''(…) then the pilot will discover that there is another way to fly a glider, another dimension, and the doors will open to big flights, to his great pleasure and that of his passenger. (…)''
The words by Jean-Marie Clément, from his excellent book “Dancing with the wind” skilfullytranslated to English by Cambridge Gliding Centre (CGC) instructor Stephen Gibson, perfectlydescribe my feelings after spending two weeks in a premier UK wave flying site – Deeside Gliding Club (DGC) in Aboyne.
Located at the bank of River Dee, with mountains towering over, the DGC is a wonderful place to fly from. Your inner pilot will be satisfied, but if you are also into outdoors, hillwalking, nature or even history – there is plenty to cherish your senses. Or cheer up your non-flying companions. Gliding would not be possible without people running the club – it is hard to imagine more hospitable team than one in the DGC, keen to share their local knowledge with visitors from “Englandshire” and abroad.
At this point I would like to thank Cambridge University Gliding Club which allowed me to take the club’s ASW19B – “CU” to Aboyne and Stephen Gibson from CGC who very kindly lend me his hi-performance oxygen system. Without them, I would have never spent as many as 37 hours in the air. Out of those hours, two flights are particularly notable and possibly of interest to the reader. The first one is my diamond height gain which happened on the 09/10/18. The second one is 268 km undeclared cross country flight in wave done on 10/10/18.
The evening before, the RASP wave forecast for Scotland seemed more than optimistic, with strongish south-westerly winds. I’ve decided to attempt an early start for the sake of an easy take off and plenty of time for looking for a good wave spot (and who can say ‘no’ to Scottish sunrise in the middle of autumn).
In no time I was at FL190, just to realise that the upper box allowing me to go up to FL245 will not be open until two hours later. I just sighed quietly for my warm bed somewhere down there. Checking my oxygen level just a bit too often, I stayed in the wave with slightly open airbrakes for an hour or so, just to realise that the wave weakened and disappeared completely from that location. I went for another wave bar which was too weak and at 9000’ I started feeling… well rather low.
Yet, both the spirits and altimeter were getting high again at another great location over lochs in Tarland Bowl – the wave I found there gave me an easy ride to FL225. I stopped the nice climb, not to infringe the FL245 (for instance due to altimeter error) with a height gain of 5900m I was sure that the dreamed-of diamond is bagged. Keeping the descend rate low, not to shock heat the glider cooled to some minus
12degC. With no space to jump out of happiness my return to base was rather uneventful.
Some experienced Aboyne pilots say that getting diamond is one thing, but the real challenge is to fly cross country in a wave. The next day after my diamond height gain looked promising, thanks to fierce but stable southerly winds giving wave bars latitudinally aligned all across Scotland. Again, I decided for an early start and seeing two Aboyne pundits ensured me that the day will be good. They were ready at the runway, in complete darkness waiting for the first sunrays to allow for aerotows to commence. As before, sunrise over wave clouds was spectacular and unforgettable.