Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Martin Ffoulkes

We are very sorry to have to pass on the sad news that Martin Ffoulkes died early on Sunday morning at his home. Many of you may not have been aware that Martin had been suffering from a very serious illness for some time. Only in recent weeks had this become apparent, such was Martin's determination to carry on regardless. Our sympathies go out to Martin's girlfriend Erica and to Peter his brother. Details of the funeral arrangements will be posted as soon as they are known.

500km Quartet, plus epic flight!

315, J1M, AJ and 370 completed a 28% shape 500km flight today. Starting and finishing at BOB the turn points were Micheldever, Leicester, Great Ashfield and Mursley.

Jim and Bob about to launch

The Hutter flown by Nick Newton won the day with a cross country to Bicester. Having left his flying jacket in Graham's car, Nick set off wearing no less than 4 jumpers. The extra weight of these may well have been instrumental in his having to land out on the way back.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Snowdon on a busy Bank Holiday Monday

Monday not quite as forecast

Jim says: An interesting day to fly.
There was a lot of interest, certainly, and a big grid (part of it below), also about 15kts of cold northerly.

But the sky looked promising and eventually those at the front launched and the rest followed. Some fell foul of the wave but others managed to get established and get round a task, though not the one set.
Jim's report: There was quite a lot of cloud over developing at the 3000ft level to start with which was difficult to use with the stiff N'ly and wave too. Later it did organise a bit and we had a very good run up to CAL then down to NEW but to the N for the run back to BUC it had gone 8/8 in large swathes and I chickened out. Because of the cloud max temps were only 17C so cloudbase never went above 4100amsl but wind did drop as predicted.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Mixed Weekend but great with Monday's forecast good

Saturday 28th
After a dire week of rain and wind, Saturday started bright but still with a reasonable breeze but a good forecast. The club task of Membury, Petersfield, Ashbury for 250k was set and completed by Dave C (315), Jim W (J1M), Jon G (T6), Tim Scott (Z3), Will E (314). There were good areas of lift but there were some tales of low scrapes early stage of the task.

The strong wind forecast put some of the Vintage groups members off but it didn't stop Graham S's Petrel flying for their Rally. With better wind forecast we hope to see a few more of the whispering wardrobes out and about before the weekend is over.

Will Hilton set off for Membury for his 50k to completed his Silver C.

Sunday 29th
Sunday started with strong winds and a forecast of a front passing through around 15:00 with clear skies and a fresh northerly wind which was enough to persuade some of us to hang around with the prospect of a bash on the ridge.
Needless to say the ridge was the place to be with Jim W & Rob M (ECZ), Mike C & Shack R (GBF), Hilton Snr & Jr (KCZ) and Olli L (C30) enjoying the strong conditions for an hour or so late in the day. Conditions allowed some good passes along the ridge but required a thermal climb to allow the glide back to Booker. The grins from the pilots said it all.

Booker Launch point after the front had passed through.

Running the ridge.

The grins.

GBF, C30 and KCZ climbing for the glide home.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Gliding aerobatics on BBC television

Today we watched the weather anxiously to see if it would permit BBC sports presenter Mike Bushell to shoot one of his sports reports for the Saturday morning breakfast programme. The windsock was horizontal for most of the afternoon, so we spent some time discussing what was possible and then rigged up a K21 with cameras. Mike interviewed his instructor for the day, Graham Saw, who flew in the World Aerobatics in Finland in July, about the different aspects of gliding.

Then Will Hilton, who is already at age 16 making a name for himself in the world of aerobatics, flew a sortie with Graham, and finally Graham did a flight with Mike, during which he flew a loop himself as well as the usual introduction to the controls. He was still smiling when he landed.
The report should be shown on Saturday 4 Sept, repeated 3 or 4 times throughout the show, so there's no excuse for missing this great piece of promotion for the sport of gliding.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Booker Juniors at the Nationals

The Junior Nationals is on this week at Bicester and Booker have 3 pilots flying at the competition: Richard Crockett in his mighty Nimbus 2, Oli Llewellyn in a borrowed LS6 and Mike Gatfield in the club Pegase. Saturday was a scrub but Sunday saw a nice day brewing up. A 300km task was set with a fall forward to 360kms, a fallback to 220kms but in the end a rebrief at the front of the grid set a 207km to Bletchley, Oundle and Caxton Gibbet. Richard got round comfortably, Oli landed 6kms short and Minigat landed on the last leg near Woburn. Big thanks to Will Ellis for some really good pre-task planning and coaching of the Booker boys. All round a respectable effort - subject to airspace management...

Sunday, 22 August 2010


Having predicted a good day I had to go, didn't I? Well, having drifted through the start line off tow I just kept on drifitng until I got a decent climb off the floor at Brill. Then beyond Calvert the air was good round HUS until I got a bit scared entering the crappy air at GRW. Then a slow but safe glide back to BIC arriving at 2500ft. A few weak climbs got me back. 4 hrs flying very slow but better than gardening!

Later sat in the bar watching formation aeros with Graham Saw and Emily in the 21 and Mike and young Will in the cub. Better than the Red Arrows every day.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Task week 2 - final day

The sky looked very unpromising when viewed from the weather window in the clubhouse - or anywhere else for that matter, but several brave souls kept the faith and rigged. The task was an AAT involving Rivar Hill and Pitsford or thereabouts. They launched into a stiff breeze and set off for the cumulus forming in the NE. The following is a report back from Shack Roberts (A9):

After some grid squatting, Sunday turned out to be lots of fun. Although we scaled back to BIC DID, Steve Williams and I had a brilliant flight. The thought in the back of my mind of a retreat from the ridge at 2000ft was dashed as I watched the LS6's nose drop and flaps arch upwards as it rejected the climb we were in and headed for the blue hole between us and the next set of decent clouds. With the strong wind it was waving with lots of sink but there were streets about at times both into and cross wind. The day had a couple of hours left when we landed so we could probably have stuck to the bigger task but I let Anne have her glider back instead.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Task Week 2 - Day 7

We managed some club flying this morning before the showers arrived. Unfortunately it looks like the showers aren't going to go away any time soon. The morning was put to good use though by reviewing field landings. Using Google Earth we were able to compare the various fields that have been used during the task week to Booker and Talgarth. Quite a neat way of seeing field sizes and shapes relative to the home site.

We also had an impromptu session on Met - looking at information sources, how to analyse the data, when to ignore forecasts and how to make the most of the day.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Task Week 2 - Day 6

Wednesday morning saw a hive of activity with gliders being rigged. Thanks to Henry for capturing the scene.

Now onto today. Is it really day six already? How time flies...unlike us as the weather's not very good today. The morning started with Jim giving his forecast of what was likely to be happening with the weather. Possibility of a building NW'ly making the ridge usable in between showers was about as good as it got. So we gave up on flying and did a series of flight debriefs using SeeYou and traces from yesterday's flying.

Some good discussions too on how everyone dealt with the conditions, where the best lift was, what it's like to land at Kidlington ("Oxford Airport") and why it took Henry so long to get out of the cut oilseed rape field.

Finally, a new weather station has been installed in the Booker Clubhouse. It's available for use by all of the members, is resilient, doesn't require bateries and has proved to be highly accurate. Come along and try it out!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Task Week 2 - Day 5

The trailer park was busy this morning with pilots eagerly rigging after being inspired by the rumours of a good day. Mike Collett's briefing confirmed that, whilst it wasn't going to be a brilliant day, the synoptic chart had all the signs of a classic cross-country day.

Multiple tasks were set ranging from 200-400km (and someone, who will remain nameless, even said he was going to do a 500k). Can't remember the details but the 300k was Booker Bridge (BOB) - Chipping Campden (CHC) - Grafham Water (GRW) - Oxford East (OXF) - Booker SW (BO1) - Booker) - 306km.

Don't know for sure details of how everyone fared as we had several landouts including Jane Moore (118) in a field near Chipping Norton (which she was able to aerotow out of), Henry Ross (JTY) near Milton Keynes and Yan Clave (405) - not sure where but the photo he sent looks like an airfield somewhere!

John Turner, with Dave Caunt in the back (of 315) and Gary Nuttall (732) completed the 300k task. Think Jim White (J1M) and Bob Sinden (949) did too. Alun Jenkins completed the 200k task and Tim (314) turned short of Grafham but completed around 250k - not bad for someone who's only recently taken up gliding again after a break of quite a few years. Alan Johnstone did a 300k out & return to Ludlow and I'm sure other pilots completed meritous flights too - be interesting to find out more at the briefing tomorrow!

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Task Week 2 - Day 4

The day has started as expected with the pitter-patter of rainfall. However, it looks like it's going to continue raining for longer than expected and the amount of rain is greater than at first thought - so the ground is going to be quite wet for a while. Another front seems to be moving in from the West, so it's possible we may get a task early afternoon before the front arrives or it might be a day for reviewing traces/maggot racing/drinking tea/fettling.

Early indications are that the rest of the week is going to be pretty good.

If there was a gap between the fronts then it was very narrow and short, or missed us completely. The day was put to good use though with Full Cat prep and Yan practicing towing his glider in the rain.

Task Week 2 - Day 3

With a forecast of increasing wind with height, thermals expected to reach 3500', an approaching front with showers, day going blue.....how many more reasons would you like to be put off going anywhere? So, an AAT was set to take advantage of the conditions - 3 hours to find the best weather around BOB (Booker Bridge) - NES (Newbury South) - WEC (Wescott) - KKGS (Kingsclere) - BOO (Booker Airfield. This gave a range of options from 95km minimum, actual task of 212km and max task area of 333km.....so something for everybody.

Not sure how everybody managed with the variable conditions, but I think 279 (Bob Smith) went for just beyond the minimum, and managed to score in all three sectors. 315 (Dave Caunt & John Tournier), despite grumbling about never getting above 2600', went quite deep into the first two sectors and into the third sector for a reasonable score. 732 (Gary Nuttall) went into the first two sectors but turned short of the third sector, citing blue conditions, wave influence, strong winds, lack of sandwiches and general lack of height to make it any further before fleeing for home. A9 (Glen Alison) went quite far into the first two sectors before returning direct to Booker. J1M (Jim White) started (too) late and didn't attempt the task. JTY (Henry Ross) made a good start and got as far as Newbury South and (I think) possibly into the second sector before turning back to Booker. Not sure how everyone else did although I did see 949 (Bob Sinden) and 987 on task but don't know how they did.

The front moving in from the West can be seen clearly on this satpic:

The forecast for tomorrow keeps changing - currently there's a front passing through quickly and we may see good conditions by 11:00, so could be another good day. If the weather goes downhill we'll use the opportunity to review traces and see what lessons can be learned.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Task Week 2 - Day 2

You know how to tell it's going to be a good day for cross-country gliding? Yup, when you've committed to something else! In my case, I spent part of the day at the Shabbington Steam Fair near Thame watching gliders running the cloudstreets above. Meanwhile Dave Caunt and Anne Roberts took Duo 315 'oop North to Saltby and back via Peterborough for a 300km+ flight. Details at http://www.bgaladder.co.uk/dscore.asp?FlightID=28531. Not sure what everyone else did yet. Time will tell.

Here's hoping for a good week!

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Task Week 2 - Day 1

With around a dozen pilots signed up it looks like we're going to have a sociable and fun task week. Saturday morning started with a lack of people - a sure sign that everyone had checked the met beforehand! Heggy headed off early to go tugging at the Opens and turned back reporting that there was a 'wall of water' beyond Swindon.

As the weather gradually improved, people did start showing up through the day. Jane and Henry elected to do some instructing which was a good idea as the cloud stayed low and occasionally wet. Yan made it to Bicester and back (by car) and Gary managed Booker-Didcot-Harwell and back, via a jolly nice tea room (yes, again task done by road).

During the day main notable event was apparently that we had someone go solo. Don't have details to hand....but congrats to them anyway!

Forecast for Sunday is much better. Let's wait & see!