Aboyne, Scotland. Photographed by EGC member Ralph Hawtree
Background image courtesy of the British Gliding Association - Kestrel on wing by C Forsyth
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Our CFI Alex Harris is now qualified as a B.I. examiner and can therefore now test our own Basic Instructors as well as those from other clubs. Lots of other congratulations due, namely to Owen Thomas on his first solo at age fifteen, and also to Vince Earl on completing his standard aerobatics badge. To Millie Yeend on completing her Bronze and to Callum Hitchings on his Silver Duration. In September we flew a WWII veteran who was a gunner on a B-17 Bomber operating out of Ridgewell. This was his first time back at the airfield since his aircraft was shot down over Germany and he was taken prisoner until the end of the war. A very special day for all of us. Photographs: Casey Bukowski, (read his story on our American visitors page) left and Owen Thomas right shaking the hand of our CFI Alex Harris.
We have two new Basic Instructors: Matt Jones and Cathy Dellar have now joined the instructing team. Congratulations to Gary Shepherd who re-soloed after a long break from gliding. Our simulator is nearing completion and should be quite impressive when it’s ready, thanks again to everyone involved in that project. We have flown two of our task weeks, experiencing some good weather and also some very bad weather! Between the downpours, however, some had some very good flights. Our friends from Sportability visited on a very hot day in July and had some nice flying, we hope to see them again before the season is over. At the time of writing, we are looking forward to our third and last flying week. Fingers are crossed for some nice weather.
Gary Shepherd after his re-solo, with our CFI Alex Harris (photographer: Dave Jones) and a group from Glemsford Air Scouts who flew with us in July. (Photographer: Dave Hertzberg).
The summer is going well so far! More new members to welcome, training room coming on nicely (thanks again to members responsible) and at last, some warm days! In May we had the privilege of flying a gentleman from the States who’s father was a B17 gunner with the 381st Bomb Group at Ridgewell. The B17 he served in was called ‘Century Note’, the very same aircraft which we have honoured with the nose art on our K13. Congratulations to Will Burry and Bernard Parry for achieving their bronze badges. We have three flying weeks coming up during which we hope to have some more achievements and some fun flying”
Photo of Don, a guest over from the U.S. with Alex Harris. Don’s father served at Ridgewell as a gunner with the 381st Bomb Group at Ridgewell in a B17 called ‘Century Note’, the aircraft we have honored with the nose art on this K13. A real privilege for us. Photo by Dave Jones.
We are now back home at Ridgewell where we have a new clubhouse to gather within and put the world to rights. The old clubhouse is being adapted to be our new training center, complete with gliding simulator. Thanks go to the various club members who are working on this, too many to mention! Our annual trip to the Long Mynd was well attended and everyone experienced some ridge soaring, albeit in some rather challenging conditions (it was blowing a hoolie!). We have various events to look forward to over the coming season including a week's Aim Higher course by Kevin Atkinson, a gliding taster day, course weeks and task weeks. A warm welcome to our new members, some of whom are new to gliding and some are already experienced. We wish everyone a fantastic season!
We are chomping at the bit! All very eager for the Spring season to start, especially keen to try out new skills learned having attended Kevin Atkinson’s ‘Aim Higher’ coaching weekend in February. Our PW6 glider has been collected from Poland and is ready for the trip to the Long Mynd, and we have a new clubhouse which will be perfect once some alterations have been completed. We look forward to more post solo development coaching led by our CFI, and the planned acquisition of a motor glider will be a great advantage for cross country training, field landing practice and, of course, anyone who may like to gain their SLMG license.
Photo of Alex Harris taken by himself whilst he was training students in aerobatics, on a snowy day at Rattlesden in late January.
Generally dry conditions have allowed us to stay at our home airfield quite late into the year which has been a bonus. Our two PW-6 gliders have undergone some repairs and maintenance, many thanks to Allen Cherry and Dave Jones for towing one of them all the way to Poland! Congratulations to Glyn Long and Bernard Parry for completing their Bronze C. Our ‘late season meal’ in late November at a local pub/restaurant was well attended and enjoyed by all. Plans are in place for improvements and maintenance at the airfield over winter, as well as some get together's and opportunities for us to discuss our aspirations for next season with our CFI who is keen for members to progress and achieve their goals. A trip to the Long Mynd is planned as well as a coaching weekend by Kevin Atkinson.
Steve Sabine flew today, 20/10/18. An EGC member from 79-84. During 2007, Steve was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma a rare blood cancer. Today Steve is thriving and providing inspiration and hope for other Myeloma patients. Photo by Charles Forsyth.
In September we had our ‘Taster day’, aimed at gaining new members. The day started in the village hall with a presentation by Mike Harris and a chance for our guests to fly the BGA simulator. We then took them over to the airfield where we flew a total of 22 instructional flights with our visitors. The day was a great success, feedback was good and some of our guests have signed up to our ‘Fixed price to Solo’ deal. We now have a new Chairman, John Whitwell, a well respected long term member of the club who we feel confident will be a great asset. John can rest assured that he has our full support.
Chas Forsyth attended the BGA stand at the New Scientist Live exhibition at London ExCel in September along with representatives from other clubs. The stand was very popular and busy. We are now coming to the end of the season, a time to start doing all those maintenance jobs, tidying, putting away and servicing etc. We hope to organise an end of season meal at a local pub, although we do hope that members will keep flying throughout the winter.
Part of our ‘Taster Day’ presentation in September by Mike Harris. Photo by Charles Forsyth
Our 'Gliding Taster Day' on the 29th of September 2018 was very enjoyable. The weather was very kind to us, and we flew 22 people who expressed an interest ingliding. Below are a few photographs from the event, more can be found in our main photo gallery. Photographs by Charles Forsyth.
The British Gliding Association gliding simulator. Before flying the real thing we gave our visitors instruction in the simulator.
Rana with instructor Vince Earl
Grant Anderson visited us from his home in California on 18 August 2018 and had a flight with us. His father served with the 381st BG at Ridgewell from 1944 until the end of the war.
Grant Anderson in our K13 pictured in August 2018
Grant's father Lt. Dean F. Anderson was a member of the 534th Bombardment Squadron, 381st Bombardment Group (The squadron based on the opposite side of the airfield from where the gliding club is now).
Lt. Dean F Anderson at Ridgewell (on left with pipe)
Lt. Anderson's service record was ....
'Entered service December 1944. Shot down 14 February 1945. Returned to service at Ridgewell. Flew approximately 22 combat missions. Returned to US 4/25/45. Achieved rank of 1st Lt during WWII service. Served in AF Reserves, achieved rank of Lt.Col.
On 14 February 1945 the 381st took part in a mission to bomb the railway marshalling yards at Dresden. Lt Anderson was in command of a B17 named 'The Fox'. (see photo - nose art is a fox with a pint of beer).
'The Fox' was named after the pub of that name in Tilbury-Juxta-Clare, now a private house. (see Photo) No doubt frequented by the 534th as it was close to their side of the airfield.
' The 534BS's 'The Fox' (43-37657) was a second group veteran ending her combat career, Lt. Anderson's aircraft lost an engine on the way over and suffered the loss of a second to target flak. Forced to return alone and at a low altitude, the cripple came in for intermittent punishment, cumulating in No. 3 catching fire. The bale out order was passed and promptly executed by those in the rear (i.e.radio operator, rear and waist gunners). A stuck nose hatch delayed those up front but eventually it was finally forced free. This potentially lethal delay proved very fortuitous, because the crewmen who had already jumped floated down into enemy hands, unlike their buddies who came down on the right side of the front lines!'
The returning crew's MACR (Missing Aircrew Report) stated ....
'Our A/C had sustained flak damage over Brux, at another point probably just North of Frankfurt, and at Trier. Pilot hit alarm bell just north-west of Trier. Altitude was approximately 6,000 ft. four minutes later, the Navigator, Engineer and Toggeleer*, being unable to open forward hatch, went to rear of plane. At the time, waist gunner, tail gunner, radio operator, and Tail gunner had already bailed out, unseen by any other member of crew. Navigator, Engineer, and Toggeleer bailed out at approximately 4,000 ft. Pilot, Co-Pilot, Navigator, Engineer, and Toggeleer landed approximately 8 miles inside friendly territory and have since returned to base. They are of opinion that other four members of crew landed approximately 2 miles inside enemy lines.'
Grant also gave the following information ....
'Dad saved a piece of his parachute and told of hiding in a field after bailing out at night because he didn't know if the voices he heard were French or German. He ultimately made his way to liberated Paris and supposedly spent a day there before notifying his base that he was alive. We still have the pass that was issued to him in Paris that allowed him to be out of uniform because he bailed out and didn't have a helmet or sidearm.'
*Toggeleer was an alternative name for bombardier. Photo/research and story by Steve Jessup. Saturday 18th August 2018
Congratulations to John Whitwell who became our new Chairman on 18th August 2018.
We wish him well and great success in his new appointment. John takes over the
helm from Mike Harris, who in his time as Chairman has contributed significantly
to the club and has helped us to develop a great fleet of gliders! Cheers to Mike!
Photo: John Whitwell watching a K13 on approach for landing
Sportability, (two photographs above) visited us again on Wednesday 8th August 2018. The conditions were a little bumpy due to a brisk wind.
See their photo record of the day in our photo gallery on this website.
Photographs by Charles
Club member Paul Regeli designed a nice new poster for us
Our normally lush green runway is currently looking rather sad, brown and crispy, but of course this hasn’t prevented us from having some good flying during the second task and course weeks and, just for fun some spot landing practice. We have enjoyed hosting some lovely groups, amongst them our regular visitors from Sportability and also new visitors from Sturmer and District W.I. who celebrated their 50th anniversary with us. They were very generous with their delicious cake so they are certainly welcome to return! We still have one flying week scheduled for the season and a ‘taster day’ planned in September to attract new members who we hope will be tempted by our training fleet which is looking good with a mixture of glass and wood available as well as two single Astirs for solo pilots
Photo: Irene Pattison from Sturmer and District W.I. Hiding her nerves well just before her flight with instructor Tony Brook. Photo by Cathy Dellar
July 2018 We were at the Ridgewell village fete on Saturday 7th of July 2018. To see more pictures, view our photo gallery
Some long awaited good weather has graced us with a positive start to the season with one flying week combined with the first course week already behind us resulting in two new solos (congratulations to Nick Baker and Andy Hawes) and an aerobatics rating (congratulations to Callum Hitchins) as well as a good few successful check flights and soaring flights. We hope our next flying weeks and courses are as successful. We will be showing a glider at the local Fete where we hope to raise the profile of our sport and hopefully gain some new members. We thank all of our volunteers for their hard work and we welcome our new members
Cathy Dellar - Essex Gliding Club
Photo of Nick Baker after his first solo, with CFI Alex Harris and DCFI Dave Hertzberg. Photographer: Steve Rhenius. (Apologies for the bad quality of the photograph)
New for 2018! Allen Cherry has been busy fitting new instruments to some of our club gliders. Here we see new instruments that have been fitted to KRU one of two PW6 gliders that we own. In addition to this work, Allen has installed a Ridgewell weather station, (live on-line) and new airfield security measures and cameras. Well done Allen!
Charles - Essex Gliding Club
We had a very busy public open day in July this year. We managed to fly nearly seventy people all paying just ten pounds for a trial lesson. Those that we could not fly due to time constraints, (day not long enough) were invited back to the club at a time of their choosing while honouring the special trial lesson fee.
We have just completed our last gliding course of the year and every day was soarable, lucky course members! We have started to receive requests for places on our 2018 gliding courses. We have finalised our 2018 gliding course schedule. If you are contemplating either returning for another gliding course or trying gliding for the first time and wish to book a course, we highly recommend that you register your interest with the club early to reserve a place for next year.
We congratulate one of our younger pilots, Callum Hitchings who succeeded in obtaining his Silver height this August. No doubt that he will soon complete all the requirements for his Silver gliding badge/certificate. We wish him good luck and plenty of strong thermals!
One of our members, Jago Coyne-Roberts has been participating in the Glide Britain project. This project aims to promote gliding around the country, you can learn more about this project by following the Glide Britain link below.
Our CFI David Hertzberg and the committee of the gliding club would like to thank all of those club members who gave up their time to make our gliding courses and open day a great success this year.
Charles Forsyth - Essex Gliding Club
Glide Britain with Jago Roberts and Simon Grice
Learn all about the Glide Britain project!
Vince Earl and Charles Hillier, (right). Charles recently visited Ridgewell to fly from the airfield where
his father fought from during the war while stationed with the 381st Heavy Bombardment Group
Charles Hillier recently visited us during May 2017 from the USA. Charles's father was stationed with the 381st Heavy Bombardment Group here at Ridgewell. Charles summed up part of his fathers time here at Ridgewell in these words......
"My father was transferred to the Army Air Force (after being stationed in Alaska) and trained as a meteorologist before being sent to the 381st.
He missed his first bombing mission because the train was delayed for 3 days, and the airman who replaced him was killed. But the meteorologists were then all grounded (lost too many, too expensive to train), and that also likely saved his life. He was the CO for the weather unit.
The 381st had to get so-and-so many planes up to join missions (not sure how many), and all the survivors had to land. When crashes occurred, either on take-off or landing, there was frequently (depending on circumstances) an extremely limited time to recover survivors and remains before the runway had to be cleared. Bulldozer stood ready at all times to clear the runway of wreckage. When crashes occurred, the bulldozer were given "x" amount of minutes for rescue and recovery before clearing the runway (sometimes minutes). The "ground crew" knew the flight crews personally, and had the responsibility to rush out on the runway, rescue if possible, and recover all possible remains "before the bulldozers started".
My father almost never spoke of this until his dying days. Then he talked continuously about the 381st, family, and never about 40 years as a professor. But among the stories, he said he talked to friends flying in on "shot-up planes, still with bombs aboard", who gave him messages to deliver to loved ones (they knew they had poor chances). They crashed, the plane exploded, other planes were coming in, and they grabbed their bags to rush out to the runway to recover remains. He said he found a heart, still beating, on the runway and put it in his bag. He said "I don't know if was my friend or not".
At any rate, he said the worst moment in the entire war was once when he had to run out on the runway to recover remains, well knowing that the only remains the family would get were what he could find right then, before the bulldozers started, but he was crying so hard for his friends he couldn't see any body parts.
His best friend was Olsen, also in the weather unit. They were always together, and most people just knew them as Hillier and Olsen, not knowing who was who. At any rate, he was awarded an R&R trip to Belfast, and when he went to get on the flight, they had posted Olsen instead of Hillier. So he went to get Olsen, but Olsen refused to go, knowing it was for my Dad. My Dad refused to go with Olsen listed, so that was the one empty seat on the flight that crashed in the Isle of Man tragedy.
He was also one of few meteorologists who predicted the weather for the D-Day invasion. He predicted poor weather on one occasion, and the invasion was delayed, so he thought they were listening to him. He predicted poor weather and large casualties on the actual day, but the forced in motion were too large to stop - he was correct though, and there were large losses due to the weather.
Thanks for caring. You have no idea how fulfilling it was for me to land on the same runway as my father did, particularly that infamous runway.
mvh Charles Hillier Son of Captain Kenneth L. Hillier (thought he was lieutenant, found out he was promoted!)"
John Nicatra and his son Joseph visited us this year from the USA. John's father flew from Ridgewell during the war with the 381st Heavy Bombardment Group at Ridgewell. John wanted to return to the airfield where his father once flew. The photo below was taken at the Ridgewell war memorial dedicated to the Men and Women of the 381st Heavy Bombardment Group. Here is a link to an article that describes one of John's father's missions.
Joseph writes -"We are coming from Boston, Massachusetts USA. It has long been a dream of my Father's to visit the base where his Father was stationed during the Second World War. My Grandfather, also named Joseph Nicatra was a radio operator on a B-17 named "Georgia Rebel". He was part of the 535th Bombardment Squadron of the 381st and stationed at RAF Ridgewell. My research on the internet informed me that your prestigious club now occupies part of the area that was once RAF Ridgewell. Further, my Father worked as a child and teenager at a glider port in our home town of Salem, New Hampshire, USA and loves all thing's aviation. I would like to make a humble request, in order to fulfil a lifelong dream of my Father's. I would really like to surprise my Father with a tour of your facility. We are more than willing to come at any-time which is convenient for your club".
Our annual open day flying event was unfortunately cancelled for March. If we decide to hold this event later this year, we will
notify you all via this web page, please keep checking back for further information.
The club has purchased another Astir single seat glider for it's solo pilots, the glider should be on site with us shortly.
There are still a few places left on our summer gliding courses, if you are interested in joining us for a gliding course, please check
our dedicated 'Course' page for availability or contact us through this website. If you would like to fly for just a few days, that's possible, we are very flexible.
Alex Harris has taken the place of Bob Cassels as Deputy Chief Flying Instructor, we wish him well in his new position. Bob will
continue to Instruct, we thank Bob for the considerable effort that he put into his role as DCFI and the support that he has given to
Dave Hertzberg, our current Chief Flying Instructor.
Charles Forsyth - Essex Gliding Club
''Last weekend we had our AGM. Presentations were made by various Club officers, and awards were given out. Amongst those who received awards were Kevin King who received the Chairman's cup and Bernard Parry who received the CFI's cup. Awards went to Callum, Jake and Glyn for going solo last year. Congratulations to all.
Thanks go to Chairman Mike Harris and the rest of the Committee for their hard work behind the scenes running the club so efficiently. Thanks also to Jago, Callum and Jake who fetched in the fish and chip supper. They even washed up too!''
Cathy Dellar - Essex Gliding Club
Well we can't complain about the weather we have enjoyed this summer! Congratulations to Bernard Parry who flew his first solo flight since 1966! Congratulations also to Glyn Long for his first solo. The summer courses were successful with at least one new member hooked. We now have better flight logging facilities, thanks to Allen Cherry, and a spacious new launch point caravan is currently being converted and will be ready for next season. Thanks to Dave Jones for working on this. Mike Harris will be running bronze lectures throughout the winter and his son, Alex Harris is still spending a lot of his time inverted and is training other pilots to do likewise! Thanks to all the instructors, winch drivers, tug pilots, Committee and everyone else for helping to run the club. We are very lucky to have so many devoted members.
Cathy Dellar - Essex Gliding Club
Jake Smith, (left) with Alex Harris who sent Jake solo during October 2016. Congratulations Jake!
September has kicked off well, with beautiful weather in the second week of the month and more very hot and sunny day's forecast in the second week! Glyn Long is celebrating after his first solo flight, the first person to be sent solo in one of our PW6 gliders! Glyn has only been gliding for just over three months and flew a text book circuit and landing after modifying his circuit to deal with a lot of sinking air! Check out his post solo photograph below, you can find more pictures of him in our photo gallery.
We will have some more late season news for you shortly from Cathy!
Charles Forsyth - Essex Gliding Club.
Glyn Long, (left) with CFI Dave Hertzberg after his first solo! Photo by Charles Forsyth
Well, we are enjoying a good summer! The Dawn till Dusk day went well even if it wasn't quite Dawn until Dusk, thanks to low cloud base in the morning and an eventual shortage of people to fly in the evening. During the second flying week we enjoyed some superb weather and some very hot days. Members had some good flying and there were some notable achievements. Congratulations to Callum Hitchings on his first solo flight at age 14, and also to Steve Jessup who has completed his Silver badge. Congratulations also to Alex Harris who is now a Full Category instructor at the age of nineteen. During the last weekend in July we were privileged to have the use of a lovely T21 from Wethersfield, very much enjoyed by everyone who flew in her. In July, we took our refurbished K13 to display at the North Weald Centenary Air Fete, familiar ground for us. We spoke to a lot of interested people there and hopefully attracted some new members.
Cathy Dellar - Essex Gliding Club.
Callum Hitchings with CFI Dave Hertzberg after his first solo at age 14. Photo by Allen Cherry
Bernard Parry became a solo pilot during our August flying week, here he is on the left taking a hand shake from Cheif Flying Instructor David Hertzberg.
You can see Bernard's first solo landing here...
Video courtesy of Dave Clarke
Steve Jessup, triumphant after completing his Silver gliding badge, seen here at Tibenham
after a qualifying cross-country flight to Tibenham from Ridgewell. Photograph courtesy of Dave Jones
The summer season has started off well with our first flying week seeing some nice weather and some good flights. Our open day and BBQ on 28th May was a great success again, we achieved our objectives of making some new local friends and introducing them to our wonderful sport. We have welcomed some new members of varying ages and genders and we also welcome some returning members who have re-soloed very quickly, congratulations to them. We hope that our new solo pilots will take advantage of our bronze lectures and progress to bronze and cross country very soon. We also have summer courses available for both new and more experienced pilots.
Cathy Dellar - Essex Gliding Club.
Spring is very much in the air and we will soon be returning from our winter flying venue at Rattlesden Gliding Club. We would
like to thank our friends at Rattlesden for their hospitality over the winter.
We hope to be returning to Ridgewell for our summer gliding operation during the first half of April, we will be announcing
our return to Ridgewell on this website and by e-mailing our members and subscribers.
We have been busy this winter, earlier this year we took delivery of another Polish PW6 two seat training glider to compliment
our other PW6 that we bought last summer. Our K21 G-EENK was sold and as previously mentioned, we have also purchased a Grob Astir for our solo pilots.
Clive Denny and Vintage Fabrics have done a fabulous job of overhauling one of our K13 training gliders, they have painted the glider in the colours of the 381st Heavy Bombardment Group that were stationed with their B17 Flying Fortress bombers at Ridgewell during the second world war. We have a picture of the Vintage Fabrics restored K13 on the website complete with is WW2 nose art!
As well as spending the winter developing a new club website and new logo, we are looking forward to starting holiday gliding
courses this summer. The courses will begin in May and details of the courses can be found on our dedicated web page.
Some of our lucky members took a break this month and enjoyed a few days ridge soaring at Long Mynd in Shropshire, you can find their photographs from the visit in our gallery section of the website. We would also like to extend our thanks to the Midland Gliding Club for their hospitality too.
Looking forward, we are hosting a club open day on the 28th of May, as always we welcome visitors to our club and look forward
to perhaps making some new friends.
Thank you to our members that attended our clear up and mend weekends at Ridgwell over the winter in preparation for this 2016 season.
Firstly, A big thank you to my predecessor Peter Perry for his dedication for many years reporting our news, I will try to keep the standard up but I can't promise anything!
Well, we are settled in back at Ridgewell now, and are working on improvements to our facilities. Many thanks to Dave Jones and Matt Jones for the installation of our new 'restroom' facilities together with a shower which was very much appreciated during the flying week for those who stayed over.
One of our K13 gliders has been beautifully restored and is now a real sight to see. We have similar plans in store for others in our fleet and are planning to buy another glass two seater. We have already added an Astir single seater to the club fleet for solo pilots.
Talking of the flying week, as of writing this we have just had our first flying week which was well attended and ended in our club open day which was even more of a success than anyone could have hoped for! The weather was perfect and there was a great turn out by club members and by the public and we managed to fly many happy customers and we like to think that we also made a few new friends. We will definitely be planning a similar day in the future.
Many congratulations to Alex Harris for winning the UK National Advanced Aerobatics Championships. What an achievement! It hardly seems any time ago that he was visiting the club with his Dad for his first flight in a glider!
Congratulations also to Steve Jessup for achieving his Cross Country Endorsement, another of our pilots let loose over the Essex and Suffolk countryside!