Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 23rd July 2017

For the armchair pilot, it depended in which direction the chair was pointing. To the north, it looked classic: lines of puffy cu stretched across the horizon, to the east the sky was overdeveloped, to the south clear as a bell and to the west (ie. upwind) it was changing by the minute. And so did members’ fortunes, depending on when they launched. The early part of the day also won the award for the lowest Sunday launch rate for years: for no clearly identifiable reason we managed only two launches between 1100 and 1200, a hardly nostalgic throw back to the ‘good old’ days when the first launch used to coincide with lunch..! As the number of single seaters increased at the launchpoint, however, so did the launch rate.

Today was the first Sunday outing for Barry Green’s Alisport Silent Targa (silent it ain’t!) – an Italian built ultralight self-launcher with a 13.3m span and 50hp engine. Sharp eyed observers of the accompanying photos will already have noticed that the Silent has a single bladed propeller – the reason for it being..? Barry launched at 1230 and very soon had the engine shut down as a grey mass of cloud kept him aloft for over an hour.

Barry Green’s self-launching Silent Targa…
…and away he goes!
Others without engines included Mike Bennett, Adrian Irwin and Dave Downton in the K-8B, Leith Whittington in his Dart 17R, Roger Appleboom flying his Club Libelle for the first time on site and Steve Fletcher in his Open Cirrus. Steve suffered severe dolly problems (not what you might think) both on the way to and from the launchpoint, which were solved by Roger Appleboom binding the dolly together with a leather belt, on completion of which Roger was amazed to find that he had lost weight (or the belt had stretched..!)

Busy launch queue under a promising sky.
The aforesaid Roger A also flew our visitors, the aptly named Andrew Downton (no relation to our ‘Voice…’), a music teacher from Bovey Tracy, and Rob Giles, from Bere Alston, who was treated to Roger’s company for 20 mins as he sniffed out a thermal to 1,300ft. An unexpected visit came in the form of Sean McNulty, on holiday from Hemel Hempstead, who recently gained his PPL at Denham, the GA airfield that amazingly is permitted to operate within the controlled airspace of London’s Heathrow Airport. When it came to (hesitantly) giving Sean the bill for his three flights he declared it to be a “bargain, compared to flying a Cessna 182 for a day..!”

 Andrew Downton (no relation) looks happy to be flying with Roger
Visitor Roger Giles receiving his pre-flight brief.
Our sole trainee today was Ben Caverhill., who not only flew the entire launch for the first time, but also soared from 800ft to 1,300ft under a huge grey hoover over Blackdown – all his own work!

So what of the stats? Flight of the Day went to Steve Fletcher with 37 mins in the Open Cirrus, closely followed by Henry Ford, visiting from Mendip, who on the last flight of the day found a convergence zone which took him almost to Roadford Reservoir, thus proving that the armchair pilot, as ever, was right: today the direction to go was north.

Thanks are due to Dave Downton and Barry Green for winching, and to Allan Holland for freeing the brakes when they mysteriously seized up.

By the time we had put the hurdle fence back up I think everyone agreed it had been a challenging but enjoyable day.

Martin Cropper

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