Latest news from the Club
Weekend 6/7 January
Benign weather with a good deal of sunshine on the airfield. No gliding operations, partly due to lack of wind, but largely due to the fact that repairs and rubbish clearance after the storm are still continuing. The green caravan, a tough old bird, had been righted back onto its wheels and was undergoing substantial repair and re-furbishment. New Perspex windows were installed, segments of the exterior skin were re-attached as necessary, leaks were cured, and many of the old internal fittings will be replaced.
Repairs to damaged glider trailers were also ongoing, using a variety of techniques such as panel-beating, re-sealing of joints and glassfibre work. Trailers that had been imprisoned by fallen trees at the south end of the airfield have now been recovered, happily revealing no further damage to gliders.
Fallen trees along the airfield perimeter track have not yet been cleared, although club members have done a fair amount of work to improve safety in that area. This includes trimming branches and trunks that had ended up closest to the runway, as well as a methodical hand-picking exercise to remove debris from the airfield surface.
On Saturday we had a very colourful visit by five autogyro aircraft from Alba Airsports Flight Training. This is a group operating from the airport at Scone just northeast of Perth. We are always happy to welcome fellow fliers, even if they just want to drop in for a chat or a coffee! Photos: Phil/Fiona Hawkins and Stewart Hills.
These are two-seater machines, with Rotax engines to give forward speed. The autogyro concept uses a freewheeling main rotor to keep the aircraft airborne. Steering is achieved by tilting the rotor in the fore/aft and sideways directions. Power is only applied to the rotor during the early stages of the ground run prior to takeoff.
Aftermath of Storm "Gerrit"
The month of December was relatively inactive for us (apart from the enjoyable Christmas Dinner in the clubhouse) because the weather kept us grounded from the end of November. However, things suddenly became a little bit too exciting this week with the arrival of storm “Gerrit” on Wednesday. Wind speeds at the summit of Cairn Gorm exceeded 100 knots, and our airfield weather station was recording peak gusts of at least 65 knots around midday. It seems likely that rotor winds in the lee of the mountain caused localised down-bursts of tremendous force, which were responsible for a good deal of damage on the airfield.
The runway and the main hangar were luckily unaffected, but one glider trailer, fortunately empty, was deposited upside down onto the lower meadow without damaging the fence on the way. It must have been airborne. Another clamshell type trailer had its roof torn off completely, but remarkably the glider inside it suffered only minor damage to the rudder. The canopy of another glider was smashed inside its trailer when the trailer roof was broken, but these issues will be covered by insurance.
Two corrugated roof panels were detached from a small T-hangar building in the yard opposite the clubhouse, but these were quickly replaced by club members on Thursday, and the glider inside was unaffected.
The main hangar and clubhouse building appears secure, and all aircraft parked inside it are OK. The broadband antenna mounted on the bank at the rear of the hangar was toppled, however, and we also lost mains power for a couple of days. Components of other gliders whose trailers suffered damage are currently using up leftover hangar space.
Further damage occurred at the south end of the runway where glider trailers are stored long-term. At the time of writing we don’t know if any gliders were affected there, or if it is merely trailer damage.
Long term, the most lasting effect of the storm will be the big change in the view of the mountain as seen from the runway, due to the large number of trees which have been flattened. At least 70 trees on the mountain side of the runway have fallen across the airfield fence and perimeter track, and some of these are really hefty trunks. The total number of trees down in the Inshriach forest, Feshiebridge and Ardgeal is impossible to count, but must be in the thousands. Further away from the mountains, the winds were not so damaging and the number of trees lost is correspondingly smaller.
A good deal of clearing-up work and even temporary repairs had already been done by members the day after the storm, and we are told that our landlords (Alvie Estate) will send heavy machinery to clear fallen trees from the airfield periphery. No doubt the relevant insurance claims will be submitted in due course, and operations will gradually return to normal. Photo credits are due to Phil & Fiona Hawkins, and Stewart Hills.
The new normal ~ our radically changed view of the mountain as seen from the runway. Note that many trees were snapped off rather than uprooted.
The roof of the ASH-25 "Cobra" trailer where it came to rest, narrowly avoiding damage to the airfield weather station. Remarkably, even the glider tailplane which had been stored inside the roof was undamaged, and safely retrieved.
The ASH-25 canopy and other components were left open to the elements but survived, apart from minor damage to the lower corner of the rudder.
Ventus 979 had a broken canopy, sustained while inside its trailer. We suspect the trailer roof was trashed by contact with another trailer.
The shape of this dent suggests a curved surface such as the roof of another trailer, but who knows?
Club members Miles and Stewart tightening up tie-down straps on trailers that had moved. Notice the skeletal nature of the remaining forest. The undergrowth visible along the far edge of the airfield consists of fallen trees.
Bill Longstaff's old green van, which has been used as a launch point control vehicle for many years, was apparently rolled or skidded by the wind until it came into contact with the trailer park. The repair team are seen here recovering it, but we don't yet know if it will still be in a useable condition.
The final resting place of the empty Cirrus trailer. Tony is recovering any useful items from inside it such as cushions.
The U9 tee hangar on the yard facing the clubhouse lost two roof panels, which were themselves more or less undamaged and could be re-fitted.
Tony and Bob in the process of repairing the roof. Very interesting to note that this roof is lower than the earth bank behind which it shelters, suggesting that down-burst winds were responsible rather than just a strong horizontal blast.
Our broadband aerial was toppled from the top of the hangar bank, but was repaired within a couple of days.
Damage to trailers occurred also at the south end of the runway, where only a skeleton forest remains.
This trailer was thought to be empty but will need substantial repairs. Other trailers may have been occupied and will need assessing once the heavy timber has been removed.
Club member Miles making a start, although most of the heavy trunks will be left for the professionals from Alvie Estate to clear away.
Photo by Stuart Naylor (Highland GC, Easterton) a couple of days after the storm, showing patchy nature of the devastation in the forest, probably due to isolated down-bursts.