Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 16th October 2016

When does the average Instructor know that it’s time to cease flying? It’s not something that’s taught on Asst Cat Course, nor is it easy to reconcile with the motivating force behind most people’s presence at the club ie. to fly! But sometimes you don’t need to weigh up the factors yourself, sometimes the messages all around you, just waiting to be heard… Strangely enough, there was a conversation on line this week in which someone asked for the crosswind limits of a K-13. Well, you won’t find them in the Flight Manual, that’s for sure, but with the wind today crossed 90 degrees from the South it did call that question to mind…

The workshop ready to receive a new set of wings.
First job of the day, however, was to lift and shift wings from the hangar to the workshop and vice versa, for which many hands did indeed make light work, and was accomplished (without argument or injury) inside 20 minutes. Then, being a Sunday, and as declared by Heather Horswill, it was window cleaning day, including the launchpoint, where Heather requested a long pole to give the necessary reach. Well, we couldn’t find one and so we provided Ed Borlase, who seemed a perfectly adequate substitute..!

“If you could see what I can see…” when Ed Borlase is cleaning windows...
With these tasks completed, ends changed and Roger Appleboom teamed up with One Day Course student Russell Weston, we could start flying. After the first couple of launches the call came from the winch: “Can pilots please lay off properly to the South?” a message which didn’t need relaying from the launchpoint radio, you could hear the emphasis in Barry Green’s tone from the cockpit… The wind at that point was S’ly 7kts, gusting 15.

One Day Course student Russell Weston, from Plympton, with Roger Appleboom.
Roger and Russell on approach in K-13 G-CHXP
Visitor Jonathan Pugh with Roger 
First on the club trainee list was Dave Downton who, after a couple of launches (and near perfect recoveries) was asked “you’ve got to lay off even more”, (well, that was hardly a question). It would appear that the wind was freshening. Roger flew our 1200 visitor Jonathan Pugh whilst Dave made way for Ed Borlase in the other K-13. At which point we noticed the wing tip holder was having difficulty in keeping the wing down. On return from Ed’s first flight I couldn’t find a tyre to put on the wing because they’d all been press-ganged into providing gravitational assistance for the K-8, and then couldn’t find a wing tip holder because they’d all taken shelter behind the launch hut. Something, slowly, was beginning to form in my Holmesian-like brain.

Dave Downton turns onto final approach in K-13 G-DDMX.
As we prepared for Ed’s third launch Steve Fletcher came across declaring that he had to “get out of the launchpoint because that alarm on the weather station is going off continually and it’s not good for my tinnitus..!” The windsock was, by now, horizontal more than it wasn’t. We then received a message that the cable had gone well over the fence and it would be 20 minutes before it could be recovered. That was when, subliminally, the penny finally fell into the tiny decision making slot of my brain. We had to stop.

Getting the gliders back provided an unexpected source of amusement as the ‘ballast’ occupying the cockpit of the K-8 attempted to change direction using the rudder pedals whilst the glider was being towed by the Range Rover Discovery!

Totalling only ten launches only today (which was a shame since the 60kt final turns and approaches were more like riding a motorbike on a track day than the usual plod around the corner) sincere thanks must be paid to the long suffering winch/retrieve team of Barry Green and Heather Horswill: and yes, the message did get through – eventually!

That took us to a late lunch where we were able to enjoy not only the company of Allan Holland, Dave Bourchier, Chris Owen and Pete Harvey, but also indulge in some delicious ginger cake provided by Pete’s partner, Jules. Thanks, Jules.

So what is the crosswind limit for the K-13? Well, we can’t tell you, because we didn’t find it: we stopped before reaching that limit, not after it. And if that sounds pompous and self-righteous well maybe it is, but at least the gliders were all returned safely to the hangar – ready to fly another day.

Martin Cropper

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