Dartmoore Gliding News-Sunday 25th June 2017

Well this was to be our Longest Day, and the call has to be made ’10 out of 10 for Effort!’ since Roger Appleboom, Dave Downton, Chris Owen and Rich Roberts had camped out at the club and had all the kit ready to roll at 6:30am. Sadly, as our photo shows, the weather had other ideas, the cloud being on the deck and, with very little wind, showing no signs of lifting any time soon. A good crowd soon developed and, with little else to be done, were soon treated to be very informative teach-in by Don Puttock on Met, METARs and how TAFs are compiled, the upshot of which was that we might as well give up all hope of flying, since a cold front to the north was going to take ages to clear through and until such time as it did, ambient temperature and dew point would be synonymous (ie. mist remaining).

Come on, weather! The scene at 6:30am as mist surrounds the Libelle trailer.
Venturing down to the hangar a little later for a chat, Gordon Dennis and Don were treated to, if not a damascene moment, at least a patch of light that soon led to a patch of blue big enough to fit a K-13 into. And so the bell was rung and the stampede was on! Let’s get something out of the day (if not the 100 launches that had been our aim..!) And so, by mid-day, we had both K-13s and the K-8 at the east end of the airfield and were ready to go. With only one cable break hampering proceedings early on, we struck a launch rate of eight and then seven per hour, getting trainees Charlotte Duffy, Ed Borlase and Dominic Marsh away in the K-13s, whilst Chris Owen savoured the ‘delights’ of the K-8 in the breezy conditions that were now prevailing.

Visitor Ian Harvey ready to go with Gordon Dennis.
Visitor Sara Walker looking forward to the prospect of aviating.
Sara Walker gets airborne in K-13 HXP with Roger Appleboom.
At about 2:00pm the first in a long line of visitors which Dave Downton had spent most of the morning placating began to arrive. They included Ralph Bebbington, Irene Elsley (supported by the largest family yet seen on the airfield), Ian Harvey, Sara Walker and Tracey Sutcliffe, who all seemed to enjoy their flights, albeit brief, as the blue patch had failed to expand, giving way to wall to wall cloud for the afternoon.

The Launchpoint mid-afternoon.
Ralph Bebbington was our first visitor of the day, flying with IFP Roger Appleboom.
Visitor Irene Elsley was supported by her own family Supporters’ Club!
 Visitor Irene Elsley with her Certificate, and Supporters Club!
By about 5:00pm, having flown our final visitor, and completed the in-house list, the adrenalin seemed to disperse from our corporate system and we decided (some having seen both 5 o’clocks in the day) to pack the kit away.

Roger Appleboom searching North Brentor village for Granny Downton’s house...
So with 29 launches achieved we were a little shy of the 100 objective, but the ambition, commitment and ability to mount a Longest Day had been proved. A very large vote of thanks must go to Rich Roberts, who was the powerhouse behind this whole operation, which was not simply a matter of sending a few emails, but organising the instructors to ensure a safe operation, getting together crews of winch and retrieve drivers, making up state-boards for the clubhouse and marking up the airfield (for the grids of gliders), amongst other things… Thanks, Rich, without you this would not have happened!

Brentor Church, aka High Key Area in a westerly…
Only 364 days to wait before we show that we can do it again!

Martin Cropper

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