Inter-University Task Week 2018

Nick and I (Alex) spent the last week flying the mighty mighty Vega at the inter-uni task week in Nympsfield. It was pretty epic, with a real mixed bag of flying days.

The first three days were spent hiding from the first rain and strong winds we’ve seen in months (typical, and Nick craftily managed to stay in Southampton to ‘work’). Tents were soaked and many beers were drank. I managed to grab a sneaky aerotow site check in Edinburgh Uni’s K-21. Lesson learnt: Aerotowing out of a tree-lined hilltop site on a windy day can be rather exciting.

Tuesday saw the first good weather day, albeit with a strong southerly wind. Nonetheless, I planned a mightily ambitious 300k and prepared myself and glider, only to land straight ahead after a fairly hairy cable break. Lesson learnt: Winch launching out of a tree-lined hilltop site on a windy day can definitely be rather exciting.

The next day, Pete turned up to fly with his brother-in-law in the Janus, managing nearly 380km and bagging some points for SUGC! I also had a very successful day, planning a 320km diamond goal task, from Nympsfield to Papworth and back. Unfortunately I landed 17k short, near Aston Down, but with just enough distance covered to still make my gold distance. I’ve posted a few photos of my travels, including Papworth, Bicester, Silverstone and my trusty stubble field. The farmer was very friendly – we let his kids have photos in the Vega and he very kindly helped us de-rig!  More points in the bag, in both the progression and cross-country categories. Lesson learnt: Field landings aren’t that scary, and there are plenty of options in August!

Pete’s flight:

My flight:

Thursday was a disappointing day, with not much to get away in despite a great forecast and multiple attempts from Nick and others. Lesson learnt: Getting in and out of Nympsfield can be tricky.

Friday was a similar story, as despite a booming forecast further east, the local weather around Nympsfield meant that it was virtually impossible to get away (trust me, I tried 3 times!). An ASW-19, ASW-24 and K-8 managed to get away, although only managed a straight glide from Nympsfield to Aston Down and only the K-8 could get back after a few tries. The rest of the day was spent retrieving the intrepid adventurers from Aston Down and staring at the great weather in the distance, just out of reach. Lesson learnt: The  ‘Jolly Nice’ burger place and farm shop next to Aston Down is well worth a visit!

Saturday was the day that everyone was waiting for – Trevor Stuart (of BGA ladder fame) was rigged at the front of the grid in his Nimbus 3DT so naturally everyone got excited and planned more ambitious tasks. Nick planned to go from Nympsfield to Rivar, up to Northampton, and then back to Nympsfield, set at a little over 300km with a view towards getting his 5hrs at the same time. After turning Rivar, he got as far as Didcot before landing out within an arms reach of the countries most reliable thermal source, citing the age old excuse of “because I needed a wee”. However, the flight was still easily over 100km on a mostly blue day, so still a great achievement, as well as being Nick’s turn to get that scary ‘first field landing’ out of the way. The field was a great choice, possibly a better field than Rivar! Although Nick had to wait a while for me to turn up with the trailer, we were fairly close to Shalbourne and came back just after dark to rig the Vega and tuck her up ready for bed! Lessons learnt: Trailers don’t tow well if empty, glider pilots come up with all sorts of excuses, landing out can make for a late night.

All in all, we had a great time flying the inter-unis, and are extremely grateful for everyone at Shalbourne for putting up with us at SUGC!

Cheers everyone!



Bicester (I think, may have got my fields mixed up) {Pete EDIT:- that’s Upper Heyford!!}

The view off the back of my field, with Nympsfield over the far ridge

My field

Vega ready for bed

Retrieving Edinburgh and Imperial gliders from Aston Down

Papworth – 159km from Nympsfield



About the Author: Alex James

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Shalbourne Gliding

Shalbourne Gliding