North Wales Gliding Club

Archives / Stories

This section lists stories some of our members have come back to us with.

Tony's Vintage Day Out

Being a member of the Vintage Gliding Club I decided to drag myself of to their meeting at Camp Hill the first week in July. I arrived very early on the Monday morning on the 'Hill' which is about 10 miles 'E' of Buxton in glorious sunshine. I found myself somewhere to park up amongst dozens of other glider trailers.

About 9.30.a.m. there was a flight briefing and weather report. Although flying had been brilliant on Sunday, the weather was due to deteriorate from Tuesday. Flying times were read out for the Sunday, i.e. 44 launches (2 winches) and 64 hours flying - yes, that's right. Two guys had flown all the way to Sutton Bank and back, one in a K8 (who says they won't penetrate) and something else equally as unlikely. Still, on Monday, I had to have a check flight, reasonable enough, which unfortunately didn't take place until after lunch.

The sky was full of wooden gliders never seeming to land, just going round and round and up and up - fantastic. There was a Capstan, K8, Skylark 3, OlyB, Sky, Prefect, K21, Dart, and Scorpion, to mention a few. The wind was westerly which was a 90 degree cross wind (nothing new there). Camphill's famous ridge was in fine fettle.

I took my check flight in a Puchaz, strange glider, strange site and I was somewhat apprehensive with about 20 other gliders circling within a small area. I did a quick circuit and back in. It was a little fast, these modern ships pick up speed very fast. Anyway my instructor was happy and I set off to my trailer to rig. I found plenty of help and arrived on the flight line about 2.30 p.m., it was very hot and I was in a queue of about 6 other gliders waiting to launch.

The sky was still full and at about 50-200 feet there were paragliders on the west ridge. Was there room to fit in I wondered? My turn came and I got a launch to about 800 feet only and turned to go into circuit enviously watching a gaggle of about 10 others 1000ft above. Suddenly, I was smartly going up to join them. I remembered, turn in the same direction, I reached 2000ft and joined the merry-go-round. After 20 mins. or so the lift started to fade and I noticed my companions turning away. Just for an awful moment I didn't know where I was in relation to the ground, I had forgotten this was a strange site. I did a circle and with relief could see the sun reflection of dozens of trailers and gliders less than a mile away.

Other gliders were starting to land; the launch area was full of gliders. I was out of lift now, only the odd bubble here and there. Landing at Camphill in crosswinds is down hill. With lots of other gliders on the ground it might be exciting. I went into circuit approach, all went well and I did not hit anyone else. The flight line was thinning out now it being 4.30 p.m. so I got another launch straight away. Again only 800ft but a thermal right over the winch. I managed to scrape to 1400ft but all my little spots from my previous flight had faded away. No trouble landing this time the field was comparatively empty. I was well pleased having had a 45min. and 25min. flight.

The atmosphere was great, everyone mucking in to help each other, nice meal and bar in the clubhouse. The following day, glum face from the weatherman, worsening conditions and thunderstorms forecast that evening-Tuesday. The wind had gone round 180 degrees and was from the east and crosswind in the other direction, wind sock-flying horizontal. Flying for the previous day was again 44 launches but ONLY 35 HOURS.

I got out to the launch point early. There were only 6 other gliders waiting, "Where are the others?" I asked, "derigging" I was told in the worsening conditions. The wind had strengthened as I was hooked on. An instructor took my down wind tip saying "I'll hold back on the tip when you move because in this wind you'll not keep it straight with the rudder". This was definitely going to be fun. Anyway the launch went well enough but it was just strong wind and nothing else plus a completely sideways approach after 14min flight. The C.F.I, called off any further flying that day. In view of the forecast I decided to push off home, not much point hanging around in bad weather. To sum up, I cannot wait for Camphill 2006 and I thoroughly enjoyed my shortened trip.

Liz's piece

It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and the last flight of the day. I asked Ian Samples to accompany me in the Bergefalke, (this wasn't entirely an altruistic offer - she needed me as ballast in the BF4. Ian). We launched to the east in a crosswind expecting a gentle float down. The launch height was nothing spectacular but the vario was slow to fall. ... Are the tubes blocked? Is it lift?... Oh well, let's turn and see what happens, and... "WHEEEEE!!"

Soon we were purring with pleasure as we climbed to 2,700ft with terrific views in all directions: the Ponderosa a mere dot below us. There was a broad boomerang of cloud stretching northwest and then to the east, with little puff baby clouds on the seaward side and big daddy clouds on the landward side, a typical sea breeze front.

An hour later we took pity on the ground crew and hoped that they would have completed most of the packing up I had learned to recognise sea-breeze fronts at a cross-country soaring course with Simon Adler (highly recommended).

A few days later we were sitting outside the 'Saga' Indian restaurant in Bwlchgwyn, near Llantisilio, watching the most energetic sea-breeze front with clouds forming from nothing in seconds, always at the same place and then dissolving again a little further north. The more beer we drank the more magical it appeared. Why are the best soaring conditions always seen when there is no possibility of flying? The next time we went to to fly the forecast was terrible. A nearby low-pressure system would surely wreck any possibility of gliding. (Wednesdays are bound to be awful now that I have succeeded in changing my day off!).

There was a stiff westerly wind and low cloud but the fears of rough conditions have been unfounded so far. I have encountered far more turbulence and rotor at BGB and Lleweni Parc where, if you timed the launch right you could get to 1500' in the clear gaps. A quick dash with Dave Stephenson to 'Bolton's Bump' and the little gully on the other side would keep you airborne for twenty minutes. This was the time at which I took the controls - and lost the struggle!

Ken Fixter is fond of reminding us that 'If you only go gliding when the forecast is good, you miss the best soaring weather!' This has certainly been true at Llantisilio which has given me some of the best soaring flights of my sporadic gliding career. The first indication of good thermals came when the farmer was cutting grass on the airstrip for the first time this year a piece of cut grass suddenly whirled skywards, Dave Compton's beany hat flew off his head to join the infant thermal, and Dave was seen hopping and skipping with delight. The farmer commented 'Bloody nuisance! Makes a mess of the grass' (that's the whirling thermal - not Dave's hopping and skipping!), 'It's always doing that up here', he went on. "Oh, good!" came the reply. You should see Ken Payne move when the thermals start working like giant vacuum cleaners!

The field is well drained, partly due to the slightly domed shape, but also because the underlying rock is shale. So far we have had no real problems with mud or soft ground despite the best efforts of the Welsh rain, and there has been paucity of that. No mud splattered gliders, even after heavy rain. "So far we don't seem to have suffered with sea breezes killing the thermals. We have had good streets taking us out over Wrexham and Oswestry, west over Llyn Brenig and Corwen and north over Bodfari. Hill soaring and hill-enhanced thermals are probably the most frequent flight-extenders, occurring in various conditions.

Most flights from the site encounter some lift. The Horseshoe Pass is within easy reach, with a minimum return height of about 850', and the Clwydian Range is slightly further with a good west-facing bowl. An airway is over 3000' above the field which has given us occasional opportunities to contact wave. Fortunately it rises by 2000' 4 miles to the south, and it extends only 3 miles to the west. Visitors have been helping us to explore the possibilities of the site, and new members are beginning to infect us with their enthusiasm. The future looks buoyant for NWGC." LIZ.

Flying USA

Steve Davis spent some time in the USA recently. Here is what he did with his time…. "I went over to visit my brother in the USA. On the last of my visit, a Saturday, I visited the Greater Boston Soaring Club at Sterling Airport, Massachusetts and had a flight of 30 minutes in a Super Blanik L23 which was one year old. It had just one canopy and small wheels on the wing tips.

It was towed up to 3300 feet and we had thermals of about 5kts up with 5kts down in between. The countryside was full of trees and lakes, so it was wise to keep within gliding distance of the airport. I was given the controls after 100 feet and did most of the climb, except for the pull off. I was then given control again when I did some turning in lift, straight flying and looking for lift uder suitable clouds.

It was a fairly rough windy day. The view was very good with the trees showing all their colours. I took photographs while looking for thermals before going in at 1100 feet for approach and landing at 60kts. It was an enjoyable flight and cost $50 (£30) on a trial flight only basis."