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