Friday, 7 October 2011

Aboyne Expedition day 4 (Thursday)

Another good day finishing at about 1530hrs. Everyone who got to the airfield flew ( Derek suffering with a cold missed out). Wave set up with a westerly wind over the lochs to Logie Coldstone. A tow to about 3500ft took you straight into the wave which was well signposted with wave cloud. Although weather was threatening far to the west a small cross country with Dave Bowtell of about 100k triangle was possible to the northwest and southwest up to 13000ft. Dave Paffett made 11000ft in the DG1000 and we both landed before the day closed in. So 4 days in a row of wave! Not bad going for the first week.
John Simmonds

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Aboyne Day 3 Wednesday

Great day! Diamond heights were achieved on three flights and Mike Brooks, subject to check has got his Diamond! The winds were very strong and circuits were once again exciting. A memorable tow through a circular rainbow into rotor and on release immediately opening the airbrakes to avoid cloud then almost immediately into wave 10kts up in the clear of the wave bar, wow! Tonight we all dine on roast pork by the generious hospitality of farmer Dave Bowtell to celebrate the fantastic day.
John Simmonds

Aboyne Day2 ( Tuesday)

The day started well with a wave bar gap over the Lochs, cloud base at about 3500ft and the wind down the runway. Aerotows into the wave were achieved at about 3000ft to 4200ft depending on the conditions prevailing. All checks completed, with just a few duel tasks to continue. The computer whizz Stephen Baker, managed to find files for the Aboyne wave box so now all the Satnav's have the wave box displayed on the moving maps, Lasham gliders are superbly equipped! Achievements for the day were Stephen Baker and myself 16500ft followed by Stephen on his own to 14000ft. The two Dave,s Paffet and Bowtell got to 14000ft. Steve Powell with Farmer Bowtell made 11000ft and on Steve's second flight with Derek Copeland made 15200ft. Mike Dawson with myself made 13500ft and 12500ft later in the day. I was particularly pleased with the second flight where we pulled off the tow early and had to work hard to get into the wave. Another day with lively conditions but not as strong as the previous day. All returned to the house tired but well satisfied with the day.
John Simmonds

Monday, 3 October 2011

All arrived on Saturday safely, though Derek found the Fettercairn route a bit too much with a trailer and arrived at 2200hrs cursing his Satnav. The Accommodation is excellent as last year and all have nice rooms
The gliders were rigged and fettled the following day, though no flying was possible due to the 50ft cloud base. However, today (Monday) we were treated to a wonderful view of wave with southwesterly winds forecast up to 30kts. Derek and myself launched first in the K21 and contacted wave at 1500ft, pulling off at 2000ft in about 2-3knots. We called the DG1000 up with Dave Paffett and Dave Bowtell at the controls. They climbed to 12000ft while we struggled with a 55kt head wind trying to get into wind at 7000ft. My bladder demanded a landing after about an hour so we returned with a lively circuit followed by an excellent landing and ground run by Derek. Mike Dawson took off in the K21 with myself with changing conditions. As we climbed out calls were being made for gliders above cloud to descend. The base quickly came down to 2500ft as the wave collapsed and a mass landing started. All the landing were exciting but everyone managed to put it on the runway and keep it there. The you could smell the adrenaline. Launching was suspended and rain has resumed, but a start has been made. Mike Brooks of Lasham who is up here privately in his LS6 made 18500ft and asked for the wave box to be opened which of course caused the collapse of the wave so he will be wearing the yellow jersey and buying the beers tonight.
John Simmonds

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Sisteron The Trip Home

Dear all

I'm writing this from our scheduled overnight stop in Troyes, however on a short trip dinner trip into town the exhaust pipe decided to separate and drag on the floor with the corresponding bag of nails scraping noise providing much amusement to locals. The chap from Green Flag turned up an announced that there was nothing he could do and it was not worth him taking the van back to the depot only to bring it back on Monday morning to the Mercedes garage where it is currently parked outside! However, he did donate a suitably modified coat hangar to support the pipe but suggested that it would be too noisy to continue our journey. In the meantime Green Flag say that they will try to effect a repair tomorrow morning but being Sunday all the mechanics will be at church sans doute.

Your currently stranded correspondant


Friday, 20 May 2011

Sisteron Week 2 Day 6

Last day - with a similar forecast for the past two days another early start was made. There was evidence of a storm out to the north west very early at 11:00. Unlike the previous days, the clouds to the east did not develop into Cb but did produce rain and most unusally the notorious storm hotspot Pic de Bure had reasonable cumulus at 10-11000 bases for most of the day. Conditions to the north east were booming. Tremaine managed to get 13200 in thermal in the mountains east of Briancon. The second sortie started with Mark soaring away from a 1300' tow (to make up for yesterdays long tow) and topping out at 11000. We returned (early for us) in order to pay the bill before the office closed at six and shortly afterwards Pic de Bure erupted to produce a large storm, again there were storms all around but no rain on the airfield. This week has had a very good mixture of weather starting with the awesome wave day FL195 and finising with thermals to 13200'! Mark and Tremaine have equally shared the 36 hour flying time and we all have had a fantastic time.


Sisteron Week 2 Day 5

Today started early with good thermals to 9000 however the storms built very quickly after 15:00 curtailing the second sortie that became sandwiched between two. Again the rain never reached the airfield but was evident all around.


Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Sisteron Week 2 Day 4

A day of two halves - east and west see below- where would you go ?

Hard to believe that these pictures were taken at the same time. A relaxed start as there was a reasonably thick layer of high cloud that was slow to burn off but true to the forecast the conditions were good but so were the thunderstorms. Eventually the storms surrounded the airfield but the rain never reached it. We were entertained by the club in the evening to aperitifs that were enjoyed by all


Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Sisteron Week 2 Day 3

Tremaine had an earlier start launching at 11:20 towards some solid looking cumulus to the west providing 4kts to 7000 that encouraged us to keep going west. Turning at Monte Ventoux (pictured) we headed north east as the conditions steadily improved, reaching Pic de Bure for another close inspection we moved on to the east climbing to the top of Guillame before crossing the lake to the south to sample the delights of the Par Cours and back home by 15:00. By the time Mark launched the cumulus had joined together forming a street back to the Par Cours which we ran to Dormillouse at the northern end then back south to Cheval Blanc. Looking back to where we had just been a shower had developed so we decided to head west back to the sunshine and continued until the cumulus ran out just short of Monte Ventoux. Returning to the Durance valley a large line of well developed clouds provided more fun until nearly 19:30, as usual we were last to land (No change there then)


Monday, 16 May 2011

Sisteron Week 2 Day 2

Another completely different day with light and variable wind, crystal clear blue sky and more temperature. Mark launched at 13:00 onto Hongrie and climbed quickly to 5500 which turned out to be the high point for what seemed like an age. Eventually a good climb was found over Maloupe and we set off for the very sparse cumulus on top of Pic de Bure that worked well to 8500. Tremaine launched to the same Hongrie hotspot and after an intoduction to rock polishing headed east towards the 1/8 Cu that looked promising from a distance but by the time we got there the clouds had either faded away or reformed in another remote part of the sky. However, there were still reasonable climbs to be had in the blue. Reaching Les Blanches a band of thickening cirrus began to reduce the sun's heat but a climb to 10000 took us safely back to the home valley via D'Aujour.


Sunday, 15 May 2011

Sisteron Week 2 Day 1

What a contrast to last week! - the rain arrived on Saturday, followed by the Mistral today. We awoke to find a distinct drop in temperature and the wind averaging 20knots gusting 35 from the NW at the gite! The briefing was extended to cover where the wave sets up and how best to use it. The oxygen bottles were refilled in anticipation and we rushed to get airborne before the conditions became too fierce as the wind was strengthening all the time. The tow to the Gauche was short but very lively and Mark Benson and Merv were soon climbing in very strong but smooth lift. Heading north we encountered similar conditions on the northern side of Maloup that took us to the ceiling of FL195 - thank goodness we refillied the oxygen. After three hours a call to Sisteron revealed that the wind on the ground was now 30kts gusting 45 and if we landed there was no possibility of a re-light so we stayed up - until the oyxgen ran out. After 5hrs 20 the wind had relaxed a little we landed at 18:00, by 18:30 after changing pilots and oxygen bottles Tremaine Callier and Merv were back in the air with a shortened version of the first flight but still managed to hit the ceiling of FL195 and landed at 20:45. The wind at height was in excess of 50kts at one point we noticed while flying to the North at 50kts the Clearnav was indicating we were flying back to Sisteron! What a day ;-)


Friday, 13 May 2011

Day 4 and 5

The gremlins of technology have been with us for the last two days and I have been unable to access the blog site due to what appears to be a problem with the French site being down for maintenance.

Rolling two days flying in to one blog seams like a good idea as the weather on both days had the same trends and eventual outcome by mid to late afternoon.

Forecasting the location of afternoon thunderstorms is obviously something that the French Metrological office at St Auban have refined into a fine art and their morning forecast has been surprisingly accurate in the last two days. Despite knowing that the storms are going to develop, it never fails to surprise me how quickly they develop from a small Cu in to a raging Cu Nim and how it then moves in any direction they like. It really focuses the mind when the storms are near the airfield and how quickly wind direction goes from light southerly to 20kt northly within moments.

Both days showed signs of Cumulous developing over the high mountains before the morning briefing at 10 am and by the time we launched around midday some of the tops were starting to go ballistic. The three-hour weather window has allowed us to explore the local area with diverse conditions ranging from having to park on a small ridge for half an hour waiting for a thermal to kick off to cloud base going being over 10,000ft in the high mountains near Barcelonette. Today the Duo with Merv an Ed Foxon on board ventured east towards Mont Viso and the Italian border with the return journey around the thunderstorms sounded very interesting. Hopefully I can post some photos later when we download the cameras

As I write this blog in the early evening I can hear the thunderstorm rumbling away in the La Motte valley and the rain that’s falling looks like it may stop our evenings BBO at the house.


Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Day 3.

Later Start
Around midday the top cover started to thin and the first signs of usable convection appeared to the east. It was another hour before a self launching ASH 26 got airborne and started to report back that it was working up to 6500ft.

Both Duo’s launched at about 2pm and the first climb over Hongrie was 4 knots. Moving South we found another strong climb on Trainon gave us the confidence to push on to Authon. We failed to find a climb at Authon so I made the decision to push South again to some Cu at the end of the Vaumuse. Arriving under this it we found a week climb and cloud base 1000ft lower. We had found strong sink between the climbs so very quickly we were down in the low hills near St Auban doing battle with broken thermals and the local glider from the French national centre. This struggle lasted for over an hour and we constantly found the climbs stopped abruptly at 4000ft and we came to the conclusion there was no possibility of re tracing our steps. After a radio conversation with 775 who was under the Cu on the Lure Ed and myself decided we had to take our chances crossing the valley on to the south side of the Lure. Eventually the pull of the of St Auban got us and we dropped in.

Towing back to Sisteron we released when we could reach a local ridge next to the town and then local soared in the company of 775 for another hour in week evening thermals.


Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Day 3

Morning update.

Rather thick top cover first thing this morning which as I write this at 1pm is starting to thin out and allow the sun through. The morning forecast from St Auban promised soarable condition by mid afternoon and it looks like they could be right. So a relaxed lunch, more coffee and a possible launch later on.


Day 2

French hangar packing is an entertaining thing to watch and even more amusing if you are involved in the pushing, pulling and shouting. Today was no exception with the entire hangar having to be emptied to get out an LS 6 and then repacked in a different order. By the time we had done this, DI the Duo we are renting and towed it to the launch-point we were a little way down the launch queue.

By 11:30 Merv was getting itchy feet and launched with Martin Conboy as P2 on to one of the local hills called Malaupe. The radio remained silent for 20 mins before they gained enough height to contact us. This didn’t really inspire the RAF GSA contingent to launch and it was probably about an hour later before Alex and myself got airborne in the Sisteron club Duo.

As we aerotowed out I went into sheep mode and let the tug pilot take us in the same direction as the previous 3 glider had been towed, towards St Genis. Releasing above the top we did one run along it and were going down it fast. At the point where the computer said we were 75 meters above glide back to Sisteron one part of my brain reminded the other part that it’s a rented glider with a hefty excess, so home we went. A low save in the circuit saved the embarrassment and cost of a relight and we were then back in the game.

Everyone did two and a half to three hour flights with reliable conditions on the rock faces giving people good practice at climbing away from low level. By late afternoon Merv and Ed Foxon managed to reach Pic de Bure but with the upper wind coming from the North the climb up the southern side was slow.


Monday, 9 May 2011

Morning update Day 2

Another hot and sunny day so Just a quick post before we climb into the Duo's and head into the mountaiins. It looks like a repeat of yesterday with thunderstorms forecast for the high mountains and possably near to Sisteron in the afternoon.

I will post some pictures this evening when we get back!


Day 1.

As in previous years you need to pay attention at the morning briefing because that vital bit of information may be missed in translation or lost in the chatter of French pilots. As it was only Brits at the briefing it was remarkably quiet and as it turned out a very accurate forecast.

The slight spanner in the works today was new rule number 3, which requires all pilots who want to fly Sisteron club gliders to have a check flight each year. As we are hiring a two seater from the Areoclub they managed to find an instructor to do this flight with me, but it quickly became apparent that there might be a communication issue as he spoke no English and my French language does not go much beyond making radio calls in the circuit and buying beers in the bar.

On to the flying. After a bit of a wait just to be sure it was working in the mountains Merv and Ed Foxon launched in the Duo and disappeared towards the east. Once established under the Cu on the Tete Grosse they had a good run up into the Ecrins and then back home for a good 3 hour sight seeing flight.

After my check ride we launched with the second crew of Alex and Martin Conboy. By now it evident that the forecast was correct and the thunderstorms were brewing to the East. Both gliders still managed to run to Dormillouse and at that point we went separate ways with Merv and Alex heading west to the Pic de Bure and myself and Martin going south.

A pleasant evening arrival back at Sisteron followed by a few beers and a good meal was the perfect the way to end the first day of the expedition.


Pre expedition practice day

When you go away on an expedition it always takes a few days to settle into the routines of another club and evan if you have flown there many times before things change. Well the big thing that has changed at Sisteron this year is that they have not employed professional staff to run the airfield and are going to try to rely on volunteers. The Jury is still out on this one, but so far everything appears to be OK.

The tug pilot informed me that for this year there is only one new rule, you must be local to the airfield by 7pm. By the time we parked the Duo at the North end of the airfield ready for a launch and it was then we had found out that there is a second new rule that the gliders need to be further back towards the hedge and we had parked in front of a Swiss glider that wanted to launch. Well if you cant find any Germans to annoy then the Swiss are the second best option.

So a relaxed start today as we were one of the last to launch at about 1pm. After ten minuets on one of the local hills we realised that it may be a bit more difficult than it looked with very turbulent thermals and possibly of wave mixed in with it. After two hours flying we finally managed to climb high enough to move away from La Motte and head towards the higher mountains. The parcours was working well but again it took a long time to get over 10,000ft. I was then persuaded by the P2 to try pushing towards the wave clouds over the Barcelonnette valley. It didn’t take long before we were doing a passable impression of a grand piano thrown out of a second floor window with the result that we had to scuttle back around the corner of Dormillouse.


Sunday, 8 May 2011

It's hot here

Another long day in the saddle. So sorry folks the priorities for this evening are beer, food and then sleep and I will then update the Blog with the antics of the last two days early tomorrow morning.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Sisteron 2011

8th - 20th of May

Friday, 8 April 2011

Jaca Week 5 Day 5

Another flying day, five out of five so far this week, high pressure conditions give a late start which allows time for lunch and a siesta. Weakish thermals on the first step allowed the group to put into practice the skills learnt on the first days. This led to some interesting flying and a scuttle home from behind the hill. As the day died one scuttle was converted to a “running out of height exercise” which was changed to an “oh dear, we have run out of height” and an outlanding 1km short of the airfield. Useful practice in derigging and rigging a K21 left us ready for dinner. Gerald will be feeling better soon.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Week Five Day Three Sunny and warm! Thermals started popping at 14.00 and Lasham launched. The day was spent mostly bouncing about on the local hills, honing the skills required to attack the high mountains. Chris and Harry considered their skills sufficiently honed so headed north, met large rocks and couldn't understand why “ get closer!” kept issuing from the back. It took a while to get their smiles to relax to the point where they could start talking again. The Turbo Tourists (another Duo from Lasham) proudly announced that they were passing 8000ft AND hadn't used the turbo at all that day. The day ended with Spag Bol at Chez Bob but Gerald is feeling better now.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Jaca Week 5

Week 5 is Tuesday over and over again! TM and JD are introducing a much needed element of culture sadly lacking in previous weeks, we have been to the Biaritz twice already. The flying is not bad either. Monday was a day waiting for a frontal passage with weak lift, only one flight lasting more than an hour. Tuesday started warm and sunny but we managed five and a half hours in total with four students all exclaiming that it wasn't like thermalling at Lasham! The rest of the week is set fair. BJ

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Week 4 Day 6

The final day. The customary dinner at Toya's had been enjoyed by all, and so most took a while to wake up. However the hesitation may have been caused by the high cover and the southerly wind then south-westerly, then south-easterly and then any other direction it could come up with. The uncertainty about the wind direction caused the management to launch the single-seaters into wind but uphill to the east, while launching the two-seaters downwind and downhill to the west. After 775 just cleared the bushes at the far end of the airfield, they launched all the next few gliders from the other end.

431 went off above the snowy bits to the dam to the east of Retona reaching 10,000 feet. 775 explored the local wave to about 8800 to begin with and then realised there were some thermals about. It then hurtled off to Ordesa and back. 431 struggled to land in air that was rising everywhere except on the downwind leg. You can see why they suggest starting the circuit at 1000 feet above the airfield because there was a long spell of 8 down when 431 was going downwind resulting in a rapid shift in the circuit pattern before a normal landing.

As is usual after two great flights, conditions worsened while the next two punters were being strapped in. The high cover had moved in blocking the sun from the lower mountains but leaving tantalising cumulus in the high Pyrenees. Sadly even a tow to Stage 2 was insufficient for 431 to find lift and gravity won. However the later launch of 775 and the knowledge gained about the wave in the first flight enabled them to hang about for a while and then to climb gradually in the wave to 8500 and give Paul a good long flight.

The second mass dinner at the airfield restaurant with the Finns was enjoyed by all. Many thanks to Crystal for serving 17 of us single-handed.

Next week's batch have started arriving already, seemingly mystified that we haven't cleared off as soon as we landed.

Friday, 1 April 2011

The week 4 team

What a fantastic day! JM Tours took two people to the Ordesa Gorge and on the second flight across the lake at Yesa. Cloud-base was 10,000 feet and this was only 1st April. Truly stunning so sign up for next year to avoid disappointment. I have to admit to being slightly pi**ed after the traditional dinner at Toya's. Zoccos and red wine have a strange effect on someone's ability to blog coherently. BJ had a strange experience when flying with an unnamed member of our party which should be told in his own words.

BJ writes:
That's not what I meant! BJ flying with PH, PH to do the flying, BJ to do the release as PH has problems reaching yellow knob. Aerotow towards home hill passing 4000ft passed through turbulence PH adjusts aeroplane and says something. BJ wakes up and pulls release. PH says I said S**t, sorry said BJ thought you said release. By now we are in it! We land 10 mins later, regroup and then bounce up to mountains as if we meant it. So five flights, four visits to mountains and still one more day to go!

Next blog will be sober. (That will make a change)

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Week 4 Day 4

Some sad news from the day before. There was a small party in the evening to celebrate the departure of Melanie Hallam from the office. She wants to spend more time running her B&B. Her able replacement is Christine.

We also arranged for an evening meal in the airfield. Jorge (pronounced Horgay) announced a menu in the morning and we signed up to three courses. By the evening some of us even remembered what we had ordered. The quality was standard 12 euro Spanish fare. Vultures were apparently not on the menu despite RW's attempts, though the chickens were suspiciously large.

The following day was warmer and less windy than the day before. It was tricky to get away. The thermals stopped at several levels, possibly sliced by the wind. Eventually 431 made it up to 7800 feet and very modestly told 775, in which there was an audible grinding of collective teeth. 431 then then had to fight to get down. Bob Akehurst was then loaded in to 431 with tales of how great it was up there. After one and a half hours on Stage one at 4500 feet, 431 admitted defeat. Sportingly they took on the chin 775's modest announcement of reaching Stage 3, though using such unfair tactics as greater span and low cunning.

Today (Friday) has dawned with the prospect of greater warmth and even less wind but you can always guarantee round here that something will make us look like April Fools. Curiously the image above was cropped and resized. When checking that it was now small enough, it was seen to be 775kb.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Week 4 Day 3

Sue Akehurst was sent up with JM as the sacrifice to see if there was any wave and to give her a scenic flight. There wasn't any so we had lunch. Thanks Sue.

Bob Johnson claims to have been counting sheep though Ed didn't hear any snoring. JM flew with Richard "Vulture Killer" Whitaker and then Paul "RT Specialist" Haliday. There was no dent in the wing of 775 but the vulture probably had a sore head. Paul got 775 up to 7500 in wave by which time we were all knackered and so the gliders were put away just as lenticulars bloomed, though only briefly.

431: 431 is at 4500 coming back from Stage 2. What is your position 775?
775: Na Na Ne Na Na.

775: Santa Cilia gogogoch 5 minutes to landing no hang on 775 Vimto Coca Cola Dos Siesta Alternativo

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Week 4 Day 2

Despite yesterday's gloomy forecast the week is now scheduled to get better and better. Today started at 9am with a cloudbase of about 10feet but improved astonishingly rapidly and so we launched after a leisurely bocadillo and managed over 8 hours flying between the two gliders, admittedly only up to 7000feet, but being the first day every seemed pleased to get off the ground.

Paul wanted to a good place to mount a video camera to get a good view and it was suggested that on top of a fin would be the best place. Unfortunately the man from Helsinki, he say no.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Week 4 Day 1

This is going to be quite a short entry to describe the first day's events. Briefing, register, shop, eat, read, eat, drink, sleep and blog. However Anna says that there may be a gap between the fronts tomorrow.

Are you worried that people think you are too short? All you have to do is walk across some muddy grass here because the local geology creates a mixture of mud and superglue. After ten paces you have enough on your soles to be a couple of inches taller.

Yesterday BJ said he knew of a really good restaurant with Arbeit Nach Frei over the gate. After searching for it in an industrial estate, we began to believe him. Resolution for tomorrow: I must learn the Spanish for pork, beef, chicken and fish. To date I've only mastered "coffee" and "beer" so the diet is somewhat limited.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Jaca 2011 Week 3 Day 6

The forecast showed a moist unstable airmass with thermals to 2300m but there was a strong risk of showers. As cumulus were already forming before briefing we decided to launch as early as we could and both gliders were in the air by just after 11am. David and Gordon went first in 431 with a mission to practice ridge flying on Oreol as the conditions were ideal. Steve and Bob attempted to gain the main ridge above stage 3 but found the cloudbase too low and it was starting to shower. Instead they too entertained the walkers on Oreol by soaring down the ridge. The day lasted longer than expected and the isolated showers were easily avoided. This allowed Peter and Gordon to repeat the visit to Oreol whilst Bob and Adrian took advantage of the higher cloudbase to soar a short section of the main ridge above stage 3. Toya gave us all dinner and a good time was had by all. Judging from those that made it to breakfast perhaps too good a time... With 5 out of 6 flying days everyone has had a good week with a mix of thermal and wave conditions. Bob

Friday, 25 March 2011

Jaca 2011 Week 3 Day 5

The forecast was for a light SW wind, thermals to 2,200m and high level cloud clearing away during the afternoon. This was pretty much what we had though the best part of the day turned out to be before we launched.

Gordon replaced the troublesome vario in 775 and then launched with Peter after the local club Duo Discus reported 2kt climbs to over 6,500'. This was a good move as the increasing high level cloud started to take effect but not before they made it to stage 3 and were able to explore Oroel at close range.

Terry and Bob were not so lucky in 431 and spent nearly 2 hours going backwards and forwards between stage 1 and 2. Hard work without much reward.

The blue sky eventually reached us but later than we hoped. Adrian was persuaded to launch with Bob in 431. Although soarable the conditions were weak and limited to the local valley.

About 6 hours flown today.



Terry found his pants (don't ask) and we flew for about 10 hours in 4 flights.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Interesting wave clouds

775 at 18,000'

Jaca 2011 Week 3 Day 4

Didn't really need a forecast today as the strong SE wind and the lenticulars over the valley made it pretty clear that it was going to be a wave day. However an approaching warm front meant that the air was quite moist and that there would be quite alot of cloud.

Not the usual leisurely start as the Lasham gliders were all ready to go by 11am well ahead of everyone else. David was first with Bob in 775 and a sporting tow to about 5000' was enough to get them into the wave in the lee of Cuculo. There were several layers of cloud due to the moist air making for interesting flying and beautiful cloudscapes. 775 was still climbing at 18,000' when the ClearNav was giving airspace warnings and it was starting to feel cold. It takes a surprising long time to descent from that height.

Gordon and Steve in 431 topped out at about 12,000' as the lower level wave had reorganised itself in the short time between launches. From this height they were able to fly down the wave bar to the end of the Yesa lake. At times 8/8ths cloud cover restricted the options for exploring beyond the immediate vicinity of the airfield.

775 flew again with Terry and Bob but they had to work hard to contact the wave and spent an hour and a half grinding away in the rotor thermals before finding 7kts just to the west of the airfield. 12,000' was the max this time.

Adrian and Gordon in 431 also got t0 12,000' and explored the valley to the east of Sabinanigo. The increasing cloud cover, the cold and fatigued P1s brought and end to flying for the day.

A replacement vario for the Duo Discus has arrived. Something for Gordon to do if we have a rainy day.


Wednesday, 23 March 2011

View north from stage 1 with crystal clear air on day 3

Adrian (seated) and Terry discussing plans to feature prominently in the blog

Jaca 2011 Week 3 day 3

At last, blue skies and a good forecast. Thermals to 2700m and absolutely no wave due t0 the easterly component in the wind and the possibility of some cumulus late in the afternoon.

The gliders were taken to the launch point and Team Lasham retired to the clubhouse enjoy the sunshine and wait for the conditions to improve. Just when everyone wanted to get going the wind changed direction by 180 degrees and increased strength resulting in a race to change ends. A race that Gordon and 775 won with Bob and 431 coming in last. Fortunately Gordon had placed a virtual towel on the runway allowing Bob to sneek in front of several other gliders.

Gordon flew with Adrian and contacted the non existent wave over the Canfranc valley and were still climbing at 3knts at 14,000 when they broke off to investigate the Ordessa gorge. Adrian's enjoyment of the flight was marred by his camelback emptying itself into his seat. A wet bottom with sub-zero temperatures isn't much fun.

Bob and Peter didn't make it into the wave but certainly found the rotor and got as far as the lower slopes of stage 3.

Not sure what happened on Gordon's second flight but how Terry lost his underwear needs further investigation. The wind had dropped and despite a valliant effort the wave eluded them. They still managed to get up to 9000' and onto the main ridge.

Bob and David worked the slopes of stage one but found it difficult to get above 6000'. Instead they concentrated on teaching the local vulture population the merits of keeping a good look out. One poor bird required two practical demonstrations from David before it could be signed off on its white card.

Approximately 9.5 hours flown today in 4 flights.

The forecast looking ok for tomorrow.


Jaca 2011 Week 3 Day 2

Brighter skies and a more promising forecast but a risk of rain advancing from the south east.

Undeterred by the increasingly dark skies behind Cuculo the gliders were duly checked and taken down to the launch point.

At this point we should have taken the hint when the tugs and the local club gliders were put back in the hanger. Sure enough the mountains to the south were soon shrouded by cloud and it started raining on the airfield.

The rain passed but there was never enough sun or wind to make launching worthwhile as a Finnish Duo Discus proved late afternoon.

Alternative activities included getting lost in Jaca (Peter and Steve), drilling inspection holes in the wing of a Nimbus (Gordon), drinking beer and discussing brewing techniques (everyone else).

The forecast is good for tomorrow.


Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Jaca 2011 Week3 Day 1

Grey skies at breakfast time, gloom. Unpromising weather briefing and the skies still overcast, more gloom. So Gordon gave a detailed briefing on mountain flying and by the time he finished some blue sky was beginning to appear.

At this point the mandatory optimism of a Full Cat instructor kicked in and Gordon suggested we got the gliders out and went flying. First to launch was Gordon with Terry in 431 quickly followed by Bob and Peter in 775.

Gordon showed Terry how to get away from the lower reaches of Stage 1 and then a full tour of the local area only limited by the cloudbase which was below 7000'. The highlights of the flight were the low pass over Oriol and Terry´s bid to take over from his namesake on Radio 2. Radio 431 broadcast on 130.1 for several minutes due to P2´s firm grip on the stick.

Bob and Peter launched a bit higher and were able to make the transition to the lower slopes of Stage 3 in the improving conditions.

Second sorties were flow with Bob and Steve in 775 and Gordon and David in 431. Cloudbase was now up to 7800' making the transition to the main ridge easier and enabling a short section to be explored around the top of the Hecho valley.

Over 8 hours flown so not too bad for a day that was nearly written off by the forecast.


Sunday, 20 March 2011

Jaca 2011 Week 2 day 6

For our last day we had a relaxed start with the first launch at 13:00, climbing well towards Javierregay, Ingram was encouraged to release over the village and was soon climbing to 6000' and achieved the shortest tow of the week. Exploring west towards Berdun. nothing significant was found so were returned to the village (square one) now down to circuit height. The house thermal had 4 gliders in it and eventually we climbed away while the others tried moving north but most returned fairly quickly at ridge height again back to square one. There was a definate pattern developing of climb, search, nasty sink and back to square one that remained all day. Meanwhile, Colin and Clive bravely headed north and found some wave (encouraged by Gordon who had found a hotspot on the western side of the Hecho valley and was comfortably climbing through 10000') By this time Ingram decided land to let Richard have a go. Richard opted to miss out square one by having longer tow towards the wave source. After sometime wrestling in some very turbulent but promsing rotor, we fell out of the bottom into off the clock sink and found ourselves at the base of stage 2 grovelling in the weeds. At last we connected at the same spot where Gordon had had success and finished the flight in the Yesa 'washing machine' on spin cycle 10 up /10 down!

Considering we didn't fly on two out of the six days the group flew for a total of 34 hours providing some vivid and lasting memories for all.


Friday, 18 March 2011

Jaca 2011 Week 2 day 5

Last night the sky cleared completely while we had our evening meal and we awoke to a superbly crystal clear morning with just a hint of wind. The briefing indicated that there would be some wave but little chance of thermals. We emerged from briefing with suspiscions that it just was another ploy to increase Santa Cilia's profit margins as there was no wind and no sign of wave. However, after the second non fliying day everyone was keen to test the forecast by taking long high tows towards France. The tows were very rough and even descending at 400 fpm for extended periods in the lee of the high peaks. The tug pilots were not keen to find the positive part of the wave and turned away into the valley encountering more sink. Enough time had been spent on tow, releasing in sink (an unorthodox tactic) Robert and Merv in the K21 made a dive for where the wave was expected to be (ie where tug pilots fear to go) and we found it! - quickly climbing to 11000'. Perseverance took us to 14600' on the first sortie that had to be curtailed prematurely owing to a lack of facilities on board and cold feet. Richard and Clive were not so fortunate in the Duo as releasing earlier proved not so successful but it gave an earlier than expected opportunitity for Ingram to climb to 11000'. Malcolm was determined to beat Robert's high point by heading east finally finding a high point of 15400' east of Ordessa and north of Ainsa not bad for the k21. Richard had a second attempt in the Duo and connected and Colin finished the day also on a high. A rewarding day where everybody flew, the day was finished off perfectly with a meal provided by Toya


Jaca 2011 Week 2 day 4

The promise of better wave on the second day of northerly winds was shrouded by cloud with only a small hole in the stratus streaming over from France appearing late afternoon The poor visibility gave us no opportuninty for flying - so another non flying day. The highlight of the day was the semi permanent rainbow over the airfield generated by the rain encircling us.


Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Jaca 2011 Week 2 day 3

With no prospect of thermals an early start was made to try to connect with one of the many wave systems evident by the copious amounts of lenticulars. Due north was tried first with a little success with Malcolm and Clive managing to scrape to 7000'+ during a 2 hour sortie in the Duo. Colin and Merv could only manage a slow descent for 1 hour, followed by a change of tactic with Ingram launching due west. This approach provided an encouraging initial climb of 500' that quickly turned into ridge soaring the southern slope of the valley at 800'agl for a total of 1 hour in the company of Robert and Clive in the Duo. Third time lucky for Richard who towed just a little further and higher we finally connected just east of Yesa reservoir with a very satisfying climb to 13200' after the initial frustrating attempts and finishing with a few aerobatics.
Gordon was airborne for almost 6 hours in his Astir and was forced south by heavy snow but successfully connected with the Yesa wave abandoning his climb at 12500' as he did not have oxygen fitted.

Looks like the wave conditions are improving for the rest of the week - let's hope so!!


Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Jaca 2011 Week 2 day 2

Surprised that it was not raining at briefing this morning but with the absence of wind made it not worth launching. So the brave decision was made to relocate the group to the slippery slopes of Astun for a days skiing. For the price of a flight we had a great day out with a few tumbles but no injuries although we suspect we might not be able to move tomorrow. The heavy rain arrived with avengence late afternoon but the apres-ski was excellent! Meanwhile, Gordon inspected his Astir for another year and Malcolm stayed in the apartment and opened Santa Cilia's first Indian restaurant that was enjoyed by all. Concensus says that future expeditions should definately be glide/ski combinations!!
Perhaps tomorrow more skiing....


Monday, 14 March 2011

Jaca 2011 Week 2 day 1

The morning briefing did not promise much other than strong wind from the south east expected to veer south later in the day with as small possibility of south wave as the advancing rain from the Mediterranean forecast to arrive. With little hope for tomorrow we were determined to make the most of the day. Emerging from the briefing into the gloomy grey sky Richard Abbott was looking for a P2 in E6 as his syndicate partner was not fit to fly, eventually Ingram volunteered. While unpacking the hangar the strength of the wind really became apparent. Robert O'Neil and Clive were first to launch in the K21 followed closely by Richard Taylor in the Duo with Merv. The initial rate of climb in the valley was much greater that anticipated indicating that there might be some wave influence about. Releasing at 2000' agl into smooth lift in the centre of the valley and on spotting many vultures cruising in straght lines towards Oriel we decided to join them. Our patience was rewarded as we climbed to 7000' just above cloud base before we had to descend for the second flights. Meanwhile E6 had had to make a hasty retreat as Ingram was feeling uncomfortable and needed to be on the ground asap and a mysterious fuel leak had consumed 2 litres after losing 4000' in 2 minutes!!. As the K21 was preparing to launch we noticed that Oriel had disappeared having been obscured by very heay rain and a few large spots on the airfield encouraged us to abandon the prospect of another launch. We made a quick retreat to the hangar with the wind now in excess of 25 knots on the ground and we put the gliders away. The rain never reached the airfield so after lunch the sky cleared and Merv put the Duo back into service and Malcolm Hodgson and Colin Simpson had an hour each from relatively short tows. We achieved our goal of everyone flying in the challenging and quickly changing conditions. - no sign of tomorrow's rain just yet.....


Friday, 11 March 2011

Jaca 2011 week1 Day5

What a difference a day makes! No more sweating over broken thermals. The increase in wind from the south east gave a boost to the lift up the mountains, enabling a much easier and quicker climb to the mountain tops. The drier air gave light cumulus until an approaching warm front started to reduce the heating. This gave way to much more defined wave so that those still up had a chance of catching it. Some managed to find wave on the french side of the tops others were towed into wave in the main valley after a 4000ft tow. Thermal and ridge lift was strong and rough needing tight harness straps. All the expedition flew, surprising really given the celebrating the previous night. Tomorrow looks more doubtful unless the local micro-climate intervenes. Even so, 5 out of 6 days can't be bad.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Jaca 2011 week 1 day 4

High pressure light winds but warm and thermic to 8000ft. High and lows- "Flying straight at the sheer snow covered rock face of the summit" (Annie Wellbrook); "Flying the Duo for the first time and flying close to the snow, seeing the gliders shadow close by" (John Davey); "Just getting to the snow line and top after an epic struggle" (Merv and Richard, non-expedition this week); "The imaginative circuit after falling down!" (Martin Hollowell); "Getting to the top" (Craig Ulrich); "Pulling up over the snow line and feeling the glider just going up and up with the rising ground" (John S); "Seeing Merv and Richard light up the turbo after falling back after an attempt at the summit" (Hugh). All expressed disbelief that they were in this beautiful almost unreal environment. Time for bed said zebedee!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Jaca 2011 week1 day 3

The forecast for the day was for very light south easterlys going to south west with thermals up to 6-7000ft. Small cumulus to the east and the frontal weather to the south being held at bay by the high pressure over northern Spain. Lashamite Merv and Richard in their syndicate DG1000 threw themselves into air at about 1200hrs, we all thought he was foolish but John Simmonds followed him just the same. So it proved to be, much sweat and toil just to stay up was required, Merv spent 3hrs trying to get above stage 2, well he managed it in the end and was rewarded with a 8000ft high point along the snow line. Hugh and John made many attempts at the snow line only to be knocked back onto the lower spines. This gave the Students much practice at centring in broken thermals being squashed by a strong inversion. About 10hrs of soaring was had, not bad for a weak thermal day. Tomorrow is forecast as a much better day.

All the expeditions were invited by Toya, the Hotel owner, to an evening meal of Lamb and Zoco, some who wont be mentioned just might have over imbibed. What a night!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Jaca 2011 week 1 day 2

What difference a day makes! Today much stronger south easterly winds with the hope of wave from the southern mountains. Much more high cover was expected from a front to the south that was slowly advancing and weakening toward the Pyrenees. Some expectation of thermals or a combination of rota/thermals was hoped for. The sky improved with evidence of wave and cumulus by 12:00pm when launching started. The first flights were in broken thermals to 6500ft in the lee of Cucalao ( all legally) really quite exciting conditions that the pilots were keen to experience. The jump to wave proved elusive with rather too much cover in the middle of the day. Everybody flew and enjoyed the different conditions learning much about how mountain flying is so enjoyable.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Jaca 2011 week 1 day1

The expedition arrived and were duly briefed, had the spanish inquisition ( inscription) and then finally got the gliders out ready to fly.
The forecast was for light south easterly winds with thermal activity to 8500ft with a risk of high cover later in the day.
The start of the day was leisurely at about 1330hrs and the last glider landed at about 1845hrs. All had good flights to the snow line at the top or above. Running along the top with breathtaking views of the mountains and the valleys below.
The newbees were treated to the experience of mountain thermalling at high angles of bank with lift at +6kts average in quite warm conditions. The highest for a glider was 11000ft. So everybody left the airfield with a good first day under their belt and were eager for tomorrow. Watch this space!

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Jaca 2011 Saturday March 5th

Another good day with thermals to 9500ft, both gliders ranged over the mountains to the north and south of the valley. Close up views of migrating storks, mountain climbers/skiers and high altitude deer were had. John Simmonds experienced his first field landing in Spain with a lovely field in the valley right next to the road back to Santa Cilia Aerodrome. Much banter from the French instructor Vincent was all taken in good part. Tomorrow looks like another good thermal day. Day 1 of the expedition is eagerly awaited

Hugh Kindell/John Simmonds

Friday, 4 March 2011

Jaca 2011

Pre-week all gliders rigged and servicable. The weather looks promising for the start of the first week, so come on down!

Restaurant is open for business with new operator it may be possible by appointment to have evening meals. Currently so far lunch time is snacks and self service meals as well as the normal hot & cold drinks.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Coming Soon.
Jaca 2011