Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Jaca 2016 Week 4 Days 1 & 2

The team assembled on Sunday in wonderful weather. There was cumulus above the snowy peaks as far as the eye could see. I have never seen Jaca more crowded than on Easter Sunday. Finding a place to park needed creativity and hiking boots. Inevitably Day 1 started cloudy. By mid-afternoon two of the group thought it was worth flying and as a result one Duo did 2 hours of local soaring around Stage 2 while dodging vultures. The rest of the team are biding their time. Today (Day2) started wet but it was forecast to improve by lunchtime, but it didn't. Tomorrow looks more promising. JMc

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Jaca 2016 Week 3 Day 5 and 6

Day 5 was overcast with light winds so there was no flying, but this was replaced by an excellent walk up the Hecho valley and into the snow to visit the mountains in the slow painful way (top tip from Merv - never climb a mountain without a glider).
Day 6 looked great but failed to produce the thermals that the clouds suggested but shade temps around 16C made for very pleasent airfield sitting while the expedition managed 1 hr ish sorties for the final day in the borrowed Duo and a Grob 103. The Lasham Duo has been repaired in time for week 4.


Friday, 25 March 2016

Jaca 2016 Week 3 Day 4

Blue skies and a lighter wind from the west made for easier flying conditions today. The borrowed Duo 'T1' was flown by John P and Terry. We climbed in thermals up to a 6500 ft inversion but we're unable to get higher into wave but at least we were not thrown about like the previous day. Unfortunately the club Duo had a wheel up landing in almost the same point on the runway as the DG which has grounded it for a few days while a temporary repair is carried out. Luckily there are good workshop facilities here but we are having to arrange to borrow a second glider from the home club (Grob 103 - fixed u/c) which we may have share with club members. Bob Akehurst and Phil Holland also flew T1 making it four flights in that one today.


Jaca 2016 Week 3 Day 3

Blue conditions and a strong northerly wind delayed launches until 1:30 when Phil went off with Bob Johnson in the hired (and metric) Duo followed by Terry and John in the Lasham Duo '3'. Conditions were expected to be challenging and we were bounced about by the rotor off the mountains. Climbs were rapid and narrow but the sink was massive as well so making upward progress was hard work and both gliders were quickly out of gliding range of the airfield giving Bob Johnson and John Brook plenty to do. Airfield landings (from the back seat) were quite spectacular with 25kts+ of cross wind at 90 degrees to the runway and huge amounts of sink and lift in the circuit.


Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Jaca 2016 Week 3 Day 1 and 2

Day 1

\Time to go!
Blue skies greeted us for day one and John P and Terry got airborne in the Duo and DG by midday for familiarisation flights, the conditions were good enough to reach stage 3 after releasing and climbing away from stage 1.

Terry and Bob 
John P and John B

Dave Griffiths and Phil Holland followed with similar flights and late in the afternoon Terry was able to also fly the Duo as Bob Akehurst flew the DG. 6 flights in one day was in sharp contrast to what had been possible in the previous weeks.

Day 2

The weather was a repeat of day 1, so we were set for some longer flights. Sadly, as John P was landing the undercarriage collapsed on the tarmac runway and by the time they drifted to stop on the grass there was a hundred metres of gel coat and fibreglass left in their wake.


No faullt of the crew as the lever was still down and locked
The DG was packed into the trailer ready for the journey home. Dave Grffiths and Bob Akehurst had good flights in the duo and spent time circling with a couple of dozen vultures that had gathered over the remains of the DG


Saturday, 19 March 2016

Jaca 2016 Week 2 - Day 6

It has rained all day so no flying was possible today. After lunch Merv used the logger traces from our week's flying as the basis for a summary of what had been learned. Of particular interest were the traces showing how it was possible to cover large distances without turning along stage 4 even in relatively poor weather.

In the four days we were able to fly, there were 17 flights with a total of 31 hours 18 minutes airtime in the two gliders. It was mostly thermal lift with some wave and ridge mixed in. All in all an interesting and challenging week of flying which was enjoyed by everyone.

Bob & Merv

Jaca 2016 Week 2 - Day 5

Unlike yesterday we awoke to find clear blue skies and were optimistic about the prospects for the day's flying. However the weather briefing had two widely differing predictions for the day, varying from becoming overcast by 4pm to raining by 2pm. In the meantime a band of high level cloud drifted in over the valley which postponed first launch until noon. At least it felt pleasantly warm on the ground today with sun hats making their first appearance of the week.

The DG with Jim and Merv were first to launch, reporting back that Stage 1 was working well. Graham and Bob launched next and both gliders climbed quickly to over well over 7,000'. With the high level cloud still affecting conditions to the north, both gliders headed south east past Oroel. The thermals and cloud base were significantly better than forecast. On their return, Graham and Bob gave in to the temptation to make a close inspection of Oroel. Several laps of the summit ridge provided a fitting conclusion to the flight.

Duo Discus heading out towards Oroel.
Jim and Merv reached the main ridge near Ordessa and flew west taking in the stunning views and reaching 9,500'. Today was the first time Stage 3 had been visible all week.

Soaring with a Lammergeir (aka bone crushing vulture)
Julian had a spare seat in E6 and was kind enough to invite Ayala to join him. This meant that everyone got to fly which was great as tomorrow's forecast isn't promising.
By the time the gliders returned for their second sorties the expected high level cloud and spreadout were beginning to threaten. Despite this, neither glider had a problem getting away and both the Duo with Jon and Bob and the DG with Mike and Merv reached the main ridge above Stage 3 which Merv has now started referring to as Stage 4. (I suspect Merv also has his own Stage 5 somewhere deep into France.)

Ridge soaring Stage 3 under the thickly overcast skies was interesting due to the lack of contrast, making it difficult to judge the distance above the snow covered slopes. Apparently the red tips on the DG help as Mike and Merv managed 4 passes in the murk.

Toya provided another excellent dinner of baked lamb and roasted potatoes followed by a group singalong accompanied by Ayala and Toya on guitar.

Bob and Merv.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Jaca 2016 Week 2 - Day 4

We awoke to find a thick layer of medium level cloud overhead but there was some cause for optimism as the satellite images showed that it was slowly burning back. From the airfield it was possible to see the western edge near the lake at Yesa but it was not until after lunch that the sun finally reached Stage 1 and it was all systems go.

Jim and Bob went first in the Duo followed immediately by Ayala and Merv in the DG. From the outset there were strong climbs over Stage 1 but the higher mountains were hidden by a combination of low cloud and extensive snow showers. With the high cloud still clearing away to the east,  both gliders opted to go west with Ayala and Merv getting 50km away before looping south around the Yesa lake and were only prevented from getting to Riglos by a snow shower. Jim and Bob investigated the lake and then headed back east to Jaca. Cloud base got to nearly 8,000' in places and generally the conditions were much better than forecast.

Ready to go 

View left (Embalsa de Yesa)
View right (Cuculo)
Its either a big mountain very far away or a small one very close
(Embalsa de Yesa from NW)

The second sorties followed a similar pattern going west first and then east. This time it was Mike and Bob in the Duo and Jon and Merv in the DG. The snow showers continued to press south from the high mountains to the south but the conditions along the edge of the main Jacatania valley remained good.

Spot the Merv with a subtle hint

Mike and Bob made a close inspection of Oroel and were surprised to find 3 climbers still at the top so late in the day. All in all it was an excellent day's flying with both gliders landing around 18:30.

Approaching Oroel late in the day

Everyone went into Jaca and had an excellent team meal at the Biarritz.

P.S. Although the wind was light and the sun eventually made a welcome appearance it definitely did not feel any warmer today, particularly in the gliders.

Bob and Merv

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Jaca 2016 Week 2 - Day 3

When we arrived at the airfield there were definite signs of wave activity with a blue slot to the north of the airfield but there were also snow showers not far away to the north and the west. This was confirmed at the briefing which showed that Santa Cilia was on the western edge of the better weather.

It was straight out to get the gliders out and go flying. No time for lingering in the clubhouse today.

John and Merv were the first to launch in the DG1000 followed by Mike and Bob in the Duo Discus. Both gliders took high tows to cloud base over stage 2 which took them directly into the wave. The gliders climbed slowly at first and with patience Mike and Bob climbed to 13,800' over the Hecho valley. John and Merv had an interesting time exploring the lower reaches of the wave.

Mike enjoying the view from above the clouds for once

Duo Discus climbing well on its way to 13,800'

The view from above Stage 2. (and a very tricky "Spot the Merv" competition) 

The view west from above the clouds.

View East over the Stage 1 fire break.
By the time the gliders launched on their second sorties the conditions were deteriorating. It was still soarable over Stage 1 but it was hard work. When rain eventually threatened from the west, Ayala and Bob landed after one and a half hours of grinding away above stage 1.

Graham and Merv persisted and the conditions eventually cycled, but the wave was never as good as it had been earlier in the day. Graham and Merv achieved 6,500' during their 3 hour flight.

About 10 hours flown today in 4 sorties.

Hopefully it will be a little warmer tomorrow.


Jaca 2016 Week 2 Day 1 Photos

Week 2 Motley Crew

Morag feeds fourteen Lasham and Bookerites!

Caramelized Oranges or raw marmalade?

Griego is Spanish for Dulux white emulsion

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Jaca 2016 Week 2 - Day 2

Day 2 had a more promising start as the sun was trying hard to break through the cloud at breakfast. Briefing confirmed that yesterday's troublesome trough had moved away east overnight with the possibility of a short soaring slot in the afternoon.

Morag gets creative before briefing.

It looked like it was going to take a while for the low level cloud to lift so Merv gave a great impromptu lecture on mountain flying which was a very productive use of the time before lunch.

Merv and Ayala assessing the conditions to the north.

After lunch everyone headed over to unpack the hanger. The weight of snow on the roof meant that the motorised doors needed human assistance to open far enough to get the gliders out. Then we had to manouvre the gliders through the curtain of water falling from the melting snow on the roof.

Hanger with built in glider washing facilities.
Having readied the gliders outside the hanger we learnt the first lesson of the day. #1 "It is unwise to lock the keys inside the Lasham van" The good news was that Clive had the spare set, the bad news was that he was having a day off and was in Huesca! Fortunately there was nothing critical in the van so we left it where it was and went flying.
Everyone flew with the longest flight being just over an hour and a half. At 4,700' the cloudbase was low by Jaca standards but the views were spectacular with snow still covering most of the ground in the valley.
View south from cloud base at Stage 1

The flights were a bird spotters paradise with big flocks of Black Kites to be seen migrating north. We were also sharing the  thermals with vast numbers of Griffon vultures with the odd eagle thrown in for good measure.
All in all it was a great opportunity to practise what Merv had covered in his lecture including collision avoidance with vultures.
With the spare keys returned from Huesca and everyone back on the ground, the were gliders washed (courtesy of the hanger roof) and the hanger doors closed by 6pm.

Photo down the wing


Jaca Week 2 - Day 1

How quickly the weather can change. When everyone arrived on Sunday it was a beautiful sunny day with barely a cloud in the sky and light winds. When we looked out the appartment window on Monday we found the roofs covered in snow. The 10:30 weather briefing confirmed that the day was going to be a write off as it was forecast to continue to snow all day.

The group made other plans with most heading for the supermarkets or shops in Jaca for retail therapy.

The highlight of the day was Morag catering for 14 in the instructor's apartment. Jim, Merv and Bob providing willing but limited assistance. On the menu was meatballs with spaghetti followed by carmelised oranges and greek yoghurt that looked remarkably like white emulsion.

Photos will follow if Bob can get to grips with the technology.


Saturday, 12 March 2016

Week 1

Day 4.

Opening the shutters on the room and seeing a bright sunny morning is always a good start on a gliding expedition and being able to see the tops of the mountains confirmed that we should get something out of today

At the briefing we were promised light westerly winds and not much else as the top meteo website was down. So it was make it up as you go along, and we took a guess that it wouldn’t be worth launching until at least 1pm. As there was no sign of activity at one, the lunch break was extended and a decision was taken to give it a go at 2pm

As we towed out on the first launch the air clearly felt like it was doing something, and Richard said that he wanted to stay on tow until the second stage. As we were nearing the second stage the turbulence increased and the tug started to go down(at any other time this wouldn’t be a good thing). We released in front of stage two and started climbing in the rotor thermals which were peaking at 8kts. The transition into the wave was relatively easy, but it appeared that the area of lift was quite small. The climb topped out at 14,500ft and then we started to venture East.

The Duo also launched and they released over the valley and climbed into the wave. Eventually they pushed forward two wave systems into the primary, and also topped out at around 14,000ft. It appeared that the wind at this height had dropped and also veered around to the North East.

As is often the case the people who launched second found the transition into the wave had become impossable as the thermals were stopping well before the laminar layer. So both Malcolm and Derek in the DG and Paul and Colin in the Duo made the most of the rotor thermals over the valley, with the last landing taking place just before sunset.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Week 1.

Day 3.

Day three Is acutely in fact day four of the trip due to a series of fronts that came across us on Wednesday and wiped out the day. It started with rain, but very quickly that became snow that lasted into the evening. Most people went and did the tourist things or stayed indoors.

The real day three again started with low cloud, but by briefing time it was starting to burn off and lift. Due to the wet ground the improvement in the weather was very gradual and it wasn’t until 2pm that it looked worth taking a launch.

The wind on the ground was westerly, but when we launched it became clear that the upper wind had a northerly component. The wind sheer was having a devastating effect on the thermals and ridge lift on the lower slopes. Almost everyone who flew complained about the turbulence and the fact that none of the thermals were round.

By Jaca standards the flights were short at around an hour each, but it proved to be valuable experience dealing with the difficult condition an a mass landing.

The evening entertainment was curtsey of the airfield restaurant who laid on an excellent spread with tapas to start and then pork ribs for the main.