By Craig Lowrie
I write this document in the run-up to Christmas and after a miserable three months where very little flying has been done with a few exceptions. Southdown has once again shown its resilience by battling against the storms to make the most of what is possible from our excellent airfield.
A few highlights have been a couple of quite good ridge flying days where pilots flew the full length of the South downs from Butser hill in the west to Eastbourne in the East.
We were forced to restrict the operation to Parham-only gliders on one of these days due to the condition of the airfield after a long period where rain seemed almost continuous and Southdown resembled a scene from the ‘82 cult movie “Blade runner” where it seemed to rain almost all the time. Already talks have been going on about how we could improve the field drainage however I caution the membership to set realistic expectations in this regard as I know of a number of schools and clubs that have spent huge amounts of money for questionable results. We must realize that we are fortunate to have a field which drains so well but when the water table is as high as it is now there is often nowhere for the water to go. Photo of Pulborough, below, shows the problem, with Chanctonbury still visible above the water.
The area where we launch from on runway 04, is one area where some investment could be prudent however we must remember that water only flows downhill so finding a route for a drainage system is not straightforward. This will be one of your committee’s priorities for next year.
As we all now firmly in the winter, a substantial amount of fleet maintenance work has been happening behind the scenes and almost invisible to most of the membership. This is actually a desirable outcome as it means that fleet availability has been high throughout this period with maintenance being achieved with almost no flying days lost . It would be easy to think that this has been an easy year for maintenance but the opposite is in fact the case.
Already all three single seaters and two of the two seaters have completed their maintenance cycles with only K 21 HLP still to be done.