Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 1st July 2020

The forecast was for low cloud and showers throughout the day. So it was going to be a day working on the projects around the club. John Smith arrived to finish the carpentry work in the bus. Only the electrical work for the radios & netbook along with the gas fittings remained at the end of the day. The bus also requires a coat of green paint before it will be moved to the east end of the field.

I started by mowing the remaining part of the airfield that wasn’t cut last weekend. When I finished mowing, I joined Roger Green and Malcolm Wilton-Jones to help with the electrical installation in the two containers. By the end of the day only an insulation check, fitting of the LED tubes and the final connection in the generator hut remained. In the hangar Colin continued with the ARC work on DMX. Steve Lewis spent time fitting the new weather station to the launch point.

New weather station in position.
At about three o’clock everybody was starting to pack away ready to go home, but a small voice was heard to say, “It’s brightening up, can we fly”. Steve Fletcher was tasked to see which of the remaining members were keen enough to fly. Although only five members wanted to fly, it was decided to get the winch and K8 out of the hangar to fly.

K8 ready to be DI’d.
Winch departing to the west end.

By 15:54 the K8 was heading into the sky with Steve Fletcher aboard. After scratching around under some darker patches, he eventually managed to climb away and return after 21 minutes.

K8 launching into an improving sky.
I the jumped into the K8 for a 20 minute flight. Phil Hardwick managed 11 minutes, Malcolm 19 minutes and Scratch had a hangar flight of 6 minutes.

A better sky looking north-west.
K8 soaring away.
So after only five flights everybody who wanted to had flown, which proves if you hang on long enough and are dedicated enough you can often enjoy some late afternoon flying. Thank you to everybody who came to the club today and helped with the many tasks to be done.

Hopefully some two-seater flying will be returning soon. Watch this space.

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 24th July 2020

A clear blue sky, temperature due to rise steadily to the higher 20’s and RASP not predicting much if little action until late afternoon there was not a lot of enthusiasm to get going very quickly. A couple of privateers decided to start rigging. Team Zugvogel rigged G-CHSH and Hugh decided to rig G-CFUB.

Hugh have you done your ABCD checks?
Meanwhile the Brentor morrismen practiced their social distance choreography.

Brentor Morrismen.
 Eventually we were ready and nominated Martin Cropper to take the first launch. After two 7 minute circuits with reports of some bubbles of lift and some smoother lift to the south I decided to take a launch. From the top of the launch I turned towards Black Down. I found some weak lift but stuck with it climbing very slowly by flying smoothly and making very small adjustments to keep climbing. Eventually the lift improved and I managed to climb to nearly 1800ft. I then flew south east and found some very smooth air to the southeast of the airfield. When this petered out I turned back along the line I had just flown, only to find sink. Not managing to find any more lift I landed after 31 minutes.

My view of Mary Tavy and Dartmoor.
Malcolm took to the K8 and managed 42 minutes in a similar manner to me. Roger Green and Addy Davey only managed extended circuits in the Zugvogel. Steve Lewis did manage 28 minutes in the Zugvogel and on a second attempt Roger stayed aloft for 23 minutes.

All this action spurred Steve Fletcher to rig the Open Cirrus. He had two flights, the longest of which was 35 minutes.

When things were a bit quiet we stopped for a socially distant lunch.

Spot the very relaxed pilot.
Even the gliders are socially distancing.
Zugvogel off into the air.
Martin in the K8
Even the Buzzards found it too hot to fly.

The last flight of the day was Malcolm in the K8. He managed to climb to 2200ft and then pushed back into wind where he found an area of rough air and a narrow thermal which he used to punch through the inversion. Above the inversion he found an area of very smooth lift which he used to climb to 3000ft. With everthing other than the K8 and winch packed away, Malcolm finally landed after 1hour 3 minutes to claim flight of the day.

It was good to see John O’Connell at the airfield today. He wanted to get back into the swing of airfield operations by helping out. He also spent a period of time in the simulator to get some hands on flying. He eagerly awaits the start of two seater flying. Hopefully this will be not too far away.

Thank you to everybody for a good days flying.

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 20th June 2020

Setting out for the airfield, the weather did not look too promising. There was a lot of low cloud sitting on the tops of the tors all across south Dartmoor. At the airfield the cloud was a little higher but still not looking great. The RASP forecast was suggesting some soarable conditions later so the decision was made to rig the gliders and wait for the improving weather.

The early cloud cover was uninspiring
Even the gliders join in with the virus protection measures.
Here the Zug models it's latest face mask
The forecast was for the southerly wind to swing a little to the west so the winch was positioned at the west end. However, by the time that wanted to bring up the gliders, the wind had a little east in it, so a quick change of ends was required and the winch was dispatched to the east end.

The winch making a quick detour to the east end
As the cloud base improved the cloud over the airfield evaporated leaving the cloudscape a little sparce. This seemed to be due to sea air coming up from the Tamar valley in the southerly wind. Early flights were best described as a struggle with the cloudbase at 1600 feet and climbs a bit hit and miss. My own flight in the Zugvogel 3B was a 14 minute grind never higher than launch height and much below 500 feet. Good practice as this definitely concentrates the mind.

Cloudbase at 1600 feet
The open cirrus climbing on the North side of the airfield
Astir on approach
Conditions did improve allowing flights for most pilots of over and hour (except me). prize for the longest flit is shared between Phil Hardwick and Steve Fletcher both of whom acheived 1 hour 31 minutes.

The clouds over Dartmoor looked so much more tempting
The strong conditions were always to the east but difficult to reach and we had to content ourselves with the much weaker sea air.

This photo was taken by Martin Cropper from Buckland Monachorum.
This is the convergence between the warm thermic air and the sea air.
See the lack of cloud on the left hand side that is the sea air which was over the airfield

A  good day.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 14th June 2020

With our two-seat trainees and less experienced solo pilots unable to fly until restrictions are lifted, it would perhaps be more appropriate if the ‘Sunday Soarers’ were renamed the ‘Arfur Duzzen’ as six regular Sunday stalwarts surveyed the sky and decided that “Sizzlin’, it ain’t!”.

There was a prospect of conditions improving later as the wind veered south-westerly, about which more anon, but for the present a leaden grey sky was all that was available to tempt the six to ‘take up slack’.  Peter Howarth played met scout into a moderate southerly, and on his second launch managed to extend the circuit to a full 9 minutes, having found some gentle lift around 180 degrees of each orbit.  Martin Cropper then jumped in, again finding reduced lift before the Met Office Tavistock’s very accurately predicted raindrops arrived at 1100.

Martin Cropper ‘hops’ over the hurdle fence to land the K-8 at the west end.
 Rejoining the fight some forty-five minutes later (suitably refreshed), Richard Roberts noticed that the leaden skyscape had some darker lines of energy beneath, forming from the south.  Catapulted back into action, this was Cropper’s chance to show the others a clean pair of heels.  Releasing at 1,200ft however, he found himself a full 300ft above cloudbase...!  It was only by allowing sink to take him down to 800ft agl that he was able to move under the cloud, get 4 up but then promptly have to move out to avoid losing visibility.  This did, however, coupled with a suspicion of wave generated downwind of the Wallabrook stream, enable him to achieve a duration of 19 minutes – flight of the day in the bag!  Almost.

View from the launchpoint caravan of Steve Fletcher preparing for flight.
As the morning wore on the cloudbase lifted, enabling Phil Hardwick to actually connect and circle in a thermal for long enough to equal Martin’s (short lived) record; as did Steve Fletcher, achieving 1,700ft agl as he gently drifted downwind before deciding that the K-8’s short legs required him to scamper home.

Phil Hardwick surveys the K-8 cockpit before his 19 minute soaring flight.
And so, by 1430, with the sky looking ‘similar’ and the ‘Arfur Duzzen’ having cycled themselves through cockpit to winch and back, we decided to draw stumps.  Back down in the hangar Colin dealt them a different challenge: how could the six invert K-13 DMX’s fuselage while remaining socially distanced?  A problem which was solved by, well, a six-foot rule.  Ironically, as we put the winch to bed and shut the hangar doors the sky began to clear, blueness abounded and, again just as predicted by Met Officer Tavistock, cracking white cumulus began to pop.  Had we had a full flying list we would still have been flying and able to take advantage of it..!

Roll on the return of flying for all..!

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 7th June 2020

With the unsettled weather continuing, today we were faced with an initial low cloud base, but was due to rise during the morning. We set the field up and prepared the K8 to start flying as soon as the weather allowed.

Grey skies over Brentor.
I took the first launch just after 10 O’clock and managed to find some reduced sink before landing after 9 minutes. Next into the K8 was Martin Cropper for his first flights since lockdown. He had three flights of seven, four and five minutes. He was very happy to be back in a glider again.

Martin doing pre-flight checks.
Hugh Gasgoyne, Phil Hardwick and Steve Fletcher each had two flights of varying length. The longest was a staggering 16 minutes by Phil finding the only bit of rising air today.

We were able to use the new tow-out modification on the pick-up. This was reasonably successful, but Scratch will have to put on his thinking cap to finalise the design and make it DGS proof.

New tow out rig.
Thank you to those who came to the airfield today. Only ten flights, but everybody flew who wanted to.

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 31st May 2020

With clear blue skies another warm day loomed. The forecast gave easterlies 10-15knts. RASP gave soaring conditions to start late morning and improve during the afternoon. With only a few members at the airfield to fly, Phil rigged his Astir and Steve rigged his Open Cirrus. With the K8 off-line the K13 was got ready for me to fly.

As duty instructor I was elected as sacrificial lamb to take the first launch. At the top of the launch I pushed into wind but only found reduced sink so decided to fly back towards Brentor where I found some small bubbles of rising air, but were too small to use. I therefore decided to join the circuit and land. As nobody else was prepared to launch I took the second cable to see if things were any better south of the airfield. This resulted in a similar flight and I was soon back on the ground. We decided to wait a while and see if things improved.

Meanwhile Colin had arrived at the airfield to work on the K8. Hopefully this will be back on line for Wednesday. Scratch was also at the airfield to work on the brakes of the green tractor. A small leak was fixed, but it still requires some more work to get it fully back on line.

After nearly an hour, Phil decide to take a launch and see if conditions were any better. A similar flight to mine and he was soon back on the ground. We decided to stop again for a leisurely lunch. An hour later some small cumulus had appeared away from the airfield, so I was again elected to take a launch to test the conditions. This time I found some heavier sink and the approach had become rather turbulent, so I decided to return the K13 to the hangar. After discussions with both Phil and Steve they too decided to put their gliders away for another day.

So although the day promised possible wave or thermal not much happened.

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 30th May 2020

Clear blue sky. RASP was suggesting some thermal activity midday and onwards but not looking strong. Wind today was easterly 12 knots. 12 knots from the east!!!! must be a wave day. A close look at the atmospheric sound did not look great for wave but we'll see,

No hurry in the early launch queue
Today's grid consisted a club K8,  K6, 2*Astir CS's, Open Cirrus and the Zugvogel 3B. we eventually encouraged Mike to take a launch in his Astir at 11am. He headed out to the east looking for wave but found only a area of reduced sink in very smooth air. So the wave was trying to form.

Zugvogel 3B with Astir CS beyond
 Over the next couple of hours launches only resulted in extended circuits the longest of which was Andy Davey in the Zugvogel 3B at 16 minutes.

At 1pm things changed. The west end of the airfield became thermic with lots of thermal bubbles roaring skywards giving 4 knot+ climbs to 4000 feet. Wow. Throughout the afternoon the conditions remained strong with 7 pilots bagging flights of an hour or more, the best of which was Steve Fletcher in his Open Cirrus with 2 hours 11 minutes.

Open Cirrus and Astir share a thermal
Approaching Roadford at 3500 feet
Astir on final approach
The flying was interesting. Westwards from about half way down the airfield there was frantic thermal activity with lots of very narrow cores some of which were really quite strong. Eastwards from the mid point of the airfield, things were very different. An area of 6 knot sink gave way to very smooth air just east of the end of the runway. This smooth air had reduced sink and if you were careful some beats across the wind with slow climbs could be found. The best I recorded was only 1.4 knots which lasted for just one pass and then faded away. So the wave was definitely trying but not quite getting there. The area of smooth air stretched from just south of Tavistock to Meldon Reservoir in the north.

Malcolm, in the K8, found a 7 knot thermal !!!!!

An interesting flying day.


Start of an Addiction-John Allan

I became addicted to Gliding on my first amazing day flying with DGS.  Richard Roberts took me up for four flights on a 1 day introductory course, that I’d been given as a Birthday Present from my wife.  One of which was an hour long at altitudes up to cloud base around 4800ft above sea level.

I was allowed to take the controls, but mostly I flew around probably very erratically losing height, whilst Richard would gain it again, soaring expertly up in the thermals to cloud base so I would have plenty of time on the controls, and bizarrely it feels safer the higher up you are when you are flying.  It seemed almost impossible that a Glider made in 60’s could stay aloft using nothing but thermals.

The weekend after I broke my collarbone Mountain Biking, so was out of action for a month or so, and the weather closed in.  I returned a few weeks later and after a couple of days and started my training with exciting and enjoyable days.  As it was now December, they tended to be short circuits and then back to earth.  But I also realised I had joined a great club, no more than that, a community , where everyone was helpful and welcoming.  Instructors gave their time and expertise for the love of the sport and we are all volunteers helping to keep gliders in the air.  I learned how to assist with launching, drove the quad bike that retrieves the aircraft after landing, and the many other jobs.  I read lots and talked to the other members, and had theory sessions with the volunteer instructors on the days when flying was rained off.

I was trying to glean as much as I could, so that I would be ready for the better summer weather when it arrived.  I spent a fair bit of time learning how to use the Club’s flight simulator, in the depths of winter when on one day a river ran past the club house.  The simulator meant I could get more virtual time in the air and practise Launches and Landings. We also had some beautiful clear days in the winter.  I was itching to put things I had learned into practice for real.  The simulator seemed to have helped my skills and I could start landing the K13 which seemed to go well as we moved into February.

With the field completely waterlogged in early March, signs of some more promising weather ahead started to appear on the 30 day Accuweather App forecast.  Despite the name, it’s often inaccurate for the detail on long range forecasts, but was consistently showing a good spell of sunny weather - with easterlies – apparently the holy grail for Brentor.  I’d heard these were good for something called Wave, which could take a glider higher than the cloud base by using a standing wave of air flowing over Dartmoor.

In early march, I had just a week’s holiday to Italian Dolomites, Skiing with family, and I would be up in the air again the weekend I got back - or so I thought…
Corona Virus locked down Italy, so we escaped via Austria over the Brenner Pass through the Alps to Germany in a one way hired vehicle. A few days later than expected, we flew back home from Munich on what became a kind of super Business Class - we walked straight through Check in and Security, no queues here.

 An Empty Munich airport around midday on a Wednesday 18th March
 Our flight out and back were the most relaxing flights I have ever taken.

 Pick a row of seats, and relax, aboard a exclusive Easyjet flight.
 On returning to the UK, we went into lock down a few days later – disaster – No gliding!!
Several frustrating weeks passed, I watched the RASP gliding forecast, as day after day of sunny weather with easterlies passed by.
In actual fact we have been blessed with having all my family together again – both our daughters had left home, but our eldest daughter Jane couldn’t get back to Australia after our Skiing holiday, so had come back to live with us leaving her home, car, boyfriend to return on his own after our Italian trip, and our youngest was furloughed by Alpkit, an Outdoor Shop the Lake District, so also came back home with us. So we count ourselves very lucky.

However, for flying things were a disaster - lockdown wasn’t going away so I finally caved in and bought Condor 2 the gliding simulator software. I was recommended some suggestively named Thrustmaster Joystick and Rudder Pedal kit and built up an old PC we had lying around in our workshop (I run an IT company), and bought a decent graphics card for what is otherwise a fairly basic mini-tower PC. That was connected up to the TV so I had a large 42” monitor, my cockpit being a comfy armchair with far better headroom than a K13 it has to be said - so now at last I could ‘virtually’ fly again. Initially I flew all the places I knew from holidaying in Europe and the UK so navigation was easier - St Crepin, French Alps, Cirque d’Gavarnie near Lourdes in the Pyrenees and of course at home from Brentor. I even splashed out for the K8 at £8.50, and I was sorted. 

 Breche du Roland, Pyrenees, where we had been walking/scrambling last summer.
 It’s beautiful digital scenery making it a thoroughly enjoyable experience, and still gives a fascination seeing places you know from the air.
 Sion Valley, Switzerland, with weather set for perfect wave – I didn’t find an Oxygen Button, and this was QFE
 I found out what happens if you exceed the VNE and pull up too fast - the K8 flies very fast with only one wing.  
Virtual Club Flying – 17th May 2017

K8 rebuilt, it was with great excitement that I read on the forum that Rick had arranged an online Task/Race/Flight in Company (Multiplayer mode, each at home) for the Sunday 17th May at 3pm.
The use of Teamspeak makes it a very sociable affair.  Superb audio quality means you can just chat quietly to each other, and it’s very easy to hear what others are saying..  It makes me wonder why we put up with such low quality for phone calls and video conferencing, perhaps it’s also helped by most of us using headsets.

Our Task was set from Brentor, East Okehampton,  Eaglescroft, Roadford Reservoir and Back to Brentor – Weather was with a light WNW wind, with Good, Wide thermals (I think Rick was being kind to me for my first time), and a choice of K8, Duo Discus or  Genesis 2.

Launching at Brentor
 Richard and Rick, Ed and Dene off to a good start.
On reaching Okehampton, I found my PDA didn’t register the turn point, meaning I hadn’t actually started the task at all!!  But nevertheless continued around the course flying through all the turn points.

Looking north towards Bideford, after rounding Eaglescroft
After Eaglescroft a lack of good thermals left most of us struggling for lift and slow going, at this point Rick and Richard had finished, so they headed back to join the stragglers and came to keep us company and buzz us as we made the final leg.

Richard Practiced some Acrobatics. Ed lodged an Airprox report.
Better thermals at Roadford and a good following wind home,
meant we were mostly able to do a final glide to get back to Brentor.  

We all came in to land one after another, with Richard telling me, no pressure we are watching (F8 allows others to have an outside view of each of the other aircraft nearby) just to focus the mind, and embarrassingly I forgot that in a Duo Discuss I should have lower my wheel, so landed nicely, then came to an abrupt halt!! Must remember my landing checks.

Hugh on final approach.
A big thank you to all the instructors that give up their time week in week out, and that have helped and encouraged me along the way so far, and to Rick for organising the Condor Club flights.

For now it’s nearly the end of May, and as lockdown starts to ease, it’s only Solo pilots to allow for the social distancing rules,  but I am looking forward to getting in the air for real, and meeting up for days flying again – very soon I hope.

John Allan

Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 27th May 2020

A slow start to the day as the private owners rigged and the airfield set up ready for flying. We were joined by the CFI who after seeing things were running smoothly, left with some club parachutes to take to North Hill for re-packing.

First flight of the day was myself in a conversion flight to the Zugvogel 3B. After a briefing from Roger Green I launched straight into a thermal above the winch. I quickly climbed to 1800ft. I flew towards Black Down and then back towards the scrapyard and found some more lift. As conditions were seeming good, I didn’t want to deprive the syndicate members and landed after 22 minutes.

Steve Lewis took off in the Zugvogel and was soon seen climbing away. He was soon followed by Malcolm in the K8 who found a thermal straight off the winch and soon disappeared. Phil Hardwick, Roger Green and Richard Roberts all pulled their aircraft forward ready to launch. Roger and Richard were soon climbing away, but Phil unfortunately was soon back on the ground. He disappeared down the winch to launch Steve Fletcher and sort his brain out.

Phil ready to launch.
Roger getting ready.
With only Phil’s glider on the ground, he was brought from the winch to have another launch. This time he was soon climbing away from the top of the launch.

Steve Lewis and Malcolm returned after flights of 2 hour 9 minutes and 1 hour 58 minutes respectively. Andy Davey jumped into the Zugvogel and I got ready in the K8. Both of us were soon climbing away. So all six gliders were airborne and soaring.

My view approaching Roadford Reservoir.
Steve Fletcher s view of Burrator Reservoir.
Spot the airfield from 5000ft.
Tavistock from 4000ft.
Only 10 launches, but an astounding average of 1 hour 48 minutes per flight. Longest flight of the day was Richard with 2 hour 46 minutes. A quick thankyou to John Smith who arrived at the airfield to do some work on the bus project whilst he is unable to fly.

Peter Howarth