Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 18th March 2018

Today was a No Fly Day
Although the Met Office predicted lighter winds and clearer skies than originally thought, after a bright start following light snow overnight, it wasn’t long before the wind freshened and, by 1100 (exactly as forecast by the BBC) snow showers started to sweep in from the north-east.  By lunchtime the area was in the grip of persistent snow and low cloud that contrasted sharply with these early morning photos.

Wave cloud to the SW of the airfield (but not for long...)
Cap cloud in evidence behind Discus V5 trailer
The launch point and Brentor church in bright sunshine
 Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News - Saturday 17th March 2018

Despite my prayers to the weather gods the run of poor weather continues. 2 weeks ago we had the "Beast From The East". Last week it was the "Pest from the West" and this week we are under threat of the "Mini Beast from the East" or "Beast from the East 2" ( sounds like a slightly dodgy sequel !! ). Can we please have the "Fun in the Sun " instead.

I had been watching the weather develop as the weekend approached as there was a chance of a day with easterly winds and wave conditions. In the event the wind was a little too far to the north and far too strong to be of use from the airfield which was particularly frustrating as the was evidence of extensive wave systems overhead and to the south and east of the airfield. Gliding is sometimes very character forming.

Part of the wave system as seen from Yelverton looking north towards Brentor
There were several members on the airfield attacking various tasks. Scratch and a gang were in the hangar where they had erected a scaffold tower to repair the leak in the roof. Success was reported which we will be able to judge when it next rains.

The uninspiring view of the looking east along the runway.
Over the last 2 weeks Scratch and Rick have been working on the simulator with the idea of improving the software. We were treated to Scratch's own monster computer which demonstrated what can be achieved when money is no object. Flying around a photo realistic landscape was awesome. Perhaps we have to request some club funds for computer upgrades. In the meantime, the simulator has has had a software upgrade to Condor 2.

Leaky pipe repairs with Mike and Rick
Last week's work list also included the repair of  several leaky pipes caused by the recent freezing conditions after which a trip was made to the east of the airfield  where the ML1 winch was serviced in place on the end of the runway the prevent any possible damage to the new track in the very wet conditions. This took real dedication. Thanks chaps.

Servicing the winch on the airfield in the rain. Outstanding
Any predictions for improved weather anyone?


Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 24th February 2018

After a mostly dry week the airfield is finally drying out. Watching the forecast over the last few days revealed a potential for easterly winds and the formation of wave. The sounding forecast showed a sharp inversion at about 925 hpa ( the airfield was at 968 hpa today so the inversion was at about 1290 feet above the airfield ) and although the wind strength was not really increasing with height, the profile was really encouraging.
The soundings forecast for 1300 gmt
Early in the day there was 8/8th cloud but this cleared away leaving a blue sky day. The only cloud visible were some wisps indicating areas of wave rotors. At the east end of the airfield the windsock was hanging mostly limp with occasional gusts but experienced Dartmoor pilots know that on a wave day it often looks like this as the rotor back washes that end of the runway  So game on.

The Zugvogel 3B ready to fly
 This was a licensed pilots only day. Most of the assembled members were preoccupied with tasks around the airfield but the Zugvogel 3B syndicate ( Alan Carter, Roger Green and myself ) were determined to fly so we woke the glider from it's winter slumbers and reasonably quickly had it assembled and ready to fly. Allan Holland very kindly offered to drive the winch for us.

The other syndicate members bravely nominated me to fly first. I ensured that I was well strapped in and that everything was secure ( I had an idea of what might happen next ) and off I went. The ground run was a little long ( windsock still limp ) and the initial climb was unremarkable. At about 500 feet all hell broke loose as I flew into the rotor and keeping the glider climbing correctly took a lot of control input. Releasing the cable at 1000 feet the glider began a wild dance through the rotor. Don't fight it Stephen, work with it.

Thankfully I was climbing in this rough air and suddenly at 1200 feet the air went completely smooth. This is WAVE. After a short, slow climb, I made my first mistake. Convinced that the climb rates should be better than this, I pushed forward to the east looking for what I thought was going to be the primary wave. In my defence, remember that the sky was blue so I had no visual references to help me. I flew into violent rotor and deeply sinking air and had to do a quick about turn and head for the airfield arriving adjacent to the runway at 800 feet convinced that I was going to have to land shortly.

This is where fate took a hand in the events and I flew into very strong rising air. Turning steeply I centred what turned out to be a wave enhanced thermal bubble which propelled me skywards with the variometers off the clock. Four circles later I was passing 1800 feet when the air went smooth again. Turning south across the wind I followed the wave bar in smooth lift and promised myself to climb first before going exploring again.

Looking west towards Dartmoor
Climb rates were not remarkable, probably averaging a couple of knots and ultimately I topped out at 4800 feet. The visibility was not very good with some haze but this lent some enchantment to the view, which I know so well, with the sun shining brightly off the Tamar estuaries which would have otherwise been invisible through the haze.

Yours truely relaxing in the sun
( the left strap looks a bit dishevelled after the rotor )
The hazy view with this thin cloud layer quite invisible from the ground
I had promised Roger that I would be back in an hour so it was time to go. There was an area of smooth air with no lift just to the south of the airfield so it was here that I started my decent. With the glider at 60 knots with the airbrakes fully deployed, I flew large lazy circles down through the mostly smooth air. At one time I flew into the rotor again and even with the airbrakes fully out the glider started climbing strongly once more. Turning away soon sorted that out and after a few more circles I was able to start a circuit from what would normally be considered ridiculously high, but in these conditions you need to maintain lots of energy ( for energy read height ) to cope with the rotors that always populate the circuit area ). The circuit was very rough but uneventful with a nice landing. This flight had taken 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Roger ready to launch
Roger guides the Zugvogel up the wire.
( notice the limp windsock and the haze trapped as a cap cloud over Dartmoor beyond )
Roger Green was next up. After a short briefing from me ( It's very rough Roger! ) he had a similar flight to mine topping out at 4100 feet and landing back after 1 hour and 10 minutes. Our 3rd sydicate partner had already headed home so there was some time to spare before we needed to derig. We offered Rick Wiles the chance to fly the Zugvogel. ( Instructors are included in our insurance cover ). Rick flew for about 30 minutes topping out at 3500 feet.

Roger's View of the airfield from the south looking north
Roger topped out at just over 4100 feet
After rescuing Allan from the winch, we quickly derigged the glider and washed the mud from the fuselage ( Roger had managed to find a soft spot in the runway ) before returning to the clubhouse to thaw out. At ground level the temperature had stayed about 3degrees all day.

Our special thanks to Allan Holland for the winch driving and to Alan Carter for helping us to get the glider ready without flying it.

A great flying day for experienced pilots.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 17th February 2018

The airfield is still too wet to fly although the recent improvement in the weather is suggesting that we will be flying soon.

Was this wasted day? No a bit of is. For the last week a team of members lead by Mike Bennett have morphed into Civil Engineers and  organised some major site improvements. For several years, the water draining off the airfield had gouged it's own ditch down the cross track making this track increasingly difficult to use. This has been banished for good.

Working on the drainage sump
The drainage pipe
A large drainage pipe has been installed to carry the water away, fed by a sump at the junction between the cross and main tracks. The cross track has been completely rebuild and refinished. While they were at it, Mikes crew have also relayed long stretches of the main track.

Jorg on the roller
A JCB and driver helped the effort
There were lots of members involved in this effort which involved endless hard, physical, working in poor weather, staying at the airfield through the night to receive the 200 tons of road plannings ( track material ), driving many miles with tractor, trailer and excavator ( thanks Phil) and generally lots of effort by all those involved. We thank you all.

A renewed section of track
Some of the crew at lunch

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 4th February 2018

With yesterday’s sharp showers only adding to the already waterlogged field, it did not take the brain of a mastermind to conclude that flying would not be possible.  The day was, however, a good drying day, with a steady north-easterly breeze (gusting 20 kts plus) hoovering moisture from the soil, and with a cold week in prospect let’s hope that by next weekend the field is flyable (see advert on the Forum re flying at NHL this Wednesday).

Early Day State of Play: Cloud over the Moor and Water on the pitch
– just too much of both!
And so a few refugees gathered to, amongst other things, study Bronze C meteorology and compare notes about K-6s until such time as the interior of the clubhouse more closely resembled that of a POW hut (the woodburner sucking in heat rather than dispensing it) and we disloyally voted to put our faith in the heaters of our cars and depart.

Looking towards Brentor from the east end of the runway.
Wave slot in view.
Later in the day, there was clear evidence of a wave system to the east of the moor - such a shame that the state of the field wouldn’t allow us to investigate (...grrr!)

Looking east. Tors are just visible beneath the roll cloud, plus a wave slot top left.
 Later in the day there was clear evidence of wave over Brent Tor.
But finally, whilst admitting that our sport is a but ‘nerdy’, attracting those who could be described as being ‘obsessive’, a limit of nerdiness was reached, if not surpassed, today by one member who, on watching a video of local soaring when the audio vario pipped, then bleeped, and finally screeched from 6 to 10 up said, “I’d like that on my alarm clock!” Identity of the accused (and forecast for the future of their marriage) may be obtained on receipt of a small bribe..!

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 28th January 2018

Another first for Dartmoor Gliding..!  Announcing that Burns’ Night Suppers have been a tradition since the fifth anniversary of the great Bard’s death in 1896, Master of Ceremonies (and Catering) Roger Appleboom informed the assembled company that there was no record anywhere of a Burns’ Night Breakfast being held, and hence that today’s occasion was yet another first for Dartmoor Gliding. 

Paula Howarth’s boyfriend Phil timorously releases the haggis to the table..!
Whereupon, with due pomp, drone and skirl of bagpipes the revered repast was marched in by Paula Howarth’s boyfriend, Phil, and timorously placed on the table (was it still alive?) whilst we reverentially said the ‘Selkirk Grace’, followed by a recording of Burns making his ‘Address to a Haggis’ (“Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face, Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race...”) on what appeared to be surprisingly clear audio. 

The assembled gathering participate in ‘The Selkirk Grace’.
Plunging into the haggis, lome sausage (Celtic and seasonal) plus the traditional neaps and tatties (well, baked beans actually...) it was then time to exchange “where we’re ats”, “what we’re ats” and “where we wanna be’s” for the forthcoming season; eg. is anyone up for an exped to Talgarth, or the Long Mynd this year??  (And don’t forget, if you need to get aerotow trained or just to maintain currency, the facilities at North Hill are available to us, particularly mid-week – just email CFI Mark Courtenay for a go ahead.) 

Dave Westcott on the look-out for escaped haggis...
Breakfast MC Roger Appleboom congratulates Phil on his expert Celtic delivery of the haggis.
Although the weather (in its manifestation of a totally waterlogged field) precluded flying, it was a warm and friendly gathering that eventually broke a little before midday, whilst others turned to more mundane tasks, such as working out how an artificial horizon works in a Discus 2 (ah, yes, press the ‘on/off’ switch..!) 

So with another Dartmoor first firmly established, it was a non-alcoholic “slàinte mhòr” (good health) and “Haste ye Back” (in time for our next social, which is to be on the evening of Friday 9 March, at 7pm in the old pub at Grenofen.  See advert from Mike Bennett on the Forum for details...)

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 27th January 2018

Good weather forecasting goes to the very heart of gliding. Image my reaction then to the news that a minor fire had disabled the Met Office Supercomputer, preventing it from running any forecast updates. Nothing for it but to reach for my own weather supercomputer. The seaweed came in wet (raining), half of it was missing (windy) and the little airsacks were plump and full (low atmospheric pressure). Weather forcasting sorted.

The water running off the airfield. The low cloud is almost obscuring the trees
Another no flying day. Was the airfield deserted? No the clubhouse was busy with our instructors practicing the delivery of lectures to each other and the assembled club members.

Mike Jardine in full flow
Later in the day the clubhouse became even busier when the Committee convened for their regular meeting.

Hoping for flying weather soon (please!!!)


Dartmoor Gliding Club News-Sunday 21st January 2018

Today was a No Fly Day, as any and every person with half a brain would have realised from any and every forecast available on any and every form of media.

Today was a No Fly Day...
But that didn’t stop people from turning up at the club, to engage in all forms of activity, such as answering the ‘phone (“No, we’re not flying...”), contemplating tasks on the To Do List (“What are You Doing Here, Go Home..!”) or working through some Bronze ‘C’ subjects, for example what is Buys Ballots Law (a retail form of Brexit?), why is flying near thunderstorms not a good idea (it gets the elevator wet in the K-13, which then needs drying out - let alone yourself...) or if there’s low pressure over Scotland, which way is the wind blowing over England? (ie. towards or out of the kilt...).

Which provides a very timely reminder that next Sunday is our Burns Night Breakfast – yes, for just £2 (that’s 40/- to a Scot...) you can come along and witness Roger Appleboom rustling up a lome sausage and genuine north of the border haggis, with a tam o’shanter on top and nothing underneath..! Now that’s an event that people will want to be able to say: “I was thaire, ‘twas a saight too behold..!” If you want to be a part of this ‘rair’ occasion, please register with Roger (rappleboom0@gmail .com), to ensure that you get a bite of the action...

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 14th January 2018

With the forecast predicting wind east of south and the winch already positioned at the east end it would have been a foolish set of Sunday Soarers who looked the gift horse given them by the Wednesday Crew (who had changed ends with the winch) in the mouth. The condition of the field was, however, a serious cause for concern as, with the sky clear and mists rising in the valleys, we attended Pete Howarth's morning brief before deciding cautiously to take one K-13 and the K-8 up to the north-west end. First launch was at 1105. With two trial lessons booked, a F&F and a good number of club members keen to regain/maintain currency, getting through the list was always going to be a challenge, particularly with the going so very soft, but it was nevertheless good to see such a healthy turnout.

Roger Appleboom embarks upon his Record Breaking Flight in K-8 FXB.
With a light wind and some cumulus indicating wave from the south, whilst strato-cu formed drifts that obscured the sun, there was no clear soaring modus operandi, but that did not prevent Roger Appleboom from achieving a record breaking personal best with his longest flight of the year. It has to be said, however, that his modest 9 minutes in the K-8 was beaten by Richard Roberts, who managed a whole 12 mins (also a PB at BRT) and that we hope these records do not remain standing for very long..!

Roger Appleboom embarks upon his Record Breaking Flight in K-8 FXB.
Our visitors were Richard Nally, who flew with Pete Howarth, and Chris Brown, who flew with Martin Cropper. Rich brought his extended family with him (just how do children fail to feel the cold..?), whilst Chris's flights had been bought for him by his father, who had also flown with us when Chris "were just 'ubbuy'"..! Both enjoyed their short flights and vowed to return. Our F&F was Luke Vitai, the submariner husband of one of Ed Borlase's colleagues at the Theatre Royal who, despite a long and perishingly cold wait, thoroughly enjoyed his induction flight with Pete Howarth and will be back with us as soon as his underwater duties permit.

Visitor Rich Nally ready for his flight with Instructor Pete Howarth.
Visitor Chris Brown prepares to fly with Martin Cropper
Luke Vitai is given his first taste of DGS by Pete Howarth.
Stretching the day as long as we dared, it was a little after sunset when the final landing rolled to a halt, and we wheeled the gliders back for a well earned wash down and tucking up in the hangar. Twenty-two launches, no new defects and some cold, but satisfied smiles on faces bore witness to a productive and successful day. But for how long will those personal best times remain in place - just now they look pretty safe for at least one week, that's for sure..!

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 10th January 2018

An optimistic weather forecast suggested that there might be the opportunity for some flying today so a ‘who wants to fly?’ email on the Club Google Group was sent out to gauge interest.

With a small but keen number of members looking to fly today, and with the weather and wind set fair, it was then a question of whether the airfield would be too wet, after recent rain, to allow us to launch and land gliders as well as use vehicles and tow out cables

With an easterly wind component forecast the area to the West end of the airfield was carefully looked at and although it was evident that certain areas were unusable it was also clear that a good sized area to the north of the track was usuable, but with a reference point further into the airfield than would normally be the case

Daily inspections on the wet hangar apron
The K13 (DMX) and K8 (FXB) were taken out of the hangar and daily inspections started whilst the winch was taken down to the eastern end of the airfield. With the field being as soft as it was a decision was made to not move the launch point vehicle from the other end of the field, with one of the tow vehicles used as a temporary launch point

West end launch point
With gliders and winch ready by mid morning flying could not commence due to misting canopies so it was back to the Clubhouse for warm drinks and a chat before a return to the launch point confirmed that our patience had been rewarded with the canopies all clear

Colin watches Phil make an accurate landing
Bob beside his K8
And so it was on with the flying list with a dozen or so flights then completed in the K13 and K8 allowing pilots to either regain or maintain flying currency. Best flight of the day was 17minutes by Steve Fletcher in the K8 who managed to find a small thermal.

Looking south from the circuit
Mid afternoon with everyone who wanted to fly having flown, and with signs of the canopies starting to mist albeit under a bright blue sky, the decision was made to take the gliders back to the hangar for a good clean of same from the accumulated mud

Mary Tavy
A good day all round with optimism and patience rewarded suitably

Mike Sloggett