Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 26th July 2020

The connections and comparisons between gliding and ‘real life’ are many and varied: for instance, what is the connection between Lady Pauline, wife of Baron John Prescott, and our K-13s?  Those who remember a Labour Party Conference in Blackpool a few years ago will know the answer; none of them like getting wet!  In John’s Prescott’s case he had to get a second Jaguar to convey her from the hotel to the conference venue to prevent her hair getting wet, in our case we had to keep the K-13s cosied up in the hangar until the rain had passed.  So that took care of the morning as, with low scudding cloud and Prescott-unfriendly drops falling we busied ourselves with lifting and shifting stuff from Colin’s old workshop to his new abode.  This will create space for the glider wings currently stored in the hangar to be moved into the vacated workshop, thus enabling us to have a hangar that is used for – storing gliders! (that date, when it comes, being one to be celebrated as a first..!)

Ray Boundy conducting pre-flight ABCD checks…
Before flying the convergence in K-13 HXP.
The showers having largely cleared, the Met Office promised us a window of opportunity until about 1600 before their return and so we whisked one K-13 and the K-8 down to the east end.  As the photos indicate, conditions were suboptimal, being a breezy SW’ly with gusts to 17 kts – but they don’t show an almost unique event.  Currency being the aim of the game we decided that our club trainees should fly only two launches each, with Ray Boundy taking pole position in the front seat of the K-13.  The first launch and flight being uneventful, just prior to the second Phil Hardwick hollered that there was “Orographic downwind” and to be careful if it came our way.  How could that be?  Well, about 30 seconds later and 1,100ft higher it was apparent that there was, indeed, a line of cloud oriented SW-NE and which was by now propelling the glider upwards at 2kts within the first turn.  All credit must go to Ray who, like a rodeo rider, kept his mount as the lift continued until 2-3 minutes later we were at 1,500ft, with cloudbase to the south below us in a curtain.  With wisps appearing out of nowhere, Ray’s task rapidly became one of remaining in VMC.

K-13 HXP returns to earth.
Back on the ground and observing our progress, Ged Nevisky and Phil Hardwick were keen to release the Twin Astir from its lair and get airborne.  Quickly gaining contact, they were able to climb and hence follow the lift downwind, securing an emphatic Flight of the Day of 31 minutes.  The character of the lift remained an enigma, however, as Phil reported that “It looked like a convergence but it didn’t fly like one - we tried both sides but no one was better than the other.  Still, it’s great just flying up the sides of clouds!”  And with that it disappeared.

 Twin Astir being readied for flight by Phil Hardwick and Ged Nevisky.
Canopies closing…
 ‘Returning to solo’ members Chris and Karon Matten continued – separately - with their progress (circuit bashing) until, on her second flight, Karon found her varios approaching zero…  So, what to do?  Well, circle, orbit, circle was her response, adding a very welcome two minutes to her flight time.  After a 30-minute interval caused by a passing shower Ed Borlase stepped into the front seat but sadly his session had to be limited to a hangar flight as the atmosphere was becoming increasingly humid (as predicted).

Peter Howarth preparing for flight in the K-8.
A day on which it would have been quite easy to ‘stack’ due to there being ‘rain in the forecast’, fortunately we were able to fly all today’s trainees and give the Twin Astir, the ‘Concrete Swan’, a chance to exploit some short-lived unique local conditions.  Especial thanks go to Peter Howarth for winching most of the afternoon.

Martin Cropper

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