Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 18th October 2020

Part of a new member’s initiation to Dartmoor Gliding is that any wind east of north, or south, could cause wave, so be prepared to soar to great heights.  Hard on the heels of that assertion, however, come a few caveats, one of which is that the wind profile must increase in speed with height.  Today’s spot wind chart did none of that, decaying from 160° on the surface at 10kts to ‘variable’ at 5,000ft amsl.  So no chance of wave, then.  And with that in mind, you could expect that we were in for a pretty boring day’s flying.  Not a bit of it…

Ray Boundy carrying out pre-flight checks.
Ray Boundy and Peter Howarth debrief the ‘awkward’ height launch failure.

In actual fact from early morning the wind settled in the south, at between 6-8kts all day.  We started off with Ray Boundy.  Returning to solo pilot, Ray, having cracked both high and low launch failures, knew he had now to face up to those ‘awkward’ ones (a bit like having a teenage child), where the decision could go either way.  Fortunately, after a demo by Peter Howarth, Ray flew a faultless performance from about 450ft, followed by an extended circuit (but more later).  So, a very big tick achieved by him on the pathway back to solo.

Dave Westcott prepares to fly his K-6 G-CEWO for the first time this year.
Malcolm Wilton-Jones gets away in the club’s SF-27.

On the privateer side, Dave Westcott took his immaculate K-6 G-CEWO aloft for his first flight in her this year, and a little later Malcolm Wilton-Jones took the club’s SF-27 for an exploratory flight, but failed to find anything more than “2 up, 6 down” for 9 minutes.

And the rear seat is…vacant!  As Karon Matten prepares to re-solo.

One Very Happy Bunny..!
Next on the trainee list was Karon Matten.  Karon has been working consistently on her flying over the past few months, but her return to solo has been thwarted by our (standard) gusty crosswinds.  Could today be the day?  Well, after a couple of circuits with Peter Howarth, followed by a particularly ‘nasty’ simulated cable break thrown in just after the winch had reduced and then regained power, then yes it could.  Occurring at 1430 precisely, Karon’s solo was not only well earned but came about 30 years and one month from her very first went solo at Brentor – in 1990!  A tremendous achievement.  Well Done, Karon!

Ed Borlase launches in K-6 G-CEWO for a (very quiet) flight of discovery…
The cloud wot done it..!  Convergence builds in the late afternoon.
So, whilst our attention and focus had been on Karon, had anyone been keeping their eye on the sky?  Fortunately, yes: Colin Boyd noticed and monitored a broad area of cloud had slowly been building from the SE, which could best be described as a mixture of convection and convergence (see photo).  Leaping into the club K-8 for a second time, Colin set off to see the promise could be turned into reality.  Returning from a stint on the winch soon after, Ed Borlase followed him is his K-6 G-CEWO.  Ed said: “ I couldn’t be sure what it was, all I knew that as I headed south under the cloud I kept on going up and, reaching the edge of the cloud, I reversed course and continued going up further, reaching about 1,700ft (200ft below cloudbase).  Colin was above me and the K-13 (with Ray Boundy and Peter Howarth aboard) tried to join us.  I found some areas where I could circle, and others where it just wasn’t necessary.  And all this was achieved in complete silence as neither of the variometers were working..!”  That’s proper seat of the pants flying!  Ed landed 30 minutes after launching and Colin, having got away a little earlier, and landing a little later, emphatically claimed Flight of the Day with 43 minutes!
With Ed at 1,700ft agl, Colin Boyd is seen here in
the club’s K-8 at 1,900ft, just below cloudbase.
Ed Borlase’s view of Ray Boundy and Peter Howarth in K-13 CCY
just south of Brentor Church attempting to join him.
So today we not only achieved a re-solo, and a very big tick in the box in that direction for another, but also two late afternoon soaring flights of over 30 minutes.  Not bad for a ‘no wave’, boring southerly day.

Thanks go to Peter Howarth for instructing, and to Malcolm Wilton-Jones and Ed Borlase for winching.

Martin Cropper

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