Kilimanjaro Climb

Will raises £10k for Charity

Congratulations to Will Roberts who climbed Kilimanjaro in 2015.  He was part of a group that collectively raised £162k in aid of Motor Neurone Disease Scotland with Will individually raising £10k. Will's collection is still open and if anyone would like to contribute, all donations would be gratefully received!  The web-page for on-line donations is:

Will on the climb

At 5,895 m (19,341 ft) Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest “free-standing” mountain in the world. Of the 28 people in the group, 22 made it to the summit, with altitude sickness frustrating the four who didn’t reach the top.  It was a fantastic experience and has left Will with a wonderful sense of achievement. 

After the climb, Will stayed on for a 3-day safari which he said was also a wonderful experience.

Will on the Summit with Goodluck

... and now for something completely different !

Flying !

Yes, do you remember that thing we used to do ? Well today, Sunday 13th December, we actually managed not only to fly but to soar !

The day did not start well with Milfield lying in a pool of quite dense fog. When your blogger arrived the windsock could not be seen from the clubhouse. By the time Stuart had done a briefing it was starting to clear and we duly got a couple of gliders ready. With a forecast wind of SE, Stuart and your blogger thought there was a slight possibility of wave up the right hand side of the valley. Just before taking the first launch Stuart pointed out a slight bar down towards Wooler but I decided to try the top of the valley first. On the way there were patches where we climbed quite well (Ka21 behind the Pawnee) but it was quite rough. Pulling off at 2500' I wondered if 3000' might not have been better but, pushing forward through quite strong sink to the corner of the triangular wood and the valley running along to Goldscleugh, I reached lift which rapidly strengthened. Around 3500' the vario was showing 6.7kts but there was quite a small beat available. Having reported wave John Brown joined me and also climbed away in the Astir. Knowing others were waiting to fly I returned to the field after having reached 5800'. By this time both the Alliance and the DG were ready to launch and they, the Ka21 and a 2nd launch of the Astir all contacted wave. Stuart reached 6000' and, from 5 launches we flew over 6.5 hours, a wonderful change from the last couple of months !

Bill Brittain (checked by Robin) and Robin Johnson (checked by Colin) both completed bi-annual training flights of around an hour each in the Eurofox so, all in all a really good day.

Club Flying Week

We had moderate wave or hill lift most days but Friday brought really strong wave with climb rates of up to 17kts! Our visitors had good flights with Lee Davidson (Anglia GC) in his Kestrel 19 getting to 10,000ft beating his brother Brett (also Anglia GC) by 1,500ft. John McKenzie (Derby & Lancs GC) got to 8,500ft and Robert Tatlow (Darlton GC) in his Janus got to 8,200ft before heading back early for one of Brenda's pies.

Our own members also had great flights with Steve Rae (Lak12) reaching 16,000ft, Stuart Black (DG300) 13,000ft, Derek Ward (Mosquito) 9,000ft and Trevor Dale (Pilatus B4) 8,600ft.

The tuggies didn't seem quite so enamoured with the conditions which was probably due to strong rotor being handily placed between the drop off point and the airfield! They did report that it was particularly motivating to hear the glider pilots cheerily reporting smooth conditions, 10 up and passing 7,000ft as they were being thrown around on the downwind leg!!!

Views from Trevor's Pilatus (Smoke button?)

7th - 9th August - A Good Weekend

As well as Alex's solo on Saturday (see separate post) the rest of the weekend provided some great flying. Friday produced some decent thermal flying with, yet again, the appearance of a sea breeze front but Sunday was the best day. We had a slow start, with few members and little enthusiasm because of the low cloud and spits and spots of drizzle. Some of us decided to make preparations for our trip to Buckminster next weekend so trailers were got out and washed (must make a good impression !) and gliders prepared to be de-rigged. Your blogger was bringing his glider over to the clubhouse to de-rig when he noticed that there appeared to be a fairly clear edge to the cloud down towards Wooler. It didn't take much persuasion to get a tow and, pulling off at 2000' there was a solid 3kts. We had 2 visitors from RAF Boulmer who had flown at Hus Bos and were thinking they might join. Well, Bill Stephen showed them what a great site Milfield is - the grins said it all - and we think they are joining. The sky steadily cleared, the sunshine stopping the cold as we continued climbing. The wave box was opened when your blogger passed 17,500' still climbing at around 2.5kts  but, sadly it didn't work much higher and, after a bit of searching a maximum height of just over 18,400' was reached. Alastair Fish and Barry Lytollis both got over 10,000', Barry winning the prize for the most interesting photo taken near Howtel. Was the answer "yes" we wondered ?

Could there be a better location for a gliding club?

and who said wave bars are straight ?

A Double First at Borders GC

Congratulations to Alex Crews who went solo on Saturday Aug 8th and completed his flight with an excellent circuit and landing. Alex was sent solo by the duty instructor Geoff Forster, who looked very relieved when Alex landed. It turned out that Alex was the first student that Geoff had sent off solo, no wonder he looked slightly anxious!  

Another nervous spectator was Alex's grandfather, Mike Crews, who was heard to say that he hadn't been this stressed since the birth of his son, Alex's dad!!  

Alex has been the first student to benefit from the club Junior Member Support Scheme whereby membership for those under 18 is free for 2015 and for every paid instructional flight, the next one is free. Our club charges are also some of the lowest in the country making this a great time to learn to fly for all aspiring pilots, particularly those under 18.

Goeff and Alex next to the K21

Glider Aerobatic Competition at Pocklington

A big congratulations to Trevor Dale who managed to take the silver medal at Sports Level at the first ever Glider Aerobatic Competition at Pocklington. Trevor's glider is currently in Austria being painted but he was able to compete thanks to the generosity of an aerobatic friend - Professor Michael Corcoran (Camphill), who graciously allowed him to fly his Pilatus B4.

New addition to the BGC Fleet

Friday saw the arrival of  G-CJZB, a Glaser-Dirks DG-505 which was purchased from a syndicate based at Bicester. Richard Abercrombie collected the glider on Thursday and brought it back to Milfield for rigging on Friday.

On Friday morning, a very enthusiastic team gathered to rig our new purchase with Andy Bardgett and Barry Lytollis supervising the process.  Andy, Barry and Geoff Forster had been part of the BGC team who had inspected and flown G-CJZB prior to purchase and were familiar with how it should go together. 

Andy gets the ball rolling
Having got the glider out the compound, we waited a few minutes until our Chaiman and chief negotiator, Mark Fielding, arrived before opening the box! During his time as Chairman, Mark has been a driving force of the club's aim to have a modern gliding fleet and he was excited at the prospect of flying our new arrival. 

Rigging commences

Wings on

Main pins in

Almost there

All done - DI'd  and ready to fly

Andy and Mark took G-CJZB for her first flight at Milfield and enjoyed it so much they went back up again. In fact it was hard to get Andy out of the glider all day as he checked out pilots and instructors. Rumour had it he was removed with the batteries when it was put back in the hangar in the evening!!

Andy and Mark ready for the first flight

Andy and Dennis Westgarth looking for wave

Last flight of the day - Barry finally gets to fly!

British National Glider Aerobatic Championships - Saltby 2015

Trevor Dale flew the flag for Borders GC successfully by taking the Bronze Medal in the Sports Class at the British National Glider Aerobatic Championships with an overall score of 74% after flying two programmes.  This has also qualified him for the BGA Sports Level Aerobatic Badge (need to score more than 70% at a contest and be witnessed by the Chief Judge). Overall, in the Handicapped Consolidated results he finished 7th out of 19 pilots which included the current World Champion (from Poland) the former World Champion (Dietmar Poll) and the current British Champion (Paul Conran) - needless to say - he was well chuffed!

(Update June 1st - The BGA have now granted Trevor the Sports Level Aerobatic Badge and duly stamped and signed his Gliding Certificate.)

Trevor would like to extend a special thank you to the extremely generous help that Dennis Westgarth gave him in preparing his trailer leading up to this event, without which he reckons he would never have got 'ZD' there.

The BGA Sports Level Aerobatic Badge

Trevor being presented with the Bronze Medal by the Duke of Rutland

Not content with winning a Bronze, Trevor and Ken Marston recently insulated our main briefing room in the club house. Thanks to both for making the place warmer and more economical to heat.

Trevor and Ken at work

Bank Holiday weekend 24th - 26th May

The Bank holiday weekend got off to a good start with a busy Saturday, 26 launches and around 40 hours flown ! There was some enthusiastic cross country declarations made, which is great to see. Several pilots declared Selkirk West (thank you BGA, Bowhill House to us) Out & Returns for Silver Distance / 100km Diploma / 100k Diploma speed badges. Sadly, as they got further inland the conditions deteriorated and they all turned back in the Newton St.Boswell or Jedburgh areas. Still, good practice and sensible tactics in returning to the better soaring conditions nearer the site. The consensus opinion was that there was some wave which was producing powerful thermals, some even reported at over 9kts on an averager !  What did happen, later in the day, was something your blogger hasn't ever experienced before. We had wave induced thermals over the high ground between Cheviot and the A697, going to around 6000', but then, just a mile or 2 downwind, 2 areas of sea breeze fronts, one down near Wooler and the other around the North of the site - amazing. Stuart Black looked at the RASP and it clearly showed the dead air to the west were everyone turned back and also the intruding sea air. Mark Williams is clearly getting the taste for cross country flying in the K6e as he made use of the wave induced thermals to go to Rothbury and back.

Sunday started off rather slowly but later in the day conditions improved with Derek Ward taking the K21 up to 7000'

Monday started rather grey with the Tors working but quite soon it got thermic although it didn't appear to be favourable for any cross country flights. However, w probably didn't fly in the best part of the day - late afternoon, after everyone had flown, the cloudbase seemed to rise and some streeting appeared. What your blogger doesn't know, because I went home before he landed, is what Steve Rae got up to. He will go on the achievements board with his 6 hour 40 minute flight !

Tug pilot's view of the last flight of the day

Sunday 26th April

Saturday's superb afternoon  thermals were followed by some pretty good ones on Sunday. After a slightly tricky start the lift built up steadily and, for a few hours, we had cracking conditions. Your blogger flew around the 'Old Gits' Triangle' albeit with a large detour on the way to Rothbury when rain looked to have killed the task. Having diverted to Powburn a clear slot emerged allowing the task to be completed. Adrian Loening went on an exploratory trip towards Whiteadder Reservoir but turned back at Duns, again because of the showers. Eventually these became quite widespread and, with some being of sleet and snow, this put and end to the days flying.

Thursday 9th April

It was agreed that no one could remember a flying week where we did so much flying ! The running total so far was 104 launches but comment was made that, whilst we have had busier days in terms of number of launches, these were because pilots had problems staying up and took re-lights. This week pilots have taken off only to stay up for 2, 3, 4 or 5 hours. It will be interesting to work out the total number of hours flown this week.

Today provided wave induced thermals which went to the top of a heavy inversion around 5000' Later in the day the wave became stronger and the later launches got to around 9000'. With such a stable high pressure area producing a marked inversion and not helped by heather burning on the high ground, (which, incidently, could be seen on the various satellite images), the visibility was awful. The photo below shows the stark contrast in air quality at the top of the inversion.

Tango Papa at the top of the inversion

Tuesday 7th April

Whilst conditions didn't seem to match the weather forecast and were not the easiest, we enjoyed another day of wonderful Milfield soaring today. Roger Starling once again made a pig of himself with a 4h 20m flight but was beaten to Hog of the Day title by Andrew Cluskey who managed 4h 25m ! Mind, Andrew Johnston clocked up 5h 40m in 2 flights - these visitors do make the most of their trips.

Although conditions were tricky and it was quite rough there were some descent thermals around. Your blogger shared a thermal with Bill Winthrop which for a while was averaging 7.5 kts ! And, of course, it wouldn't be Milfield without a spot of wave. At the end of the day the thermals were working up into a raggy line of lift which eventually turned into wave but which only worked to around 5000'.

Your blogger has flown at Milfield since 1975 and is still discovering new sights. I think this is one of the more impressive hill forts which, I think, is on Mow Law, just South of Yetholm. I can't ever remember seeing this before. Wow !

Saturday 21st & Sunday 2nd March

One of the great things about Milfield is that we have so many options when it comes to soaring. This weekend was a good illustration. On Saturday, with a fairly low cloudbase and a fresh NE wind, we enjoyed ridge soaring from Yeavering Bell down to Wooler and back. There are signs of spring though and there were also some suprisingly good thermals, your blogger had a solid 3 kt climb near Branxton. Sunday dawned with a complete transformation of the weather, a light SW wind and blue skies. There was no obvious signs of wave but early flights found a fairly small area behind the Milfield Hill which allowed some quite long flights, including a 2 hour + flight for Paddy Clarke -well done. Your blogger had arrived late and joined the group of 3 gliders which were, frustratingly, sticking below 3000'. I thought I saw a glider well above us over the high ground towards Cheviot and, on checking with base realised that Mike Rose wasn't with us. Mike helpfully told us that he had contacted wave on the higher ground behind Yeavering Bell and, on arriving there, found that it was still present. It wasn't a classic wave day as the lift appeared in lots of small patches but later in the day there were some quite strong bits of lift which allowed some fun. 90 kts and still going up is hard to beat ! As usual, after the hangar doors were closed the sky got better and better, there were bits of wave all over the sky. Some photos taken on the way home show the end of another brilliant day at Milfield.

A sky full of flying saucers

Sunday 8th February 2015

Although it appeared to be flat calm on the ground the Met forecast showed reasonable winds aloft. After the usual briefing, "never rule out wave", launching commenced and the tows headed for the Tors. Reports came back that the hills were working well and the first flights were already on Cheviot. Whilst it may just have been hill lift it was very smooth and worked to over 5000'. Later, though, there was evidence that wave was present. Your blogger went to the Tors and struggled to find any lift until pushing forward across the valley to be rewarded with a decent climb. Using the height gained on Cheviot allowed a search over quite an area which confirmed areas of wave. However, the main thing to report was the spectacular views over the hills. We are so lucky to be able to go soaring throughout the year and have landscapes like this to enjoy.

The Astir soaring over the snow dusted hills


The distictive avenue of trees at Pallinsburn House

First Flying of 2015

Saturday Jan 3

After the cloud cleared away we had 14 launches with most pilots finding enough lift to have good flights. Lewis Loening took advantage of the conditions and converted to our single seat Astir. He also managed a really nice landing on his first flight on type, well done Lewis.

A nice start to the New Year with blue skies and great views from the air.

Lewis on approach

SuperCub Landing

Sunday Jan 4

Arriving at the site this morning we were greeted by some whispy wave bars - looking rather a long way downwind. Although the Met Office forecast didn't mention wave, RASP did, particularly later in the day. By the time we launched however, there was only clear blue sky and so the first 2 launches went to the Tors. The climb out was good and reaching the hills there was smooth, gentle lift. As the 2nd flight was just a currency check and P2 wanted to try for an hour flight, we decided to return to Milfield. I suggested we use our height to check for any wave and, on reaching Akeld the vario swung up. Tracking towards Wooler rewarded us with 6kts so, having reached 4000' we returned to the site. Sadly the demand for the Ka21 meant the P2 couldn't try for an hour and possible Silver height. Having found the wave several pilots contacted it and enjoyed some great rates of climb, 6 - 8kts at times. By the end of the day the best height was a little over 10,000' but, with the wind strengthening, the last few circuits and landings were 'exciting' to put it mildly. Anyway, a great start to the year for the Sunday crowd.

Funny the things you see. In the middle of nowhere this was spotted. From a distance it looked like ATV and I thought it was a training site for All Terran Vehicles - but a zoomed photo just shows a wiggling track across a field.