Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 19th July 2020

A day which performed almost exactly to the RASP forecast: frontal cloud cleared by 1130, cloudbase went to 4,300ft amsl, gusts didn’t exceed 15 kts and lift experienced matched the STARS rating of 2.3.  So why not exactly as per the prediction?  Because the wind didn’t veer from north, as we had set up the launchpoint to expect.  Thus the 90-degree crosswind had a crucial effect upon launch heights and hence potential to find the lift that clearly was in evidence (see photos).  So skill was not the dominant factor; luck was – if the roulette wheel delivered your glider into the right spot at the right time, you got away; if it didn’t, you were forced to a rapid return to circuit.

Steve Fletcher sets off in Open Cirrus CGY into a promising sky.
Our club trainees today were Chris and Karon Matten and Ray Boundy, all at various stages in returning to solo.  Complying with COVID-19 precautions, each trainee was responsible for ensuring that the cockpit and parachute were sanitised before getting in (except, of course, in the case of the Mattens), before donning either self of club provided face masks.  Early launches took place before the frontal cloud cleared and were short, but duly challenging in light of the crosswind from the north.

Karon Matten and Martin Cropper carrying out pre-flight checks in K-13 HXP…
and return after a successful flight.
Towards lunchtime, beneath a rapidly expanding blue/white panorama, our soloists could hold back no longer, with Steve Fletcher being first to launch, followed by Peter Howarth, Hugh Gascoyne and Phil Hardwick.  Their efforts were poorly rewarded, however, until later in the afternoon, when Hugh managed 15 mins in his K-6CR (see photo) and Phil 18 mins in the Astir.  Ed Borlase also threw his hat into the ring, preferring to fly dual, but managed only 8 mins on his first flight (see photo), followed by a three-minuter where he found that all the ‘hot-spots’ he’d noted earlier had disappeared!

Peter Howarth gets aloft in his newly acquired share of Astir 571/FCJ.
 Syndicate partner Phil Hardwick making his approach in 571.
 So, who then, won the cap ‘Flight of the Day’?  Let’s do a muster: now whose name has failed to be mentioned.  Ahah!  Step forward long-time returning member Ray Boundy.  Ray and I launched to something shy of 1,050ft and, as is so often the case, thought there was something just above the winch.  Keeping on carrying on we got back to launch height.  Keeping on was the name of the game and, with resolution and persistence Ray retained his place in the thermal until, 20 minutes later, we arrived at cloudbase over Tavistock, with Dartmoor and the rest of the crystal clear horizon at our disposal.  Returning to earth Ray exclaimed, “That was my first soaring flight in 25 years!”  Well Done, Ray.

Keeping a good lookout, Ed spots Hugh Gascoyne’s K-6CR soaring over Blackdown
(below the starboard wing-tip).
At 900ft over the winch, Ed Borlase attempts to connect with the cumulus.
Thanks go to our winch drivers today who faced as much of a challenge as the pilots.  And thanks also go to all pilots for understanding the effects of today’s crosswind (curl-over) and hence making all their approaches with sufficient height and speed to deliver a safe recovery.

Martin Cropper

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