Everyone

As you may have gathered, we had a fantastic weekend completing the Perfo runway. I have to say, it was one of my proudest moments in the club seeing how everyone came together and supported us in seeing this project through.

Let's start with some statistics:

2 days' effort
Around 200 man hours
1287 black tiles clipped together
286 black tiles split and then re-clipped around white marker tiles
1745 white marker tiles clipped together for centreline and runway numbers
20km on the big roller rolling in the tiles
50 km on the smaller roller consolidating the runway and levelling other grass areas 1 take off
1 landing (with the last gasp of daylight!)

The whole weekend was a wonderful display of club spirit at its best and I cannot thank you all enough for coming out and for your messages of support from those who could not be there.

It would be dangerous to mention names for people to thank because I would not want to miss anyone out. However, there are some key people, without whom we simply could not have achieved this.

Robbie Mackay has been a fantastic supporter of this project in so many ways and has to be top of my list. The icing on the cake was the loan of the rollers, which were perfect for the job.

Geddes has provided huge support with his machinery throughout the life of this project from ploughing and reseeding to offloading and earth moving. Again, we could not have done it without him.

The core team of Anne, Bruce and Andy who helped with the administrative efforts to try and get a grant. Sadly unsuccessful, but a great deal of effort went into our application and this should be recognised.

All the members who brought tools and equipment to allow us to do the job, particularly Rick Phillips who went all the way home and brought his trailer out to move earth and left it with us on Sunday.

The runway is a real asset for the club and we must look after it so we will need to have some rules about its use.

NO VEHICLES are permitted to drive on it.

Aircraft may take off and land on it.

The grass topper mower is not to be used on it, nor the tractor towed roller.

Grass cuttings will need to be removed from it so we will need a different mower to do this job. I will use mine to get us going.

At last we have a surface which should ensure we have year round ability to launch the two- seaters. Here's hoping we get the weather to play with it soon.

Robert, 11 January 2017

 

See the gallery for a full set of pictures.  Videos are available in Video section.

Happy New Year.

Great news on the runway project. As many of you may have already seen on the webcams, we made short work of laying out the new runway over the last couple of days. Many thanks to all those who turned up on the 2nd and 3rd to help put it together and lay it out. Once up and running, we were laying about 1m per minute! Today, Jim and I got the roller out and have rolled the ploughed section of runway to smooth out the tractor tyre marks. This has definitely helped. We also test rolled a spare section of matting and it will work nicely!

The next stage of the project is the rolling in of the material under the supervision of Trevor Archer who is coming up from Perfo to help make sure we get this crucial bit right. He will be with us first thing on Saturday so I hope to commence the rolling and aligning at 09:00 to get the most out of the day.

This part of the process will need a limited number of people working on it at any one time so we should be able to fly whilst this goes on if we have enough people. We will need a vibrating roller driver, 4 ground handlers for the Perfo to adjust positioning and clip it together and Geddes will be bringing his loader again to fill undulations with earth as we lay the mats. Ideally, we should be able to rotate people during the day so that they can fly if they wish.

I expect this work to take all weekend and maybe a bit more depending on how we get on. So, if you can come out and help, please do but do also come and fly!

Once rolled in, that will be the runway ready to use. so if all goes really well, we might be able to use it on Sunday!!!

That is not quite the end of the runway project though. We also need to complete the marking of the aerotow strip at the west end as well. We will have enough spare white tiles to make up Runway Numbers 08 and roll them in. We also have Bruces paving slabs to mark out the edges of the runway and will use the roller to smooth out the road crossing and area behind it. The paving slabs can be laid at any time but we only have the roller for a limited time so we will need to do the numbers and smoothing this weekend as well.

Nearly there, it will make a huge difference to the club once completed and make it safer for all of us.

Robert

Everyone

I have heard from Perfo that the date for delivery of our runway material has slipped so we will need to shift the dates for installation a couple of weeks.

The plan is for the runway material to be delivered to Easterton on the 14/15th December with a plan to start installation on Friday the 16th and then working through the weekend. He advises that it will probably just take the weekend to complete the installation.

Can you let me know if you are available on the 16/17/18th December to help out.

Thank you

Robert

I am delighted to be able to advise you all of the date installation of the runway will begin. The plan is for Trevor Archer from Perfo to come up and train us in the installation on the weekend beginning the 3rd of December. Hopefully, it will only take a couple of days but it will take as long as it takes!

We are going to need your help so this is a plea for your assistance. Can you let me know if you will be available to help out over that weekend and also if necessary into the week after? Everyone can help in some way or another so the more the merrier. Bring work gloves, old clothes and a strong work ethic! There will be some preparation work beforehand. I will advise what is needed shortly.

Thanking you in anticipation.

Robert

 

At long last, I have some real news that I can pass on about the runway. Following a very lengthy wait to resolve whether we would get a grant from Sport Scotland, we were turned down on the grounds that it would not benefit enough people. This was a very disappointing result which set us back for months. We had some hope for a second grant from the RAF Charitable Trust as well but the amount they could offer would not have made a material difference to the project and may have held us up further with no guaranteed results. Therefore, we will not be pursuing that for now. That’s the bad news.

 

The very very good news though is, thanks to Robbie Mackay’s support, we are now powering ahead with our backup plan. That is a single articulated lorry load of Perfo which will give us a runway of approximately 300m length. We will decide if it is best to go for 6m or 5m width shortly as the wider the better for all of us! The material is being ordered this week coming and at the moment, they are quoting a 4 to 6 week lead time. We hope to improve on that if we can.

 

The 300m of runway will be laid in the centre of the newly ploughed strip, starting at the East end at the bottom of the take off ramp and running parallel with the tractor track. It will be just long enough to get all the two seaters airborne in nil wind conditions and will also make take off for the Falke and other powered aircraft safer as well. It will have a white dashed centreline and runway number 26 at the east end.

 

Our objective is to try and get this laid before the winter sets in so we are likely to need your help when the time comes. It will be all hands to the pump to lay it, probably over a single weekend, so expect a plea from me in the near future asking if you will be available to help out. Everyone can help in some way or another with this project so don’t be shy! I will update everyone as soon as I know better what sort of timeframe we will be working to. Expect a parallel project to mark out the Aerotow strip at the West end to be part of this if we can get enough people involved. More on that later.

 

Once we have the project completed, I will approach everyone who kindly offered to loan the club money to make this project happen. We may yet need some financial assistance but I want to bed down the final project cost before doing that. I can say it will be well below the amount we were offered in total.

 

The next update will be as soon as I have fixed a date for the installation. We will be bringing up professional help from Perfo for a day’s training to ensure we lay the runway as level and as smooth as possible so it will have to tie in with their availability.

I appreciate that everything has been very quiet on this front but at long last, things are starting to happen and from this point on, I think we shall see fairly rapid progress with the runway.

As you know, we have prepared the surface by ploughing, power harrowing, levelling and seeding with special slow growing grass. This is getting established now and will be ready for us to lay the runway.

The big hold up though has been the Grant. Although their literature states they decide in one month after the application, this has not proved to be the case and we have had to wait for months for a response.

Four weeks ago, we finally heard back from them with a series of minor questions about the legal wording of our Articles of Association and our planning status. All these queries have been satisfactorily resolved thanks to Bruce’s prompt efforts and we now know it is going before the decision panel at the end of this month. We can only cross our fingers at this point.

In the interim though, there have been some other developments which may have a positive effect on the project. One is a potential second grant through the RAF Charitable Trust and the other is an anonymous businessman who potentially wants to invest in adding another 200m to the length of the runway as well as levelling the “hump” next to the trees at the west end. Both of these are very exciting developments. If all goes well, we will end up with a 700m firm runway allowing winter operations in both directions.

All this activity will come together in August. Regardless of grants, we will be putting down at least 300m of runway as soon as possible so that we have the minimum required to get the two seaters off the ground safely this winter.

Highland Gliding Club
Easterton Airfield
Birnie
Elgin
Scotland
United Kingdom
Tel - +44 (0) 1343 860272

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