Dartmoor Gliding news-Sunday 9th April 2017

Play it like it is? Or go with the forecast? With the windsock indicating a gentle SE’ly we left the launchpoint set up at the west end and, for the first pair of cables, all went well. Then, almost exactly as predicted, the wind began to swing, through south to SW. If there was a bugle we could have used it to call: “Change Ends!” Always an interesting manoeuvre, in this case (and in the interests of the Treasurer’s coffers) we elected to fly the gliders down to land at the winch end, which was followed by the tractor towing the winch to the west, returning in stately progress with the launchpoint. All this takes time, of course, but proved highly entertaining for our visitors Joy Aird and her husband (who has flown with us before) who arrived in the middle of the ‘action’.

Arian Irwin launches over the Dart 17R as we change ends.
The cavalry arrives: the launchpoint appears over the hill.
Once the wind had settled in the west, we made up for lost time with some serious flying (7 launches per hour) in an initially pleasant sky that caused the occasional cumulus to bubble up, enabling Adrian Irwin to remain aloft for over 20 minutes. By mid-afternoon the sky had darkened, however, and cloud-base reduced (enough for another West Country club to scrub for the day) but we soldiered on, and eventually blue sky and sunshine returned. Which was greatly appreciated by the latter stages of the training crew (Dave Downton, Dave Westcott, Dave Parker, Chris Owen, Tony Dean (check flights), Ed Borlase and Phillip Selwood) who understandably don’t like flying without a horizon. In the single seats, Adrian was joined by soloists Phil Hardwick (11 mins) and Leith Whittington (7 mins – careful, that’s almost soaring…)

Joy Aird about to proceed aloft with IFP Roger Appleboom.
 Visitor Dominic March.
Roger Appleboom chatting with visitor Ben Phillips.
Our visitors (Joy Aird, Dominic March and that rare bird, the Walkin, Ben Phillips) enjoyed the flying skills of Roger Appleboom, whilst down at the winch Phil, Dave and Adrian delivered an impeccable service, cheerfully putting up with numerous simulated launch failures (ho, ho). So as the last launch of the day inevitably encountered a ‘cable break’, and concluded with that long satisfying approach down the length of the airfield for a hangar landing, what was the final score? 41 launches. Not bad for a day with an hour taken out. Of course, we would have achieved more, had we been blessed with a Duty Instructor who can get the field set up the right way round at the start of the day…

Martin Cropper

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