Dartmoor Gliding News - Wednesday 6 December 2023

Due to no visitors today, caused by a cancellation by naval personnel due to the exigencies of the service, and no other visitors, no trainees either, the Wednesday Wavers had the club to ourselves.

Mike Jardine gave the weather and morning brief; fairly calm, overcast with the wind from the south east building gently during the day followed rain by the time it was dark.  After a few admin notices Peter, prophetically, mentioned that the Puchacz flight manual listed crosswind limits which might curtail flying during the afternoon if the wind strengthened.

Before its daily inspection the placard in the Astir CS77 was treated to Dynotape labels with the min and max pilot loads in Kgs and the dual-knotted yaw string reduced to a more manageable (Ed: And sensitive) single length of red wool.

The Astir CS77 after its Daily Inspection (Ed: Note shiny red tail dolly)
Daily inspections completed a K-13, FGR, and the Puchacz were taken to the west end.  The field was still "moist" but flyable (Ed: To be honest it was boggy in many parts).  If the conditions were OK for solo flying the K-8 and Astir CS 77 were to follow up to the launch point.

Trailer park fettling (Ed: And boy do these K-6s need a lot of fettling!)
Up on the field the wind was freshening remarkably quickly from the south east ahead of the forecast.  Mike and Peter took the first launch of what was planned to be a series of flights to convert Mike to the Puchacz.  Inevitably these would include a practice launch failure.  The launch was surprisingly turbulent and continued up to two-thirds of launch height when our first red link broke with the Puchacz (Ed: As its designed to do) in what seemed like rotor, but may have been caused by extended curl over from the trees on the south side and an extreme wind gradient.  As Mike turned the glider the upper wind was surprisingly strong and caused significant drift downwind before the intrepid duo landed after a modified circuit (Ed: So type conversion and launch failure practice all in a single two minute flight.  How economical is that?)

After considering the conditions, which were going to be challenging for a K-13 too, Mike decided to stop flying operations.  Meanwhile the wind strength was increasing further.  So the launch point was packed up and the two two-seaters, and the winch brought were back to the clubhouse.

The Puchacz suitably chocked after its short flight
The early cessation of flying meant that we were able derig FGR ready for its annual inspection.  Once suitably mounted on the "dead man" frame the canopy was removed, the tail plane disconnected, the seats unscrewed, and  the wings removed relatively easily using the "Allan" main pin retractor.  A few modifications in size and shape and the "Allan" retractor will be suitable for both lower and upper main pins for our K-13s.  The wings were placed on trestles on the right side of the hangar and CCY's other wing laid ready for inspection.  The fuselage was initially place on the left side of the hangar.

A committee of taste (Ed: That's a highfalutin name for you and Peter contemplating life on the hangar apron) considered that the Puchacz wouldn't fit and that FGR's fuselage needed to be placed along the back wall behind FSD in hangar position one. Positioning the various components parts and location of the gliders when we packed the hangar required some in depth thought.  So with the tea made all retired to the clubhouse for lunch and some sinking thinking (Ed: "This is the German Coastguard what are you thinking about?").

FGR being derigged for its annual inspection
Suitably refreshed after tea and lunch the hangar was packed in double quick time. Some minor projects were progressed and the Astir CS77's documentation was weeded and filed.

After lunch Jamie Steel came up to fly (Ed: But yet again we weren't due to the weather) so he discussed with me the arrangements for our navy flying package in the New Year.

Andy Davey brought two belly dollies to the club today and we trial fitted to the Puchacz The better fitting will be loaned to the club and will be used for fitting out our AMF trailer (Ed: Thank's Andy).

Andy's long term loan to the club (Ed: I can see the need for some red paint on the horizon)
As the afternoon drew to a close  (Ed: Sunset at Brentor was at 1613 today) and we started locking up Jamie was presented with a raspberry-jam filled doughnut as compensation (Ed: That's one way of ensuring that we don't attract any mice into the clubhouse) for not being able to fly with this autumn.

Today the Wednesday Wavers were thwarted but not downbeat.  "We will get to fly. We will get to fly." Repeat after me. "We will get to fly."


Dartmoor Gliding News - Saturday 2nd December 2023

Luck seems to be on our side with a weak ridge of high pressure giving a "quiet" spell weather. The forecast was for light variable winds with a southerly drift initially, gradually strengthening and backing to the SE. The blue sky was gradually obscured by high cirrus until late afternoon when the next  made an appearance with solid cloud cover. It was cold all day.

The early view from the east end launchpoint
The thin cirrus obscuring the blue sky
We had 2 visitors today. David Baker flew with me and Katherine Steer flew with Phill Hardwick. 

David waiting to fly
Katherine and family
The Puchacz was kept busy with instructor familiarisation flights. This and some check flights meant that it was a day with a lot of practice launch failures. The southerly breeze turned this into a day with a lot of cables landing over the northerly fence. A special mention and thanks must be due to the winch drivers who took this all in their stride. This and the change of ends early afternoon somewhat suppressed the launch rate.

The Puchacz was kept busy
The view south was somewhat ethereal with the sun shining on the sea
The Astir CS77 was kept busy as the solo pilots were trying out this "new to us" glider.

The Astir on approach
The late afternoon west end launchpoint with the arriving front overhead
Looking down the airfield from the east 

A bonus flying day.


Dartmoor Gliding News - Sunday 3rd December 2023

The Sunday rain, low cloud and wind was due to continue according to the forecast. The small turn out settled in the clubhouse with teas and coffees with the log burner lit for chats and putting the world to rights. Usually ever optimistic Richard arrived and presented us with bacon and bread, so we set about making butties for a late breakfast. Saffron loaf and butter was provided by Sean. Junior member Toby Irons arrived with dad Howard so we gave Toby his joining pack and started working through some ground schooling.

Richard came back into the clubhouse and said to me that I should look outside as the weather was not acting like the forecast. Having looked at the sky and the surrounding area, I decided we should at least try to fly. The airfield was quickly set up and one K13 was taken to the east end launch point.

First launch was Sean Westrope who hadn't flown for seven weeks due to the continuous string of bad weather on Sundays.

Sean happy to be flying again.
At the top of the launch we could see a band of rain down in Cornwall. After landing and doing checks ready for a second flight, the rain arrived so we headed to the bus and waited. A break for an hour saw a clearance finally arrive, so Toby Irons was given the next chance to fly.

Toby ready to go flying.
We managed three flights practicing turns and learning about trimming and stall warnings.

Off we go into an overcast sky.
Toby watched by Dad Howard getting ready again.
Next into the K13 was Ed Borlase who also hadn't flown for seven weeks. At the top of the launch we saw another heavier band of rain heading our way. A radio call to the launch notified them we would hangar land and be packing up for the day.

A day that started with a forecast of no flying, ended with a junior member happy with his flying and two other members just glad to have flown after a long spell of no flying. Thank you to those who were at the airfield including Gavin and Richard who did not manage to fly. Never say never.

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News - Saturday 25th November 2023

 A weak ridge of high pressure offered a respite from the seemingly endless bands of wind and rain of recent weeks. Early on it was cold with a ground frost. The winds today were forecast to be light and variable. In fact the various forecasts all disagreed as to which direction it might come from but it was so light it didn't really matter and the airfield was set up to launch from the east end.

The blue sky became increasingly obscured by high clouds
Another cloud view
The gliders were out early with canopies exposed to the sunlight to help clear the misting which occurs when the weather is like this. The club was very busy today. Alongside the normal training activities, the Puchacz would be busy with the Instructor cadre familiarising themselves with this "new to us" aircraft and the solo pilots would be trying out the Astir CS77. 

Puchacz and Astir waiting to go 
Who would let these 2 fly together?
Off goes the Puchacz again
We welcomed 3 scouts returning to fly with us after the weather defeated them a few weeks ago. We were also visited by Callum Barnes, an RN Engineer, joining us to fly as part of our newly strengthened relationship with the Royal Navy.

Henry was first up for the Scouts
Alfie flew with Steve ....
.... As did Olivia ( who seems very relaxed here)
Connor waiting for me
Early on the Puchacz trailer was washed a readied to be returned to the location of the second RM Puchacz by Jamie Steel. DGS will be using our own twin-axle AMF Trailer for our Puchacz.

A clean looking Puchacz trailer.
Off to be reunited with the other Puchacz.
An exciting, busy day with 37 launches despite some organisational frustrations.


Dartmoor Gliding News - Wednesday 29 November 2023

Today, I think November wanted to make amends and prove that it wasn't as wet as October.  Whatever the reason the Wednesday Wavers took advantage of the calm conditions and went flying.

A number of other activities were underway. Firstly, I addressed the inevitable snag list for the two new GRP gliders. Nothing major, just things to be worked through such as producing a weight and balance chart in kilograms for those members who have left the counting schemes of the last Millennium behind them.

Secondly, Scratch was rebuilding the yellow cable pull-out trailer after it sustained some damage on the potholed track recently (Ed: Yes, folks its getting near to track repair time again).

Thirdly, Phil got both winches out so that he could continue trials on the manual Supacat winch.

With that the gliders were pulled out of the hangar, inspected and taken to the launch point except the Puchacz (Ed: Miłosz told me that I have got the Polish pronunciation of the glider all wrong - Its pronounced as two syllables but the "c" is silent.  On further investigation I discovered that I have been pronouncing his name wrong as well. The Polish ł is a "w" sound. On behalf of the club Miłosz please accept our most profound apologies). 

So with this we segue into a fourthly.  Eagle-eyed Peter (Ed: Did you see what I did there with our "Eagle Owl" glider?) noticed during his daily inspection of the Puchacz that only one of the elevator trim tabs was moving.  A small team quickly identified an improbable problem. Under Colin's supervision normal operation of the trim tabs were restored and the glider was taken to the launch point. That allowed Colin to resume his work on CCY's starboard wing rectifying items identified in the annual inspection.

The maintenance team deal with an improbable problem
Fifthly, David Archer was fettling.  He was replacing the non-operational wind-powered ventilator with the latest Flettner ventilator in his new (Ed: New to him!) trailer.

The forecast was for light airs which normally means that we would fly from the east end. However, a few forecasts had the wind filling in from the east.  So reluctantly we flew from the west end and tolerated the associated slower launch rate.

First to fly was John Smith with the Duty Instructor, Mike Jardine.  Mike initiated a practice launch failure. John managed it well and was cleared to fly the K-8.

Next up was our only trial flight of the day; Dane Williams who is in the process of relocating to Harrowbarrow, Cornwall from Wiltshire.  His sister had bought him the voucher as an encouragement to return to gliding. He had been a junior glider pilot many years ago (Ed: As ever adult life gets in the way of having fun).  He very much enjoyed his flights and is determined to return to the fold once he has completed his move (Ed: We look forward to seeing you back in the air soon).

Hugh and his trial flight candidate, Dane Williams, getting ready for his flight
And off they go
With that Hugh was dragged away to fly with the Duty Instructor to test the manual winch. Two aborted take offs later Phil had proved that the manual winch's fuel system needed some more work and Hugh was current on launch failure practice (Ed: I always maintain that the instructors are devious souls).

Then our only trainee of the day, David Moult, enjoyed Mike's undivided attention as David made three flights, with little input from Mike, as they enjoyed the silky smooth conditions of the day.

David Moult, almost unrecognisable with out his bright orange toweling soaring hat, shares a joke with Malcolm W-J prior to his third flight.
David Moult correctly trimmed and ready to practice his scan cycle (Ed: Ignore the confusing blue hat!)
An interesting sky
A watery winter sun in a west country sky photographed while wafting under a wall of cloud (Ed:  I know Mike didn't provide a caption for this photo but that is completely over the top)
Hugh and Peter returning in the Puchacz after a conversion flight
With that the solo pilots enjoyed flights in the K-8 (Ed: It was obviously a K-8 day as the Astir CS77 was left basking in the sunshine after the Fleet Manager had completed his snagging).  Mike Bennett, John Allan, Malcolm W-J, Martin Broadway, John Smith, and David Archer (Ed: Having completed his fettling) all tried their hand. Man of the Match was John Allan with 8 minutes.

Old and new; wood and glass
Meanwhile, Hugh was getting the Lion's share of the flying today by taking a set of three type conversion flights in the Puchacz with the Deputy CFI, Peter, finishing with a fourth flight which was an inevitable launch failure. Hugh obviously acquitted himself well as he was cleared to fly the Puchacz.
Phil and Hugh (hidden behind the starboard wing) manoeuvering the Puchacz around the puddles and the boggy bits at the launch point
Having made two flights in the front seat Hugh is delighted to be in the back seat
Even the Eagle Owl logo wasn't spared some mud splatter when retrieving the Puchacz back to the launch point
Mike Bennett prepares a strop with a red weak link to launch Hugh and Peter in the Puchacz
After flying David Bourchier, Mike Jardine strapped himself in the Puchacz for his conversion flights.  As they were preparing I noticed condensation forming on the wings. The air temperature was dropping as the afternoon progressed. Sure enough when they were ready to launch and closed the canopy it started misting up. So with that the day's flying ended after a modest 20 flights.

The conditions were calm (Ed: See the windsock) so what was causing this cloud formation?
Back at the apron glider wheel boxes were washed out to clear accumulated grass and mud before we packed the hangar.  We were impressed by the determination of our very own "All-Weather Biker" to get soaked while lying on the wet apron.  Hugh justified his keenness by stating that since he had the most flying today, nine flights, (Ed: That was true. The Duty Instructor had only managed a paltry six flights today) he must have produced most of the mud in the wheel boxes.

The hangar was quickly packed, members getting used to the new packing scheme.  They managed to avoid the wet paint on the tail and wing tip dollies of the Astir CS77 sat on the bench which received their first coat of red paint today (Ed: For better visibility and safety for items that must be removed before flight).

Hangar packed including the original trailer and the CFI's new tyre trailer (Just like a Betterware catalogue.  This you never knew you needed in life until you saw it in the catalogue)
With the hangar door shut, the ground equipment and flying gear put away members, dispersed into the night.

So had November redeemed itself by not being as wet as October?  We weren't convinced but will admit we did enjoy the summer's day conditions today (Ed: You mean apart from the temperature difference!).  We await the Met Office rainfall figures for the month.

As we move into December it will be colder which may help the still damp airfield. To get our pilots in to a festive mood there may be some snow too.
Eurasian eagle-owls are frequently at home in harsh wintry areas.  (Ed: Maybe a taste of the winter weather to come?)

Gavin Short

Dartmoor Gliding News - Saturday 18th November 2023

The weather leaving Plymouth was poor with low cloud drizzle/showers. At the airfield it was a little better; at least it was not raining. The runway though was too wet to fly unless some of the gliders could be fitted with floats.

There were plenty of members around to help with the work programme to reorganise the hangar, rig the new aircraft and park the new trailers.

First up K8 CDK was derigged and moved to the spray booth. K13 CCY fuselage was moved to the spray booth waiting for the completion of the C of A work to it's wings.

Next up was the rigging of the Puchacz which took a little longer than expected due to our inexperience with this glider type. We even referred to the Manual once or twice, The Puchacz was put into the hangar in position 3 but this did not look comfortable so it and a K13 were removed form the hangar and then refitted with the Puchacz in position 2 and the K13 in Position 3. Excellent.

Peter in supervisory mode
or is he making sure it doesn't blow away?
Obviously a team sport
Uncomfortable in position 3

That's better
After lunch it was the turn of the new Astir CS77. As several members have been Astir syndicate members this went together easily and it was installed in the hangar in position 5 with the remaining K8 in 4. 

A busy clubhouse
The sleek Astir CS77
All safely in the hangar
There was plenty of other work going on with Scratch working on the Jeep which has decided not to start. Colin and Adam were working on CCY's wing in the workshop.

Refreshments in the clubhouse rounded off the days events after a short meeting of the Directors.