Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 17th August 2019

Setting off to the airfield under a low looking, cloudy sky was not the most encouraging. Crossing the southern part of Dartmoor there were a few gaps, some even had a little sun shining through. Good. On the other hand there were large areas of orographic cloud obscuring many of the tors. Bad. Arriving at the airfield the cloudbase was barely above the church. There was even some drizzle in the air. Still bad.

The forecast was for improving cloud and visibility so we did what we always do. The gliders were got ready, the morning briefing was done, the Trial Lesson Safety Briefing was done with today's One Day Course Canidiate, Allen Lee, and then we waited. 

Allen Lee with me waiting to go
Allen and I launch under a  promising looking 
The first flight, at midday, showed some promise with the air feeling "bubbly". Half an hour later and the thermals had started. Not easy, with tight narrow cores, and, initially it was hard work to gain altitude but this rapidly improved as did the cloudbase. Within an hour the 2000 ft cloudbase had become 3000 ft and streets had formed giving very reliable lift The cores were showing between 4 & 6 knots. Excellent. In exactly the right place to enjoy all this was Allen Lee, who was flying in HXP with me. We romped around the local area for more than an hour before deciding that it was lunch time and airbraking back down to the runway. 

Our view early in the flight looking SW
over Tavistock towards the Tamar Estuary at Saltash
Also in the right place to enjoy all of the was trainee pilot Rita Smith who flew with Mike in DMX. Their flight was 43 minutes giving plenty of time for Rita to practice her basic handling skills although the lively conditions would have been a bit of a challenge.

Mike & Rita's view of soaring with HXP
At 2pm the soaring switched off, the wind, which had become westerly during the soaring, moved back to the SW. It took about 3/4 hour for things to recycle. The wind, once again, became westerly, the streets reformed and it was game on. During this phase of the day Steve Fletcher flew his Open Cirrus for 1hr 12 minutes to record to longest flight of the day; Allen Lee had c couple of flights with Mike to complete his One Day Course with a soaring flight of 32 minutes. Phil Hardwick got the Twin Astir out and he had a couple of flights with Rick Wiles for a best of 33 minutes.

Steve Fletcher found  a convergence. Here he's at 3000ft
With the wind strengthening still further,and the day going blue, we called a halt at about 4.30 andreturned to the clubhousse for tea and medals.

The sky going blue with definite signs of wave in the strengthening westerly
Flying was only part of the today's story. There was a group working on moving the T21 trailer. Sadly this trailer had succummbed to the Dartmoor conditions and the axle sub frame needs to be replaced before it can be moved. The space where this trailer resides is earmarked for use as a winch and vehicle storeage facility. By the end of the day the old subframe had been removed and  the chassis  prepared for the new one. Well done
The T21 fuselage taking temporay shelter in the hangar
A special mention must go to Scratch. Apart from rushing around in his usual style, he came to our aid when the winch, engine stop cable broke, rendering the winch inoperable. He left the job that he was doing repairing the mower assembly and quickly diagnose and replace the engine stop cable for us. Thanks mate.

The mower at the hangar for repair by Scratch.
He is missing from this photo because he moves around so fast.

Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 14th August 2019

Another band of rain and wind was forecast for today, so there was no decision to make and today was going to be a no flying day.

Phil Hardwick set about one of his favourite tasks and fired up the tractor to mow the south side of the airfield.

Following the recent entry on the forum the caravan was moved closer to the bus so that the items to be retained could be removed and stored in the bus. The heat exchanger, oven, hob and unit were removed.

Getting ready for action.
After the required items had been successfully removed the caravan was moved to it’s final resting place behind the trailers. With lump hammers, jemmy and a sledge hammer we set about gutting the caravan.

Not much left.
With everything out it was time to set about the shell. It wasn’t long before we were left with various piles of scrap to be further sorted and disposed of.

All done.
It was definitely a day where DGS did Top Gear proud and another caravan was definitely off the road for good.

Let’s hope for better weather soon.

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 11th August 2019

Much like having to admit that Pete Howarth can thermal better than me, my fingers are being forced to type that the weather was “BETTER”, yes “BETTER” than forecast. With some sources predicting thunder-showers, lightning, and SW’ly winds gusting 20kts+, what we experienced was fantastic visibility and strong, smooth (6-8kt) lift under streeting cu to 2,200ft (although cloudbase was variable, which just added to the fun).

Although today’s One Day Course cancelled, we had a trial lesson booked for 1pm, and Duty Instructor Pete Howarth naturally planned to get some training launches in with Rave Downton prior to that.

And naturally all proceed in accordance with that plan until - the start of launch No 2. At which juncture a well-known gliding club character, ‘gremlin’, put in a terminating appearance, just as our visitors were arriving (of course). These arrivals provoked Rich Roberts to metamorphose into ‘elastic man’, simultaneously populating both ends of the airfield as he cleared ‘work-in-way’ from one end of the airfield whilst putting a solution in place at the other (well he did have a little help from others, and the tractor) such that we lost only 90 minutes before being able to resume operations. Which was all to the good since in that time a few light showers crossed the airfield that would have precented launching anyway, following which some very promising cu began to appear.

K-13 HXP launching to the west.
Martin Cropper managed 38 mins with our visitor, Cressida Sparrow – a clinical psychiatrist from Plymouth – before returning the K-13 for others to use.

Cressida Sparrow being awarded her certificate by Martin Cropper.
This prompted Martin Broadway to follow in the K-8, reporting 6-8kt climbs to 2,000ft on handing over to Roger Appleboom. He was followed by Rich Roberts (Discus not rigged..!) and Allan Holland who, on landing, actually smiled, declaring “Well that was very entertaining..!”

K-8 FXB at rest under a promising sky.
Variety was thrown into the mix by Ed Borlase who, after a confidence boosting check flight with Pete Howarth, requested a photo-recce opportunity for his new camera, cheekily asking P1 to pay..! The results of that sortie can be seen in the accompanying photos.

Instructor Peter Howarth clearly enjoying today’s conditions.
A sunlit and shadow dappled landscape looking SW, with a distant rain shower.
Variations in cloudbase provided a challenge for us today.
 Virga in evidence in this view by Ed Borlase towards Tavistock.
With everyone flown who wanted to, and some ‘work-in-wake’ remaining to put gremlin properly back in his box, we finished relatively early, still slightly bemused as to how conditions had over trumped the forecast, but thankful for that all the same… Superhuman effort of the day award goes to Rich Roberts, with everyone who helped deserving extra shares in gratitude for - notwithstanding the weather - today was a day when problem solving and teamwork overcame calamity.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 10th August 2019

With yellow warnings for damaging winds from the SW in the Met Office forecast, this was always going to be a non flying day. Why was this not a named storm?

Looking down the runway towards the east end.
Seems quiet - but there was a SW gale blowing. 
Some of the assembled members got on with the important business of socialising with a little work thrown in. Several more members had other ideas and they got on with enough work to make a person tired just listing it. Thanks chaps. ( and girls)

Gus Launch underwent a starter motor change 
"It is an ill wind that blows nobody any good" and making use of the non flying day, the committee started their meeting at 3pm which allowed them to finish and head off by a very early 6pm.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 7th August 2019

Thanks to the Sunday soarers, the field was set up for the forecast southwesterly winds and we set about getting the aircraft ready to fly. Unfortunately with cattle in the top field we were limited to the shorter field.

 Right from the first launch it was obvious that there was a queue of showers approaching from Cornwall. Thankfully all passed to the north or south of the airfield. We only had to stop for short periods after catching the edge of the showers and to also allow the visibility to improve. It was initially decided to limit the trainee flights to two each, so at least everybody would get a chance to fly. Dave Downton was first up and it was only the conditions that prevented him from re-soloing. Next time hopefully Dave.

We welcomed back Paula Howarth who was taking a much needed break from studying. Not lost her touch as she was doing all the flying on the second flight. Later in the day she did a perfect hangar flight with no prompting.

Paula happy to be back for the day.
Jonathan Pullen was our One Day Course After a briefing from BI Richard Roberts they were soon off into the air for the first of six flights. By the end of the day Jonathan was getting to grips with flying and enjoyed his day.

Jonathan ready with Richard.
Richard was also kept busy with two visitors. Christopher Adams and Peter Satterly. Unfortunately we didn’t get a picture of Peter. Possibly an additional module for the BI course. Basic photography. We are not blessed with a David ‘Borlase’ Bailey on a Wednesday to capture events around the airfield.

Christopher and BI Richard.
Trainees John Smith, David Archer and Angie Liversedge also kept be busy in the back seat of the K13.
The new syndicate of Hugh Gasgoyne and Michael Bennett brought their new purchase to the launch point to get acquainted with flying the K6CR.

Hugh & Mike happy with their new toy.
The K8 was kept busy with Phil Hardwick, Steve Fletcher, Bob Sansom, Barry Green, Alan Holland and Malcolm Wilton-Jones. A respectable time of 22 minutes by Steve Fletcher was only beaten by Malcolm with his usual 1hr 06 minutes. What is his secret?

Thank you to Heather who retrieved all day again and all winch drivers who delivered a good launch rate and the K13 achieving up to 1300ft. Also to all who helped run the airfield smoothly we achieved a respectable 35 flights.

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 4th August 2019

It was a day of two halves, really. In the morning the sky was low and gray; in the afternoon, however, we managed to ‘steal’ some soaring flights once cloud base had lifted sufficiently. Meteorologically, there was a depression NW of Ireland from which an occlusion trailed across the UK. East of the occlusion all was clear, but by 0900 we in the West Country were definitely within it, hence the low and gray. Which was not good news for Charles Fowler, our Junior One Day Course student, or his father, who had driven from Bournemouth to be with us. Unfortunately, the weather does not respond well to being ‘prodded’ and at 1100, there being no change in evidence, they decided to depart for London, hoping to return at a later, less inclement, date.

 Westward Ho!
Dave Westcott and Ed Borlase migrate their K-6CR up market to the west end trailer park.
That’s not to say that we all sat around long-facedly putting the world to rights in the clubhouse. First, we changed ends so that the airfield would be ready for Wednesday, when the wind is expected to be westerly (following yesterday’s highly successful south-easterly airflow). Then there was some social mobility as Dave Downton (K-6E), Ed Borlase and Dave Westcott (K-6CR) decided that the east end (trailer park) was no longer good enough for their gliders, and hence relocated them to the ‘Schleicher Village’ at the west end (where obviously the market is on the ‘up’). In confirmation of this, excitement reached fever pitch as Colin Boyd sealed the sale his K-6CR to Hugh Gascoyne – which although tight lipped about the price, brought a broad smile on both faces..!

Dave Downton dons up ready for flight.
At about 1215 the cloudbase began to lift. Quite rapidly. With general consensus, we took one of the K-13s and a K-8 to the launchpoint (good job we had prepared it earlier..!) Getting our first launch away just prior to 2pm, Dave Downton was able to practice more cross-wind approaches, as the wind obstinately remained due south (despite the predicted SW’ly). This, plus the inevitable early departure of the Tost rings from the CG hook, took him pretty close to his objective of re-soloing.
2pm: first launch of the day gets away.
“Easing – back...” Dave Downton rounding out.
The K-13 got a lot of pushback (in the traditional, not argumentative, way) today.
Roger Appleboom was first to accept the challenge presented by some pretty good looking cumulus, at first finding that the associated lift was not quite so – associated. A leap into the atmosphere by Martin Cropper for 24 mins inspired him, however, and on his second flight he found strong lift to 2,000ft for a duration a shade over the half hour limit ie. 38 mins (could we give the club K-8s remotely operated airbrakes, please..?) We then extended the invitation to our long-suffering winch driver, Peter Howarth, who gladly climbed away, with wings level, from 1,000-2,000ft in a N-S direction just over the airfield, later reporting it to feel ‘like wave’. How can that be? With no obstruction south of the airfield to cause wave to form? Peter had the good grace to return within the half-hour, thus leaving Roger with the prize of ‘Flight of the Day’.

Roger Appleboom departs in the club K-8...
...mixes it with some good looking cu...
...and returns with a perfectly held off landing.
Thanks go to the team on the ground who chose not to fly: Roger Green, Dave Westcott and Ed Borlase, and to Pete Howarth who, wrestling with the cross wind, could be heard gunning the Guslaunch to full throttle for as long as he dared after each cable release. Eight launches were all we managed but, as Pete said back in the clubhouse “If you get a soaring flight when you least expected it, that makes it all the more worthwhile..!”

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 5th August 2019

Today was going to challenge ability to adapt and react to changing conditions. The forecast showed an occluded front in the western approaches, moving our way but slowly and not due to arrive until much later, late tonight or early tomorrow. Wind was forecast to be SE at 8 knots rising to 10 knots. The visibility was to be 31km. RASP predicted no rain, good thermal conditions in the afternoon, 100% sun on ground and a star rating of 3.5 out of 5. So a good day.

Astir landing long over 
What actually happened. Well the day started with 8/8 cloud cover although reasonably high. The first launch was into weak wave between Mary Tavy and Peter Tavy. Visibility was poor to the south and initially Plymouth was not in view ( so much for 31 km then ) The visibility to the west was deteriorating rapidly. The first flight ended with rain on the canopy. (Where did that come from? ). Then it rained and we stood down for just a little while while the shower passed through.

The view from the Launchpoint
After standing down for 30 minutes then drying off the gliders flying recommenced. The next launch revealed that the wave had disappeared and flights were going to be circuits. This continued for a couple of hours until at around 3pm. The cloud cover had lightened a little, the visibility was finally good and Plymouth was easy to see, and suddenly there were signs of thermal activity.

K13 passes under the Astir
The next couple of hours saw some soaring flights in the difficult, narrow, low and weak conditions which seemed to suit the single seaters. Best flight of the day was Mike Jardine in his Astir CS with a creditable 45 minutes. The K8 managed 30 (ish) minute flights. The K13's were struggling to better 15 minutes.

One Day Course Candidate Christian
Reuben Grice 

Andy Rowe
Todays visitors were One Day course candidate Christian Toker-Lester and Introductory flights for Rueben Grice and Andy Rowe who flew with  me. Introductory flights also for Grace Imeson, who flew with Rick and Lukasz Pyrie who flew with Mike Jardine.

Grace Imwson with Rick
Lucasz looks happy to be ready to fly
The only thing today that had followed the forecasts was the wind direction, what happened to the rest of it??? Our thanks as always to all those who helped.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 31st July 2019

A tip to all winch drivers when setting the field up in the morning, DI and start the winch before towing the cables out for the first time of the day. Having not done this today we were faced with a winch that would not start and two cables laid out. Phil Hardwick and John Smith set about diagnosing the problem. They managed initially to jury rig the winch to get it started and remove the cables from the field. Meanwhile we towed ML1 from the east end to enable us to start flying. John and Phil found a problem with the solenoid on the starter and managed to get the Gus winch working.

John & Phil working on the Gus winch.
Richard Roberts and I took the first launch to check the cloudbase and see if we would be able to fly our expected visitors. A cloudbase of 1200ft, but very benign conditions were found so Richard was able to carry on with the trial flights.

Richard and Peter on the way to checkout today's cloudbase
Our first visitor was Roger Martin who enjoyed two flights with Richard.

Roger Martin with Richard.
The next visitor war Cheryll Tarr who was trying to complete 70 experiences before her 71st birthday. These ranged from getting her ears pierced to doing a parachute jump. A gliding experience filled one of the many slots.

Cheryll Tarr ready to fly with Richard.
Our solo pilots enjoyed circuits in the K8. After working on the winch John Smith flew with me. On our second flight we initially found broken lift and after drifting the length of the airfield without losing any height John pushed back into wind. He then found some more substantial lift and we soon climbed to cloudbase at 1600ft. We eventually landed after 23 minutes for John to claim flight of the day.

Brentor Church
Thank you to all who turned up today. A day where problems were thrown at us, but were solved with the usual determination. At least everybody flew who wanted to fly.

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 28th July 2019

In what was probably his longest flight ever from Brentor, Leith Whittington today spent over an hour, reaching 2,700ft agl, over Dartmoor today. But more of that later. The RASP forecast predicted a light north-westerly with, in stark contrast to the east of the UK, prolonged sunshine and cloudbase rising to 3,500ft by mid-afternoon, giving a star rating of 3.5.

BI Rich Roberts is ready to fly with visitor Steven Morris.
Visitor Linda Hanbury with Rich Roberts.
Today we welcomed Colin Watt, CFI at Lasham, who had kindly agreed to take Martin Cropper for renewal of his EASA Instructor’s licence, and a host of visitors. These were mostly flown by one of our two new BIs, Rich Roberts (it’s official – see page 71 of the current Sailplane & Gliding) supported by Peter Howarth and Martin Cropper. Rich first flew with Steven Morris, and then Linda Hanbury whilst Peter flew with Laurie Sutton. Husband and wife team Michael and Gill Till then split a two flight voucher, whilst Gemma Phillips also flew with Peter.
Visitor Mike Till is ready to aviate.
Mike’s wife, Gill, gets in on the act.
On the instructing side Dave Downton made steady progress towards re-soloing, while Roger Appleboom, Phil Hardwick, Martin Broadway and Dave Westcott kept the single seaters aloft, some to greater effect than others. The truth of the matter was that, despite the usual markers in the sky, usable lift appeared to be confined to a narrow corridor at the east end of the field (the launchpoint end). It was here that Leith, in company with Rich Roberts, first contacted their lift and where they remained for most of their 1 hr 9 mins aloft, gradually moving downwind (south-east) over the moor, thus being able to survey the queues of holidaymakers attempting to squeeze into the Cox Tor car-park, or scuttling into Tavistock market for a coffee.

Visitor Laurie Sutton.
Visitor Gemma Phillips and family.  Gemma flew with Peter Howarth.

Thanks go to Phil Hardwick and Allan Holland for their winching, and to all those who helped fetch, carry and make our visitors welcome. A day when the forecast and the weather experienced were in accord!

Martin Cropper