Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Week At The Knees – Retrospective on Day Two in Jaca

Week At The Knees – Retrospective on Day Two in Jaca

This is not Colin Watt, this is Keyser Sochez. Colin Watt is not here.

Day two was successful if you measure it by amount of damaged people, planes and puking. There was none so it was a successful day. If you measure it by hours flying, it was a disaster, as there was none of that either. The weather map had shown a spider web of fronts passing over us yesterday and it was dreech (for the scots among you).

But we made the best of it.

At breakfast we decided what rules we would pass when we were gods for a day.
1. Van drivers would have dead fish to hit cyclist with as they pass through London
2. Cyclists would have metal fish to hit Van drivers with as they pass through London
3. All morally bankrupt politicians would expire slowly
4. Toothpaste tubs would blow your fingers off if you squeezed them in the middle
5. We would all park very neatly (if its not a right angle to the pavement, it’s a wrong angle).

We then moved onto controversy – Socialism is evil – discuss …as we wondered around the supermarket.

Back to the apartment to tuck into our booty and a nice bottle of wine. Misery hit us as the second glass went down because the sun came out but it was suitably fleeting and never got flyable.

We could have been cultural in the afternoon, seen a monastery, could have been athletic and climbed a mountain but no, we dug ourselves into the apartment and somehow lost 7.5 hours playing poker at £2 a round.

The day finished gloriously with a food feast, lead by our able guide, Mr Bob Johnson as he took us to some of the best eating holes in town. (Although Dave W and Chris S wimped out and went for Pizza… lame-o).

This morning we are waiting for the cloud base to lift but it looks flyable. The only comedy we have had to date is a Bob Johnson rant at the L Nav and Gps in the DG1000. I didn’t know a man’s face could turn the same colour as the maroon Lasham fleece. He was good enough to using “effing” and not the eff word but no idea what he was on about… too many “effs” and crying with laughter.

Oh and we are letting Dave W drive the 4WD again. On Monday, he tried to go into town in low ratio. 28mph, fifth gear and pedal to the metal, he had twigged something was wrong but wasn’t going to turn back and request assistance until a near death experience with a series of large trucks made him realise his chocolate/ junk food need did not rank higher than his life.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Week 2 Reprise!

Just a quick comment from Adrian on week 2

What more can a first timer ask for, Initial climb to 8000 ft after 4 min tow, through stage two to stage three and 11900 ft. Followed by 3 similar flights encountering thermals, ridge, wave and rotor, not to mention climbing whilst looping!'

and a link to Owen's video for you to rate

Sorry guys I should have posted this much earlier!

All the best to Keyser and his troops - looking forward to your next post.

Merv in wet windy UK ;-(

Monday, 29 March 2010

Report from Keyser

this is not colin watt, this is keyser sochez. Colin Watt is not here.

Week four is not a name for this brave band of aviatars (Explorers= Ben Warcup, LarryMarks, Chris Southern, Alison Booker and Doug Walker, ably destructed by Bob Johnson and David Williams [not Walliams despite the humour similarities.. oops computer says no]). We need to rename ourselves... week knees.week climb.week thermal, once weekly (if you are lucky).. more options and votes please

Week X - Day One Report One

All got off the ground (Larry twice- seemed a shame not to wear the runway out), no damage to planes, people or puking. A fantastic first day for our intrepid team. Weather was... unusual - more in valley thermalling than we were lead to believe but Chris Southern did make it to the third stage [show off... there is always one]).

OK this should be about our flying but Alison got distracted in Stansted by the Ted Baker shop and nearly missed the plane, the man next to her on ryan air was looking at, well put it this way... female topiary... with his Dad in the seat next to him.

At five past beer oclock, we are all in the bar, beer in hands, tales of wistful thermals that got away are just limbering up. More Beer now, longer blog tomorrow.They say it is going to rain. Bagsy not sitting on the naughty step on the way home.


Saturday, 27 March 2010

Week 3 Day 5 (Friday)

Another sunny day dawned. There is no doubt that the past weeks and this week this year have had a great run of luck. Shame about next week though. The first flights flirted with Stage Three and landed back so that the second pilots could have a turn at the stonking thermals. The clouds were developing fast but still generating strong lift. Even though the varios were against the stops, the higher terrain began to seem less inviting and so the best strategy was to run east along each side valley's Stage One until Sabinanigo. (Note spelling, Derek) Everything started to look a bit grey and ragged. The continuous line of lift there wasn't quite as continuous any more. A prudent decision to head back to the airfield turned out to be very wise as the showers began to threaten. By the time we got back to Santa Cilia, it seemed to be snowing beyond Stage Two. Feet were warmed up again by the time that we assembled at Toya's for the weekly feast. Merv appeared after another epic tour in time for the first course, though he did admit to half an hour's engine time to get home. Today is looking grey and windy. The gliders are parked at the launch point, but some improvement is needed if we are to spear a Spanish parachutist.
Day 4.

Having been lucky over the last few days with the timing of the weather fronts, today our luck ran out and the rain got us. The decision to scrub flying for today was made after the morning briefing, this allowed some people to go sight seeing in Pamplona, others to catch up on work and some to catch up on sleep!

Tonight’s evening cuisine was at the Biarritz restaurant in Jaca followed by a small sharpener in the bar before bed. More news tomorrow when the promise of better weather should get us back in the air.


Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Week 3 Day 3 (Wednesday)

The day dawned cloudy and Anna gave us a gloomy forecast that just lacked locusts and boils. Colin immediately announced that we should get the gliders out. There was much muttering the ranks that the wine from the night before was affecting his judgement. The three gliders launched and immediately were whisked into good southerly wave up to 11,000 feet. Cloud was moving in from the west giving us some entertainment in working out were we were but we all landed back at the airfield for the second flights. The wind slackened and so these second flights could not repeat the achievements of the first batch though they reached a dizzying 6,000 feet as much as a kilometre from the airfield. They don't make instructors like they used to. Our three looked knackered by three in the afternoon as they guzzled their cafes con leches.

Week 3 Day 2

The good weather continues and so as usual we were tempted into the air just before it was easily soarable. After a half hour of sweaty struggle two out of three of us climbed away (no names) and cruised around at a majestic 7500 feet. We landed to find fifty troops of thirteen different nationalities and three helicopters had captured the restaurant and threatened to commandeer the entire supply of food and wine for miles around. Cirrus was slowly advancing but the afternoon flights enjoyed greater success up at the snowline along to Tendera. Merv showed us all how to do it and reappeared with a shell-shocked John Hunt who reckoned they had been "miles away". Food at the airfield restaurant continues to provide no good reason for any expeditions further afield though Colin Watt has required us to eat at Jaca at least once for this to be a valid expedition.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Week 3

Day 1.

Over the last two weeks the various contributors to this blog have set a high standard of reporting that have kept us all amused and informed about there particular weeks adventures. Thanks for that guys and lets hope that week 3 has just as much fun both on the ground and in the air

After various reports of rain and possible cold front over us at midday it was a pleasant surprise to be woken up by the church bells and bright sunshine outside. Morning briefing promised a soarable day with cloud base at 1500meters and the possibility of more humidity and storms to the east over the high mountains.

It took a few hours for the low cloud in the valley to show any signs of lifting but when it started to it became obvious that the thermals over the mountains were already working and it was time to get on to the runway. Merv was the first to launch followed by the rest of the Lasham gliders into an improving sky and rising cloud base.. After about an hour most of us managed to work our way into the mountains where the cloudbase was now 9000ft. The second trip of the afternoon was not so fortunate as it has began to go blue locally and the climbs were only going to about 7000ft.

I had been warned about the shear volume of food that keeps coming out at the airfield restaurant barbeque, but seeing is believing. It’s hard not to over eat when the restaurant staff are almost demanding you finish off the food that’s left on the table. As I write this I think I don’t need to start eating again until some time on Thursday.

PS. Merv was airborne for over 5 hours and where he ventured to is not for the faint hearted!!

Friday, 19 March 2010

Week 2 Day 5

Day 5
Today was a very unexpected bonus as the threat of more rain arriving earlier than yesterday. Roger had convinced Rick to skip breakfast and launch in the Stemme shortly after 08:00. The forecast wind was to be stronger and the first flights in the gliders were a struggle trying to contact the elusive wave that the Stemme had found. The second flights towed a little higher over the centre of the valley after encountering some fierce rotor over stage one but the lift above was off the clock (the Duo saw 12kts on the averager! All gliders had to abandon their climbs at 12500’ due to approaching rain we all landed and were back in the hangar just as the heavy rain arrived. It’s bbq night tonight – what another spectacular (grey) day!

Week 2 Day 4

Wednesday was a hard act to follow! We awoke with yesterday’s clear blue skies replaced by the high clouds of the approaching front and some interesting smooth but stationary lower clouds. Briefing advised flying early. Rick needed to test fly his repaired Stemme so Merv (very reluctantly!) volunteered to join him pretending to sniff for signs of wave. With the wind much lighter than forecast, weak but useable lift was found in the lee of Cuculo and the waiting pilots were encouraged into the air. Stuart and Roger in 776 managed to climb to 7500’ and had the longest flight of the day at 1:20. The rest of the crews managed short soaring flights under the grey skies – the rain held off but eventually arrived just after dark. We rewarded our sterling efforts with a nice meal in El Porton in Jaca.

Week 2 Day 4

Wednesday was a hard act to follow! We awoke with yesterday’s clear blue skies replaced by the high clouds of the approaching front and some interesting smooth but stationary lower clouds. Briefing advised flying early. Rick needed to test fly his repaired Stemme so Merv (very reluctantly!) volunteered to join him pretending to sniff for signs of wave. With the wind much lighter than forecast, weak but useable lift was found in the lee of Cuculo and the waiting pilots were encouraged into the air. Stuart and Roger in 776 managed to climb to 7500’ and had the longest flight of the day at 1:20. The rest of the crews managed short soaring flights under the grey skies – the rain held off but eventually arrived just after dark. We rewarded our sterling efforts with a nice meal in El Porton in Jaca.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Jaca Week 2 Day 3 the Ordesa Files

More temperature less pressure produced a spectacular day with strong thermals starting earlier to 9500’ combined with consistent ridge lift from the steady southerly flow enabled the Lasham fleet of gliders to get to Ordesa and back at least once - until sunset stopped play! Merv was back in mad mode venturing behind the main ridge lines into France to sample some superb ridge soaring. The crew all ended the day with big grins on their faces as today exceeded everyone’s expectations. As you can see from the picture the expedition has a profound effect on the instructors! Meanwhile Rick Robert’s broken Stemme was being repaired by a licensed engineer and inspector flown in from Germany courtesy of Dr Stemme himself – they are now intending to fly back after the weekend as the weather is forecast to deteriorate over the weekend – any excuse to stay longer. Martin was breathalysed on his way to Jaca at 11:00 (am!) with a very commendable zero result! The BA strike is also taking its toll as Adrian and Martin have been forced to make alternative arrangements to get back home.
Mad Merv

Jaca week 2 Day2

Today there is a little more temperature, increased stability and less wind– it’s now warm enough to abandon our coats as we patiently await the start of thermals basking in the sun. Sensible Merv took a high tow with Mark and promptly fell down with Merv doing all the flying he will be returning to mad mode tomorrow! Everyone else managed to climb away into the high mountains and had great fun even if Martin and Roger flew the whole flight with the wheel down in 776 – Thank goodness for pre-landing check

Sensible Merv

Week 2 Day1

After a slow start we decided to launch into the blue just after 14:00 the forecast was positive about the thermals but not optimistic about wave as there was only a gentle northerly breeze.

Rick and Roger were first to launch in 775 closely followed by Adrian and mad Merv in 776 who advised releasing before they got to stage 1 (about 1500'). Margaret C and Hugh in 431 chose wisely not to follow Merv's example but we all ended up at circuit height (but with Adrian and Mad Merv on top of the pile!) Adrian had the best flight from such a short aerotow by eventually contacting wave which had to be abandoned at 11900’ climbing at 4 knots as the glider had to do another flight –typical. Thermals topped out at 8500’. The second squadron was scrambled just before 17:00 into the murky world of is it wave or is it thermal, with the Flying Duo – Owen and Roger - torn between going straight and going round in circles! Strangely enough both approaches seemed to work! In the blue the vultures proved themselves a handy indication though is wasn’t to last as not endowed with open class cruise speed, turn circles and in gathering numbers, they were best left to their own devices. Evening wave topped out at 6500’ in the valley with stage one and two proving rather “remote”, one might say. A great start with 10 hours flying time in total.

Mad Merv

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Jaca 2010 day 6

We all woke to another glorious sunny day this time with light winds. With all the high pressure around and no wind it was likely to be a late start and modest thermals. Gliders had their DI's and were assembled at the launch point, then everyone relaxed in the sun, although Dick Happs looked asleep on the aerodrome taxiways nursing his bad back. Everyone hoped the Finns would sacrifice themselves again, then someone pointed out that they left yesterday (the skies are now a safer place!). So, at 1300hrs we started off on the home mountain with very strong thermals up to 9000ft, Clive, with Lance and myself and Wolfgang, set off east and ran along to Tendenera all in strong thermals around the snow line. Around 11hrs of flying from all the gliders again! Shorty gave John Brooke and Richard Amlott the added thrill of seeing the Cuckaloo mountain the wrong way up with aerobatics after the hard workout of low rock polishing. Everyone fit enough after another amazing meal supplied by the airfield caterers (No one can eat that much!!). Dave Greasley wanted a word said about his improved thermalling - nothing like unsolicited praise but nevertheless a significant step up in his technique was observed. The day finished with another sidesplitting BBQ, courtesy of Victor and the airfield gang.
So six out of six days flying with every kind of mountain conditions experienced - all vowing to return again next year.

Bloggmeister Simmo

Friday, 12 March 2010

Jaca 2010 Day 5

The day started with a briefing in "English" by Clive ( Senor Cleebay), we understood it but.....! anyway; he said there would be no wave, and then promptly set the record for the day at 16,000ft. This wonderful achievement was somewhat marred by his student (evening all, 'ello, 'ello' ello, would you mind blowing into this bag, is this your car sir?) tying a knot in his pee bag (2 litre large capacity version). Cleebay also managed to get a speeding ticket in the morning in his BONGO!!! (How fast can a Mazda Bongo Frendie actually go??) So now if a you get a speeding ticket you have been "BONGO'ED". So; a wave day - but the "window of opportunity" was very narrow. Huge Kindell warned Wolfgang that he would be down in 10 minutes as it was far to early to launch - but 2hrs later and at 8000ft Wolfgang felt vindicated. However - Huge had the last laugh; wave to 14,000ft and was last to land. Not bad for a combined cockpit age of a 146yrs! (is that actually legal??) A difficult day but very rewarding for those prepared to work where the pine cones grow! The inversion was only 6000ft in the valley but as you worked up the mountain the inversion was raised until you "connected". Everyone is now feeling very 'connected' - last day tomorrow, so hopes of a big finish. And Simmo is definitely going to make sure he takes his hat home with him tonight!

Your spy in the sky, Don Juan Simmo

disclaimer: any simularity between the characters portrayed in this blog and real people is strictly co-incidental

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Jaca 2010 Day 4

A different kind of day today. Not so windy and very little cloud, so a late start was declared. Weight & balance checks were carried out on all pilots after last night's meat-fest BBQ - Victor cooked up a storm at the fireplace and we all went back to Toya's many kilo's heavier.
First three launches today all got away off tow and had some fun flying at around 8,000 feet up above the snowline on the main hills. Sky-God Simmo then took John Brooke up for his flight in 431 and, whilst showing him the nuances of thermal centering, promptly fell down and was back on the ground 15 minutes later! In a show of generosity that is to be vigourously discouraged in future, Simmo offered to pay for the launch and they went again for a much better soaring flight in late afternoon thermals.
Still debating what to do for dinner tonight - there's talk of a tapas in Jaca, but Victor is doing a migas at the airfield tonight as well ........ decisions, decisions ...........
More tomorrow

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Jaca 2010 Day 3

More wind and more wave .... well, in the morning anyway. Gliders were readied early so launching could start immediately after briefing. The first three launches all contacted wave shortly after release, towing to the second stage, and Simmo won the day for height achievement of 16,200 feet. The weather was much colder today - outside air temps of minus 22 being seen at 15,000 feet! Senor Greasley flew with Simmo today and came back feeling quite pleased with himself - he actually managed to take off and land on his own without incident ....... and his pants were still dry when he landed!! The Dickie Happs dicky back was a bit better today and he had a good outing with Simmo lasting just over an hour.
The afternoon flights were quite different - the wind had gone more westerly and the wave was very broken. Rotor thermals up to about 8,000 feet and a bit of a struggle but good fum nevertheless. Shorty and Lance Hiley managed to ridge soar the front edge of a cu and get into weak wave at 10,000 feet ...... but promptly fell out again! Total flight time for today was 11hrs 17 mins.
Jerry English turned up today with E6 - he and Hugh took a launch in the late afternoon to get warmed up for more wave tomorrow.
Tonight is barbeque night at the airfield restaurant, so Victor is going to infuse us all with a serious meat overdose ...... could be a big night!
More tomorrow

Shorty .... standing in for Simmo today
Jaca 2010 Day 2

Everybody had a great time last night thanks to toya's cooking ...... and ample Zoco! Todays briefing warned that it was unlikely that there would be thermals, but due to the strong wind there was a good chance of wave. Clive Mansfield launched first with Dick Happs ...... climbed in rotor thermals but had to return after about an hour because the old man's back was giving him some jipp. Shorty and Rich Amlott launched in the K21 and hooked straight into the wave, topping out at 15,500 feet for a cracking good flight. Simmo managed to make yet another pupil sick (that's two days in a row now!) but had a couple of good flights nevertheless. Senor Greasley has requested that the DG1000 be modified to incorporate a portaloo in order to extend his flight endurance! A total of 10hrs 37mins was flown for the day.One pupil missed out on flying due to the strong wind ...... the tuggies bottled it and wouldn't give us a launch (whimps!).
Tomorrow's forecast is more of the same - windy and mavey. Top tip for those coming out next week - bring pee bags WITHOUT holes in them!
More tomorrow

Foreign correspondent Simmo

Monday, 8 March 2010

Jaca 2010 Day 1
Expedition members arrived safely and went to their first airfield briefing. The forecast sounded a bit gloomy with snow to the north and east and a early cut off. An early launch was advised. Shorty volunteered to be the sacificial lamb and launched at 11am. It proved to be a day of two halves with the afternoon much easier than the morning. Everyone flew at least once, with 11hrs 40min flown and the best altitude of 8800ft all in mountain thermals. Shorty managed the great escape of the day with a scratch away from 800ft. One point for those that follow, remember your medical and gliding certificates, the local club will insist on them. We are all guests of the Hotel tonight, Toyah has promised local cuisine!

John Simmonds your local correspondent

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Jaca 2010.
8th March to 3rd April.