Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 20th November 2016

In the local villages of St Dominick (Cornwall) and Milton Combe (Devon) there are pubs called the 'Who'd Have Thought It?' Well, today at Brentor was 'Who'd Have Thought It?' day – as weather forecasts all week predicted heavy rain for Sunday as Storm Angus picked up momentum in the Atlantic – in the event it picked up so much momentum that it swept through the south-west on Saturday night overnight leaving us with clear air, bright sunshine and the merest zephyr of a breeze from the north-west.

Who’d Have Thought It?
After yesterday’s rain today was surprisingly bright and clear.
With only two visitors booked today, and a small but happy band of members in attendance, we decided that one K-13 and the K-8 would be sufficient to meet our needs, and managed to get some early launches in before the arrival of our guests. These were Lisa and Andy Postle, from Plymouth, who arrived with their extended family, to be flown by Asst Cat Instructor Peter Howarth. Peter has a bit of a reputation, not only as a very deeply pocketed gliding Dad, but also as a soaring 'sniffer', who can detect rising air on the flattest of days: and so it proved as he delivered Flight of the Day at 11 mins on his second flight with Lisa.

 One of today’s visitors was Lisa Postle, a sailmaker from Plymouth who flew with Peter Howarth.
Lisa’s husband Andy also flew with Peter.
Crewing Up: Peter assists Lisa into the front cockpit
As the day progressed the surface wind dropped further: not good for launch heights but beneficial and instructive for launch failure training, so much so that, having successfully accomplished some spin training in the morning, there was nothing else for it but to send Dave Downton for his first solo! Dave joined the club over a year ago, in his sixty eighth year, and has become a stalwart member of the team, fixing gliders with Colin Boyd, running the instructor roster and booking visitors onto the calendar: indeed in many respects Dave is the shop window for the club being the first contact people have with us (the 'Voice' of Dartmoor Gliding).

Dave Downton about to be sent aloft for his first solo.
Flying wise, however, it has been a struggle to find the weather conditions in which to complete the syllabus. This has even included going to other clubs (Mendip, thanks to Gordon Dennis, and the Long Mynd), but to no avail. Until today, after his 197th launch, Dave was finally ready to go. So how often, in the middle of November, would you expect to get a nil wind, sunny day, with very few visitors and plenty of cables on which to practice spins and launch failures? Who'd Have Thought It?

Thanks go to Barry Green, for delivering the shopping list of launches demanded, to Heather Horswill for retrieving the cables (and repainting the Gents door in the clubhouse), to Richard Roberts (for repairing that annoying stair tread in the launchpoint), to the logkeeping team (for logging all today's 23 launches) and to Dave himself, for showing selflessness and tenacity throughout the long and winding road that has eventually led to the achievement of solo status. Well Done, Dave!

Back in the clubhouse Dave Downton (right, with Coke)
celebrates going solo with Instructor Peter Howarth.
At the end of the day, in the clubhouse, Dave did the traditional thing by buying the beers for all, but chose to stick with Coke for himself, later revealing that he celebrated with his wife at home with a bottle of wine which had been put by (some time ago) specifically for that purpose.

Now Who'd Have Thought That!

Martin Cropper

2 comments:

Rich Roberts said...

Well done Dave. Great news. I'm so pleased for you. The k6e is now starting to fidget in the trailer waiting for an outing !!!!

Mike said...

I'll second that, well done Dave!