The month started quite well with Ian Tait being sent solo on the winch and Mark Palmer checked out to fly the Duo off the winch. There was a bit soaring on the ridge too. Quite a lot of days were lost to strong winds and rain with the runway being pretty soggy by the end of the month. There was some flying on the 16th and the weather picked up quite well at the end of the month with Martin K and Colin H getting to 2,800 feet in weak wave over the ridge on the 29th in the K-21.
Ian Tait - first solo on 3rd November
What a start to the month! Saturday 3rd November Ian Tait had his first solo at the tender age of 15 years 4 months in the club K-21. Ian was sent solo on aerotow by instructor Andy Elliot with Ian's dad Robert driving the tug. Recent changes mean that under European air law young persons can fly solo from the age of 14. The same day saw John Thompson go to 15,000 feet in 753 for his gold height, Geddes was at a similar height in his LS-8 and Angie took a student to 7,000 feet in the Duo. The wave had all but died by mid afternoon but at least the Dallas ridge was working.
EuroFOX about to touch down for the first time at Easterton on Sunday 14th October.
The EuroFOX purchased by Highland Gliding Club for glider towing finally arrived on Sunday 14th after a 6 hour ferry flight by club chairman Robert Tait. The 15 to 30 knot headwind from the south of England didn't help necessitating an unscheduled stop at Aboyne for fuel. Wednesday 17th, the first tows with EuroFOX are done with the Junior and K-21 with nil wind and soft ground, EuroFOX performed admirably. More pictures have been added to the EuroFOX page.
The EuroFOX has been put to good use doing a lot of tows enabling us to reach the wave more often again. That said the rest of the month saw quite a lot of ridge use with only a few flights in weak wave. The Junior has been in the workshop since mid October for its annual maintenance and ARC. The K-21 has been fitted with new custom made dynafoam cushions. Many thanks to Mike Laity for organising that.
Newcomer to Easterton from Kinloss, Mark Palmer had his first wave flight, taking wave straight from a winch launch up to 8,200 feet. Ramsay got his Silver height on in a wave climb off the ridge to 6,500 feet, the new barograph put to immediate use! Phil had some delicate plumbing problems worth a few monkey points but still managed two long wave flights. Martin and Charlotte had a flight to 12,000 feet in the K-21 which lasted an hour and a half. Peter Townsley has managed to re-solo during one of his breaks from flying helicopters in the South Atlantic. At the end of the month Geddes in Z5 contacted wave close to Aberlour, eventually climbing to 18,000 feet but with 60 knots of headwind, decided not to go too far. We welcomed Anglia (Army) Gliding Club led by our old friend Terry Slater for a week from the 15th, they brought with them a K-21, LS-4 and Twin Astir.
The month started off with Ken Buckingham re-soloing and the Inter Club League at Aboyne. Team Easterton (Stuart in R1, Geddes in Z5 and Phil in 753) won the competition and Robert stole the show with an outstanding 350 km fly-back to Easterton in P50 in wave. Charlotte and Bruce went down to the Junior Nationals at Lasham, where Charlotte took part in the 2-seat training course, gaining valuable knowledge about the ins and outs of competition flying. We also saw the first fruits of the Army move into Kinloss, with Mark Palmer joining Fulmar and quickly re-soloing.
A good soaring weekend at the start of the month and more work got done on ground equipment. Robert organised a cross-country week and several pilots made the most of generally good soaring conditions, with some wave and plenty of kilometres covered! We’re all becoming very proficient on winch launches with the continued absence of the Chipmunk, but our order for the EuroFOX demonstrator has been confirmed, with delivery expected towards the end of the year.
John Thomson completed the checks for his Assistant Instructor rating and joined the ranks of duty instructors. Not great weather at the start of the month (The Inter Club League at Portmoak was cancelled as a result), but some work done around the airfield tidying up. Visitors from Moray Flying Club came out midweek and all had a great time. Martin took away the K21 at the end of the day and found some wave directly above the site for an hour or so
John Campbell (left) is congratulated by his instructor Mike Black on his first solo.
Sunday 6th May.
Photo by Bruce Gordon.
Weekend 5th/6th May - Quite a lot of soaring on Saturday although the some of the showers were quite heavy later in the Afternoon. Geddes flying with John Campbell in the K-21 got caught on the wrong side of one and ended up landing at Geddes's farm at Keith. Quite an eventful weekend for John Campbell as Mike Black sent him on his first solo on Sunday, congratulations to John. On Saturday we had a visit and briefing from Grampian Police about Project Pegasus which is is a national police crime and counter-terrorism strategy linked to other Police forces and other organisations. The primary role being to engage with the GA industry and residents who live near to aviation sites to provide a reporting system which protects UK airspace against terrorism and acts of criminality.
We had a lot of drainage work completed on the site, and this proved itself very quickly, with the entire field now draining much more satisfactorily. A glider from Feshie arrived mid month to claim the “Bomb” and Bruce was duly sent down the next weekend to finish off his Silver in thermals and reclaim it for Easterton. The remainder of the month saw plenty of soaring in thermals.
Winter returned for our Easter flying week with northerly gales and snow on the airfield. Unfortunately this weather pattern continued for most of the month. The tug has been sent to Aboyne for its annual maintenance and C of A. Weekend 14th/15th - There were lots of snow showers on Saturday but some excellent thermals also with Mark Norton succeeding in dodging the showers long enough for a 2 hour flight. John Thomson has been preparing for his instructors course early next month. Weekend 28th/29th - Some excellent soaring to be had on the Saturday. On Sunday the gearbox failed on the winch again which prevented any flying. Unfortunately the tug is now subject to an A.D. which may seriously delay its return from Aboyne if indeed it returns at all. Winch - the problem with the winch gearbox was fixed by Martin during the week and it was back in service for the following weekend.
Weekend 3rd/4th - Geddes got into wave off the Dallas ridge in his LS-8 on Saturday eventually getting to 10,000 ft. Charlotte managed to follow suit in the Junior getting to 7,000 ft. Charlotte was hogging the Junior again on Sunday when she had the first thermal flight of the year. The tug lost power on take-off on Saturday and is having checks done on the engine. Weekend 10th/11th - The Rothes ridge was working on Saturday but very turbulent. Sunday had a couple of pilots transition into wave off the ridge with Phil getting to Tomintoul at 11,000 ft in 753 and Bruce getting to Dufftown and back in his Pirat. Weekend 17th/18th - A late start on Saturday due to low cloud but a bit of ridge soaring late on. Sunday saw some excellent thermal conditions with cloudbase at 5,000 feet. The K-8 came out to play after hibernating in the hangar most of the winter. Weekend 24th/25th - Tom Garner was sent solo by Stuart Naylor on Saturday. Bruce Gordon did 5 hours at Portmoak this week for his silver duration.
The month started badly when the gearbox failed on the winch. Luckily the club was in possession of a spare and it was fitted by Martin Knight, Graham Donnelly and John Campbell during the week 6th to 11th February. The K-21 was offline for most of the month while it was getting its annual maintenance and ARC. The Perkoz ended up staying for the whole month which tied in very nicely with the K-21 being unavailable. Sunday 12th was notable for for long flights with Charlotte being hog of the day with just over 3 hours in the Junior. Tuesday 21st saw flying organised by Mike Foreman on one of his fairly rare visits north. Mike's prayers to the wave gods were answered and the full story in his words of his flight to flight level 195 in the Duo with Billy Fisher can be read here. Saturday 25th there was some ridge flying and Martin got to 3,800 ft at Ben Aigen in the Junior. A combination of a very heavy shower and stiff headwind forced him into a safe field landing about half a mile from the end of the runway.
The weekend of the 21st / 22nd was very sunny and not too cold so lots of members turned up and did some flying on the winch or aerotow but there wasn't much soaring. The most interesting thing this month is the arrival on the 28th of the SZD-54 Perkoz demonstrator. Quite a few members have already taken the opportunity to go flying or even go spinning in it. John Campbell has made a video of his spinning exercises which can be seen in the 'Videos' section