Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 22nd September 2021

With a reasonable forecast for the time of year, light variable wind and RASP giving 2.5 stars mid-afternoon, it was surprising that only a small group of members were at the airfield today. Everybody we set about setting up the airfield ready to fly with first launch at 11:04.

With the K8 temporarily off-line, two K13’s were taken to the east end launch point. First into the K13 with me was Mike Bennett for a couple of launch failure practices, preparing him for the final stages of obtaining hi bronze C qualification. The eventualities were well flown with only minor critique. A soaring flight later in the day with Gavin Short gave him some useful pointers to improving his soaring skills. A final launch failure practice at the end of the day enabled John Smith to be passed out for driving the Gus winch.

After a quick check flight with me, John Smith was off to add to his count of solo flights. Two flights including a 22 minute soaring flight shows he has not lost his soaring boots

John getting ready for his solo flights.
With two IFP’s at the club today, Hugh and Gavin agreed to share the workload. First to arrive was Frank Jordan with other family members. Frank last flew in a glider about 10 years ago at Lasham. He used to be a flight engineer on Sunderland aircraft. Frank enjoyed two flights with Hugh, the longest was a flight of 35 minutes which was longer than any of his flights at Lasham.

Frank Thanking Hugh for his flights.
Gavin was next to occupy the back seat and fly with Lesley Jordan, Frank’s daughter-in-law. Although Gavin didn’t manage a soaring flight, Lesley thoroughly enjoyed her flights

Lesley and Gavin after their flights.
The next visitor was Linda Mumford. Linda had a flight of 20 minutes, climbing to 2000ft at cloudbase with Hugh.

Linda thumbs up after her flight.
The final visitor to fly with Hugh was Max Harmer. During their flight, Hugh asked max would he like to go to cloudbase in a good climb. Max said yes and was very happy as Hugh counted the height out in hundreds of feet until they reached cloudbase at 2400ft. Max was continually taking photos throughout the flight.

Max and Hugh back on terra firma.
We had a returning trial flight candidate today to make use of the three months temporary membership before hopefully joining as a full member. Freddie Colton is hoping to Join the RAF to undertake pilot training, but if that is not possible hopes to be a weapons engineer as a fallback. He had three flights with me and during a 28 minute soaring flight was starting to master all three controls with some nice coordinated turns.

Freddie ready to go (old archive picture)
Our solo pilots enjoyed some soaring too. Steve Fletcher (Open Cirrus) 1 hour 31 minutes, Malcolm Wilton-Jones (Twin Astir) 1 hour 8 minutes and Jamie Steel (K13) 50 minutes.

Steve’s view at cloudbase.
So with only a small crew today we achieved 23 flights and some very happy visitors. Thank you to all for their help today.

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News - Sunday 19th September 2021

Whilst the soothsayers pored long and hard over their tea bag to ascertain whether we would need to change ends today, others took one look at the windsock and decided to set up the airfield for an east-west operation.  In the event the wind direction and strength were unusually consistent: NW’ly at 12-14 kts making for smooth, predictable approaches.  Avoiding the churn of a change of ends was most beneficial, as today was busy, varied and did not need a 45-interruption just when we would normally be enjoying a leisurely lunch.

 Start of the day looking east over Dartmoor as the cold front departs
(note K-8 in left corner).
Having kicked off the two-seater training flypro a little after 1030, with solo pilots taking the K-8 on the second cable, our first visitor was Jakob Strycharczyk, who flew with IFP Rich Roberts.  In typical multi-tasking Rich vein, whilst briefing Jakob he had spotted some darker ‘stuff’ just this side of Blackdown, and was thus able to give Jakob a 10-minute introduction to soaring on their first flight.  Jakob clearly enjoyed both flights, and the occasion was also a source a great pride for his family (although perhaps not his younger sister – see photo..!)  

Visitor Jakob Strycharczyk being briefed by IFP Rich Roberts.
Jakob looks happy after a soaring flight with Rich.
Jakob proudly displays his certificate with members of his family.
A little later (after Rich had taken up duties as winch-driver), our second visitor was Matt Edworth, who flew with (relieved winch-driver) Peter Howarth.  It would appear that Matt hadn’t put a foot wrong until last year when he bought his wife a surfing experience – in return all he got was a couple of flights with Dartmoor Gliding!  He managed to get over the disappointment, however, as our photos with Peter show.

Visitor Matt Edworth being briefed by Instructor Peter Howarth.
Matt Edworth being presented with his certificate by Peter Howarth.
 Visitor Matt Edworth with his wife:
“All I did was buy her a surfing experience – and she got me this..!”
Conditions today could best be described as cyclical: having already discussed the wind, it would appear that increasing pressure astern of a cold front suppressed buoyancy, but on regular occasions clouds would appear in similar spots; climbs, unsurprisingly, were not swift.  This led to a jousting contest in the K-8, with solo-pilots John Allan, Ed Borlase and Peter Howarth each taking a ‘let’s wait and see/launch me now!’ approach that eventually elicited a worthy winner: in managing two minutes more than ‘Sage of the Sky’ Peter Howarth’s 12 minutes, award of Flight of the Day went to new solo pilot John Allan.  Well done, John.

Busy launch point scene as John Allan departs in the club K-8.
Our trainees were Mark Worsfold, Mark Elliott, Ray Boundy and Karon Matten.  Again, their time aloft was regulated by the presence or otherwise of a decent cloud within reach on release of the cable.  In this respect Ray did extremely well to spot a wisp by which, almost by clinging onto it through the canopy, he kept the K-13 in the air for 12 minutes.  Amongst other things, Mark, Mark and Karon made good use of the positive but smooth headwind to practice their approaches and landings.

Mark Worsfold and Martin Cropper discuss their forthcoming flight
(note mirror with which Mark lipreads the instructor).
K-13 on approach as the K-8 lines up to follow.
 Returning to solo member Karon Matten keeps the K-13 aloft in sight of Brentor church.
Today could have been described as a disappointment in not living up to the overly optimistic forecast offered by RASP, but in the event it proved rewardingly challenging soaring-wise, educationally beneficial training-wise, and hugely enjoyable visitor-wise (we hosted more visitors than those who flew – and hope to see them return).  Thanks go to a willing and flexible team who ‘flowed through’ the various roles necessary to keep the wheels of the operation turning including, at one point, going to get some diesel to put into the winch’s empty fuel tank..!

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding Club News-Saturday 18th September 2021

If Star Trek: Voyager can have a character “Seven of Nine”* then I see no reason why the DGS Blog can’t have a “Day of Twos”, which was an apt description.

The Met Office forecast had discussed the movement of the jet stream over the North Atlantic, and its propensity for eddies and upper troughs, for most of this week.  The TWO major metrological models; the Met Office model and the European model were presenting TWO very different forecasts for Saturday.  One dry and fine the other wet and changeable.  The latter model, due to a stalled front over Cornwall and Devon, turned out to be the most accurate.

Getting my annual flu jab on a flying day would normally result in frustration at being late to the gliding club.  Not so today with rain and low cloud in the Tamar Valley when setting off from home.

When I eventually got to the club the hangar doors were firmly shut.  However, the TWO One Day Course participants (Stephen Avent, from Plymouth and Ryan Baker, from Lifton) had already arrived.  Mike, the Duty Instructor, had briefed them on the day’s activities and the airfield at Brentor.  The simulator was running and they were taking turns practicing in the dry while the rain continued outside.

Colin turned up and carried out some planned work on TWO of our K-13s; finishing the replacement of the cable release in HXP and attending to a poorly canopy in DMX.

Whilst this was going on in the clubhouse and the hangar we endured TWO bands of rain until finally a clearance starting coming through and the sky started to brighten.

Daily inspections were completed on TWO K-13s and they were taken to the launch point at the west end of the airfield.  The cloud base was low.  Probably too low to start our TWO One Day Courses safety. 

Looking west:  Estimates of the height of the cloud base on a post card please.
It didn’t look much better to the east – where have the Tors gone?
At 1 p.m.  Mike and Scratch took a weather and winch test flight (a new diesel lift pump had been fitted to the Supacat winch)

Not a good look for flying guests
Things weren’t absolutely perfect so Rick, the other instructor, took TWO winch check flights, and then Mike took another which made TWO test flights for him.  By now the wind was directly cross the runway from the south and it was decided that the “Guslaunch” winch would give a better launch for our One Day Course participants.  So today we used TWO winches.

And looking even worse on the other side of the check flight.
By 3 p.m. (Ed: Time is getting on!) it was judged that the cloud base had risen sufficiently to start flying our TWO One Day Course participants.

Now it was the turn of the TWO Introductory Flight Pilots (IFP) to give Stephen and Ryan their first flight.  Scratch, one of our recently qualified IFPs, gave Stephen his first launch of his course.

Stephen ready to be flown by Scratch.
As they brought CCY back to the launch point it was obvious that Stephen had enjoyed himself.  Astute observers will have noticed a suppressed smile and a sense of elation in Scratch.  This is his back story: 

“For many years I have had the ambition and desire to be a Basic Instructor (Ed: this qualification has been replaced by the IFP), this of course was curtailed by military service due to being away for so many months of the year on active service, today one of my dreams / goals in life came to fruition, I held it in but on the inside I was on a high walking back to the launch point after landing”.

Scratch brings Stephen safely home.
Scratch presents Stephen with his certificate.
Very many congratulations Scratch.  I had a similar feeling of achievement when I flew my first IFP flights last Saturday.

Ryan and Gavin prepare to aviate whilst carefully watched by Mike Bennett.
Then I, took Ryan for a very satisfactory first flight and allowed him views of the fields, Tavistock, Plymouth Sound, the Hamoze that he had never experienced in his job working on a farm (Ed: you forgot to mention that you couldn’t see Kit Hill due to the low cloud in the west).

Ryan’s launch sequence.
Ryan’s view whilst walking HXP back to the launch point.
Once our visitors had been orientated with a flight, and a local area acquaint, the TWO instructors (Mike and Rick) took over to start their instruction for the remainder of their One Day Courses.  After a first instructional flight a piece our visitors had amassed TWO flights (Ed: The time was really ticking as it was after 4 pm).  On Stephen’s next flight he experienced a real cable break and landed safely ahead.

By now the southerly wind had veered further and was now providing a tail wind at the west end.  So we changed ends; moved the launch point to the east end of the airfield.  So now the day had become one of TWO ends.  As we set up the launch bus we witnessed a novel approach to towing out the winch cables.  The retrieve vehicle (the Nissan pickup) remained stationary with the cables hooked up to the tow out bar and the tractor towed the winch to the other end whilst paying out the cables.

“Weather, Whether, and Wether”– the contemplations of a Duty Instructor.
The rain was approaching again and frustratingly the conditions were no longer suitable for the One Day Course participants.  So Mike took the other Mike (Bennett) for a flight to practice his launch failures.  The maxim on launch failures is “always land ahead if you can”.  The decision is based on numerous factors e.g. height, position, head wind etc.  But there are other factors such as wet grass.  A 4x4 driver will tell you that wet grass is the slipperiest surface known to man.  And so it proved, the long landing run after touch down, even when the glider was running on its skid, caused the TWO pilots, and the winch driver, to have elevated heart rates.  After a deft manoeuvre CCY eventually came to a stop at a safe distance from both the boundary fence and the winch.  The Duty Instructor, with the rain starting again, decided to call it a day.  HXP was walked back from the east end and our TWO trusty steeds were wiped down to dry them and packed away in the hangar.

Ryan receives his certificate from Instructor Rick
So “the Day of Twos” had shown our One Day Course participants almost every condition that can slow and hinder the rate of flying.  Despite all the obstacles to overcome we did achieve ten flights in total.  The honours for the TWO longest flights, a stunning five minutes (Ed: Sarcasm and flippancy has no place in this blog), were shared by Stephen and Ryan.

We hope to see you soon to finish part TWO of your One Day Courses.

Gavin Short

Footnote: Seven of Nine’s full Borg designation was Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix Zero One.  But of course you knew that didn’t you?

Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 15th September 2021

A blanket of fog over the local area resulted in a slow arrival of members at the club today. Unperturbed they set about getting ready to fly as the RASP forecast was for 3.5 stars and a cloudbase of up to 3500ft.

K13’s waiting for Dartmoor behind to reappear.
The first visitors arrived, but the cloudbase stubbornly refused to lift.

Brentor Church still shrouded in cloud.
Eventually at 11:24 Hugh and I decided to take a launch to check cloudbase and general conditions. Although we launched through a hole to above cloud, I decided that training could commence, but Hugh would hang on before flying our visitors.

Our view above cloud.
During our flight John and I undertook an exercise to banish John’s nemesis of rushing his eventuality procedure. The equivalent of six eventualities soon had this sorted. More on John’s flying later.

Hugh briefed the first visitor, Mike Dunbar ready for his two flights and was soon off into the air.

Mike receiving his certificate from Hugh.
Richard Lloyd was next to fly with Hugh. Richard enjoyed a 32 minute soaring flight.

Thumbs up after Richard’s flight
K13’s sharing a thermal.
Hugh’s final visitor was Colin Parnell who enjoyed his two flights.

Colin gets his deserved certificate.
Another visitor today was Jamie Steel. A Royal Navy Assistant rated instructor who has bee posted to Plymouth and has instructed at Lee On solant, Upavon and Middle Wallop. Jamie is looking at becoming a member of the club and adding to our instructor team whilst posted to Plymouth. After a site familiarisation flight and an eventuality flight, Jamie enjoyed a solo flight in the K13.

Jamie refamiliarizing himself in the K13 front seat.
Robin Wilson enjoyed two flights with me trying to iron out a couple of rusty imperfections on his road to re-soloing sometime in the future. One of his flights was of 21 minutes showing the soaring skills were still there, although more refinement is needed.

Mo Khouribich jumped into the front seat for his three training flights and started getting used to the top part of the launch and release.

Andy Davey (Libelle), Richard Roberts (Discus), Steve Lewis (K8) and Gavin Short (K8) all tried their hand in the varying soaring conditions. The longest flight being 41 minutes claimed by Andy.

Andy Davey soaring with the K13.
Twin Astir P1 pilots Malcolm Wilton-Jones and Phil Hardwick shared flights with Malcolm Roberts and Robin Wilson in various combinations.

At the end of the Day, with the benign conditions, it was time For John Smith to step back into the K13. Having had the day to think about the eventualities earlier in the day, he faced an awkward height eventuality and a power failure. These were executed flawlessly, other than rapping my shin when opening the airbrakes (me not paying attention). So there was only one thing for it, send him off on his own. Worryingly the last two times I have done this, we have plunged into lockdowns. Hopefully not this time. Two successful solo flights sees John on his road to the K8 sometime soon.

John about to re-solo.
Thank you to all at the airfield who welcomed all our visitors giving them the Brentor friendly welcome. Also to all who winched, retrieved and generally kept things running smoothly achieving 33 flights

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 12 September 2021

RASP: cloudless until pm, 1½ stars soaring 1100-mid-afternoon.  Reality: 100% cloud cover; no soaring.  Reaction: undaunted.  Today’s crew was joined by two visitors: Mark Worsfold, from Exeter, and Ruby Elliott, daughter of our very own Mark Elliott.

Visitor Mark Worsfold adjusts his mirror as instructor Martin Cropper looks on.
Mark Worsfold is a truly remarkable individual: undaunted by quite severe deafness, he overcame the challenges involved to become a solo pilot (although recently lapsed), and flies with DSGC at North Hill.  Visiting today for the second time (he flew with Peter Howarth on a recent Wednesday) before venturing to the cockpit he produced his ‘secret weapon’: a large sucker based rectangular mirror which, correctly aligned on the inside of the canopy (see photo), allows him to lip-read the Instructor.  And as a fallback (a bit like the 1971 No1 hit by Dawn ‘Knock Three Times’) twice on the ‘pipe’ (control stick) means “I have control!” (the instructor, that is).  Mark came to us today to practice circuits at an unusual airfield (well actually he was quite keen on soaring but see the above) where he would be unable to rely on the usual suspects (landmarks) that populate the home-ground circuit.  An oceanographic IT specialist at the Met Office HQ by day, he is an ambassador for those with hearing impairment and will be most welcome on his return.

Trainee Mark Elliott and Martin Cropper conducting their pre-flight checks before…
 …getting away with Mark in control for his seventh launch in full control.
Ruby Elliott flew with us under our Friends and Family T&Cs where, although the member may not yet have gained the privileges to fly their kith and kin, if a suitably qualified individual can be found then the flight may take place at day membership rates.  Today’s ‘suitably qualified individual’ was IFP Rich Roberts who took great delight in flying Ruby on a right-hand circuit (previous flights having been left-handed), confident that he would find rising air on that side.  Returning to earth with fewer minutes to add to his logbook than the fingers on one hand (on both launches), Ruby was nonetheless impressed with her aviation experience to the extent that the Bank of Dad may soon be being called upon for some ‘quantitative easing’ towards the costs of junior membership and training.

F&F visitor Ruby Elliott with Dad, and (in the rear seat) IFP Rich Roberts.
So how about our solo pundits?  Well, gallant knights both – Peter Howarth and Ed Borlase – perhaps the best that can be said is that ‘quantitative easing’ will not be necessary to fund their flying fees today!

Either Gandalf’s in the cockpit or K-8 FXB is fuming over not being used..!
Today was as if some dockyard workie had turned up at the airfield, got out their long-handled roller and painted the sky battleship grey across the entire vault (ie. from ‘ere to ‘ere).  No doubt the legacy of a warm front lingering across mid-Wales which had penetrated the UK-wide high-pressure system, today’s team was nevertheless unperturbed, even by the occasional shower (yes, RASP predication: ‘nil’ rain), into making the day an overall success.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 4th September 2021

The forecast was not great. The atmospheric soundings made the day look hopelessly stable. The easterly wind was not likely to help. Stable layer with inversion  - no; wind speed increasing with height - no. Oh well even though it looked hopeless the equipment was prepared as there was quite a lot of training flights needed.

K13s ready for a busy day
Mike Bennet was up first with Rick. They few a series of practice launch failures. I launched next with Peter Howard our first visitor of the day. We found some bouyant air over Mary Tavy which consisted of some ephemeral bubbles of lift in a defined area - rotor maybe? Whatever it allowed us to maintain our flight for 13 minutes or so. The K13's were joined by the Twin Astir and several flights were recorded in the 15 to 20 minute range. Steve Fletcher joined the fun and recorded 39 minutes in his Open Cirrus.

Peter Howard after his trail lesson
K13 G-DCCY soring over the south field
he soaring possibilities evaporated and a lot of circuits were flown until about 2.30pm when thermals started to form. As usual these were not easy down but with care and a little luck soaring started in earnest. The best flight during this period was Ged and Malcolm in the Twin Astir with 1 hour 52minutes. 

Malcom's view of the airfield from the Twin Astir
We welcomed Alan Hutchinson and Beryl Trantor for air experience flights both of whom enjoyed soaring flights with me. Also with us today was Milosz Wysocki returning  after his One Day Course to begin flying training.

Milosz training on the quad assisted by John 

Beryl ready to fly
Myself with Alan Hutchinson after his flights
Today was so much better than forecast