Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 15th January 2017

The forecast was for widespread cloud, from 800ft amsl, rising gradually. So on arrival at the club it was just a case of waiting for the aberrant wet stuff to stop and all would be well. Except the aberrant, unforecast and unwelcome wet stuff didn’t stop; it persisted - all day!

Can you solve the ‘mis-tery’of the church?
IF you CAN spot it, you don’t need to go to Specsavers..!
A review of the ‘To Do’ list revealed a number of tasks that we were unable ‘to do’, and so, having conducted a very useful teach-in on the ‘Launch Failures’ presentation, it was back to tales of derring-do (principally at the ‘Brentor Brexit breakfast’) and trying to get the woodburner up to a temperature where it would actually share some of its heat with us…

Entertainment (if that’s the right word) was provided by Ed Borlase’s friend Rory Springer, a naval Lieutenant who pilots Merlin Mk2 helicopters with 814 Naval Air Squadron at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose. He was very impressed, if not by the weather by the warmth of our welcome, and by the range of equipment he was shown. Rory and Ed (who incidentally has been promoted to Deputy Head of Marketing at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth) have known each other since schooldays and departed to take the opportunity to catch-up at a local hostelry, but not before Rory pledged to return for some ‘real’ flying when the weather improves…

Also bidding us ‘adieu’ was Adrian Irwin who, having flown yesterday, was hoping to get a couple of launches in prior to departing to South Africa for the month of February. Sadly the weather put paid to that but we wish him all the best for a safe and great adventure: haste ye back, Adrian!

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 14th January 2017

Was today going to be flyable? After perusing all the available forecasts, ( and his favorite piece of seaweed ), CFI Don Puttock thought so, but with care. So the K8 was left firmly in the hangar while the K13's were taken to the launchpoint to do battle with the gusty NW winds.

The K13's wating to go.
Roger Green maintaining his back seat skills with Rick
In the air, the gusty conditions precluded any chance of soaring but the pilots enjoyed the chance to practice their handling skills, many choosing to land on the stub runway, a 300 meter SE-NW extension on the SE corner of the airfield.

A passing shower
On the ground the challenges were to ensure the the gliders were handled safely and properly secured in windy conditions, to keep warm despite the wind, and to maintain good humour when the shrill gust alarm was sounding every few minutes.

One of several rainbows seen today
Several showers passed close to the airfield but missed us in the most part, but providing some great rainbows.

What do you find at the end of a rainbow? A pot of gold? Leprecaun?
In this case it's CFI Don


Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 8th January 2017

It was 9am, the weather outside was dank and miserable, and so there was nothing else for it but for Paula Howarth to declare the DGS 2017 Post Brexit Breakfast OPEN!

The perfect breakfast weather: dank and misty...
Before her the clubhouse table groaned under the weight of home baked bread, locally sourced sausages, (not so locally sourced) haggis, bratwurst, chorizo, parma ham, salmon and home made flapjacks, panettone cake with double cream and with Mexican coffee and good old Yorkshire tea to wash it all down (there was a rumour that some of the coffee, for non-drivers, was Irish..!)

With more than twenty-five members in attendance there was ample for all, and very few leftovers (just enough for Roger's massive dogs), which generated plenty of dirty plates for dishwasher 'Scratch' to wash.

Jeff Cragg helps himself to a welcome pick-me-up at the Brexit breakfast.
As the feeding frenzy died down the conversation turned to hopes, wishes and desires (of a gliding nature) for the coming year, and hence there was much talk of expeds, competitions, courses and general objectives for 2017, with pilots making arrangements to participate in the Inter Club League (ICL – contact Rich Roberts if you wish to join in) to meet up at the Long Mynd, Denbigh and possibly even Talgarth (for aerotow training) at various points in the year.

Karon Matten, Adrian Irwin an Pete Harvey look on as
the clubhouse table groans under the weight of breakfast fayre.
So not just a beltstretching exercise in calorie counting, but a useful opportunity to meet, compare notes and set sights above and beyond that which was achieved in 2016.

Colin Boyd gives an encouraging thumbs to ‘Scratch’ Hitchens as he washes the dishes.
With the New Year gourmet Breakfast fast becoming a DGS tradition, thanks go to Paula Howarth for making it all possible, and to everyone who contributed, in whatever way (including Colin for the brandy..!)

Next event is the club End/Beginning of Season Social which will be taking place at the end of February. Watch this Space!

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 7th January 2017

What colour represents gliding today. Is it the white of the latest "hotship" flying cross country at warp speed? Or the bright colours of gaily painted vintage gliders frolicking in the sky against a background of white cumulus clouds put there by the thermals they seek? Or, maybe, the seemingly endless shades of green when looking down at the patchwork of fields which make up most of the countryside we fly over regularly? Well, unfortunately, today the colour of gliding was definitely grey. No, not the grey of the older pilots hair, but the grey of fog and low cloud. Cloudbase today was about 600 feet above sea level which is a problem when the runway is 820 feet above sea level.

So, right from the start, today was a non flying day. Was the day wasted though? Not a bit. 

The repaired cable tow out trailer
In the hangar, Rick and Scratch repaired the cable tow out trailer by welding back on the broken wheel and stub axle assembly after which they spent their day working on the 2nd Quad bike which has had a complete rear end rebuild. By the end of the day this machine is once again ready for action.

Rick working on the Quad bike.
Look carefully and the top of Scratch's head is just visible 
 In the workshop, Colin and Dave advanced the work on the BVB wing which is now ready for approval by a Senior Inspector before work starts on the second wing.

In the clubhouse, it was very pleasing to see that Ged has made a return to the airfield after his operation. While not yet ready to fly, Ged's visit marks a big step forward for him and he is looking forward to flying in the spring.

Ged returns.
Also in the clubhouse, Mike Jardine spent a large part of the day with Richard Jones, today's One Day Course, who will be returning next week if the weather permits. They spent a lot of time in the simulator exploring the differences between gliders and the powered aircraft Richard has previously flown.

Mike with Roger
The afternoon was rounded off by the regular monthly Committee Meeting which stretched well into the evening.

The committee at work.

Dartmoor Gliding Club News-Saturday 31st December 2016

The last flying day of 2016 – what would it hold? Well, with a wind forecast of 'Whose Direction Is It Anyway?' and the potential for mist to form from 1100, it was a relief to see that RASP change its predicted temperatures overnight from dew point = ambient all morning to give am encouraging separation between the two from 1030 onwards. In the event, cloudbase was in excess of 2,100ft amsl from early morning (substantially above the 800ft predicted) and so
we were able to get away with an early morning, as opposed to a lunchtime, start.

With Rick Wiles running the field as probationary Duty Instructor, and next to no visitors to fly, today was the ideal opportunity for him to attune his knowledge to the variety of skills held within the club. The light wind (southerly at height) also gave us an ideal opportunity for students to practice their emergency reactions to launch failures, at a variety of heights.

Denise and Junior with Richard Roberts
There were three visitors today, all club related (today being an ideal opportunity for members to get their friends and relations into the air via the F&F scheme). First, Rich Roberts flew with dad Terry, a former member, and then, having been 'signed off' by dad, flew with the parents of Fixed Price to Solo member, Callum Doyle (parents being Denise and Tony, with grandson Junior, as pictured).

Tont Doyle looking thoughtful before his first flight with Richard
The air was significantly drier than a couple of weeks ago and thus, from a 1030 start, we managed to keep going until beyond 1545, when moist air driving in layers of cloud from the south coast (600ft and 800ft agl) caused us, with the 27th launch going to 'Scratch' Hitchens and all-round helper Dave Bourchier, to put discretion before valour.

That is not to say the the day was entirely incident free. As has been commented on before, there are occurrences at gliding sites that some people positively revel in, which they would not be the case if they took place on the driveway at home. Today's was the catastrophic departure of one wheel of the tow-out trailer from its supporting structure, not far from its destination at the launchpoint during a retrieve. Many hands made light work and we seamlessly moved to a two vehicle retrieve of both cables for the rest of the day – however there will be some heavy welding required to get the trailer back onto both wheels before the first weekend's flying of 2017.

It’s got plenty of tread left, it’s just the tracking that’s a bit iffy..!
The second event occurred after dark (hence no photos of the guilty parties), when the pulling in of the last two cables resulted in multiple loops, tautly wound around the drum, brake and cable linkages of the north cable – a veritable snake's wedding that invited all to 'Give Up, Tomorrow's Another Bank Holiday' were it not for the persistence of outgoing winch maestro Rick Wiles who, armed with only a 2lb sledgehammer, refused to give up until the maze of wire had been cleared. It was only then that he wondered about the whereabouts of incoming winch-master Scratch Hitchens, in answer to which the assembled membership were only able to make like the three monkeys (however it is rumoured that a tinny and the clubhouse might have provided vital clues....)

All the best to Everyone for Safe and Enjoyable Flying in 2017!

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 18th December 2016

Yet another sparkling start to a Sunday led us expect a decent day's flying; so, with the windsock giving no clear indication of wind direction, we set up for a westerly launch. After a later than usual start, getting underway at about 1145, the air was so still it was as if we were in flight test conditions in which the glider did exactly what you asked of it, and your position in the sky was the exact result of your own actions, with no allowance being necessary for (or excuse capable of being attributed to) external forces. Even the cups on the launchpoint weather station were still (and yet it was possible to feel a slight movement of air from the south on your cheek, or hair).

Visiting pilot Henry Ford, from Mendip GC, about to launch in the Zugvogel.
And so, with Peter Howarth conducting operations, we were able to crack on through some very useful check flight/currency work with Dave Downton, Chris Owen and Peter Harvey, whilst Roger Appleboom, Leith Whittington, Karl Andrews and visiting pilot from Mendip GC Henry Ford attempted to stretch their flights beyond 5 mins (Henry's bold venture in the Zugvogel across to Blackdown taking 6 mins, thus equal with two of Roger's energy conserving efforts in the K-8).

Today's visitor was Josh Balsdon, a land agent student at Leicester University who, at home on holiday, was brought to the club by his parents, both of whom had flown with us some years ago (not easily frightened then..!)

Visitor Josh Balsdon (whose parents had previously flown with us)
flew with Roger Appleboom.
Sadly, having got into a groove of about 6 launches per hour, the afternoon's flying was suddenly curtailed by the curse of condensation – misting canopies causing us to return the gliders to the hangar by 3:30pm. Still, 22 launches between 11:45 and 3:30pm (with a couple of simulated launch failures thrown in) was not too bad – for which thanks go in particular to Barry Green and Heather Horswill, the winch and retrieve driving machine!

Whilst wishing everyone all the best over the seasonal break, please remember that Licensed pilots can fly any day they can get the requisite number of suitably qualified members together, and that the next training flying day will be New Year's Eve, Saturday 31 December.

Happy Christmas!

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 17th December 2016

The day started with lots of low cloud. The valleys were also full of fog. The airfield and aircraft were got ready as the assembled club members hoped for a clearance.

The winch driver' view before the first flights 
Rather than sitting around chatting whilst waiting, Instructor Gordon Dennis led a very interactive lecture on Navigation which saw everyone pouring over charts, planning and analysing tasks. Great stuff.

Little or no wind made for very smooth flying conditions
By 1 o'clock the cloud was looking somewhat higher so time to go flying. The first launch was a little premature as the launch was abandoned at the 800 ft cloudbase. After this the cloudbase rose very quickly and a series of circuits were flown by the K13 and K8 as pilots took to the air to maintain currency.

Waiting to launch
At 3.40 the very moist atmosphere took charge again as canopy misting ( inside and out ), and a rapidly lowering cloudbase,  prevented any further flying.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 11th December 2016

On arrival today the club was buzzing with activity (not all of it productive – about which more later…) as we made arrangements to change ends for the light westerly wind that was forecast. The sun beamed down on the gliders laden with dew which appeared more like golden champagne bubbles than water.

K-13: During tow-out the conditions were champagne sparkling...
As we made the long walk to the other end we could see the fingers of mist clinging to the river valleys that would shortly be ‘burned off’ by the winter sun. And then something happened which no-one predicted. Cloud. Lots of it. First, at the launchpoint, then over the winch and west end. Then, it cleared … and then returned. And so we waited for the sun to do its work. And waited. Until as the long tall tales and jokes began to peter out, we began to wonder why. Until, at CFI Don Puttock’s prompting, we began to look at RASP and the dew point. The weather station in the launchpoint gave the outside air temperature as being 11oC. Now you normally expect the dew point to be something most people would recognise as ‘cold’. Today, RASP forecast a dew point at 1200 to be 8.5oC – yes 8.5oC! Almost tropical… Allow a little room for error (both on the reading in the launchpoint and the forecast), plus the usual dry adiabatic lapse rate, and you could see that cloud could most possibly form at a little over 200ft above the airfield, particularly as the air was being pushed inland and uphill by a southerly breeze.

Church and windsock: And the reverse angle reveals a similar situation to the west.
Orographics, then. And with the Met Office saying “‘TIL 13Z”, surely there was time to retire to the clubhouse to enjoy Roger Appleboom’s stollen cake (sadly no photo) before returning to fly in the afternoon. Except ‘TIL 13Z’ meant that a moderate blue hole would appear at about 14Z, only to be swamped by yet more orographics as they swept up the hill. So no flying today.

 Zugvogel:...and then the orographic rolled up from the south.
To turn the unproductive activity mentioned earlier: those of you with (not necessarily all that) long memories will recall that is was quite usual to turn up at any gliding club to find people, not busily pulling out the gliders, but poring over some piece of heavy machinery that either refused to work, had started but now stopped or was flat or was otherwise u/s. Well today the machinery in question was one of the Land Dover Discoveries, which wouldn’t start. So a battery was despatched from the red Discovery, which did the trick. But upon returning said battery to the gold Discovery, then wouldn’t turn the engine over! So the question in our ‘And finally ‘push me/pull you photo is: Which Disco is pulling which? (Answers on a postcard please).

A typical gliding club scene: but which Land Rover's pulling which?

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Mike's First Solo

The ramblings of a fledgling glider pilot by Mike Bennett

I clearly recall the day that my wife slid a DGS one day course voucher under my nose, a rather special birthday gift and something I had wanted to do for a number of years. I warned her that there was a good chance that I might 'get the bug'. She smiled and reminded me of the fact that she had been an activities widow for the last 25 years what with caving, rock climbing, mountaineering etc. etc So nothing new there!

My first flight happened on the 13th June 2015, a rather overcast, windy day not suited to flying. I met up with my pilot, Rick and he explained that the conditions were anything but ideal but we would give it a go. I sat slightly bemused in the front seat trying to take in the brief he had delivered when suddenly we were propelled along the ground and into the air, a somewhat violent process!

"How I done it" Mike with Instructor Rick Wiles
At the top of the launch we released, it went quiet and for the first time I began to see the attraction of unpowered flight. Three minutes later we arrived back on terra firma, with a bump, not Ricks' best landing, he would admit later. No more flying that day but the damage was done. Like Toad of Toad Hall on first seeing a motor car I was left dazed but desperate for more.
Over the course of the next 17 months I clocked up 138 launches, mainly under the tuition of Ged and Gordon, gradually building up my confidence and experience. I would be the first to admit that I am not an instinctive pilot and it has taken a lot of persistence and patience on their parts to help me to progress.

Saturday 26th November 2016, Wind ENE 10 kts, Cloud base 1000ft above airfield. I met up with Gordon and he suggested that we do six flights in close succession to get me up to speed. He was to act as a passenger and me the pilot only stepping in if absolutely necessary. First flight saw low cloud base and an early release leading to a short flight and uneventful landing. The next five flights followed in a similar vein but thankfully the cloud base lifted slightly allowing full height releases.

Launch 145

At 1600, having done six flights he suggested one more and asked me to run through my checks whilst he went to the loo. Checks complete I sat waiting for him wondering what the hold up was. He ambled across sans parachute and said " I cannot teach you any more, fancy trying it on your own?". Yes please was my reply. I had been waiting for the chance for the last few months!!!!

Checks redone I looked at the placard, minimum front seat weight 75kgs, whoops!,, Im only 73 kgs inc. chute, quickly out and 15 kgs of ballast strapped in. So 88 kgs, inside placard limitations- a lesson I will not forget.

For the third time, checks done and ready to go!

Am I ready this time? Mike in K13 G-DDMX
Sitting watching the cable pay out I felt a moments hesitation. Am I ready? Too late now. As soon as the all out, all out came those thoughts disappeared and I launched, as if in auto pilot. Top of launch saw me at 1100ft and I lowered the nose and released gently. Wings level I re-trimmed, 45 kts, and took my hands off the controls to check stick neutral. Flying up wind away from the release area I settled the glider down and mentally ran through my priorities, lookout, airspeed, proximity and angles.

Mike nicely in circuit on his first solo
I banked the glider over and turned back towards the airfield to check my bearings just as the vario started to moan, sink! The moan became a continuous babble , sink, sink, sink! Ok so what have I been taught? Lower the nose, close with the airfield, turn downwind, check those angles, reference point clear, nail the approach speed of 55kts. All too soon it was time for final turns, diagonal then base leg and I was there looking at the reference ;point. Having turned slightly too late and not wishing to undershoot I deliberately left the air brakes alone and flew forward- gotta clear the cross track!!! Ok, half airbrake, check ASI 55 kts and losing height I attempted a fully held off landing. Touch down, not perfect but safe.

I sat in the cockpit awaiting retrieve and a big grin came over my face. Done it!
In the end the experience was uneventful. Just as my instructors would want I suspect and also a testament to their professionalism. I cannot thank them enough!

A somewhat bemused Mike with Instructor Gordon Dennis
Looking ahead I see so much scope to improve and develop and my enthusiasm is renewed.I am lucky to have the opportunity to progress within the sport, surrounded by like minded, friendly club members.

I cannot wait for my next flight!

Mike Bennett

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 10th December 2016

The view from the clubhouse towards the runway.
No prizes for guessing that a warm front was very close.
With rain and low cloud keeping the gliders in the hangar, the members had the chance to benefit  from a couple of briefings. First up was one of our new Assistant Category Instructors, Rick Wiles who gave a lecture on getting the information for a flying day using the NOTAM system for Navigation issues and the Met Office's F214 and F215 weather forecasts. These forecasts are very useful but do contain quite a bit of detail and need quite a bit of explaining. Well Done Rick.

Rick in full flow
After a break for tea and cakes, it was CFI Don Puttock's turn, this time with a briefing on the requirements for the Bronze C and Cross Country endorsements with a detailed look at the requirements for the Navigation test.

Don decided on  a slightly more relaxed style for his presentation.
Regardless of your experience it is always of value to take the opportunity to revisit sessions like these to keep your knowledge fresh on the subjects. It was great to see so many members at the club today keeping their flying knowledge up to date.

Meanwhile, in the hangar, Scratch and David were working on reassembling the 2nd quad bike which has needed more than a little TLC ( more like major surgery actually ).

Mike Jardine