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.
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.
April 3rd: We welcome Papa Kilo back into service after its 3,000hr inspection, which has taken many months over the winter. Full credit to Nick Norman, Dave Weekes, Ian Carruthers and anyone else who has contributed to this lengthy project.
Sunday was a day of many ‘firsts.’ New youth member Thomas Eccles (age 15) of Nethy Bridge made his first visit to the airfield, it was the first time Caroline has flown Papa Kilo solo, the first time Dave Weekes has flown his vintage Skylark this year, and the first time Jan Ketelaar has flown his Cirrus this year. His was the longest flight at over four hours although two other pilots logged over three hours.
We also had the first sightings of the Feshie ospreys, returning from Africa after the winter, with especially good views of one individual flying low over the airfield and calling piercingly from nearby trees. Their nest tree sadly toppled into the river after a flood last year, but hopefully they will find another nest site.
Student pilot Miles Davies (front seat) and instructor Ray Hill prepare to fly the Polish-built Puchacz (owl) two-seater. We believe the correct pronunciation is something like ‘poo-hots’ but perhaps a Polish-speaking reader can confirm.
March 27th: Beautiful weather at the moment, here in the Costa del Scottish Highlands. In the past three days we must have had 36 hours of sunshine. Unfortunately this type of blue-sky weather isn’t particularly good for gliding. There hasn’t been enough wind to make the hill lift work properly, and pressure is too high for good thermals to form.
But this didn’t stop a lot of fun flying. Despite the difficult conditions Pete Thomson managed over three hours in his Shark, allegedly without using the jet engine. Alasdair Mackenzie was signed off for single-seater flying and took his first launch in the Astir, discovering for himself how snappily it flies compared to the ponderous two-seaters. Caroline Hayes did a solo flight too (she wasn't expecting that) and new member Miles Davies logged three flights on the same day. Pete Smith flew the Vega briefly, which helped to fix teething troubles with his new radio. Two visitors from Strathclyde University flew twice each, and seem keen to visit again.
The club’s beloved two-seater Papa Kilo was rigged (i.e. had its wings attached) for the first time since about last September and its first flight of the season now depends only on EU paperwork being sorted.
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.