HCV at the Junior Nationals – day three

It was the first decent day of the comp and a 310k task was set!  I was the 5th glider to launch so knew I was going to be waiting around for a while before the start gate opened.  The conditions in the start sector were fantastic; I spent a fun hour and a half bombing around at cloud base waiting for everyone to launch and the start gate to open.

I set off within minutes of the start opening as I knew I had a long flight ahead and that it would be a push to get it complete before the weather shut down.

The first leg was into wind towards Burbage with plenty of gliders marking the good climbs.  The next leg of 128k was the same length as most of my previous XC’s, a quite daunting thought!  It was downwind and with a couple of 5kt climbs up to 6000’, it was by far the best part of the flight and I managed to fly this leg at an XC speed of 112km/h!

It was strange flying over Milton Keynes and being able to spot Dunstable and knowing that I was a long way from finishing when I was used to being on final glide from there!

As we turned the far turnpoint near Sackville farm, the spreadout started and I had a long glide towards the next possible climb (almost 30k away) with around 10 other gliders.

It was from here that the flight became challenging and a change of gear was necessary.  Gone were the cruises at 80kts, instead we slowed right down to 60kts in an effort to preserve as much height as possible before the next climb as they were getting further apart and of weakening strength.

I spent the next two hours struggling to stay above 2500’ and expecting to land out at any moment!  I don’t know how but I managed to stay airborne and slowly push into the 20kt headwind.  Not easy when the climbs are about 1.5kts.

Quite a few of the group I had left the furthest turnpoint with had landed out, with only a few of us left.

I found myself near Gloucester airport with the only promising climb being on their ILS approach.  I spotted a couple of other gliders in the thermal so radioed up Gloucester to let them know of my position.  They were very helpful, re-directing traffic onto other runways to enable us to stay in the thermal and even offering for us to land there if we got too low!  I didn’t find the thermal worked for me as I was so low down so I pushed out a little to try and find some better fields.

I had picked a decent field and had just started to plan my circuit when I bumped into a very welcome 3kt climb which I took up to cloud base, which was now only 3500’.  My flight computer showed me as being 500’ under glide from Aston Down, all I needed was one more climb!

I set off towards Aston Down, getting lower and lower whilst not finding any lift under the clouds where I expected it.  I flew over a glider in a grass field but pushed on in an effort to get at least 300k down track!  I managed this but with the flight computer complaining of my final glide being through terrain and no possible lift around, I turned back to the inviting field already occupied with another glider.

(my field with Ben’s LS8 behind)

The field turned out to be a little steeper than it looked from the air, but being a Dunstable pilot I wasn’t fazed a bit!  The other pilot, Ben Hughes, had already found the farmer so within minutes of landing we had the field access sorted.

The gate was nice and close to the field and Gatfield’s ford focus managed to get out of the field fine with Ben’s LS8 trailer.  Unfortunately, Rhoan’s car didn’t quite manage with HCV.  We spent a good while taking run-ups but with no luck.  We eventually had to get someone from Aston Down to bring his 4×4 to the field to pull the trailer up the hill.

My flight ended up being 7 hours and 20 minutes, by far my longest and most enjoyable flight!

The next few days were scrubbed so this ended up being the last competition day.  I had never thought I’d end up in the top 20 but I managed to come 19th overall!

If anyone is thinking of doing the juniors next year, even just for the two seat training, go for it!  It’s a fantastic experience, you’ll meet loads of great people and learn heaps about XC flying.


HCV at the Junior Nationals – day one

My first competition day!  I spent the morning rushing around getting everything ready, despite the weather not looking very promising.   Almost 70 gliders were lined up on the runway, a rather awesome sight!

(view of the grid taken from the sniffer)

Launch was originally planned for 11 but kept being pushed back until we finally started launching at 13:15.

As I was on row 12, by the time I’d released from tow there were already gliders marking thermals (at this point mainly in the blue) so I managed to find a weak climb and had my first proper experience of gaggle flying!  Flying with 30-40 other gliders in one thermal was a fantastic experience, especially when at the top and looking down a funnel of gliders.

(HCV ready for launch with Dan McCormak behind in KMF)

The weather didn’t look very good, even after having waited so long to launch.  I waited around the start for a while with quite a few gliders and set off with a bunch of them.  We flew 15k before finding any lift and by that time was at 2300′ QNH but luckily found a small thermal.

After that we seemed to be getting lower and lower finding little pockets of lift until we found a decent 3kts when at only 1300′.

(Dan Welch thermalling in Arcus ‘EW’ next to the shower)

Several of us, including Tom Russell in 566, caught some nice lift right next to a massive shower which we somehow had to get round.

I didn’t.

After trying to skirt the shower, myself and another ASW19 got low and tried to join the same thermal as a glider a couple of thousand feet above us which was the only option around.  Expectedly it didn’t work very well so I soon found myself low enough to start picking a field.  The first thing I spotted was what seemed to be a little farm strip slightly uphill and directly facing into the 20kt wind.  I then saw a motor glider taxi off it towards a hangar by the side so this seemed proof to me that the strip was landable.

The strip turned out to be very smooth and had a very friendly owner who showed me around his two motor gliders whilst I was waiting for my trailer.

(HCV pushed to the side of the strip incase any other gliders decided to land)

Rhoan, who had got back and won the day, very kindly came to pick me up so thanks for that!

I finally got back to the club at around 9pm and was pleasantly surprised after handing in my trace that I was 27th for the day!

Overall a fantastic flight during which I learnt loads.  With quite a few scrubs days appearing to be lining up I hope we’ll get some better weather towards the end of the week so we get some more flying in.

Joe Roberts – first landout

Joe went for an attempt at his 100k diploma yestreday but, due to a combination of a strong wind and poor gliding weather, landed out after turning the first turn-point at Bedford.  Joe picked a lovely field for his first landout, a large and flat stubble field.  A good first experience!



Joe Roberts – completed silver

Yesterday Joe Roberts did an O/R to Charwelton in HCV to complete his silver badge.  His flight qualified for his distance and height gain.  Well done Joe!


Joe finishing after his successful flight


Well done Emily

Last Thursday’s good weather allowed Emily Tillett to complete her Silver Distance and Silver Duration in one flight. She flew a K23 to Watford Gap and back. The outbound leg qualified for her Silver Distance, she then flew back to Dunstable and hung around for her first 5 hour flight. The flight may also qualify for the 100km diploma. Image


She will soon get to fly the Cadet ASW19, then who knows what she will do.


ASW19 – HCV is officially ours

The purchase of the glider was completed yesterday. Dan and I will try and fly the glider this week as a prelude to the new cadet syndicate getting their hands on it. Hopefully this Saturday onwards which conveniently is the start of most of your half term holidays.

All the relevant manuals are available for download from the Cadet website. I would suggest all potential syndicate members read the flight manual, the Tasman vario manual and the radio manual as a minimum before you will be able to fly it. There will also be some training in rigging/de-rigging and preparing the glider for flight during the half term week. Times TBA


Inter Cadet Challenge

The Inter Cadet Challenge, which is a mini competition between the cadets at LGC, Cambridge, Bicester and Weston on the Green takes place at Bicester on the 7th and 8th August.

Hopefully you should have all received the email from Dan with the details, so if it takes your fancy please let Tom Russell know who is organisisng the LGC team.

It will be a good opportunity to meet and compete against the cadets from other clubs, and there will be a social BBQ on the evening of the 7th.

Further details to follow….

In the mean time, todays pic is from Clem Allen, soaring over Leighton Buzzard.