Dartmoor Gliding News-Malcolm Soars Mount Cook

I had arranged to do some glider flying at Omarama on the South Island of New Zealand on 13th November 2007 and with that in mind we booked a nearby hotel for the nights before and after. We arrived the morning before so went straight to the airfield to finalise the arrangements for the following day.

Chris Rudge and the Duo .
I met Chris Rudge and he started with the bad news that heavy rain was now forecast for the following day and all the club gliders were flying in a competition today and were still airborne and reporting wave activity so only his Duo Discus was available. We could do some ridge soaring and hope for wave so I decided to go for it. It is normal practice to have a check flight in a 2-seater before flying club gliders at an unfamiliar site.

View across Lake Pukaki to the Tasman Glacier
from above the Barrier Range
The wave cloud over Lake Pukaki starts forming,
when we got there we were climbing at 16.7 knots 
We towed to a nearby hill which was providing good lift and I quickly climbed to over 4,000' and was going to drop back to the nearby mountains as planned but Chris suggested we try for a bit more height and then push into wind as there might be a chance to get to the upwind mountains before the rain arrived.

Looking back over the Barrier Range
We set off at about 5,000' and gained another couple of thousand in a rotor, then headed north-westwards to a spot known for good wave.

Heading back over the Barrier Range.
On arrival at this spot we found only weak wave but did get to 10,000' and donned our oxygen masks. A good looking wave cloud was forming over Lake Pukaki and we could see the top of Mount Cook so decided to head that way. As we slipped under the cloud we started to climb and Chris called ATC to ask permission to climb higher as there was controlled airspace above us. We were given permission to climb to 20,000' which was fortunate as by now our climb rate was 16.7 kts average -, that's nearly 1,700 feet per minute!

Another view of the wave cloud over Mount Cook
 - even at nearly 20,000' it was way above us!
As we passed 19,000' we started increasing speed to reduce the rate of ascent and flew towards Mount Cook at over 100knots with a maximum height of 19,650'. We turned past Mount Cook and headed southwards again towards Queenstown where Chris wanted to photograph a glacier not far from Omarama. We had already photographed the Tasman glacier.

Approaching Mount Cook
Another wave cloud has started to form over Mount Cook below us
A last look back at Mount Cook as we leave

By now we were slowly descending and keeping an eye on the airfield and the thickening clouds below us. Chris got his photos and we headed back to the airfield for an uneventful landing and put everything away before the first drops of rain appeared.

That's me after our epic flight.
We had flown 265 kms in 3 hrs 20 minutes and visited Mount Cook and 2 glaciers.

Malcolm Wilton-Jones

Dartmoor Gliding News-Turquoise Delight

While we are  grounded imposed by Covid-19, we thought that some stories of flights that were memorable to their pilots would be appreciated. This is a flight by Richard Roberts in his Discus flying from Brentor last May.

So just to share a flight I had in May, it was a brisk northwesterly wind and not as good as the forecast suggested it was going to be, so a bimble around Devon was the order of the day.

Launceston taken from the north west side looking south east,
Tesco’s showing white by the A30
As I got more confident and gradually pushed further away from the club, only to comeback as I got lower.
After a while I was happy local soaring ....But I decided it was looking better to the north so pushed out to around Halwell junction.

I should have known it would get sticky ...as I have previously landed out in that area a while ago when Adrian Irwin kindly collected me from a grass field you could describe as ‘Lush’

On this occasion in May I got down to about 2000ft above the ground ( ground in that area is 200ft QNH ) looking back toward the club (750QNH) was a very flat glide that I wasn’t going to even try and attempt. So I changed into survival mode ,and I actually picked a cloud that was the best of a bad bunch. This was however further to the north, and further away from the airfield, but needs must. Surprisingly I was still a fair way out from the edge of the cloud and my wing tip gave a very clear sign of lift to the right , so I pulled some speed off ,and rolled in tight. It only needed a small adjustment and I was centred!!

This is the first part of the reason I am telling this particular story as most pilots will know rolling into the centre of a thermal off one turn hardly ever happens. Added to the fact it was a cloud that didn’t even look that good,I knew I had used up my quota of luck for the day.

With the extra height Safely in the bag I caught a glimpse of a lake shining bright turquoise, basking in the sunlight that was now breaking through the cloud.

My Turquoise Oasis
It is actually an old China clay quarry but the sunlight made it a man made oasis on that particular day to me

I will be honest it looked like the colour of some out of place Caribbean  ocean in the middle of Devon. Then when the sun had disappeared behind the cloud I understood why I had never seen it before.  It just melted into a grey/blue/green colour that was absorbed into the colours around it.
The rest of the flight was uneventful and just a good day out gliding .

Landing back at DGS
It’s moments like this that you can reflect on ,and in the winter months-or times of a pandemic !! -remember why all the effort we all put into the club, and our flying is still worth doing.

A magical moment of a hidden gem I wanted to share at this difficult time.

All stay safe and happy landings.

Richard Roberts

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 7th March 2020

Another overcast miserable day and sodden airfield meant no flying again, but were the Saturday bunch down hearted? Disappointed yes but down hearted no, with so much to do working on vehicles and the shelter everyone set to work with the normal Dartmoor ‘can do‘ enthusiasm.

Scratch Phil and Rick continue to take battle with the red tractor pto!
They were kept topped up with tea by hard working Heather who also deep cleaned the club hut, what would we do without her. Rick, Phil and Scratch did manly mechanical things getting very oily in the process.

Mike doing a great job directing the work on the vehicle shelter.
Mike Bennet continued to drive forward the work on the shelter with help from Malcolm, Mike Jardine and myself. Dave Archer helped both teams.

Precise carpentry work ready for the cladding at the eastern end of the shelter.
Thanks to everyone who turned up knowing it was going to be more work and no play, great team spirit.

Steve Fletcher

Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 4th March 2020

A couple days of drier weather, would we be able to fly? Not a chance. Overnight rain and continuing throughout the day ended any thoughts of flying. Inspection of the field revealed jus how bad things were.

Looking east over what is usually a better area of the field.
As members arrived we set about continuing some of the projects underway at the club. First up was the topping out ceremony of the new bus launch tower. After lifting the roof onto the bus it was placed in it’s final resting place.

Roof secured in place.
After this PVC cladding was put in place to protect the wooden structure.

Completed roof.
The next task was to cut the hole in the roof of the bus that will allow access to the completed control position.

John cutting the access hole.
The green army were back on site to continue the electrical installation in the two containers. By the end of the day all the conduits were in place along with socket and switch boxes.

Conduits being installed.
Sockets ready for some cabling.
Scratch was also at the club to refit the alternator to the green tractor. The electrical problem was diagnosed to some faulty cabling in the ignition circuit. Hopefully the new portable jump start unit will not be required for a while.

Thank you to everybody who was at the club today. Good progress was made with the various projects. A special thankyou to Heather who was back at the club keeping a steady flow of teas and coffees to the workers.

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 1st March 2020

Today, St David’s Day, the only daffodils in evidence were those daffy enough to ignore the forecast and venture through wind and rain to get to the club. 

“The beam bone’s connected to the noggin bone…”
 And today’s subject was…woodwork (of course). Both one of the new containers and the old one, being elevated above ground level present problems of accessibility, especially with large items, to which Chairman Rich Roberts’s solution is to build ramps of suitably sized timber.  Having obtained the wood (from sustainable sources) and cut it to length (with an ‘s’ – the two ramps being of similar width but different lengths), today’s task was to assemble the frameworks.  And hence chief chippy Rich, assisted by John Allan, Ed Borlase, Martin Cropper and Peter Howarth assembled the beams, suitably supported by noggins and fastened by screws long enough to reach the Tamar ready for the next event - cladding.

 Frameworks for the ramps lean-to in the container.
All of which was quite enough to drive us into the clubhouse for a well-earned brew and a few flights in the simulator where, appropriately, we launched from Lleweni Parc to explore the delights of the North Wales ridges.  In the afternoon John Smith arrived to continue work on the new launchpoint control tower roof, a substantial structure that will surely be more than equal to the ruthless weather we have been experiencing this winter.

John Smith surveying the new control tower roof.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 23rd February 2020

Where were you..? 

Today, a Wednesday wiseacre and a select band of Sunday Soarers were on hand waiting in the clubhouse to welcome you to the event of the week: the weak-link workshop!  A TEM sponsored occasion, the team braved inclement conditions (waders and lifejackets required at the east end between vehicle and launch-point caravan) to gather all known colours of strop and recover them to the clubhouse. 

“You Aren’t the Weakest Link (now we’ve cleaned you up) – Hello..!”
Whilst the rain beat down on the roof, under the forensic glare of the clubhouse lighting the strops were subjected to dismantling, inspection, a thorough clean, replacement of suspect components and final reassembly.  This resulted in four distorted brown weak-links being redesignated, plus two blue ones, whilst numerous bent bolts, rounded nuts and worn-out washers were consigned to the recycling bin.  A worthwhile way of spending a few hours on a Sunday morning, hopefully this will set us up for a weak-link worry free season in 2020. 

Thanks go to whoever thought up the idea of what should be a regular maintenance item and put it on the To Do List in the clubhouse.  Next stop, the drogue parachutes..!

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 19th February 2020

After storm Dennis wreaked havoc across the southwest and more rain forecast for today, It was an easy decision that there would be no flying today. However the small group of members set about various tasks around the club. A BT engineer arrived early and set about replacing the router and soon had internet access back at the club.

Following Martin and Richard’s efforts to clear the drainage pipe below the hangar, Mike and Phil set about removing the existing  and digging out a larger access to fit a bigger pipe that hopefully will not block.

The new pipe in place.
The green army were at the airfield to carry on with preparations for the electrical installations in the storage containers.

Roger and Barry discussing plans.
Boarding was secure around the top of the containers to support the lighting. Also additional boarding was installed to support sockets and switches. Next step will to install conduit to protect the cabling.

Awaiting the next step.
In another part of the club, the bus project progressed under the guidance of John Smith. The new tower panels were slowly positioned and fixed in place.

The tower taking shape.
All panels in place awaiting the roof
So although no flying, good progress was made on the various projects. Thank you to everybody who turned up to help with all the work. Hopefully some flying soon.

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 15th February 2020

This week's storm goes by the name of Dennis. In contrast to storm Caira last weekend which was extremely windy, Dennis has brought an unbelievable amount of rain with ordinary (?) gales.

The forlorn view from the clubhouse
There was a little work going on with Rick and Scratch fettling the Supercat while in the clubhouse it was tea and stories time. I'm sure we fixed all the world's problems. Mike Bennett used his time in a slightly more productive way practicing his thermally skills on the simulator.

Patio turning itself in to a swimming pool
Mike soaring the simulator
As the day wore on, the rain just got heavier and heavier. The site drains were working overtime but the one on the west side of the main gate was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of water coming down from the top field and following down boundary hedge line. Not helping this was the fact that the water had brought a large volume leaves and other organic detritus with it which eventually blocked the drain completely. The lack of waders made fixing this impossible on the day.

The water bypassing the western side of the main gate.

Hoping for an end to this bad weather soon.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 12th February 2020

Driving up to the field the weather didn’t look that great with low cloud but the forecast was optimistic. I wasn’t that hopeful that we would be flying though, as we have had so much rain recently I doubted the field would be good enough. Peter Howarth arrived at the same time as I did and surveyed the length of the field. With lots of standing water on what are normally the best bits it was an easy decision to make, there would be no flying today! The forecast turned out to be over optimistic and showers, heavy at times, came and went through out the day so it was never going to be a flyable day!

The Wednesday workers set about various jobs. The electrician responsible for our safety check arrived and gave us a clean bill of health so a huge thank you to all the members who have done all the electrical work recently and since the last check 5 years ago.

John working on the new launch point
John Smith was working away at converting the bus into the new launch point, ably helped by Phil with noticeable progress being made. Huge thanks to John for driving this project forward.

eanwhilePeter Howarth, Phil, Robin, Malcolm and John Allan helped me load my trailer with aluminium from the old caravan which I took to the scrap yard. It took 2 loads to get it all removed. Next up was a trip to Sparlings waste to get rid of all the rest of the caravan, such as the fibre glass, windows, panels etc, another full load. All that remains of the Caravan is the Chassis which is in good order and can be put to good use.

John Allan got the simulator up and running and various members took it in turns to have a few minutes in it between working on the various jobs.

Flying the Simulator. 
Thanks to everyone who came today, a very productive day.

Steve Fletcher

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 8th February 2020

With the imminent arrival of Storm Ciara flying looked unlikely. However, arriving at the airfield the windsocks were limp in the almost still air. This was all the encouragement needed and K13 G-CHXP was readied for flight and the east end launch point set up.

HXP waiting to launch
... and then launches into the turbulent sky
By the time of the first launch the southerly breeze had already picked up which then strengthen as the day wore on providing "sporting approaches". With our East/West runway. crosswind approaches are not uncommon and this is a skill well practiced by all DGS pilots. There is a limit to this though and by 12:15 discretion became the better part of valour and HXP was returned to the hangar. Everyone who wanted to, flew with Instructor Mike Jardine who reported the flying conditions as turbulent. Thanks Mike.

Phil Hardwick looks happy to be flying from the back seat.
Looking south with a solitary patch of sun on the ground
Mike Bennett's  view over a dark countryside
( I'd recognise that hat anywhere ) 
Back at the generator shed, the Green Army ( father and son duo Barry and Roger Green ) completed the rewiring of the generators and by mid afternoon we were able to power the clubhouse with our choice of the two generators. This will allow Generator 1 to be taken offline for some much needed TLC to cure it's oil leak and later to allow both generators to run simultaneously with one powering the clubhouse and hangar and the second powering the Vehicle Hangar and workshops. Excellent work chaps - many thanks.

Roger and Barry outside the generator shed
So what to do now. Well luckily we were able to contact the other members of the Committee and we managed to start to planned meeting at 3.30. This still ran on until dark but we got a lot of work done.

Was that it? Not quite. Two of our instructs were at North Hill with our CFI Mark Courtney receiving further training on their road to Full Cat ratings.

  Here Rick (rear seat) gets underway with Mark in DSGC’s Perkoz.
We left the airfield with a gales already howling through the trees.