Hello all, it has been a while. There has been a lot of progress made over the last year in flying and a very exciting opportunity to announce soon! I have continued with gliding, having just over 100 flights by the end of the year. It has been a very productive year gaining my cross country qualification.
I had my first ever aerobatic competition in April, 'The Dan Smith Memorial Trophy' at London Gliding Club. I loved the competition style and was among many great participants and pilots. I went just to experience the competition style of flying, not expecting to win anything. But, I came away with the Trophy!!
I went down to Rattlesden Gliding Club, just outside Stowmarket to complete my navigation and field landing selection. I flew a T-61 around a 100km task. It was great fun and learnt lots. I then completed the field landing selection, making approaches into many different types of fields. Lesson learnt - don't cramp the approach!
A week or so following, I completed my silver distance which is a flight with at least one leg of 50km. It was great fun! I completed it in an Astir and on a completely blue day. Although challenging at times, and a slow kph, it was a very good experience and a new prospective on flying too.
A month or so on, I took part in the Interclub league at Essex and Suffolk Gliding Club. It was good fun (despite a slight stress rigging in the morning). I flew the clubs brand new ASW19 'Pip'. I can't even begin to compare it to the clubs astir, it flies loads better! My first flight in the ASW19 was eventful though. I discovered that the ASI wasn't working. it was my own fault really, I had managed to trap the pitot tube with ballast weights.... First time for everything I suppose.
Anyway, back to the interclub League. It was again a blue day which resulted in not as long of a task as was originally hoped. The rest of the grid was launched bar me, as the tug had to be refuelled. This was a problem for me later on. There was a sea breeze front forecasted at the end of the day which would kill off all of the lift around. I eventually launched and set off on task. I can't remember the task off the top of my head but I remember getting to 900 feet over the top of Rougham Airfield (Near Bury St. Edmunds). I called them up on the radio and they were very accommodating, they even moved all traffic out of the way for me!
I climbed away from 900 feet and shot up all the way to 6000 feet. on course to Ely. I had a speed of 77kph and I was so confident and said, "ah, this is easy!".... I was about to find out it wasn't about to be easy. I turned Ely and made way back to Wormingford. I noticed that the thermal strength was getting less, and less and less. The strongest lift I found at this point in the day was about 1.5 knots compared to the peak of 12 knots that day.
I was circling about a small cluster of houses at 900 feet (again). I had picked a field and was just scratching away on any lift I could get. Then, I saw a row of gliders against a hedgerow. Huh.... it's an airfield. In fact, it was Ridgewell, Essex Gliding Club. I put the undercarriage down and made my approach into Ridgewell making a very smooth landing on their grass strip. I had successfully completed my first out landing.
Then, I attended the 2022 Junior Nationals at RAF Keevil. It was a blast and I made some amazing friends. I was on the two seater training, being coached by the best cross country pilots in the UK. I flew a DG-505, Dg-1000 and Duo-Discuss XLT. They were all nice gliders, but the Duo-Discuss XLT was my favourite. I learnt so many amazing skills which I can't wait to put to good practice next year.
Following this, I went to Lasham Gliding Society - the biggest gliding club in the world. Wow is all I have to say, there were so many nice gliders and the facilities were amazing. I went down to get some aerobatics practice in (after not doing any for 5 long, long, long months). It was great fun and we had turned it into a mini competition which I won :).
Then I went to Luton, to visit the airline TUI. It was a great day and honoured to have a personal invitation and tour of the TUI Facilities. Everyone goes around with a smile on their face and made me feel very VIP. So, it is true that they cross the T, dot the I and put you in the middle with a big smile. I had a tour with Des who showed us around the engineering bays and let me loose in a 737-800 flight deck - absolute legend!
I then had a talk with Phil, who is one of the heads of TUI. We were discussing many interesting topics including the future of aviation and ( I am excited to announce) a future with TUI for me. I can't thank both of them enough for the time they took out of their day to meet with me and my mum.
I am pleased to announce that I am an applicant for the 2023 Department for Transport Aviation ambassadors. If successful, I will be able to for fill my passion and inspire the next generation into the aviation sector and inspire the next generation of ace pilots.
To leave off, I am currently training to become a Instructor in gliding. I hope to see you in the front seat soon with me.
I shall be attending the Christmas Reception of the air league and young air pilots. I am very much looking forward to this event and making lots of new connections within the industry.
Until next time,