Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 12th March 2017

Readers of a certain generation, and viewers of a slightly younger generation, will remember that ‘Dennis the Menace’ was frequently outwitted by his rival ‘Walter the Softy’. Today it was Brentor the Softy which outwitted us – an early morning inspection of the field, and in particular the 7-tonne winch, led us swiftly to conclude that to risk moving the winch to the upwind end of the runway (yesterday’s team having managed 23 launches in an easterly direction) was so fraught with potential for getting bogged down that it were best not moved at all. Not only that, but the ‘softyness’ of the field could easily have led to the same result with the gliders, plus the damage that Discos would have caused… Not that the aerial conditions were all that inspiring, as the low cloud base lifted to be replaced by a strengthening wind from the NW.

The weather forecast was: soft.  Too soft to move 7 tonnes of winch.
So it was back to the clubhouse where Dave Downton, Rich Roberts and Adrian Irwin were busy flying the ridges at Denbigh and the Mynd (courtesy of the simulator) whilst Sean Parramore and Chris and Karon Matten found time to come and check on their steeds in preparation for the coming season (Adrian Irwin also spent time programming in stations to his new 8.33 kHz spaced VHF radio – lucky chap! - these radios are mandatory from Jan 18).

Ed Borlase and Roger Appleboom lower the windsock at the start of the day.
But what of the ‘core’ team? Were they dismayed? Well perhaps slightly, but with referral to the ‘To Do’ List they were soon highly ‘inspired’ to get ‘wired’ thus generating income for the club by collecting up last year’s used winch cable ready for despatch to the scrap yard. A simple task, you would have thought, winding cable around your thumb and elbow; and you’d be right (hence this choice of those with the right skillset for the job..! In the months that the cable had been lying on the ground, however, not only had the grass grown over making it difficult to extricate (cue Range Rover Discovery) but the cable itself had procreated! Thus the single strand we tugged from the tufts at the east end of the airfield mysteriously became four or five strands as we worked our way westward – and the youngsters – although shorter - were distinctly plumper and more difficult to control than their parents! Did this deter us? I’m afrayed not – although the oil drum was positively overflowing by the time we’d finished!

Happy wire cutters
Martin Cropper, Ed Borlase and Roger Appleboom
(photo taken from the cosy and toasty Range Rover Discovery...)
Zees ees ‘ow we tame the snake en France!  Roger A in typically gallic garb.
The finished article: Roger Appleboom (see reflection) loads the final coil of wire into the oil drum.
Thanks go to Roger Appleboom, Ed Borlase and Paula Howarth for tenaciously sticking with the task, even though ‘mission creep’ appeared to make it grow as it should have been getting shorter – and awareness of those huddled in the warmth of the clubhouse made them feel increasingly ‘stranded’..! After a late lunch and a quick discussion about the new Bronze ‘C’ exam (already in force), it was home to a roast dinner and the delights of Sunday night terrestrial TV (ie. not ‘cable’..!)

Martin Cropper

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