Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 18th October 2015

Last Sunday’s blog ended with “So what’s the deal for next weekend? Who knows! (But there’s a hint of more easterlies…)” And was absolutely right. If it had also said, “…but probably no wave” whilst not the best advertisement, that would also have been right. Well, no wave in the classic sense of the word: lenticulars in the lee of mountains etc. but there was wave of a kind…

Strange light and low cloudbase at the start of the day.
The day began with the now familiar low cloud, plus a strange lighting effect between us and the moor giving the hint of a gap between the cap cloud and the oddly arranged (and constantly changing) cloud to the east of site and overhead (see photo). The cloudbase lifted fairly rapidly, however, and we were able to get underway by 1030, which was good news for our One Day Course student, Dan Goodman (see photo), plus our Introductory Flight visitors and a healthy flying list of trainees.

Our One Day Course student was Dan Goodman,
an IT Consultant from Bude in Cornwall.
The good news came fairly early on in the day, whilst most law abiding and traditional citizens were enjoying Sunday lunch, early solo pilot Chris Owens was noticed to be not coming down in the Zugvögel. Clearly demonstrating her keen eye this was noted by (even earlier solo pilot) Paula Howarth who, launching 15 minutes after Chris, joined him in what can only be described as a large, inverted saucer of lift extending between low key and high key areas to the south of the site. Clearly this was not convection but the leaden sheet of cloud above gave no indication of wave. There the two of them remained, Paula in the K-13 making east-west beats whilst Chris favoured large diameter circles (in 1½-2 up) for, in Paula’s case, 35 minutes and Chris one minute over the hour. Both therefore achieved legs for their next qualification and both had difficulty in extricating themselves from the cockpit due to the smiles on their faces!

Paula Howarth returns at the end of her first, 35 minute, solo soaring flight...
Thereafter the shape shifting sky gave little more, and the day slipped into an 6-7 launch an hour routine, with Sian Coombs, Nicholas Bendall, and Valerie Hart being given extended duration flights by IFP Peter Howarth (see photos), whilst trainees Dave Downton, Ed Borlase, Karon Matten and very welcome new joiner (and Silver C holder) Josef Nobbs were able to practice their landings into a light to moderate, steady, easterly breeze.

Introductory Flight Visitor Valerie Hart flew with Peter Howarth.
Introductory Flight Pilot Pete Howarth with visitor Sian Coombs.
Introductory Flight Visitor Nicholas Bendall.
Many assaults were made on Chris Owen’s ‘stake in the sky’, , but all fell woefully short, the closest (well, least far away) being a mere 11 minutes scored by his syndicate partner Pete “Grrr!” Harvey.

And so, as the temperature began to drop in the last hour of sunlight (note for future use: micropore cloths to the ready) we returned the gliders to the hangar, happy to have completed 35 launches without hitch.

Thanks go to Barry and Heather for winch and retrieve (with Allan Holland providing Barry a welcome break), to Chris and Karon Matten (for old jokes and new Child Protection leaflets) and to Adrian Irwin for assisting around the launch point.

One thing’s for sure: after the downpour predicted for Wednesday, further wave bearing easterlies will certainly not be part of the deal for next weekend…

Martin Cropper

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