Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 12th June 2019

With low cloud over the airfield and drizzle in the air which was forecast to hang around until late afternoon, it was a day to muck in with the outstanding jobs. First up was the damaged fence to the south of the hangar. Mike, Hugh and myself set about replacing damaged fence poles and securing the fencing to them. We were joined part way through the task by John.

Hugh and Mike tackling the fence.
The finished fence.
Meanwhile in the hangar Colin progressed the C of A on DMX. After refitting and testing the instruments attention switched to the tail wheel. Hugh and Malcolm went about removing the wheel, cleaning and greasing and then refitting with the correct spacers to ensure good clearance all around.

Hugh and Malcolm working on the tail wheel.
Meanwhile I gave the two seats a coat of paint to help improve the look of the cockpit.

Freshly painted seats.
Allan Holland set about sorting the bushes for the control columns ready for refitting.

Allan Holland hard at work.
Steve Fletcher and Richard Roberts continued tidying up the clubhouse, particularly the office. Phil Hardwick spent most of the morning mowing the airfield. Thank you to all who turned up and tackled some of the many tasks at the club.

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 9th June 2019

Useless. Utterly useless. The Met Office forecast for General Aviation users below 10,000ft included an area encompassing most of the western approaches in which the viz could be expected to be 30 km with no weather, and where cloud would be isolated, but occasionally scattered or broken over fronts and troughs to the NW of Scotland.

“...An ominous looking cloud appeared from the south..”
So it was with some trepidation that we viewed the early approach of a large grey cloud from the south (see photo) as we sought to get some club launches away prior to arrival of the first Trial Lesson visitor at 1100. Fortunately, the cloud diverted from its course to intercept onto a more easterly heading, just clipping the south side of the airfield boundary. Obviously, its presence so soon in the day was indicative of an unstable airmass, and so it turned out to be, with plenty of vertical energy to be exploited.

Visitor Alan Tremblett was BI Roger Green’s first trial lesson.
The first to do so was newly qualified BI Roger Green who, flying with visitor Alan Tremblett, spotted a neat little cloud marking a thermal to the north which kept them airborne for 15 mins. This sparked the flint for our returning visitor from Kent, Brian Tansley, who in the K-8, found strong lift to 3,000ft or more directly over the site. Solo pilots Roger Appleboom, Steve Fletcher, Leith Whittington and Martin Broadway tried their best to better him, but it was not until the afternoon when he was eventually toppled by some very courageous flying by Pete Howarth and Allan Holland who both, under a slate grey afternoon skies, managed to achieve 30 minutes apiece.

Visitor David Rowe and...
 ...Alan Jones are members of a local social club.
Our visitors, as is so often the case, provided a rich mix of diversity and interest. They were Alan Tremblett (aforementioned), David Rowe with Alan James who arrived with a very colourful and entertaining entourage from a local social club, and Angie Liversedge. Angie, who hails from Truro, first flew with us 30 years ago. She was then trained, and sent solo, by Allan Holland, and so was delighted to see that Allan was still an active member of the club, as our photo shows. In view of her previous training, Angie was given a second launch, this time with Asst Cat Pete Howarth as PIC who was able to give her control during much of the flight, following which Angie declared that she may well be back..! Let's hope so.

Visitor Angie Liversedge first flew with us 30 years ago...
...and was delighted to be reunited with Allan Holland, who sent her solo.
Thanks go to Steve Fletcher for winching, to Leith Whittington for driving the retrieve, to Ed Borlase and Dave Westcott for turning up and disappearing early, to Hugh Gascoyne for turning up late with his daughter and helping us to pack away, to Brian Tansley (our visitor from Challock) for remaining to generally help out, and most of all to Roger Green, for being a perfect ambassador for the club in his first day as a newly qualified Basic Instructor.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 8th June 2019

After yesterday's torrential rain the airfield was surprisingly dry. Today's forecast was for a typical summer, low pressure day; Showers and strong, blustery winds. The forecast wind strength meant that, reluctantly, we had to cancel our visitor flying today. The good news, was that although strong the westerly wind was straight down the runway, so, with care, some flying would be possible. The only sensible decision in these conditions was to field a single K13 to ensure safe ground handling. The K8s and Zugvogel were left in the cozy hangar.

The view over Tavisotck to the Tamar Estuaries from 2000 feet
First up was returning visitor Steve Hassall who is keen to start learning to fly. After a delayed start due to the first shower of the day, instructor Mike Jardine flew with Steve for 3 circuits in the buoyant conditions.

Mike was happy with his soaring flight
The next up was Mike Bennett. Luckily there  was a black looking cloud street directly overhead. Aided by a 1450 feet launch they hooked into some very strong lift and whisked up to cloudbase. After 24 minutes the cloud had moved away so it was back to the airfield.

^6 knots at 2000 feet wings level - amazing
Steve Hassall took another flight with Mike and this time they were rewarded with the flight of the day, 43 minutes at cloudbase giving Steve lots of time on the controls. Great stuff.

Steve Hassall with Mike Jardine
Only 2 more flights, a circuit by Phil Harwick and an extended circuit followed by a 29 minute romp with Scratch and Rick before the K13 was returned to the hangar ahead of the next showers.
Scratch and Rick looking serious.
So an interesting day punctuated by a few showers to give us practice at drying the glider and a wind that was strong enough to refresh the pilots skills in dealing with this.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 5th June 2019

I arrived at the airfield and Hugh & Mike were already hard at work changing ends ready to fly. The weather forecast was for moderate westerly winds and turning to possible showers as the day progressed. After the morning briefing Colin Boyd arrived, so it was decided to derig DMX so he could start the C of A.

Robin Wilson was first in the K13. The first flight was a simulated cable break followed by a second real cable break. Both were well flown and Robin should soon be back solo. Next up was returning member Ian Woolley who continued to polish up his general flying skills.

K8 being brought back to the launch point.
Flying was interrupted by a passing shower where we sheltered in the launch hut and had lunch.

A crowded launch hut waiting for the rain to pass
Between showers Bob Sansom flew the K13 with me for 17 minutes. Also Steve Fletcher took a break from his filing in the clubhouse and flew the K8 for the longest flight of the day of 22 minutes.

Bob Sansom soaring at 2000ft.
Hugh Gasgoyne also flew the K8. The last flight before more rain arrived was Dave Downton who continued to hopefully regain his solo wings.

Thanks must go to John Smith who spent time in the hangar helping Colin, but did not fly due to the rain arriving. Also to Mike & Phil for winching, Malcom for retrieving and not flying. Hopefully better weather at the weekend and next Wednesday.

Peter Howarth

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 1st June 2019

An expectant launch point
A warm front is on the way but with luck will not spoil the flying today but tomorrow is not looking good. The high pressure may well put a lid on today's soaring. RASP gives a short soaring window in the afternoon. Looking at the atmospheric sounding thing's ate not hopeful. The picture is one of a stable airmass with a very low inversion. The breeze is from the SE.

Steve Fletcher launches the Open Cirrus
So what did we find. Right from the first flight ( at a somewhat tardy 11am ) it was possible to extend circuit times in air that felt frothy but no more. Careful centering did not help much as this was almost certainly the low inversion at about 1100 feet. But it was entertaining. A little later Ged and Phil found a solitary thermal that had punched through the inversion and this wafted them to a dizzying 2700 feet. By mid afternoon there were more thermals to be had giving Malcom Wilton-Jones a flight of just over an hour in the K8 and Steve Fletcher 1 hour and 42 minutes in his Open Cirrus. Towards the end of the afternoon the thermal activity had all but disappeared when Mike Jardine and Karon Matten in the K13 found a patch of wave which gave them a smooth 8 knot climb to a little over 2000ft at which point the wave vanished as suddenly as it had started. Interesting.

Mike Jardine's view of the airfield from the backseat of HXP
And Steve Fletcher's view from the Open Cirrus
Today we had a couple of new faces on the airfield. Paul Hayward was today's One Day Course candidate. He made a good start at learning to operate the glider controls during his flights throughout the day. The other "new face" was ex member Ian Wooley who returned today after an absence of 12 years? to begin the process of restoring his solo status. Welcome back Ian.

Ian sharing a joke with Rick.
Paul Hayward waiting for his first flight with me in HXP
A good club day.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Monday 27th May 2019

With RASP predicting a low cloud-base (1,400ft amsl) until well into the afternoon, the Met Office showing 20kt westerly winds and with no Trial Lessons or One Day Courses booked, all was set for a delightfully dull day pottering around the clubhouse. Until, on arrival at the airfield, the cloud-base was clearly over the tors (ie >2,100ft amsl), the wind was 7kts (windsock at 45 degrees) and the news was that the CFI was expected at 1030 to conduct acceptance tests for two new BIs. So socks, up: PULL - let’s get this airfield ready to aviate..!

With the benefit of a strong team of early arrivers we got the first launch away just after 1000, and by 1045 had struck luck with our first soaring flight, by Pete Howarth in the K-8. The earliness of that event gives a hint of today’s instability: the cloud developed quickly, packed with lashings of energy, but then overdeveloped and in cases collapsed into showers before clearing and the whole process recycled. So for those who wanted soaring (such as Malcolm Wilton-Jones and Andy Davey) it was there to be had, but timing was of the essence and you had to work hard to stay in narrow bands of lift or get much above 1,600ft agl.
Rich Roberts and Roger Green on the wire prior their acceptance flights –
no pre-exam nerves there then..!
But what of our BI brethren? After some hasty behind the scenes negotiations, it was decided (?) that today was the only day on which Rich Roberts, Roger Green and CFI Mark Courtney could meet for Mark to carry out the acceptance checks necessary for them to become Basic Instructors at Brentor. After an intensive period of coaching and examination at DSGC North Hill, Richard and Roger could not have been better prepared for this final furlong: three launch failure exercises and a simulated trial lesson apiece that finally won them their spurs. They have asked for a message of sincere thanks to be sent to all those involved in their training at North Hill, for their generous provision of facilities and time to deliver a comprehensive training package. And to which we all at Dartmoor Gliding Society would like to add our thanks – this is great news for the club!

CFI Mark Courtney with BI trainee Richard Roberts about to launch.
CFI Mark Courtney with wannabe BI Roger Green.
With the acceptance checks completed, Mike Bennett then took the opportunity for some soaring with Mark, before Malcolm Wilton-Jones capped the day with its longest flight: 1hr 2mins in the K-8, as rain approaching from the west caused us to put the toys away dry, rather than wet.

Mike Bennett straps in for some soaring training with Mark.
There was another accomplishment today: a little over a year since requalifying as an Assistant Category instructor, Peter Howarth notched up his 500th hour of gliding on his third flight of the day. Well Done, Peter!

Thanks go to all those who helped today, but most particularly to Dene 'Scratch' Hitchens who, having arrived early to carry out some vital welding on the Guslaunch, then went on to deliver flawless launches for the BI trainees before ‘disappearing’ early (some people put it another way…) without flying. Thanks, Scratch.

Today was a day when many and varied efforts were well rewarded and - did I forget to mention? - the wind was up and down the runway, all day. Now you don’t see many of those around here, do you..?

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 25th May 2019

The conditions at lunch time. Good looking cloud in the distance, nothing close by.
The forecast was suggesting increasing cloud cover with a chance of showers in the late afternoon. The breeze, which started out as a zephyr from the north, would strengthen and swing a little more westerly. RASP was predicting thermals rapidly increasing in strength after lunch and continuing until late afternoon. So a reasonable day in prospect.

Madeleine ready to fly
We welcomed Madeleine Cook today who attended for a One Day Course. Madeline flew with Rick, who was fulfilling the roll of Instructor 2 while Mike Jardine was today's Instructor 1 releasing me for some much needed solo flying. By the end of the day Madeleine was able to fly the aircraft with some style aided, no doubt, by the air time afforded by a couple of good soaring flights.

Mike Jardine conducted today's club training and was busy throughout the day. His efforts included no fewer than 4 soaring flights, no doubt enjoyed by his various charges.

Local soaring was the order of the day. Here soaring above Mary Tavy
What of the soaring? Did the forecast deliver. Well yes. Phil Hardwick led the charge with a 36 minute flight at mid day in his Astir CS. This prompted me to launch in my Zugvogel 3B. A flight which I eventually terminated after just over 3 hours. ( lunch and a comfort break beckoned ). Initially the flight was difficult with elusive narrow cores terminating at a 1900 feet cloudbase. The sink in between was "character forming" and some care was needed. Miss one thermal and things became exciting. Miss 2 thermals and the runway would be the target. Half an hour later,  over the higher tors of Dartmoor the cloudbase had risen to 3000 feet and I was able to maintain 4 knots on the averager. This was better. Time to go somewhere. Venturing north, I encountered lowering cloudbases, 2200 feet at Roadford, and weak thermals. Ahead of this it was obvious that the the sea air was already here from the north coast. So local soaring it was. The best soaring was back over Dartmoor where a convergence was available for quite some time.

Strong sink at 1900 feet on the way to the next thermal
I often include a "conquering hero" shot for the best flight of the day.
Today you will have to put up with my attempt at a "selfie"
The solo pilots put up a good show today with Mendips visitor Henry Ford, Scratch and Allan Holland soaring the K8  for 59, 38 and  48 minutes. Other notable flights were 2 hours by Ged and Phil in the Twin Astir, and 55 minutes by Roger Green in the Zugvogel 3B.

Soaring with the K8
Sharing a thermal with the Twin Astir
So the day delivered in spades. Lots of soaring and smiling faces. And the forecast showers never materialised.

An excellent club day.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 22nd May 2019

With clear blue skies and light variable winds the rasp forecast gave an optimistic good soaring day. We were able to place the winch in the top field to maximise the launches. This encouraged private owners Roger Green (Zugvogel), Steve Fletcher (Open Cirrus), Dave & Ed (K6) and Twin Astir syndicate members to rig ready to fly.

The Launch Point
Today we were joined by two visitors from Lon Mynd. Assistant Instructor Matthew Cook and Stephen Fry. After a quick site check with me in the K13, Matthew enjoyed a soaring flight of 37 minutes in the K8. Later in the day Roger allowed him to fly the Zugvogel and he had another flight of 38 minutes. I flew with Stephen later in the day for an experience flight over the area as he hasn’t flown for a good few years.

Matthew waiting for his site check.
First of the trainees in the K13 with me was John Smith. A couple of cable break practices and circuits continues his good progress towards re-solo in the near future. Next up was John O’Connell who progressed with general flying consolidation and progress. After a flight in the Twin Astir with Phil Hardwick, Robin Wilson had a 22 minute soaring flight with me in the K13 to also consolidate his flying skills ready to also re-solo in the near future.

Dave Downton was also back on the field again, getting back into the swing winching, log keeping and helping at the launch point. And yes, he also flew with me to carry on honing his flying skills.

Dave getting ready to fly.
Dave Wescott in the K6.
The solo pilots were keeping the winch drivers busy. Unfortunately there were a lot of circuits caused by a sea breeze during the day. There were a few notable longer flights. Roger 26 mins, Allan Holland 1hr 01, Hugh 14 minutes. Longest flight of the day was Steve Fletcher 1hr 15.

Steve’s view at 3000ft
A total of 30 flights with soaring flights for those who were in the right place at the right time. Thank you to winch drivers, retrieve drivers and all who helped make a good days flying.

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 19th May 2019

Airfield from the west end: just add a healthy dollop of gliders.
Today’s conundrum was ‘How can wave form from a north-westerly wind ’ Given that there are no wave triggers to the north-west of the airfield, it’s a question that remains unanswered, however the experience of pilots today certainly seemed to point towards wave or rotor at times either suppressing or enhancing thermic activity. As with yesterday’s experience, the greatest benefit was the siting of the winch in the top field, giving 1,500ft launches for the K-8, and at least 6 minutes guaranteed for every K-13 launch (well, all except some…).

The Byrne family: Naomi and Nick, after flying.
Reuben Hutchinson, from Mary Tavy,
receives his flying certificate from Martin Cropper
Our visitors were father and daughter team Nick and Naomi Byrne, Mary Tavy student Reuben Hutchinson, who hopefully obtained some good photo-recce shots of his home and locality, farmer David Colwill, from Holsworthy and Caroline Yorke, who might just have been converted from the ‘delights’ of powered flying. Martin Broadway also continued towards re-soloing, achieving flight of the day at 32 minutes in strong mid-afternoon thermals.

Farmer Dave Colwill, from Holsworthy, is ready to fly.
Visitor Caroline Yorke being briefed by Martin Cropper.
Leith Whittington ‘boldly went’ for some ridge soaring in the club K-8 (achieving a creditable 13 minutes in doing so) and Roger Appleboom managed two extended local soaring flights to 2,000ft plus. With the wind strength freshening in the afternoon, we 'allowed' Allan Holland to obtain 17 minutes in the K-8 before calling ‘time’ on flying.

Ed Borlase’s view of the K-8 soaring beneath an interesting cloud mix.
Thanks go to those who winched and retrieved, in particular to Phil Hardwick who did so without flying (early doors) and to everyone for putting up with putting up the fence at the end of the day.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 18th May 2019

After the weeks of blue skies today was a bit of a surprise. There was a high cirrus cover with some cumulus clouds in a lower layer. There was some brightness through the cirrus so, with a bit of luck, some thermal activity was still possible. The wind was very light from just west of north. The forecast  was for showers in the afternoon but while these were evident to the south, they did not affect the airfield.

The upper cirrus cloud greatly reduce thermal formation
One big advantage today was the fact that the top field was in use, which allowed us to extend the winch by 400 metres. This meant that, even with no effective headwind component, the K13 could still launch to 1350 feet and the K8 nearer to 1600 feet. This would prove extremely useful in allowing the aircraft to find the ellusive thermals.

The lower cumulus layer provided the thermal activity
With careful searching it was definitely possible to soar. Not the strong cores of the last few weeks but usable for local soaring. The longest flight of the day was by Malcom Wilton-Jones was flew the K8 for a little over an hour before airbraking down to let someone else have a go. The K13 made several shortish soaring flights.

Steven Hassall
Today we welcomed Steven Hassall who attended for a One Day Course. He enjoyed flying with both myself and Rick a was able to make some tidy turns by the end of the day. We hope this is the just start of his glider flying journey. Also visiting today was Alexander Hughes who enjoyed a couple of Trial Flights with Rick.

Steve Raine breifing Alexander before his first flight
Alexander and Rick waiting to launch
Rick was also kept busy with club instruction today with several flights with David Archer followed by A series of practice cable breaks with Steve Raine who was keen to practice this,

A "Busman's Holiday".
Retired farmer Phil could not resist cutting the grass
A good club day.