In addition to the club fleet gliders at Chipping, there are about 30 aircraft on site that are owned privately. These have either been bought outright by their owners, or they are owned by a “syndicate” of members who each own, for example, a third or quarter share of the glider.
Although these gliders are often rigged and flown at the club over the better weather in the spring and summer, they really come into their own when their owners hitch the trailers to their cars and go off on an “expedition” to another airfield. This may be because of particular local conditions, (better summer thermals down south or better wave in Scotland for example), or just because a change is as good as a rest and it is always nice to fly from somewhere different once in a while. Besides, as committed pilots, it is a great way to spend a holiday away with kindred spirits!
In a typical expedition a group of owners will book themselves accommodation at or near a gliding airfield. When they arrive at the airfield, they are in a position to help each other to rig and de-rig the gliders for flying and can carry out a “retrieve” if one of the pilots is unable to make it back to the airfield one day and has to carry out a “field landing” somewhere en route. While they are there, they will make the most of the local flying opportunities and “fill their boots” with good flights (and they can spend their evenings swapping flying stories over a well-earned dinner!)
Every year, a number of Chipping pilots set off on these expeditions and experience flying at sites across the UK and abroad. Last year for instance, in addition to a number of expeditions to airfields in the UK, one group took three aircraft to Spain and flew at an airfield close to the mountains north of Madrid. Over the course of a fortnight, the pilots totalled over 100 hours in the air and they covered over 7,000 kilometres in cross-country flights. Other pilots from Chipping have flown in countries as far afield as America, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
One advantage of learning to fly at Chipping becomes apparent when you fly elsewhere. Our airfield is not the largest or easiest airfield to fly from and once you are a competent pilot at Chipping, most other sites will seem fairly straightforward in comparison. Also, the fact that Chipping offers the opportunity to learn about thermal, wave and ridge flying means that you are well prepared for the flying conditions you’ll meet, wherever you go afterwards.