Winner of the 2015 Philip Wills Enterprise Trophy
2015 will not be remembered as one of the best of soaring years in the UK, but the Enterprise Club received a number of worthy nominations for the Philip Wills Enterprise Trophy. Strangely, the two runners up were the longest and shortest duration flights of those nominated!
The longest duration flight was also the longest distance flight. This was a flight by Nigel Mallender who, after taking off from Lasham at 6.30 in the morning, spent 12½ hours running backwards and forwards along the South Downs ridge between Butser Hill and Lewes clocking up well over 1000 km before landing at Parham at around 7.15 in the evening. Certainly a very impressive display of stamina and persistence!
In total contrast, a twilight Glider FX flight in the MDM Fox at the Weston Park festival by Ian Gallacher packed impressive aerobatics and pyrotechnics into about a 3 minute descent and certainly wowed the crowd. However, the consensus was that the trophy should be awarded for a soaring flight and there wasn’t much soaring in Gally’s performance!
This year, the trophy is awarded for two bold, declared flights in an ASH 25 in which the pilots attempted to complete an FAI 1000 km flight from Aboyne on an east – west route. Their plan was to start from Potarch Bridge east of Aboyne and then head west to turn Fladda-Chuain, a small island some 10 km north west of the Isle of Skye. From there, back across the sea and Scotland to turn Todhead on the east coast south of Stonehaven before returning to turn Kilmaluag at the northern end of Skye. Then back to Potarch Bridge to complete the flight.
The first attempt last October met 60 knot winds but crossed some 50 km of water to turn Fladda Chuain. They returned across the water and right across Scotland to turn Todhead before meeting a front half way back which prevented the return to Skye. The front forced abandonment. However, no less than 774 km of the task had been achieved. A further attempt on the task a few days later was also unsuccessful. This time, getting over the sea to Skye proved challenging, and getting back even more so. Then the wave collapsed and our intrepid pioneers were committed to ridge bashing for a while before getting back to altitude. This time, they struggled back to Aboyne contending with ever increasing amounts of cloud commenting that “going over the sea to Skye is much less stressful when there is 7/8 or more cloud cover when you can’t see how much water there is to cross, how big the mountains are and how few flat bits there are to land on”!
Having got beyond Skye to Fladda Chuain, perhaps Stornoway is the next turning point challenge, it’s only about another 25 km of water across to Lewis – or perhaps Skye’s the limit! Our pilots have not, yet, completed their task but, on the right day, it is clearly possible. They have pioneered a new 1000 km task and done most of it. For this, they are awarded the trophy. They are Roy Garden and Jack Stephen.