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!

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.”



Soaring Sunrise

A lovely video from Damian Leroux, one of our more experienced members…

“A great little adventure. The forecast wind strength and direction made it look like there would be strong ridge lift of the first 2 or 3 hours after sunrise. So the idea was to launch before sunrise to get to a start point 30km to the east before the sun rose. That way the first 70km leg of the task would be going west to avoid being blinded by the sun just above the east horizon. Unfortunately things did not go to plan! We took the covers off the wings and tailplane just before take off and I got airborne with a very thin layer of dew on the wings. My mate Paul got stuck in soft ground at his first launch attempt. A few minutes later the dew on his wings turned to ice. Thereafter ice formed on the wings as quickly as he could remove it, and it was not until a couple of hours after sunrise that the ice melted and he could launch. I arrived at the start point just as the sun was rising which was pefect. However, although the wind was 25 knots from the north which is straight on to the ridge there was very little lift! There appeared to be a deep layer of cold slow moving air almost up to ridge height so there was actually very little air going up the slopes. What a nice little flight it was anyway, beautiful and interesting, well worth getting out of bed early for.”

Great Ridge Day on Sunday!

For those that couldn’t come to club last Sunday, you missed a pretty good ridge day (with occasional thermals) with some of our pundits achieving over 350km whizzing between Butser Hill in the west and Lewes in the East. We had around 10 visiting pilots with their gliders from other clubs and we did around 50 launches. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves with some of our younger members getting their first experience of ridge flying!

‘It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good’

A couple of Sundays ago on the 15th October it was misty and low cloud. The SSW wind didn’t bode well for a great day’s flying. Cloudbase of about 1200′ initially meant aerotowing was a waste of money, and it didn’t lift and start to break up until mid-afternoon. On these kinds of days it’s not unusual to sit about in the club house, get bored and fed up by lunch time and then go home. Fortunately this didn’t happen on Sunday. We winched most of the morning and early afternoon practising our low circuits and cable breaks. When the cloud base had lifted to about 1800′ and started to break up a little, we tried an aerotow. The small gap in the clouds turned out to be a wave slot and we were then able to enjoy a couple of hours in the sunshine above the clouds.

We find it very hard to predict when wave will set up over Parham. On this occasion it seems that we have the approach of hurricane Ophelia to thank. This gave us a cold front out to the west, strong winds at altitude, and a SSW wind sweeping up over the downs. We wouldn’t have found the wave if two things hadn’t occurred. Firstly we had stayed at the club winching instead of going home in disgust, and secondly, we had pupils keen to take an aerotow launch at the first sensible opportunity.

Let’s look out for the next hurricane and hope it delivers more wave.


Cadet Scott Munnoch pulls alongside in the LS4 at 3,200ft