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    By Austin, in BARCS,

    Committee Proposal One
    That a change to the rules for Open and 100S competitions can be agreed by a straightforward majority at an AGM
    A requirement was put in place requiring a 2/3 majority for such rule changes.  This was applicable in a period where there was serious instability in such rules and this is no longer the case.  A simple majority applies to ELG and Multi-launch rules so applying to all class rules simplifies and makes for consistency.
    Committee Proposal Two
    That in the Multilaunch rules the following text is inserted in the appropriate place: “Where a competitor enters two classes of model at an event, only one score, the highest, will be used to calculate the Multilaunch League Score.”
    Committee Proposal Three
    That in the Open and 100S rules, words be added such that when computing the final round scores the CD may, at his discretion, drop a round score after 4 rounds. An announcement as to whether a score will be dropped or not will be made at the pilots briefing prior to the first round
    Most thermal soaring competitions use a dropped score, E soaring, F5J and Multilaunch after 4 rounds, F3J after 7 rounds and there is no mention of a difference between a 1 or 2 day competition. In some circumstances, like the Winter series, where it is a monthly competition league with no fly offs and a dropped round, it may be better not to have a dropped score, thus the caveat of giving the CD the required discretion.
    Members Proposal One
    That the launch settings for Electric models used in Multilaunch events, be raised from the current 150 metres to 175 metres.
    To even up the launch heights so as they are more in line to winch launched moulded models that now predominate.
    Proposed Brian Austin Barcs 230, Seconded Peter Mitchell Barcs 1568,  R Potts Barcs 807 & Peter Hindle Barcs 228

    By Austin, in BARCS,

    Planning for this year’s Soaring market is well underway with seven exhibitors having confirmed their booking already with many more expressing interest.
    We return to our usual venue Oadby Leisure Centre, Parklands, Wigston Road, Washbrook Ln, Oadby, Leicestershire LE2 5QG . Traditionally held on the first Sunday in December, this year coincidentally being the 1st, doors open 9am and the event runs until 1pm.
    Exhibitors booked to date are
    BELAIR KITS join us for the first time showing their range of Laser Cut short kits including some interesting Scale Gliders. www.belairkits.com
    ACEMODELS are with us once again, displaying Nan Models, Graupner Radio and essential accessories for the competition and sport pilots alike. http://www.acemodel.co.uk
    eSOARING GADGETS are back with their range of electronics for the electric soaring pilot. http://www.esoaringgadgets.co.uk
    FINE FLIGHT join us again, bringing their selection of Electric flight kits & spares; Motors, ESC, batteries etc.
    THE FLYING WIDGET return for a second year with a huge range of essential electric bits and bobs. http://www.flyingwidgetsupplies.com
    INWOOD MODELS are another perennial exhibitor who always bring a large selection of competitively priced radio, kits, servos, batteries, the list goes on http://www.inwoodmodels.com
    SLOPESIDE are back again. Probably best known for Speedo gliders, they also have receivers, batteries, motors and lots of other items available. http://www.slopeside.co.uk   
    PICHLER MODELLBAU & MULTIPLEX-RC UK are represented by Gordon Upton, offering the best in German models and radio control  www.pichler-modellbau.de http://www.multiplex-rc.co.uk
    HYPERFLIGHT are best known for their wide range of electric and discus launch competition soarers including the Maxa and Blaster range, amongst many others http://www.hyperflight.co.uk
    UK F5B represent the Multitask electric soaring class of events as described herewith by Steve Burns
    F5B is a type of radio control electric powered model glider contest. It is a multi-task contest that consists of distance, duration and landing. The sorts of models we fly are what you might know as Hotliners. Wing span is just under 2 meters with a flying weight of around 1800 grams and around 5.5kW of power so they go quite well.
    The distance task is the exciting bit and the part we all practise, it consist of doing as many legs as possible between 2 bases in 200 seconds. These “legs” must be flown with no power so the motor is run for a couple of seconds to gain height after one set ready for the next one.
    Once your time on the distance course is up the duration part starts which is basically a 10 minute thermal flight. You can use as much motor run time as you want for this but you lose 1 point for every second of motor used, typically a 10 minute thermal flight will require about 3 to 5 seconds motor run time.
    The last part of the flight is the landing. The clock for the duration part is stopped when the model stops. If it’s in the centre of the landing circle then 30 bonus points are yours so as you can see you need to be precise on time and position.
    If the sound of these open class models is a bit intimidating don’t worry, we also run lower power models and even have been flying foam Dynamics/Blazes this year as an entry class.
    All our traders invite you to visit their online stores and if you see something you really want, contact them and they’ll try and bring it along.
    Finally, don’t forget the bring and buy stand. No commission is taken, just bring along your unwanted soaring  items, marked with price and description.
    What a weekend. Dry, bright and for the most part, warm weather, Radioglide hasn’t had it so good for many a year. Maybe it was the cross border hop into Buckinghamshire with the county trying to prove its supremacy over neighbouring Oxfordshire but whatever, our three days on Tudor Farm, just a couple of miles from the old Marsh Gibbon site proved to be a great success.
    A new site was required after the farmer at Marsh Gibbon decided to plough up and crop the old field. Peter Allen, ferried around the skies over Bicester by Gary Binnie in a Tiger Moth, spotted two superb fields and Peter made contact with the farmer.
    Saturday was a day of competitive contrast with one of the most traditional classes, 100s being contested on one side of the road, whilst concurrently the newest electric comp F5J, ran on the other. Due to some late drop outs, only 10 people flew in each.
    As usual, Neville Warby provided and along with Alan Morton and others, set up the facilities for 100s, with Chas Dunster acting as CD. Trackers were much in evidence though John Hulett continues to plough his own furrow with a developing line of traditionally built models, which are every bit as competitive. It was good to have a first time competitor in John Shenstone on the flightline, who took some slot wins and narrowly missed out on a fly off place. A lot of the slots were flown out in the light winds with lift marked clearly by a number of Kites and Buzzards resident on the farm. But still some managed to miss the landing box.
    Six rounds flown and it was time for the fly off. Mark (Fozzy) Devall, John Hulett, Alan Morton and Cengiz Philcox, stepped up for two, twelve minutes slots, launching on the buzzer each time. Moving to different parts of the sky, they made use of the lift with varying degrees of success with Fozzy and Alan in particular climbing to great height at huge distance. I’ll not name names but again some managed to miss the box on landing. The eventual winner and not for the first time, with a supreme display of mastery of these, not overly manoeuvrable machines was Fozzy Devall, with John, Alan and Cengiz taking the other places.
    Meanwhile, across the way F5J was being run by CD Bernie Jones, to whom BARCS is hugely grateful. Bernie had been working away from home in the days up to the competition and had persuaded Colin Lucas to act as chauffeur to get him up from the south coast for the day, thanks guys.
    Similar in many ways to its winch launch brother F3J, there is the added spice of reading the conditions to try and launch below 200 metres to maximise score. Models are pretty familiar too and we saw a mixture of  Explorers, Clusters, Pikes, Storks, Supras and Maxas plus others but often with much lighter construction and less substantial spars producing all up flying weights below 2kg despite motors, batteries and the other electric paraphernalia. Again we welcomed newcomers to RG, Phil Hayward and Jason Burns
    Seven rounds, with one dropped score but no fly off was the format for the day. In the beautiful conditions, virtually every pilot managed a slot win but equally some were plagued with technical issues which marred their day and reduced their scores. Given the format, a consistent performance was called for to win and less than 300 points covered the top 3 places, with Colin Paddon taking top spot, followed by team mate Kevin Beale and stalwart of the electric scene Brian Austin in third.
    The day concluded with all pilots convening on the main field for prize giving.  With the support of Easy Composites and donations from both Acemodels and West London Models, vouchers, modelling goods and glues accompanied the trophies, wine and certificates.
    Day two again dawned bright and if anything a little warmer for another day of interesting contrasts. This time two classes with international status, F3K and F3J and therefore the potential for pilots to make progress in securing places in the British Teams travelling to championships.
    F3K is quite a diverse competition format being made up of a number of different tasks. Unfortunately, I couldn’t be in two places at once, so I hand over to Simon Jones for a very comprehensive report.
    Radioglide was only the second F3K competition flown this year, with the first two being cancelled due to bad weather.  F3K Eurotour was the first event flown in Lawford and although all 12 rounds were flown over the 2 days, conditions were very windy and several models ended up in trees or damaged.
    Radioglide was a complete contrast with sub 10 mph winds, sunshine and good thermic conditions.  The field itself was excellent with short grass and plenty of space, and with enough boundary features to potentially kick off lift and make downwind returns interesting.
    15 pilots took part, and it was the first competition for Chris Brain.  8 rounds were flown in 3 slots of 5 pilots with a different task in each round.  The tasks were planned to give a mix of ‘turnaround tasks’, which rely on fast turnaround times to split pilots in good (max) conditions, and ‘max’ tasks where it is possible for multiple pilots to score 1000 in good conditions.
    Task flown were:-
    Round1: Best 3 flights, 6 launches only, 3 mins max
    Michael Stern was the only pilot to max this task in slot 2, although Chris Brain started with 2 x 3 min flights as the opening round of his first competition!
    Round 2:  Increasing times 30, 45, 60, 75, 90, 105, 120 secs
    Tony Hickson and Michael Stern both achieved 120sec maxes in slots 1 and 2 respectively.
    Round 3: Best 3 flights, 320 sec max
    Michael Stern achieved best result in round 3 dropping only 6 seconds over 3 flights in slot 3.
    Round 4: Best 5 flights, 2 mins max
    Michael Stern again achieved best result dropping only 10 seconds over 5 flights in slot 3.
    Round 5:  All up, 3 flights, 3 mins max
    Nobody managed to achieve 3 x 3 min flights but Chris Brain had the best time overall with 8 mins 6 secs.
    Round 6:  Last 3 flights, 3 mins max
    Richard Swindells was the only pilot to max with 3 x 3 mins in slot 1.
    Round 7:  Poker – 5 self nominated flights
    The love it or hate it round!  A few pilots tried an ‘all or nothing’ big nomination to try and get away in good air and not have to re-launch.  This meant flying a long way downwind and there were several land-outs in this round as a result.  This really split scores and only 1 pilot in each slot achieved 5 nominated flights, all winning the slot as a result with ‘conservative’ nominations of around 1 min 30 secs.
    Round 8:  Best 4 flights, 1,2,3 and 4 mins
    Richard Swindells and Michael Stern were both in slot 1 and both effectively ‘maxing’ the task.  Richard only dropped 6 seconds over 4 launches to achieve 1,000 points and Michael dropped 9 seconds to score 994.
    Final Top 5 scores were:-
    1.  Martin Halston = 6,991 (100%)
    2.  Michael Stern  = 6,734 (97.44%)
    3.  Darius Zibikas = 6,602 (95.53%)
    4.  Tony Hickson = 6,424 (92.95%)
    5.  Simon Jones = 6, 400 (92.61%)
    Congratulations to Martin for winning 5 slots and consistent overall flying to achieve 1st place.  Martin didn’t put a foot wrong all day and came through the difficult poker round with 1,000 points to effectively seal the win.
    The prizes from our sponsors were much appreciated and the excellent field choice and conditions on the day made Radioglide 2013 a very enjoyable F3K competition!
    For further detail, pictures and comments, go to http://www.flyquiet.co.uk/smf/index.php?topic=3999.45
    Over on the F3J field, things started off a little sombrely with a minutes silence to mark the passing of John Shaw, one of the founding fathers of the competition we were about to participate in. http://www.barcs.co.uk/forums/topic/4047-john-shaw/#entry106550
    F3J had the biggest entry of the weekend with 22 pilots booked in but some late withdrawals. Many had flown in the 100s and F5J competitions from the day before. As mentioned above, this was a team selection event, along with Interglide and the British Nationals and as such ran over two days to finish on Bank holiday Monday.  Also part of the national domestic league, it attracted many of the top British pilots. So was competition fierce? Well no. There was some excellent flying, some top hardware on display, Maxas, Explorers, Clusters etc. but the atmosphere was as usual, warm, friendly and low key. And this was further enhanced by the dulcet tones of CD Sydney Lenssen announcing the slots with a cheery ‘good luck, gentlemen’.
    The declared intent was to run a 9 round, one drop, competition, with fly off. On this the first day, the weather co-operated and given the company, as expected, many slots recorded times over 9.50 and 100 landing bonuses. But equally conditions were not easy. Yes the clouds and the birds indicated lift and on occasions the DLG’s in the upwind field gave competitors looking for low level thermals somewhere to aim for. However, different sides of the field gave different results. Some of the upwind lift stayed static and then broke away without warning leaving one circling on the spot in lift for five minutes and then frantically running from sink. Five slots of four pilots meant teams were fairly busy all the time and it took something around one and a half hours to run a round.  Nonetheless, with no line breaks or reflights things were pretty relaxed and lines were dogged, scores handed in and a quarter hour lunch break allowed time to engage in more banter. Day one was completed with Colin Boorman sitting atop the pile having dropped just 12 points over six rounds, closely followed by Peter Allen, Mark Devall, Ian Duff and Bob Dickenson. In fact the top 12 places were all in the 90% range of scores.
    Day two promised slightly less pleasant conditions and although the rain was likely to stay away, the wind had backed and increased and the whole flightline needed swinging through 90 degrees, so thanks to Ozzie Osbourne and others who helped in relocating everything quickly and allowing us to get started promptly. Conditions were definitely more testing, the wind increased throughout the morning and it was cold, jumpers and jackets pressed into action. In conditions like these, the best pilots show their mettle, with people like Colin Paddon recording two 1000’s and he and Graham Wicks each completing a run of four consecutive slot wins. After round eight and with the wind still strengthening the competitors gathered and voted not to fly round nine and go straight to the fly off. As said before consistency is the name of the game in F3J and with four 1000’s and three 990+ scores Colin Borman retained first place with Ian Duff climbing to second, Peter Allen third and Bob Dickenson still in fourth. Colin Paddon had moved up the table to fifth but missed out on a fly of spot by just 0.5%
    Clocks reset to 15 minutes and the fly off began. All four pilots had varying degrees of luck over the two rounds but probably the unluckiest was Colin Boorman, who hit turbulence on his landing approach, resulting in an overfly, penalty and loss of landing point and knocking him down from top.
    So winner of the Humbrol Trophy for 2013 is Peter Allen.
    One unresolved result during the weekend was the winner of the Lilienthal Trophy for Best Placed Newcomer. There were a number of pilots competing at Radioglide for the first time but only flew one event. We ultimately had two contenders who competed in two but until the ratified results were available, their positions could not be confirmed.  So welcome to Jason Burns, F5J and F3K and John Shenstone 100s and F3J and with scores of 149.82% and 157.31% respectively, John Shenstone is declared the winner Best Placed Newcomer, Radioglide 2013.
    For pictures of the weekend, courtesy of Phil Hayward, Jason Burns and Graham James
    http://s409.photobucket.com/user/jasonburns37/library/BARCS RadioGlide 2013/F3K 260513?sort=2&page=1
    http://s409.photobucket.com/user/jasonburns37/library/BARCS RadioGlide 2013/F5J 250513
    All in all then, Radioglide was a huge success and we hope will continue to be so for years to come. Virtually everyone I spoke to felt we had the balance of the weekend about right. There were some suggestions we might try to get more events in and there is indeed a field free for one day but we need a few factors to come together to improve on where we are
    People to help with the organisation. We have asked all year for someone to represent the electric fliers but so far no volunteers.
    BARCS is your organisation if you want us to include your class into the committee’s thinking, participate.
    Competitors. Those that do compete tend to do so over more than one class, which means we might reduce the field if events conflict.
    It is after all the declared intent of RG to be a ‘Festival of Soaring’, so if 100s and F3J pilots will also fly F5J, then that will influence which events we choose to run.
    We look forward to continued debate on the subject and some support from the membership in making Radioglide better still.
    Thanks once again to all who took part. To Easy Composites, Acemodels and West London Models for their support. To all the CD’s and particularly to Peter Allen for securing the fields, taking entries, organising facilities, erecting signage, finding camp site, buying wine and clearing the site at the end of weekend along with Ozzie, Chas, Al Lipscombe, Neville Warby an others.
    A full set of results will be uploaded. Just awaiting F5J.
    See you in 2014.

    By Austin, in News & Information,

    It is with great sadness that we have to advise of the passing of another great aeromodeller, John Shaw. John died at home late last week of a suspected heart attack.
    Although best known to BARCS members as a former president and a member of the famous FACCT, John’s interests covered a wide range from Control Line Team Racing, through Soaring and more recently to Indoor Free Flight. He was responsible for the running of events at Frogsnest and Islip and the BMFA South Midlands Championships run to this day.
    No doubt many members will have fond memories and possibly photos of John and we would encourage you to share these so we might record his aeromodelling career in more detail. We would like to post a fuller history and possibly use this as a basis of an article for the BMFA News.
    Below are a few words from a couple of fellow flyers.
    As soon as we have further information we will advise of any funeral arrangements. A minutes silence will be held at the briefing of the F3J event at Radioglide on Sunday26th May.
    There is topic about this announcement on the forum here
    Just a few pics and words to show one way of repairing a slightly damaged open structure wingtip.
    Model is a 2.5m Organic.
    The joint between the tip block and the leading edge had weakened in a heavy arrival in turbulent air.

    Seemed like a good idea to drill through from the tip into the leading edge with a 1.5mm drill, then push a 2mm carbon rod into the wing, past the first rib bay, halfway into the second rib bay.

    Once the 55mm length of the carbon rod had been inserted, a drop of cyano sealed the tip end.
    With a 1mm drill bit, a hole was then made from the lower wing surface, into the leading edge / tip block joint. The drill bit contacted the carbon rod. Cyano was then pressured into the joint via the hole. The only holes in the covering are 1mm and 2mm diameter, in areas where the covering is in contact with the wood.
    A covering iron was then used shrink the film, leaving the panel almost invisibly repaired, without having to remove the original covering.

    Jeff Ott

    By Austin, in Radioglide,

    Radioglide 2013 is being held over the late May Bank Holiday weekend 25th – 27th May. Due to the ploughing up of our traditional field the event is moving to a new location just a couple of miles away at Tudor Farm, Marsh Gibbon HP18 0UA.
    The full schedule of events can be found on the entry form but they include 2 Team Trials for F3J (over 2 days) and F3K. This means that these events are open to non-BARCS members. We are grateful to the SFTC for granting us the honour of hosting these two important calendar dates. As a bonus to BARCS members, if you enter one of the two Team Trial events, you get free entry to either the 100s or F5J competitions on the Saturday, note these run concurrently so unfortunately it isn't possible to fly both. (That’s your annual subscription refunded right there!) You may not aspire to represent your country but you’ll find the competitors friendly, helpful and welcoming. Not only will you get to fly with some top pilots but remember your scores will count towards the BARCS Leagues.
    There are no camping facilities available on the field so arrangements have been made at a Caravan Club site close by at Gubbins Hole Farm OX26 0AN. This provides toilets and hook ups for Caravans at a cost £9 per night, Tents £5, there will be a cold shower available for tent users. There are also fields available at the site for evening flying. The number of power hook ups is limited, so bear in mind it is Bank holiday and book early, ring Joe or Jackie Taylor on 01296-770259 quoting GLIDING.
    We would like to acknowledge the kind support of Easy Composites Ltd. at Radioglide 2013

    By Gary B, in Articles,

    Sitting snowbound in the house waiting for winter to end my mind is wandering to the flying field on a nice sunny day! Part of the daydream is plotting how to read the weather for soaring.
    I used to teach trainee glider pilots basic meteorology to get them through the ‘Bronze C’ examination, as part of my Private Pilots Licence training I also had to take an exam on meteorology. The difference between the two exams is that the glider pilot one is aimed at understanding soaring conditions and the PPL one is aimed at keeping the pilot out of trouble.
    Chatting with other F3J pilots at competitions last year showed that there are different levels of understanding of the weather, perhaps it is a boring subject but knowing a few basics might help.
    Right then! Meteorology is a big subject but what we need to know as model glider flyers is manageable. Being able to read a weather chart is a very useful skill and probably more obviously, reading the actual conditions by looking at the sky at the flying site is the other.
    Unavoidably there are some technical terms but I will try to explain them as simply as possible as we go along! Apologies if this is ‘egg sucking’ for some, it’s aimed at readers with limited knowledge of the weather.
    Air mass
    This is the term to describe a very big lump of air! We say ‘the air mass is coming off the sea’ or ‘the air mass is stable’. The British Isles has a maritime climate (greatly affected by the surrounding sea), air can come from four general directions, Polar Maritime (Iceland, cold and wet), Polar Continental (Norway, cold and dry),  Tropical Maritime (Bay of Biscay, warm and wet) and Tropical Continental (France/Germany, warm and dry). There is a fifth direction now, Arctic, you can guess what kind of air comes from there!
    Pressure systems   
    We have two general types of pressure systems in the UK, low pressure (also known as a depression or ‘low’) and high pressure. Air always moves from the high pressure area to the low and the systems rotate due to Coriolis force (caused by the Earth’s rotation, the same force that makes your bathwater swirl down the plug hole!)
    Atmospheric pressure is measured in Millibars (mb), the worldwide average sea level pressure is accepted as 1013 mb.
    Fronts and troughs
    A front is the leading edge of an air mass, several hundred miles long and up to 100   deep, there are three types, warm front, cold front and occluded front.
    A warm front generally means dull, damp conditions with stable air (overcast and raining!) where a cold front will be drier with unstable conditions (very likely to be thermic).
    An occluded front is a mixture of both warm and cold fronts. The areas behind fronts are called ‘sectors’ so we say ‘cold sector’ or ‘warm sector’. German glider pilots call the cold sector ruckseiten wetter, literally ‘back side weather’. What they mean is the back side of the cold front where thermic conditions are best.
    A trough is an isolated line of low pressure, often associated with stormy weather.
    Lapse rate
    Sounds technical but it is just the change of temperature with altitude! If the air mass is wet (saturated lapse rate) the temperature will decrease approximately 1.5 degrees C per 1,000 ft of altitude and if the air mass is dry the temperature will decrease 3 degrees C per 1,000 ft. The way to remember this (if you really want to!) is that drei (dry) is German for the number three. These are very general numbers, the lapse rate varies depending on the actual humidity of the air mass.
    Under high pressure conditions there is often an ‘inversion’, this is where the temperature increases with altitude (the reverse of normality) and prevents thermal activity or limits its height. You can often see this as a purple haze where pollution is trapped in a layer.
    Dew point
    The dew point is the temperature that water vapour condenses into visible liquid water (i.e. a cloud!). This temperature relates to an altitude so we can work out what height the cloudbase will be (using lapse rates).
    Technical again but very simply imagine that the ground level temperature is 10 degrees C, the air mass is saturated (humid) so it has a lapse rate of 1.5 degrees. If the dew point has been predicted as 4 degrees then the cloudbase will be 4,000 ft (10 minus 4 equals 6, 6 divided by 1.5 equals 4).
    The difference between the ground level temperature and the dew point is known as the dew point depression, the bigger the number the higher the cloudbase. A high cloudbase indicates large, strong thermals, in the UK a summer cloudbase of 5,000 ft is fairly normal, Germany can be up to 9,000 ft (hotter land mass) and Australia can go to 12,000 ft plus.
    A related rule of thumb that works well for soaring prediction is the difference between the lowest overnight temperature and the maximum expected the following day, a cold night followed by a hot day usually means strong thermals.
    Orographic cloud
    Related to the dew point is orographic cloud, this is the mist that suddenly forms on slopes (usually after we’ve walked a mile to get there!). As the air rises up the slope it cools and if the dew point at your level decreases then cloud will form suddenly from nowhere, this can be quite dangerous for full-size glider pilots, the brief is to know what direction is needed to fly away from the hill and use the compass to do that (swiftly!).
    Not to be confused with insulation this is the amount of sunshine (Sol) that the ground is receiving, a south facing slope gets the sunbeams directly on it and heats up, often making the air rise up the slope without any wind, this is known as Anabatic wind. It’s enough to keep full-size gliders airborne in the Alps and can be used for light weight models on our smaller slopes.
    Cloud cover has a marked effect on insolation, if the sun can’t heat the ground then the thermals will die or decrease in strength. Late afternoon ‘spread out’ or ‘over development’ (becoming overcast) is common in the summer and is the curse of cross-country glider pilots. Out of interest cloud cover is measured in Oktas (eighths) so a half covered sky is reported as four Oktas.
    Diurnal variation
    Diurnal variation is a posh term used to describe the difference between day and night weather conditions that are affected by the sun. Obvious effects are the drop in temperature at dusk and a drop in the wind speed which free flight model flyers wait for when they are trimming.
    Hot air balloonists fly in the mornings and evenings, taking advantage of the effect.
    Perhaps bundled in with this is ‘maximum heating’, the time when the ground has got as hot as it is going to get, usually taken as 1 or 2 o’clock, slightly after the sun has passed its highest point in the sky (Zenith!).
    Weather charts
    The nice pictures provided by the BBC and Met Office are good enough for us. This one is from June 2012.
    Weather chart from the BBC

    Chart explanation and notes:
    Isobars: Isobars are lines connecting areas of equal atmospheric pressure, the closer they are together the windier it will be. On the chart they are the thin black lines with the millibar value written on them.
    Fronts: Warm fronts are marked in red with semi-circles facing the direction of movement, cold fronts are blue with triangles (icicles!) also facing the direction of movement.
    An occluded front is shown in purple with a mixture of semi-circles and triangles.
    Trough: A trough is shown as a thick black line (over France).
    From this chart I would expect good soaring conditions in Brittany and Cornwall.
    At the flying site
    Armed with all this gen we have looked at the charts and decided that it will be good for a trip to the field (lots of thermals) or slope (lots of wind and thermals!).
    There are still some weather related decisions to be made at the flat field flying site, ‘reading the air’ is often mentioned in model soaring books. What this means is taking a few moments before launching to work out where the best lift might be and formulate a plan to get there without losing too much height.
    On a good day there is a thermal under every cumulus cloud, a problem for us is that the thermals rise from the ground at an angle due to the wind so their source is probably quite a distance upwind, directly underneath a cumulus cloud is likely to be sinking air. It might be worth having a look above or downwind to see if a cloud is sitting on a thermal column that is much closer. Quite a guessing game but it’s the part of the sport (F3J) that I enjoy the most and still have a lot to learn.
    The strength of the wind can vary throughout the day, probably the biggest effect I notice is in the lower end of the landing circuit, too much spare height with no headwind makes hitting the tape tricky! I have watched many full-size gliders land downwind, quite remarkable at an airfield with two very dayglo orange windsocks!!
    I hope this article is useful, there is obviously a lot more to it, meteorology is covered in the older soaring books by Dave Hughes and George Stringwell etc, not always easy to get hold of nowadays. A very good book is ‘Meteorology and Flight’ by Tom Bradbury, available from the British Gliding Association online shop or Amazon etc.
    If all else fails follow the birds, there’s a friendly Red Kite at my home field!
    Gary Binnie