Sunday 28th December

Only a few stalwarts turned up today but there was an enthusiasm to fly. At first sight the wind looked too light to produce any soaring but, like the previous post, the Tors and Cheviot worked very gently and smoothly. On the last flight of the day, Bill Stephen and Alan Gibson in the Puchacz towed off to the Tors. Those on the ground then noticed that, over Cheviot, a beautiful smooth wave cap was forming. We called the Puchacz to let them know only to be told, "Yes, we know, we are on top of it." So, last flight of the year a wonderful climb to 5000'. We hope 2015 will bring lots more !

Saturday 13th December - Soaring in a Winter Wonderland

Today provided the conditions which makes Milfield such a special site. The hills covered with snow shining in the sun, fantastic visibility, (although it got cloudier later) and just the right amount of wind allowed us to go soaring in a winter wonderland. The hills of the College Valley, from Newton Tors along towards Cheviot produced gentle but consistent lift. Although conditions were very smooth for hill lift, our hopes that wave would develop didn't materialise. Still, to be able to soar for hours on end in the middle of  December is something few other clubs can provide.

Richard Abercrombie's 'selfie'

Saturday 6th Dec - Wave, Talks & Pies!

Although the Met. suggested we might get wave later in the day as a front approached, there were signs it was present even before briefing. Sure enough, straight off tow near Wooler and into lift. As is so often the case when we contact wave there it extended South down the A 697 allowing flights down to Powburn and back. Sadly though, after only 4 launches the wind picked up and became too gusty to launch. The lucky few who flew didn't break any records however, the wave only went to around 5000'. Still, better than sitting on the ground.

Photo from Mike Rose - 5000ft over Wooler

Having stopped flying though, that's exactly what we did. John Brown had suggested and organised a training / social evening and, with several members travelling some distance to attend, we waited until the scheduled time rather than make an early start. It proved to be an excellent evening. Colin Sword gave a very thorough and interesting talk on the glider's flight envelope complete with some thought provoking videos of wing proof testing and in flight flutter - scary !! A break for food and chat and then another talk on variometers and MacCready. I'm sure all who attended would agree it was a super night and very worthwhile. A big thank you to John and Colin (and Alan for the superb pies) we look forward to the next ones - talks and pies !

Colin Sword giving a talk on the glider flight envelope

Pies (and members!)

Saturday 22nd November

Not much has happened recently to Blog about and the last few weeks have not provided any decent flying weather. Today though, things changed a bit. Initially launching was delayed as the take off run out towards the village was deemed too wet to use and a re-brief was scheduled for 12 noon. By that time the wind had backed and a drier strip was identified going out from the bank past the clubhouse and we managed to go flying ! Although there had been some signs of wave, it seemed to come and go and the first couple of launches just provided circuits. 

Mike Crews towed out to Akeld Bridge and your blogger, not seeing anything exciting in that area, towed upwind of Milfield hill. There was some signs of lift but nothing solid and I headed back towards the site. Mike, meanwhile, seemed to be holding his own near Fenton House. When I reached Galewood there was a small patch of lift which I circled in and, gradually, crept away. Slowly edging South the lift got better and at times was over 3 kts. I finally topped out, just South of Wooler, at 7700'. The wave gap was bridged by a line of cloud but to the South there was a clear slot again. It didn't provide a climb but enabled me to get South of the Ingram valley in zero sink. 

On the return Cheviot now had a solid, smooth cap and over Lilburn Towers there was a solid lift. There was quite a bit of cloud nearer the site and, as it was starting to look dark on the ground I returned to the site, via Milfield Hill just to see what was happening. Looking at my logger trace afterwards made me appreciate that they are useful, not just for recording height and the location of the best lift but also to analyse your flying. I always try to fly a proper circuit - this wasn't far off a text book one!

Flying Week Sep 29 2014

The Week

We had a really great week, probably one of the best I have been involved in. Everyone got on well and things ran very smoothly thanks to George & Ken tugging and Anna & Angus doing great work as Duty Pilots. The weather also co-operated to provide soaring every day apart from Friday. On Tuesday we did 24 launches and over 75 hours of flying!  On Thursday we did 27 launches and, if you ignore Steve Rae's aerobatics training and subsequent exam flight (which he passed - well done Steve) the average flight time was over 2 hours per flight.

The only problem we had was the demise of the bus. As usual Ken Marston got stuck in with help from Angus Sheldon & Trevor Gorley (visitor) who went well beyond the call of duty by probably spending more time under the bus than in the air. Eventually it was thought that the fault was diagnosed and the faulty part removed. A replacement is on order which should, hopefully, arrive arrive this week allowing the bus to be fixed shortly.

Andy Bardgett (Instructor)

Devon & Somerset GC Expedition to Milfield

Reproduced from DSGC News with kind permission from DSGC

After a painless, but fairly tedious 400mile drive, OL and crew arrived at Borders Gliding Club at Milfield on Saturday afternoon , joining in with a flying week with visitors from Saltby.

Weather was not very inspiring on Sunday, but following a daily briefing, Pete had a site check with Andy with wave assisted thermals and wave broken thermals but no wave.

Site Check in the Duo

On Monday, there were thermals over the Cheviot hills but after 45 mins we dropped out the bottom.

Tuesday's forecast was much better with RASP forecasting wave in the valley. We found the wave straight off tow and climbed to 6000ft, but it didn't go any higher, we could have stayed there all day, in the cumulus congestus, later in the day, proper lenticulars formed but again only to 6000ft. 

Cumulus Wave

Wednesday produced some wave in the morning but a few locals (brave people) got to 8000ft before getting cut off with low cloud  with some exciting final glides from 15km downwind under 2000ft base. Cloud cleared after lunch and there were launches to go ridge soaring but it wasn't really doing that either.

Thursday was the best day of the week, with a busy launch point from early on, with strong thermals in the valley, which turned out to be wave induced. After a good low point of 1500ft, they went smooth at 3000ft and we climbed to 6000ft just above cloud tops, after  exploring a little, we managed to drop out the bottom and then had to spend some time in the broken themals climbing up again. By then the wave had established nicely in the blue and after climbing to 7000ft we pushed forward  into the Primary over The Cheviot and carried on climbing to just over 10000ft. We ended the flight with a sightseeing trip to the seaside over Lindisfarne passing three blue bars on the way back.

Holy Island

Friday was forecast with strong winds and rain so derigged OL ready for the trip on to Portmoak.

Borders Gliding Club - Milfield

Thanks to Borders GC - A nice friendly Club with excellent facilities and weather, worthy of a a DSGC expedition proper.
Jill & Pete Harmer

Weekend of 6/7 Sep

A good weekend of soaring at Milfield with Sunday providing better conditions for longer flights.

Saturday produced some reasonable thermals giving an hour or so local soaring to a few pilots. What did happen was that a good cloud street would develop, overdevelop and then decay so timing was important. Barry Lytollis reached around 4000' so decided to try and reach Jedburgh. At the end of his street, a bit short of target,  was a blue hole filled with sink and, on turning back, a street which had stopped working. Although Barry's computer said he could get home it doesn't know that there are hills interupting that nice glide slope. After a brief struggle to gain more height Barry, safely, decided that a field landing was the only option and, having chosen a cut field with a vehicle driving around it, made a safe landing, The farmer was friendly and helpful, even offering Barry a lift back to the airfield - great ! What Barry had missed was that access to the field was via a very steep ford across Bowmont water. Visions of having to carry parts of the LS4 across the river were, thankfully, dispelled when the farmer managed to find an alternative route via 3 fields. Barry didn't think his Audi would cope with the tracks through the fields but John Brown came to the rescue with his Hi Ace proving to be very skilled at trailer driving (see John, all that retrieving of Steve Marriott came in handy). Thoughts of gliders landing on the wrong side of canals comes to mind. Has Barry been watching A Bridge Too Far ?

On Sunday Stuart Black managed a full five hours with Andy Bardgett close behind on four. Stuart had time to take some pics and got a great shot of an SHK soaring near the Torrs with the K21 flying in the same direction in the distance.

SHK over College valley

The demand for launches on Sunday helped George hall, the duty tuggie, to reach a landmark thousand tows. Well done George.

 George Hall ready for tow number 1000

Number 1000 for the log book!

Friday 18th July

A clear sky and a light SSE wind didn't look promising but a few puffs of cloud tempted Graham Mitcheson & Barry Lytollis to 'have a go'. Although they managed to stay up on the Milfield Hill it looked like so much hard work no one else was tempted. Finally, after an exhausting couple of hours they returned to the site. They had hardly had time to explain what hard work it had been when, at the mouth of the College Valley, raggy clouds started to appear, could this be wave ? Richard Abercrombie was first off, closely followed by your blogger, Steve Rae & Steve Marriott. We all towed straight into strong wave near Hethpool. My vario showed 8.6 kts shortly after release and the others had similar climbs. Eventually we all arrived just over 10,000' with a classic bar below us.

3 of us headed out towards the coast but the milky cloud below started to thicken and it looked as though everything was going to collapse. A rapid descent to cloudbase, around 4000', showed a different scene with a clear slot still over the College Valley - so back up to 10,000' again! The slot ran a good way West allowing flights out to Carter Bar without any significant height loss. Another great Milfield wave day !

Approaching the top bar

Lower Bar

Milky Lower cloud which later increased. Note 'streets' going downwind in lower right

Looking up the College Valley. Note the curved sweep of mist behind Cheviot

20th - 22nd June

Although the conditions over this weekend didn't produce any significant soaring achievement,s that didn't stop it being quite busy. The Friday crew did what they usually do and had some reasonable local soaring. Arriving at the site at 9am on Saturday your blogger thought, 'Have I missed something ?' The ASW20 and the DG 300 were sitting, tugs ready, waiting to launch. No, not an early start for some massive task but a delegation going to the Help For Heroes fly in at Eshott which was very well attended. The big Pawnee stayed - to impress all the flying folk whose aircraft are dwarfed by it - along with the gliders, whilst the Cub returned for duty at the club. It was followed by our tugmaster who came to check out tuggies on the Eurofox which has now got its Permit to Fly. 4 tuggies carried out several cicuits each before Ken Sangster make the first tow with Dave Key in the Sport Vega. All went well and Dave's only comment was 'how much is a bonus launch behind the Eurofox ?' Later in the day the Pawnee and DG300 returned to site.

Sunday dawned with a forecast which again, didn't promise much soaring. The tugmaster returned and continued to do check flights. There was very little wind and, operating from the S end of the field, where the grass was quite thick, conditions were testing for the tugs. Your blogger and Ken Sangster decided to see how the Eurofox coped with the Astir behind. The initial acceleration was rather slow and, with the Astir not having the best of aileron response, a wing drop occurred and I pulled off. The second attempt was still rather difficult but we got away and off we went. The Eurofox reacts to thermals (as we already knew) but Ken thought towing at a slightly higher speed would help it react less which seemed to work. The climb rate seemed similar to, or slightly better than, the small Pawnee.
Astir on its first Eurofox tow

Head for the sky !
The Ka 21 was next and, again despite the lack of headwind seemed to takeoff normally. As the tugmaster observed, 'You need to run with the wingtip up to a certain speed so, if the initial acceleration is slightly slower you will have to take a few more steps !' - obvious when you think about it.

Lift off with the Ka21
 The next launch was the Puchacz, 2 up with Paddy Clarke (not a small chap - see photo below) in the front seat. They took off at virtually the same spot as our Tugmaster's Condor when he left. Bill Stephen in the back said he was perfectly happy during the take off so, quite a test. Having done some spins they returned and set off again. Oh no ! something has gone wrong - no, just Bill doing a launch failure with Paddy ! Well Paddy quite a day - you may as well try that on your own.  A lovely take off, well flown circuit and neat landing made for a great first solo (well, in gliders anyway, he's flown nearly everything else !) Congratulations Paddy !

Paddy, please don't crash !

Bill Stephen congratulates Paddy Clarke on his first solo

6th, 7th & 8th June

On Friday we had volunteer wardens from the Northumberland National Park visiting. We provided some briefings on the club's history, how we soar and how we use the various internet resources to get the best out of the weather. Two of the wardens had good thermals flights - on landing the grins said it all!

Although the conditions didn't look good on Saturday, Rich Abercrombie took an early launch which paid off. He climbed steadily to 12,000' until stopped by an approaching front. He used his height to have a trip down to the outskirts of the Newcastle airport zone returning via Morpeth. He's really getting the hang of his new, (to him), glider. Trevor Dale & Barry Lytollis also got over 10,000' - just another wave day at Milfield !

A classic edge

Richard's panel at 12,000'

Sunday gave a long day of rather unreliable thermals, mainly because it tried to wave. The wave worked to around 7000' initially but then just made the thermals appear where the wave should have been. Despite that there were some flights of nearly 4 hours duration and several laps of the local triangle completed. The main event, however, was a first solo for Mike Rose - congratulations. We wish him well for his future progress.

Mike Rose (L) being congratulated on going solo by Rich Abercrombie

Bank Holiday Monday 26th May

Firstly a big 'thank you' to Colin Sword who, despite having been on duty over the weekend, volunteered as tuggie for the day. Without him we would not have flown.

A rather nondescript forecast seemed to indicate some patchy thermal activity with the possibility of some weak wave in the afternoon. The first launches all got away in thermals which, starting rather narrow, got better as the day went on. There were some showers around at first but they died out later and by then there were some quite strong thermals. Flights stayed fairly local although some went out towards Carter Bar (rain stopped play !) and beyond Coldstream. There were also some fairly fast local triangles flown. Later in the day there were some signs of wave at the mouth of the valley but only enough to keep the thermals going as it got slightly overcast. All in all a good days flying.

Barry Lytollis took these snaps of Coldstream and Holy Island.

16th, 17th & 18th May

The weekend of the 16th - 18th May gave some great flying. On Friday wave set up which enabled climbs to near 17,000' and flights across the Tweed Valley into the Lammermuirs. Congratulations to Ken Sangster who reached around 15,000' to claim a Gold Height. As the day went on we were treated to some wonderful lenticulars which Stuart Black managed to capture.

Friday's Lennie

Saturday also produced good wave, although not so high, "only" working to around 12,500' Some used the height to spiral down around the local triangle but Barry Lyttolis showed how it should be done by romping around the triangle 3 times without any significant net height loss. At over 100km/h on the first triangle and then over 115 km/h for the other 2 he made a significant points gain ! Again flights went out across the Tweed Valley to Duns and South beyond Thropton.

Saturday's Sky

DG300 Climbing
Sunday, sadly, didn't experience any wave. As the day progressed however, despite a fairly strong wind, thermals gave some good flying. We watched the Ka21 drift off downwind and wondered if the trailer was going to be needed but it re-appeared overhead still at a respectable height. The end of a great weekend !

Saturday 3rd May - Our EuroFOX arrives at Milfield

After successful first flights on Friday, Robin brought our EuroFOX to its new home at Milfield. It was quickly surrounded by interested members, including many of our tug pilots who were keen to get in and see what the cockpit was like! 

Member inspection!

Apparently the number of dials, switches and cubbyholes were enough to satisfy most of our Tuggies! The rear view mirror was considered a neat touch too.

Lots of dials, switches and cubbyholes!!

First impressions were of outstanding build quality and attention to detail, a real credit to the builders. 

The EyroFOX requires at least 5 hours and 15 flights to complete the testing phase so various observers (aka ballast) joined Robin throughout the day whilst some of these flights were performed. The Chairman was particularly impressed with the downward visibility from the cockpit.

Our Chairman inspecting the site from the air.


First Solo

Congratulations to Nick Stone who went solo at the end of the day on Saturday. 

Nick being congratulated by instructor Graham Micheson 

Friday 2nd May

Whilst the hardy crew worked to get the Eurofox flying, back at the site, members enjoyed some good thermal flights. Barry Lytollis took this shot, looking towards Lindisfarne, showing some nice clouds.

The conditions were still looking good late in the afternoon when, on the return from Midlem, there were gliders still thermalling under a high cloudbase.
Lindisfarne from cloudbase

Saturday 19th April

Great day for our pilots, visiting pilots and visitors. We had wave all day although it moved around a fair bit in the afternoon and became more challenging to find. Well done to the tug drivers who managed to drop almost everyone in lift. Well done also to the instructors who did the air experience flights, the passengers came back with very large smiles and some great photographs.

It was the start of a flying week so we had more than our usual complement of gliders on the flight line. We were also joined by many of our country members who often take advantage of our flying weeks for some extra soaring.

Pilots waiting to go

A sky full of wave! 
A visitor waiting to take off for an air experience flight in our Alliance 

BGC EuroFOX - Engine Start & Taxi

Our EuroFox had an engine run and taxi on Wednesday 9th April. See the BGC EuroFox tab and the video section on the right for more details.

Click on picture for video.

Saturday 5th April

The weather finally gave the Saturday pilots an opportunity to fly with many requiring a check flight with Geoff, our duty instructor. Early wave also saw several pilots have good flights until the conditions became more changeable later in the day. 

The pictures below are from a later flight when two optimistic pilots decided there was still wave around. One was your blogger and P1 was an instructor who wanted to fly as he already had two flights but said he never touched the controls on either!

Ready to launch

Cable on please

On tow

Heading for wave

It isn't working!

Heading to the high key point


Back on the ground still looking for the wave!

Our two Pawnees finished for the day

Sunday 9th March

Your blogger didn't get a chance to write a post before going on holiday but felt the day's flying should be mentioned. Although there weren't any strong indications of wave, the sky gave the impression that something might be happening. A tow over the hills upwind of Wooler and towards the Langleford Valley gave results with rather patchy lift producing a knot or so. Things steadily improved though and from 5000' there was a steady 3 - 4 knots. The problems came with the increasing wind at height which eventually reached over 50kts and topped climbs at around 17,500'. Cloud cover was also came and went but not enough to prevent quite a few good flights. Sadly, apart from your blogger, none have been logged on the National Ladder. The BGA are again appealing for flights to be logged to support the case for the freedoms we have, so we must try harder ! Interestingly, when Kate Ashley rang to get the Southern wave box opened, we were again told of a 2 hour wait. The LOA we have makes no mention of this so it may be we will have to push against this. Having logger evidence may help.

On my way down I met Steve Marriott on the way up at around 12,000' and, just, managed to get a photo. I don't know how Steve found things when he descended but, by the time I came down the cloud cover was getting quite bad and meant quite a bit of manoeuvring to get through the gaps. The last person I passed on my way down was John Brown having his first flight in the Discus. The grin said it all when he landed !

DG300 at 12,000'