Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 9th January 2021 Condor Racing

You Could Almost Be There
To those of you suffering from the effects of soaring withdrawal in this beastly lockdown, I would like to put forward a partial antidote - in the shape of the Condor2 Gliding Simulator! Probably known already to most of you (as we have it installed on our simulator in the clubhouse) I can heartily recommend it as a means of keeping the cross-country soaring pilot’s mindset current. There is a Multiplayer function in the software which allows for virtual cross-country competitions. If you have a reasonable computer and a reasonable internet connection, then you have the main pre-requisites.

At DGS we already have a small band of Condor2 devotees, myself included, but it would be great if we could enrol more pilots into this virtual soaring group. Just drop Rick a line and he can show you how to connect to his hosting server for the Multiplayer sessions. There is a one-off cost in buying the software but it’s well worth it. Get it here:


The only other thing you’ll need is TeamSpeak3 which is a free download for the audio.


I have done a handful of tasks set by Rick in various gliders, and it is always an enthralling experience. But the real fun element is that you can see all your fellow competitors around you and in permanent audio so you can see (and hear!) how everyone is doing. There is even a dynamic points-scoring table that updates as you progress through the task. So, to give you a flavour I will recount the task that we flew on Sat 9th January.

Condor2 Task - Saturday 9th January 2021.

Brentor, Whiddon Down, Compton Abbas, Weston-Zoy, Brentor. 306km

BRIEFING: Weather, wind from ENE at 8knts, Upper wind 13knts. Thermals strong low variation, also wide with a medium chance of variation. Cloud Base about 4500ft, High chance of variation. Aerotow to 3700ft.

Notams - The red box over Weston-Zoy is active from 2000ft to FL 45

Rick had prepared us a cracking task – lots of long glides in the strong conditions (hopefully!) so I thought I’d better pick something slippery rather than my trusty K6-CR. There comes a time when one must abandon futility in favour of getting ‘the right tool for the job’ - to that end I chose the Duo Discus as it seemed (in my hands anyway) to be the most forgiving high-performance glider to fly. I admit I did have a little practice before the task!

We duly lined up on the starting grid at Brentor in our chosen gliders and awaited the nine tugs to taxi one by one through the fence (!) to our launch position. The aerotow simulation is pretty good so Rick briefed us to keep the trim well forward for the aerotow to save tug upsets. The fun really started when we were all off tow looking for that elusive first thermal. To make things more interesting, the tugs seem to randomize where they drop you, so I could hear plenty of complaining over the headset! I think Rick was dropped off somewhere south of Tavistock. As the race start timer ticked down from 5 minutes I could see most of the gliders getting in position near the start line. At the “Race is on!” message they all hurtled off towards Whiddon Down. I was struggling to get centred in my thermal so chose to play it cool and get nice and high before venturing off.

When I finally got hooked up to a core and climbed to 4000’ I could see most of the field were over 10 miles away. Time to try and catch up a little – so I endeavoured to fly with the McReady speed-to-fly set optimistically for an expected +5 knots at the next thermal. What I finally achieved however was only 3kts on the averager, so a bit of a rethink was needed. Although the other pilots were all miles away, the banter over TeamSpeak is always at the same levels. I could hear some heckling of my ‘K6 mindset’ over the airwaves – doubtless aimed at my over-conservative hanging around in the start quadrant.

After Whiddon Down it was the long haul to Compton Abbas, still into wind and some 60 miles distant. Some of the other guys were so far ahead of me they had disappeared from the view (default setting visible to 12 miles I think). I could see some of the cloud shadows were lining up more or less on track so I tried some ‘dolphining’ in an attempt to increase my average speed. There was some limited success with this tactic as I could see Simon some 5 miles ahead of me, and a couple of the others were at 8 miles range. I had been flying for over an hour and I needed all of that time to get my thermalling technique a little tidier. This effort was rewarded 38 miles from Compton Abbas where I had one of my best climbs of the day. The vario needle hit +10kts near the top with +7.3kts on the averager.

By the time I rounded Compton Abbas I could hear the others speculating how they would deal with the airspace at Weston-Zor. Rick announced he had a plan. “What’s your plan, Rick?”. Silence. Being a somewhat conservative soul myself, I decided to track north until parallel with the TP, then cross the zone at right-angles to minimize the distance flown.

However, there was a price to pay as this extended the task distance. By this time though, I was really enjoying the Duo Discus after struggling on the first two Legs. I liked the way it would tolerate being flown at 50kts thermalling at 40 degrees of bank.

So, we were all strung out on the last leg to Brentor, although Rick, Scratch and Phil were all so far ahead they had gone off my radar. Nevertheless, I tried to be braver on this leg and stuck to the speed-to-fly indications as dictated by Mr McReady. There were still plenty of good clouds around so I set it to +5kts. I could see Ed some 8 miles ahead of me. Final glide looked ok but I decided to take a strong thermal rather than chase Ed down. This appeared to work as I was now higher than Ed, however, he must have had his nose down as the distance to him was increasing. Over the last 10 miles I was able to bring the speed up, but for some reason I avoided going near VNE – perhaps the old K6 mentality creeping in?

At BRT the fast boys were all over the finish line. Ed was still 8 miles ahead when he finished despite my attempts at ‘pushing on’. As it turned out I could have chosen to cross the line at VNE rather than my stately 120kts. A good learning day – can't wait until I try this for REAL!!

Hugh Gascoyne

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 2nd January 2021

Careful examination of the forecast and the airfield conditions revealed a possible flying window early on Saturday. The airfield was very wet after weeks of rain but today it was so cold that the ground was frozen and therefore usable, at least, until it defrosts. There is an occluded front forecast to arrive early afternoon. So an early start was required and members responded to the call and had the aircraft out and the winch set up by 9:30am. Excellent. After a short delay to get on top of canopy misting it was game on.

The frozen airfield looking towards the winch
The K13's basking in the sun waiting for canopies to clear
Today's wind was very light from the north and about 10 to 12 knots at flying heights. The flying conditions were extremely smooth making for some very pleasant flying around the circuit. Unsurprisingly the were no thermals or ridge lift. 

Andy Davey preparing in the K8
David Archer ready for a training flight with Rick Wiles
The solo pilots flew the K8 and the 2 K13's shared the load with training flights for our pre-solo pilots and rear seat practice for our potential IFP's. Instruction was shared between Mike Jardine and Rick Wiles.

The view was breathtaking - This photo taken by me
Steve Fletcher enjoyed the same by the same view
All too soon it started to cloud over. we were able to carry on flying until the front arrived overhead at about 12.45pm when the gliders were rushed back to the hangar, washed and put away just before it started to rain, sleet and snow in equal measures

The front closes in
Washing the K8
Many hands make light work

A nice early start to 2021.


Dartmoor Gliding News=Thursday 31st December 2020

 Well , no flying  today ,but just enough time for the ‘Big DGS tidy up’ to continue. An ad hock day when Rick and Scratch (along with David our friendly neighbouring farmer and his forklift) managed to remove not one but TWO daf 1160 engines out of the winches!  Other equipment was also removed from them for recycling to other winches further afield in wales ( when travel permits).

The steel cables were removed from the drums as well as all the scrap metal and wood on the site being segregated ready for recycling or burning soon.

Scratch ‘pleased’ ?? with the new , now zero emissions winch!
 (Only downside is it’s now zero launching )
Well done all who were on site. A good end to 2020

Onward and upwards 2021.

Happy new year all.

Richard Roberts

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 27th December 2020

Although the airfield was not flyable today - with passing wintry showers and the ground very boggy in parts it simply wasn’t safe - members will be pleased to hear that the drains were working overtime and that the hangar was notably dry and free from ingress.  

 ‘You will be pleased to hear…

…that the drains were working overtime’.
Had you have been here you would have been able to discover if the crock of gold at the end of the rainbow was indeed to be found in the old launchpoint.  But as you weren’t, here’s a clue: the Instructors went away as penniless as ever…(>sob!<)  

: Wintry shower scampering over Nattor Down.
Was there a crock of gold to be found in the launchpoint?

Wishing you all a Happy and Peaceful New Year.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 20th December 2020

Although the forecast predicated sunshine and showers, a pitch inspection at around 1000 showed that, despite the reinforced area at the east end being capable of supporting launching and landing, the rest of the field was too waterlogged for safe operations, both equipment (principally the winch and people).  

Although showers skirted the airfield the ground was too waterlogged for flying.

Nonetheless, we pitched-in to help Colin get started with the CofA for K-8 FXB, preparing the fuselage and removing the instrument panel for calibration.  

And so it only remains to say Merry Christmas to our Sunday readers - Instructor cover will be available on 27 December - let’s hope we can get flying as soon as possible following the festive season.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 16th December 2020

When I arrived at the club the duty instructor was coming back from his morning inspection of the airfield only to report that the centre track was awash, a veritable river.  This wasn’t unexpected as the culverts draining the airfield, and the hangar apron, into the ditch alongside the road were in full spate.  So today was to be a non-flying day which was reinforced by some regular heavy showers throughout the day to remind us.

However, despite the appalling weather early this morning, despite blockages on the A30, despite fallen trees, and despite copious amounts of standing water on the back roads that engulfed windscreens with spray, the hangar elves turned up and engaged in a myriad of activities on the site.

How many elves can you spot in the hangar?
A tip run got rid of a lot of the waste plastic, insulation, metal etc. from behind the club house.

The glider instrument holdings were rationalised and the excess will be carefully packaged and sent for evaluation and sale.

The SF-27's belly was coated with a snazzy white gel coat and the repair to the pared-back wheel box continued apace (in a previous life the FS-27 had been a racing glider and had a lot of performance improving modifications that are not required on Dartmoor!).  However, copious use of a heat gun was required to raise the ambient temperature in the hangar to be able to work the glass fibre.  Plans have been formulated for a GRP tail dolly to improve the ground handling of this heavy-tailed glider.

The Chief Elf mixing up some magic potion for the SF-27

 K-13 wheel hub was shod with an inner and outer tube and added to the tyre cabinet as another spare.

These busy elves declared themselves not tyred (Ed: Groan!) in the slightest.
The blue K-13, CCY, received some tender loving care.  The yaw string has been repositioned (lowered) to be in an elf’s line of sight and the canopy ventilator modified for better demisting (all that heavy breathing by flying elves) on wintery flying days.  The canopy restraining cord has been replaced and re-orientated.  The mechanical variometer and the altimeter were inspected but left in situ.  Finally the cockpit was vacuumed.

The blue K-13 receiving sparkle dust from an elf.
The Chief Elf, after supplying the remaining elves with mugs of tea mid-afternoon, then called time.  So we shut up shop and went home (whistling as we went, of course).

What do you mean you want to go home?
There may have been some other activities that I missed but thanks must go to all today's hangar elves for their normally unsung toil.  

Gavin Short

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 12th December 2020

 The first problem today was the weather forecast. All of our usual sources had something different to say with wind strengths somewhere 8 and 20 knots with maximum gusts between 15 and 35 knots????  Most agreed that there was the possibility of showers. The second problem was the somewhat saturated airfield. The decision was to leave the K8 in the hangar in case the higher wind forecasts proved accurate and to field two K13's, CCY and HXP. These would launch from the hard pad to the south of the east end and land one to the north and one to the south close to the east end boundary to avoid the wet areas beyond.

Dartmoor majesty - even with the shower
Gavin taking some backseat practice with Mike
We are all used to seeing people behind perspex these days.
John Allen waiting for his training flights

The day was filled with circuits, punctuated with showers ( more like monsoons ) and rainbows. It was also cold leading to various cold weather overalls and woolly hats. The flights consisted of a mix of training flights,  rear seat practices for the more experienced or currency flights - these are important at this time of the year - we want to remain ready in expectation of some easterly winds and wave flying.

CCY launching again.
Rainbows to the left of them...
Rainbows to the right of them...
Into the valley of winter flew the 600 ( poetic licence with that bit )
And what of those diverse forecasts?  There were a lot of showers. The wind on the ground was 6 to 8 knots during the lulls with gusty 15 knots as the showers came through so to some extennt all the forecasts were right.

Recovering CCY at the end of the day
Socially distanced and sartorially inellegant.
The reality of winter gliding 2020

Thanks to everyone who helped make this day a success especially Heater who spent the whole day on cable retrieve again. 


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 9th December 2020

A light variable wind made the decision to set the airfield to fly from the east end. As always this gives us  more options for flying if needed. To minimise movements on the airfield and only the K13 and K8 needed we decided to adopt Sunday’s field layout. The K8 taking off and landing north of the track and leaving the K13 pilots to do as they please on the south side. First launch was at 11:06. The only real question was when would the rain arrive during the afternoon.

K8 & K13 in position.
John Smith was the only trainee requiring the K13 today. First two flights were well flown circuits and his third a high cable break practice. After a break for lunch John was back in the K13 with me. Following a power failure, low down cable break and another well flown circuit he was allowed to re-solo with two more circuits in the benign conditions.

John getting ready to re-solo.
Elbow bump congratulations.
Meanwhile the K8 pilots Gavin Short, Steve Fletcher, Phil Hardwick, Malcolm Wilton-Jones and Barry Green took turns to fly circuits and practice spot landings.

K8 off again.,..
....And returning.
K13 on approach.
With everybody having flown, Martin Broadway and Mike Jardine were lined up to hangar fly the K8 and K13 respectively. Unfortunately the rain swept in quicker than expected, so it was decided to tow the aircraft back, dry them off and stack them safely in the hangar.

Thank you to everybody who were at the airfield today and Heather for retrieving including a couple of trecks into the adjoining field to retrieve cables after the cable break practices.

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 6th December 2020

‘Misty’ was today’s trademark.  No, not the 1959 Johnny Mathis pop hit, or the 1971 Clint Eastwood film, but misty canopies which delayed the start and presaged an end to today’s flying.  Which was a shame, as the northerly airflow circulating around an emergent ridge of high pressure generated gin clear, but cold, conditions topped by a few whispers of tempting cumulus as the day developed.

Despite a gin clear sky, Phil Hardwick and Malcolm Wilton-Jones
had to battle against mist on the canopies to get us going.
Six solo and three trainee members formed our ‘bubble and a half’ today.  To help minimise damage in the soggy ground conditions Rich Roberts (why is it always him..?!) suggested keeping the K-8 to the north on the centreline track whilst the K-13 could do its own thing on the better drained landing area to the south.  

Dave Westcott and Martin Cropper get hooked on for the first launch of the day.
 Returning solo pilot Ray Boundy turns K-13 HXP onto the diagonal leg.
This certainly focussed the minds of the solo plots who, having chased those wispy cumulus or knife-like ridges of lift to windward, were faced with the equivalent of a spot landing between the launchpoint and the track at the conclusion of their flights.  This resulted in a fascinating outcome to the Flight of the Day competition, with four pilots each equal in second and first positions (we don’t yet have ‘Omega’ London Olympic Games timekeeping accuracy on the net book).  Their times?  All more than the fingers on one hand (in minutes), but less than the those on two.

Club K-8 GDK gets a lift with additional help
from the moon’s gravitational pull.
 K-8 on finals to land between the centreline track and launchpoint.
It was great to welcome returning members Sandra Buttery and Alan Carter to the club today after moving back into the local area.  Alan (owner of a Sheibe SF27) and Sandra have recently bought at property in Sydenham Damerel, and we look forward to assisting them in their re-qualifications.

Club K-8 fin and rudder detail.
And so, by 3:15pm, with minimal insulation being provided by the dissipating cumulus, the sun cried ‘Play Misty for Me’ again on the canopies– and it was time to get the gliders home for a well-earned  23 launches in total, wash down and into their beds.

Strangely, for a low achieving day, there were plenty of smiles as members departed – must have been the sun on their faces generating much needed Vitamin D.  Let’s hope it continues…

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 2nd December 2020

The first day after lockdown 2 brought an eager group of solo pilots to the airfield. We were greeted with low cloud and drizzle as the weather had not read the script. The forecast was for a bright start and gradually deteriorating during the afternoon.

Although the equipment had all been checked over the last couple of days, one of the quad bikes refused to start. Scratch set about diagnosing a blocked needle jet and get it running again.

Scratch in his element.
Another job that needed doing was to de-rig the SF-27 ready for some TLC maintenance.

SF-27 being prepared for de-rigging.
Fuselage into the hangar
Wings safely in the trailer.
Over a socially distanced lunch there was some eager tapping on mobile phones to look at various weather radars to see if there was any chance of a clearance. Although a small clearance was imminent, it could be seen that the weather would close in shortly afterwards. But a further clearance would arrive with just enough time to hopefully allow everybody to have one flight at least.

We set the airfield and then got a K13 and K8 out of the hangar, DI’d and taken to the launch point. At 14:18 I took the first launch in the K8 to assess conditions. After I landed Scratch took Heather for a flight in the K13. Steve Lewis replaced Scratch and also flew Heather around.

K13 launching
Phil Hardwick, Steve Fletcher, Gavin Short, Malcolm and Colin Boyd each took turns to have a flight in the K8. Hugh Gascoyne had a couple of flights in the K13 with me to practice his skills in flying without an altimeter.

K8 launching
.... and returning
Our new human windsock
With the light starting to fade it was time to put the aircraft away in the hangar. Everybody had flown and were happy.

Thank you to everybody who were at the airfield and helped get everything done.

Peter Howarth