Well, I was so wrong about yesterday bringing our 2014 proceedings to a close! This from John Campbell:
There were only a few flights today with Andy Anderson landing 770 in a field up by Archieston shortly after coming off tow. Stuart to the rescue with Geddes' truck which he then got stuck in the field while retrieving, Colin having a good hour in R67 and myself and Geddes in HYJ managing just over an hour 10mins
Our tow was the last as conditions were deemed beyond limits. The tow itself has got to be the worst I have ever been in, full deflections all over the shop and almost loosing the rope at 200ft due to gusts from all angles but once up into the tiny tickles of wave is was silky smooth - 4600ft the max we got to. The sky looked better than it actually was.
And John's photo does indeed show a tempting sky! Looking west from east of the airfield towards Dallas, with Elgin, Burghead and Findhorn Bays on the right
Next post will be 2015. Happy New Year everyone!
Just about 10 seconds too late to get the most of the golden glow from the sunset! A great day for 'waviing' bye-bye to 2014, if it turns out there's no flying tomorrow. A sky full of tricksy wave, mostly not seemingly associated with the clouds, churns of rotor and chasms of sink, but Geddes, Phil, Roger, Craig, Colin H, Ian and Bruce all had good soaring flights.
Hats off to Craig, though, who had his longest solo flight by a country mile in R67 and ticks the XC endorsement box for his 2 hours. Thanks to Ian B and Martin for tows, Roger for the winch and Patrick and his dad for help on the ground. Oh, and to Sybllle for the delicious Stollen waiting in the clubhouse!
Great to see friends from far away places, Leana and Colin, having some fun and some flying.
Well fed and watered after the Christmas festivities, the few who turned up yesterday made a fist of it and got the tug and K21 out. Ground still soft under the frost, but HYJ got off the ground (at the second attempt, getting the firmer line right) and Bruce and Phil had half an hour in weak, soft ridge lift on the Rothes ridge. Geddes had a training flight with Alexander. Mike Laity's son, over from Australia on a short holiday, had a quick spin in the Eurofox with Robert.
Craig also got R67 as far as the ridge before heading back in a hurry and the chicken shed - sorry! motor glider - was stapled together again after its annual.
Nice sunny day yesterday, and a healthy breeze down the strip meant that Rothes ridge was working. Tony stuck it for a couple of hours in R67, as high as around 2,500' which is quite good going! Geddes had a couple of hour-long training flights with Slawomir and Alastair and others, including Rick Jones on a quick visit, took their chances.
Today a lot colder than yesterday - when they said it was a cold front going through, they meant it! Stronger winds, snow flurries and a lack of people meant that all the work was done indoors. The Junior heading through its annual and ARC process thanks to Mike, Chris and Gerry.
Robert's good news is that the (new) Twin Astir should have completed its UK registration process by next weekend, so he can get it out of the box again. Sadly, G-TAIT wasn't available for the new reg (just as well, really, otherwise we'd have had to start calling him Geoffrey!)
16th - No flying again this weekend, unfortunately. The K21 did make it as far as the launch point but was then towed back as the cloudbase fell to the deck for a while. Field is still fairly soggy and just getting soggier as the rain continues this morning.
Still - some progress made, getting 770 and M17 out of the workshop and into trailers, M17 now boasting its new panel and oxygen and 770's wing retouched from a bit of trailer rash.
And thanks to Phil again who, despite having a crock ankle, managed to get down and dirty with the skirting boards after his heroic efforts on the flooring, so there's no more sign of the old water damage.
Better luck next week, maybe?
23rd - Still fairly soggy, unfortunately, to very soggy in parts. Too much altogether yesterday and too much so even for the K21 on tow today. So out came our one-legged winch and we ran single lines for the K21, with Geddes getting Slaweck, Patrick and new youngster Kirsty up for half an hour or so each.
Andrew, Roger and Bruce all had single seat towed flights ranging from 35-50 minutes, with the Rothes ridge producing miniscule lift and reduced sink in tiny patches. Nothing much thermic going on and a very blue, clear sky, but the sun is getting lower!
And Robert is heading home with his (and his syndicate's) new Twin Astir, after an epic - maybe even Herculean - go-fetch all the way to the Czech Republic and back over the weekend.
What a day on Saturday! Blue wave made for interesting challenges, but a few rose (sorry!) to the occasion, with Stuart taking the K6 away for a couple of hours and Geddes and John C having an hour in weak wave at Rothes in the K21
Final tops and tails from Geddes ended up with Andy Blake re-soloing after a few years' absence from the sport - congratulations! And Craig had another valiant attempt at his two hours.
Evening time and a grand, grand farewell bonfire saw P50 creating its final thermal - she'll be sorely missed, but a fitting end along with a fab firework display.
Sunday 9th - after last night's torrent, the field was good for ducks and other waders, but not much use for flying, with barely any wind to start drying things out.
The ATC week and club autumn flying week ended with a bang (on the winch - see earlier news article for the photos of the snarl-up last Friday) and another celebration when Geddes sent Josh off solo on Friday afternoon. Many thanks to all instructors, winch drivers and ground crew for helping out during what was admittedly not our best ever soaring week. But it did turn out to be ideal for the ATC circuits, with all 5 of them getting between 15 and 20 launches over 5 days of flying. Here's hoping we see some of them back to continue their training!
Yesterday was quite windy, giving some sporty take-offs and landings, with the ridge just about working - certainly long enough to give Phil an hour and a half in 753 and Bruce around an hour in JTW (now rechristened "M17"). Geddes also took the LS8 off to Dallas and found enough weak wave to keep him up there for a couple of hours. A lot of work done on the ground as well, while Robert flew a few of the guests who'd traveled up for Teresa's birthday.
And today was just too windy to open the hangar doors, apart from some really heavy showers going through. At least Jim got started on what might be the final grass cut of the year.
During our usual October flying week we were joined by five members of the Air Cadets who had been awarded scholarships to train towards going solo. They were James Darnley from Nairn, Josh Greig from Aberdeen, Conner Ladley from Forres, Michael Ralph from Elgin and Esther Smith from Insch.. Fortunately, though the weather wasn't conducive to soaring, it was very suitable for circuit training, and all five made good progress. Josh went solo on the last afternoon. The cadets made excellent use of the winch, and we were also able to train three new winch drivers, Ellen Packham, Mike Laity and Ian Tait. Sadly the winch is nae weel. The fuel tank has sprung a leak, and a cable break on Friday afternoon produced the snarl-up to end all birds' nests as well as detaching part of the pay-on gear, so we will be winchless for the next few weeks.
Steve Frank 1929-2014
We have received the sad news of the death of long-term member Steve Frank. Steve was an experienced pilot with a full gold badge, and he joined the Highland Gliding Club at Dallachy. In the days when we all struggled to stay up for longer than a circuit, Steve would take off in the morning and disappear in the direction of the Brown Muir, returning only towards the end of the flying day. When we moved to Easterton, however, he distinguished himself further by being the only pilot ever to land on the Brown Muir. That was quite a retrieve! Steve's Skylark 4, BLE, was not an easy glider to rig and de-rig, having a three-part wing with a very heavy centre section, but over the years we all got quite adept at doing so. Steve continued to fly until he turned 80, when he was no longer able to get insurance to fly solo.
Steve was born in Gloucesrtershire, and his family were much involved with country sports and racehorses. They nurtured his early interest in falconry, which became his life's main occupation. At his home on the fringe of the Sutherland moors, Steve bred and trained hawks and falcons. His birds were in much demand in far-flung places, and he always escorted any bird to its final destination. On one occasion he sold a bird to the Sultan of Brunei, who paid for him to travel round the world first class to deliver it. Steve, characteristically, kept his journey as short as possible to avoid adding to the cost. He also bred and trained Embercombe Pointers which were as much in demand as his birds, and he took a great interest in the wildlife on his moors. I once spent a magic afternoon with Steve watching Black-throated Divers preparing to nest on one of his lochans. Angie recalls spending a day hawking with him on the moors, finishing up with tea and a dram beside a roaring fire, and a supper of haddock on toast. Jim recalls that a local falconer had lost a radio-tagged bird,and Steve was engaged to find and retrieve it, which he did, locating its transmitter from a Bocian flown by Jim.
Steve was an absolute gentleman in every way, and we have been missing him ever since he gave up gliding. The club was represented at his funeral by Angie, Martin and Anne.
Stephen Wildman Frank 20 May 1929 - 3 October 2014.
What a splendid week we have just had. We had a party of visitors from Wattisham - eight people and four gliders - and there was good flying every day. Every one of them achieved something during the week, either converting to aerotow, or converting to a new glider, or having their first wave flights, with heights of up to 12,500 feet reached. The Eurofox was kept busy, and the winch too gave sterling service, allowing some of the drivers to hone their skills. On Friday we also had five visitors from Air Traffic Control at RAF Lossiemouth, who all enjoyed a flight, mostly soaring on the Rothes ridge. Many local club members turned out to help and to take the opportunity of some good midweek flying.
At long, long last - 2 days of flying (and that includes soaring!) in a single weekend. Seems like ages since that last happened. Yesterday was a days of thermals cycling with showers and then great blue holes, which happened 3 or 4 times during the day. Lucky if you picked your moment for a launch. Andy and Alastair both had good progressive flights with John T instructing. Soaring for Craig, Bruce and visitor Martin Watt, up on hols from Cranwell.
Today was one of those days where most of the sky seemed to be going up, a day to stretch your legs. Mike Black as DI was busy with young Patrick in the morning and quite a few people looking for winch checks (first time the winch has been out for a number of weeks). Stuart arrived at lunchtime to do some towing. More super flights for Craig, filling his boots before he heads off to the US on his holidays, Martin in the Junior again and Bruce, who notched up Lochindorb in the afternoon.
Preparations mostly complete for the 5 gliders heading off to the UK Mountain Soaring Comp at Aboyne next week. Lots of gliders into their trailers and quite an empty hangar for a change!
Tipping rain today, so no great enthusiasm for flying! But yesterday was again more promising than the forecast. Obvious signs of wave around and a 20 kt wind straight down the strip. Stuart took our new(ish) student Alastair up and away and ended up around 7,000' in wave above Glenlatterach, still going up when he had to come back down. Great hands on time and Alastair's first wave flight. Next up was Andy, another new Fulmar member who hadn't flown a glider for over 12 years, though he was a BI and knew what he was about. The wave had collapsed by this stage but he kept things going for 40 minutes or so and greased his approach and landing like a pro. Won't be long till he's back solo again. Robert took the Europa away for a navex to Longside via Insch and Banff. And a happy TM in the afternoon to round things off.
Saturday, and most of the fleet were elsewhere, with R1 off to the Inter-Services comp and 5 gliders (770, 664, P50, JYC and Z5) down at Feshie for the Inter-Club second meeting this year. Some training flights in the K21, though not much seemed to be happening in the sky. The ICL tasks were scrubbed for Saturday, which didn't stop nearly all of us taking a launch and having some fun in the South Bowl and up and down the ridge. A superb BBQ in the evening to wind up the day. The only downside was the plague of midges, which played havoc with everyone and especially the campers. Ian Lane and John C arrived at Feshie in the tug and Ian Tait took a retrieve tow home in P50 on a borrowed rope - saved de-rigging! Stuart and Alexander also turned up in the floater, having brought down the ICL trophy just in case...
Sunday was a scrub from the off at Feshie, due to the threat of heavy rain, and we packed up and headed back north after breakfast. A couple of power flights out of EAS, one being Robert returning the rope to Feshie, but no gliding.
Thanks to John Campbell for these photos, taken from the Eurofox as it headed home with Ian Tait at the other end of the rope. They show Portmoak's DG505 (5GC) heading back as the retrieve of P50 gets under way, and give a good idea of some of the delights on offer when the wind's in the right direction!.
On 20 July we welcomed three new members.
Ewan Strachan from Elgin joined along with his son Patrick. Patrick had his first flight after two failed attempts because of bad weather, but Ewan's work commitments prevented him from flying. Patrick's younger brother Adam is looking forward to being big enough to start learning too.
We also welcome Slawek Krajinski from Whitehills, who has done a few flights elsewhere but got down (or should that be up?) to training in earnest as soon as the K21's ARC was signed off on Sunday afternoon.
Unfortunately there was not a lot of lift about, so flights generally were fairly short, but at least it was warm and pleasant on the ground.
A better weekend than it looked from the forecasts. Saturday with wave up to over 5,000' east of Rothes towards Mulben, a handful of flights, with John T getting the best of it in 753. Many hands on deck before flying allowed us to get HYJ polished up for its annual in record time.
Sunday looked quite more thermic, and this time with a marked north crosswind. Rescued for flying by Phil and Angie (thanks to both for stepping in!) and another handful of flights, including a very keen and delighted trial lesson and a refresher flight for Colin Conti. Photos from John's flight with Geddes
A pile of pilots and gliders headed off to Aboyne this weekend for the first Inter-Club League weekend of the year.
High hopes for some keen competition were dashed when we awoke on Saturday to foggy cloud down to 200'-300' and drizzle, with little or no wind, sat under a fairly stationary occluded front.
No task was set at the briefing - scrub day.
Things improved in the afternoon a little - enough for Bruce to get a check ride with Ruth Housden in the Puch, having just completed a 100km out and return to Aberdoeen with Cap'n Andy and Phil (by road, sadly!) to replace Andy's broken Kindle.
At the Saturday briefing, there was some optimism that Sunday would be better. Sunday morning dawned with very similar skies to Saturday, although with a crack of blue to the north. Met indicated we were on the edge of a clearance and a 2 hour AAT was set for everyone: Aboyne - Linn of Dee - Ballater - Corgarf - Aboyne. We rigged and gridded and sent up Sant Cervantes as a sniffer. The vote taken among pilots showed 1 out of around 15 wanting a comp launch, so the day was scrubbed.
All of the EAS pilots (Robert, Stuart, Phil, Mike Black, Ian Tait and Bruce) and some others decided to fly anyway, having taken the trouble to rig. Those who towed higher were rewarded with better conditions (isn't that always the way?!) with Robert, Stuart and Mike all having decent flights, though the consensus was that the task would have been next to impossible in the conditions.
Never mind. Old acquaintances renewed, new friends made, good food, plenty of drink and great craik. Next leg is at Feshie in August.
Last weekend we had a couple of firsts. Craig's first solo at EAS and he notched up over an hour - nice one! Time to get you into the Junior soon, I think.
Trevor took the K21 for a wave flight around Moray, up to 9,000' over Aberlour, and Andy also bagged around 8,000'.
After a great deal of work, Mike Laity finally saw his 'new' ASW15 take to the skies for the first time. Unfortunately he had blocked ears from a cold, so Phil did the honours.
Today we were delighted to see John and Julie Hull on site, on a short visit back here after 17 years away!
Another first today, with Matt finally getting his Dart up and soaring after lengthy repairs. John Hull then had a flight (of nostalgia) in it as well. I think that brings us up to around a dozen private gliders on site now.
The other major achievement is that John C has got the Flarm radar up and working at Easterton. The only thing we need now is a few more Flarm-equipped gliders!
A 'Live Tracking' page has also been set up for ease of viewing. This also contains a flight log of the days flights thanks to the cunimb.fr site.
Saturday proved to be an excellent day, though not the 'day of days' they seemed to have in England. A good number of soaring flights with high cloudbases and people flying for 2 hours and more. Phil had a good wander around the Spey valley:
On Sunday we had a poignant moment between the frequent showers, when Robert and Jim Tait had a memorial flight for the late Bill and Margaret Hill. They were stalwarts from the early days of the club and we still fly on the launch that Bill supervised in its construction. Jim summarised their invaluable contribution to the early days of HGC. In line with t he Hills' own request and in the presence of their daughter and son-in-law, their ashes were scattered from the windsock hill. Happy landings, Bill !
The 19th was a fabby day of blue thermals, from nice gentle ones to "I'm gonna rip you apart" ones at 10 up, closely followed by 12 down and kicking like mules.
Terrific (and sometimes terrifying!) soaring flights for all, topped off by young Christopher's mum having half an hour with Angie and then the icing on the cake - Ian Tait came down after 5 hours 19 minutes in P50 to put a big tick on his card. A great achievement on a blue day like today. Well done, young man!
Sunday started off looking very unpromising - completely wall-to-wall blue and a slight north-easterly, which usually heralds a sea breeze and the close of play. But the thermals were out there anyway and we had 8 or 9 good soaring flights up to an inversion around 3,000 and occasionally through it up to 5,000 in weak wave/conversion. TM newcomer Jim (another one!) was instantly hooked and is likely to be back for more. Phil threw the Junior through its aerobatic paces and we had a few power flights in and out as well.
A few stills here from John's video, including a great aerial view of the site.
Watch the video (best viewed full screen at 1080p):
Typical Easterton Spring salad day - wave, ridge and thermals all working to some extent. Some good flights, with Ian Tait up to nearly 6000' over Rothes in the afternoon, and a couple of our newest and youngest members (Ellie and Finn) having fun in the sun, driving Geddes around the sky.
We have just learned of the death, on 17 January 2014, of former Highland Gliding Club member Ken Gubbey at his home, Garralburn, Glen of Newmill, Keith. Ken, a native of Dorset, joined the Club on 16 August 2003 at the age of 77, and was a regular attender over the next four years, his last flight being on 5 May 2007. He flew 174 flights, logging a total of almost 54 hours, as P2. We offer our condolences to Ken's family and friends.
A good day's soaring rounded off by our AGM and prizes.
L to R:
Stuart N gets the monkey (shared with Mike B) for the deluge retrieve of the year
Ian T gets meritoriuos flight for his win at the UKMSC
Phil P gets the national ladder flights prize and absolute height gain cu
John C the CFI's Shield for outstanding work on the new website
Tony M for duration flight in a club aircraft.
Another good wave weekend. A full sheet of flights yesterday with Geddes notching up 10,000' and 155km, as well as lots of other good flitghts and re-solos. Today we had a bit of south wave that got better as the day went on, with Anne and Angie getting the best of it on last flight, up to 7,300' a couple of times. Some useful shifting around in the workshop before we got flying. Thanks to Robert for the tows today.
After so many weekends of howling gales and driving rain, it was great to see a healthy turnout today and a good number of soaring flights in bitty thermals and scraps of wave. Most of our flying machines were up there, doing their thing.
Thanks to Dave Kelly for the tows.
A handful of flights on Saturday into weak south-east wave (just 1 or 2 knots) over Rothes and then in a line from the club out towards Dallas. Then rain stopped play. Sunday too windy and wet, low cloudbase, pretty horrible really. Never mind, maybe the Spring thermals will get going sometime soon!
Busy day today with the ridge working well and bits of wave around as well, up to about 4500'. Lots of flights, all off the winch while the Eurofox was undergoing some checks. Many thanks to Stuart, Gerry, Chris and Mike for that.
What happens when you get a new Go-Pro. Phil and John Campbell having some early year fun.
The above will take you full screen. Remember to change the quality to 1080p to get the most out of the video.
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Lovely day, with everything that was plastic and available up in the air and a great turn-out for the first flying day of the year. Climbs to between 9,000' and 12,500' down towards Aboyne and over towards Tomintoul and Granton. Never very strong wave, but consistent enough at this time of year!