Sunday 27 July 2008

Day 6 and it's all over

Everybody is back, prizes were given out (I'd say more about this but I missed it!), and another Booker Regionals is over with for another year.

Denis won the day with a blistering speed of 110.9km/h (along with four other pilots who achieved over 100km/h). As a result the day was devalued and so Denis (370) gained 'only' 837 points. This was sufficient to confirm his overall 1st place in the comp. with 3778 points. Jon Gatfield (T6) came second with 3626 points and third was Wayne Aspland (325) with 3424 points. A full breakdown of positions, scores, etc. can be seen at

Well done to everybody who took part and also to everyone who helped out. Another fun, safe, competition with more smiles per km than anywhere else!

Day 6 finishers

!14, Z12, 370. T6 .are back 732 is at Bicester.

First launch at 12.10

Task A. Been watching the Cu building. This could be a fast race.

Day 6 Briefing

Metman says that there's several airmasses around with slightly different attributes (moist/dry, etc). Not quite sure which we're going to have but it's likely that we'll have Cu to 4000-5000', light variable winds, risk of a sea breeze front penetrating from several directions and periods of 8/8. Day expected to end at around 17:00. Therefore fairly short tasks set today:

Task A - Booker Bridge (BOB) - Membury (MEM) - Calvert Junction (CAL) - Chipping Campden (CHC) - Booker SW (BO1) - Booker Finish 1 (BF1) - 255.1km.

Task B - Booker Bridge (BOB) - Ilsley (ILS) - Calvert Junction (CAL) - Moreton-in-Marsh (MOR) - Booker SW (BO1) - Booker Finish 1 (BF1) - 207.6km.

First launch not before 11:30.

Oh, and the Battle of Britain flight is flying all over the Country today so need to keep an extra special lookout for them (for nostalgia purposes of course).

Day 6 The Final Countdown!

It's going to be rather hot with light variable winds today. The sort of weather that "The Public" love whilst the gliderpilot swelters under the canopy.

There's under 600 points seperating the top 10 places and only eight points between 1st and 2nd currently. I wonder if everybody is hoping for a long task to ensure it's a 1000 point day or if everyone is going into "end of competition-itis"?

Gliders are being towed out to the grid before the briefing at 10:30. I wonder where we're going today ? Watch this space and I'll give a post-briefing update later.

Saturday 26 July 2008

Day 5 everybody made it around the task

Turned out to be a good racing day and everybody made it back to base ok. The provisional scores have been published but I thinl we're still waiting for a couple of loggers. Fastest time around task is currently looking like Matt "Cook FM", flying H/C in Discus "2A". Fastest competitor was Jan McCoshim in LS8 "161", taking 2h 56m to complete the task. We're going to have a barbeque this evening, so maybe everybody had an extra incentive to make it back?

Day 5 launching at 12.30

Still on A task of 270km.

Day 5 Tasks announced

Metman suggests thermal strength of up to 6-8kts with cloudbase between 4000' - 6000'. Light Westerly winds (0-5kts). Top cover will be present but won't prevent thermal development. 4/8 Cumulus will be present in the task area, decreasing to 2/8 in the NorthWest. Day is likely to shut off around 17:00. Therefore a couple of modest tasks have been set:

Task A - Booker Bridge (BOB) - Calvert Junction (CAL) - Great Witley (GTW) - Booker SW (BO1) - Booker Finish 1 (BF1) - 270.7km.

Task B - Booker Bridge (BOB) - Calvert Junction (CAL) - Evesham (EVE) - Booker SW (BO1) - Booker Finish 1 (BF1) - 201.8km.

First launch not before 11:30.

Day day, new challenge

And today's challenge is to work out what on Earth the weather is going to do. Everybody has different opinions varying in range between dire and excellent. Who knows what'll happen? Today's briefing will be at 10:30, that should give Nils plenty of time to scour his information sources, look at his abstract art/ink blots and work whatever magic it is that he uses to produced forecasts with such unnerving accuracy.

Friday 25 July 2008

Day 5 scrubbed

Just waiting for the better weather to roll in from the West but it didn't. So the day is scrubbed. Bicester had scrubbed by 13:45. Like us, they've now posted a pic on their website of their competitors. Can only see one smiling face amongst the competitors though...I guess with the Sports Class having flown on only two of the comp days that there's some fairly bored people there. We may have a smaller comp but we're able to make better use of the conditions, have more flying and lots of fun!

Day 5 fallback to B task

First launch no earlier than 1415.

Day 5 regrid and retask

Wind is now WSW so we've relocated to use runway 24. Also switched to B task. First launch no earlier than 14.15.

Day 5 start delayed

First launch delayed until 12.30. Meanwhile Jon unveils his secret thermal generator.

Day 5 tasks set

Metman reckons there might be a sufficient window to use before it turns showery/thundery, etc. although cloudbase is likely to rise to no more than 3000'.

Task A - Booker Bridge (BOB) - Oxford South (OXS) - Newport Pagnel (NPT) - Booker SW (BO1) - Booker Finish 1 (BF1) - Booker (BOO) - 144.0km.

Task B - Booker Bridge (BOB) - Oxford South (OXS) - Calvert Junction (CAL) - Booker SW (BO1) - Booker Finish 1 (BF1) - Booker (BOO) - 101.8km.

First launch not before 11:15. Apparently this was then changed to 12:00.

Oh, and apparently I was wrong about Jim in Z12 yesterday. He did fly further than our fledgling Junior pilot who made it to Bidford. Jim flew over 100km although the results show a handicapped distance of 91.7km. I wonder what the handicapped distance of a Junior completing 93km is?

We're off to the grid to watch the very unstable airmass developing to the North and West. Feeling quite humid already but the brisk Southerly breeze is keeping it quite pleasant on the airfield. Nils suggests that it won't rain at the airfield but there's likely to be some quite large showers developing elsewhere.

Day 5 but will it rain ?

Metcheck ( has issued a weather advisory this morning:

Forecasters Warning
Heavy Showers & Scattered Thunderstorms
Areas Affected: The UK

The warm weather is set to continue into the coming weekend and the early part of next week, however with low pressure attempting to dominate the weather from the southwest, there will be a growing risk of some afternoon or late evening heavy showers or thunderstorms developing, set off by the high temperatures.

Despite a nationwide risk, it will be inland parts of the UK that are at greatest risk and these include, Wales, Midlands, Northern England and parts of Scotland.

Where these showers do develop some locally torrential downpours are possible along with lightning, hail and gusty winds. Conditions may progress from fine and sunny to highly inclement within a short period of time.

Dunstable's forecast suggests that the day will end around 14:30 'at best'. Lasham suggests a 300-400km task is possible. H'mmm, let's see what our Metman and Task Setter decide! Briefing as 10:00 and I'll post an update later.

Thursday 24 July 2008

Day 4 Gone for a curry!

The blog hasn't been updated much today because we started launching at around 12:15, I made it back to the airfield just before 4pm and then went to help retrieve Hugh MacDonald, who had just completed his first 50k cross-country flight. Well, I say 50k but he made it to Bidford which is actually 93k. Not bad going in a Junior and further than what someone in the comp achieved in a somewhat higher performance glider (and who failed to listen to his own sage advice about AAT's, i.e. don't land out).

It took us so long to fly the tug to Bidford (even with a 20kt tailwind) that Andy Betteley insisted on doing a cool pose next to the glider (actually, it's not a cool pose AND he wears sandals). Anyway, we managed a quick turnaround with the help of one of the Bidford club members and headed back to Booker in order to meet up for the Curry Night that Denis had organised. Let's hope the weather isn't too good on Friday!

They're launching

They're launching (12:20, seen from my office window). There are Cu but they look a bit ragged, and moving to the West quite fast...

Day 4 AAT

First launch 1215.

Day 4 task is set

Metman was delayed as he was flying back from the Isle of Wight and the winds were a bit strong for his Cub. So, we did an initial review via the more traditional sources and when he arrived he validated what was generally though - increasingly strong SE/ESE winds, thermals to 5000' going blue with the odd small Cu appearing here and there. Day likely to die off around 17:00.

Task for the day is a 2 1/2 hour AAT -

Booker Bridge (BOB) - Moreton-in-The-Marsh (MOR, 25km circle) - Northampton South (NOSA, 30km circle) - Booker SW (BO1, 1km circle) - Booker Finish 1 (BF1). This provides a range of distances from 114.5-307.1km.

Off to the grid as first launch is slated for 11:15. I'd better hurry....

Day 4 again

As we didn't fly yesterday, today is classed as Day 4. The briefing is set for 10:30 and the conditions look favourable for a good task task so everybody will be gridded up and raring to go. Just hope that the Metman makes it back from the Isle of Wight in time for the briefing. Meanwhile the Cotswolds and Northamptonshire look like good task areas.

Wednesday 23 July 2008

Day 4 is scrubbed

Time to put the gliders away.

Day 4 fallback task

At the rebrief it was announced that we would fall back to the shorter B task. First launch not before 14.00.

Day 4 tasks set

Task A BOB-MAR-HUR-BO1-BF1 147.9km. Task B BOB-MEM-CHV-BO1-BF1 107.4km. We await the Metman to provide inspiration. The Metman reassures us that there could be a usable window in the next few hours. We're all looking at his charts with renewed interest as he keeps being spot on with his forecasts. And to think we thought his charts were just modern art until now. Cloudbase just reported as 2200' with good 3kt climbs. First launch possible at 12.00. Suspect 13.00 is more likely.

Day 4 - Hot & humid

And likely to get warmer. Briefing is at 10:30 and the Task Setter has been seen wondering around with task sheets already. Update after briefing.

Day 3's winner was Denis Campbell. The picture shows what the sky looked like shortly before launching.

Tuesday 22 July 2008

Day 3 ends

Everyone is back now and we're in the bar enjoying the pleasant evening. Around 8 or 9 pilots completed the task. Well done to 580 who got around, realised that he hadn't made it around the last TP and so climbed back up at Booker and went back and turned the last TP before getting back. Well done.

732 goes ridge running

And lands out at Lewknor. Oh well, it's a nice field.

Day 3 and getting better

Sniffer dispatched and the grid is launching in 10 mins.

First launch delayed

Brian the task setter has been launched as a sacrificial offering to the thermal gods. Let's see if it works.

Well, it didn't. As noted in the comments, the sniffer is back on the ground.

Director has pushed back possible first launch to 14:00. We watch and wait....

Day 3 briefing

Metman says we're going to have spreadout fairly early on and it isn't going to burn off. However there should be thermals 2-3kts that will go up to cloudbase of around 3000'.

A single task has been set of
BOB-WEC-ILS-BO1-BF1 (105.0km)

I'm on the front of the grid today and first launch is scheduled for 11:15. Let's hope it's delayed so I can climb into my glider quickly enough!

Day 3 Briefing at 10:30

Scores for Day 2 continue to be in a state of flux as the loggers from the landouts are added into the equation. Position wise, Jim White (Z12) won the day with a speed of 85km/h followed closely by Denis Campbell (370) at 82.2km/h.

Anecdotal evidence (the best sort!) reveal that Ben (in 580) did 174.5km in his ASW19 and Phil C (971) did 173.2km in his ASW19. So, maybe some competitive rivalry between the '19 pilots?

Field landings (and retrieves) were all done safely although there were comments about paddling through water to get to one unfortunate glider!

The briefing has been delayed until 10:30 this morning which gives Neils the Metman a few extra minutes to pontificate over what's going to happen today. His forecasts have been very, very accurate so far (his forecast of 6kts yesterday and the day gradually going blue was spot on). Let's see what he thinks of today.

Monday 21 July 2008

Day 2 Nearly all back

Just waiting for 315, T6 and 279 to return home now. EN landed a few miles short near to Lewknor. Good effort Neils!

Main bonus to 580 for (I think) completing the task as it could well be his first 300k (and in an ASW19 - not easy in today's winds).

Day 2 Finishers return

Z12, A9. GA, JTU, K4, 325 and 370 have all finished. 971 made it to Pitsford and back.

Day 2 continues

732 and JDV landed at Thame (see pic, showing a deceptively good sky).

CH is in a field. FUN is at Halton. 161 is in a field near Northampton. Meanwhile 279 is about to take a tactical late relight. Dave C abandoned his 500k and took a launch back from Bicester. Now he's called start for the comp task here. Does he never give up?

Day 2 started

Gate opened with max start height 2800'. Several relights and at least two landouts so far. 732 and JDV are at Thame awaiting aerotows home.

Day 2 - again

Metman forecasts Cu to 4000', possibly as high as 5000' in some areas. Winds mainly NW'ly 25kts. Warm advection at lower levels is likely to decrease the risk of spreadout. Thermal strength anywhere up to 6kts. Apart from the wind it sounds like a good day. Dave Caunt has set off on his 500km milkrun already. For us mere mortals, tasks set as:

Task A - SOS-PIT-BUL-OXD-BF2 (305.1km)
Task B - SOS-NOS-KGS-OXF-BF2 (238.1km)

First launch not before 11:00.

Need to run to the grid and get my glider ready now....

Sunday 20 July 2008

Day 2 from those that flew

It was certainly very thermic locally, Lane End was a consistent source of strong lift, but the howling gale and rough conditions made it a bit tough on occasion for students. With a lighter wind the clouds beyond the ridge would have looked quite inviting. Cold on the ground, difficult to believe that it's mid July. Tomorrow will probably be better, when most of us are back in our offices.

Day 2 - It's a scrub

After assessing the conditions the grid was stood down by 16:00 and the day was scrubbed. Oh well, saved on the launch fees.

Tomorrow morning the briefing will be at 10:00. Early indications are that it could be quite a good day. Let's see in the morning.

Day 2 - Conditions not improving

Matt has been dispatched off in the Duo 315 to check out conditions in the task area. Report doesn't sound very positive, so first launch has been deferred to 14:00. The grapevine has heard that it's raining at Bicester, so probably better that we wait a little longer to see if conditions improve sufficiently.

Regionals Day 2 - Briefing

Briefing held at 11:00 where the previous day's results were reviewed - after much haggling/scrutinising, etc. Denis Campbell (370) and Jim White (Z12) tied for first place and gained 304 points apiece. Third was Jon Gatfield (T6) who had completed 78k before turning for home.

Today Neils the Metman descibed how the various models were predicting spreadout (or not quite depending upon which model you prefer). 25kt WNW winds, cloudbase 3500-4500' (4500' if spreadout breaks up). With the possiblility of some sun getting through to the ground there's hope of 4-5kt thermals.

Bryan the Taskman announced today's tasks:
Task A - BOB-WEC-DID-BUC-BF2 (150.2km)
Task B - BOB-WEC-DID-THA-BF2 (103.1km)

Bicester is tasking between Newbury, Keevil and Buckingham so there won't be many other gliders marking the thermals. Lot's of local little airshows today, so plenty to watch out for.

First launch is not before 12:00, so better get to the grid now!

Saturday 19 July 2008

Day 1 from the sidelines

Here are the competitors, obviously expecting rain since they're all sittting down..........

.........and here's the sky they were ignoring. Denis 370 and Jim Z12 are out there somewhere.

Finally the grid launches, into a more promising sky. Z12 is probably on final glide.

Day 1 - almost everybody is back

19 gliders launched at various times (majority after the start line had opened).

949 landed at Abingdon, JDV landed at Chalgrove. Retrieve crews/tug are on their way to retrieve them. Scorer is busy working his way through the traces to work out the scores. Z12, 370 (who both set of early) completed the task. Quite a few made it around the first TP (Oxford East/Headington) and returned back to base. Rumour has it that 370 has won the this space for more details.

All in all a difficult day with strong, gusty conditions, wave influence, lowish cloudbase (3500' around Booker) but a great deal of fun. Here's to Day 2!

Day 1 and it's a fallback to B task

First launch set at 12.45. Everyone is on the grid talking about streeting vs wave vs ridge running.

We started launching but it soon became obvious that it was less that ideal conditions. Several pilots opted to not launch and were later vindicated by the return of all those who had launched.

The grid is now repositioning to the Clubhouse while a shower passes through.

Welcome to British Summers!

Regionals Day 1 briefing

10 kts WNW surface wind building to 30 kts at 3000. Cu expected to 3500. Day ending by 1800. So, task A set as BOB-WEC-MAR-BO1 166.4km. Task B BOB-OXF-MEM-BO1 121.9km.

First launch not before 12:00.

Friday 18 July 2008

Regionals Day 0 - Registration begins

Office is staying open until 6pm this evening so that entrants can go through the registration process. A few last minute entries has seen the list grow to now comprise 18 gliders (21 pilots). Website will be updated later this evening (theer could still be a few more last minute stragglers!).

The office will re-open at 08:30 on Saturday for the remaining competitors to register before the first briefing.

Jim's seaweed and prognosis of a high over the Azores seems to have scared the nice weather off but an interim forecast of light showers, a fairly low cloudbase and a brisk Westerly breeze means we may even get to fly a task on Day One!

Monday 7 July 2008

Crash Bang Wallop

Flaming July. I thought it was supposed to be nice now that Wimbledon is finished. I suppose nobody's told the weather gods yet, or perhaps they're just saving all the good stuff for the regionals....

Its behind you Shep.

The calm before the storm.

Booker Car and Van Wash.

Three drowned rats (four if you include yours truly) shelter on the last bit of dry land.

Getting younger every flight

As a recently soloed pilot I would like to express my thanks to the Booker Corp of Instructors namely Mike R, Julian SM, Martin Ff and Glenn A for intoducing me to the mysteries of flight. I'm sure I've heard muffled screams from the backseat in the past but now all is quiet. Whilst on blog I would like claim the title of oldest soloed pilot at Booker this year (ever) - any OAPs want to take up the challenge? Again many thanks to all concerned - cheque's in the post
John Whiting W468

Sunday 6 July 2008

Grand Prix Weather

Which says it all about Sunday's weather. We didn't venture out and watched the fun from inside.

Form an orderly queue please

Saturday proved busy for trial lessons and courses despite the windy conditions. Right from the off the cloud streets proved effective with 2-4kts lift. Wind was 190/15kts so we started on 24 only moving to the more manageable 17 mid morning. Just as well as the breeze freshened to 20 gusting 30kts which made the tows a little interesting to begin with. Thermal strength increased and only late in the afternoon became problematic with the wind veering to 210 and wave beginning to take over. Finally we moved back to 24 for a few more interesting flights.

Thursday 3 July 2008

Whispering Wardrobe(s)

"and if it rains remember to switch on the lights".
Not the best of weekends for the vintage rally with gusty winds and rain.
Well done to Graham, Robin and friends for braving the elements on the Sunday.