Dartmoor Gliding News-Thursday 11th August 2022

Today the "Thursday Tinkerers" emptied the hangar of all the gliders except for K-13, CCY.  Colin wanted to look at it before we de-rigged it ready for its Annual Certificate of Airworthiness Inspection and Airworthiness Review Check.  This allowed some of our new members to see what is checked on a glider and more importantly how a K‑13 is de-rigged (Ed: And thank their lucky stars that they weren't DGS members in the 80's when there wasn't a hangar.  The club gliders had to be rigged at the start of the day and de-rigged at the end of the day with no exceptions.  Richard and his Dad can tell you some tales!)

The hangar is emptied and the gliders are ranged
for their daily Inspection and the day’s activities
K-13, CCY basks in the hangar awaiting Colin’s inspection
Then it’s all hands to derigging stations
The Short weight holding the tail of CCY down
As the morning bore on a bright spark got the canopy covers out to protect
the cockpits and their instruments from the sun as it beat mercilessly down
For some this activity brought out the “Ghost in the machine”
There are canopy covers and then there are “M & S” canopy covers
While this was going one there was extensive hammering and grinding from Richard’s trailer, parked next to the clubhouse, as the rotten steel framework was cut out and prepared for new metal to be let in (Ed: So where is the Discus?).  The Roberts father and son combo continued this work for most of the day before strolling up to the launch point to say hello and a well-earned break.

DGS has resurrected the WWII meme of “Kilroy was here” with “Richard’s
angle iron was here”.  It was last seen behind the hangar door,
now it’s in the porch roof (Ed: I stand ready to see its next location)
To speed things up I texted Mike Jardine the names of today's trainees.  Accordingly, they were ready with their training cards to receive his brief when he arrived.  Muggins was the duty IFP/BI so I had to have our first visitor, of four today, briefed, strapped in and ready to go.  We would be launching from the west end due to a light breeze from the east.  However, it was unlikely to be strong enough for wave but you never know on Dartmoor.

As is becoming increasingly common the Met Office had a yellow warning in force for plagues, locusts, and pestilence (Ed: I think you mean warm weather) so sun cream and water, and plenty of it, was the order of the day.

The Tinkerers were not deterred.  Of the privateers Peter was first up in his Kestrel flying an “out and return” to Roadford Lake whilst trying to get his Oudie (Ed: A flight computer) to play ball with the task he had set.  Whilst not very successful with the operation of the Oudie he nevertheless managed 1 hour and 21 minutes to the northwest of the site. 

Peter, about to cross the A30, heads (tangentially!) to Roadford Lake
He was followed by Malcolm, solo, in the Twin Astir.  Being unencumbered by talking freight in the back seat he flew in the blue for two hours and 43 minutes.  (Ed: At this stage I would make a quip that there was still no sign of Robin to get his hours up.  However, I was informed that he did make his 150 hours and the Twin Astir syndicate will get a discount on their insurance renewal.  Well that’s cleared up, but Robin is still “Missing in Action”!).

Scratch had a couple of circuits in his Standard Cirrus but didn’t manage to get away.  Not deterred he took a spell on the winch and in the tower.  (Ed: Thanks for all your unsung efforts, they are appreciated).  Farmer Phil did manage to get away and almost beat Malcolm with a 2 hour 27 minute flight in his DG300 (Ed: Not sure where he went, perhaps more “meandering about”).

The first of our visitors was Levi Frew who is the head chef at Mount Kelly, the independent school on the outskirts of Tavistock.  His colleagues in the kitchens had bought him a flight voucher for his birthday and they accompanied him to the airfield to witness his flights.  On the second flight we achieved a good climb to a decent height and I introduced him to the effects of the elevator and the ailerons.  I also headed to Tavistock and I gave him a bird’s eye view of Mount Kelly before returning to the airfield.  A keen motorcyclist, Levi was impressed by the acceleration of the winch launches.

Mike observed that there were not many Tinkerers here today and often there was an empty launch point with all the gliders in the air despite some occasional challenging conditions.

An instructor’s delight – an empty launch point as all the gliders are in the air.
Instructor Mike enjoyed some hazy views out to Plymouth from the back seat of K‑13 FGR
First up with Mike was Steve Lesson who manged managed to find a good thermal to take them to over 3,200 feet and conduct some stall practice.  After 29 minutes it was time to land.  John Allan was next up for a 30 minute soaring flight, and some instruction, again with Mike.

Steve Lesson thermals, to the left again, to attain 3,200 feet (Ed: He did tell me that he has been thermaling to the right recently but he’s not yet been caught on camera – there’s a challenge!)
Then I made a “Friends and Family” flight for Colin, by taking Mark Goodright up for a brace of flights (Ed: I am sure our readers are well aware that it is the glorious 12th tomorrow so there is no need to go all Scottish on us).  Mark taught at the primary school in Harrowbarrow for many years, which is the village where I live, before turning his hand to construction.  The second flight was a soaring flight of 19 minutes and an introduction of the effects of the controls.  Mark’s initial apprehension faded away quickly as he enjoyed the gliding experience greatly.

Colin, about to take a flight in the K-8 with a spiffy hat (Ed: Good thing the K-8 has a big canopy), with Gavin and a barefoot Mark Goodright after flying in K-13, FSD
The next visitor was Felicity Bryant who flew a single flight with me.  She hails from Launceston.  Felicity was accompanied by her mum, who had taken extensive glider lessons at Lasham a while back but alas never went solo (Ed: Can we temp you back?).  I recognised them as they had visited the airfield before but the conditions weren’t conducive for flying visitors then so they had to postpone.

Felicity is enjoying her summer vacation before resuming reading Sociology, in her third year, at Manchester University.  The only link I could claim was that I attended the Manchester Business School (which part of Manchester University) before retiring from the Royal Navy.  Felicity’s initial concerns about airsickness were quickly dispelled by a smooth, relaxed flight (Ed: Felicity, good luck with your finals next year).

Felicity Bryant and Gavin ready to launch (Into the blue!)
While waiting for her launch Felicity deftly sidestepped my question about her professional thoughts of our gliding club and its disparate set of pilots (Ed: I think that is a very large subject, probably worth studying at Ph.D. level)

Felicity, happy to receive her certificate from Gavin after her flight
Our final visitor today was Deborah Pitts, who works in commercial catering and was accompanied by her husband.  They had travelled from Torquay.  Although Deborah had experienced a glider flight at North Hill many, many years ago she was happy just to take in the sights and the experience of flying over Dartmoor, without touching the controls.  We enjoyed three flights and after our final flight no one else wanted FSD so we parked it up on the track leading to the hangar, and retired to the welcome shade of the clubhouse porch.

Deborah and Gavin ready to aviate
with Instructor Mike and Junior Ella Barlow pictured behind awaiting their flight.
A delighted Deborah Pitts receives her certificate after enjoying three flightswith Gavin
(Ed: Stop kidding yourself.  She is just enjoying being in the shade)
After waiting for Deborah and me, Ella Barlow enjoyed a set of three flights with Mike.  One was an extended flight of 10 minutes (Ed: She will need a Glider Pilot log book soon).  As you might have gathered, by now, the heat had killed the thermic conditions so you had to take lift wherever you found it.

Mike’s last trainee was Andrew Downing who had a pair of flights (10 minutes and 24 minutes).  Serendipitously, Andrew managed to catch the last thermal of the day at 1800 which he managed to use to climb to 1,700 feet.  He then enjoyed an extended session of practicing good co-ordinated turns (Ed: Keep it smooth Andrew).

Andrew demonstrates to Mike (actually it’s to show Steve Lesson) how to thermal to the right

So 21 flights today (seven instructional, eight IFP/BI, and seven solo) in hot conditions but all the trainees flew with Mike and our four visitors were flown, some on soaring flights.  The normal band of privateers flew at the start and left the airfield while the normal selection of winch drivers and others supported those flying (Ed: Here’s a novel idea for DGS members.  Maybe next time we could mix up those who fly and those get the gliders off the ground.  There’s a thought to ponder).

At the end of the day there were some clouds which appeared far to the west that promised stonking convergence conditions if only we could access them (Ed: Oh for a motor glider or a glider with a turbo (self-sustainer).

Well done to all for keeping the field going in the hot conditions.  Remember, if in doubt, drink more water.

Gavin Short

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 6th August 2022

Another blue sky day with little or no cloud to guide the soaring pilots but at least in these conditions thermals are generally where you expect them to be as there is no cloud shadow to complication the picture. The breeze today was always going to be a iritation, early on from the NE going a2round to the NW later whuch would need a change of ends possibly in the best part of the afternoon. 

The early view from the West End launch point
All the early flights were from the west end which always gives a slower launch rate particularly as we were flying with the hurdle fence in place to prevent the somewhat lively cattle from getting in from the top field.

Mark and Rick. Briefing or dancing? You decide
First up was Mark Elliot with several practice cable breaks always challenging when launching in light winds towards the east. I launched next with Milosz Wysocki, taking advantage of a half hour gap in the air-ex programme. We readily found a thermal returning after 31 minutes. One minute late. I'll try better next time.

Milosz flying while....
I handled the photography from the back seat.
Good climb rate Milosz.
Newly qualified BI Scratch (Dene Hitchen) started the Air Experience flying programme with visitor Louise McKenny. Louise returned with a huge smile after another 31 minute flight ( is the glider stuck in 31 minute mode?).

Louise ready to fly with Scratch
Louise enjoying a good climb. 6knots at 3450fy QFE
All this soaring activity encouraged the privateers to launch with Phil and Ged in the Twin Astir disappearing for a day topping 3 hours 30 minutes closely followed by Andy Davey (Libelle)  with a day topping 3:38. Gavin was next in his Std Cirrus with 2 hours. The 4th privateer was Adam Hoskin in his brightly coloured K6CR with a flight of 1:51.

Adam with his K6CR
Gavin had this to say about his flight

"On Friday I went to Les Clark's workshop, near Swindon, and collected my glider after it had received some tlc.  So this morning I set about rigging my Standard Cirrus in slow time; checking everything, making sure all the equipment was in its right place, inspecting the work done, cleaning, and taping.  In short an extended Daily Inspection.  I waited until we had "changed ends" and took the second place in the launch queue.

Scratch launched before me on a Basic Instructor flight and then kindly cleared away from overhead the winch so I could launch.  Possibly because of the tailwind at height the slow launch only produced a 900 foot gain.  So, not much time to find lift, but lift I found. Strong lift that provided me a 3,160 foot climb with an overall average of 3.0 knots.  I headed north to Blackdown and topped up my height by another 650 feet to 5,236 feet QNH.

The view was fantastic and I flew to Meldon Reservoir and then to Okehampton Camp before turning back and watching the paragliders flying over Dartmoor way below me.  On the way there and back I topped up my height over Lydford (Hugh where were you?) and a good climb over North Brentor took me back to 5,085 ft QNH.

I flew over Tavistock, to the east, and then headed back to Brentor arriving at 1,200 ft QFE and then took a pair of slightly slower climbs to 4,724 ft QNH.  I had height to continue the grand tour to Lamerton, Gunnislake, Harrowbarrow (pausing to circle to look at my new neighbour's efforts in her garden), Kit Hill, Horsebridge, and Milton Abbot before turning for a last pass over Tavistock and then home.  I wasn't convinced the forecast band of convergence was starting to form yet.  However, the pesky tailwind was still in evidence and the "float" on the round out and subsequent ground run seemed to go on for ever and I had to us my newly fettled wheel brake to come to a complete stop.

It was a great local soaring flight of exactly 2 hours.  The whole flight was in the blue except for a few wisps of cloud to the north of Blackdown where I shared thermals with Phil and Ged's Twin Astir and Andy's Libelle.  According to the On-line Contest my flight scored 87 km and 104 points.  The fight was good for a silver height badge claim.  So to our new solo pilots; don't forget to always fly with a logger or you may miss that badge claim when in falls into your lap. See You analysis of the flight showed that I flew 122 kms straight and the mean L/D (glide ratio) was 40:1.  Thanks to all who allowed me to focus on my glider and fly it again after a 7 week break"

K13CCY on approach with the Std Cirrus in the foreground
While all this was solo flying was going on the 2 seaters were kept busy as Instructor Rick Wiles worked through his list of club trainees. Scratch and I fielded the Air Experience flying. Visitor David Grafton flew with me for an enjoyable 29 minute flight after which there was a delay as the club changed ends. Visitors Gemma Harris and Hilla Goff both flew with Scratch.

David Grafton
Gemma Harris
Hilla and Scratch waiting to fly
"Can I have my certificate please?" 
Special thanks are owed to winch driver Mike Bennett who delivered great service all day without flying himself. Thanks Mike 

David and Rick on approach in CCY
Today was a long day with the last launch at 6.50pm after a total of just 30 launches. Flying from the West end and the need to stop to change ends had definitely taken it's toll on the launch rate.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Thursday 4th August 2022

It's Thursday so it must mean by I am writing the blog (Ed: I notice that if you try and step down from this duty the instructors on the field will inevitable stiff you, so why are you trying to resist the inevitable).

When I arrived at I was ribbed that I had scared the trainees away by sending an email highlighting that we needed to get all the club gliders out of the hangar, wash them, vacuum them out, and clean the canopies ready for the forthcoming BGA audit.  My mistake was mentioning the word "work".  Apparently the turnout would have been different if I had mentioned "Free tea and doughnuts"

After the privateers' gliders were rigged there were enough bodies to get all the club gliders out.  Three of five gliders were washed and hoovered before taking two K-13s to the launch point.  Objective partially achieved.  The hangar was swept, tidied, and some other tidying conducted.  Another objective achieved.  Colin, aided by John Smith, set about tidying the glider workshop and giving it a good spring clean.

And so to the flying.  Launching at midday Richard found lift in his Discus and was soon followed “up the wire” by Phil in his DG 300.  Then Steve Fletcher proved that we were all dreaming of soaring rather than doing it by promptly landed after five minutes (Ed: I see that this was the pattern for Steve throughout the day).  Maybe Peter would have more luck in the Kestrel.

"Lucky" Pete sets off in his Kestrel.
By now two trainees had arrived: Andrew Downing and Mark Elliott (Ed: Would today be the day?).  Meanwhile Richard and Phil had been aloft for half an hour.  Alternately there was blue, then promising cumulus over the airfield, but an ominous milky top cover to south was reducing the strength of the sun.

Then "unlucky" Peter landed his big wings after a five minute circuit.

It was getting near the witching hour.  Hugh, the duty Introductory Flight Pilot, took the Jeep down to the entrance to meet his first visitor to fly and of course attend the arrival of the Duty Instructor, following checking of the tyre pressures on the K-13s.

Steve Fletcher had another circuit followed by the Two Malcolms (Ed: Are they like the Two Ronnies but older?) who launched in the Twin Astir but not before there was some "Bambi time" as the retrieve driver had to herd two deer off the field.  Meanwhile Rick, the Duty Instructor, and Mike Jardine, another instructor, arrived at the launch point.

The milky top cover blocked out the sun shining on the “Two Malcolms”.
So instruction could now begin.  Andrew Downing was first up with Rick for a set of three circuits.  Andrew is now flying the winch launch after the first 300 to 400 feet, concentrating on his circuits, and flying the final approach down to the last 100 feet.  At height he also attempted a “mushing” stall and a “nose drop” stall (Ed: Great progress Andrew!).

Unfortunately the first visitors were a no show but serendipitously Brent Nicholson arrived early for his flights scheduled for 1500.  Hugh took him for the first flight and then Rick told me to strap into the back seat and earn my keep as a Basic Instructor.

Brent Nicholson raring to fly with IFP Hugh Gascoyne
The view from the tower of Helen Nicholson looking on
as husband Brent and Hugh Gascoyne prepare to aviate
Brent and his wife Helen hail from near Holsworthy.  Brent was due to fly back to Singapore presently and was thankful to be able to squeeze his flights in prior to heading back to the Far East.  This time Helen would not be accompanying him as they are renovating a house (Ed: So I see who has the better deal here, and not just on the airfield!).

Brent ready to go up for a second flight, this time with Gavin
Brent and I managed to find a good climb to 3,000 feet QFE and quickly established ourselves in a working height band of 3,200 – 2,500 feet.  Just perfect for me to deliver the full set of Basic Instruction lessons; lookout and the primary effects of the elevator, ailerons and the rudder for the first time for real (Ed: When you can get height delivering the patter is so much easier and relaxed).  Brent tried flying each of the demonstrations himself and soon after was flying contentedly with me on the rudder pedals to coordinate his movements on the stick.  It was a glorious flight and hugely enjoyable to be implementing all that Basic Instructor training.  After a contented Brent had his fill I started making preparations to return to the airfield.  At that moment we were recalled by Rick, so out with the airbrakes to descend to “high key” and into the circuit.  Brent observed the greater angle into wind required to maintain a true track down the airfield due to the increased crosswind, compared to when we took off.  Helen stated that she had never seen Husband Brent smiling so much (Ed: So all good then).

A delighted Brent, still up there on “Cloud Nine” receives his certificate from Gavin 
Rick wanted use the glider to conduct annual Introductory Flight Pilot revalidation check flights with Hugh, which of course included the ubiquitous simulated launch failure and the ensuring long walk back to the launch point.  He passed (Ed: Congratulations, but there is a way to avoid IFP revalidation checks by going on a Basic Instructor course at Nympsfield and Aston Down…)

Fresh from his “deerherd” duties at the winch Mike Bennet took “a set of three” in his K6 which included a tidy 15 minute soaring flight in the pleasant conditions.  Rick then flew his next “set of three” with Steve Lesson which in reality was a single soaring flight of 33 minutes where Steve progressed his upper air work.

Steve Lesson climbs strongly through 2,000 feet at 6 knots
(Ed: This is becoming a common photo.  Has anyone seen Steve thermal to the right?)
What of Richard's flight?  He managed a cool 3 hours 39 minutes.  Reportedly he went everywhere in a complicated “cat’s cradle” which encompassed Brentor, Okehampton East, Brentor, Launceston, Brentor, Okehampton East, Brentor, Yelverton, and then back to Brentor (Ed: Stop it!  I am getting dizzy) which added up to a 165 km flight.

What of Farmer Phil?  In contrast to Richard’s purposeful flight Phil, in his normal laid back fashion “meandered around the A30” for 3 hours and 3 minutes.  When pressed he did admit the conditions were good and that he could have flown home to Holsworthy (Ed: It would have saved on diesel in your van).

Richard's view of the low water level in Meldon Reservoir
What of “lucky” Peter?  He did indeed get lucky with his second launch and enjoyed a soaring flight of 2 hours 23 minutes in a triangular area bounded by the airfield, Sourton, and Roadford Reservoir

Peter heads north taking in the local landmarks; Lake Viaduct and Bearslake Inn on the A386
(Ed: The A30 is in the top left of the photo)
Looking further north Meldon reservoir is visible
Proof that Peter was at 3,400 feet as he heads towards Meldon Reservoir
(Ed: Good choice of airband radio Pete!)
What of John Allan?  John also enjoyed some local soaring with a 57 minute flight and he reports that there were some strong thermals and cloud streets once he got up high.  Overall, he had a lovely flight.

John Allan looking north east towards Meldon Reservoir and the Northwest of Dartmoor. 
At around 3500ft QFE, overhead Lydford Gorge area
What of the “Two Malcolms”.  They enjoyed one hour and 34 minutes of soaring in the local area in the “Gentlemen’s carriage” that is the Twin Astir (Ed: I note that Robin wasn’t aboard so yet more logbook hours missed).

As an observation, there seemed to be a magnetic attraction to Meldon Reservoir for our soaring pilots today.

Rick flew his last instruction flight with John Smith for a straightforward circuit.  Then Mark Elliot flew with Mike Jardine for Mike’s last trio of training flights.  On their final flight Mark managed to creep up to 1,800 feet (Ed: The cloud base was still 3,000 feet QFE – This is all you’re flying now - try harder).  Mike had a chance to admire the scenery and take some “happy snaps”,

Mark Elliott flew with Mike Jardine for 27 minutes.
Mike Jardine’s view of Tavistock, the Tamar estuary, and Plymouth in the distance.
“Spot the glider”.  Mike captures a K13 launching (Ed: It really is there)
The Kestrel, in its plus-sized belly dolly, ready for the "big wings" to come off
(Ed: I note that no one is in sight to assist at this critical juncture).
John helps Peter secure the Kestrel’s belly dolly prior to wheeling the fuselage into its trailer
So a less hectic Thursday than last week with some nice soaring flights . Thanks to all the winch drivers who doubled up on the retrieve driving too.

Finally, this carefully wrapped piece of angle iron was delivered to the club earlier in the week.  Apparently it’s to enable Richard to fly faster.  Answers on a post card, please.

Gavin Short

Dartmoor Gliding News - Sunday 7th August 2022

With the forecast giving a light northwesterly breeze and high pressure sitting over us, today would be a blue thermal day. We set up to fly from the east end and club gliders and private gliders were towed down ready to fly. First flight was Ed Borlase with me for a recency check. Successfully flown, Ed was cleared to fly solo.

Our visitor, Lee Richards arrived. He was at the club for a one day course, gifted to him by friends. Lee had previously participated in paragliding and had watched us flying above Mary Tavy. Lee thoroughly enjoyed his day with us which included a 42 minute soaring flight with Richard Roberts.

Lee ready to fly with Richard.
A walk in visitor, Sean Hestrope, kept Richard busy. Sean was a microlight/hanglider pilot who wants a new challenge. Whilst thermalling with Richard, Sean suggested Richard could turn tighter which was music to his ears and lead to a 21 minute soaring flight. Sean will hopefully be joining as a full member soon.

Sean receiving a briefing from Richard.
First trainee to fly with me was Oliver Hunt. Ollie is progressing well and during a soaring flight we visited stalls and recognising symptoms. His third flight was the first whole flight he has flown. Well done.

Ollie happy with progress.
Next to fly with me was Riley Powell-Thomas. Riley is progressing at a similar pace to Ollie and on one of his flights went to his highest point (3000ft) and longest flight (28 minutes). Riley was also introduced stall symptoms, nose drop stall and stall increasing with g. (Oh to be able to spin these K13's). Riley also completed his first complete flight. Well done.

Riley happy with progress.
After a not so successful day last Thursday, Steve Fletcher was hoping to go on holiday to Botswana happy after a good flight. He took off in his Open Cirrus and was soon climbing away. He eventually returned after 3 hour 20 minutes with a very happy face to claim flight of the day.

Steve's view of Tavistock.
Adam Hoskin also managed 2 hour 36 minutes in his K6 (BVR). With the light winds, today was an excellent day for John Smith to finally convert to the SF27. After reading the flight manual, getting acquainted with the cockpit and being suitably briefed, he was off on his conversion flight. Only a circuit this time, but this was soon followed by a soaring flight of 1 hour 4 minutes.

John Smith in the SF27.
K13 off on another flight
And returns
Airfield from 2000ft
Mid afternoon the thermal activity was suddenly curtailed by a sea breeze front which was proven by only circuits by the K13's, Andy Davey (Libelle) and Ed Borlase (K6). With a few people having to leave due to commitments and the lack of soaring a slightly earlier finish ensued. Last flight landed at 16:22. Thank you to all at the airfield today for a good days flying.

Peter Howarth