Wednesday, 19 March 2014

DTE and Me

Typically there comes a time when a glider pilot moves on from sharing club aircraft with up and coming students and purchases their own glider, or at least part of one anyway.

Unfortunately for me the needs of my growing family has meant that this dream is on hold for at least another year while I fund a larger house...and perhaps a holiday.

In the meantime fellow club member Geoff Purcell has let me have an insurance share in his much underused ASW19 'DTE'. After organising insurance coverage I got my first chance to fly DTE this past weekend. First of all compared to an Astir it is a doddle to put together, two pins in the spars and the 5 control connections and your away. The cockpit is quite spacious and there is room for my 6' 210pound frame without to much problem, infact a slim parachute let me fit perfectly into the seat.

after we towed her out to the aero tow point I was a little anxious as I'd heard and seen stories of the 19 dropping a wing easily because of the low ground clearance and sloppy aileron control at slow speed. The first launch actually passed uneventfully and I only had to make sure I flew the aircraft on tow, due to the belly hook, rather than let it be towed behind the tug.

After release I slowed up in some weak wave that was present and was immediately impressed by how well the glider handled at slow speed, me being a fatty meant that I could just about hold 45kts with full rear trim in a straight line and the stick neutral. After loitering above 4000' for 20mins the wave collapsed and I started to head back to the airfield and approaching I could see that glider soaring above the town. I joined them and was pleasantly surprised that she would thermal hands off, albeit a little fast. After climbing away I tested Geoff's comment that she would fly straight hands off for several miles, and she does.

Some light wing overs and a nice circuit had me back on the ground with no bounce and no control confusion after being airborne for an hour and thirty minutes.

Lovely aircraft to fly and I am going to update the blog with our adventures over this coming season as we go looking for some gold.


Friday, 7 March 2014

British Grand Prix....ok, ok Bicester GP

Folks, for those of you that don't know, Bicester gliding club will be holding a grand prix event from the 3rd to the 10th of May.

The format, pioneered by the team at BGC, is simple and provides some fantastic racing against the countries top pilots.

The turn point radius' are adapted to a gliders handicap so therefore stubbies should be leaving and arriving back the same time as the big boys, which again makes it very exciting racing.

Contact the club on 01869 252493 or for more details there are places available at the moment.

we look forward to seeing you there.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Spring has definately arrived at BGC

As I sit here in my office contemplating what to write, I can see out of the window for miles. What I notice firstly is that it is not least not over head anyway. Secondly looking at the Cu and distant CB they now seem crisp and heavy, driven by decent energy and not like the limp lifeless Cu we get used to over the winter.

This past Saturday marked the first official day of spring, the forecast looked reasonable and so I decided to arrive at the club nice and early, one to bag a single seater, and two to get the kit out nice and early.

We briefed at 09:30 in the crew room and were all out on the field by 10am. I did a stint on the winch and with clear blue skies and zero wind it was extremely pleasant sitting inside the new Skylaunches cab. within a short space of time the launch point had several K13's K21's, K8's and Astirs sitting there ready to go and they were soon joined by a Ventus (DW) some K6's.

I took a launch at just before 12 and scratched around for 20mins below 1500 until I found a good 3kt climb to just under cloud base at 2k. Over the next 30mins the base went up to nearly 3k and I was soon joined by a whole heap of gliders, infact looking back at the launch point I could see only one aircraft on the ground.

Dave Watt set off on a 230k in DW which he had to cut short at Towcester close to the last leg. I was going to attempt a short sub 100k flight but only got out half way down the first leg when I was called back having been airborne for 1:30 already.

It was great to see the fleet airborne together and everybody seemed to be mindful of us all being a bit rusty, plenty of room was afforded in thermals and with the exception of DW seemed to be sticking pretty local, just to get back into the swing of things.


In just a few short weeks the clocks will be going forward and we will have had some of our first serious thermic XC flights done....Bring it on.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Season has arrived!...?

Well it looks as though the 2014 season is now underway....

Some of our members took GAM (K21) and DFR (Astir) off to the winter series this weekend. From the reports coming back it looks as though Friday and Saturday produced good ridge and wave flying.

Locally on Saturday the club was very busy with some of our members rigging and flying their own aircraft for the first time this year. and late on yesterday there was Wave evident above the thermic sky which was producing a couple of knot to 3k

So that's two weekends on the trot where we have had soaring, and the airfield is holding up fantastically despite mother natures best attempts to turn it into a lake.

with the warmth now being felt in the sun it will only be another couple of weeks before we have regular XC flying again.

Friday, 31 January 2014

Winter Blues

With 2014 now well underway the most common topic of conversation seems to be when is this spell of prolonged bad weather going to end?

Whilst Bicester is luckier than most with our well drained airfield, even it has started to become water logged after months of heavy and persistent rain fall, even some of the old hands comment that they have never seen puddles on the airfield in places which are now frequented by ducks.

Our winter bronze lectures are well underway and so far have been extremely well attended, the amount of youngsters coming through the club at the moment only bodes well for the future, especially now that our long term future at the site is secure.

Despite the weather, and the fact that it is not forecast to change anytime soon there has been plenty of flying. Our new Skylaunch is now fully commissioned and on some runs we are now seeing nearly 2000' launches

The club also takes a good fleet into the new year with Two Astirs, a Discus, two K21's, two motor gliders, a K8 or two and hand full of K13's and we have already had several days this year with over 90 launches, despite the late start and early finishes.

Looking forward Bicester is also hosting its own GP in May and our regionals in August will feature the GP format which thanks to OJ and his team has caught on a treat.

Our CFI and senior instructors are getting people ready for EASA with cloud flying seminars and flying, and also providing guidance with paperwork

So hopefully over the next few weeks the weather will improve and I swear if I hear anyone complaining about the heat this summer there will be a few choice words spoken..

Friday, 15 March 2013

First Proper XC day

So it looks as though March 14th 2013 was the first proper XC day of the year.

One 450km, several 300's and tons to one and two hundred K's done.

My view of it was restricted to the sky I could see out of my office window but it looked pretty much as forecast, Cu started around 9:30am and by lunch time the sky over Booker was absolutely Booming, this was mirrored by some of the 5k+ hieghts I saw on traces. It seemd to cloud over by mid afternoon but on the drive home it still looked to be working south of the M4.

Gutted I missed it and I look forward to a day where I can just rock up at the airfield when the weather looks good.

Oh well on duty on Sunday and it looks as though my trial lessons will be dodging wintery showers.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Spring is in the air

There was definitely an air of spring on the airfield this afternoon, people were in lightweight jumpers, the sun was out and I definitely saw three gliders stacked in a thermal. Unfortunately for me an accident while in the States has messed up my shoulder so I am out for at least another week or two, then I have to do checks as its been so long.

No firm news on the airfield yet, as of April we will be paying the new landlord despite not actually knowing who they are yet, but I am sure that all will be revealed and it will pan out for the best.

We have the 18m nationals this year and the entries list is filling up nicely, we also have our own regionals in which both our K21's the Astir and Discus will be taking part (I am looking for crew still by the way) Hopefully we will enjoy the same weather we have over the past few years. the sports and open class entry list is looking healthy with probably only ten or so places left in each category.

The Bronze team are making progress with the lectures and it will so be time for soaring flights and general flying tests, there are several expeditions being planned and people are planning to take our new K21 ESB to other sites to fly.