Sunday 13 December 2020

A look back at 2020....

Greetings to all our readers.

It's been a difficult year, but despite it all we have kept going, doing what we enjoy. Members have gone solo, and gone further and faster, we have run competitions, been on expeditions, and hosted events, all while doing our best to keep our members and visitors safe and secure. So now is the time to look back at all the good times, and to look forward to a better 2021. This month's issue of the newsletter is a compilation of 2020 activities with as many pics as it was possible to cram in.

Sunday 15 November 2020

Shep (Fred) Sheppard

We are saddened to announce that Shep (Fred) Sheppard took his last breath on Sunday 8th November with his family by his side. He had a good, long and adventurous life, much of it spent at Booker. Because of Covid there will be a small family congregation for his committal. At a later date, yet to be determined, the family will have a memorial service or gathering to celebrate his great life.

Christmas Eve 2007 - Shep with some model flying members - John Tournier, Mike Collett, Steve Brown, John Herman

Shep derigging after a flight in February 2008

Shep out-running a cu-nim in July 2008

Thursday 29 October 2020

Aboyne expedition round up

 Every year Booker goes on an expedition to Aboyne in Aberdeenshire, home to Deeside Gliding Club, and this year was no exception, although it was all a bit different this year, with restaurants closing early and no shared accommodation. However, we made the best of every opportunity to fly, and several members achieved firsts - first solo at Aboyne, first solo at a different airfield, first wave flight. Nils provided an excellent weather briefing every morning with some very pretty graphs from the comfort of his campervan. And when we weren't flying there was plenty of beautiful countryside to explore. We are grateul to Richard and Dave for keeping us in order, and to Dave for his time in fixing some towing damage.

Here is a selection of pics from the trip.

A view towards the east coast past the airfield

Andy Duncan after his first Aboyne solo

Loch Avon and Cairngorm


316 ready to go

Dave spent a day on repairs

Nils and William enjoying a walk from Crathie

Monday 28 September 2020

Easter Eggs and more solos

 We have converted another power pilot to the joys of gliding - fixed wing instructor Jag Nahar did his first glider solo last week.

And then on Saturday it was time for the 17th International Easter Egg Cup Aerobatics comp. The conditions weren't the best - a freezing north-westerly making take offs on 06 quite interesting - but the field of 9 made some creditable performances - that is to say, their figures were recognisable. Their expertise ranged from 'never even done a loop before' to 'practised a bit'. British Aerobatics judge Charles Baker sat out in the cold all day gazing and the sky and tuggie James Roland kept us safe - completing his 3,000th hour of tugging in the process.

The trophy went to visitor Will Jones, with recently solo Leo Sentinella in 2nd place and Jane Moore 3rd. Many thanks to Graham Saw for sitting in as safety pilot on 8 flights, finding Easter eggs in September and organising the whole thing.

Recently solo Leo now getting good at aeros

Will Jones goes off with the trophy

Maybe next year we will hold the comp at Easter for a change.

Sunday 13 September 2020

Whispering Wardrobes, solos and more

We are now firmly established back home at Wycombe Air Park and the past few weeks have been busy as we have re-started trial lessons and courses. One of our course members, Jim Pearce, who has had a bit of practice flying things like Learjets, went solo after a few flights, converted to the Pegasus and promptly did his Bronze 2 hours. He came down buzzing with the thrill of the newly discovered delights of thermalling. 

This weekend has been hectic with vintage gliders on display and flying. Sadly we had to scale down the event because of covid considerations but there was still plenty going on. And today we had another solo - 14 year old Leo Sentinella, who joined us from Bicester almost ready to go solo, has been working really hard on the final steps and today was the day.

Leo with proud dad David

Petrel and T21 on dual tow behind the Pawnee

Graham ready to go in the Hutter

Thursday 6 August 2020

Trips to the coast, and Devon, and more

There has been some good cross country weather recently and we have been making the most of it. Howard did another 500k on Monday, with a trip to Devon - and back - and Denis took a look at the south coast. Meanwhile back at Booker, Richard took John Blake on his first cross county, they went to Bicester in a K21, narrowly avoided landing there and then soared back home. Two seater training is settling down at Booker, along with the evening groups on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Denis took a look at Havant on the south coast
John O had a trip to the races - Rockingham Raceway, currently a car park

John enjoyed a trip to Bicester

Saturday 25 July 2020

Nick and Andy's T21 adventure

We've had some excellent soaring weather recently, so one day Nick Newton and Andy Monk set off from Booker in Nick's T21 thinking that it would be fun to drop in on Chiltern Park. Which it would have been.........they got as far as Nettlebed. Nicely manicured grass field though, and the Pawnee soon rescued them.

Early optimism

Looking good at 4,000ft

Down to earth - so near and yet.........

Thursday 23 July 2020

500s in the bag

The excellent weather over the last few days has enabled plenty of epic flights from several clubs. Flying the flag for Booker, Paul Field and Howard Joseph completed their first 500k flights (Diamond Distance) on Tuesday. And Howard enjoyed it so much he had another go on Wednesday, although he didn't quite make it. Plenty of other members did noteworthy flights, including Denis Campbell who went to Devon, and John Otty, who cancelled his meetings, arrived at Chiltern Park at 3pm and nipped round a 300k. Just shows what you can do if you want to.

Paul and Howard celebrating their 500k

Denis went to Devon......

.........passing through Sussex on the way

John visited Salisbury........

......and had a view of the Isle of Wight beyond Southampton
Back at Booker, evening flying resumed on Tuesday - 6 launches followed by beers and a picnic outside the clubhouse. First to fly was 16 year old Ossian O'Sullivan who went solo last year. Evening groups are now running Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from around 1700.

As from 1st August, training flights will be at Booker 7 days a week, with cross country staying at Chiltern Park for a little while longer.

Ossian O'Sulllivan and Graham Saw about to take the first launch on Tuesday evening

Sunday 19 July 2020

Chiltern Challenge Cup final day

The last day of the comp gave us more good weather, enough for a short task to ensure everyone was back in time for the evening's entertainments. One of the turnpoints was BO3 - Booker - so there was a risk that pilots would make like homing pigeons for Booker, but they all got back. Jim White, John Otty and Denis Campbell have been jockeying for the podium all week but this time for a change Howard Joseph and Bob Smith came 2nd and 3rd behind Jim. The overall winner was Jim, with 2nd place John and 3rd place Denis.

At the end of flying we squashed all the trailers up to one end of the field to make way for parachuting which resumed on Saturday, and then Jim provided a bbq from his motorhome.

Jim the champion, with Richard
It was a very enjoyable week - the only comp in the country this year - and thanks go to Richard for sorting everything out, and to Dennis Pearson of Chiltern Airsports who let us get on with it, mixing safely with gyrocopters and microlights and whatever else turned up. Also to Nils who did weather forecasts every day, and the tug pilots - James Roland, Rob Turner and Doug Hilton - for efficient launching, and not forgetting Pete Wyld who did the scoring from the peace and quiet of his own home.

Scorer's view

In other news.........James Giles, who has yet to complete his Bronze, made the effort to drive that bit further to Chiltern Park, flew the Duo a couple of times to get used to the site, had a lesson in how to rig a Pegase and then had three long soaring flights - type conversion and a new site! And he did a lot of running around helping to launch the grid.

The grin says it all!

Friday 17 July 2020

The Booker Chiltern Park Cup

In a normal world, this week we would be running the Booker Red Kite Regionals at Wycombe Air Park, but with life as it is, we are running the Chiltern Challenge Cup at Chiltern Park, a 7 day comp with Distance Handicapped Tasks and regionals rules, although it is not a rated comp.

On Saturday 11th July we got off to a good start with a task of 198km, a couple of airfield landouts with aerotow retrieves and the first three places going to Jim White, Denis Campbell and John Otty.

Sunday was an amazing day with 6,000ft cloudbase in parts and light winds and the task was 322km, as always routed past airstrips to allow for safe landouts if necessary. The podium places shuffled a bit: Jim White, John Otty and Denis Campbell. Special mention for David Hamilton, flying his first comp, who managed 221km, having sensibly decided to skip the last turnpoint at Marlborough.

Nice looking sky
Monday and Tuesday were scrubs. Wednesday looked unpromising until mid afternoon when the grid launched on a task of 102km. It was a valiant effort - Denis did 52km before turning on his engine, Nils and Jim landed at Abingdon, and John helpfully flew over them before firing up his engine. Everyone else landed back. The result was Denis, Jim and John, but sadly no points because no-one passed the magic Y. There really should be marks for effort! Plenty of people enjoyed the day on tracking from the comfort of their own home though.

Nils and Jim dropped in at Abingdon

On Thursday the task was 152km around Lasham, Membury and Oxford. The sky looked good from the ground but it was plainly not so good on track. The winner was John, followed by Jim and then Denis. A handful of pilots had extra adventures - Ashley landed at a short strip near Kingsclere and was retrieved by road, Martin (a guest from Halton) landed at Membury and got a tow back from the Jones brothers, Nils landed at Bourne Park and was brought home by John in GH, and David picked a mammoth stubble field and was fetched by Richard in the Pawnee (any excuse).

Getting ready to launch the grid

Nils at Bourne Park - sadly soon to close and be built on

David in his mammoth field

The detailed results are here:

Meanwhile at Booker - we resumed flying at WAP last Friday with 9 training flights, and another 9 on Saturday. The new method of operation worked very well with great joint working with power traffic.

Friday 10 July 2020

We're back at Booker! Well, to be more accurate, we are now running a dual operation across WAP and Chiltern Park. For the next couple of weeks we will be training (members only) with a K21 at Wycombe Air Park on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with Duo Discus training at Chiltern Park from Sunday to Wednesday. Single seater flying will be mainly at Chiltern Park but members are welcome to fly solo at Booker on the 3 training days.

The phased return is because WAP no longer has ATC and we are testing the new air-ground procedures.

Watch this space for further updates.

Graham getting ready to instruct - he also did some aeros practice in his Lunak

Thursday 25 June 2020

Varied aviation at Chiltern Park

We have continued with solo gliding when weather allows, but the other day we were entertained by the wing walking Stearman which came over from Dunkeswell and performed five displays with some brave customers. We carried on flying - having switched our circuit to the west to keep out of the way - and it all went smoothly, with a few gyrocopters and microlights added to the mix. It's great to be at an airfield where different types of aviation are all welcome, and operate alongside each other with no conflicts. Here are a few pics of the day's excitement - no captions necessary!

Sunday 14 June 2020

Booker's Chiltern Park Challenge

For a bit of fun, and to test Covid comp rules, Jim White directed a mini comp this weekend, using Nils Wedi's weather forecasts and Distance Handicap Task rules. Saturday came with a stiff breeze but a 6,000ft cloudbase allowed for a 200k task, zigzagging so as not to venture too far from the airfield. The winner was Denis Campbell in his starship, with Met Man Nils Wedi 2nd and Bob Smith 3rd. The day finished with a bbq. Sunday sadly did not come up with good enough weather for safe flying so we scrubbed. However, the weekend was a success in proving that we can run a comp safely in the current environment - all we need is the weather.

Denis launching on his winning flight


Evening weather

Tuesday 9 June 2020

Booker at Chiltern Park

We're still at Chiltern Park, still having fun. Duo Discus 315 has been retrieved from Lleweni Parc where it was on loan to Denbigh Gliding, as well as being available for members to drive up and spend some time in the Welsh wave. GH is also back on the fleet after a spell with the GSA. More people have brushed off the cobwebs and returned to flying - though still only single seaters. We have welcomed a couple of new members - Rob Hines and his beautiful Libelle, and old friend Paul Brice who is returning to gliding after a few years of powered aeros.

Rob landing his Libelle

Duo Discus back from its holiday in Wales

GH back on the fleet

Wednesday 3 June 2020

Booker flies again

After three long months of lockdown, the ban on recreational flying was relaxed on 22 May and those lucky enough to be solo were able to get back in the air. We are currently based at Chiltern Park while we wait for Wycombe Air Park to open fully again. In the meantime we are having a lot of fun flying well set tasks which enable fast times while not venturing too far and staying close to airfields and strips  - in these troubled times we don't want to upset those less fortunate than us by landing in their field. It must be hugely frustrating for those needing check flights and we hope for an early solution to the two seater flying problem.

We are grateful to the BGA for their efforts in getting the ban lifted, to Dennis Pearson of Chiltern Airsports for making us feel at home, to RAF Benson for understanding gliding, and to CFI Richard for setting it all up.