors but when you get it right it makes life so much easier.

A weekend later the weather was great with broken cloud at around 2500ft. I was introduced to another instructor I would make good progress with Oli Bosanko. Oli suggested after looking at my log book and training card that we should take advantage of the good weather and go and do some stalling and spinning. These exercises require an aerotow to around 4000ft so we made arrangements with the tug pilot and got ready, as I had not done any aerotowing Oli took control for the launch and climb to 4000ft letting me take control every now and then to carry out some exercises in flying behind a tug. To be completely honest I was so blown away by the view as we climbed up between the clouds that I was finding it difficult to follow the tug. Reaching 4000ft we released and turned away watching the tug dive back towards the airfield, we were ready to begin. we ran through our HASSLL checks (which stand for Height, do we have enough? Airframe, can the glider cope with what we are about to do to it? Straps, are they tight? Security, is nothing going to float around in some of the manoeuvres? Location, are we in a safe place? Lookout, is there anyone else that could get in the way?) to make sure we were ready and then we started with some normal stalling and recoveries, these I flew myself and Oli seemed pleased with them. Oli then demo'd the spin, he explained that spinning in off a final turn was one of the biggest causes of accidents amongst glider pilots and the cause was a slow, low and over ruddered turn. With this in mind he set about showing me a slow over ruddered turn and the result was dramatic to say the least, at first you can see the nose is slightly high for your speed and that the bank angle is quite shallow, then with the premise of not making a turn we added more rudder, this caused the inside wing to stall first and drop away behind us, within a second I was staring at the ground which was now rotating quickly below us. Oli had time to explain that the rotation speed was high but the g loading and airspeed remained reasonably constant, he then took corrective actions and we recovered. So that was my first serious departure from normal flight, not to bad, next up was the spiral dive. This manoeuvre is a lot harsher on both pilot and aircraft, it starts out in a similar setup to a spin but can also result from a highly banked turn, with a wing down the nose drops away and speed and g loading build up very quickly as the glider enters a diving sprial. Oli demo'd and explained that the spiral dive must be corrected immediately otherwise it is easy to overstress the glider. I managed to get the glider into a few spins and a spiral dive before it was time to hit the circuit for landing. During the debrief Oli said I was flying well and only certain aspects of the departure recoveries needed to be "finessed" overall I was really happy with how my flying was coming along.

I flew again in mid October with Dave Morgan, but as the cloud base was low on that day we were confined to circuit practice. A worth while day however as it keeps you currency up and the practice coming along.

Towards the back end of October my flying had gotten to the point where the instructors were happy with my general flying skills and we had begun to concentrate more on launch failures and stalling/spinning exercises. I flew with Bob again and we did a full brief on launch failures and I flew a simulated cable break, which is quite obvious, you get a loud bang and the glider begins to slow down rapidly. Speed is of the essence when recovering from a launch failure of this type, you need to get the nose down to regain any lost flying speed and then decide whether you can land ahead or switch to one of the options discussed in you eventualities brief. The cable "broke" at around 200ft so with plenty of airfield left ahead after the recovery we landed ahead. I then flew a gradual power failure and I can see why it catches people out, you don't get any bang or really clear warning, simply that the airspeed begins to reduce slowly at first and then more quickly and any delay in spotting this and taking action brings the glider very close to the stall speed. The power was rolled off at about 600ft, after the recovery and deciding we could not land ahead and acting on what was discussed on the eventualities brief we turned downwind to get us into a position to have available the best options for landing, in this case we were high enough to land into wind further up the field from the launch point. Bob seemed happy and his comment in my log book simply said "well handled" we then took a 4000ft aerotow to do some more stalling and spinning exercises, these were actually more difficult to do with Bob as our all up weight was near the upper limits for the glider, what this meant for spinning was that we were in effect nose heavy and the glider would drop a wing and begin to rotate "incipient stage" but would get very nose down and recover itself before I could take any action. After the flight Bob and I discussed what had gone on and how ballasted limits for a glider give you a range of weights you can fly in but even when inside those weights you still have an affect on the handling.

I had six flights at the end of October, three with Alan Twigg, instructor and CEO of windrushers which were more launch failure practice with the added too fast signal and abandonment. I then had three flights with Richard Chapman who introduced me to the art of side slipping. This is where you present the glider to the airflow at an angle and is achieved by full rudder deflection to one side, dropping the wing that is foremost slightly and picking up the nose with gentle back pressure to maintain track over the ground The result is that the glider can be flown down an approach slipping with no breaks and the speed remains manageable due to the increased drag on the aircraft, that means a landing can be executed at the end of it without too much speed. With brakes a much steeper shorter approach can be flown which is useful for field landings later on in your gliding career. Richard had me do a couple of practices in the air and then let me fly one down the approach and by more luck than judgement managed to get it down where I wanted.

As November arrived I was into my last four weeks before my membership ran out, I had completed 30 flights for around 4 hours of flying. I managed to squeeze in three flights at the start of the month around a busy work schedule. I flew with Debbie Thomas, whose small frame meant it would be much eaiser to carry out spinning exercises. We flew two winch launches and Debbie had the altimeter covered so I was relying on my judgement in the circuit, Debbie comments in my log book "2 good winch launches without altimeter - nicely judged" We then took an aerotow to do some more spinning and stalling Debbie was happy with my attempts and also let me fly the entire aerotow, which was good for my confidence.

A week later on the 13th of November I had planned a whole day of flying to try and maximize time in the air and to brush up and complete the remaining exercises on my training card, I had also got my medical sorted and pre solo exam in time for the possibility I might just get to solo at the end of the month. I was teamed up with Graham Bambrook in the morning and we did some launch failure and out of position practice to get some of my training card exercises finished off. After lunch I was teamed up with Bob we did some stalling and Bob flying the aircraft into unusual attitudes and saying "right you sort it out" Bob also pulled the airbrakes and held them out round the circuit to simulate high levels of sink, the result was an early turn in and landing up the field. We then took a launch and flew a normal circuit, well what I thought was a normal circuit to end the day, after a nice flight around, chatting about lookout and the weather I turned onto final, after a short assessment of my position I pulled on the air brake lever, it did not move! I looked down and pulled again and Bob said from the back "they are stuck" I did the only thing I could think of and tried to side slip in, not as successful as previous attempts but I got it down about half way up the field. We jumped out and turned the glider round and while waiting for the car to tow us back to the launch point Bob began to look around the sky he then turned to me and said "so is your medical all in order" "ummmm yesssss" I replied slowly as I waited for what seemed like an eternity "ok then, I am going to send you solo, you will only have time for one due to the light fading now but your ready" This was it! my time had come! I had at least ten minutes to get used to the idea walking the glider back to the launch point I even text the wife to tell her what was going on and that I would fly over the house as we only live across the street from the club. Bob helped me get ready securing the back seat and giving me a brief on how the glider would handle without him in it. I ran through my checks and called for the cable all the time trying to convince myself that I could do it. I heard the all out and I was off, the glider was much more eager to climb and had to be checked a little but the launch was uneventful and I released at 1300ft, silence.... I was now acutetly aware that I was by myself and it was all up to me, I made a right turn and headed for my house, after a few circles over the house I headed for the circuit all the time talking myself through what I was doing, the approach and landing was one of the best ive done and Bob was waiting to congratulate me as I stepped out, I was on a massive hi.

That was it!!! I had gone solo on my 40th flight and just shy of 3 months. All thanks to a great team at windrushers and especially Bob King who saw fit to declare me safe to fly by myself.

Look out for updates as I report on my progress towards single seat conversion and my Bronze.

Forecast for 19th & 20th

Not much has changed from the midweek forecast for Saturday, a band of rain will move through tonight bringing persistent rain throughout tomorrow morning and into early afternoon which will then be replaced by low cloud and fog. Sunday will be dryer than than predicted earlier but a low inversion will cause a low cloud base and reduced visibility.

The weather held to the forecast this weekend with a day full of rain on Saturday and low cloud and mist on Sunday meaning that there was very little activity out on the field.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Mid week weather forcast for weekend 19th/20th Feb

Various sources are calling for a rather wet and windy weekend at the moment.

low pressure systems sitting in the Atlantic are causing us issues, the one to the south west of the country will move away to the south east and make way for a deeper depression moving in from the north west. This depression will begin to influence our weather late on Friday afternoon. Winds will then steadily increase from the south east moving to a more southerly direction later in the period bringing Low cloud and persistent rain with temps around 7-8 degrees for most of the weekend.


I will update on Friday.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Passenger to pilot, Windrushers style - part 1

Growing up I think that most small boys dream of becoming a fighter pilot or airline captain at some time or another, for me that dream slowly faded amid a youth mis spent day dreaming, drinking and chasing girls. The only brush I had with aviation was a very short aerotow glider flight at Bicester gliding center as part of a school run trip in the mid 90's, Fun? yes, definitely. Cost prohibitive? probably. A little more research would have revealed a very cost effective way to get your wings.

Anyway, fast forward 15 years, a wife, house and a small child I would once again have an opportunity to go gliding thanks to my newly acquired extended family. My wife's father and oldest brother are into their gliding with her Brother Richard being an active member at windrushers. Over a family dinner Richard asked me if I would like to come down and have a few flying lessons at the club which I duly accepted, the dream was reborn, a little tamer than before but reborn it was.

August 2010 - First flight - 3 lessons

Richard and I arrived at the club early and after a few pleasant introductions made our way into the office where Carol, who oversees all things admin, had me fill out a temporary membership form and also a medical form that allowed me to declare myself fit to fly. Richard then took me through to the hanger which was crammed full of different aircraft, he showed me to the clubs training ships (ASK 13) explained a little bit about it and then set about doing the daily inspection as I watched on. Once it was finished and all signed off we dropped the parachutes into the cockpit and then wheeled the glider outside to the edge of the field where a car was waiting to tow it out to the launch point, Richard explained a little bit about ground handling the aircraft as they can do strange things if caught by a gust of wind. With it hooked up to the car we walked it out to the launch point, which is an old single decker bus come cafe, come briefing room, I was introduced to the duty instructor (the guy/girl that runs the show that day) and my name was added to the flying list.

When my turn came up I was introduced to Matt Turnbull who is a member and instructor at the club and a guy I would fly a lot of my early lessons with. Matt showed me over to another one of the clubs ASK 13's (they have 4 in total) and gave me a brief on the aircraft covering what the controls do, what the instruments are and what we were going to be doing. Matt then had me jump in the front seat and showed me how to adjust the rudder pedals and strap myself in, while I was busy getting comfortable Matt jumped into the back seat and while strapping himself in asked me what I wanted to get out of the day. Now I'd not really thought about it up to that point and was not sure what I was supposed to say so I simply responded with "I want to learn to fly" "great" he said "CB SIFT CBE you will need to learn it and remember it" very quickly I learnt that this was a mnemonic for pre flight checks which allows the pilot to ready the glider and themselves for the flight. Once we had gone through the checks and discussed what we would do if we were not launched high enough for a normal flight, we were ready to go. Matt called for the cable and we were duly attached to 3000ft of wire cable and about to be towed into the sky in what I can only describe as one of the most unique and thrilling methods of getting a glider off the ground. Our wing runner lifted the wings level and I could hear the duty instructor calling the winch to "up slack" with that the cable began to creep forward until it was pulled tight, at that point the "all out" was called and what ensued I find quite difficult to put into words. Imagine sitting in a high end sports car that is capable of achieving 0-60 in under 3 seconds, Ferrari, Porsche I hear you say, try a 30 year old glider attached to a huge length of cable and the other end being wound in by a very large American V8. Within a few short seconds we had achieved flying speed and Matt rotated the glider steadily into a 40 degree climb, a mere 15 seconds later we were slowing at the top and Matt levelled off and pulled the release. I now had time to relax a bit and look around and to this day I maintain that the view from a glider cockpit is one of the best you will ever see. You have great vision all around and with a little tilt of the head one can see straight down to the ground which was now 1200ft below. Matt explained the controls again and demonstrated what they did, now I have flown a lot of simulators before so I had a rough idea and when Matt asked if I would like a go I jumped at the chance. Taking the stick in my hand I followed Matt through on several turns and attitude adjustments, he then let me have ago for myself. Soon he was showing me how to feed in rudder to help coordinate the turn better; however being a car driver he explained causes a common problem, I was being too soft with the right rudder pedal when in fact quite coarse movements are required in the training gliders. Soon it was time to enter the circuit for landing at 800ft and as I had got on quite well Matt let me fly the glider round the circuit and took over at the Final turn for approach and landing. We had a quick 5 minute debrief/brief before running through the checks again and hooking up to the cable, I was much more prepared this time around and managed to follow Matt on the controls up the launch to release. Matt then let me have control immediately and we did some more turning exercises, this time however my sim flying was catching me out as I was being a bit twitchy on the controls (something I would take time to get rid of) During this flight Matt began to stress the need always for a good effective look out as glider pilots rely on a “see and be seen” method of avoiding coming into conflict with another aircraft. I flew the circuit again and this time Matt let me fly it all the way down to the round out before taking over to land. The third lesson took pretty much the same path as the other two with even more emphasis of look out and before I knew it, it was time to land and my flying was done for the day, I was then told that there was plenty still to do and I should feel free to get stuck in helping launch other people and I was also shown how to drive the retrieve to pick up cables and other gliders that had landed out of position. After the day had finished and all the equipment and gliders were packed away time for a quick drink in the clubs bar and then off home knowing full well that I had been bitten.

Remainder of August 2010 - Learn to glide! and 3 more lessons

It would be two weeks before I could fly again but to be honest I'd thought of little else in the mean time. I had decided on the learn to glide package as it gave me three months membership to the club and a sum in my flying account to use as I saw fit. I really liked this package because it allowed me to get a real taste of club life and whether I'd be able to cut it or not with out the large outlay of a years membership. I had three more lessons during the latter part of August and these were flown with another instructor, Dave Morgan, Dave asked me to run through what I had covered already with Matt and the three lessons were spent consolidating what I had done before. Dave also let me fly the second half of the winch launch on my last lesson of the day, which was cool. One bad habit I had was a tendency to "stir the stick" as Dave called it, this was down to me playing to many flight sims where constant correction is required, a K13 however is like a trusty old bus, lots of little inputs do little more than waggle the control surfaces and create some extra drag. I found my flying was coming on quite well in spite of my little bad habits and my instructors were now introducing lookout exercises and circuit planning which aims to get you into a pattern for landing starting at a high key area followed with a down wind leg running parallel to the runway in use, then abeam the launch point you reach the low key area and begin a diagonal leg which allows you to keep an eye on the launch point and goings on, you then turn a base leg which brings you to a final turn for approach and landing. It sounds reasonably straight forward but when you throw in wind, lift/sink, other traffic it can get a little bit interesting.

So with my first six flights done I was well and truly hooked and I had made the decision to try and get solo before my membership lapsed at the end of November.

Look out for part two to see if I made it of not.