Friday 5 February proved to be the 3rd flyable day in a row, as the ever-growing band of pilots managed to find enough breaks to punch up through the cloud sheet into wave and the clearer air above.
Saturday 6 February was always going to be a write-off, something that was not lost on the eighty plus Juniors and helpers who sat down for dinner on Friday night, followed by a spirited attempt to drink the bar dry. “Joyful nights bring sorrowful days” my granddad always used to say, so Saturday morning got off to a slow start for many and there were casualties everywhere, the one sleeping under the wing of the K8 in the hangar particularly caught my eye – hey, we were all young once!! Sunday looked more promising, so there was a 6:45 pm briefing to save time the next day, before eighty five sat down for dinner on Saturday, and an allegedly early night to be fresh for the next day. (I understand there was an attempt to shoot down a drone with some rockets – why wouldn’t there be – but you’d need to scan YouTube for evidence)
Sunday 7 February I arrived at 7:50 for the planned 8:00 unpack, but the hangar doors were already open and the K21 was out on the apron gathering a gentle dusting of sleet. The clubhouse was packed with people queuing for breakfast – these Juniors are really, really keen!! Soon after, trailer doors started opening, and it wasn’t long before we had a fleet of 8 or so two-seaters and 12-15 single seaters ready to go. The wind was 260/20, there was a 1500ft cloud base from the get-go, and although there were occasional showers, they were light and patchy and soon blew through. Thanks to a coordinated effort from the Mynd ground crew, we had all the kit out and the first launch was at 9:15. By 11:00 we were up to 25 launches, at 14:00 75 launches, by which time everyone who wanted a flight had taken one, and those with furthest to go home were starting to de-rig and make tracks. We had only anticipated the weather window until about 14:00 and by 15:00 the wind had backed more SW-SSW and the rain had become (quite) a bit more menacing – we packed the hangar and retired happy for tea and cake!
And so to the many thanks … An army marches on its stomach, so you have to start in the kitchen with the usual heartfelt thanks to Helen, Jane and all their numerous little helpers for keeping everyone happily well-fed. Thanks to all the members who turned up to help out on the field, knowing that there would be little chance of them flying themselves, and particularly the winch team, not only for some great launches on the day (1400 ft to the Knoll), but also the behind-the-scenes work that made sure the equipment behaved faultlessly.
… And last but not least, to our visitors, the BGA Juniors – what a great bunch of people. Excellent pilots, enthusiastic, good company, a proper all-round fun weekend. I’d say the future of gliding is in good hands.