Situated on the Long Mynd just a few miles south of Shrewsbury, the Midland Gliding Club often provides the ideal conditions for soaring flight, coupled with the exciting challenge of landing atop a hill, as well as exquisite views of the surrounding Shropshire countryside.
As June and the Summer Term were drawing to a close, a sustained period of high winds and significant rainfall threatened the success of the 2019 Gliding Camp, scheduled to take place from Sunday 28th June to Friday 5th June. However, the sun fortunately broke through just in time and, for the first time in five years, the cadets were able to fly all day and every day of the Camp.
Cadets mainly flew in the Club’s AS-K21 and AS-K13 gliders, which are moderate-performance gliders and quite forgiving. However, training was supplemented with 30 - 60 minutes of powered flight in the Falke 2000 ‘motor-glider’, and most also flew the open-cockpit vintage T21, which is a rare treat!
The training during the week is not just about controlling an aircraft, but also the accompanying aspects of aviation. Students attended a morning briefing regarding the layout of the airfield each day, based on interpreting weather maps and cross-sections of the air mass over the Club. In addition, being an effective member of the ground crew is essential.
On the ground, responsibilities included unpacking gliders from the hangar each morning, completing a daily inspection of each glider, checking parachutes, manoeuvring gliders around the airfield, signalling for launch, driving the cable-retrieving winch, clearing the landing area of sheep and horses (at which Jasper proved most proficient!) and packing the gliders back into the hangar again.
Unfortunately, a combination of factors (including particularly poor weather on Thursdays throughout the year) meant that our Fifth Form were more rusty than usual at the very beginning of the camp. It therefore wasn’t quite possible to get anybody to the standard required for solo flight. However, having had a greater number of flights and minutes in the air during the camp than in past years, all made excellent progress and we currently have more students than ever approaching that next step.
Morgan Matthews (Ch 3) joined us on a few days, having been flying privately at the Club since before joining Shrewsbury School. Having continued his training through the summer holiday, he has just earned his solo flying wings – and our congratulations!
The now-traditional parallel ‘croquet camp’ was in full swing again during down-time before and after evening meals, which were kindly provided by the Club’s catering team or at local pubs and restaurants.
As in recent years, we also met up with Old Salopian glider Ed Jones, who still flies and drives the main winch at the Club. Ed has also assisted in setting up a new gliding club this year, at Bognor Regis.
The cadets on the camp this year were Mark Ellis (S 5), Milton Tai (SH 5), Ivan Leong (SH 5), Hugo Chan (O 4), Ivan Gershkovich (O 5), Jasper Yip (Rt 5) and Max Cheung (I 5). All are hugely grateful to Paul, who volunteers his time to instruct and organise additional flying support, and to all Club members who contribute to the success of the camp. We all very much enjoyed the ‘steak night’ put on by the Club this year!
Flt Lt DM Wray