Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 15th January 2022

 With what looked like a very low, grey overcast hopes were not high for a flying day. However, on careful inspection of the cloud over the higher tors to the east there appeared to show sufficient cloud base to allow full height launches. Only one way to be sure so 2*K13 and a K8 were taken to the east end launch point. The winds were light southerly, forecast to veer  to the SW and strengthen a little. The first launch confirmed that the cloud base was well above launch heights. Sometimes appearances can be be deceptive.

We welcomed two One Day Course candidates today, Graham Foster and Stephen Ball who both ended the day with smiles on their faces. Their initial briefings and familiarisation flights were conduct by Scratch (Dene Hitchen) after which they flew with me for the rest of the day.

Graham with Scratch ready to start the flying day
Stephen waiting patiently for me (taking the photo)

Graham and Scratch "take up slack" and ...

...off they go
Followed by a safe return under the grey overcast sky
Graham receiving his certificate from Gavin who deputised for me 
( I was flying at the time )
Stephen received his certificate from me out side the hangar
after our final flight landed at that end
Rick was busy all day in the other K13 delivering a mix of pre and post solo training. 

The K8 and K13 at the launchpoint
Another training flight ready to go
The solo pilots took advantage of the K8 to maintain currency and of course search the local area and sources of the elusive rising air. Malcolm seemed to find a little ridge lift to the SW of the airfield which gave him a day topping extended circuit of 9 minutes.

We made the best of the day with a total of 34 launches.


Dartmoor gliding News-Wednesday 12th January 2022

A bright clear blue sky with light winds, could this really be Brentor in the middle of winter. With the weather playing it’s part, the only thing was would the airfield play ball. A quick inspection revealed that although soft in parts, with careful management we would be able to fly. Aircraft would be retrieved along the track and vehicle movements on the airfield kept to a minimum was the order of the day.

A K13 and K8 were taken to the launch point ready to fly.

First in the K13 with me was Paddy Cosgrave. Paddy was returning after his recent illness. Six flights during the day saw him quickly back to the stage he was at before his absence. A broad smile showed how happy he was to be back flying.

Paddy happy to be back.
Next into the front seat was Robin Wilson. A straight ahead launch failure and circuit continues his progress back to solo. Hopefully with some regular flying Robin will soon be back amongst the solo ranks.

Robin manoeuvring to start his circuit.
Whilst I had some lunch, Jamie Steel took over the K13 and flew with Hugh Gascoyne. Hugh wanted to do a couple of exercises to start preparing for a possible Instructor course.

Jamie with Hugh.
Mike Bennett, John Allen, Phil Hardwick, Richard Roberts, Gavin Short, Steve Fletcher, Martin Broadway, Andy Davey, Steve Lewis and Malcolm W-J all took turns in the K8 for circuits of various lengths. The longest of which was 9 minutes.

Hopefully there was a pilot in there Richard.
The K8 launches again.
And returns.
Late in the afternoon, Colin Boyd appeared from the darkest depths of the hangar where he had been continuing work on one of the new K13’s which should soon be ready for a test flight and enter the fleet. In the setting sun Colin jumped into the front seat of the K13 for a couple of flights.

Colin getting sorted.
With all the toys safely packed away, those who wanted to enjoyed a beer in the clubhouse to talk about the day. A day where we achieved 26 flights and all leaving the airfield with happy smiley faces.

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News-It Would Be Churlish Not To Fly.

 In mid December a party of four headed to North Wales to collect a pair of new (to us) K-13 training gliders.  It was a two day trip but Richard Roberts had an idea up his sleeve that we should try and fly on Sunday morning.  Despite unpromising conditions when the Chris Gill (Lleweni Parc CFI) turned up he declared that there was wave and that we would go flying.

Lleweni Park- "We will be flying" - Really?
It was planned that I would be the first to fly with Adam (resident Assistant Category instructor) in the Duo Discus and so it was placed in front of the Arcus M.  Chris (the CFI) had to fly the tug and launch the pure gliders before he could self-launch in the Arcus M.  Plans at Lleweii Parc changed rapidly throughout the day; a visiting instructor and student from the Wirral launched first in the K21. 

Low cloud and rain on the ridge
The conditions were gloomy in the morning light with orographic clouds halfway down the ridge behind us and rain on the hills to the west.  Then it started to drizzle and it was decided to launch the single-seaters; an LS4 (piloted by Mike Fox the BGA's training standards manager) and an ASW 20 rather than the Duo Discus in the rain. Watching these launches was clear it was going to be a challenge to keep on the 4 metre-wide tarmac runway with the strong cross wind - Don't go on the grass was the mantra!

LS4 ready to launch...
....and off he goes.
Our turn came and although the drizzle had stopped both of us were damp and misting up was severe a problem. I flew the whole flight but as we cleared the boundary fence Adam took control, as planned, to allow me to get a good look at the landing fields, as part of my site brief, should we have a cable break.  What landing options?  The fields were small, hedge bound, and invariable damp and boggy.  I was yearning for the wide-open paddocks around Brentor, or at least the" L-shaped field", provided Martin wasn't in it first.

Arcus M behind the Duo Discus
I took control again as we climbed out through the rotor and some pretty heavy turbulence.  It's been a while since I was aerotowed and Adam helped me back in position several times.  Then at 2,000 ft AGL things settled down.  The tug reported that he was climbing in lift and we terminated the planned 3,000 ft tow at 2,500 ft.

The wave was unlike that at Brentor.  No wave bars or lenticulars were present just clumps of cumulus which appeared like soft ridges.  And ridge soaring we went.  Climbing back and forth heading into the wind.  Sometimes the lift and the wind direction would move but by 5,500 ft we were above the clouds.  The key ground features was Rhyl and the River Conwy, which lie to the north of Denbigh.  As we climbed in a steady 3 knots, once peaking at 6 knots, the Llandudno peninsula became visible.  I wanted to explore the different parts of lift and jump between the different wave clouds rather than going for absolute height, but we did top out at 7,700 ft.  Although it was cloudy in Liverpool Bay the mass of wind turbines stood out and we could see west to Anglesey and then north to Liverpool, Blackpool, and at the end of the flight we could just make out the Isle of Man.

Climbing through 6500ft
The K21 with a good View of Liverpool Bay
The Arcus M in it's natural element
Although the Duo Discus was as smooth to fly as I remembered keeping a good lookout was a challenge due to misting during the first half-hour.  all combinations of nose vent, DV vent, and DV panel were tried.  In the end, it was the heat of the sun that finally cleared the canopy.  Then it was time to head down.  Choosing a gap in the clouds where you could see the ground was difficult as the contrast between the bright sunshine the clouds shading the features on the ground was significant.  Once I found my descent hole I flew in circles at some 90-100 knots to try and burn off height.  The Duo Discus is very smooth and in its element at those speeds.  However, the lift was working everywhere and we agreed that I needed to crack open the air brakes and then a healthy 10 down was achieved.

Looking down at the airfield
As I did my pre-landing checks Adam reminded me of the turbulence lower down so I made an extra tug on my safety straps.  The high key is normally at 1,000 ft and I entered it at 1,100 ft.  My planned approach speed was 65 knots but I was erring on 70 kts.  On reflection, I should have descended steeper to better make my reference point (which is the cross-track).  I held off nicely but maintaining position on the narrow runway whilst using the rolling speed to get to the end of the tarmac, and not stop other gliders landing, involved a very high workload.  In the crosswind, I ended up over ruddering and put the main wheel just on the grass on the upwind side in the last five metres of the ground run.  The landing was safe, no damage was done in the boggy ground, and the site Land Rover ignominiously pulled us back on the tarmac.  Only the pilot's pride was dented and payback was grovelling on the ground picking out clumps of mud and grass and hosing the wheel and brake disc down.

The Duo Discus with a wheel box full of mud
I was met by Steve who had finished his flight in the Arcus M and Richard who was eager to get the Duo Discus back to the start point for his flight.

In summary, all the driving to and from Denbigh was worth the chance to go wave flying!


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 5th January 2022

2022 has arrived, so would the first flying day of the year arrive. A clear sky, light NNW wind, so the only question was how wet would the airfield be after the recent rain. A quick pitch inspection revealed that generally the field was firm enough to fly with only the usual softer patches which could in the most be avoided with careful use and circuit planning. The field was set up and a K13 and K8 taken to the launch point.

At the morning briefing a couple of outstanding presentations were carried out. John Allen was presented with the Spitfire trophy for most improved pilot, which was shared with Dave Archer.

John receiving Spitfire Trophy.
The second presentation was to Phil Hardwick for his out and return flight to North Hill during the summer.

Phil receiving his trophy.

So on with some flying. First in the K13 with me was Mark Worsfold. After about a 10 week layoff due to work commitments and the weather it was time to shake off the cobwebs. Three good circuits saw him back up to speed to move forward to achieving his goal of re-solo. Mark was followed by John Smith who was also shaking off the cobwebs after about eight weeks of bad weather and other commitments preventing him moving forward with his solo career.

K13 takes to the air.
Scratch, Malcolm W-J, Steve Fletcher, Mike Bennett, John Allen, Andy Davey, Gavin Short and Hugh Gascoyne each took turns in the K8 for mainly circuits. The longest of which was Andy and Hugh who each achieved 9 minutes.

K8 waiting to launch.
Hugh and Scratch took over the K13 to maintain back seat currency ready for our visitors who will reappear over the coming weeks.

After getting his plumbing sorted at home, Robin Wilson had three flights with me ready to progress on his route to re-solo. Last in the K13 with me was Steve Fletcher for some more back seat practice. One of his flights was his first launch failure practice flown from the back seat. This was well handled and stands him in good stead on his route towards IFP status.

Winch with passing shower in background which caused a short delay to flying.
K13 launching with setting sun reflecting in the canopy.
A good first day of the year flying with 28 launches. Thank you to all at the club today for your efforts in achieving this.

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding Club News-Wednesday 22nd December 2021

With the RASP forecast giving a 20knt south easterly with gusts of 30knts, I drove to the airfield with little hope of flying. When I arrived we put up the west end windsock which showed a more moderate wind strength which was also confirmed with the windsock at the east end. With the possibility of turbulence on the approach it was decided to fly the serviceable K13 CCY which would be joined later by HXP after Colin had certified the minor airbrake repair.

Mike Bennett all ready.
John Allen preparing to fly.
First to fly with me was John Allen followed by Mike Bennett. Both coped well with the approaches and landings. Meanwhile HXP had arrived at the launch point and was taken for a test flight by Scratch. It was cleared for service and the licensed pilots took turn to fly solo. Malcolm W-J had a couple of extended circuits. Andy Davey claimed flight of the day with 15 minutes in what was thought to be weak wave.

HXP launches whilst CCY returns.
Last into the K13 with me was Steve Fletcher who wanted to get use to back seat flying with the possible thought of progressing onto IFP training in the near future. I flew the first flight for Steve to observe the different view which was followed by two successful flights by Steve. Steve said this was a good confidence boosting exercise.

Steve in the back seat.
Meanwhile in the hangar good progress was made getting the new K13 ready to enter the fleet by Colin and Gavin. Our chairman Steve spent time in the clubhouse getting the necessary paperwork in order for both new K13’s.

Low cloud visible to the east of the moor.
With everybody having flown who wanted to, we packed the toys away until after Christmas. Thank you to all who were at the club today and were glad to have flown when the initial prospect looked poor. All that’s left is for me to whish all at the club a Merry Christmas.

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 21st December 2021

There was conflict between the forecasts: the Met Office predicting sunshine throughout the day, whilst RASP foretold of low cloudbase with the dry and dew point temperatures in very close formation throughout.  In the event RASP got the start right: today was much more humid than yesterday, the cloudbase was on the deck and moisture could be seen in the atmosphere.  So nothing else for it but to find some useful activities whilst watching and waiting.

Our new K-13 FSD was given some TLC in the wing taping and canopy departments – with Gavin Short’s dedicated attitude and attention to detail as Fleet Manager this is going to be one tidy glider when it flies for us, and a very useful replacement for one of the current two-seaters.  By about 1145 the pundits were saying “Well, if it hasn’t started to warm up now, it’s hardly worth waiting any longer…”  By about 1215 other pundits were saying: “There’s a blue hole developing, how about an early lunch and see what it looks like after that?”  To which, of course, the answer was “Why not?”  During which time a small miracle occurred, as the blue hole became a patch, and the patch then developed into an expanse until eventually the sky was blue overall.

With only four people in charge, what could possibly go wrong? 
K-12 CCY is wheeled out for DI.

We quickly got K-13 CCY to the west-end launchpoint (the wind being too unpredictably gusty for the K-8) whilst Phil Hardwick and a small team whisked the Twin Astir out of its T-hangar to alleviate the load.  First flight of the day was taken by trainee member Freddie Colton: a launch to 1, 400ft bode well and, after a little searching, a NW-SE channel of rising air was found, varying between 1½-6/8 knots was found which after three or four beats had taken us to a little short of 3,000ft.  The view was of tiny rivulets of cloud clinging the river valleys as they ran westwards off the moor, over which presided a clear firmament – the contrast between brown earth and deep blue sky was breath-taking.  Pressure of time forced Freddie to return far too soon but, at 29 minutes, after his first even wave flight, he declared it to have been his “Best flight ever..!”  Hopefully, Freddie, there’ll be more, higher and longer in the future.  

Trainee member Freddie Colton conducting pre-flight checks…
…and away he goes for almost half-an-hour of wave soaring.
Ray Boundy quickly stepped into the front seat and again found the rising air partway down the airfield, but sadly was given the Spanish Archer (‘El Bow’) by the downside after ten or so minutes: still he has it recorded on video-cam, saying “That was one of the most instructive flights I’ve ever flown!”  Gavin Short then took the K-13 solo, later saying, “After bouncing around in the rotor I had a steady 62 knot launch to 1,700ft.  At 1,600ft I found the line of lift but by then it had decayed to a maximum of 1-and-a-bit knots.  I tried to look elsewhere for lift without success”.

“All Out!  All Out!” Gavin Short sets off solo to see what all the fuss is about…
…to find breath-taking rivulets of cloud cling to the moor to the south-east…
…whilst to the north-east all is spectacularly clear.
In the Twin Astir Malcolm Roberts shared three flights with Phil Hardwick, with tentative connection to the wave over the church (suggesting a slight shift westwards).  But, after a sprint rig of Astir FCJ worthy of a grand-prix F1 team, it was Peter Howarth who took today’s accolade: over the course of a 32-minute flight reaching over 3,500ft flying in much the same, north of the boundary mid-airfield area marked by the other contenders.
 Malcolm Roberts ensures that the front canopy of the Twin Astir is well and truly locked…
 …before he too gets away, with Phil Hardwick in the back seat.
By the time Peter landed we had run out of day – but not pilots – and so we apologise to those who, due to the late start, were not able to enjoy the stunning views that were available on this unexpectedly smooth, easterly aligned, but brief wave day. 

  “Watch out for moving cables and approaching” – not aircraft – but full moons..!
Especial thanks go to Rich Roberts who, after some splendid soaring in his Discus yesterday was happy to winch ‘all’ day, and to those who helped-out stoically but were unable to achieve the goal.  There will be other opportunities.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 18th December 2021

 With east in the forecast there was an excitement about the club early on. The rotor clouds over the airfield looked low but very active, The first flight by Mike and Rick to test conditions confirmed that the cloud base was only 1000ft and that the conditions were very turbulent. The decision was made to wait to see if the conditions would stabilise and calm down a little.

The view from the ground did not portray the drama aloft
Meanwhile work was underway in the hangar with preparing G-CFSD one of the new K13's to join the fleet. The instrument panels were replaced as were the wiring and seat belts. In the clubhouse work was underway to print new limitation placards and weight and balance charts for the new aircraft. 

A couple of hours after the first flight another test flight in the K13 revealed that the cloudbase had risen sufficiently to allow a full height 1500ft launch, the wave was working and that turbulance was manageable. Game on.

The Discus passed underneath the Twin Astir
The view south from NE of the airfield revealed the inversion
The next up was the Malcolm and Phil in the Twin Astir who disappeared for 1 hour 28 minutes closely followed by Richard Roberts in his Discus who managed a day winning 2 hours 11 minutes topping out a 5000ft. There were 15 flights in total 12 of which soared in the wave.
HXP climbing at 6 knots
A great view looking north along the wave bar 
The wave formation was interesting. There was just one single wave bar with heavy turbulence down wind. This may very well be the condition referred to as an "Hydraulic Jump" caused by the higher than usual windspeeds aloft. Classic wave systems usually have several wave bars stretching downwind sometimes for great distances.

HXP making the last landing at sunset.
The moon was already well above the horizon
A great way to celebrate the last flying Saturday of 2021