Aboyne Airfield, operated by Deeside Gliding Club is world famous for soaring conditions, especially Mountain Wave.
This is a form of lift (Rising air) which occurs through out the year but typically the best time in Scotland is autumn, and literally hundreds of visitors head to Aboyne in Royal Deeside after the traditional tourist season, from all over UK and overseas.
They either bring their own gliders or hire club aircraft, all of which are equipped with oxygen systems for flights above 10,000 feet.
Several pilots with their gliders visited from Germany, this year, for many of them it was a repeat visit, and they achieved several flights of over 500km, and in what is believed to have been a first, one team flew a two-seater from Aboyne to Stornoway and back, with diversions via Blair Athol and Insch since the soaring conditions were so good.
There were several cross country flights in the top ten in the “World Ladder” of gliding flights for 2016 that week.
A really good Mountain Soaring Competition was held in early September with thousands of cross country km being flown, and winning speeds well over 100 km/h, (over 60 mph) and many good days through September and October.
One junior club member, Ian Symon, achieved all three parts of his Gliding Silver badge in one flight, which is quite uncommon.
This required a flight duration of over five hours, a climb after launch of over 1,000 metres, and a cross country flight of over 50km (31 miles) Roy Garden, one of the club Instructors, completed his third (and final) Gliding Diamond with two return trips from Strathdon to the Fort William area in one flight, a distance of over 500km, all without using an engine after the initial launch.
But the most amazing time was the last full week of October.
This week started on October 26 with six Diamond heights, which is a gain of height of 5000 metres, (over 16000 feet) from release heights of about 3000 feet.
There were a couple of Gold heights, (a gain of (only) 3000 metres) for others who did not quite make it.
One confirmed Diamond height winner was Zoe Mallam, who went solo at 14 and is now an experienced glider pilot at 16, a junior member of the Deeside Gliding Club, and who may be the youngest person ever to gain a height diamond- we are checking, not found anyone else yet.
She was flying the Deeside club’s Discus, “HXH” the highest performance single seater in our fleet.
She brought a snack for in-flight catering, and due to greatly reduced air pressure at 18000 feet, it exploded with a bang.
There was no damage, but she said, in a phrase which may follow her around for years, “I thought I was going to die but it was just a pack of walkers.”
The summer tug pilot, Isty, (Istvan Toth, from Hungary) climbed to 24,500 feet in another club glider, and only stopped climbing due to airspace restrictions… but he had his Diamond “in the bag” several thousand feet earlier, and it is an excellent “present” for when he leaves at the end of October.
There were eight more Diamond Heights gained on 27th , and Keiren McGregor, another club junior member, just missed his diamond by 400 metres, but got a compensatory Gold height.
Most of those pilots leaving Aboyne on Thursday (27 th ) for the Juniors Gliding event at Portmoak Airfield, Fife, this weekend, departed with “fresh Diamonds”.
There were eight more Diamond Heights gained on 27 th , and Keiren McGregor, another club junior member, just missed his diamond by 400 metres.