Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 10th November 2017

With the crescent of an occlusion cutting a swathe across the SW peninsula on the Met Office F215, and a cloudbase of 800ft agl at 0900, there was little difficulty in persuading the hordes of members in the clubhouse that: a. a cup of tea was in order, and b: that to take a K-13 up to the launchpoint only to risk it to getting wet by about 1030 was a very risky enterprise and hence that we would be better off keeping our feet on the floor.

And so we set about the tasks left for us by the Saturday Swingers: had they worn out the battery in the secondary quad bike (you know the one, that goes slower than the rotation of the earth in first gear), could we cut the grass on the airfield and strim opposite the clubhouse, and could we sweep up the shavings that had been left on the floor of the hangar? Disappointed that we'd missed the prize fight, we tackled the quad bike first. An enormously fiddly task (battery, battery box scarcely bigger than, lots of cable interference) we eventually proved that the battery was dud, and called for reinforcements...

We then addressed the grass cutting: a traditional gliding club amusement; no instructions, guidance on the equipment or clairvoyance to tell us how to a. attach the supposedly universal PTO shaft onto the PTO coupling of the tractor (it wouldn't fit, until we reversed it, and then it did...), and then get the PTO drive of the tractor to work (it's the lever on the left hand side of - forget it!) following which the Zetor was despatched to go where no sheep have gone recently.

‘Precision Pete’ Harvey and Zetor
And finally, having got one of the strimmers in the Genny hut working, we set about the grass opposite the clubhouse. After about 10 minutes Pete (time and motion analyst) Howarth decided upon a more efficient solution. Calling in 'Precision Pete' Harvey in the Zetor, we got the strip of grass cut with two swathes, the cutters being deftly handled to pass within an 'nth' of the notice at the top of the track. Such accuracy by 'Precision Pete' saved us more than at least 30 mins strimming, for which we (and our ears) are forever grateful.
‘Precision Pete’ Harvey cuts a swathe through the grass opposite the clubhouse...
...and this is how close he got the cutters to the sign at the top of the track..!
The rain swept in proper by about 1230, so after a light lunch of satire and setting the world to rights we departed the scene... Thanks go to Pete Harvey for his intrepid driving of the Zetor and grass-cutting.

Martin Cropper

Daratmoor Gliding News-Saturday 9th September 2017

Forecast today was for showers. What was not immediately obvious was what kind of showers these would be in today's westerly airflow. Not for us the gentle, summer showers of previous weeks. Oh no! Today the showers were angry, snarling beasts with torrential rain and winds so gusty and strong that the windsock seemed to have trouble keeping up as it waved and span around in some kind of demented dance. While the showers were overhead it was so dark under the low, black  cloud base that headlights would be required. With this and the fact that the airfield was already extremely wet from previous showers the decision to make today a no flying day was obvious.

The amount of water draining off the runway was unbelievable
The next shower is approaching from the left (west)
Members settled down to some work. Scratch and Rick worked on the winches. Initially making some adjustments on ML2 and then for their main course, reassembled the engine for the GusLaunch  such that by the end of the day it was had been started and prepared to do a trial launch to determine whether the power output issues have been solved.

The water running over the hangar apron
Heather spent her time tidying in the clubhouse, Mike was on the airfield cutting grass and new member David Archer rebuilt the Simulator computer. Colin was in the hangar working on the Zugvogel C of A.

Better weather soon please.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 6th September 2017

Forecast good as the front should have passed - but no flying until 2pm due to rain! Then 20Kt wind straight down the runway.

Ged is recovering from his second serious operation quickly.  He flew the Twin Astir for the 30 minute flight with Phil.

Ged waiting for the rain to stop
Only 6 flights, but they averaged 30 mins each under long streets that couldn't always be reached by the unlucky.

Thanks to Barry winching, and Heather for painting more inside the Clubhouse. Warning to Pilots : keep that kitchen clean, now that it's spotless!

Robin Wilson

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 2nd Spetember 2017

Today started with light variable winds in very usable soaring conditions with the threat of a front with associated rain and strong winds to come. The front did not arrive before the end of the day although it was not far away as indicated by the increasing high cirrus which blocked out the sunshine by mid afternoon. More of an effect was the sea air which swept through from the south at 1pm wiping the thermic conditions away with it leaving us with a southerly wind.

The sea air sweeping the last of the thermal cloud away to the north
Best flight of the day was 51 minutes by Andy Davey in the K8 who flew in the early thermic conditions and airbraked his way down to allow the aircraft to be used by the other members. Perhaps staying up for another 9 minutes should be your goal Andy to give you your 1 hour Cross Country Endorsement flight. There were 2 soaring flights in the sea air. Alan Carter, flying the Zugvogel 3B, found a small bubble of lift over the south field which he managed to work for 24 minutes as it drifted him away to the north to make him the wisest of the Three Wise Men ( otherwise know as the Zugvogel syndicate) today. The other notable flight was 18 muntes in the sea air by Allan Holland in the K8 who stayed up by sheer determination. Well done both.

Phil waiting to launch in his Astir with his ground crew asleep on the grass
Visitors today were Brad Mullarkey, who flew early enough to enjoy a nice soaring flight in HXP with me, Clive Lowe who flew in DMX and Gordon Yates who also in HXP  with Fred Marks as their instructor.

Brad about to go soaring with me in HXP
Clive Lowe wait to fly in DMX
Gordon Yates and Fred share a light hearted moment while wait to launch in HXP
This allowed me a little time to fly my "new" share although try as I might I could not extend the flight beyond 8 minutes in the sea air making me the least wise of the aforementioned Three Wise Men. Still nice to fly this delightful vintage aircraft though.

The least wise man - me in the Zugvogel

A nice club flying day.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Monday 28th August 2017

The last bank holiday of the summer and I think probably the hottest day of the summer on the airfield. With full sun, all day and no cloud to point to thermal activity needless to say there were a lot of short flights.

Our day started with two young guest pilots from North Dorset Gliding Club (NDGC) Thomas and Nicholas Pike accompanied by mum and dad. Both Thomas and Nicolas flew with instructor Rick Wiles before Thomas went on to fly the K8.

Thomas Pike with Instructor Rick Wiles
Thomas's brother Nicholas also with Rick
Peter Howarth our second instructor flew with our one-day course student Mick Allen. Mick learnt to fly a glider in Germany back in the 60’s and was looking forward to reliving the experience of silent flight.

Mick Allen with Instructor Peter Howarth
Peter also took up our other visitor for today Ruth Bushell who enjoyed the whole experience.

Ruth with pilot Peter Howarth
We had a total of 25 flights with all those who wanted to take to the air doing so. Flight of the day went to Pete Howarth who managed 23 minutes followed by Alan Holland with 14 minutes, both in the K8.

What some people will do for a bit of shade
Thanks to our winch drivers Barry Green and newly signed off Andy Davey who will be well utilised in the future, well done Andy.

Thank you to the retrieve driver’s Heather and Dave, and our ground crew who work under extremely hot conditions. I played crafty and spent the whole day in the launch hut checking them out and back in again.

Probably the best bank holiday of the year.

Dave Downton

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 27th August 2017

Any glider pilot knows that high pressure can mean good gliding conditions, which, this year, can be counted on the fingers on one hand. But today was just one of those occasions, the Met Office F215 showing the high centred off East Anglia, plus a light westerly, and clear visibility: a rare event indeed!

Right on Cue: the first cu popping off at about 1030…
To make the most of this was clearly our aim and duty, and hence we set up both K-13s for One Day Course students Colin Ballard and Scott Smith, whilst the single-seat 'pundits' hung back waiting for conditions to 'improve'... (They needn't have bothered, second cable of the day found lift to 1,500ft for a 14 min first flight for one of our visitors.)

One Day Course student Scott Smith with Instructor Pete Howarth.
Marks out of Ten?  Super cool instructor Pete Howarth lands with Scott Smith.
Peter Howarth presents One Day Course student Scott Smith with his Certificate.
Halfway through the ODCs we were interrupted by 'walk-in' visitor Steve Thompson, from Bovey Tracey, who was duly flown by Rich Roberts (thus giving him an opportunity to get a feel for conditions before putting his Discus on line).

Trial Lesson visitor Steve Thompson looks happy to be flying with Rich Roberts...
Colin Ballard and his wife had travelled from Bridport in Dorset for the privilege of flying with us, whilst Scott Smith had the slightly shorter journey from Saltash. After a final, 22 min flight with Martin Cropper, Colin commented most favourably, not at the skill of Martin's tuition, but at the banter* he had enjoyed around the club during the day, saying "You don't get banter when you're retired..." (his day job had been as a Royal Blue coach driver between London and Penzance - "best job I ever had..!")

One Day Course student Colin Ballard with Martin Cropper just prior to launch and...
...five minutes later, they're off!
Martin Cropper presents One Day Course student Colin Ballard with his Certificate
Finally the single-seat 'boys' heaved their mounts up to the launch point: Rich Roberts being the first away, for 5 mins(!) but then, following a re-light, getting away, finally ending some 20kms north of us in a field near Beaworthy. Close on Rich's heels was Adrian Irwin, who took the club K-8 away for a romp around the clouds of exactly 60 mins - clearly evidence of the precision of an ex-RAF Jaguar pilot (or was it just a memory of the amount of fuel they used to trickle into the tanks..?!) Dave Downton then managed his longest flight ever, 50 mins to 2,500ft in his K-6Easyjet whilst Bob Sansom, a rare show on a Sunday, and a pilot who likes to contemplate the sky before flying, took his K-8 up for 41 mins. Jo Nobbs then came down from the winch for a couple of flips in said K-8 to maintain currency.

 K-6Easyjet being brought back home by 'Captain Speaking' Colin Boyd.
View from the cockpit of Rich Roberts’s Discus
at 2,500ft on his way to Beaworthy.
Roadford Lake from the south, seen from Richard’s Discus.
So as we were packing the gliders away without incident we could all reflect on a good day that was had... but wait a minute, didn't something else happen? Could it be?? Could it be that, after almost 2 years loyal attendance, Ed Borlase went solo.?? It certainly could!! Three times, in fact. On this near perfect day, Peter Howarth took Ed aloft for three cable break exercises and tine tuning of his approaches and landings, followed by a 44 min flight in which they managed to pack in 4 spins/spiral dives, leaving Ed with nowhere to go but up – on his own! Anyone who follows Ed on Facebook will know how elated he was (“like a seven year old”) and that he has an awful, awful lot of friends..! A tremendous vote of thanks is due to Peter Howarth, who devoted a great deal of time and effort in getting Ed over the final hurdle, and also of course to everyone on the field who assisted with all the other jobs associated in fetching and carrying a two-seater that just doesn't seem to want to get to the top of the launch! And of course finally thanks are due to Ed for his loyal support to the club, his helpfulness and stamina in not giving up on his goal! Well Done, Ed!

 “What no back seat driver??!”  Ed Borlase about to set off on his first solo.

...just look at him now!
Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 26th August 2017

A nice, warm summer day with light variable winds. Surprisingly, there was only a small ( but beautifully formed ) cadre of club members present, perhaps understandable on a Bank Holiday weekend when family duties seem to multiply.

Our visitors today started with John McLeavy, followed by Angela Luckett and Andrew Thorne all of whom flew with me in HXP. Also visiting today was Rebecca Almond who flew with Rick in DMX.

Visitor John Mcleavy
Angela Luckett enjoyed an extended soaring flight
Golf enthusiast Andrew Thorne made a good start to learning to fly
Rebecca and Rick flew in K13 G-DDMX
Rick's other 2 seater flights included some training flights with David Archer, and soaring flights with Chris Matten and David Bourchier. My day finished with a very enjoyable soaring flight with Steve Raine in HXP.

Steve Raine rolls the K13 into another 2 knot climb

My view of Tavistock from the back seat of HXP at 2300 feet
From around midday, the soaring conditions improved with the usual narrow thermals low down improving with height. Notable flights included a very creditable 48minutes in the K8 for recent solo pilot Andy Davey. Longest flight was 3 hours 34 minutes by Stephen Fletcher in his Open Cirrus. Barry Green was airbourne for 1 hour 40 minutes in the Silent but maybe we should discount the flight as he needed to restart his engine during the flight to prevent a landout somewhere near Okehampton.

As the afternoon worn on it became obvious that the "cloud street" above the airfield was, in fact, convergence. Pilots reported climbing up the side of the convergence ending up 1000 feet above the 2300 feet cloudbase. Great fun.

Barry ready to take off in the silent - notice the convergence cloud above
Rick's view of the runway - it looks very long from here
K8 waiting under the convergence
The best news of the day was a visit by Ged who is recovering from his second major operation in the last 12 months. It was so nice to see him up and about. He is not flying yet but is definitely on the mend. Welcome back mate.

Ged enjoying a cup of tea while watching the action.
Many thank to all those whose helped out once again, and for those who didn't come today, "where were you? - you missed out".


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 23rd August 2017

Weather forecast today was a steady wind straight down the runway with the chance of some soaring from lunch time onwards. When I arrived at the club to cover instructing from midday the wind was blowing more south westerly, and sometime southerly.  At the launch point we even got a little wet with some drizzle. By 3pm the wind did what the forecast said and condition improved.

We welcomed a number of visitors:

Samuel Piper and  his dad and brother dropped in while on holiday near Newquay. Samuel has just taken up gliding and is learning to fly at York Gliding Centre. We wish him the well in his training.

Rick, Samuel and his family
We also welcomed Alison Bess.


And finally but not least we welcomed Mick Allan, Mick took up gliding and learnt to fly in Germany back in 1969. Mick has taken a one day course and we look forward to seeing Mick back at the club soon.

A rhyming image Mick with Rick
Everyone that wanted to fly did so, with some training flights with our new member Bela Csete. Longest flight of the day was Bob Samson in his K8. Bob manged to stay up for 38 minutes near the  end of the day.

Big thanks to Barry and Heather for winching and retrieve driving, also to Phil, Andy, Bela,  Bob and Colin for keeping the launches going smoothly.

Rick Wiles

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 20th August 2017

Today was a day of two halves: the first cable and the second.  With a warm front predicted to arrive at either 1200 or 1430 (depending on which forecast you favoured) and with Dave (The 'Voice') Downton having confirmed that the father and son One Day Course had been rescheduled, at 0905 a very short conversation between the assembled throng ascertained a. that we had sufficient to run the field safely and that b. Pete Howarth was concerned to maintain his currency as handling Pilot in Charge. So without further ado we got the cables out, a single K-13 and by 0950 we were flying.  So on a Sunday in the second half of August we were able to say “Welcome to DGS's Shortest Day”.   

The first launch took Pete and Ed Borlase through some wispy cloud to a full launch height, followed by a normal circuit (as posted by Ed on Facebook); the second took the pair into a wall of cloud, an early release and hangar landing.  By 1030 the gliders were back in the hangar and the rain (early for once) had started.   
Peter Howarth and Ed Borlase about to launch on the first (and penultimate) cable. 
The clouds in the background tell their own story.
So having achieved all Key Performance Indicators (including the one that says 'give the gliders a good wipe down, especially in the elevator hinges, if they have become wet') by lunchtime we had called it a day.

Thanks go to Dave Downton for winching, and to everyone involved for the swift, efficient manner in which the kit was got out and prepared for use.  If only every day was as easy to set up as today...

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 19th August 2017

The weather forecast looked very usable. 4/8th's cloud cover with 15 knots of wind from the west. Little to no chance of rain although there is another front due this evening. While 15knots is reasonably strong it was straight down the runway and was not very gusty so was a real pleasure to fly in.

What about soaring? Well this brought a few surprises. At the upwind end of the airfield (and beyond) there was a large area of sinking air which stayed there all day irrespective of what the clouds were doing. At the downwind end there were a lot of thermal bubbles lifting with surprising amounts of energy. With the strength of the wind climbing in these bubbles would give 2000 feet by the time the wind had pushed you about 3 miles downwind of the the airfield; overhead Cox Tor. Pushing back into the wind could then be accomplished in large areas of lift, too smooth to be just normal cloud streets. My best guess suggests that this was a wave system in the strong westerly wind which was enhancing and suppressing thermal formation over relatively large areas. Very interesting.

The Zugvogel 3B about to launch from the head of the grid
The solo pilots are usually quick to catch on to the conditions and today was no different. After some short soaring flights by the 2 seaters, the Zugvogel 3B syndicate lead the way with flights of 23minutes by Alan followed by 50 minutes by Roger who topped out at 3000 feet. Longest flight of the day was by Barry Green flying the Silent who flew  for nearly 2 hours engine off after his initial launch. Regular blog readers will not be surprised to hear that Alan Holland managed 47 minutes in the K8.

This is Mike Jardine's view of the Zugvogel while they shared a thermal.
It's against the cloud top right
Roger Green's view from the 3000ft cloudbase
Today's visitors were One Day course Candidate Brian McManus and Air Experience voucher holder Steve George who flew with me. Another Air Experience visitor was Richard Jones who flew with Rick. Today also saw Bella Cset returning to continue flying training after his visit last Saturday.

One Day Course Candidate Brian McManus ready for another flight
Visitor Steve George helping to return the glider to the launch point after his flight
Visitor Richard Jones flew with Rick
Returning from last week to start his training is Bella who flew with mike.
Our thanks, as always, are due to all the members who helped make this a successful day. I am sure you know who you are.

The day finished with a meeting of the Committee who were still working all the way through sunset and beyond. Now that's dedication.