March 20th: Feverish activity in the hangar last week as Phil, Paul and Henry worked on the two-seater ‘DaisyETA’ for its annual inspection. It has a rebuilt instrument panel with a new radio to comply with EU regulations, and other gadgets including moving-map GPS displays.
Meanwhile Dave the inspector is currently in Norway with Mary and Shaun (right):
Weekend weather at the airfield was mediocre, but John Smyth and Ray Hill had an enjoyable one-hour flight on the ridge above Loch Nam Bo late on Saturday. It was somewhat spring-like on Sunday afternoon too, but by that time Phil was transporting horse poo and planting out the first onions at Kingussie.
March 13th: A useful weekend. The mountain waves weren’t working to any degree, but several pilots who hadn’t flown over the winter were ‘checked out’ and are now officially in flying practice once more. Andy had his first flight with his new bionic knee, and two student pilots (Grant and Miles) had good training sessions.
On the admin side we have a new white-board in the launch point vehicle for pre-flight briefings, and Phil’s two-seater ‘DaisyETA’ was de-rigged at the start of its annual inspection. Paul and Henry have started re-wiring DaisyETA’s forward instrument panel, and Paul is also now flying the tow plane again after a winter lay-off.
Our photographer has submitted this picture of a winch gnome, alerted no doubt by clouds of black smoke from the other end of the airfield.
March 6th: Unexpected late winter snow covered the airfield at the weekend. The duty roster for the 2017 summer season has officially started, but the services of the tug pilot, instructor and airfield marshal were sadly not required.
However, indoor activity was (as usual) brisk. The two-seater Papa Kilo is coming towards the end of its 3000-hour inspection, and we expect to see it flying again before the season really gets going. Parachutes are being couriered off for their annual checks and re-packing. For those who don’t know, glider pilots do wear parachutes as a form of insurance, but of course they are almost never used. Admin paperwork and catering plans are under way for the AGM in April, and there will also be a big ticket event in May to celebrate our President Bill Longstaff’s 80th birthday, featuring a pig roast and live music.We may have solved the firewood re-stocking problem by an arrangement with Laggan Community Trust, but perhaps more details about that next week.
February 27th: A gloomy weekend at Glen Feshie with no flying to report, but several members made the trek south to Nottingham, to attend the exhibition and annual dinner of the British Gliding Association. It’s an opportunity to meet and chat with old friends from other clubs, see the latest in glider technology, buy books and accessories, collect freebies and generally mingle with like minded people.There were loud cheers for Nick and Moritz accepting the impressive De Havilland trophy from Royal Aero Club chairman Patrick Naegeli, for the best altitude in a glider. Flying Nick's ASH-25 two-seater they had reached 28,534ft above the eastern Cairngorms in May last year, which was officially the UK highest in 2016. The trophy is one of the oldest in our sport and was first presented in 1934.
February 20th: Last winter’s weather was so bad that we did no flying at all from November to February, but the relatively mild and dry conditions this winter (so far) have been much more amenable. On Saturday the two Petes both logged well over three hours’ flying time, reaching heights of six to nine thousand feet in the mountain waves mostly above upper Glen Feshie. It was good to see Alasdair and Kirsty, two of our younger members, making an appearance at the airfield.
Sunday was even better especially in the morning. Nick flew down to Killin and took aerial photos of Paul's new house at Strathtummel before heading for home at top speed, which for a glider is about 140mph. He said later he reached a high point of 12,000ft over Loch Tay and could have gone higher but didn’t have his oxygen kit on board. Several other pilots flew for more than two hours in the local area, and a group of visitors from Kincraig were enjoying the comforts of the clubhouse while watching one of their friends doing a trial lesson flight.
February 13th: The weekend weather at Glen Feshie means no flying to report, but on Saturday Phil and Mike (the club’s Chief Flying Instructor) braved the rain and snow over Drumochter to attend a conference of Scottish Gliding Clubs at Portmoak. As a result, Phil dreamed up the idea for this diary, and is also thinking about a school presentation to combat our ageing membership by attracting new juniors.
Sunday’s glorious winter sunshine was really tempting, but in these stiff easterly winds flying conditions often aren’t safe at our location in the lee of the mountains. Sadly this meant we had to disappoint the lady visitor heading south from Caithness who had emailed earlier in the week. Another time maybe.
In the hangar Nick and Dave continued work on our beloved two-seater PapaKilo which has reached a substantial milestone in its life ~ the 3000hr inspection. Phil was hanging his spinning wheel on the mezzanine railings in the clubhouse to save cluttering valuable floor space, while John was busy re-claiming components from an old caravan. Ray was content to toast his toes, boil the kettle and read a book, and to bring in another barrow load of logs for the fire. Our stove is an essential survival item on these bitterly cold days. We haven’t had a major re-stock of firewood since buying four tons from the forest above Dalnavert in October 2015. Forest Enterprise don’t seem keen to supply us this year, so that’s a problem for the coming season.