Dartmoor Gliding News-Monday 25th May 2020

With the airfield being restricted to just 10 persons and only solo flying permitted we used just a single club Ka-8 plus 5 private gliders. Only green-coded pilots are permitted to fly at present as 2-seater flying is not permitted (except by family household members).

K8 takes to the air
The wind was a stubborn 10 knot S to SSW so virtually at right angles to the runway and the sky was blue. Hugh Gascoyne had the first bite in the Ka-8 but was back in the circuit before we could launch the Astir with Rick Wiles on board. As we were doing just one flight each initially it was my turn in the Ka-8 and before I could get ready Rick had also landed, having found only weak lift while drifting rapidly away to the north.

Social distancing in action
Based on this I planned to do a circuit to the south but after releasing I felt a surge under the right wing and a barely audible squeal from the vario but as I turned into it it disappeared and popped up the other side. It turned out I had found an area of gently rising bubbles which seemed to stay between the winch and the church and eventually got to about 1500' when it petered out. I headed south to find there was not much sink but no lift and decided to return to the airfield. Again I fount the bubbles in the same place but this time a little stronger and I reached almost 2,000'. I again headed south, this time for a couple of miles but nothing so I was thinking sea air and again returned to the airfield but nothing so started a circuit and almost at once flew into 6 knots, Quickly back to 2,200' and I was thinking there was perhaps a sea breeze front close to the north side so stayed that side but although there were cumulus to the north with a base much higher they were out of reach and my allotted hour was almost up so time to land.

Open Cirrus on approach
There are 3 other gliders in this view
 Time for a quick lunch and then down the the winch as it was my turn to do the cable retrieve for 3 hours plus an opportunity to get checked out on the new winch. Peter Howarth took the Ka-8 after me and also stayed aloft for an hour but all the other gliders were struggling to get much more than 20 minutes or so, it seemed to be a Ka-8 type of day.

Looking south over the airfield
Princetown with the prison on the foreground
 Then at about 1:30 things started to improve, gliders were not coming back down and soon we had a call that there was nothing more to launch., Hugh had another flight in the Ka-8 and completed his hour plus 17 minutes while Richard Roberts chalked up the longest flight with 2:12 in his Discus having visited such exotic places as Dartmoor prison and tavistock., followed by Steve Fletcher with 1:34 in the Open Cirrus, Roger Green with 1:16 in his ASW-20 and Rick Wiles with 1:07 in his Astir.


Malcolm Wilton-Jones

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