Sutton Bank 2020
In the midst of a global pandemic, CUGC took to North York Moors from March 13th to 20th, isolating themselves at Sutton Bank gliding club. (Disclaimer: the organisers did their due diligence in monitoring the developing Covid-19 situation and adjusted plans accordingly.)
The party consisted of Rob, Chris, Charlie, Jamie, Gil, Timo, Yizhen and Eszter with Andrew instructing. The weather was everything we could have hoped for and more, with ridge or thermal on four days, wave on one day and one afternoon with ideal training conditions.
Chris, Charlie and Rob arrived late on Friday 13th to explore the site and brave the rapidly-emptying supermarkets. Saturday then became a day of rigging, site briefings and walking the ridge line after thick cloud engulfed the hilltop in the morning.
Flying began on Sunday with the best ridge soaring day of the week. Everyone tasted what ridge flying is all about: strong lift, low flying and freezing toes!
Monday's soaring was a hat-trick with ridge, thermal and wave soaring each being enjoyed at different times during the day. Andrew and Jamie snuck in an evening flight just as the wave set up. This elevated them to more than 9000ft above Thirsk! Congratulations to Jamie for becoming the highest CUGC member in a few years.
With weak ridge and weak thermals, Tuesday presented some challenging but rewarding conditions. This involved skirting around cliff faces barely above ridge height on a few two-seater flights. Timo showed everyone how to inch every last bit of altitude out of the ridge: I only saw the bottom of CU during my flight!
The weather forecast for Wednesday showed rain all day so a couple CUGC members may have consumed slightly too much port on Tuesday... In spite of the forecast, the hangar was unpacked by 10:30am and the rain passed during lunch. This left a quiet, still afternoon in its wake which was ideal for finessing take-offs, circuits and landings, although Chris still managed over an hour in our ASW 19.
Thursday, the last flying day, became the first sign of summer. We saw over 4000ft cloudbases and logged some remarkable thermic flights over the rugged Yorkshire terrain.
To say that we had an enjoyable, exciting and educational week would certainly be an understatement. Every one of us finished the week a better pilot than we started. We massively appreciate the support of everyone who made it possible. Special thanks go out to the office and everyone we flew with at Yorkshire Gliding Club and to Andrew for instructing us this week, and for helping us by towing up one of CGCs K21s.
We will certainly be back at Sutton Bank once this pandemic subsides and flying resumes. Stay healthy everyone!
Charlie, March 2020.