A great wave weekend from Easterton! Quite strong winds on the ground yesterday, though happily pretty much straight down the strip, gave way to some rough, bouncy tows (thanks Martin!) and finally a transition into wave at around 3,000'+. A strong upper wind (45 kts) and at least 2 systems going on (upper and lower, though the upper one was VERY high!) made for fairly slow progress into wind. Several flights to 9,000' plus with some cross country. Really strong rotor seemed to be everywhere below cloudbase, making the descent and circuits a bit challenging!
Today was similar with (just) a little less wind from the same direction (between W and SW) and again there were several climbs to 10,000 feet, some broken off in climb for lack of oxygen kit.
Guests, TMs and visitors all joined in the fun and this afternoon was rounded off with 115 getting back in the air after annual inspection and ARC renewal, just in time to be put back in the trailer, along with 3 other gliders we're taking down to Portmoak next weekend for round 2 of the Scottish Inter-Club League.
Photo shows the way south (and the upper system) yesterday afternoon, just south of Dufftown from around 13,000'.
Congratulations to Patrick - Sunday started as a damp, low cloud and blustery NW wind day with Patrick booked for the morning slot and Alexander taking the afternoon. Flying commenced shortly after lunch, with Carl instructing the first two flights with Patrick and one with Alexander before handing over to me in order to catch up with his family on a very unpromising day, with Angie driving the Fox, I took Alexander for a further three flights supported by Patrick, Billy and Iain on the ground and was pleased how well he coped with the lumpy air, but throughout the day conditions improved and Patrick took over the seat in the K21 for three further long flights boxing the tow, out of position, unusual attitudes, high speed stalling and the initiating and recovery from spiral dives were all demonstrated by Patrick to a high standard. We completed the training areas required prior to solo with never any discussion or thoughts as to going solo; however, after we had changed ends with virtually zero wind and a brief discussion with Angie, I asked Patrick if he’d like to fly with 95Kg less on board? A surprised Mum and Dad were located and appeared within half an hour and after settling himself in and a last brief from me, it was fitting that his see off crew was the three other under 16 solo students from the club. After a neat take off he soared in reduced sink for 21 minutes overhead in what were perfect first solo conditions and having gently descended, a perfect circuit was carried out before executing a greased landing.
Disappointing, frustrating, annoying? Depends on your gliding outlook, I guess. Yesterday looked good enough for lots of gliders to be set up at the west end for a thermal and maybe wave flight, only for the tug to develop an electrical issue that put a stop to things for the day. No winch due to a strong SE cross wind, which always makes cable breaks a hazard for cars, caravans and trailers.
Today was a mixed bag. The winch was set up early doors with a wind backing from W to SW and a bubbling sky from early on, Unfortunately there were also LOTS of showers going through (rain and hail), with gaps just long enough to dry off the K21, plop in a couple of bodies and fire them up the winch. So we had 8 launches, 3 with Patrick ticking some more boxes towards his solo, 1 a winch check for Bruce and a couple with new member Bill, then a couple for Colin T. at the end of the day. Every time we thought of getting a single-seater ready, the heavens opened up again. And of course at other times it looked like a booming sky. Ah well, there's always another weekend! And with luck and a bit of wizardry, we should have the tug back on-line next weekend.
Photo of the EAS tug standing committee, scratching collective heads about the fault.
ICL round 1 this weekend at Easterton. Visitors from Portmoak (3 teams!), Deeside, Feshie and Dumfries, with Iain making the weary 5 hour trip to fly his Lak.
Yesterday was finally scrubbed, with low cloudbase and showers going through, though some took to the skies anyway and there were a couple of competitors' landouts. Also an outlanding by our K21 in Rothes Glen with a fairly quick retrieve using the twin trailer. And the day was rounded off by Roy G finding some evening wave over the Moray Firth.
Today was more of a proper competition day, with AA tasks heading south (Loch Kinord for Novice class, Loch Muick for Intermediates and Pundits). But it proved a tricky day, with few finishing the tasks and another couple of outlandings (by the same people as yesterday
We also had the BBC Alba film team back this weekend and they fairly lapped up the sight of 20+ gliders on the field. Lots of filming done for a series on Scottish aviation, due to start broadcasting in June - keep an eye out for it.
Today, John Williams got to just north of Dundee and Nick Norman just north of Perth. Geddes, flying for Easterton, also flew well down into the sector.
Team results were Portmoak A team 1st, Feshie team 2nd and Easterton 3rd. All to play for at the next round in a couple of months' time at Portmoak. And there was a special comp director's award for AJ's hat!
Special thanks go to the catering team, led by Trish (Mrs. CFI) and Florence (Mrs. Team Captain) for fabulous food and refreshments over the weekend. Thanks also to our tuggies, Roy, Angie and Dave, for keeping us safe and (sometimes) dropping us off into llft!
Air Cadets week at Easterton 10th to 14th April 2017
As part of an initiative led by the RAF Gliding and Soaring Association, Fulmar and Highland Gliding Clubs pool their resources to provide gliding training courses for members of the Air Training Corps Highland and North-East Scotland Wings. Our latest course took place between Monday 10 April and Friday 14 April.
We had 4 cadets for the week - Christian, Finlay, Jordan and Callum, aged between 16 and 19 and coming from as far away as Arbroath. Only one of the group had any experience of actually flying a glider so something definitely new for them. We used mainly the K21 HYJ and the Duo Discus R1, and later in the week the Twin Astir 115. We were a bit concerned about the weather to start with as showers and winds were forecast for the first part of the week. However, after an introductory talk from CFI Mike Black, we found that there were reasonable gaps between the showers and the wind was manageable so we were able to take off between the showers. There were some fleeting bits of lift around which got used wisely. The first day launches were by aerotow to allow the cadets to get used to our site and our ways. All had 2 launches each. The rest of the week launches were by winch so more new things to learn especially safety things when near launching cables. They all found winch launching exciting and enjoyed and most were doing at least some of the launch themselves.
We introduced the cadets to as many of the “get you launched” support action required to launch a glider as we could. These included checking the cable weak link, parachute and attaching the cable to the appropriate launch point on the glider. Once all that was done they were shown how to actually get the glider launched by holding the wings level and giving the appropriate signals to the person giving a light signal to the winch driver while ensuring the launch remained safe. They also learned how to log each flight onto the log sheet of the day and to ensure all details such as pilot names, take off and landing times etc. were correctly recorded. After the glider landed the cadets got involved in getting it back to the launch point and then start all over again – lots for them to learn and get their hands on – much enjoyed by all. Tuesday was showery in the morning but we managed to dodge them, but by mid afternoon the clear gaps stopped so rain stopped play from then on. On Wednesday afternoon Colin had arranged a visit to the Tornado simulator at Lossie. However we did manage some gliding in fairly strong winds before going off to Lossie. Thursday and Friday weather forecasts promised a big improvement and it actually happened – less wind, dry and a more favourable wind direction. We made the most of it. All had 5 flights each and some encountered lift on the Thursday and on Friday they managed 6 flights each. We also had 2 retrieve vehicles on the go – the club Freelander and a ride-on mower kindly loaned by the Taits – thus dramatically decreasing the turn round time. By this time all the cadets were doing at least part of the launch, lots of turning and finally circuit planning and part or more of the landing. All thoroughly enjoyed their week with us. It was one of the best such weeks we have had for a long time. Grateful thanks to Colin for organising everything, to the winch drivers for all their lovely launches and to the Twin Astir syndicate and not least the instructors and all the ground helpers. All enjoyed themselves very much indeed.
Report by Angie
4th April - Some grand wave around so far, yesterday and today. 2 height claims yesterday (Billy and Phil) and this one from Phil today, cutting off with the lift still going strong, to stay below the limit for Joint Warrior. Tows into straight west wave are challenging! The Rothes Glen is a cesspit of sink and rotor, and 16 kt climbs are matched by acres of 12 kt sink.
5th April - We scrubbed early today, due to fairly gusty ground conditions, 8/8 cloud cover and a tuggie who deserved a day off ! Meanwhile, John Williams has powered through over 1000 km from Portmoak and just keeps on going. Outstanding, epic flight to look out for on the BGA Ladder.
7th April - Good Friday (early!) for the end of our flying week. Mark, Martin, Phil, Billy and Andy V all had fine soaring flights in thermal. Weather looks similar for tomorrow.
8th April - John's pics from the back seat of R1 on a great Saturday for the end of our flying week. Lots of soaring in SW wave before the wind turned on its head to an easterly later in the day. 9,000' was about the limit, and the flights ranged from an hour to over 4 hours. All the toys out of the toy-box today!
Followed by John's clip from the back seat of R1 as he and Ian soared through 5,000 feet in an 8 kt wave climb above Rothes.
Hardly anyone around yesterday, but Geddes, Phil and Roger all took advantage of a rare appearance of the winch and Billy somehow eked out an hour from a single thermal in 354.
Today was MUCH better when it finally got going in the late morning, with half a dozen flights of 2 hours or more, though no-one got too far as there were big blue holes around, particularly down the Spey valley. John reports the sky was still working when he finally forced the Junior out of the sky at 6 pm. Some bumpy but powerful thermals around, and a feeling of rotor sometimes but no sign of wave for anyone. Cloudbase was between 4000 and 4200 feet, so maybe not enough to get into the high country to the south. Andy Vidion, visiting from Norfolk for the flying week, got more time in today than he did in the whole week last year!
And we entertained some guests from Lossiemouth, including a French crew over here on Joint Warrior exercises.
Roll on the rest of the flying week!
Yesterday's sky,as Jim took to the air in R67, one of a good sheet of soaring flights,. All blue thermal stuff, with the ridge working down fairly low, but some were strong enough (up to 6 kts), though the inversion cut things off around 2,800 feet. Training flights for Francesca (getting the K21 to spin! and a couple of aced landings), and Paul Smith re-soloed in the K21 as well.
Today not quite so active - in fact a really flat, high pressure, stable sky. So sledge rides for the few who took the chance and sunbathing for those who didn't. Lovely to be sitting out in the high teens of degrees and still in March.
Great visibility earlier on, before the haze kicked in, and we had a grand view of the gorse fire at Aboyne.
The heavens emptied themselves on Easterton on Friday and into Saturday morning, so it was flippers rather than flaps as well as a fairly inactive sky yesterday. A handful of power flights at least gave the Venture an outing. Today looked a bit better in patches, though strong winds were blowing the sky to bits most of the morning. And then showers and heavier rain blew in, so not much flying. Patrick sneaked in a flight to the ridge with Carl, but then they just landed ahead of a heavy shower, and Stuart and Alexander found another gap to launch in a bit later and had nearly an hour on the ridge in R1. Of course, the wind died a bit and the puffy stuff arrived just as we'd finished drying off the gliders and packing them away. Mike introduced his newly built glider-turning rig to the workshop and then demonstrated it on his 15, in for its annual. Great bit of kit that could make life a lot easier if you can't find a turning crew when you need it. And at least the hangar got a better re-pack, with all the toys out and then back in again in a different order.
The AGM was held on Sunday the 12th March. The awards of prizes were as follows –
Duration in a club glider – 6 hrs 23 mins 6th Sept - Stuart Naylor & Carl Peters
Height – 14,917’ – 4th Oct – Phil Penrose
Ladder Distance- 394.6km – 3rd July, Shobdon day 2 Enterprise – Geddes Chalmers
Meritorious Flight – 6th Sept - 513.98 Km at 80.52kph for 6 hrs 23 mins - Carl Peters & Stuart Naylor
CFI Shield – for many years of service and support to the Club as both the outgoing CFI and all round club member – Geddes Chalmers
Monkey - for leaving the Motor glider parked so that the wing came into contact with the fence and adding some more holes to the wing and for flying across another pilot on approach – Mike Black
Many congratulations to those above. The challenge now for the non prize winners out there is to get those flights on the ladder or even just try to stay airborne for as long as you can. Commiserations to the Monkey prize-winner, I really really don’t want to have to pass it to anyone next year, so another challenge to you all.....
A washout on Saturday, apart from ongoing fettling in the workshop. Puffy clouds eventually this afternoon, after a damp start, so Patrick had a couple of good training flights and Andy had over an hour in R67. Cloudbases varied through the day between 2,000 and 2,800 feet. Some strong thermals, apparently and a bit of streeting. Jim made a good call to postpone his conversion flight in R67 when the wind flipped and he'd have been taking off into a low sun. Next time!
A small selection of photos from yesterdays rather strange day which turned out better than expected. The sky early afternoon almost looked like a summers day with strong smooth thermals and the odd hint of what felt like wave. Photos from John C in HYJ with Angie who reached 3300ft between Glenlatterach and the airfield.
We all want to see our children become independent and fly the nest, but Alexander took this a bit too literally today. He joins a very small group of people who have been lucky enough to fly solo on their 14th birthday, the earliest age at which you can legally pilot a glider. To everyone at the Highland and Fulmar Gliding Clubs my deepest thanks over many months for making this possible, the atmosphere at the club was was brilliant this morning and being able to step out of the glider look him in the eye and know he was fully trained and had the appropriate mixture of confidence and nerves was down to all of you who support and drive this amazing sport - thank you.
We had a visiting Discus from Aboyne this afternoon,on a good wave day when most of the folk who took a launch got into something around about the Rothes/Ben Aigan/Ben Rinnes area. And the ridge was working as well. The end of a 3 day flying spell with lots of training flights going on as well as XC nav exercises and a pile of field landing checks in the Venture. A good turnaround of R67 last week in the workshop freed up space for 753 and 354 this weekend. The new runway's doing a great job, with the K21 off the deck (in a fair headwind) inside 100 yards this morning.
What a day! It didn't look any more than just blue to start with, but the ridge was working and, as we explored, there were signs of weak wave down the valley as well, Ended up with Mark taking the honours for duration in the Junior, but great soaring flights by everyone who launched. Some made it as far as Ben Aigan, including Ian T, flying a couple of his uni pals from Edinburgh in 115,, but not much further. And the Perfo saved the day, as we'd not have had nearly as fast a turnaround with the launching off the grass.
Great training flights for Patrick, with blind instruments, and Alexander, who started finding out about spins in 115.
Some useful flights in the Venture as well (see Stuart's separate post), with a couple of new young members introduced to the site. Thanks again to Ian, Toni and John for tugging.
On Saturday 7th there was outstanding work by the big crew (around 20) who turned out at 9am and worked through till sunset. First order of the day was to move the whole runway off to one side so we could fill up some more hollows and holes. We reckon about 4 tons of soil were moved in to fill up hollows by one gang, while the others, rolled the strip, set out a centre line and tentatively laid the first few rows down.
By the end of the day, around 80-95 metres had been set down and the process was speeding up on better ground.
The filling-in crew then turned attention to the west end and set up runway side markers and the numbers for 08, using paving slabs - tough (turf) work! The grass we lifted to set in the slabs was then taken up the field to fill in some hollows around the front of the clubhouse and fuel store.
A fantastic day's efforts by all concerned, but we need a reasonable turn-out tomorrow as well, to make the most of Trevor's expertise before he sets off south in the early afternoon.
After an astonishing weekend (and the week leading up to it) of dedicated hard graft, we're very proud to show off the new Perfo reinforced runway 26 at Easterton. It's around 280 m x 6 m and will give us proper use of the airfield on what would otherwise have been unflyable days due to soggy ground, as well as a great kick start to all aerotows. Heroic work by the whole crew, who laid down around 200 m today, ending up at 5.30 working by car headlights in the pitch black. Special thanks go to Billy for taking on the role of foreman, butt-kicker and Perfo adjuster while keeping good humour going when the rest of us were finding the going a bit tough. Also to Robert, who took over on the main roller from Trevor (Mr Perfo) when he had to leave at lunchtime to head south. And finally to Robbie, a steadfast supporter of the club over the years and major driving force behind this project, who had the honour (champing at the bit!) of the first power take off, circuit and landing on the new strip, as the sun was setting. He was absolutely delighted with the end result. But really, thanks go out to everyone from the club who turned out at some point over the weekend and the days leading up to it to lend a hand. A true club effort! Look out for many more photos and videos over the next few days in the latest album.
See the Runway Diary for Roberts final update and the gallery for a full set of pictures. Videos are available in Video section.