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

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 7th January 2018

With the wind forecast to be in the NE, an hence a possibility of wave there was some anticipation in the clubhouse early on. Forecast wind speeds aloft (35kts at 2,000 ft) and gusts in excess of 25 kts at ground level tempered that anticipation, however, as we waited for sufficient members to arrive (which included a welcome visit by Wynn Davies, from DSGC).

The 10am “Stewards’ Inspection”
(Phil Hardwick, Rich Roberts, Leith Whittington, Wynn Davies, Martin Cropper (and Ed Borlase (photographer)).
Looking SE the cloud continued in an arc downwind of Blackdown.
A 10am ‘stewards inspection’, however, revealed that the alligator closest to the canoe was not the met, so much as condition on the field, which remains waterlogged. With rising temperatures this would turn from crunchy mud into quagmire, and hence the risk of damage to the ground or the winch becoming bogged down if we attempted to move it from its ‘safe haven’ to the east end of the airfield was assessed as being too great. Which was, indeed, a shame, as Ed Borlase’s photos show some interesting cloud formations which could have been explored had conditions on the ground had allowed us to get into the air, at least early on in the day.

Some interesting cumulus at the east end, looking NE.
Cap cloud over the western fringes of Dartmoor.
After beating a tactical retreat to the clubhouse, we worked on aspects of the Bronze C for Ed’s benefit, before the howl of the wind through the trees confirmed the increase in gusts and overall windspeed and hence our eventual departure.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 20th December 2017

Wednesday dawned bright and blue in some places but not on Dartmoor where you needed an IMC rating to drive your car to the airfield in thick mist.

Airfield in the mist
The Wednesday regulars were undaunted. The sorcerer and his apprentice (Colin and Dave) duly arrived at DGS and got the fire going and a brew up. After discussing various complex subjects we looked again at the weather and decided that the cloud base was definitely lifting and the sun was peaking through the clouds.

Colin and Dave departed for Okehampton to buy widgets and thingymebobs for fixing things while the rest of us finished our lunch and then decided to set up the airfield and get the K8 out in the hope that the weather would improve enough for us to fly. After getting the cables out , DIing them and the winch then taking the fence down our spirits were lifted when the cloud based looked about 600feet above the airfield. Things were definitely looking up, time to get the k8 out.

After completing the daily inspection and pumping up the tyre, we looked up at the sky to see how much things might have improved. Unfortunately the sky looked darker and then some light rain drops dashed our failing hopes so we put the k8 back in the hangar and packed up the field. The weather closed in and we all went home! We tried!

Steve Fletcher

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 6th January 2018

New Year - new challenges? No, same old ones. The previous week has been very, very wet culminating in monsoon like conditions on Thursday as the latest named storm passed by. The airfield is as wet as it can be. So, in one way, the decision not to fly was easy, but with the wind in the east, and signs of wave in the sky the decision was made through gritted teeth.

The cap cloud sitting over the moor tells of the wave system in place
Some wave cloud near the airfield seen from some distance away
The small, but beautifully formed, group today did what they do in these circumstances, they got on with things. Mike spent his day doing a mock Bronze "C" exam and studying for the exam next week. This provided a few challenges for the more experienced members as well.

Our mechanical team in the shape of Rick and Scratch decided that today was the day to service the brakes on the GusLaunch winch. As these were originally from the rear axle of a very large lorry, it is heavy work and seemed to involve a lot of dressing up. Later in the day their skills were called upon to swap out the main circuit breaker on the generator which had finally died ( of old age, probably )

Rick ready to service the winch!!
Team work
Hoping to fly soon.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 16th December 2017

Winds light NW and a blue sky made starting this flying day a pleasure. A little doubt for later was the possible arrival of a frontal system with a lot of cloud.

The small, but perfectly formed crew swung into action a soon we had all the people and aircraft in the correct places ready to go.

One Day Course student Harrison
Jamie Bird waiting for his Introductory Flight with Mike Jardine
Along with One Day Course candidate Harrison Redwood ( a future Royal Navy Officer apparently ). we welcomed visitors Jamie Bird and, Tylo and Jon Coupland for Air Experience flights. Flying was circuits for the most part. Longest flight of the day was by Allan in the K8 who maintained his flight for 11 minutes by ridge soaring the far side of Gibbet Hill. From the airfield this looked an awfully long way away and several members were contemplating getting the trailer ready.

Jon Copland flew with Rick
Tylo Copland Flew with me.
The flying programme was progressing well until the front arrived. The sky went from clear to 8/8ths cloud within 20 minutes; 10 minutes later it started to rain. Ever optimistic we waited for the rain to clear but by 3pm there was no sign of any clearance and, after checking the weather radar ( the wonders of the internet ), the day was scrubbed. The long walk back to the hangar with the aircraft in the rain was decidedly not fun but soon enough we were able to dry off in the clubhouse in front of the roaring log burner.

Instructor's name badge
Today saw the Instructors sporting their new name badges. This is part of the plan to make the Instructors more visible to our visitors and new trainees.