By Josh Setford
As the season seems to have faded away now, I figured I’d reminisce on some of the highs and lows on my last two soaring seasons, and try to help some of the guys who have just gone solo (congratulations) or those who are close to solo progress further in this epic sport, by showing my journey! Disclaimer: A lot of this is very junior, and most of the oppurtunities I’ve taken advantage of are run by junior gliding and of course are aimed at juniors.
Without a doubt what really got my gliding going was the aerobatics course I did at Lasham- It opened so many doors to me. I met so many people and had a very fun weekend of throwing a k21 about, and this lead me onto my next adventure.
I had added a fair few people who I had met at Lasham on my Facebook and around November 2017 I had seen one of them share a link on my feed – ‘The Winter Series 17/18 - Round 2 – Mynd’. For those of you that don’t know what the winter series is, it’s a mass convention of juniors at a ridge site, with plenty of two seaters, complemented by some cheap and some awesome flying- a very fun time! So in February 2018, Oscar Warrington and I found ourselves travelling to Long Mynd. Safe to say it was freezing on top of the Mynd- but it was most definitely worth it, and we had some incredible fun.
This was particularly significant for me, as I again met so many more people- But notably, this was the event where I was converted into wanting to be a cross-country pilot, as on the day we didn’t fly we had some semi-serious briefings, most notably Olly Metcalfe’s introduction to the BGA ladder. Olly had won the 2017 Junior ladder, including a very notable 600km flight in a Discus 2. I had never known about the ladder before, and seeing what Olly, Jake Brattle and Finn Sleigh had put on the ladder in that year definitely shifted my aims towards becoming a cross-country pilot.
One thing I’d also learnt about whilst away at Mynd was about the BGA Two seat training scheme, which is run by Andy Holmes and Ed Foxon, more in detail about this later. Andy said to me that if I ensured I got my bronze endorsement by the time applications opened, then I had a strong chance of getting on the scheme. Having passed my bronze exam, my first flight back at Parham was with Duncan to get my Bronze flying tests signed off. Soon enough I had the Two-seat training appearing on my calendar for August.
I’d also got into the habit by this point of checking gliderpilot.net regularly, just in case by some miracle, a deal too good to turn down on my student budget came up. Sure enough it did, a pretty blue K6. At a bargain rate which I just wasn’t going to be able to afford it by myself. I sent the ad to Rupert, jokingly saying, “if only I could afford this”. Rupert was also just as shocked by the cheap price-tag, and further asked James Davis if he was interested. With that the G-DDGK syndicate was formed- a quick viewing of it, and we were towing it to Parham.
The end of April came, and with it some amazing Northerlies- a really good opportunity for me to get some hours in the new toy. We rigged her nice and early, and towed to the launch point and I took the 1000 foot ridge tow (its first launch in 5 years). That was definitely one of the highlights in my gliding career to date- the first launch in my own glider still had a fun (very cold) couple of hours on the ridge.