The Latest News from Southdown Gliding Club

Congratulations – Paul gets into the British Team …. again!

We all give our huge congratulations to Paul Fritche for being selected for the British Gliding team to represent GB in the FAI European Gliding Championships July 7-20th this year in Slovakia. News to many newer members but this isn’t the first time Paul has been selected. In 1998, Paul was selected for the club class Europeans, and for the same class in the World Championships in 2002. Pauls performance during the Worlds was impressive – his personal highlight was flying with the reigning world champion, Pete Masson and finishing 1st on one day and then 2nd on a day when Pete Masson was 1st –  so both Paul and we are all rather proud! So, well done Paul! …… and lets hope for third time lucky! Whatever the result, we’re still proud that a Southdown member has been selected.


‘Longest Day’ Day – 22nd June: Dawn-to-Dusk Glider launching

Saturday 22nd June sees the club open literally ALL day for its annual Dawn-to-Dusk flying. If you’re a member, see the members home page for details of how you can help. Visitors will be most welcome!



AirACES help to Cadet members…

It was with great pleasure that Dave Clews (right), on behalf of Southdown Gliding Club, gratefully accepted a cheque for £300 from Andy Tate (left) of AirACES specifically to help our cadet members with their flying training.  Our committee will soon be deciding specifically how to use this donation. In 2018, AirACES made a similar donation which was used to finance over 50 free winch launches for our cadet members. This was enormously beneficial to our cadets in their training of low-level handling, circuits and landings of gliders.

We have a great relationship with AirACES and they regularly visit in the summer for an organised day of gliding followed by a BBQ. They will be doing so again in August this year.

AirACES ( are probably the largest aviation talk society in the south of England and meet every month at Chichester. At each talk a raffle is held where the annual proceeds are split between two organisations – one of which must be for the benefit of youngsters interested in an aviation. Southdown GC are currently honoured to be that organisation.

Our New Winch …

This past week, we took delivery of our refurbished winch from Skylaunch. After 16 test winch launches to fine-tune the ‘beast’, we declared it a big success. This coming week, it will be repainted in the Skylaunch colours of yellow and blue and after that expect to see it in regular use giving thrilling launches into the thermals above us!

When it’s raining …..

…We do Groundschool!

Today, it was a pretty wet Wednesday but the regulars still turned up and waited for the rain to clear. The wait was put to good use with our pilots (students and qualified alike), helped by our instructors, revising a few points on navigation.


JUNIOR MEMBERS – Your dedicated Saturday Evening flying starts 5pm May 11th. Sunset flying, BBQs etc


Empty Hangars = Gliding Fun!

You could tell today was busy! Our hangar was virtually empty with most gliders out soaring the South Downs from Eastbourne (in the east) to Petersfield and beyond (to the west). Strong thermals (up to 10kts, or around 1,000ft per min) and a breezy northerly wind meant our glider pilots had a full workout.




Safety Lecture at Parham – well attended

This year’s safety lecture from the General Aviation Safety Council (GASCo) was well attended in Southdown’s newly-refurbished clubhouse. Geoff Connolly, regional GASCo safety officer and our own safety officer (Geoff Stilgoe) worked together to put this on.  Around 40 people attended – it could have been more but we lack space until we have the new briefing room. Feedback was that it was worthwhile attending and some of the scary videos certainly made key safety points sink in.

Ridge soaring at its best at Southdown Gliding Club!

These past few days have shown that when there is a northerly wind the South Downs of the UK are the place to fly your glider. Ridge flying at Parham started on Monday of this week with a few intrepid pilots getting together and organising a tug pilot to get them on the ridge with average flights of 3-4 hours reported. A further few flights were reported on Tuesday. However, yesterday (Wednesday) was a great day with 53 launches (average launch height 1000’). The club DG505 was put to full use and did several runs along our ridge (Parham – Lewes North – Parham – Butser Hill – Parham) with experienced pilots introducing ridge flying to Southdown Club members – all reported the trips as fantastic experience. We had visiting pilots from Kestrel Gliding Club and Lasham who thoroughly enjoyed their day. Come again folks!

A number of pilots completed the Southdown Club Task of 334kms (LWN Lewes NW – BUT Butser Hill – LWN Lewes NW – BUT Butser Hill – Lewes NW – HAR Harting) at speeds ranging from 90kph up to 155kph – WOW!

A Great Day on the Ridge

Those of you who follow Southdown’s Facebook Page will have already seen the fun had by many glider pilots last Friday (1st Dec) on a classic Ridge day. The wind was northerly around 15-20kts and the ridge offered great lift conditions between Butser Hill (near Petersfield in Hampshire) to Lewes (in East Sussex) ….. some even reached Eastbourne! Many pilots (Known as the ‘Ridge Rats’) did between 300-400k batting up and down at incredible speeds whizzing just above the trees along the whole length. We had many visitors from other clubs including Lasham, Devon & Somerset, North Hill and Booker. A special mention goes to Angus Buchanan who volunteered to be the Tuggie that day and launched 34 gliders that day! On behalf of everyone who flew that day, massive thanks Angus!
It was that classic, even the local newspapers are interested so look out for us in the Argus and the West Sussex County Times!

Here’s a few comments from a few of our visitors and members:

“Nice day out on the South Downs, the extension to Eastbourne slowed things down a bit but the views more than compensated.”

“Great day on the South Downs. Thanks to PS for the first lead / follow – showing me the way – , and Phil for the briefing. Definitely worth the drive and thanks to the team at Parham for the welcome and smooth launch . If this is winter – looks like so far its been better than the summer.”

“A great day on the South Downs. All a bit too easy today 🙂 P2 was TD.”

“Best ridge day for months. Oudie played up and did not log our start at HAR so no trace to enter. With GS who enjoyed the Duo for a change from his DG 300.”

“An excellent day on the South Downs The reality matched the forecast.The actual flight was PAR BUT LEW BUT LEW BUT LEW PAR So 420 km in good time Thanks are due,as ever,to the friendly and very efficient team at Parham I*ll sleep well tonight.”

“Awesome day on the Southdowns! Should’ve put water on but still faster than I ever did the task in the DG300. Thanks to Parham for getting us launched so quickly”

“A classic ridge day !!”

“Superb conditions between Lewes and Butser… but VERY tricky to Eastbourne. Could only get 1200′ for the push back from Firle, and made it low onto Caburn… whereupon it started to rain heavily… I thought… This is not fair!.. But eventually it stopped and I just made enough to get back across to Lewes. The Oudie said ‘Task Finished’ at 128 kph, but this only calculated 127kph… Not bad for 400km in December…”

“Excellent conditions with wind 13 deg/24 knots”

“What a great way to spend a December day as ridge working really well, and at the end of the flight, I even caught a small thermal over the field climbing to 2000 ft. Thermal soaring in December that’s a first for me. ”

“I had actually declared ENW, so not really a scoring flight.. plus i might have *cough* accidentally pressed the boost button at one point. Good to see the what the ridge rats can do – been a while since i’ve been down.”