Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 14th April 2018

Finally there was some promise in a Saturday weather forecast. Driving to the airfield through the early morning fog led me passed several magnificent magnolia trees in full bloom which definitely raised spirits by reinforcing the idea that spring is finally winning it's battle against the winter weather.

Although there was blue sky above the airfield it was obvious that visibility was going to be relatively poor at perhaps 5 miles but with the fresh south easterly breeze sometimes swinging to the east it was game on.

K13's waiting to go.
The very keen group of assembled members quickly had the gliders and equipment ready to go. The early morning cloud revealed some wave bars in the area but by first launch these had all disappeared. The air was quite buoyant from the first launches but finding that elusive thermal was the order of the day. Several flights were extended beyond normal circuits and then suddenly things got going with 3 flights approaching the half hour mark. Later in the day, the wave made a re-appearance although it was never really very strong with definite bars giving 0 to 1/2 knots. Careful flying would allow extended soaring at launch height. Interesting.

One Day Course Candidate, Brian Cunningham, waiting for another flight
We welcomed Brian Cunningham today who joined us for a One Day Course. Brian was able to enjoy all the best soaring that the day had to offer and was making good progress flying the K13 by the end of the day. We also had visits from Martin Strawbridge and Chris Pope both of  who joined us for Air Experience flights.

Visitor Martin Strawbridge
Visitor Chris Pope and family
Instructor Rick Wiles was kept busy today with club members today all of whom were keen to re-establish their flying status after the winter lay offs. This seemed to involve quite a few practice launch failures which were handled efficiently by pilots and ground crew alike. Experienced pilot Joe Nobbs re-soloed after a lay off.

The gliders needed ( and  got ) a good wash at the end of the day
So what a day. Lots of flying with 36 flights in total. Thanks to all who helped, not just Heather for retrieve driving all day but also the winch drivers who provided a first class service all day and all those who helped moving the gliders around the somewhat muddy launchpoint and a special mention for Steve Raine who worked all day as log keeper.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 8th April 2018

Twenty launches, five flights to 2,500ft plus, seven simulated launch failures and a longest flight of 2hrs 27 mins made for a good day at Brentor today. 

Preparations began the evening before, at the AGM, when interest was expressed in the fair weather forecast, but concerns remained over the state of the field as the result of rain which did not clear until well into the afternoon.  An early morning inspection revealed that the launch/landing areas were ‘tenable’, but great care would be needed to avoid causing damage to other areas (which could be be described as a ‘curate’s mill pond’ – good in parts – if you’re a duck..!)  And so it proved that, on occasion, a great deal of teamwork was required to get the gliders from their resting places back to the track but, once there the passage back to the launchpoint was quick and uneventful. 

 K-8B illustrates the N-S divide in the sky that remained almost all day
A host of birds were making the best of the day, with buzzards in abundance exploiting the light northerly ridge lift, whilst skylarks aplenty and possibly the odd swallow made use of the lower air for feeding.

Buzzard approaching (many made the most of the day...)
Roger Appleboom showed the way in the soaring stakes, taking the K-8 to 2,500ft beneath a grey lump of cloud that set itself up just to the NE of the field, from where we (including Andy Davey and Steve Fletcher) obtained reliable lift all day. 

Leith Whittington (Dart 17R G-DRRT) returns after a 2.5hr flight.
As lunchtime approached Leith Whittington took the hint, got himself to 3kft and set off on a shuttlecock task between Tavistock and Callington that easily totalled more than Silver Distance in 2hrs 27 mins.  Steve Fletcher, Dave Downton and Ed Borlase enjoyed practising the delights of ‘abbreviated’ launches, whilst Dave Westcott went searching for lift.  Unfortunately for him, it was Ed Borlase who ‘pinched’ Dave’s sky, being fortunate in finding three thermals (starting over the point-to point racecourse) that took him to 3,000ft, from which there was only one way down: spinning..!

Ed Borlase approaching 1,000ft over Blackdown (he topped out at 2,950ft).
 A group of four horses rounding the final turn at the point-to-point races.
At the end of the day some very weary bodies (and quad bikes) towed the gliders back for a very thorough washing down, before a quick brew and off to reflect upon a day where we seemed to be just on the edge of the good weather. 

Well worth it.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 25th March 2018

We’re flying!  After a delay caused by ‘an Obstruction on the Runway’ (see photo), by lunchtime we were up and running, with check flights and simulated launch failures (cable breaks) aplenty as the instructing team strove to check out as many members as possible (in which they were fortuitously assisted by the addition of an hour’s daylight...) 

Delayed Due to an Obstruction on the Runway
And it wasn’t all ‘up, round and down’  as the light NW’ly and heat from that rare golden orb in the sky started to set off thermals in the valley to the north of the site, which were instantly spotted and taken advantage of by Andy Davey, Roger Appleboom and Peter Howarth in the K-8 (Roger reaching 1,800ft whilst Peter managed 2,200ft in their half-hour flights), whilst Mark Jerman shot to 1,600ft on his check flight before being told to get back on the ground and join the queue for the K-8! 

A packed grid under a promising sky...
Trainees Ed Borlase and Dave Westcott enjoyed the opportunity to get back in the groove under increasingly cloud-free conditions, whilst Leith Whittington did his best to line the Treasurer’s pockets with as many launches as possible in his Dart 17R (one of which included 2 minutes in wave...) and Rich Roberts fly his ever so sleek Discus for the first time from Brentor this year.  As the afternoon drew on (and Allan Holland was being checked out by Peter Howarth) we decided that low angle of the sun was becoming an increasing threat and hence it was time to pack the kit away safety – at 7pm! 

A successful day saw 25 launches achieved on the 25th day of the month.  Thanks go in bucket-loads to our winch drivers, Dave Downton and Roger Appleboom, who between them coped with nine simulated/real cable breaks, which with a nearly-90 degree crosswind resulted in the cable going over the boundary on a number of occasions, that can (it is suspected form the launchpoint end) cause a certain amount of, er, frustration... and opportunity to build  teamwork with the retrieve driver, of course..! Well Done Guys!

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 24th March 2018

Very low cloudbase with drizzle giving way to a period of more general rain. So not a flying day.

While traveling to the airfield today I was already planning this blog post ( what!! You actually plan this stuff?? I hear you ask). In my mind I thought that I could resurrect a very old, bad joke along the lines of " There's a hole in the runway but don't worry the committee are looking into it". This would be accompanied by a suitable picture; job done.  I was actually surprised to find that the aforementioned hole is now the site of a substantial sump, designed to direct water into the new drainage system ( and ruin my joke ) and that Scratch and Mike were busy finishing it off.

Mike and Scratch working on the sump while Ged looks on.
( Ged was to represent the Committee for purposes of the failed joke attempt) 
Meanwhile, down at the hangar, Rick was reassembling the mower ready for the new season. Now that's what I call optimism. Well done Rick.

The mower partially assembled
( Rick's hiding in the hangar with a very large pot of grease.) 
Just after lunch there was an influx of members as the committee assembled for their planned meeting which took most of the afternoon with us eventually leaving in the forecast steady rain.

The forecast for tomorrow is looking better.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 21st March 2018

A busy day at the airfield but unfortunately no flying.

Today's spectators
Colin Boyd worked tirelessly bricking up the sump at the top of the cross track drain with Phil Hardwick, Dave Downton and myself acting as labourers which mainly involved cleaning 400 second hand bricks! The farmer moved his sheep across the field which gave us a bit of light relief as they stood and watched us working for a while.

Amongst his many talents Colin also has excellent brickwork skills
 A long day and we did as much as we could in one day with a bit more left to do later in the week. Huge thanks to the guys especially Colin for all their hard work.

Steve Fletcher

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 18th March 2018

Today was a No Fly Day
Although the Met Office predicted lighter winds and clearer skies than originally thought, after a bright start following light snow overnight, it wasn’t long before the wind freshened and, by 1100 (exactly as forecast by the BBC) snow showers started to sweep in from the north-east.  By lunchtime the area was in the grip of persistent snow and low cloud that contrasted sharply with these early morning photos.

Wave cloud to the SW of the airfield (but not for long...)
Cap cloud in evidence behind Discus V5 trailer
The launch point and Brentor church in bright sunshine
 Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News - Saturday 17th March 2018

Despite my prayers to the weather gods the run of poor weather continues. 2 weeks ago we had the "Beast From The East". Last week it was the "Pest from the West" and this week we are under threat of the "Mini Beast from the East" or "Beast from the East 2" ( sounds like a slightly dodgy sequel !! ). Can we please have the "Fun in the Sun " instead.

I had been watching the weather develop as the weekend approached as there was a chance of a day with easterly winds and wave conditions. In the event the wind was a little too far to the north and far too strong to be of use from the airfield which was particularly frustrating as the was evidence of extensive wave systems overhead and to the south and east of the airfield. Gliding is sometimes very character forming.

Part of the wave system as seen from Yelverton looking north towards Brentor
There were several members on the airfield attacking various tasks. Scratch and a gang were in the hangar where they had erected a scaffold tower to repair the leak in the roof. Success was reported which we will be able to judge when it next rains.

The uninspiring view of the looking east along the runway.
Over the last 2 weeks Scratch and Rick have been working on the simulator with the idea of improving the software. We were treated to Scratch's own monster computer which demonstrated what can be achieved when money is no object. Flying around a photo realistic landscape was awesome. Perhaps we have to request some club funds for computer upgrades. In the meantime, the simulator has has had a software upgrade to Condor 2.

Leaky pipe repairs with Mike and Rick
Last week's work list also included the repair of  several leaky pipes caused by the recent freezing conditions after which a trip was made to the east of the airfield  where the ML1 winch was serviced in place on the end of the runway the prevent any possible damage to the new track in the very wet conditions. This took real dedication. Thanks chaps.

Servicing the winch on the airfield in the rain. Outstanding
Any predictions for improved weather anyone?


Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 24th February 2018

After a mostly dry week the airfield is finally drying out. Watching the forecast over the last few days revealed a potential for easterly winds and the formation of wave. The sounding forecast showed a sharp inversion at about 925 hpa ( the airfield was at 968 hpa today so the inversion was at about 1290 feet above the airfield ) and although the wind strength was not really increasing with height, the profile was really encouraging.
The soundings forecast for 1300 gmt
Early in the day there was 8/8th cloud but this cleared away leaving a blue sky day. The only cloud visible were some wisps indicating areas of wave rotors. At the east end of the airfield the windsock was hanging mostly limp with occasional gusts but experienced Dartmoor pilots know that on a wave day it often looks like this as the rotor back washes that end of the runway  So game on.

The Zugvogel 3B ready to fly
 This was a licensed pilots only day. Most of the assembled members were preoccupied with tasks around the airfield but the Zugvogel 3B syndicate ( Alan Carter, Roger Green and myself ) were determined to fly so we woke the glider from it's winter slumbers and reasonably quickly had it assembled and ready to fly. Allan Holland very kindly offered to drive the winch for us.

The other syndicate members bravely nominated me to fly first. I ensured that I was well strapped in and that everything was secure ( I had an idea of what might happen next ) and off I went. The ground run was a little long ( windsock still limp ) and the initial climb was unremarkable. At about 500 feet all hell broke loose as I flew into the rotor and keeping the glider climbing correctly took a lot of control input. Releasing the cable at 1000 feet the glider began a wild dance through the rotor. Don't fight it Stephen, work with it.

Thankfully I was climbing in this rough air and suddenly at 1200 feet the air went completely smooth. This is WAVE. After a short, slow climb, I made my first mistake. Convinced that the climb rates should be better than this, I pushed forward to the east looking for what I thought was going to be the primary wave. In my defence, remember that the sky was blue so I had no visual references to help me. I flew into violent rotor and deeply sinking air and had to do a quick about turn and head for the airfield arriving adjacent to the runway at 800 feet convinced that I was going to have to land shortly.

This is where fate took a hand in the events and I flew into very strong rising air. Turning steeply I centred what turned out to be a wave enhanced thermal bubble which propelled me skywards with the variometers off the clock. Four circles later I was passing 1800 feet when the air went smooth again. Turning south across the wind I followed the wave bar in smooth lift and promised myself to climb first before going exploring again.

Looking west towards Dartmoor
Climb rates were not remarkable, probably averaging a couple of knots and ultimately I topped out at 4800 feet. The visibility was not very good with some haze but this lent some enchantment to the view, which I know so well, with the sun shining brightly off the Tamar estuaries which would have otherwise been invisible through the haze.

Yours truely relaxing in the sun
( the left strap looks a bit dishevelled after the rotor )
The hazy view with this thin cloud layer quite invisible from the ground
I had promised Roger that I would be back in an hour so it was time to go. There was an area of smooth air with no lift just to the south of the airfield so it was here that I started my decent. With the glider at 60 knots with the airbrakes fully deployed, I flew large lazy circles down through the mostly smooth air. At one time I flew into the rotor again and even with the airbrakes fully out the glider started climbing strongly once more. Turning away soon sorted that out and after a few more circles I was able to start a circuit from what would normally be considered ridiculously high, but in these conditions you need to maintain lots of energy ( for energy read height ) to cope with the rotors that always populate the circuit area ). The circuit was very rough but uneventful with a nice landing. This flight had taken 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Roger ready to launch
Roger guides the Zugvogel up the wire.
( notice the limp windsock and the haze trapped as a cap cloud over Dartmoor beyond )
Roger Green was next up. After a short briefing from me ( It's very rough Roger! ) he had a similar flight to mine topping out at 4100 feet and landing back after 1 hour and 10 minutes. Our 3rd sydicate partner had already headed home so there was some time to spare before we needed to derig. We offered Rick Wiles the chance to fly the Zugvogel. ( Instructors are included in our insurance cover ). Rick flew for about 30 minutes topping out at 3500 feet.

Roger's View of the airfield from the south looking north
Roger topped out at just over 4100 feet
After rescuing Allan from the winch, we quickly derigged the glider and washed the mud from the fuselage ( Roger had managed to find a soft spot in the runway ) before returning to the clubhouse to thaw out. At ground level the temperature had stayed about 3degrees all day.

Our special thanks to Allan Holland for the winch driving and to Alan Carter for helping us to get the glider ready without flying it.

A great flying day for experienced pilots.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 17th February 2018

The airfield is still too wet to fly although the recent improvement in the weather is suggesting that we will be flying soon.

Was this wasted day? No a bit of is. For the last week a team of members lead by Mike Bennett have morphed into Civil Engineers and  organised some major site improvements. For several years, the water draining off the airfield had gouged it's own ditch down the cross track making this track increasingly difficult to use. This has been banished for good.

Working on the drainage sump
The drainage pipe
A large drainage pipe has been installed to carry the water away, fed by a sump at the junction between the cross and main tracks. The cross track has been completely rebuild and refinished. While they were at it, Mikes crew have also relayed long stretches of the main track.

Jorg on the roller
A JCB and driver helped the effort
There were lots of members involved in this effort which involved endless hard, physical, working in poor weather, staying at the airfield through the night to receive the 200 tons of road plannings ( track material ), driving many miles with tractor, trailer and excavator ( thanks Phil) and generally lots of effort by all those involved. We thank you all.

A renewed section of track
Some of the crew at lunch

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 4th February 2018

With yesterday’s sharp showers only adding to the already waterlogged field, it did not take the brain of a mastermind to conclude that flying would not be possible.  The day was, however, a good drying day, with a steady north-easterly breeze (gusting 20 kts plus) hoovering moisture from the soil, and with a cold week in prospect let’s hope that by next weekend the field is flyable (see advert on the Forum re flying at NHL this Wednesday).

Early Day State of Play: Cloud over the Moor and Water on the pitch
– just too much of both!
And so a few refugees gathered to, amongst other things, study Bronze C meteorology and compare notes about K-6s until such time as the interior of the clubhouse more closely resembled that of a POW hut (the woodburner sucking in heat rather than dispensing it) and we disloyally voted to put our faith in the heaters of our cars and depart.

Looking towards Brentor from the east end of the runway.
Wave slot in view.
Later in the day, there was clear evidence of a wave system to the east of the moor - such a shame that the state of the field wouldn’t allow us to investigate (...grrr!)

Looking east. Tors are just visible beneath the roll cloud, plus a wave slot top left.
 Later in the day there was clear evidence of wave over Brent Tor.
But finally, whilst admitting that our sport is a but ‘nerdy’, attracting those who could be described as being ‘obsessive’, a limit of nerdiness was reached, if not surpassed, today by one member who, on watching a video of local soaring when the audio vario pipped, then bleeped, and finally screeched from 6 to 10 up said, “I’d like that on my alarm clock!” Identity of the accused (and forecast for the future of their marriage) may be obtained on receipt of a small bribe..!

Martin Cropper