Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednwesday 18th September 2019

With clear blue skies and a light easterly wind, the first task of the day was to change ends. The gus winch was already attached to the tractor, so it was decided to use it for the days flying. Two K13’s and a K8 were DI’d and towed to the west launch point. Following briefing private owners set about rigging their gliders. SF27 (Barry), Zugvogel (Roger) and K6 (Mike/Hugh) slowly arrived at the launch point.
We welcomed back ODC Peter Mountfield. His previous visit resulted in a single short flight before we stopped flying. With over an hour in the air, he thoroughly enjoyed his experience and promised to return very soon. Not wanting to miss out on the action, his partner Mary Frances signed on for a double trial flight, which resulted in over 30 minutes in the air.

Peter, Mary and Richard
Our trainees John O’Connell, John Smith and Dave Downton all made good progress towards their own goals. Longest flight of which was John Smith with a good 23 minutes on his third flight.

John Smith getting ready.
HXP below DMX
The launch point viewed from DMX
Our solo pilots enjoyed various degrees of success. Hugh 20 mins, Bob 12 mins, Barry 12 mins, Allan 34mins and Malcolm 49 mins. The longest flight on the day was by Roger Green with 1hr 54mins in the Zugvogel. Not bad for someone who wasn’t going to rig until persuaded by Allan.

Rogers view of Tavistock.
A tiring day for all, with 30 flights proved too much for some,

Hugh taking it easy.
Thank you to Heather for retrieving and winch drivers for producing a smooth service of cables and launches. Also for everybody who kept things moving at the launch point.

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 15th September 2019

When the Met Office forecast gave visibility of ‘VG’, what it meant was ‘VVG’ or ‘astonishing’. With launches to 1,300ft (dual) or 1,500ft (solo) in a very light NW’ly it was almost possible to see the Hurlers’ Stone Circles to the west beyond Caradon Hill. This was all the more astonishing because when we went for briefing at 1000 the sky was 6 octas with 1,000ft cloudbase but when we emerged, no more than 20 minutes later, the sky was clear – gin clear (see photos).

“And the emergency exits are here, here, and here...”
 One Day Course student Keith Hearnden being briefed by Martin Cropper.
Keith receiving his One Day Course Certificate from Martin.
Keith Hearndon, from Ivybridge, was our One Day Course student and, accompanied by his wife, Jackie, he greatly enjoyed getting back into control of a glider, an adventure he had previously experienced with the Air Cadets over the Taw estuary, at Chivenor. We were also visited by three other couples who came up ‘on spec’ to see if we were ‘what we said we were’, and on sight of the fantastic visibility/views decided to book in with ‘the Voice of Dartmoor’ (aka Dave Downton). One of these was Alex and Charlie, from Plympton: Charlie’s school – Hele’s – is due to make a group visit in the near future and they thought they’d give us a ‘sneak preview’

Tractors remain very popular in Devon –
as this photo of at least 15 on the road between Brentor and Mary Tavy surely proves.
Club K-8B GDK glistens in the sunshine.
Solo sky trekkers Allan Holland, Martin Broadway, Ed Borlase and Dave Westcott found that the immaculate sky did not deliver superb soaring: indeed far from it as Dave Westcott achieved best duration with 17 mins in the K-6CR (syndicated with Ed Borlase, who a little later managed a slightly fewer number of minutes…).

Today’s grid with Dave Westcott ready to launch...
...and does so...
 K-13 HXP on downwind leg
Having flown all those who needed to fly, we decided (relatively early) to pack away, only to discover that, in sympathy with this decision, the sky decided to go from gin clear to overcast within 30 mins. So perhaps dry temperature and dew point were not as distantly aligned as the forecast led us to believe…

Father and son Alex and Charlie try out the K-13 for size...
Thanks and top marks go to whomsoever decided to put the winch (in this case the Guslaunch) at the top end of the top field. Delivering 1,500 and 1,300ft launches to the single and dual seat gliders respectively, even with no lift available this enabled training flights consistently to be extended by 3 minutes apiece, allowing 60% more instruction and hands on stick time for the student than the average 1,000ft launch.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 8th September 2019

At one point this afternoon we had four gliders sharing a single thermal, between 1,000 and 1,700ft (cloudbase), in one of which was our One Day Course student, Pip Scrivin who was thrilled at the sight of gliders ‘all around’ – what a superb advert for our fabulous sport. Sadly, we don’t have photographic evidence of the event since our in-house photographer, Ed Borlase, was in his K-6 at the bottom of the stack!

One Day Course Student Pip is congratulated by
instructors Rich Robert and Martin Cropper at the end of his day with us.
Along with Pip, whose previous gliding experience (like so many) was with the Air Training Corps were Alan Staddon, a groundwork company manager, and Ted Stanford-Huskin, retired, both of whom thoroughly enjoyed their flights with us.

Visitor Alan Staddon with daughter after his flights.
Ted Stanford-Husking receives his Certificate after his flights with Martin Cropper.
Seeking entertainment in the sky were Malcolm Roberts and Phil Hardwick in the Twin Astir, Steve Fletcher in his Open Cirrus, Rich “I Must Rig” Roberts in his Discus and Jo Nobbs, Pete Howarth and Alan Holland flying the club K-8. Steve Fletcher won the prize for paying attention to the forecast – by launching at 1348 he benefited from the predicted peak in the Stars Rating and, remaining aloft for 48 minutes obtained the much coveted Flight of the Day award. Those who hung back, however, hoping for something better (as ever) witnessed the sky gradually clouding over, which prevented the sun from providing its vital heating of the ground.

Malcolm Roberts and Phil Hardwick in the Twin Astir on approach at the east end.
Joe Nobbs and Allan Holland survey an interesting sky.
That’s not to say that the day was a disappointment: far from it. Trainees John O’Connell and Dave Downton obtained great benefit and confidence in launching on the new Supacat winch, as did their solo brethren. The winch has its idiosyncrasies – some say they could be a symptom of our site being convex, thus causing a release of loading once the cable leaves the ground fully, and hence the winch to reduce power, but we are learning to cope without over-reacting.

John O’Connell launches in K-13 HXP and...
...Pan Perfect: John O’Connell touching down in K-13 HXP.
Thanks go, as ever, to Dave Downton and Phil Hardwick for their winching (and tuition), to Pete Howarth for ’rookie’ winching, and to Jo Nobbs for turning up so early that we had all the gliders DI’ed by 1000!

Dave Downton preparing to launch in the K-13.
Sheep shearing champion Rich Roberts
seen in search of his £200 prize for appearing on ‘You’ve Been Fleeced’!

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 7th September 2019

The day started with an optimistic briefing from the RASP by Rick and the gliders headed out and were parked ready at the launch point.

Rick inspecting the gliders waiting for 
the members to arrive at the launch point
The weather produced some interesting lift in cloud streets in what resulted in a cloudy day with a cloud base of 3000 feet.

Training commenced for new member Rita Smith with Rick and trial flights were carried out by Roger Green including Colin Grice who we seemingly avoided our photographers.

Roger with Michael Bowden
Roger and Xavier Frisch
Sally Grice flew with Rick 
Lucinda Grice also flew with Rick
In the right places there was some very good lift which provided some good soaring flights for our visitors and a flight for Alan Holland for over an hour

Sharing a thermal with 2*k13's and a K8 (not in frame)
taken from the Astir
The K8 spotted at cloudbas
(
My view from 2700 feet in the Astir 
south of the airfield during a two hour flight
A few teething problems occurred with our new winch but Scratch was on the case and a quick change was made to the Gus launch

The usual thanks to everyone who’s contribution made for another great day at the club.

Mike Jardine

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 1st September 2019

For those of you who listen to Classic FM will know that they are very keen on ‘smoothness’, with themes such as ‘Smooth Classics at Seven’ being er, well, classic...  Well today, Sunday 1st September was Smooth Sunday, a day when the new Supacat winch delivered super smooth launches into super smooth lift (well, for some, anyway) whilst our visitors were ferried to and fro in smooth softness of the recently acquired Jeep people carrier.   All we needed was a slush puppy machine at the launchpoint to make the overall smoothness of the experience complete...

First launch of the day with the new Supacat
(see K-13 against cloud in right of photo) 
We were lucky enough to take Mr ‘Smooth and Safe’ himself: Safety Officer ‘Scratch’ Dene Hitchens on hand to instruct our lead winch driver Dave Downton in use of the Supacat.  Dave was subsequently able to pass on ‘the knowledge’ to Allan Holland and Phil Hardwick, and will eventually train up the rest of the Sunday Soarers’ winch drivers.

Allan Holland (left) about to board the K8
on today's flightline 
At the launchpoint, our visitors fell into two categories: vouchers and those who had been cajoled into flying ‘Friends and Family’.  In the former division fell Josh Breslan, a quarry worker from Exeter who is taking PPL lessons with a view to becoming  ATPL, Neal Jolly who is best described as a ‘serial Sunday re-booker’, having been prevented him from realising his dream on at least four occasions due to the weather, and local husband and wife team Karen and Ian Higginson, from Yelverton.  In the latter were Ilona Ziaya, a PhD student friend of Ed Borlase, from Plymouth, and Billy Cowell, a hang glider compatriot of Roger Green, from Cornwall.

Power pilot Josh Breslan being briefed
by Martin Cropper 
Neal being presented with his certificate by
Instructor Peter Howarth 
Visitor Karen Higgson is ready to fly with
Roger Green 
Karen and Roger soaring under cumulus
to the north of the airfield
Karen's husband Ian ready to fly with Roger 
And as for the flying, once the Supacat had smoothly slung you up to 1,200ft (on the short run), what did you find..?  Well it very much depended on when you launched as instructors Peter Howarth and Martin Cropper found, launching into a clear blue sky had them back on the ground within 10 mins or so, whilst those who launched beneath active dark grey cumulus were like the Duke of York’s men: when they were up, they were up; Roger Appleboom achieving 41 mins, Allan Holland 1hr 5 mins, Phil Hardwick 1hr 6 mins and Steve Fletcher 1 hr 11 mins to bag Flight of the Day, returning to report – you’ve guessed it – smooth lift all the way to 3,000ft cloudbase and similar lift all the way around the locality.

Visitor Ilona being briefed by Roger Green 
Former hang glider pilot Bill Cowell
was Roger's F&F guest
When he's not fixing 'em he's flying' em
Inspector Colin Boyd about to aviate
With Peter Howarth
Thanks go in no small measure to Scratch for breaking his normal routine to come up on a Sunday to train our Supa smooth cat winch drivers, to Phil Hardwick for being today’s ‘seen it, sort it’, and to Ed Borlase for taking the superb photographs which accompany this report.  A good day out at the park…

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliiding News-Wednesday 4th September 2019

With a 15knt WNW wind we placed the new winch at the west end and decided that the K8 was best left in the hangar. The two K13’s were DI’d and after the morning briefing were towed to the east end. Richard briefed our one day course student, David French and were soon off on their first flight.

New winch ready for action.
David French looking forward to his first flight.
After two flights, Richard swapped students to our trial flight visitor, John Milverton. John enjoyed two flights including a 20 minute soaring flight.

John Milverton with BI Richard.
Our trainees today included John O’Connell and returning ODC student Jon Pullen. Both enjoyed their flights in the conditions. Unfortunately, the conditions deteriorated quicker than the forecast, and with a steadily increasing wind it was decide the aircraft would be safer back in the hangar. This meant David would have to return another day, which he was happy to do, to complete his other flights.

Whilst we were flying, Richard’s dad arrived to adorn the vehicles in their new livery.

New vehicles looking smart
New vehicles looking smart
Thanks to Heather who retrieved for the short flying day and to Phil Hardwick, Steve Fletcher, Hugh Gasgoyne, John Smith, Bob Sansom and Barry Green who helped around the field without flying.

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 31st August 2017

Today is the last day of meteorological summer apparently. The weather was going to be tricky. There iwas a cold front passing through this morning due to clear through before midday. So what to do? After carefully checking all the available forecasts we decided to delay the flying start until midday.

Underneath the cold front before the rain
Time to get on with a little work. Mike Bennett was up at the west end installing the new rumway threashold markers. I decided to sort out the hurdle fence locking wire ( after some cattle had broken through the fence ). Unfortunately for me while about half way through this it RAINED. Not the light, soft kind but monsoon style. With in a minute I was wet through. The things I do for flying.

By midday the front had definitely passed through so it was kit out and on with the fun.With the wind strength about 15 knots although it was almost straight down the runway it was decided to leave the K8 at the hangar. So DMX was taken to the launchpoint where it was joined by the Twin Astir. Today we would be using the new winch while Scratch set about the task of training the winch drivers on how to use it.

Barry under training in the new winch
HXP was left at the hangar where Colin and I set about some TLC of the control circuit bearings a fiddly job which took a couple of hours to complete.

Cloud Streets from the NW
Early on the flights were mostly circuits, although these were a little extended by the excellent heights being achieved with the new winch. As the afternoon wore on, the clouds gradually clear away to leave a sunny afternoon. By late afternoon we even had some cloudstreets. This proved irresistible to Malcolm ( anyone surprised by that )  and he flew with Mike in the K13  to record the best flight of the day at 26 minutes to the cloudbase of 2400 ft.

Instructor Mike's view of the hangar and clubhouse 
Climbing at 3 knots under the cloudstreet  
The cloud shadows add to the landscape
And what of the winch. The launches were very smooth and apart from a couple of minor glitches ( cable break from a poorly made join ) it performed very well. The Twin Astir recorded it's highest launch from the short runway length being used today ( cattle in the top field ) at 1350 feet. Their previous best at this cable length was 1100 ft. This bodes well for the future with the new winch.

Steve