Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 6th August 2017

Stay flexible and expect the unexpected! A good maxim for anyone involved in gliding and proved its worth today, as the weather steadfastly refused to conform with the expected westerly, dry with long sunny periods, instead preferring a steady southerly and lead grey 100% cloud cover throughout. Our expectations for a relatively quiet, trainee focussed day were also wide of the mark, as Dave ‘the Voice’ was inundated with callers seeking air experience opportunities, whilst others simply turned up without being invited! So we had to switch from meeting ‘club’ to ‘visitor’ expectations, a change which was made admirably by all today – patience being a virtue that was deeply mined – and everyone flew who wanted to, eventually…

One Day Course student Craig Knight
The day started with Roger Appleboom taking our One Day Course student, Craig Knight, for his first perambulation about the sky, closely followed by Louise Stone, fresh from milking 24 cows in the South Hams (so this really was the latter part of her day). After a couple of familiarisation flights Craig ‘gave way’ to Peter Stevenson, Ashley Goodbeer and Loretta Elizabeth Capel. (the last two from Exeter)in K-13 HXP, whilst the front seat of the other was taken by our second Louise, Louise Hill. Louise, who had come all the way from Richmond, London (well a B&B at Whitsand Bay, actually…) with her boyfriend Alex, was visiting the West Country when a planned trip to her mother’s had to be called off (due to her feeling ‘unwell’) and so, on arrival in Cornwall, was not expecting to be proposed to by Alex! (Surprise, surprise..!) Their visit to us today was all part of Alex’s pre-planned engagement celebrations (and for him relief as Louise said yes, sporting a very sparkly ring on her left hand) – is that a first for Dartmoor Gliding..?

Visitor Louise Stone chats with Martin Cropper.
Visitor Peter Stephenson with Roger Appleboom.
Visitor Ashley Goodbeer from Exeter.
Loretta Elizabeth Capel looks pleased after her flight with Roger Appleboom
Trainee-wise we also had a few surprises. Not least being the ‘new’ ML2 winch for its delivery (or not) of power, as Dave Westcott discovered at about 150ft into his first launch! Thankfully Dave handled the recovery with composure, and no need for instructor intervention. On the long walk back he gratefully recalled the watchwords: ‘Always Expect a Launch Failure’ and will proudly record the event as a ‘first’ in his logbook. Junior Pilot Jack Simmonds was also in the training hot seat, making progress co-ordinating his turns in (very slightly) rising air. Thankfully, there was none of that left by the time it was Ed Borlase’s turn to fly, enabling him to complete three well-judged circuits ending with a hangar landing that came to rest just at the top of the cross-track.

 Louise Hill receiving her pre-flight brief from Martin Cropper.
Louise Hill landing after her first flight.
Visitor Alex Lennon-Smith with Martin Cropper.
Thanks go, in particular today, to Colin Boyd for realising that we were slightly short-handed with winch drivers, to Dave Downton for winching and Leith Whittington for helping at the launchpoint all day without flying, and to Joe Nobbs for winching and then saving us the trouble of having to tow the K-8 by flying it from one end of the airfield to the other (and lining the Treasurer’s coffers paying for the privilege..!)

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News- Saturday 5th August 2017

The weather forecast looked good with a NW wind and rising temperatures with thermals predicted.

A tempting sky as the K13 made its way from the hanger,
with the Zugvogel of the three wise men being rigged for its first flight at Dartmoor.
First in the air was John Ashworth for his one day course which went well,
A trial flight for Dave Dupont with instructor Martin Cropper
Next in the air we're family visitors Matthew Bell flying with myself .....
..... and his father in law Clive Elks flying with Martin
catching thermals to 3000 feet and 30 minutes in the air
Scratch on Approach in K13-GDDMX for a hangar landing at the end of a busy day.
Needs a wash. Thanks for showing us that Scratch
HXP . All members had flights with 36  launches courtesy of Barry, Scratch and Alan good teamwork.
A good day had by all. Now let's hope the weather stays good for the clubs soaring week.
Mike Jardine

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 30th July 2017

Followers of 1980's disco supergroup Imagination will already know that their No2 hit, 'It's Just an Occlusion' is often the reason for stopping gliding, and so it proved today.

 K-13 HXP is towed out under an interesting sky.
But not before a spirited and determined team had decided to get the most from the day before said occlusion arrived. With One Day Course student Peter Sings on hand and the wind a moderate south-westerly breeze, Duty Instructor Peter Howarth got K-13 HXP to the launchpoint under an interesting sky (see photo) and by a little after 1030 we were off. Andy Davey was today's trainee, having recently solo'ed during a couple of one week courses at Lasham (congratulations, Andy!), whilst Roger Appleboom flew with Peter Sings.

The first light shower arrived at 1130, causing a fifteen minute break in proceedings, to be followed by a full blown opening of the heavens at 1230 (see photo) which stopped flying for an hour. On resuming operations at 1:30 pm Roger Appleboom, reaching the top of the launch, determined that what could see to the SW was certainly no illusion, but the occlusion itself, and thus that the safest option was to get the K-13 back under cover before things became too challenging.

A rain shower moves up the Tavy valley.
‘New’ winch ML2 defies an angry sky...
 ...and the resulting downpour.
As we treated ourselves to an early beer, Peter Sings departed clutching his temporary membership card declaring that he certainly would be back. So, worth it to gain a new member? Most definitely..!

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 29th July 2017

Sometimes gliding can be a test of your patience. The current run of poor weather on Saturday's has been testing indeed. Today, the cloudbase was low ( 600 feet or so) with a front to come through later with associated torrential rain. And unfortunately the forecast was exactly right; when the rain arrived, it was indeed torrential. So another non flying day.

The cloud scudding over Brentor Church
As always the attending members just got on with the the next jobs on the list. Rick, Fred, Scratch were working on the GusLaunch winch engine which has been suffering with low compression in one cylinder. During the stripping down of the affected cylinder head it was discovered that a plug of rags had been pulled into to air intake and this was the cause of the low compression. The cylinder head was quickly reassembled after the offending rags were removed. There still remains an issue of some coolant finding it's way into the engine oil which will be the next fault to be worked on.

Barry and Fred with the GusLaunch winch.
Meanwhile, David and Barry completed a brake system service on the ML2 winch, Mike spent his day in the tractor cutting the grass. Heather was working quietly in the clubhouse tidying the rear lobby after which she proceeded to give it a fresh coat of paint. Amazing.

Heather trying to avoid having her picture taken again.
Note the fetching paint motif on her jeans!!
The big surprise of the day was a visit from John Bolt who was in the area catching up with old friends. John was one of the club's original members who has been an Instructor, Chairman, Inspector and a general stalwart member over many years. John now lives in Winchester. It brightened up our day to see John looking so well.

Hopefully we will fly soon.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 23rd July 2017

For the armchair pilot, it depended in which direction the chair was pointing. To the north, it looked classic: lines of puffy cu stretched across the horizon, to the east the sky was overdeveloped, to the south clear as a bell and to the west (ie. upwind) it was changing by the minute. And so did members’ fortunes, depending on when they launched. The early part of the day also won the award for the lowest Sunday launch rate for years: for no clearly identifiable reason we managed only two launches between 1100 and 1200, a hardly nostalgic throw back to the ‘good old’ days when the first launch used to coincide with lunch..! As the number of single seaters increased at the launchpoint, however, so did the launch rate.

Today was the first Sunday outing for Barry Green’s Alisport Silent Targa (silent it ain’t!) – an Italian built ultralight self-launcher with a 13.3m span and 50hp engine. Sharp eyed observers of the accompanying photos will already have noticed that the Silent has a single bladed propeller – the reason for it being..? Barry launched at 1230 and very soon had the engine shut down as a grey mass of cloud kept him aloft for over an hour.

Barry Green’s self-launching Silent Targa…
…and away he goes!
Others without engines included Mike Bennett, Adrian Irwin and Dave Downton in the K-8B, Leith Whittington in his Dart 17R, Roger Appleboom flying his Club Libelle for the first time on site and Steve Fletcher in his Open Cirrus. Steve suffered severe dolly problems (not what you might think) both on the way to and from the launchpoint, which were solved by Roger Appleboom binding the dolly together with a leather belt, on completion of which Roger was amazed to find that he had lost weight (or the belt had stretched..!)

Busy launch queue under a promising sky.
The aforesaid Roger A also flew our visitors, the aptly named Andrew Downton (no relation to our ‘Voice…’), a music teacher from Bovey Tracy, and Rob Giles, from Bere Alston, who was treated to Roger’s company for 20 mins as he sniffed out a thermal to 1,300ft. An unexpected visit came in the form of Sean McNulty, on holiday from Hemel Hempstead, who recently gained his PPL at Denham, the GA airfield that amazingly is permitted to operate within the controlled airspace of London’s Heathrow Airport. When it came to (hesitantly) giving Sean the bill for his three flights he declared it to be a “bargain, compared to flying a Cessna 182 for a day..!”

 Andrew Downton (no relation) looks happy to be flying with Roger
Visitor Roger Giles receiving his pre-flight brief.
Our sole trainee today was Ben Caverhill., who not only flew the entire launch for the first time, but also soared from 800ft to 1,300ft under a huge grey hoover over Blackdown – all his own work!

So what of the stats? Flight of the Day went to Steve Fletcher with 37 mins in the Open Cirrus, closely followed by Henry Ford, visiting from Mendip, who on the last flight of the day found a convergence zone which took him almost to Roadford Reservoir, thus proving that the armchair pilot, as ever, was right: today the direction to go was north.

Thanks are due to Dave Downton and Barry Green for winching, and to Allan Holland for freeing the brakes when they mysteriously seized up.

By the time we had put the hurdle fence back up I think everyone agreed it had been a challenging but enjoyable day.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 22nd July 2017

Just where did the summer go? Poor forecast today with a strong gusty crosswind from the south led to this being declared as a non flying day.

Scratch in welding mode
Mike Jardine was taking care of visitors before leaving early for family duties. Scratch was repairing the hurdle fence trailer which needs a little TLC after many years of service. Flushed from their success with the Zetor tractor engine rebuild, Rick and Phil started the work on the GusLaunch winch engine. The winch is down on power, has some coolant mixing with the oil and is not running cleanly. After diagnosing one cylinder with low compression it has been decided that the head has got to come off. Here we go again. David took the opportunity to start refurbishing the winch roller system which needs some new bearings and grease etc.

The GusLaunch waiting for TLC
Elsewhere the new Zugvogel 3B syndicate got together to begin some fettling of their new toy. The trailer fittings need some work to make rigging a little easier. The trailer is certainly taller that most glider trailers; in fact, even at 6ft 3in I can walk through the trailer standing upright. The trailer has since been christened, the "Cathedral".

The photographer, Mike Jardine, entitled this composition "Three Wise Men"."
"Should have gone to Specsavers, Mike
The Cathedral
Summer weather soon please.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 19th Juky 2017

Having checked the met and rasp forecast on Tuesday evening the weather looked hopeful for some flying on Wednesday afternoon. Unfortunately overnight the forecasters changed their minds but couldn't agree on what the forecast should be with the standard met forecast for Mary Tavy being different from the aviation forecast and the rasp being different again. In the end the weather followed its usual pattern of not following any of them and the low cloud and fog hung over the airfield with depressing certainty.

So the merry band of members that turned up drank tea, discussed putting the world to rights before venturing out to get some jobs done. Steve Raine, Phil Hardwick and I replaced the wheel on the David brown tractor, Phil providing the spare wheel and knowledge whilst us two Steves provided enthusiasm.

It's only flat at the bottom ( honest)

That's better
In the workshop Barry Green and Dave Downton under the watchful eye of Colin continued to work on the k13 wing ready for covering.

The cathedral of patience otherwise known as the workshop
Everyone else including Bob Sansom, Heather, Martin Broadway, Andy Davey and Mike Sloggett worked hard weeding the area where the new workshop will go.

Thanks to everyone for turning up and mucking in.

Steve Fletcher

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 16th July 2017

The weather: “cloudy but dry with cloudbase rising to 1,800ft amsl by 1200 local”; should have allowed us to get some launches in at around lunchtime and into the afternoon (Brentor being 820ft above amsl). The reality of “cloudy but dry” was that we were within the cloud as much as out of it, and when out of it the drizzle was persistent. So once again we turned to Dave Downton to exercise his diplomacy skills in postponing today’s One Day Course and re-booking our Trial Lessons.

Anyone seen rain falling upwards?"
"Water droplets spotted on the underside of the K-8’s wing.
Meanwhile, we set about finding useful things to do (in the wet). Such as, why is there no neutral light on the quad bike? (Roger Appleboom on removing offending item said he would replacement it with one from his garage stores); why are there droplets of water on the underside of the gliders’ wings in the hangar (a very timely question put just as a blast of Wagner announced Colin Boyd’s arrival in the Green Machine).

Peter Howarth cutting the lighter grass in the mist.
Answer, the hangar doors were left open during a rain shower yesterday afternoon. And can we mow the grass? Well perhaps just the light stuff can be kept a bay – thanks to Pete Howarth for that. We also had great fun digging out one of the strimmers from the pile of ‘It’s no good to us but I’m sure the gliding club would like it’ stuff and (after a lot a semi-H&S compliant tweaking) getting it to work. This enabled Roger Appleboom to go on a voyage of discovery for the yellow warning sign that used to caution drivers about driving down the slope to the hangar with gliders attached. After 10 minutes intense strimming the sign re-emerged from the tangle of grass and is now re-transmitting its safety message.

Roger Appleboom with strimmer rediscovers the south side safety sign.
Excitement of the day was the arrival of a new glider on site, courtesy of Alan Carter and Roger Green who having captured a new prize in the shape of a Zugvögel 3B, had brought it all the way from Essex, thus giving us two on site and one third of the UK’s population of the Scheibe built 17m gliders. It also provided evidence of another growing trend at Brentor: members with two gliders – Alan with his (worryingly similar) SF-27, Roger with his ASW-20, plus the aforementioned Zugvögel 3B (with which Steve Lewis is also to be a syndicate member), Roger Appleboom with his K-6CR plus Club Libelle and, until recently, Dave Parker with his K-6CR and Std Cirrus. The rationale for this multi-asseted ownership is, of course, our relative remoteness for those cross-country pilots domiciled in the West Country who nonetheless want to fly all through the year (keep your hot ship up country and a hack in Devon).

There were two interesting spots (in addition to the rain) today: first, two deer (one adult one juvenile) in the woodland over the south side fence (smiley face), they seemed quite happy watching us watching them; the second, cow pats on the airfield (grumpy face).

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 15th July 2017

Right in the middle of the summer season, I would like to report on endless soaring day's with wall to wall sunshine but today was definitely not like that. The forecast was for low cloud in the morning progressing to mist and rain ( the infamous Dartmooor "missle" probably ), so right from the start it was obvious that this would be a non flying day.

The gliders wait under a lowering sky
Arriving at the airfield what did I find? A couple of our older members with tall mugs of tea and even taller stories perhaps? No, not a bit of it. The scene was much more like an industrial complex with jobs being undertaken everywhere you looked by a small army of club members.

If we carry on like this we will need a bigger work bench
Working on the vehicles
Barry, and the two Davids were working on the Landrovers fixing a broken drive shaft, servicing window mechanisms and other unfathomable tasks. David Archer and Jorg then disappeared to the runway to adjust the mower, fit some new drive belts and then mow the runway.

The loneliness of the long distance tractor driver.
In the hangar, Rick and Phil, along with various helpers throughout the day, were completing the rebuild of the tractor engine. By the end of the day, this was complete and it was very pleasing to see (and hear) the tractor start on the very first turn of the key. What a result. Well done everyone. The only remaining task is fitting the replacement brake slave cylinder which is waiting for some spare parts.

Discussing the tractor
Elsewhere Heather and Scratch were refurbishing the rollers on one of the ML winches ( this was after Heather had sorted out the clubhouse and kitchen yet again).

Heather and Scratch at work
All of this activity led me to think about all of the volunteers whose efforts make the gliding club possible. We always think about the instructors of course but what about winch drivers, retrieve drivers, the field treasurers, the committee, tractor drivers, online editors, mechanics etc etc etc. Lots of these efforts are largely unseen but are vital to the smooth running of the club. Some tasks could so easily pass by unnoticed such as Richard and Colin's recent visit to a local show to promote gliding which they did while the rest of us were enjoying a nice soaring day.

So for everyone who gets involved, a big THANKYOU.

Colin Boyd chatting with a youngster at a local show."
"The photo was taken by Richard whose glider is on display

Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 12th July 2017

The morning conditions looked unspectacular but the assembled pilots prepared the equipment and then waited for the improvement as forecast by RASP.

Zugvogel, K8 and K13 waiting for the forecast improvement
The flying programme started with newly solo pilot Andy Davey. After a successful check flight followed by a practice cable break Andy then flew the K13 solo with 2 flights of 17 minutes and 12 minutes.    

Looking south towards Plymouth from the airfield
This one has me puzzled. Which village is this?
The conditions did indeed follow RASP and by early afternoon the pilots were treated with some very strong thermal conditions ( ie. very strong thermals surrounded by very strong sink.)  Best flight of the day was Steve Fletcher in the Open Cirrus who spent 3 hours and 10 minutes soaring in the classic summer conditions.

Steve's view from the Open Cirrus at 2700 feet above the airfield
Many thanks, once again, to instructor Mike Sloggett for supervising the day, and to everyone else who helped.