Monday 31 March 2008

...out like a lamb

This last day of March provided some gentle thermals aided by a good fire just to the west of the field.

A light and variable southerly barely troubled the windsock and it was pleasantly warm enough on the ground to dispense with your jacket. Quite a change from Saturday's turbulent, biting wind and a nice way to end what has not been the best of months.

2 kt average climbs to 3000' became 3-4kts in the smoke which was clearly evident as a haze right to cloudbase, in otherwise excellent viz. All in all a good day was had by Geoff W, George G, Alan V, Martin Ff and yours truly. Where were the rest of you, surely not everyone went to Shobdon??

Saturday 29 March 2008

As rough as old boots....

... and then it rained. In the meantime the few brave souls who flew this Saturday (Steve W, Glen, Simeon, William P, Nick, Greg, Ashwin, Mark and George in the 21's, Gerry, Roy, Doug, Jim P and yours truly in the tugs) "enjoyed" a variable cloudbase, very rough conditions below 500', 10kt climbs to 3000' and a cool SSW 26kt gusting 38kt breeze. Base leg, final turn and approach were particularly interesting. Roll on summer.

Saturday 22 March 2008

Snowy Saturday

Snow, sun and snow again, must be a Bank Holiday! No flying today although the short gaps looked highly convective, albeit a little bumpy in places. Heavy snow forecast to continue overnight - could be pretty in the morning...

The Booker Weather Cam captured the sunny intervals and snow showers in this time compressed sequence of an hour and a half. View the latest image or time lapse images at .

Friday 21 March 2008

Good Friday....Good ridge day!

With the wind as predicted, exactly NW'ly at 20kts several Bookerites decided to go and explore the ridge today. Alan Johntone set off under his own steam in his AS-26E 'AJ'. This was useful because he was able to confirm the the ridge was working before the first K-21 came off tow.

We ended up with both K-21's, a Ventus, DG303 and a couple of ASW27's taking launches to go ridge running.

The single seaters also went off cross-country after a short while as, despite the 35kt winds, it was consistently thermic and streeting nicely in places too.

Some of the climbs were incredibly strong with several "off the clock" climbs being observed.

The cumulus grew and decayed with some regularity which added to the fun as you had plenty of time to practice choosing a cloud to head for and then, if it didn't work, scuttle back to the ridge. Spot the Ventus in the second pic!

Some of the thermals were so good that it was tempting to stick with them and practice thermalling (as did at least one who went straight up to 4,000'). Lower down on the ridge was much more fun though....super fun running along at 800' and 90kts+, pulling up and gaining 3-400' while turning to beat back along the ridge. This is what it's all about! For anybody who can access MP4/QuickTime/RealPlayer, etc. here's a short video (15Mb) of John Herman showing his thermalling skills....

A Very Good Friday

330/30kts on the ground was more than enough bait to tempt Booker to the ridge. Alan J, Gary and John H, Jim, Matt, Steve W, Tim S, Bob S and yours truly, Dave C and Graham, all ventured out to the ridge, to be rewarded with great ridge lift and excellent thermal streets. So good that John H took a second tow with Louis replacing Gary. With 45kts at 2000' any progress into wind was slow but Jim and Matt both turned Bicester aided by lighter winds aloft. Pictured here is Z12 at the ridge.

Chinnor Cement Works was as colourful as ever and the steam loco on the Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway provided an added bonus,steam pointing directly to the ridge (sorry photo's didn't work!).

Visibility was excellent with strong cloud streets and high bases.

But for those of you who stayed in bed or earnt some family brownie points here's the "Condor Moment" you missed with 6-8kts of reliable lift to 4000'. Nice one Bob!

But all good things Must come to an end with John and Louis, Jim and Tim finally running for cover as the hail showers approached at 3pm. Exciting flying today as those who tugged will also testify (Boris, James, Andy B and yours truly).

Thursday 20 March 2008

New airfield web cam

Mike Richardson has developed a new web cam facility which will provide an alternative view on the airfield to that of the static one run by BAFC. The hope is that we'll be able to set it up to show the grid/launch area. To access it, go to:

Monday 17 March 2008

Showery Saturday

On Saturday 15 March Booker's marketing team was out in force at Windsor Royal Shopping mall, where we rigged a glider and set up our display panels, plus our new banners. Music was laid on by the Blues Brothers.

We attracted a great deal of interest and made several sales, as well as giving out lots of leaflets and meeting many nice people. The message plainly went home because we made a further sale the following day to someone who had visited the stand.

The duty manager of the mall was very impressed by our professionalism and efficiency and we have an open invitation to make a return visit. The weather could have been kinder - after lunch the heavy showers got going and we called it a day around 5pm when they turned into persistent rain. But all in all a very successful and enjoyable day.

Sunday 16 March 2008

Soggy Sunday

Booker's soon to be available WeatherCam captured the only thing flying this Sunday morning at the 24 launchpoint. Please can we have February's weather back again??

Sunday 9 March 2008

Flying before the storm

Various met sources are warning of impending heavy rain and storm force winds tomorrow, so we made the most of the conditions and flew today. Take a look at's synopsis for tomorrow!
Today, winds remained mainly SW'ly between 10-20kts with some good thermals and considerable streeting. One of the K-13's made use of this with a quick o/r as far as Benson as part of a training flight. Pilots of the Junior enjoyed searching out the thermals to ensure flights of over an hour at a time. Meanwhile one of the K-21s was put to good use as people practiced aerobatic skills for the forthcoming 'Bit Late Easter Egg Cup" aerobatic comp. in a few weeks.

Thursday 6 March 2008

Tuesday 4 March - ridge running from Parham

While the rest of us were at work, eight Booker members were the guests of Parham for a day of high speed fun in our Duo, which is currently based there so that we can take advantage of suitable winds at short notice.

Here's an account from Bryan Hughes:
Six Booker members joined Mike C and me for a visit to Parham in a 19kt mainly northerly wind. Local members were rigged early and before long there were around 20 gliders soaring the ridge. Everyone had a great time. In the first flight of the Duo, Mike and I managed around 140k during which we ventured past Peterfield to the West before turning and proceeding back almost to Lewes in the East with only one (or perhaps two) butt-clenching moments as we 'jumped the gaps'. Not bad for a site check! Later in the morning, when the thermals came into their own, there were lots of knots on the varios and soon it was streeting beautifully. Reluctantly, 315 finally landed for the last time at dusk with just enough light to de-rig. We were all made very welcome at this friendly Club where the locals treated us as full members.

And from Jim White, who took Z12 down for the day:
Yesterday was great fun down at Parham. 19kts directly on the ridge backing slightly towards the end of the day. As ridge virgins Guy Sutherland and I set a short task and flew conservatively but still acheived 193k at 94kph! There were also 4kt thermals to 4000ft+ so I was tempted to fly home to Booker! Everyone should have a go...I know I will be back.

Sunday 2 March 2008

Sunday 2nd March

Suitably inspired by yesterday's foray to the ridge and the solid WNW winds this morning, John and Mike Gatfield headed off to the ridge in a K-21. Initial feedback was that ridge was working well and so we started to prepare other pilots to go and join them on the ridge. Then received the radio call that the K-21 was at 750' and that they were "holding their own". Clearly a euphemism for "h'mm not sure we should have done this....". Anyway they valiently continued to work up & down the ridge in the hope of connecting with a thermal to lift them back to Booker. Unfortunately the thermal didn't arrive and they elected to land at Moorcourt Farm who weren't parachuting today. They did hope to aerotow out but couldn't due to the site's 28 day rule. So, a road retrieve crew was despatched and they were back an hour later.

Local flying wise, cloudbase was around 2500' intially but reached 4000' by the end of the day. The wind started off WNW and ended pretty much Westerly (and slackened slightly too). Thermals were tight and fairly strong (4-5kts) in parts. Aerotows were quite lively on some flights and definitely more settled later. Another good day.

Saturday 1 March 2008

In like a lion...

Whilst most of the club seemed to think it was too windy to fly (and preferred a warm lecture room instead), the brave enjoyed weak wave and broken thermal lift, in a 20 gusting 35kt wnw breeze. As the morning progressed and the wavemals became thermaves, somebody nicked one of the gliders and went out to the ridge. No names but see previous post for a clue. Not to be outdone, Team Junior launched into the breeze, with Jeremy demonstrating how seriously wing running is taken at Booker.

Viz was good, cloudbase good, thermals good, what more can we ask?

Oh and by the way if its a guess the pilot from his hat competition, here's my contribution. Answers on a postcard please.

A great start to March

Convinced by Jim White that his seaweed was now properly calibrated and that today WOULD be a good ridge day I arrived at the airfield early to rig and fly. Everybody else seems to have had a lie in as I was the only person in the trailerpark. Nonetheless, after a quick visit to Asda to pick up on fettling supplies (sandpaper and vaseline for the Jantar, sweets for me) I returned to the clubhouse as more people arrived. Stuck around for Paul Clarke's lecture on local airspace (nice use of Google Maps - which he promises he'll send for me to load onto the website) until the gusts abated.

Eventually decided that rigging in gusty conditions wasn't the sensible thing to do...but there were two K-21s sitting at the launchpoint with no pupils to fly them. So, Messrs White and myself borrowed a K-21 and set about planning a trip to the ridge. In this case 'planning' comprised pointing the K-21 the right way, agreeing who would be to blame in the event of an accident (me, of course!) and who'd do which bit of flying. We agreed that I'd do the take-off, he'd do the landing and we'd haggle about the bit in between. The haggling was quite entertaining as we each tried to claim less and less ridge soaring experience than each other.

We came off tow at 1,800' (thanks Heggy) and found that the ridge was working even at that height. Great stuff. Jim took control and decided that this was too easy, so airbraked down to 1,400' and demonstrated his ridge soaring skills for a while. We swapped around every so often and then decided to push South of the motorway. Pushed down to the Watlngton/Nettlebed area and then turned North again. Able to use a mix of ridge and thermal lift to push back North and back up to 1,600' Decision time....head back to the field ? I thought it a bit marginal (remembering it'd be my name in the P1 box) so we kept working the lift down to 1,200' (don't ask!). During this time a couple of other gliders passed by (P10 and D52 ?) but they didn't really help in marking the lift.

The wind was now more Westerly than NorthWesterly (possibly even with a bit of South in it) and had decayed a little too. Just what you don't need. Oh, the sun disappeared at this point too (so no chance of thermals to save us either). Fortunately a small Westerly facing ridge was working sufficiently to be able to do a series of figures-8's back to a sensible height. Then it was straight back to Booker to apologise for hogging the glider for so long (better than ending up in a field though). A great flight, lots of fun, where was everybody else?