Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 18th October 2017

Not the greatest of days weather wise with low cloud and a southerly breeze but the Wednesday regulars turned up optimistic as ever.

The "new" Zetor arrives
Colin and the sorcerers apprentice continued to work their magic on the K8 whilst Phil got up close and personal with our newly painted red Zetor tractor. Phil quickly appraised himself of the controls and was solo within no time at all.

Trying it for size Phil?
The sun put in a brief appearance and so we rigged the open cirrus just in time to see the sun go and the cloud base descend to about 600 feet! Not deterred we set up the field and sat at the launch point waiting for things to improve which they eventually did allowing some flying to take place.

Huge thanks from me to Phil Hardwick, Martin Broadway, Bob sansom, Peter Harvey and Allen Holland for launching me. Finally a plea for more members to turn up on Wednesdays please!

Steve Fletcher

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 15th October 2017

Today was another day with low cloud early and with the winds to be slowly increasing to a forecast 15-20 Knots due south it was declared that today was going to be a non-flying day. A couple of our guests rang in to see if we were flying, so the voice Dave Downton set about re-booking all for another day.

We welcomed back Martin to the club after his short absence from flying. Hopefully you will fly next Sunday to regain your wings. So after cups of coffee and tea we looked for some jobs that needed doing. Roger had noticed that HXP was sitting rather low on its dolly. Investigation found that it indeed had a puncture. We set about swapping the wheel with a spare after it was found the existing tube was leaking from a previous repair and couldn’t be repaired.

Checking for leaks
After sorting HXP we took the glider out of the hangar and washed the mud off from the previous weekend’s flying.

 Colin arrived to check on the repair to the K8 wing with help from his apprentice.
Following more teas and coffees with lunch it was decided to pack away and head for home. Hopefully a better weekend weather next week.

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 8th October 2017

Having driven from Plymouth in varying degrees of clear air and foggy stretches it was no surprise that the airfield was shrouded in fog. Roger and Richard were in the clubhouse preparing for the day by drinking tea. Shortly after Ed Borlase, Mark Jerman and Josef Nobbs (yes you read that correctly) turned up and discussions turned to, when is the fog going to clear. It was decided to be optimistic that the fog would clear sooner rather than later. So the small crew set about extracating the two seaters from the hangar and setting the airfield up ready to fly.

Gliders in the mist
About 10:30 it was decided the sky was clearing, so we towed the gliders to the east end to await the cloudbase to rise enough to start flying. First into the air was Mark Jerman and myself at 10:52 for a weather check flight. With virtually nil wind we achieved a 800ft launch. So we were off for the days flying.
Our first visitor was Paul Rendell from the Dartmoor News magazine. Paul and I had two flights, one of 8 minutes during which he took several photos and we talked about the club and other aspects of Dartmoor. Paul will be writing an article for the magazine and should feature in the January/February 2018 edition. I will confirm this at a later date.

Paul Rendell
 Our other visitors came in a steady flow. The first two were Leonie and Kevin Knight who flew with Richard. We had to shoe horn Kevin into the back seat or we would not have been able to fly him. Both enjoyed their flights.

Kevin Knight
Leonie Knight
Pamela Prades
Another visitor Pamela Prades also flew with Richard.

Our last visitors were David Lamb and David Hatton who both flew with Roger.

David Lamb
David Hatton
One family member who arrived with David Hatton was Chloe. She was very keen to sit in a glider which Ed oversaw and she also pestered her dad to have a flight. Arrangements were made for her to fly in the back seat with me in the front. She bravely got settled in the back, only at the last minute was even braver to speak up and say she didn’t want to fly. We presented her with a certificate for being brave and look forward to her coming back when she is a little bigger and braver.

Brave Chloe with me
 I was kept busy with club flying. After Mark’s first flight, his second was a high cable break practice. He also had two more flights at the end of the day including a hangar flight. All were handled well. New member Lee Morgan paid us a visit instead of his usual Saturday visits. He progressed with a demonstration of adverse yaw and started trying to turn the glider and flying straight and level. Good progress was made, well done Lee. Josef had a couple of flights with Roger to maintain currency, flying from the front seat and then trying out the back seat.

What about our other star solo pilot, ED? He had a quick check flight with me and then took to the air for a couple of solo flights. His second flight was the longest of the day. A very successful 12 minutes. We had difficulty stopping him talking about it for quite a while.

Ed waiting to launch for the longest flight of the day.
A big thank you to Roger and Richard for Winching. Also Josef, Alan Holland and Mark for retrieving. Although only 22 flights today, everything went smoothly considering the small amount of members present. All flew who wanted to. I must also say a big thank you to Scratch who finished off the repair to the entrance without flying.

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 7th October 2017

Another rainy day at the airfield
 Arriving at the airfield in the rain I was immediately reminded of The Sam Cooke song "Chain Gang". Scratch ( Dene Hitchen) had organised a group of members to help him with the repairs to the site entrance which had been washed out by the water running off the site every time it rained. After digging out the damaged area yesterday, a heculean task in itself, the plan was to fill the ditch with concrete today. The weather had other ideas. The rain was once again running through the entrance and would have damaged the new concrete so this task would have to wait until tomorrow.

The damaged entrance prepared for new concrete
The Dartmoor chain gang working harmoniously as usual
Elsewhere, Rick was working on the Gold Discovery, replacing the damaged front drive shaft which will enable 4WD once again. This will be essential for the coming season. During the course of this repair it was discovered that the front disk brakes were seized, so arrangemts were made to get a caliper rebuild kit to be fitted next week.

Do you recognise this man? Rick assumes his usual position under a vehicle
Although there could be no flying today, that did not mean no training today. In the clubhouse Instructor Mike Jardine put David Archer through his paces in the simulator.

Mike and David giving the simulator a workout
Hoping for better weather soon.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 4th October 2017

The forecast on Monday was for Wednesday to possibly be a good soaring day but as the week progressed so the forecast changed for the worse. Weds morning the wind was more southerly than the predicted westerly but as the day progressed it veered round so we eventually had about 15 knots straight down the runway from the west. As it was a pilots only day there weren't many of us and Colin and the voice of Dartmoor were buried under a mound of paperwork so just 4 of us decided to fly.

A pilot's eye view.
Bob Sansom, Phil Hardwick and Robin Wilson helped me rig my open cirrus and then we got the twin astir out. Allen Holland then arrived and we set about flying. Whilst quite cloudy with very little sun hitting the ground Robin and Phil managed to stay up in the twin astir for 24 mins but as the thermals only seemed to be close to the active ranges it was difficult to ride them for long before being blown close to the boundary and needing to fly back westwards and out of the thermal.

The view from the back seat of the Twin Astir - Robin is in the front seat
Equipped with the knowledge of where to find a thermal from their exploratory flight I managed to ride the thermal in my cirrus for 27 mins before losing it altogether. The thermals then eluded us but we all got a chance to fly as ballast in the back of the Twin Astir from where I took these pictures.

Thanks to everyone who turned up, just enough to get the airfield up and running and some good flying.

Steve Fletcher

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 30th September 2017

Surely September would go out on a high note. Watching the weather ( pilot's 2nd hobby ) for the week before there seemed to be a pattern; One day with a weak ridge of high pressure giving settled, pleasant weather, followed by a day with a weak frontal system giving low cloud and rain. At the start of the week it looked like Saturday would the good day but alas the fronts sped up and we ended up with the unflyable weak front instead. Regular readers will know that we have been here before.

Gordon and Lee discussing flying matters.
So, no flying but on with the myriad of tasks required to maintain that airfield and it's infrastructure. Before the work got underway, Instructor Gordon Dennis gave a very interesting lecture on Dark Matter to divert everyone's attention from flying. Gordon then returned from cosmic matters to flying giving new trainee pilot Lee Morgan his undivided attention.

Rick washing the mower before stripping it down.
Meanwhile, the mower was collected from the airfield, thoroughly cleaned and then disassembled ready for winter storage. Barry brought the launch hut down to the hangar and completed some repairs around the door.

A study in concentration; Barry fixing the launch hut door
So that was September then.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 23rd September 2017

A first glance this looked liked an ideal autumn training day with a clear blue sky. Step outside though and the gusty SE wind became all too apparent. The wind was 15knots at times with some considerable gusts. Regular readers of this blog will know that, with this wind strength and direction, approaches would be best described as "character forming" or perhaps challenging. Unfortunately this lead to the decision to cancel the fully booked air experience programme.

An innocent looking day
K13 G-DDMX completes another high energy approaches
We welcomed two new club members today, Lee Morgan who has decided to learn to fly with us and Mark Jermen, an experienced glider pilot, who has recently moved into the area. Both enjoyed their first flights with us in the gusty conditions. Everyone who wanted to fly did so in one of the K13's with either Mike Jardine or Rick Wiles, today's instructors.

Mark Jermen with Rick Wiles
Lee Morgan and Mike ready to go flying.
A frustrating day when it could have been so nice.



Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 19th September 2017

Firstly I would like to apologise if this blog is not up to the usual eloquent standards of the usual author. I turned up at the airfield slightly later than usual to be greeted by a small group of perplexed glider pilots who asked are we flying today as the airfield is quite wet after yesterday’s rain. The decision was yes, but we will limit traffic on the field to the retrieve disco and the quad bikes for glider retrieval. So with a north easterly forecast we set about changing ends and getting the gliders ready for flying. With both the K8 and Zug being CofA’d we were restricted to the two K13’s. First flight of the day was achieved at a respectable 10:27.

Today’s ODC was James Bidlake who had a couple of Introductory flights with Roger Applebloom and later completed the rest of his flying with me. By the end of the day he was successfully flying the K13 around with a little prompting from me. He thoroughly enjoyed his day and expressed his interest in taking up flying sometime in the future. His commute from Hong Kong where he works will make it difficult for the time being.

James Bidlake
Another two of our visitors were Evelyn Gartside and Mark Jarman who flew with me. Evelyn was down on holiday and wanted to fly at our club. She usually flies at Lasham and enjoyed her two short flights. Mark has recently moved to Devon and has been flying at Sutton Bank. After a year away from flying he is hoping to join us and re-solo with us at Dartmoor.

Evelyn Gartside
Mark Jerman
Roger was also kept very busy with our other visitors, Phil Archer,Peter Phillips, Penny Tillyer and Johnathan Harris. All went away happy and smiles on their faces. The airfield was quite crowded at times as our visitors all seemed to turn up with numerous friends and family.

Phil Archer
Penny Tillyer
Peter Phillips
Club flying was limited due to the lack of aircraft. After his recent break David Westcott was pleased to get back into the air with two full flights and a quick cable break practice to shake the cobwebs off. Towards the end of the day our recent soloist Ed Borlase took to the air with me. After a quick couple of flights to reacquaint him with flying from the west end, he consolidated with two solo flights and perfect landings. Well done Ed. Jo Nobbs also had a quick couple of flights with Roger to help keep currency. Robin Wilson flew his K6 to achieve the longest flight of the day 37 minutes. Leith added to the club coffers with his usual enthusiasm.

A big thank you must go to “The Voice” Dave Downton, who chose to winch all day and not to fly. Also Adrian Irwin who helped out on the field without flying. Thank you both and everybody else who helped achieve a successful days flying of 32 flights.

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News - Saturday 16th September 2017

Rain and more rain today so maintenance was the key word.

Colin directed the many hands to de rig the K8 ready for its ARC.

Colin directing the troops
And into the hangar please
The Gus launch was back on line following maintenance work and had three successful test launches of the K13 in between the showers and the fitting of a replacement wheel.

K13 wheel change prior to some test launches with the Gus Launch winch.
Then back to the clubhouse to a warm dry environment to discuss the work required on areas of the airfield to improve the site and for some there was simulator training.

Simulator training
Despite the weather we had a good social day.

Mike Jardine

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 10th November 2017

With the crescent of an occlusion cutting a swathe across the SW peninsula on the Met Office F215, and a cloudbase of 800ft agl at 0900, there was little difficulty in persuading the hordes of members in the clubhouse that: a. a cup of tea was in order, and b: that to take a K-13 up to the launchpoint only to risk it to getting wet by about 1030 was a very risky enterprise and hence that we would be better off keeping our feet on the floor.

And so we set about the tasks left for us by the Saturday Swingers: had they worn out the battery in the secondary quad bike (you know the one, that goes slower than the rotation of the earth in first gear), could we cut the grass on the airfield and strim opposite the clubhouse, and could we sweep up the shavings that had been left on the floor of the hangar? Disappointed that we'd missed the prize fight, we tackled the quad bike first. An enormously fiddly task (battery, battery box scarcely bigger than, lots of cable interference) we eventually proved that the battery was dud, and called for reinforcements...

We then addressed the grass cutting: a traditional gliding club amusement; no instructions, guidance on the equipment or clairvoyance to tell us how to a. attach the supposedly universal PTO shaft onto the PTO coupling of the tractor (it wouldn't fit, until we reversed it, and then it did...), and then get the PTO drive of the tractor to work (it's the lever on the left hand side of - forget it!) following which the Zetor was despatched to go where no sheep have gone recently.

‘Precision Pete’ Harvey and Zetor
And finally, having got one of the strimmers in the Genny hut working, we set about the grass opposite the clubhouse. After about 10 minutes Pete (time and motion analyst) Howarth decided upon a more efficient solution. Calling in 'Precision Pete' Harvey in the Zetor, we got the strip of grass cut with two swathes, the cutters being deftly handled to pass within an 'nth' of the notice at the top of the track. Such accuracy by 'Precision Pete' saved us more than at least 30 mins strimming, for which we (and our ears) are forever grateful.
‘Precision Pete’ Harvey cuts a swathe through the grass opposite the clubhouse...
...and this is how close he got the cutters to the sign at the top of the track..!
The rain swept in proper by about 1230, so after a light lunch of satire and setting the world to rights we departed the scene... Thanks go to Pete Harvey for his intrepid driving of the Zetor and grass-cutting.

Martin Cropper

Daratmoor Gliding News-Saturday 9th September 2017

Forecast today was for showers. What was not immediately obvious was what kind of showers these would be in today's westerly airflow. Not for us the gentle, summer showers of previous weeks. Oh no! Today the showers were angry, snarling beasts with torrential rain and winds so gusty and strong that the windsock seemed to have trouble keeping up as it waved and span around in some kind of demented dance. While the showers were overhead it was so dark under the low, black  cloud base that headlights would be required. With this and the fact that the airfield was already extremely wet from previous showers the decision to make today a no flying day was obvious.

The amount of water draining off the runway was unbelievable
The next shower is approaching from the left (west)
Members settled down to some work. Scratch and Rick worked on the winches. Initially making some adjustments on ML2 and then for their main course, reassembled the engine for the GusLaunch  such that by the end of the day it was had been started and prepared to do a trial launch to determine whether the power output issues have been solved.

The water running over the hangar apron
Heather spent her time tidying in the clubhouse, Mike was on the airfield cutting grass and new member David Archer rebuilt the Simulator computer. Colin was in the hangar working on the Zugvogel C of A.

Better weather soon please.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 6th September 2017

Forecast good as the front should have passed - but no flying until 2pm due to rain! Then 20Kt wind straight down the runway.

Ged is recovering from his second serious operation quickly.  He flew the Twin Astir for the 30 minute flight with Phil.

Ged waiting for the rain to stop
Only 6 flights, but they averaged 30 mins each under long streets that couldn't always be reached by the unlucky.

Thanks to Barry winching, and Heather for painting more inside the Clubhouse. Warning to Pilots : keep that kitchen clean, now that it's spotless!

Robin Wilson

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 2nd Spetember 2017

Today started with light variable winds in very usable soaring conditions with the threat of a front with associated rain and strong winds to come. The front did not arrive before the end of the day although it was not far away as indicated by the increasing high cirrus which blocked out the sunshine by mid afternoon. More of an effect was the sea air which swept through from the south at 1pm wiping the thermic conditions away with it leaving us with a southerly wind.

The sea air sweeping the last of the thermal cloud away to the north
Best flight of the day was 51 minutes by Andy Davey in the K8 who flew in the early thermic conditions and airbraked his way down to allow the aircraft to be used by the other members. Perhaps staying up for another 9 minutes should be your goal Andy to give you your 1 hour Cross Country Endorsement flight. There were 2 soaring flights in the sea air. Alan Carter, flying the Zugvogel 3B, found a small bubble of lift over the south field which he managed to work for 24 minutes as it drifted him away to the north to make him the wisest of the Three Wise Men ( otherwise know as the Zugvogel syndicate) today. The other notable flight was 18 muntes in the sea air by Allan Holland in the K8 who stayed up by sheer determination. Well done both.

Phil waiting to launch in his Astir with his ground crew asleep on the grass
Visitors today were Brad Mullarkey, who flew early enough to enjoy a nice soaring flight in HXP with me, Clive Lowe who flew in DMX and Gordon Yates who also in HXP  with Fred Marks as their instructor.

Brad about to go soaring with me in HXP
Clive Lowe wait to fly in DMX
Gordon Yates and Fred share a light hearted moment while wait to launch in HXP
This allowed me a little time to fly my "new" share although try as I might I could not extend the flight beyond 8 minutes in the sea air making me the least wise of the aforementioned Three Wise Men. Still nice to fly this delightful vintage aircraft though.

The least wise man - me in the Zugvogel

A nice club flying day.