Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 28th December 2014

It’s tempting to let the photos speak for themselves (there are more available on application..!)  Or the stats: 17 flights, start time 1030, finish 1616 (local sunset 1618), total flight time 11hrs 36 mins (40 mins average per flight), at least 6 equivalent Silver Heights (one claimed), 13 members flew.  But that would be doing an injustice to a. the weather and b. the banter. 

Brentor from the south at 8:00am with rotor cloud in evidence
 The weather was interesting: yes, it was a ‘wave day’ and yes the lift was strong (10 up in the lower strata – see photo) but it was not classic wave i.e.. it was not ‘easy’.  Rotor cloud, which was in evidence from prior to 0800, appeared and disappeared in varying places around the site whilst the wave formation, at once aligned N-S in the valley to the west of Blackdown, then became strongest E-W south of Blackdown and then south of the site in general, with sharp contrasts between lift and sink, before it decayed to an area just west of Mary Tavy as the sun began to set.

Ten Up – now that’s what I call a ‘good day at the office’!
View of Plymouth Sound through rotor cloud (these came and went all day).
When asked by Robin Wilson where the primary wave was formed I was less than helpful in my reply.  Looking at the OS map after the event it is not obvious or easy to estimate.  With the wind over the site being due north (90 degrees cross runway),  and the Met Office giving a 2,000ft wind of 060 at 20-25kts I would guess that the primary wave was caused either by Sourton Down, on the NW corner of the moor, or by Blackdown itself (there being no clouds upwind of Lydford).

Kit Smith at the helm passing 3,500ft (eventually reaching 5,600ft).
Paula Howarth at 2,500ft heading south.
If it was Blackdown then the effects were very local and spectacular: Fred Marks topped the list with 7,000ft in the club K-8, with a gaggle of other solo pilots (led by Jerry Wellington, plus Leith Whittington, Chris Jones and Adrian Irwin) arguing their positions in the 5,000s below him. (Leith W also achieved his sought after 2 hours soaring flight). Trainees Kit Smith, Paula Howarth and Chris Owen (who was having his first flight in wave) also achieved soaring flights, whilst Pete Harvey concentrated on his crosswind circuits.

Chris Jones is overflown by Jerry Wellington in K-6CR FUB (well Chris was on his way down..)
Tyre’s looking a bit flat, Jerry!  
Faced with an empty grid upon his arrival in the afternoon, Allan Holland had no choice but to get the ‘hangar queen’ Zugvogel out, for a quick 90 minutes promenade before concerns over safety (i.e.. canopy misting) began to creep in. But not before Pete Howarth managed his first back seat flight for a (large) number of years in which, for over 10 minutes, he kept the K-13 pegged between 900-950ft agl between the winch and Blackdown.
 
Peter Howarth driving from the back seat on the last flight of the day.
Our visitor today was Jacqueline Horton, whose name will be known to members as Mum of Fraser and Kiyomi Hanson, whose Dad flies for Emirates; Jacqui was able to enjoy a couple of  flights with us before departing for a lunch date in Exeter – we look forward to the promised return of Fraser and Kiyomi in the summer (now that seems like ages away!)

Today’s visitor was Jacqui Hanson, who pronounced the views as ‘quite stunning’.
Bouquet of the day undoubtedly goes to Robin Wilson who, attending with the intention of just helping out due to expected low numbers, asked for a check flight but didn’t manage it, preferring to drive the winch instead; many thanks, Robin (or as ‘Wallis‘ would put it) many thanks, indeed, old chum.  

So a successful day? Not of Olympian proportions, but Yes.  But an enjoyable one?  Most Certainly; the pictures tell the story of what wind and nature can deliver, so long as the critical pre-requisite mix of motivation and co-operation is achieved on the ground, which today it was – soundly

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 27th December 2014

Dartmoor Gliding pilots communicate with each other about club matters via a forum. Leading up to Christmas various posts on the Forum suggested that there would not be anyone at the airfield today.

Following club standard procedure established during my tenure as chairman, I made my way to the airfield to ensure that any visitors or members who did turn up would find us open.

David and Rick at work on the winches
I was surprised to see the gates already open when I arrived. Rick Wiles, David Bourchier and Allan Holland were at work on the winches. The weather did not look very promising with low cloud so I left them to their labours rather than encouraging us to fly.

Low cloud and frequent showers made this a non flying day

Later, Colin Boyd arrived to continue fettling the new K13.

By the time that the sun had started to go down, the temperature had plummeted and we made a quick exit.

Tomorrow looks promising

Steve

Dartmoor Gliding News- Sunday 21st December 2014

It was never going to be a record breaker today, but at least RASP showed only 50% probability of the rain until 4pm.  The problem being on which side of 50% would Brentor fall? On the precipitation side, of course, which was a shame since there was plenty of talent on hand ready to make the most of the opportunity. 
As it turned out, the brightest moment of the day came at about 11, when the sun just sneaked under the clouds for about 30 mins, (see photo) and you could almost see the tops of the moor (1,200ft above airfield height).  Not long after, however, the church (200ft above airfield height) disappeared again into the cloud and resolutely stayed there.  So what to do? 

 And that's as bright as it got (and that includes the pilots!) Taken around 11, when aviation might have been a possibility (briefly).
Well with David Bourchier on site there’s no shortage of suggestions, so whilst Adrian Irwin and David went to change the battery in the launch point, Jerry Wellington and myself (after suitable instructions from David) formed a cable cutting party to reduce the redundant cable on the north side into manageable lengths of 150ft each, which after 20 or so lengths each did become a little ‘repetitive’, so we were grateful to see the cavalry - in the shape of Pete and Paula Howarth, fresh from ground school with Don (winch launching) - hove into view for the final few stages (see photo).  So how to get 45 odd lengths of cable up to the scrapyard?

The cable cutting team in action.
Pete Howarth displays coiling skills he didn't know he possessed - or needed!
Heeding David Bourchier’s advice that it had to be in a covered container, what better than one of the 40 gallon drums beside of the hangar? At which point it was time for me to earn my angle grinding badge (see photo), suitably equipped with eye protection, of course, but negative ear defenders, which – in retrospect - are definitely recommended..!

Martin Cropper earning his ‘angle grinder badge’ – with Adrian Irwin on hand in case of fire.
In the afternoon we were teased by Don to convert the theory of Macready into practical science by flying the club’s set task in a Discus at different Macready settings.   The task is almost 15nm: can it be done in a Discus without turning in thermal?  Our photo shows Jerry (what long arms you have) Wellington having set off at 2,500ft agl at a Macready setting of zero, just about to land 4.8nm short of the goal.   Adrian Irwin showed that – with a start height of 2,500ft and a Macready setting of 1 – the answer was ‘no’ – but then he’s an ex Boeing 747 driver used to big engines and lots of fuel.  So then out of the shadows emerged Roger Appleweiss who, as a businessman used to living life on the edge, and with just 300ft added to the start height, proved that, provided you were prepared to catch a couple of squirrels when lowering the undercarriage, it can be done with a Macready setting of zero.  The sense of achievement was palpable – there’s nothing better than leaving with a big smile of achievement – and some of Pauline Puttock’s delicious mince pies in your tummy!

 'Oh, what long arms you've got, Jerry!' But they weren't long enough to prevent him stoofing in 4 miles short of the goal..!
So from cutting it fine with the cable to sneaking in as the applause rings out from the ‘crowd’ as the ground completes on the finish line proves that it doesn’t have to be all 5hr days and 6kt thermals – sometimes the simulator can (almost) provide the next best thing.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 20th December 2014

The moist westerly airflow continues. On the way to the airfield my initially optimistic mood was encouraged by the odd sunny tor in the distance. However, driving along Roborough Down I could not see the mast at North Hessary Tor. The local saying is that if you cannot see the mast, it’s raining ( and if you can see the mast, it’s about to rain ). So low cloud and drizzle looks to be the order of the day.

Getting ready to rig the new glider
One wheel on my wagon. ( Well, wing on my sailplane actually )
K13 G-CHXP rigged and ready to go, being appraised by fleet manager Ged Nevisky
HXP makes a brief appearance on the apron with the part of the fleet before taking it's place in the hangar 
Despite this being a non flying day there was a lot of excitement. The club’s new K13 G-CHXP was assembled and is now ready to join the Club fleet. This excellent addition means that the all important training aircraft  will be the 2 K13’s with K7M G-DCLT as the reserve aircraft. Fielding the 2x2 seaters required on most flying days will now be a lot less of an issue. To make packing the hangar a little easier for the time being, the Pirat was derigged a put into it’s trailer.

Putting the Pirat into it's trailer
Often around the club there is a lot of work going on that just happens quietly in the background. A case in point is the club Christmas tree on display as part of a large charity event in St Eustacious church in Tavistock. This year the tree was erected and decorated by Annie Holland assisted by husband Allan. Many thanks both of you.


Steve

Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 17th December 2014

Today’s weather looked awful. Very strong and gusty WSW winds, low cloud base, and rain. Regular readers will recognise the description of a non flying day.

Was the club deserted?

Not a bit of it. Colin Boyd and Allan Holland were in the hangar working on the new K13. In the clubhouse the Treasurer and 2 Field Treasurers were having animated discussions which seemed to require lots of pointing at the screens of the laptops in front of each of them.

Today's view from the control tower window - delightful
David Bourchier was investigating the winch / launch radios which had shown a fault when last used. This resulted in the Control Tower being fitted with a new radio. Mike Gadd had removed the instrument panel from his Open Cirrus to investigate an intermittent electrical fault and, amusingly, was trying to persuade Ged, his syndicate partner, that they should invest lots of money in some new instruments.

The "5 Musketeers" Dartmoor Gliding's very own fencing gang.
The group who must take all the praise though comprised John Rogers, Ian Osbourne, Jorg Beasley, Adrian Irwin and their leader Phil Hardwick who spent a most of the day in the wind and rain on the airfield replacing a large section of fencing on the north corner that a seen better days. Now that is real commitment.

Steve

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 14th December 2014

It's great when you round the corner to the club (before 9am) to see the windsock on its pole, a phalanx of Land Rovers parked up, K-8 already out and a couple of bods busily putting parachutes and radios in the retrieve. It makes you think: today is going to be a GOOD day. 

The two bods were Leith Whittington and Jerry Wellington and with my arrival we almost had enough to fly. Sadly, that's how it stayed.  Which was a shame since the weather was flyable, and there have been very few Sundays on which we haven't flown over the last few months, however being the third Sunday in Advent perhaps the big event around the corner prevented more members from attending. 

Start of the day? Put that glider away!  Jerry helps owner Leith Whittington put his Dart 17R back in its box having decided that today was to be a no-fly day.
But were the Sunday Soarers downhearted? Not a bit of it! We decided to START the day by putting Leith's Dart back INTO its box and progress from there.  First there was an annoying defect on the winch radio to be dealt with - a defect which, when subjected to multiple PTT switches in the 'on' position, mysteriously disappeared! Next we decided to hang the cable drogues and windsocks neatly, causing a catastrophic failure of the blue rope reeved through the pulley block (it broke..!).  Luckily, by that time Dave Bourchier was on hand to assist with a repair, but it did allow Jerry to display his gazelle like skills in leaping up a ladder before anyone had a chance to offer him a hard hat! 

Jerry working aloft in the hangar, re threading a rope through the block to hang windsocks.
"You've missed a bit, Mister!" Photographic evidence of monthly maintenance having been carried out on the K-13, as can clearly be seen by the reflection of the K-8 in the canopy.
 Then Leith recalled that the launch point tyres were looking a little 'soft' the last time we changed ends, and proceeded to empty two reservoirs full of compressed air into them whilst Jerry, constantly keeping safety to the fore, jet washed all 3 Land Rovers, thus enabling us to see through the windscreens!  Other tasks included monthly maintenance on the K-13 (vacuuming and canopy cleaning) and RECORDING IT on the board, and sweeping the leaves from the hangar floor.

Jerry Jetwash on Land Rover No.3
Regrettably, Dave Bourchier decided to test out our growing collection of vacuum cleaners by hoovering the clubhouse floor, thus preventing Jerry from donning moustache, skirt and apron to make the 'I Want to Break Free!' video that could have been a Christmas chart topper for the club.

And all this on only one jam doughnut per person..!  As we departed leaving Allan Holland hard at it on new acquisition HXP, I think the Sunday Soarers had good reason to feel, if not self-satisfied, that they had at least made a small contribution to safety and ease of operation for the next flying day. 

So yes, that made it a GOOD Day.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 13th December 2014

With the forecast for a mostly cloudless sky with light north to north west breeze the day was set for a good flying day. Sometimes in a light northerly breeze the north ridge on the edge of the airfield provides some soaring opportunities. This is counterintuitive, you would expect a stronger the wind to be better but in this case it is not so.

Arriving at the airfield after my early morning work, the preparations for flying were well underway. Monthly maintenance items were taken care of, gliders ready, winches, radios and launch point all set up. The start of flying was a little delayed by canopy misting in the clear but very cold conditions but soon we were underway.  

Adrian Irwin is congratulated by Instructor Ged after his first solo 
 Instructor Ged Nevisky had a full day of training to deliver. Today’s training highlights were provided by Adrian Irwin who, after a successful practice cable break flew the K13 solo for the first time. After a successful 2nd solo in the K13, Adrian took advantage of the benign conditions and converted to the K8 competing another successful flight with a stylish looking circuit.

Adrian is focussed on his conversion to the K8
We welcomed one visitor today, Eric Whitley who enjoyed a couple of flights in the K13 with Introductory Flight Pilot Rick Wiles.

Eric Whitley and RIck Wiles
And what of the solo flying? Well after a couple of pilots had completed circuits in the K8, I launched it to explore the ridge and enjoyed 14 minutes wafting around in the buoyant conditions ,mostly around 5-600 feet before returning to the airfield to let others try it for themselves. This definitely stimulated the interest of the solo pilots as this was followed by several flights around 10 minutes or so. Great fun. For those who think this must be a misprint, yes it was me flying the K8, an aircraft type which last appeared in my logbook about 15 years ago. I must say that the club’s current K8, G-CGDK, is absolutely delightful to fly.

The K8 was kept busy today. Here club treasurer Steve Raine is ready to add to the club funds  
Always keen to fly, Chris Jones
Unfortunately, the flying programme ceased prematurely after canopy misting became a serious issue in the late afternoon.

What a great day!!!!

Steve

Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 19th December 2014

What a difference a week makes - or even a few days - as this particularly volatile month of December blasts its way towards Christmas and New Year.

Only a week ago I was urging our solo pilots to come on down to take advantage of the pleasant flying conditions and the opportunity to stay current. Then over the weekend, things were spiced up by all that talk of 2,000ft launches.  But today dawned with the airfield covered in standing water from torrential overnight rain, and a forecast of heavy showers, gale force winds and squalls promising to lower the chill factor and raise even the oldest and boldest pilots' pulse rates.

Arriving at  Brentor later than intended, having undertaken a major diversion (i.e. got totally lost!) after encountering road closures around the village of Chillaton, I wended my way through the lanes of Devon expecting to find a minimal turnout of club members.


Adrian and Bob get ready in the K13
 But not a bit of it!. Admittedly our numbers were few - although not too few to operate - so while David Rippon headed up to the winch, Adrian Irwin, Jorg Beasley, and Johns Bolt and Rogers wrestled a tightly-held K13 DMX to the launch point. John Bolt glued himself into the control tower, while Steve Lewis once again supervised  ground operations and ensured rigorous care with ground handling. So we got the show on the road. With the wind from the west, and lines of rain-bearing cloud interspersed by clear slots, we achieved launch heights of 1500-1800 ft, despite deciding to leave the winch within the airfield boundary, so as not to churn up the farmer's field.

Bob also took a solo flight to explore the conditions.
Although conditions on the ground and in the air were lively, it was a useful experience- and confidence-building day, with squalls arriving as promised, and a vicious wind gradient to emphasise how essential it is to maintain nominated approach speed all the way down to round-out. The rain showers were pretty spectacular, but fortunately most skirted the airfield. Our ab initio students all did well and I think felt they had made progress, while for me it was also encouraging to see 'old hands' like David Rippon and Bob Sansom wanting to fly dual, rather than waiting to fly a 'token solo circuit' on a more benign day.

The solar panel inplace clubhouse roof
Once everyone who wanted to fly had done so, it was back to the hangar, where Jorg got stuck in with hosepipe and brush, while the rest of us admired what our earthbound colleagues had achieved while we'd been having fun. Today, in addition to our task-master extraordinaire David Bourchier undertaking various chores, Mike Gadd and Ged Nevisky spent the day equipping the clubhouse with a large solar panel for charging the club's glider batteries and running parts of the computer network. Meanwhile Colin Boyd and Alan Holland continued with the meticulous task of readying K13 G-CHXP for its possible incorporation into our club fleet.

K13 G-CHxp undergoing some fettling in the hangar

Bob Pirie

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 7th December 2014

Today, one of our members joined the elite 1999 Club. Everyone who flew tried, but only one achieved success, and they weren't flying the K-13. Not heard of the 1999 Club?  Well read on. 

Today was a day when, as Adrian Irwin put it, "The farms and cows got bigger and bigger - very quickly!"  And rotated in your field of view as they did so.  Why so?  Because today we went spinning. With a good breeze almost up and down the runway, and no prospect of soaring, what better to do in the winter than keep current in spinning? Or be introduced to the art?

So we put the winch into the top field, towed out the cables and got Roger Appleboom airborne in the K-8, where he very nearly joined the 1999 Club on the first launch of the day. But then the weather intervened: an 'isolated shower' that robbed us of 90 minutes flying and caused visitor Susan Eveleigh to be delayed from her 1100 booking. But never fear, for we had secret weapon CFI Don Puttock on hand to entertain Susan - oh how the time must have flown by as the rain lashed the windows of the launch hut.  Salvation arrived when the sun broke through at about 1230 and Susan, who had travelled from Newton Abbott, was able to take two flights with Mike Jardine (see photo).

Susan Eveleigh with Mike in the K13
And so, with the K-13 freed up, we were able to press on with our culture of 'spinning'. Adrian Irwin had been getting noticeably 'edgy' about not being able to spin, so he was first up and, 40 years after having first spun in a glider, appeared to positively revel in it! Next came Chris Owen who had never spun: well, if there is such a thing as a 'gentle' spin, that was what he got as a demo, following which he demonstrated his own ability at entry and recovery - and that 500ft can disappear- just like that!  Finally, Paula Howarth was given left and right handed introductions, following which it was time for a hangar landing. Her verdict? Well, she would be quite happy to "Not do that again for quite a while!" but there were no ill effects so I think that can be called a success.

ll Out! All Out! Father and daughter team Peter and Paula Howarth appear to be aviating together, except Paula's not yet solo and Pete has yet to re-qualify as an Instructor - so it's All Out, the both of you..!
Between two seater launches we kept the K-8 going, with both Peter Howarth and Mike Jardine applying themselves to joining the 1999 Club.  So what is the 1999 Club?  Well, as we know all glider pilots are law abiding citizens and, unless the little circle surrounding the 'G' on the aeronautical chart says otherwise, they are not allowed to launch on a cable to more than 2,000ft above the airfield. And that of course means that they have to release at 1999ft above ground level if they wish to stay legal, which is of course what they want to do.  So who found themselves in this happy position? Was it long time member Roger Appleboom, who always waits for the back release? Was it even longer time member Mike Jardine, a Northerner who would see 1,999ft as giving away 'change'? Or could it be that  newly joined young upstart who keeps on going on about Upavon and has pretensions of re-qualifying as an Instructor Pete Howarth? Have you guessed yet? Yes, it was one of Pete Howarth's launches which took him perilously close to releasing at more than 2,000ft and hence he able to claim membership of the illustrious '1999 Club'.  That's not to say that others didn't come close; Roger Appleboom's first launch in the K-8 took him to 1,800ft, following which he complained to the winch driver for cutting him off early!

Thanks go to the aforementioned Mike Jardine for flying our visitor, to Peter and Roger for their winching, and to CFI Don for providing a hot tea service to the launch point - you know you've arrived as a CFI when all you have to do is provide 'builder's tea' to the launch point.

So who's going to be next to join Pete Howarth in The 1999 Club? And who's going to stay current in spinning?  Could it be you?

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 6th December 2014

Today started with very light NNW breeze and endless blue skies. This was not quite as idyllic as it may sound. It was cold and there was a dampness in the air that ensured that the cold was felt in your bones.

K8 on approach 
 At this time of year the club is often quiet and today was like that with the hardy few maintaining currency with a mixture of flights in the K8 and K13. Rick Wiles completed some instructor training flights with Ged Nevisky in the K13. Best flight of the day was by Dick Masters flying the K8 who managed a dizzying 8 minutes by wafting around very slowly in the K8. And the secret of his success? His new Cape Leather flying gloves of course.

And the model is wearing Cape Leather flying gloves in a this seasons off white colourway.
This is as close to a launch queue that we could manage today
This was Stefi’s last visit to the club before she goes home to Romania for Christmas and after a couple of flights in the K8 she spent the rest of the day training on the winch. Today’s launches were very good all day so the training must be going quite well.

Stefi in  the ML winch.
In the middle of the afternoon a sheet of cloud arrived from the north west and somehow managed to fill the sky in about 20 minutes flat. It brought drizzle with it and this broke our resolve so we returned the aircraft to the hangar and decided to practice our fire making skills with the woodburner in the clubhouse instead.

Steve

Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 3rd December 2014

With a forecast of dawn to dusk sunshine, a manageable north easterly crosswind and a mud-free airfield, a pleasant (if rather cold) training and keeping current day was on the cards, with the possibility of lift developing in the form of either wave or thermals.

Early morning on the runway with an endless blue sky.
Thanks to Phil Hardwick, Adrian Irwin, Chris Jones and David Rippon who arrived early to get the kit out and the airfield set up (including a change of ends). Steve Lewis arrived shortly thereafter to 'entertain' one day course student Tony Baxter from St Austell. Also on hand was Ian Osborne, followed later by Adrian Pike, and much later by John Rogers, Bob Sansom and  'night watchman'. Alan Holland.

One Day Course Student Tony Baxter
However, compared with our usual Wednesday 'hordes', today's attendance was disappointing, resulting in only the K13 and K8  in action, and only one private glider, Phil's  Astir. One can only assume that other members were deterred by the low temperatures, the distractions of Christmas shopping and awareness of the fact that we've only one two-seater available at present. Also, of course, it's all too easy for us
Wednesday oldies to forget that most people need to work for a living.  Setting all these mitigating factors to one wide for a moment, all I would say is that it is important that all solo pilots should make an effort to become and remain genuinely current - which at this time of the year means turning up and getting into the air.  The club is fortunate in having a small, enthusiastic core group of volunteer instructors, winch drivers and launch point operators who turn up regularly on weekends and Wednesdays to help you to achieve your goals. But if you're expecting to reappear in the spring to re-solo or carry passengers after just a couple of token check flights, I urge to you think again - and to regain currency before the rush starts.

Phil Harwick rigged his Astir "just in case ". Well, there was some east in the wind
So what of today's flying achievements? Well, nothing very exciting to report, other than the fact that despite having so few of us around to run the field and to fly, we still managed 18 launches - which would probably have been 26 had we not suffered a cable snarl-up during the early afternoon.  Right from the start we experienced hints of wave-like symptoms followed later by some weak cumulus clouds. Neither proved to be productive, although for me it was amusing to bask in the back of the K13 while David Rippon - determined to regain currency - screwed the glider around tightly in a weak thermal, gaining 200 feet and the longest flight of the day (9 minutes!). Unfortunately because of the crosswind and lumpiness on the approach, neither David nor Chris Jones were able to fulfill their K8 ambitions, and Ian Osborne was prevented from extending his tally of solo flights in the K13.

K13 G-DDMX towing back to the launch point for one last flight
By the way, a big thank you to Chris who of his own volition spent the whole day winch driving.

The day ended with David rushing off home to 'crunch numbers' (just like old times!) in the absence of his field treasurer oppo Robin Wilson, a bunch of us thawing out in front of the log burner in the clubhouse, and a late phone call from 'he who never sleeps'(i.e.Rick Wiles, our dedicated winch master) which resulted in Phil and Steve venturing out into the darkness to disconnect the bottom hose from the ex-Perranporth winch, in order to to prevent frost damage.

Bob Pirie

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 30th November 2014

Eight/eighths cloud by 1200? I think not! The flight line defies the forecast.
As the committee performed a bomburst at the end of their meeting yesterday that would make any Red Arrows pilot jealous, Secretary Leith Whittington was heard to remark "Well I'm not going to bother tomorrow, the wind's west of North and it's going to grey, turgid murk all day." Not one to contradict a wiseacre like Leith, I agreed with him; and it must be said that the graph for % cloud and cloudbase on RASP yesterday evening showed 100% cloud at base 2,000ft altitude by 1200. Well, my learned forecasters and wiseacres, I would like to direct your attention to Exhibit A, (photo 1), taken at exactly 1200, which shows a near cloudless sky, perfect visibility and excellent flying conditions.

Visitor Brenda Kent, from Torrington.
And if you don't believe me ask either  Brenda Kent, who downed hoe and trowel at her garden centre near Torrington, or Gareth Sprangmore-Jones, who ventured all the way from Cardiff with his partner, to fly with us; Gareth passing one or two larger clubs on his way, to get here, too. Sadly, Gareth's announcement to his partner 'I'm addicted already' will probably turn out to be Usk's gain; however you never forget your first flight, do you?

Trial Lesson student Gareth Sprangmore-Jones, from Cardiff.
If the flight times weren't long (the wind from due North not being strong enough to get the ridge to work) the flights were valuable: Chris Jones adding another two solos in the K-13 (who IS going to brief him on the K-8?), son Max consolidating his trimming skills, Jeff Cragg staying current in the K-8 and Pete Howarth using that same craft's high lift wing to stay aloft for longer than anyone else.

As the afternoon progressed the cloud did begin to develop into thin fingers (see photo from Chris Jones), but the rising air beneath was very weak; and certainly not strong enough to disturb Chris Owen from practising his circuits.

Fingers of cloud did develop in the afternoon, as observed by Chris Jones at the western end of the airfield.
With a 90 degree crosswind and next to no lift conditions were ideal for a few 'eventualities', at which point who should appear? None other than returning aspirant Instructor Hugh Gascoyne who, after two landings on stub runway from the south (see photo) and a simulated cable break felt he had done sufficient to warrant an entry in his log book entry akin to 'makes you think, this gliding!'

Returning Instructor Hugh Gascoyne setting himself up for a landing on the stub runway.
By about 1530 the 'winter factors' of low angle of the sun and misting of canopies (ie. safety) were  becoming dominant, such that was only possible for AD √©migr√© Sean Parramore to fit in one flight before we had to return the gliders to the hangar.  At which point it is worth reiterating that:- canopies need to be cleaned at the start of the day and kept that way with a supply of clean, dry dusters.  Also, if you can't see to launch, the answer is simple: don't - the release knob is there for that purpose.

Thanks go to Marcol Boyd for mentoring Chris Jones and Pete Howarth on the winch and then slotting into the driving seat himself - and also to everyone who turned up. Another day which proved the old adage: don't cancel the flying programme on the basis of the forecast.

Martin Cropper