Dartmoor Gliding- Be Careful Who You Listen To-Dene Hitchen

A Good Day Into a Bad Day
Be Careful Who You Listen To

It was a glorious sunny Sunday in August 2000. Light cross wind from the north launching from the east end. I was an early solo pilot looking forward to a good day.

Light northerly breeze with good looking clouds ( in the distance)

Steed for the day K7m FTU
Flight one – seven minutes, getting a feel of today’s conditions.

Flight 2 – thirty one minutes, reached cloud base at 2900 feet QFE, I’m liking this. Keep it within glide range of the field, that’s the rules, no heroics, simple flight.

Flight three, it’s time you pushed on a bit someone said, it’s your 18th solo flight and it’s a lovely day, patchy thermals, quite widely spread out but not too bad. Time for some advice from the seasoned pros.

Launching again
Step forward Mark Arnold, "Off to the north, that’s where you want to go, into wind, downwind run back to the field. See that large cloud in the distance, that’ll be working great, time you launch it will be overhead".

Sage advice is always available at the launchpoint ( maybe)
Many of the names of the people on site are long gone, I think Guss Pearce, Roger Mathews and John Bolt are names that come to mind among those I can’t recall, all watching as you do.

My turn next, ABCD, get in, straps on, CB SIFT CBE, advise from afar, if you have a launch failure, turn left, land into wind on the stub from the south. We used to practise stub landings in those days.

Good launch, 1200 feet, pull the release, as instructed turn right, don’t waste time head into wind straight for that cloud, there it is. Steady 2 to 3 down, plenty of height push on, it’s not getting any closer, push on they said I’ll get there, 1000 feet, still 2 to 3 down, no problem, only lost 200 feet, push on, it’s still not getting any closer, 900 feet, ok time to turn back, 6 down OMG. Too low for the runway. There are some great fields just to the south all lower than the airfield.

After landing out in the big L shaped field to the south east of the stub runway ( next door to the airfield), I walk back to the field via the stub south end, back in those days there was a track (still is though it’s overgrown now) running from the stub through the trees to the field I landed in.

Several members were already on their way to meet me, no recriminations just "where is it?". FTU was pulled by hand up to the track, dismantled, carried by hand through the trees and track to the stub, re-rigged, put back on line and flown again, though not by me.,

My one and only to date landing out.

They say you can’t beat good advice, I say good advice is only good if...........

Dene Hitchen

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