Saturday, 19 August 2017

Air League last day - they say thanks to everyone at Booker

Mixed weather today with strong winds and heavy showers forecast.

The Air League group presented the club with a card, a bunch of bananas and some beer. That was very kind, thank you all very much.

To quote the course members: "The most fantastic experience of our lives, thank you Booker"

To quote our CFI: "A fantastic group of students who did really well in some sometimes very testing weather conditions".

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Air League - 2 more days to go (Thursday 17 August)

The weather will hopefully be kind to the course. A frontal system just passed us, the cloudbase is expected to rise during the morning and be reasonable pm.

The midday forecast sounding for Buckingham looks like this

Turned out to be a very good afternoon with 20 knot winds at flying heights. Strong thermals and streeting.

The course is proceeding well with a visit from Mel who was filming some of the activity for the Air League and Andy Perkins who popped in to say hello and see how the course was progressing.

Steve in his creative way managed two real launch failures - an indication of how difficult the conditions were for aerotow. Thulani was with Steve and took the launch failure in his matter of fact way.

The strong winds meant we were unable to progress those nearer solo and get them off on their own. The whole course can now fly gliders and land them, circuit planning and aerotow launches need some polish - sadly time is against us. Well done to Cara, Becky, Mwila, Alyscia and Thulani, a very tiring and productive two weeks.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Tuesday16 and Wednesday 17 - Balloon runs out of hot air and looks for a top up

The weather was soarable for a good part of the day, with a frontal system approaching from the west. Flyable all day with a fair number of single seaters preparing for various tasks, and Graham Saw out in his yellow peril treating us to a series of air displays as he preps for the comp.

Early in the morning we were treated to a sight of a balloon landing behind the trees at Wycombe Air Park. My best guess is he was trying to get a top up of hot air from the clubhouse - but couldn't quite make it.

Can you spot it?

The Air League Course continues to progress. Mwila is shown here preparing for her next flight. Mwila started from zero at the beginning of the course and is now handling the whole flight with occasional prompts from the instructor. Well done.

Tuesday - a nice day out in the country

While the Air League group was getting on with week 2 of their course, various single seaters set off to explore. There were 6kt thermals to be found, but also areas where nothing much was happening, resulting in a bit of engine work, a couple of visitors to Bicester for an aerotow, and a Pawnee retrieve from a field near Swindon. Nice views though.

Heading for Pitsford reservoir

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Thursday and Friday - flying at last.

Much improved weather and the Air League have 2 busy flying days.

Thursday brought a number of 15m gliders out for an airing. Strong thermals albeit broken at times.

Friday brought a mixture of early good weather with good thermals and an approaching front that brought lower cloud and cooler weather.

Richard at the morning briefing explaining how the weather front will affect the day.

The motor glider getting ready for departure during Thursday's training.

Very many thanks to all the tug pilots and helpers, and especially to Henry Ross who selflessly gave up a week to help us keep the course going, even when the weather was dreadful.

Let's look forward to another good week next week.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Wednesday 9th - Air league cadets in the classroom all day

The weather was pretty awful with low cloud and rain all day.

Lectures all day.

Richard gave us a talk on circuit planning and approach control, Henry gave practical tuition in Daily Inspection procedures. Then a visit to the control tower to help understand how that all works and then back into the classroom for a talk on stalling.

Before we knew it, it was time to pack up and go home.

Looking forward to a great day tomorrow - we may even fly!

8.30 start tomorrow.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Tuesday 8 August - Air League spend day in the classroom

Low cloud and rain meant we were unable to get flying. The day was usefully spent with a series of talks and getting the basics clear in readiness for flying.

Henry Ross gave our course members a training session in the flight simulator. Great fun for everyone involved. Thanks Henry.

Tomorrow looks like more briefings, including Daily Inspections, circuits and stalling.

These pictures are from yesterday - Nick and Henry getting the course underway .

Monday afternoon cleared sufficiently to get some launches done.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Sunday better than expected!

A busy Sunday with better than expected lift all day. Back to the more traditional British summer weather next week....

Congratulations to Lincoln Hirst on his first solo, and half an hour's soaring to boot! Well done!

6 August - a reminder of summer

Isn't this what summer is supposed to look like?

Plenty of members were out yesterday to take advantage of good conditions, a pleasant change from recent days (weeks).........

Friday, 4 August 2017

3 August - very windy and very gusty

Winds at 1000ft QNH forecast at 35 knots with gusts of 10-15 knots.

Just a little too much for the early pilots to practise their flying skills, so it was into the classroom for the second day.

Topics covered were Stalling, Daily Inspections, Airbrakes and Approach control, Circuit Planning and practical navigation in preparation for the Bronze C exam. It was great to see so many enthusiastic trainees joining in - good fun.

Jane and John getting to grips with a 1:500000 aeronautical chart

2 August - a very wet day

We saw the strangest thing outside the workshop,  we know they are brilliant engineers - but surely this will be just a little too difficult to get into the air?

This is the aircraft prop used in Harrison Ford's "The last Crusade". The cockpit is now full of brambles but in the film it was seen roaring through the tunnel with flames.

We kept ourselves going at the club with loads of groundschool and several pots of tea.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

1 August - Is it summer yet?

The weather was cycling rather quickly. Rapid over development followed by a few light showers and overcast, clearing through every few hours and all happening again.

Some good local soaring at times (a reward for the persistent).

The day started with a short brief at 8.30 and then out on the field for some early flight training. many thanks to Jim, who volunteeered to fly the Pawnee all day and keep us moving along with his enthusiasm.

Louis Mattey continued some intensive training, trying to get to grips with the aerotow and experiencing the fun of spins in the K13.

Welcome to James Clare, our new pupil. James is a lock keeper,  how is that for an unusual job?  James has embarked on a flexi course to get himself solo and beyond.

The sky at 2pm

 Paul getting ready to take Alex Mann on his first trial lesson. Rumour has it that will not be the last time we see Alex. Many thanks to Paul and Nick for flying with our trial lessons today.

The day ended with ground school covering circuit planning and approach control.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Regionals final day

Nils and Richard tried very hard to find some nice weather for a final task but there was an ominous blue blob on the chart heading in our direction.

That blue thing doesn't look good
Richard therefore moved on to prize giving, and awarded the cup to Ken Barker - he had left with his JS1 to fly in a comp at Aston Down so scorer Pete accepted the trophy on his behalf.

Ken's landlord accepts the cup
Joint second place went to Mark Davenport and our very own Denis Campbell. There were also prizes for everyone down to around 8th place, thanks to our sponsors.

Richard then thanked everyone who had helped to make the comp a success:
Chairing the organising committee - William Parker
Deputy Director and Scorer - Pete Wyld
Assistant Task setter and Sniffer - Tim Scott
Met Man - Nils Wedi
Grid Marshal - Bob Sinden
Control -  Bob Smith, Jane Moore
Catering and bar - John Hubberstey
Tug pilots - Bob Davey, Jim Roland, Jack Luxton, Rocky, Pete Wyld, Rob Turner, Dave Byass
Cadets - Anna, Maddi, Michael, Luis, Samuel, Kyle
Office staff - Shelagh and Chris
Capt Blair-Monger and all at the Army Reserve Centre
Two-seater instructors - Andy Monk, Chris Roland, Jim White
...and last but not least, the competitors, and especially the visitors from other clubs

William thanked Richard for running the whole thing and that was it for another year - an excellent week making the best of indifferent weather.

Meanwhile.........after the briefing, Andy Monk got the training operation back on track, with a K21 doing 16 launches. Cadet Michael Otty re-soloed after a year's break from gliding, and Cadet Samuel Husband achieved his first solo. Sam has had a lot of firsts this week, including his first ever cross country and land out. Thanks to Jim Roland for towing (even if a lot didn't get above 400 feet) and John Otty for doing buggy retrieves.

Well done Sam

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Wet Saturday

Briefing was delayed while the Met Man and the Director struggled to find a task through the approaching showers. Finally they came up with a quick nip round Calvert Junction and Oxford South. The sky looked great overhead, although increasingly black to the south, so George decided to fly the task before the comp had even rigged, just to show 'em. He managed Calvert Jct but on the way back got rained out of the sky and landed in what used to be Farmer Brown's field (now Farmer Brian) near Cadmore End - just as John Hubb was firing up the BBQ.

The message was that the field was ploughed and the gate locked so a large team set off. Fortunately they arrived at the same time as the farmer with a pick up truck which towed Z12 - ploughing a furrow -  to the gate where the team watched while George de-rigged. Is there a record for the fastest, most over-resourced retrieve?

The team trying to look busy
The team definitely not busy
Back at the clubhouse the rest of the afternoon was spent on the very British pastime of BBQ in the rain, very efficiently cooked up by John and his brilliant pair of sous chefs.

BBQ weather

J1m at the 15s

Hi all

Arrived at Aston Down. Raining! Follow the competition at



Friday, 21 July 2017

Windy Friday

Nils tried very hard to find some nice weather for a task, he showed us lots of graphs and charts and finally resorted to looking out of the window. In the event the hoped for clearance arrived too late, and in any case the howling southerly wasn't very enticing, so the day was scrubbed.

Meanwhile, here are a few pics from earlier in the week.

Richard making the acquaintance of Jeremy's FES Shark

All out!

Paul getting tied in knots

Team 316

The JS1 has arrived

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

This is why we put wings on tyres

It was wet last night. Very wet. William (LC) had a marathon retrieve from his stubble field, derigging at record speed as lightning flashed around, and the first spots of rain were falling as they pulled out of the field. After that the only storm in the country tracked its way up over Booker, flooding the hangar.

Richard called in on his way home from the Grouse and Ale and discovered that his nice waterproof shoes weren't proof against filling up from the top. It's a lesson in why we put wings on tyres in the hangar though. William had further tribulations getting home after dropping off his trailer, roads blocked everywhere with debris and water.

Today was a scrub, all that water has to go somewhere, evaporating back up into 8/8 cloud cover. We hope for better things tomorrow.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Tuesday - Day 2

Today's task was a finely judged 100k (Headington - Chieveley), squeaking into a small gap of soarable weather. From the ground it looked a bit grim but the field mostly got round, only 944 dropped in at Benson and LC found a nice field about a mile from Hampstead Norris - it's hard to spot the strip from the air though. It looks as though Denis 370 won the day but our visitors are still ahead overall - just shows what a welcoming club Booker is!

It's all a bit of a laugh

Even the pilots are happy

The tug pilot needs his sleep though

Monday, 17 July 2017

Monday, and a task

The weather was not straightforward today. The first task set was a double out and return to the SW involving Avebury and Marlborough, but as the day progressed it became clear that the approaching top cover was going to be a problem - and the snifter reported nearly landing out, which is never a good sign. Task B was again a double shuffle, but this time north/south. The grid launched. and we followed their progress on the live tracking on Booker's website - exciting stuff. The finishers included William LC who was visible from the finish line but went back to turn Huntercombe and then scraped home from the Hambleden valley - good effort! There were some landouts, but at airfields and farm strips, so they were soon retrieved by aerotow.

Results here:
Dr Nils the Weather Man


The K21 dream team
Keeping cool
Retrieve from farm strip at Cuddesdon

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Keeping up to date with the Regionals

If you can't manage to get to the airfield you can follow the action from the comfort of your armchair with these links:

Live tracking on the Booker website:

Results and updates on Soaring Spot:



Booker Regionals day 1 (again)

Dr Nils was more optimistic at briefing this morning, so much so that we had interest from a real aviator. Or maybe it wanted to get in the warm. There was heated discussion about species, in the end the consensus was partridge.

Outside looking in
Anyway, a task was set, gliders were gridded, pilots were re-briefed.....and then the day was scrubbed.

The forecast for tomorrow looks a lot more promising - fingers crossed.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Booker Regionals Day 1

Thanks to lots of hard work by Bob Smith, registration went very smoothly yesterday and today, with competitors walking away with armfuls of goodies provided by our sponsors, Hayward Aviation Ltd. Pete Wyld is all set up to do the scoring, so we are ready to go as soon as there is a suitable weather window. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of Dr Nils Wedi, our in-house meteorologist, who explained lots of interesting graphs and charts at briefing, all of which suggested that it was in fact raining, the cloud didn't clear until the evening. Early days, we hope for better tomorrow.

Richard at briefing in the TA Centre