June 26th:  The club has successfully defended its title in the Scottish Inter Club League competition!  For the second year in a row we brought home the elegant winged trophy.  The champion team consisting of Nick Norman, Mike Morrison and Bill Anderson, supported by a small crew, made the expedition south to the Scottish Gliding Centre at Portmoak airfield near Kinross.
It was very windy both days, but this didn’t prevent Nick with his co-pilot John Smyth making a 530km foray over the mountains as far as Keith on Saturday, at heights up to 16,000ft.  The weather on Sunday was less suitable, but when the scores were totalled on Sunday afternoon we had won easily.




The victorious team featuring (left to right) Bill Anderson, Nick Norman and team captain Mike Morrison.  Photo by Fiona Hawkins. 



















Meanwhile back at Feshiebridge the highlight of the weekend was a first solo flight by Miles Davies, pictured here with instructor Ray Hill on the left.  Photo by Ian Campbell.

Congratulations Miles!

  









Somehow we need to encourage more members to take part in the League meetings, not only pilots but the vital crew members too.  This weekend at Portmoak was a busy scramble getting three gliders rigged and de-rigged, towing them to the launch point and back again after landing, making sure the pilots had all the information and equipment they wanted, and worrying about retrieving them if they landed out.  Visiting neighbouring clubs gives new members invaluable experience of varying conditions, different gliders, new terrain, and the opportunity to make new friends.   Next year we need at least one support crew member per pilot!

On Sunday Nick flew with one of the local Portmoak juniors, in the absence of any other interested Feshie members.  John Smyth  was able to get a K21 ride with a local instructor, but helped out at the launch point afterwards.  Later in the day Jim McQuade also turned up, and was rewarded by a short flight with Nick on the Portmoak ridge (Bishop Hill).

Camping for crews isn't essential ~ there are always local B&Bs available and John managed to get a slot in the Portmoak bunkroom ~ but what better view could there be from the front door of the tent, than Bishop Hill on a summer day

June 19th:  A much warmer weekend but still the cloud is very low, hugging the mountains alongside the airfield.  Nevertheless we flew both days, Pete Thomson deserving a mention for his 3½ hour effort on Saturday squeezing his Shark glider into the narrow gap between the ridge top and the cloud base.  But it was a dull uninspiring day.

Somewhat brighter conditions on Sunday encouraged many visitors to the airfield including a group of young people from Mumbai.  Phil and Fiona Hawkins had an interesting flight in their two-seater ‘DaisyETA’ exploring weak lift at low level along the hill overlooking the airfield, and along the front edges of the cloud banks that remained stuck to the mountain tops all day.  Mike Morrison was taking advantage of the empty hangar to do a bit of wing polishing.

Next weekend the club will be defending the Inter Club League championship at Portmoak airfield near Kinross.  Our club won the trophy last year and we are keen to see it remain behind the bar for another twelve months! 

June 12th: 
The current run of showery weather continues
giving us a grand total of three flights over the weekend.  Saturday afternoon was sunny enough but the wind was too rough all day for safe flying.  On Sunday Bill Anderson picked the best hour for a flight in his Cirrus, and later John Smyth flew the Puchacz, but most of the day was spent listening to the rain on the hangar roof.

There are always jobs to be done on the ground, however.  A lot of winter firewood logs were cut by Andy Farr, John Whyte, Mike Morrison and others.  A slight problem with Papa Kilo was identified with the nose wheel tyre binding against the interior fairing, but John Smyth was looking at that later.  New member Gabriel Telerman had a useful ground school lesson on soaring techniques from our President Bill Longstaff. 

The highlight of the weekend was possibly not on the airfield at all.  It was World Gin Day, in case you hadn’t noticed, and Walter Mickelthwait’s gin party was held at nearby Inshriach farm on Saturday afternoon.  Live band, mobile wood-fired pizza oven and of course a lot of gin and cocktails were consumed.  The farm yard was sufficiently sheltered from the rough winds for the hot sunshine to be most enjoyable.     

June 5th:  After all the glorious weather in April and May we must now dodge the showers, but a new member (Emma Sandiford) enjoyed her first glider flight so much on Saturday morning that she immediately took up membership.  She has flown motor gliders before but never a pure glider.  A visiting Australian pilot from Alice Springs also flew briefly between spells of rain.  Jordan Thompson had a couple of instructional flights in the Puchacz towards the end of the day.    

Sunday’s weather was similar but Miles Davies flew three times, and a local resident called in to redeem a Trial Lesson voucher.  He flew with former Chief Flying Instructor Alister Morrison, and his family were so impressed with the hospitality and ‘craic’ they made a donation!  Andy Farr and John Whyte were the pundits of the day with a 1½ hr flight up to 4,000ft in Papa Kilo.  Sadly another visitor was not so lucky, having driven all the way from Ullapool only to be delayed by a puncture at Aviemore.  We had packed up by the time he arrived.  Selfie by Bernhard while waiting to launch Jordan. 

May 29th:  A second weekend of mediocre weather.  Repairs to the tow plane were still being finalised on Saturday, and a duplicate inspection of the work by the impartial Alan Middleton was awaited.   Out on the airfield some work was necessary to maintain the winch cable thanks to the efforts of Miles, Andy, Jordan and Bernhard.  The first of nine winch launches took place in early afternoon, all short flights but useful experience for our student pilots. 

On Sunday it was a slow start with everything being damp underfoot after heavy overnight rain, but in the afternoon more aerotow launches were happening from the south end of the airfield.  The fresh northerly breeze made a pleasant change from recent sultry days. 

We have another new junior member ~ Jamie Myers aged 11 from Fortrose, who spent the entire day on Saturday asking questions and watching what went on.  Luckily he was able to have his maiden flight by aerotow thanks to Ian's and Nick's great efforts in getting the tow plane back into action.  This week's photo (below) by Jordan Thompson. 

    

May 22nd: A quiet weekend on the airfield with continuous rain on Saturday, but a few short flights were made on Sunday.  The club’s Robin DR400 tow plane is currently out of action awaiting repair to its undercarriage.  Spare parts are scheduled to be delivered from the French manufacturers by the end of this week.

Meanwhile Pete Smith, Nick Norman, Dave Brown and a few more hardy enthusiasts were keen to try winch launching.  Rarely seen at Feshie, the winch was set up on Sunday morning.  Flights were of three or four minutes duration only, but new member Jim McQuade from Livingston (Edinburgh)  gained some worthwhile experience, flying with Nick and with Ray Hill.

The stranded steel winch cable needed some maintenance before it could be used.  At least two breaks were mended, using aluminium ferrules in a portable hydraulic press, and Phil Hawkins demonstrated how to splice the cable onto the shackle at the top end, near where it hooks on to the glider.  

May 15th:  The settled spell of fine weather meant that flying was possible on every one of the 16 ‘Mayfest’ days this year, although there was one day in which the only flying was done by a visiting motor glider.  Tuesday in the second week was particularly good with high cloudbases and sparkling visibility.  Several pilots visited Ben Nevis in the course of their cross-country flights.  Gordon Craig, a guest pilot from Oxfordshire, even brought back photos of the summit looking upwards from below!

During routine maintenance on our Robin tow plane, a problem was identified with the undercarriage.  This will ground it for a while until repairs are effected.  By the following day, however, a replacement Pawnee had been hired from the Deeside Gliding Club at Aboyne.  Paul Myers, one of our tow plane pilots who hadn’t flown one of these for 24 years, was delighted!  Hangar packing in the evenings with this big beast was a bit of a puzzle, though.

This week's photo is by Andy Farr. 

May 8th:  Beautiful sky-blue days and chilly clear nights featured in the first ‘Mayfest’ week.  Flying has been possible every day so far, and although the mountain waves have not been as exceptionally good as last year, nevertheless some remarkable  flights have been made.  Thursday was memorable with four different pilots visiting Ben Nevis at heights up to 12,000ft.  Visitors and club members alike enjoy watching the display screen in the clubhouse that tracks each glider’s GPS unit against a map of the highlands.

Highlight of the week was the big party on Saturday in honour of our President’s 80th birthday.  Bill Longstaff was a founder member of the club in 1966 and is still an active pilot and instructor.  About 100 members and friends had gathered to enjoy live music, local beers, a hog roast, the massive cairngorm sausages and desserts from the naughty cake shop.  Caroline Hayes is pictured carving the pig (photo by Robert Maclean).

Although we need to remember that flying is the main reason we are here, it isn't the only thing we do well!  

May 1st:  Our annual ‘Mayfest’ event is well under way in which we play host to visiting experienced pilots from other gliding clubs around the UK.  They come to sample the delights of flying among the mountains, providing challenges which most other clubs don’t have.

Thomas Eccles (15) had a flight of a lifetime with Nick Norman, mostly in that other world up there above the clouds at heights up to 18,000ft.   They navigated around Tomintoul to the east and Roy Bridge to the west in less than 2½ hours.  Try doing that in a car!  Thomas is pictuired in the back seat of the mighty ASH-25E wearing parachute and oxygen cannula.

For these two weeks the airfield will be active daily, weather permitting, and next week is of particular interest to the ‘Walking On Air’ disabled group who will be paying their annual visit.  Their gliders have modified controls allowing the rudder to be operated by the left hand instead of the feet, which gives wheelchair pilots total equality with the able-bodied.

Unusual birds spotted from the clubhouse windows this week include the osprey, wheatear, ring ouzel and red-legged partridge.  Hares with their characteristic black ear tips are also resident on the airfield.

April 24th:  The flying week organised by Paul Myers was very successful.  New youth member Thomas Eccles had an intensive training day, visiting pilot Graham Alexander in his Ventus glider made several excursions into the mountain waves, all the local slopes were soared in varying wind directions, and we experienced some lively thermal activity mixed in with snow showers. Social evenings included chilli and BBQ as the weather permitted.

At the weekend Bill Anderson, Pete Smith and Nick Norman were defending the club's honour in the Scottish Inter Club League competition  at the Highland Gliding Club at Easterton just south of Elgin.  Only the novices flew on Saturday before deteriorating weather set in, and Bill Anderson was justifiably proud of his score of 7 points.  The winner on that day was junior pilot Amy-Jo Randalls from Portmoak, whose other achievements include feelgood videos such as this one.  Weather conditions were somewhat better on Sunday and all pilots flew.  Full results are not yet available but Nick flying his ASH-25 two seater with Jordan Thompson was still at 11,000ft somewhere over Deeside when the competition was drawing to a close on Sunday afternoon.  They probably won the day.....

Jordan has contributed this superb drone photo of the airfield at its busiest during Mayfest last year.  

April 17th:  The Easter weekend produced good flying weather, at least on Saturday.  It was the 50th anniversary of Roger Fothergill’s very first glider flight, and he celebrated the occasion by flying with Andy Farr in the newly-refurbished “DaisyETA” two-seater.  In fact all four two-seaters at the airfield were flying for the first time this year.  Nick Norman and Alison Myers had a particularly successful excursion to 12,000ft in the evening waves, exploring Loch Ericht and Rannoch Moor.

Roger’s 9¾-year-old grandson Thomas McKenzie was the star guest of the day, enjoying three flights and also learning how to drive the Land Rover.  Definitely a future junior member!

This week there will be (unusually) daily flying available thanks to Paul Myers who is camping on site and flying the tow plane as necessary. The weather conditions on Easter Monday were much colder with the wind gradually changing to the north.  Good sunny spells, and several pilots enjoyed brisk thermals particularly over the Feshie river.  The Easter Sunday rain had fallen as snow on the  high ground, meaning the peaks are currently much whiter than they have been for much of the winter. 

April 10th:  Fine spring weather continues at the airfield, especially on Saturday.  No fewer than 24 launches that day, with Jan Ketelaar, Andy Farr and Roger Fothergill achieving heights of 10,000ft in the mountain waves.

Wildlife photographer William McNeil sent in this great photo of Andy flying the Puch over Loch Insh.

At the AGM in the evening Dave Brown was elected our new Chairman, to take over from Mike Morrison who continues as Chief Flying Instructor.  We need more instructors trained up for next year, and it seems Andy and Pete Smith might be persuaded to take the plunge. 

We also badly need new youth members to combat our ageing membership, and a bursary scheme to benefit suitably qualified youngsters has been proposed.  The details are yet to be decided by the Committee, but it will be aimed at encouraging recipients to turn up regularly and contribute to club life.