Saturday, 28 March 2015

Jaca Week 4 Day 6

The end of a remarkable week. It started with gloom as the forecast hinted there was a remote chance of us flying on perhaps one day. As it tuned out, we only missed Monday. Yet again today the gliders got up into the wave to vertiginous altitudes on most flights, creating a very happy group and very tired instructors. The two gliders did about 45 hours in the week. The holiday was finished off by a magical evening at Toya's. De Colores was sung lustily by the whole contingent. Incredibly, just after we had sung about the sounds of the cockerel, the hen and the chicks, Toya's dog barked twice in the perfect time to the music.The English responded with Jerusalem, often in key. We all truly hope that Luis makes a go of St Cilia. He and Baptista (the tug-pilot) worked very hard and gave us great service.

Jaca Week 4 Day 5

Another wave day, and yet another is promised for the final day today. It would be really nice to have a simple thermal day, but I suppose we can't complain about having five flying days out of six possible. Yesterday everyone got above 10,000 feet and some with stronger bladders got to FL195. Much fun was also be had looking for wave in the usual places, failing, but finding it in unusual places, such as downwind in the circuit and then up to 15000!

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Jaca Week 4 Day 4

It was a classic wave day. Dave "the Wave" Williams had successive flights to FL195 and FL180 in the Duo. On the first flight he left the tow over Javierregay and hurtled up to 10,000ft. This made it easier for them to reach the wave at Stage 3 than the crew in the Duo who toiled on Stage 2, never having enough quite height to reach the good stuff past the strong sink. The second tow deposited Dave north of the "firebreak" and once more he contacted the strongest wave while the Duo's crew thought they were doing well at 9300ft. Grrr! The staff at the airfield restaurant are cooking a meal for us tonight. Photo above by Mike Rubin on the descent

Jaca Week 4 Day 3

The day dawned sunny with a 15 knot north wind on the surface. First launch was at 11:20. The term "wave flying" implies smoothly cruising around, whereas yesterday the conditions were closer to a washing machine. Strong lift was followed on the next circle by strong sink. A hunt for something better was occasionally followed by the rapid loss of the carefully gained height from the previous 15 minutes. The Duo did three two hour flights, the best up to 10,700 with a trip to Collorada and a truly awesome descent downwind of it. The DG flew the other two pilots on similar excursions so that everyone was waving the white flag by 6:30. At the time of writing, 9:00, the sun is gleaming once more and sleek lenticulars are beckoning.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Jaca Week 4 Day 2

The forecast at the morning briefing was depressing, but we hung around the airfield performing various pagan rituals to the weather gods. By lunchtime things were looking much better and people thought it would be good to get off the ground at least. Ayala was first to volunteer and enjoyed well over a hour floating around the scenery up as far as Stage 2. Paul Hicks followed up with David Williams in the DG with similar results. A shower stationed itself half way to Jaca and the sky looked grey, but Mike Rubin gamely took the second seat in the Duo but the rest were highly dubious. The shower fizzled out and a two hour flight ensued in weak wave despite the overcast skies. JMcC

Monday, 23 March 2015

Jaca Week 4 Day 1

Arrived, ate, slept, ate again, registered, briefed, pumped up Duo Discus tyre, looked at sky & windsock for at least ten seconds before getting too wet and left airfield. And then the weather got worse! JMcC

Friday, 20 March 2015

Jaca Week3 Day4

Well, no two days out here are the same and so it proved. Forecasts suggested rain and cloud with little chance of flying. However we stuck to our task and stayed the course. There was lots of top cover and fog/low clouds in the valleys but by 1400hrs enough of the high level cloud drifted away to chance a high tow to Las Bancos and try to get into the snow line and to the tops. Richard Taylor has been getting lots of practice working hard to tame the strong mountain thermals at the snow line and after a major battle managed to get to the top mountain peaks. Several encounters with vultures were also a learning experience.  John Brookes did his first instructional flight for Club Nimbus and then flew with John Simmonds playing with the snow line thermals. Wolfie and Bob took a tow to the top and played along the local peaks for nearly 2hrs before returning to give John Bareford a similar run.

Jaca Week3 day3

Today 8/8 cloud cover all day and no thermals resulted in a a rest day. John Simmonds took full advantage with a third!!! breakfast at the club. He has never looked so cheerful!

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Jaca Week3 Day2

Day 2 was as always completely different again. Started with a blue sky with light winds from the south, SSW/05 on the ground to SSE/08 at 9000'. Launching started at about 1345hrs with scattered cloud and clear vis all the way up to the top on the mountains. Early flights experienced easy lift 2000' above the site in the lower hills and climbs to 7000'+ where you could run straight in to the top of the mountains. The southerly winds then enabled a combination of ridge and thermal flying with climbs to 10000'. Nick Parkhouse went first with Bob Johnson followed by John Bareford with John Simmonds, both had about 2hrs running the tops of the Pyrenees. Second to fly with Bob was John Brooke. Wolfgang Fischer then launched with John Simmonds. By now it was around 1600hrs and the thermals lower down were beginning to get fewer and harder to find. However by a combination of skill and good luck all made it to the top again. Wolfgang and John struggled to find the height to run straight into the top and had to go for the snow line lower down where a massive thermal got then up to the top of the peaks to run along the tops until 1900hrs. John and Bob ran along the top to the east and came back the pretty way along the foothills to the south at around 100kts. At the end all were tired but elated by the stunning flying the incredible scenery. Alas Nick has had an urgent duty recall but has sworn to return.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Jaca week 3, Day 1

A lovely blue sky with light winds greeted us at the start of the first day. It looked like a great day was in store. The new operators are both friendly and relaxed. Before briefing we noticed cameramen and a rather attractive lady presenter. They stayed with us through briefing to the launch point and a chase plane continued the filming of the Nimbus club gliders. A comprehensive coverage including an interview with our Mike Evans, (in Spanish!) and pictures of the Lasham group and Gliders also  appeared on Aragon TV. Fame at Last! 

Launching started at about midday with thermals out in the main valley and in the lower mountains up to 7000ft. It all too easy! However cloud continued to build, particularly to the north limiting the flights to the valleys and the lower mountains. However flying was possible all day and only one premature return occurred, but what do you expect if you pull off at 1200ft? High launches were not necessary though and is was possible to fly to the west east and south in excellent thermals. Everyone expressed great satisfaction with the days flying which ended just before 7pm. The next day is looking equally bright and sunny with light winds

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Jaca week 2 - Day 6

This morning we awoke to find it was snowing and that the cloudbase was very low in the valley so we didn't really expect it to be flyable.
The uninspiring view north after briefing.
So at briefing we were a little surprised when Luiz said that it would clear up after lunch and that we would be able to fly. Wave was possible with weak thermals to around 6,000'.

On cue the sun broke through the low cloud and lenticulars appeared with a strong westerly wind at ground level. 

Both gliders took long tows to the west of the airfield, in quickly evolving conditions which made choosing where to look for lift difficult.

Dave has an all too brief view of the wave from above.

Dave and Bob were briefly in the wave before they losing contact and resorting to soaring the rotor thermals at the end of the Hecho valley. 6,700' was as high as they could get as snow showers swept south from the high mountains. 

Merv flew with both Richard and Stuart and was the last to land. The rest of the team were very happy to put the glider away and retire to the bar as it is now substantially colder than it was at the beginning of the week. 

We had another super meal at Toya's with the highlight being the raffle for the 7kg leg of ham. It was won by one of the Finnish group and I'm still not sure how I would have got it home had I won.

Things we learnt this week:-
1. Wave is possible without any wind (at ground level)
2. Morag can provide an excellent meal for 2 Euros per person. 
3. Fluid cannot flow through kinked tubes


Jaca week 2 - Day 5

Friday was forecast to be a game of two halves with the better conditions expected after the cold front had passed through. Wave bars were already evident by briefing, due to the strong north west wind, but it was not expected to be a classic wave day as the wind changed direction with altitude.

Both gliders were launched, just after briefing, to try and contact the wave with mixed success. Much of their flights were spent at low level working rotor thermals just to the south of the airfield. Dave and Merv made the transition getting to over 6,000' whilst Richard and Bob landed back in time for lunch.

The cold front turned out to be a very weak feature that only amounted to some high level cloud that passed over quite quickly. As promised, the conditions improved mid afternoon with good looking cumulus out to the west and a blue wave slot overhead the airfield which offered no clues about where to look.

Thanks to Julian, all 3 course members launched around 3pm. A combination of patience, skill and experience eventually got Bob A. and Merv into the wave with a max height of 8,600'. The other two gliders shared some rotor thermals to the west of the airfield before admitting defeat.

Iain and Julian put E6 back in the hanger whilst Stuart and Bob took another launch, this time finding good climbs under the cumulus that were now closer to the airfield. A pleasant change after a week of cumulus free flying.
Dave fixing the flat tyre on the dolly of No. 4,

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Jaca week 2 - Day 4

The forecast for today was similar to yesterday's but the blue thermals would start earlier, go higher and there was more chance of cumulus in the east. 

So it was another leisurely morning waiting for the convection to get going, but it was very pleasant in the warm sunshine. 

With no soaring birds, cumulus or other clues we played safe and held back launching until about 2pm. Even then, long tows were required to get to the better conditions over stage 3. 

Merv and Iain went first followed by the 2 Bobs, with both gliders enjoying the stronger climbs to over 9,000'. Sadly the excellent conditions were short lived as high level cloud gradually drifted in from the west. 

Stuart and Bob took a high tow, hoping that the higher mountains would still be working but it was only just possible to maintain height by working a small section of ridge. Stuart coped well with the challenge and even managed to gain ground before we were forced to retreat back to stage 1. 

With all the other gliders now back in the hanger (Dave and Merv decided not to fly.) Stuart and Bob extended their flight in some weak wave just north of the airfield, climbing back to 6,000' before taking pity on the rest of the team waiting patiently below and landing in time for a well earned beer at the club. 

Dinner was at the airfield restaurant and was enjoyed by everyone. Very large steaks were the popular choice after the excellent varied tapas dishes.

The forecast for Friday is uncertain with the tail end of a cold front possibly bringing some snow which would be a shock after the warm weather we have experienced so far this week.


Slightly more difficult, can you spot E6?
Stuart in wave over the Hecho valley
Mike tucks into his chuleton
Caution hungry pilots at work!

Jaca Week 2 Day 3 Photos

Not long left before sunset

On the way down

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Jaca week 2 - Day 3

Today's forecast was for a later start but for the blue thermals to be stronger and go higher. There was a risk that high level cloud might increase in the afternoon but there could be cumulus over the higher ground. 

The effects of the strong inversion were clearly visible from the ground and even though vultures could be seen soaring it was not until after the tug pilot had finished his lunch (2pm) that anyone took a launch. 

It was the Finnish Duo that was first to go and they took a long tow after reporting back that the air was very stable. 

Bob and Iain were next to launch, releasing over stage 1 for a character building session soaring with the vultures before finally getting up to 8,200' over the high mountains.

Merv and Dave towed to stage 2 for a quicker transition and were able to venture further afield in the time available. 

The second sorties were affected by wave that started developing around the time of the pilots changing over. 

Bob & Bob A. launched into good thermals over stage 1 and then the fire break but the disruption from the strengthening wave soon made soaring difficult at the lower levels.

Launching later, Merv recognised the change in the conditions so he and Richard towed higher, to be rewarded by getting to 16,500' in the wave.

About 8 hours of soaring were achieved today, not bad considering the late start.

We are hoping for more of the same tomorrow. 

Proof that Iain and Bob eventually got to stage 3

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Jaca week 2 - Day 2

Super lenticulars disappearing off to the east
Gliders ready before briefing
Ian inspecting stage 3
Looking for the next climb along the ridgeline.
The "Spot the Merv" competition is back! (An easy one to start.)
We awoke to find some spectacular lenticulars along the valley so we were hoping for a repeat of yesterday and prepared the gliders before briefing. The forecast suggested thermals, but they were going to start after lunch and would probably be weak.

We opted to take long tows to stage 3, in case there was wave, but the forecast was all too accurate and it proved difficult to soar in the weak thermals. Merv and Bob A. worked hard getting to 7,500' but regretted the extra layers of clothing. Bob and Richard slipped off stage 3 but had some success lower down before returning earlier than planned.

Second sorties were flown, with Stuart and Ian both having good flights, but it was difficult to venture far in the conditions. A total of 10 hours were flown today with a max height of 8,000'.

It was another good day for bird spotting with Storks and Black Kites seen migrating north. The vultures were back sharing the thermals, making keeping a good lookout essential though there were still a few occasions when avoiding action was required.

Another good flying day is expected tomorrow.


Monday, 9 March 2015

Day 1 photos

No. 3 bubble machine
The edge of the hugh lenticular visible in the distance
Excellent tapas at the airfield.
Lenticular sunset

Jaca Week 2 - Day 1

A day of 2 halves.

It is difficult to explain the weather over the last couple of days. We are currently in the centre of a high pressure system with absolutely no isobars in Spain and with almost no surface wind but there has been very good usable wave.

Yesterday the week 2 group arrived at Santa Cillia to find a huge lenticular overhead the airfield and to hear tales of flights up to flight level 195. So when this morning's briefing was for more of the same, our expectations were set high. The only problem was the complete absence of any indication of what was happening aloft apart from a thickening layer of cirrus making thermals unlikely.

The result was that we delayed launching until after lunch when Merv and Stuart took a long tow to stage 3 where they contacted weak wave climbing eventually to 16,500'. Bob and Ian also took a long tow but failed to get established so did a short inspection of stages 1 and 2 instead.

The success of the second sorties were reversed with Dave and Bob getting to 14,500' whilst it was Richard and Merv's turn to have a shorter than planned flight.

A total of 6 hours 40 minutes flown but with the benefit of hindsight we should have launched earlier.
Many thanks again to Morag and Mike for looking after everyone as we have just had a second excellent meal in the comfort of the apartment.

The forecast is looking promising for the next few days with the high pressure still in charge.


Saturday, 7 March 2015

Jaca 2015

Day 4

Big day for the airfield operators

At the end of last year club nimbus were awarded the contract to run the airfield and gliding operation for the next nine years. Today was the grand opening with lots of local and regional dignitaries visiting, and a number taking flight in gliders.

The weather forecast was perfect for the guest flights, but not really what we were looking for in terms of soaring. Clearly the high pressure had established it’s self over France and the surface pressure was now around 1036mb. The sounding showed there was an inversion at around 7500ft and it would not get hot enough to break it.

We knew it would be a late start today, so once the gliders were at the launch-point all there was nothing else to do apart from chill out and watch all the visitors having their trial flights. By 2pm the guests ha finished flying and it was about time that we threw something into the air. As none of the local gliders had managed to stay airborne for very long we figured that it was going to require a high to into the mountains.

First to go was Merv and Julian Richardson in their DG 1000, they towed to the snow line on stage 3 and contacted with the lift on the face of Blancas. The DG and Duo then launched, but failed to find anything usable and once we were down below 5000ft the air was remarkably stable. After that we decided that another tow would be a waste of money so the gliders were put away by 4pm. Merv arrived back around 5pm having managed to stay high on the local peaks

The evening meal was curtsey of our land lady Toya. An excellent evening in the company of all the Lasham members and some of the Local pilots followed by music and singing in Spanish. Truly a night to remember!!


Thursday, 5 March 2015

Jaca 2015

Day 3

Trying to relate the weather information at the morning briefing to what we could see the windsock doing meant that it would be anyone’s guess what the wind on the airfield would do during the day. The local instructor’s estimate was “light on surface, no more than 5kts”

Once the gliders were parked and ready to go we then dithered a bit as there were no clouds to indicate that the wave was working. It was only when the local gliders lined up that we decided it was time to book a place on the runway. The first glider to launch was back on the ground very quickly, and then the next two spent a fair time trying to stay airborne just above circuit height.

As the two gliders climbed away we launched and found that the rotor thermals were actually working in the valley and that the upper wind was from the North East. We climbed in company with Merv Saunders in his DG 1000 and after about 45 mins contacted the secondary wave over the valley at around 9000ft. For a few thousand feet the climb rate was around 13kts up and also the wind had increased to about 60kts. By 13,000ft the climb rate had reduced and finally we topped out at 14,900ft.

The Duo Discus with Hugh and Martin Holliwell took the alternate route into the wave via the rotor thermals along the Hecho valley, and then into the primary system. They also topped out at around 15’000ft. When we descended back into the circuit we were somewhat surprised to find that the surface wind was now 25kts from the west.

On the second flights in the afternoon we found that the conditions had clearly changed and it proved to be impossible to transition into the wave system from the rotor thermals in the valley. Both the P2’s enjoyed the challenge working the rough thermals, but after nearly three hours of trying the cold took over and we landed around 6pm. 20mins later Merv landed in his DG having been airborne for 6 hours and a max height of FL 195.

The eat out this evening was at the airfield and it proved to be an excellent spread.

Day 2

Today the wind was starting to come from a Northerly direction and the drop in temperature meant that everyone was digging out their thermal layers and thick jackets.

The morning briefing promised good wave when the wind moved round to the North, and anything that was happening on the other side of the mountains would not come our way! As you can probably gather it didn't turn out as briefed.

By the time the gliders were parked at the end of the runway the wind was already blowing from the North West at around 25kts. Once launching started we had a full on cross wind which meant that the take-offs were interesting.

 Once we were airborne it was evident that the wave was working, but not particularly clear as to where. I spent the next hour being tossed around in the rotor before connecting with it at around 7000ft. The climb appeared to slow down at 8000ft and the best height that anyone achieved was 12000ft.

While we were flying there was clear signs that the showers were building over the mountains, but they appeared to be being broken up by the wave. About 40 mins into the second flight in the afternoon, we got a radio call from the ground advising us to stay local as the snow showers were now close to the airfield. At that point the decision was made to start descending, and by the time we were down to circuit height it was snowing on the airfield, and you couldn't see the ground to the North. All the gliders arrived back safely and by 5pm was were packed away in the hangar.


Wednesday, 4 March 2015


Day 1
Due to the position of the jet stream and a lingering cold front on the north side of the mountains our first day on the airfield turned out to be overcast and un soarable. Tuesday’s briefing was also pretty pessimistic, and top meteo didn’t really show any thermal activity in our area.

Despite the forecast we got the gliders out and then retired to the restaurant for coffee and watching the mass migration of Storks heading north. It was clear that things were starting to improve around 1pm and it might be worth taking a launch.

The DG 1000 with Graham Mckiddie and myself were first to launch, but we were probably about 20 mins to early, and the only lift that we found was around the start of the down-wind leg. After that the valley breeze started and everyone got away on their first launch.

There were a number of good flights with Hugh and Paul exploring the south side of the valley for around 100km and Graham on his second flight getting into the high mountains, but unfortunately not being able to see the very tops as they were still in cloud.

Wednesday looks like a wave day so hopefully some pictures.