Wednesday 28th December 2011

The few stalwarts intent on 'committing aviation' at the club today found themselves engaged in an increasingly chilly and moist 'Rain Dance'. Not only were there heavy rain showers to be endured and huge puddles to skipped across or waded through, but a pair of Raines (Steve and son Rob) eager to get airborne.
Rob Raine settles into K-13 DMX for his first glider flight, accompanied by his father Steve (centre) and Insturctor Dave Jesty.
The only other pilot to fly today (apart from Dave Jesty and myself sharing back-seat duties) was Rick Wiles, who prised himself away from computer work in the clubhouse in a brief attempt (cable break!) to stay current.

In addition to the wet and increasingly gusty conditions, our main problem today centred around cable breaks, resulting in a pathetic 'successful launch-to-launch failure' ratio of 3:4. This was through no fault of either the pilots or the winch driver, and we suspect that unreported snarl-ups in recent weeks may have compromised the integrity of the relatively new cables on the ML winch. Today, the few successful launches delivered to us by John Howe were corkers, but otherwise he and club Chairman Steve Lewis spent far too much time having to retrieve and re-join broken cables - getting colder and wetter in the process (along with those of us at the launch point).

Back at the hangar our technical team (  Chris Kaminski and Martin Smith ) augmented by Mike Keller, Mike Ashton and Alan Carter spent many hours continuing to renovate the Pirat's wing centre section, while Ged Nevisky worked beneath the red Land Rover Discovery attending to unreported serious damage to a rear shock absorber assembly.

Team work on the Pirat wing
Sandra Buttery was also on-site, while three of our staunch committeemen, Steve Lewis, Bob Jones and Ged Nevisky, were seen in earnest conversation regarding matters strategic - or maybe just comparing hangovers, Christmas prezzies and New Year Resolutions.

Pictured through a fogged-up lens enjoying the comfort of a warm clubhouse are (from left) Ged, Dave and Rick.
A happy, safe and soarable 2012 to you all.

Bob Pirie

Saturday 24th December 2011

Just a few of us managed somehow to escape family duties.

With the airfield still wet and showers in the forecast it was a couple of hours of chat with friends in the clubhouse in front of the woodburner.

Hope the weather improves soon.


Wednesday 21st December 2011

Only a handful of us were in attendance today and the presence of three instructors ensured personal attention - albeit in the form of briefings and simulator training - for ab initio students Joe Morel (our newest Junior Member, and - as usual - Steve Raine). These guys, aided and abetted by Ged and myself, gave DMX its long-overdue monthly 'sprucing up', bringing a hint of a smile to Fleet Manager Chris Kaminski's face.

Meanwhile Chris and Martin Smith continued with their excellent work on the Pirat and the Zugvogel, for which we are all most grateful - or will be when the wave and those thermals start popping.
With no flying in prospect due to low cloud combined with mud and standing water everywhere, the clubhouse with its wood-burner yet again provided a cosy bolt hole for ground training or exchanging 'war stories', and the lack of pupils enabled some of us instructors to discuss trends and techniques with CFI Don. Full marks to him for turning up today. Having suffered a car breakdown en route, he then had no other option than to accept an 'unrefusable offer' of a £100 brand new car battery from a representative one of a leading breakdown organisation.

Come rain or shine, our Airfield Manager Phil Hardwick is usually with us every Wednesday; if not flying, toiling - often alongside Ged - at maintaining machinery and repairing the churned-up ground. Today was no exception, but this time he was accompanied by Charlie Brown, a friend and agricultural contractor from Holsworthy, who came along to assess how we might improve drainage and minimise surface damage.
Phil and Charlie disappeared into the murk for a few hours, when they returned to the clubhouse saying very little, other than that they had 'a few ideas to put to the Committee'. Sounds intriguing - so watch this space!
As I threw in the towel and went off Christmas Shopping, the clubhouse was still 'buzzing', with Charlie Brown now parked in the front seat of the simulator with a smile on his face. Either he had found the company of this eccentric group of gliding addicts amusing, or perhaps he was showing signs of 'catching the gliding bug'.

Anyway, thanks for coming along Charlie, and we look forward to hearing what you and Phil recommend.
No photos this week. All that remains is to wish everyone a wonderful Christmas and a happy, healthy, safe and soarable 2012. And fingers crossed for next Wednesday, when few of us may convene in the hope of getting airborne!

Bob Pirie

Sunday 18th December 2011

A small band of toughies came out to fly.

Roger Appleboom showed us a new level of “hardy”, off came the boots, socks wrung out and then back on with the boots. With temperatures just above freezing that takes some doing---Martin Smith, can you beat that?

No sign of tension in either pilot’s face as slack is taken up on DMX: so exactly who has control?
Thanks to Sean and Martin Cropper we had a steady supply of first class winch launches, and in between launches Sean even serviced the gas cooker!!

Sean Parramore executing yet another 1,400ft launch for the K-13 into an interesting sky.
Roger Green completed his training and is now cleared to fly family and friends, well done Roger. BI rating next.

Several grinning muddy faces huddled around the stove at the days end.

Well done everybody.


Saturday 17th December 2011

The news proclaimed that today shoppers will be spending £1.5 million per minute and I guess that’s where most of the DGS members were.

With very low numbers and a very wet, very cold airfield we decided not to get the toys out.

After chopping enough wood to keep the stove burning furiously all day, we retired to the clubhouse and spent our time discussing cross country flying and strategies for his 50km silver leg with Mike Jardine. This is the last leg he requires for his silver badge.

After our discussions Mike flew the simulator from Brentor to North Hill and was able to practice some of the techniques he will use when he flies the real thing in the spring. Well done Mike.


Wednesday 14th December 2011

Wednesday instructor Bob was on sick leave today. Get well soon Bob.

This was not really going to make much difference today as the airfield was just too wet to fly after the tremendous storms Monday night / Tuesday morning. We did have a chance to check for damage and luckily apart from the huge pools of standing water on the runway and the stones wash down the track onto the hangar apron ( again ), all is well.

The hangar apron was soon sorted out by David Rippon  and Steve Raines who must have removed about a dozen loads of gravel in the wheel barrow. Thanks chaps.

Phil “the farmer” and Ged spent their time repairing the JCB and then using it to repair part of the track on the runway until it blew another hydraulic hose. Time for more spanner work chaps?

The simulator was well used with some cross county / soaring practice followed by spinning training followed by mountain flying in Lithuania.

Some good weather please !!!


Sunday 11th December 2011

The rain arrived as forecast.

In intrepid fashion Martin Cropper and Alan Ballard set about some cable maintenance (which involved stretching the cables while being rained on).

Roger Appleboom undertook some glider maintenance, and then we all stopped for tea and mince pies.

Lectures were on Daily Inspection and Launch Failures.


Saturday 10th December 2011

Today’s forecast gave light, westerly winds, with a clear sky and low temperatures, giving way to showers and increasing winds after dark.

Had to scrape the ice off the car so it was certainly cold but I took advantage of the warm clubhouse to climb into my thermal suit ( the woodburner is a VERY good thing ). After wandering into the hangar I was amazed to see Martin Smith working on the Pirat in a tee shirt. It is obvious that he is made of tough stuff – perhaps that is why he owns 2 open cockpit gliders.

The early blue sky gave way to increasing cloud and some showers. At least this meant that we were treated to a seemingly endless display of rainbows.

The K13 chasing rain bows
The 2 seaters were busy throughout the day with pilots maintaining currency and furthering their training. Flying finished just before dark as the low sun angle and misting canopies ( and lowering temperatures ) sent everyone scurrying for the clubhouse. It is astounding how quickly 2 gliders can be washed and put away when a warm clubhouse beckons. McLaren style pit stops come to mind.

Last flight of the day.
A satisfying day.


Wednesday 7th December 2011

An ever-hopeful team of enthusiasts gathered around a roaring fire, while outside the rain teemed down on a sodden airfield - parts of which now resemble a WW1 battlefield. However, the forecasters were good to their word, and in most un-Wednesdaylike fashion, the weather actually improved, with only occasional further showers, but this coincided with an increase in the strength and gustiness of the NW wind.

With the aircraft and equipment already DI'd, at the first hint of an improvement we hitched up K13 DMX to the quad bike and hauled just the one glider to the east end of the field, setting up shop on the dry 'high spot' beside the launch caravan, and agreeing to confine landings as much as possible to the small 'tennis court'-like strip to the south of the centre track. The potential downside of overshooting, undershooting or failing to cope with the crosswind and thus ending up in a boggy part of the field inspired everyone to land with amazing accuracy, and most of the time we avoided having to tow the glider by attaching the cable for the next launch where the glider had stopped.

Robin Wilson stands by to help launch John Howe and Bob Pirie.
Steve Lewis scrutinises a muddy strop for a hint of colour coding.
Thanks to Dave Rippon and Jeff Craggs - and John Howe and Robin Wilson who did their stint later in the day - for providing some excellent launches (the majority to 1,400-1,500 feet). Meanwhile those at the receiving end responded well, with only one cable parachute dropped over the fence during a total of 16 launches. Flying-wise, the emphasis was on honing our skills in the challenging conditions, rather than simply keeping just-about-current with a benign potter around the circuit. The generous launch heights gave everyone an opportunity to work at revising their spin recovery skills with either me, or my fellow-instructor Ged, and the strong and increasingly gusty crosswind enabled us to carry out some quite interesting circuit and approach exercises as well.

John Bolt, Bob Jones and Steve Lewis bask in the comfort of the launchpoint control caravan.
But the day wasn't all about hard work, and just to remind us what the skies around Brentor are really all about, with rain showers all around us, Robin Wilson connected with a strong thermal and wound the glider up in a gap between the lower level clouds to the ultimate cloudbase at 2,000 ft.

Unusual place for daily prayers Phil

Phil Hardwick and Robin Wilson wash down the K13 at the end of a muddy day.
With the current weather conditions, maintaining the airfield can be a thankless task for our Airfield Maintenance team, led by Phil Hardwick, who has been very wisely seeking advice from some of our 'old hands' – especially life member and ex chairman, Phil Jarman who, while he is no longer a regular visitor, is a useful source of information on the original building of the club. Today’s subject was the position and type of the original land drains.  During the day Ged took delivery of a lorry load of stone chippings supplied by Phil J., meanwhile Phil H. spent most of his time trying, unsuccessfully, to breath life into the digger, to enable hole-filling to get underway.
'Trailer for sale or rent'. Jeff Craggs relaxes after a heavy day's winching and spinning.

Bob Pirie

Sunday 4th December 2011

From 72 hours prior to the weekend there was the potential that a weak ridge might allow flying on Sunday. And on the day there was sufficient optimism and attendance to convert potential into reality. With the Met Office confidently predicting a Westerly 20kts conditions on site were, of course, Southerly at 7.

David Jesty kicked proceedings into action and Roger Applebloom was able to benefit from not 3, 4 or 5 but 8 (yes, 8) launches which included launch failures high, launch failures low, launch failures as part of the flight and, finally, as the wind became more Westerly, spins.

With time to spare he was all ‘launch failured’ out and we gave the K-13 a thoroughly well deserved wash down (on the outside, not inside!) before returning it to the hangar.

Yes, the field was very wet and, yes, we did need to manoeuvre the glider and quad on the track at all times but, with a lifting cloudbase and willing crew Roger was able to make some significant steps towards going solo. It could have been you.

Thanks go to Allan Ballard for his tireless winching.

Martin Cropper

Saturday 3rd December 2011

Yet another wet day – very frustrating when the television weatherman was taking about parts of the country suffering from a drought. Perhaps we could sell them our surplus water ??

There were lots of members on the airfield, all keen to help. The early job was to clear the stones and mud, which has washed down the track, from the hangar apron. Along with this, the drainage channels were cleared out along the track to try and stop a repeat. Good thinking. After completing their task, this crew decided to hunt through the fields adjacent to the runway for strops. They returned a good while later with the spoils of their search which will be recycled and reused to make up new strops.

Clearing the hangar apron to let the K8 out of the hangar.
Meanwhile, Ged was up to his elbows in diesel and oil, fixing one of the generators. I suspect that he secretly likes doing oily jobs. Rick spent his time working with Chris on the phone system and broadband connection which has been somewhat "flaky" recently. This appeared to be was working very well by the end of the day.

The technical crew spent most of the day working on the Pirat adjusting the new aileron cables and fitting the new control stick. The Pirat is putting up a good fight trying to resist it’s upgrading but I think the technicians are winning.

How many gliders pilots does it take to ----- work on a Pirat?
At a particularly frustrating juncture in the Pirat “battle”, Martin and Chris took a break and, by way of light relief, fitted the new DGS branding to the nose of the Zugvogel. Very smart.

The Zugvogel now sports new corporate branding - very smart.
During a coffee break, junior pilot Matthew, encouraged by a group of  "experts ?", flew the simulator from Brentor to Northhill completing the trip in 28 minutes, a new club record.

Thanks everyone for your efforts. I am sure that it cannot continue raining for much longer. ( I hope ).


Wednesday 30th November 2011

Despite the SW wind being somewhat less than forecast, with the last couple of days of rain and showers, and with more showers arriving periodically, the decision was reluctantly taken to make this a non flying day; the runway was really too soft.

The assembled members made sure that this would not be a wasted day.

Mike Ashton had already sourced a new tyre and inner tube for the K8 and, after fitting, got a group together to rig the aircraft which is now ready for the next flying day.

Chris Matten had arranged for a new tyre for the quad bike. Ged fitted it to the quad which is now fully operational. Not satisfied with this as a day’s work, Ged removed the damaged tailskid from G-DBVB, took it to a local fabrication specialist for repair and then later collected it, refitted it to the aircraft which is now ready for the next flying day.

While all this was going on, John was working away quietly in the workshop on the Pirat, Robin was collecting up scrap metal to be recycled, Steve Raines was studying some of the subjects he will need to be familiar with before he can fly solo and I fabricated some new launch strops to ensure that the airfield is as ready to go as the aircraft.

All of the above was accomplished with the usual good humour and banter so typical of DGS.


Sunday 27th November 2011

Winds 320/20, clear skies and strong low level inversion.

Breakfast was a confusing affair, the bacon and eggs were great but it was accompanied by mutterings from Jack the Parrot (involving throwing his food dish on the floor), mutterings from Chris Kaminski about how he is struggling to make his PDA talk to the computer?, and mutterings from Alan Carter about how there shouldn’t be 2, 7ams in any 24 hours!

The wind direction and strength + David Jesty assisting on the airfield made it possible to experiment with the ridges. Roger Appleboom and I set off from the top of launch (1300ft) and flew to (almost )Sourton Tor.The distance was 4 nautical miles, but unfortunately we arrived at the shallower lower slopes with only 450ft QFE and with few decent landing options were forced to follow the ridge line back. Blackdown worked modestly well between 350 and 400ft, we re-joined the circuit from an extended base leg. We have concluded that the wind needed to be a little more westerly to give us a better initial launch and less headwind on the outbound track---so we are not giving up.

With 2 instructors the trainees were able to do loads of flights and great progress was made. As the day progressed, the winds eased and made landing a positive pleasure.

Unfortunately the K8 got a puncture and Mike Ashton led a small team to set about fixing it. To cut a frustrating story short, we de-rigged the K8 and took it back to the hangar by headlights. Thanks to everyone for pitching in and giving us a happy ending to the story.

Thanks again to everyone, including those who patiently took turn on the winch.


Saturday 27th November 2011

The forecast winds of 15 knots gusting 30  from the southwest looked like making this a difficult day but the actual winds were somewhat less than this.

It was nice to see so many members taking check flights or solo flights to keep their flying currency. The south westerly wind teased the pilots with areas of reduced sink on the south side of the airfield ( ridge lift ?? ) but the best flight of the day only just about got to double figure minutes. Good efforts though.

Elsewhere on the airfield, the Pirat refurbishment continues with the centre wing panel being fitted with new aileron cables. Tony Thorn and Ged repaired low range gear shift on the grey Discovery and it was back in service by lunchtime. Well done everyone and many thanks.


Thursday 24th November 2011

Kelly College CCF day again.

Well done Finn Ramirez who produced an excellent principles of flight presentation to us all.

Benjamin Brown was the fourth cadet to have completed the Kelly challenge on the simulator. Galina was first with 30m 31s, then Nils with 26m 50s, followed by Finn with 24m 28s and finally Benjamin with 25m09s.

The next challenge will be to learn about speed to fly and see how much better we all do.

Thanks to Kelly College for making this all possible.


Wednesday 23rd November 2011

Today’s forecast looked promising with a weak ridge of high pressure crossing the area. The start of the day was a little bit sleepy. This was not helped by the need to change ends after the first 2 launches discovered that although the wind at ground level was straight across the runway the air aloft had a considerable amount of west in it.

Thanks must go to all those who helped today including Bob Jones, recently returned from the Indian sub-continent, who spent the whole day on the winch. The flying day was cut short prematurely when the air cooled and led to the canopies misting instantly.
Andrew looks very comfortable in the Faulke
Meanwhile, one of our Astir syndicates i.e. Andrew Beaumont and Phil Hardwick were at North Hill flying in the Rotax Faulke with Ian Mitchell. They both completed their navigation and field landing checks and have therefore completed their Cross Country endorsements. Welcome to the ranks of the licenced glider pilot chaps and look forward to following your cross country exploits.


Sunday 20th November 2011

It’s strange isn’t it? You arrive at the club on a day when the sky is booming, the wind up and down the runway, the grid full and yet the talk is all of delays, the winch underperforming, cables parting, gliders being taken off line under decrees absolute and the quad bike not working after the ‘Run/Stop’ switch has been set to (you’ve guessed it) ‘Stop’.

And yet when the day is flat, as it was today, with little or no prospect of soaring, all runs smoothly, cables don’t break, the winch (mysteriously) works as advertised and trainee members can be heard departing saying ‘Well I had six launches today, which I wasn’t expecting’ and ‘I really managed to consolidate the re-start I made 2 weeks ago’.

Wave teasing the pilots - out of reach to the north. 
Our first photo shows the reason that some glider pilots might – on occasion - prefer to have an engine to hand: with the wind just east of south the wave established itself well to the north of the site and there remained all day, far beyond the reach of any winch launch, which left us in the silky smooth air on the fringe of the wave flow.

Two instructors (Don and David Jesty) and two 2 seat gliders made quite a long flying list much more manageable (enjoyable? rewarding?) than when the entire list has to be flown by only one instructor.

Among the trainees mention should be made of Joe Morel, from Kelly college, who flew six flights with both instructors whilst Luke Botham, new member aged 11, flew twice with David Jesty, proudly watched (and filmed) by Mum. We look forward to seeing more of them – all three.

But that is not to overlook the contribution made by our solo brethren: 8 of the day’s total of 34 launches were down to Mike Gadd and Allan Holland in the K-8, with Allan managing the flight of the day at 11 minutes.
Mike Gadd enjoys the K8 in the late afternoon conditions
And finally, Father and son Martin and Ross Collinge enjoyed putting their Christmas present vouchers to good use in trial lessons which gave them, albeit brief, views of Dartmoor their well experienced legs have not been able to provide. They both (Ross is an ex-ATC cadet) vowed to return…

K7m G-DBVB ready for another launch

Martin Cropper

Saturday 19th November 2011

I was a little late on parade today ( 10:30 – had to work first ). When I arrived flying had already commenced and the technical crew were in the hangar. To my surprise Martin Smith was actually working on his “new” glider, a venerable old T31, an open cockpit tandem 2 seater dating to the very early 1950’s. I will post some pictures as soon as they have assembled this glider.

Fairly quiet at the launch point today but with enough training and solo flying to keep things ticking over. The best flight turned out to be 22 minutes supported by some small low thermals. Valiant efforts were made to find any wave being produced by the light SE wind but these flights drew a blank.

Chris Kaminski spent the evening cursing at the simulator computer in Polglish ( as mix of his native Polish and adopted English languages ) as he wrestled with installing a PDA computer. He was ultimately successful and the simulator will now operate with the PDA mounted in the front cockpit which will enable pilots to have navigation and flight computer data while flying simulated cross countries. This is an excellent upgrade and will help with advanced training.


Wednesday 16th November 2011

In a roundabout way Bob, our Wednesday instructor, let us down today. Usually when Bob goes on holiday the weather becomes instantly brilliant. Well Bob is on holiday and the weather - - - - - was hopeless. Low cloud and drizzle giving way to long periods of rain.

Was the day wasted? No, not a bit of it. The assembled members demonstrated great team spirit as they tidied up the wood store and prepared more scrap metal to be recycled into razor blades or something ( this raised another £80 for the tea fund ) amid the usual jokes and banter.

Afterwards, it was back to the clubhouse for coffee and lectures. The discussion today centred around preparing for flight i.e. getting the weather forecasts and NOTAMs. Interestingly, although the discussion was directed by Don, the computer work and explanations of the printouts were given by Mike Gadd, one of our up and coming pilots.


Sunday 13th November 2011

The days gliding looked extremely promising, with the prospect of some great wave flying. The wind was a strong 20 knot south easterly.

The wave was waiting for the pilots as they arrived. This picture was taken at 8.27am
The early flights of the day were short in duration, but later as the wave fully developed the flights grew in duration to around the hour mark. Some great flying was had by all. But in particular, flight of the day has to go to Trevor Taylor with his flight of over four hours, and a maximum altitude of 4200 feet. The wind at altitude was such that with airspeed of 45 knots little or no penetration was being made against the wind, but also no altitude was being lost!

A thank you has to be given to Ian Mitchell who made a valiant attempt to bring his motor glider over from North Hill to give some cross country and field landing instruction. However, because of low cloud the journey was considered too dangerous and had to be aborted in flight.

And not least, a welcome to new member Angela Brookes.

Angela Brookes in wave at 1600 ft at dusk over Mary Tavy

Matt Mackay

Martin Cropper sent me this note

Thanks for the opportunity to fly your barge today – I managed 42 mins and never above 1420ft which, with a launch height of 1300ft was a triumph of tenacity rather than upward mobility! (It also cleared out the shavings from the cockpit!)


In case you are wondering, the aircraft he is referring to is the club Zugvogel 3A. It is often referred to as the "Chairman's Barge" because it is my club aircraft of choice. 


Saturday 12th November 2011

The day got off to a slightly later start after a very thorough inspection discovered that, despite the almost "monsoon" rains this week, the north west corner of the airfield was just about dry enough to launch from. Well done all those who helped to clear the gravel from the hangar apron.

On this blue sky day the wind was initially very light from the SE with a forecast to strengthen throughout the day. So would there be wave today?

The assembled pilots kept the winch busy trying the find any form of rising air for some winter soaring and eventually this paid off  as Rick Wiles managed a soaring flight in the K8 whist 16 year old Simon soared the K7m. As the sun started to go down, the wave started to show itself and was exploited by Alan Holland who had the longest flight of the day.

The good news today is that K13 G-DDMX, which has been off for maintenance for the last couple of weeks, was rigged late this afternoon and, subject to a successful test flight, will return to the club fleet tomorrow. Many thanks to our technical group getting this sorted out so quickly.


Thursday 10th November 2011

The weather was reasonable but the field far to soggy to operate sensibly. Another days drying out should do it.

The first of the Kelly College winter raining series. A briefing on Speed to Fly and then 3 cadets had a go on the simulator, the results were 2 landouts and one completed task---well done to Galina who is now at the top of the league table.

Many thanks to Robin Wilson and Chris Matten who busied themselves fixing the Quad (which now has 4 wheels again) and starting the clearance of the hangar apron.


Wednesday 9th November 2011

Today the late autumn sun stoked up some promising thermals by noon (see photo), inspiring Steve to dash round the Roadford Lake/Launceston/Brentor triangle, but a subsequent attempt by his syndicate partner, Trevor, ended ignominiously in a farmer's field near Launceston.

Booming conditions at Brentor
Only kiddin', folks! Today was even wetter than recent Wednesdays, but this didn't deter a dozen of us from turning up and engaging in a morning of 'strategising', ground and simulator training, plus, of course, the usual line-shooting and tales of derring-do. (Steve and Trevor were, of course, flying the simulator and not the real thing.)

Ten nuts boasting round an open fire...
Despite the rain, fine tuning of the tractors continued, Tony Thorne did a great job washing all the vehicles, and Mike Keller and Steve Raine, having met for the first time, engaged in earnest conversation regarding their days learning to fly military helicopters. We've at least one other ex-chopper pilot, Dick Masters, among our membership, so maybe we should start a 'Ye Olde Rotarians' section of DGS.

Mission accomplished, Tony looks forward to a 'warm-up' in the clubhouse
The cast iron wood burner worked so hard that it warped itself (an unusual occurrence which was confirmed as being possible by our resident metallurgist/field treasurer, David Rippon).
David makes a quick change from gliding garb to more formal attire, before leaving for a meeting in Tavistock
At the end of the day, word reached us from Chris Kaminski that the long-awaited spare parts for the Pirat had arrived, so hopefully we'll have a 'full house' of gliders ready for when the wave arrives - which is bound to happen while I'm on holiday....

Bob Pirie

Sunday 6th November 2011

Winds 360/15 and clear skies. Thanks to everyone for keeping the field operating---in particular Nigel H and Martin C for their rather long winch driving stints.

Chris Kaminski was yet again to be found working in the hangar and the K 13 getting very pretty now.

It was good to see the Jantar and the SF27 come out to play, full marks to Trevor for trying but it wasn’t quite good enough for long soaring flights.

Welcome to RogerGreen who will be spending a little time with us during the winter.


Saturday 5th November 2011

A brisk northerly wind made this largely blue sky day better to look at from behind glass. It definitely needed at least 2 fleeces on the airfield, it was COLD.

Still, DGS members are a hardy lot and were keen to get going, which caused a delay as, in their haste, they managed to get the winch stuck in a soft part of the airfield. 2 tractors and a Landrover later the winch was recovered and it was on with the flying.
Winch towing for beginners - including picture of  Matthews thumb over the lens of his Iphone 
Mostly today was about training and keeping current in the turbulent, crosswind conditions, although Ged did manage to find enough ridge / thermal lift to stay airborne for 20 minutes or so in the K13.   Meanwhile , in the hangar work on the K13 and Zugvogel was ongoing.

At the end of the afternoon, the gliders were put away double quick as members were keen to get involved with the “Bangers and Mash with Sparklers” evening festivities. This well attended event managed to raise everyone’s spirits and make a small profit for the “tea swindle” funds. Thanks Sandra and  Pauline for the cooking and to Mike Ashton who provided the fireworks.
Why do sparklers make people smile?
Fireworks after dark.

Wednesday 2nd November 2011

No sooner had a contributor to the Glider Pilot Net website singled out Dartmoor Gliding Society as one of a handful of clubs with lively and upbeat Blogs to brighten up the winter, than everything seemed to go to pieces with very little airborne activity last Sunday and no flying whatsoever today due solely to the weather

True to his word, we found that Chris Kaminski had arranged for Alan Carter to come in and fit a service-exchange release mechanism to K7/13 BVB ( 85 mile round trip thanks Alan ), with John Bolt following hot on his heels to inspect it and sign it off. But this morning's hopes of a brief if breezy improvement in the weather were dashed, despite the team's act of faith in getting a two-seater to the launch point and the ML winch warmed up and ready to go.The wind increased and the forecast rain arrived early, so it was back to the hangar and then the clubhouse, where the woodburner was working flat out.

Training-wise, Steve Raine hopefully benefited from a one-on-one briefing on winch launches and launch failures, after which he joined Chairman Steve, John Howe and Jeff Craggs in attempting some cross-country flying in the simulator. At various times during the day we were graced with the presence of first one and then the other of our Field Treasurers (David Rippon and Robin Wilson) - both looking rather crestfallen at the lack of launching and flying fees being generated.

Meanwhile the day's work programme undertaken by Phil Hardwick, John Bolt and Ged Nevisky included collecting coils of old winch cable from the north side boundary ready for the 'scrappy', grappling with the quad bike's ailing electrics and making both tractors 'fitter for purpose' than they have been of late. The "little 'un" now has a new battery and starts 'on the button', while thanks to Phil and John's wizardry (with hammer and WD40?), the "big 'un" now has 16 gears instead of the eight which we've lived with for so long.

Bob Pirie

After flying on Saturday 5th November there will be Bangers 'n' Mash in the clubhouse for just £2.50. All profit going to the Club tea swindle. Family and friends welcome. Please let Sandra know asap via email so that enough food can be prepared.


Tuesday 1st November 2011

While the rest of us were working or doing whatever it is that we do on a Tuesday, dedicated Club Fleet Manager Chris Kaminski and Alan Carter made their way to the airfield to fit the new winch hook to K7M G-DBVB ( to ensure that it will be available for Bob and his Wednesday group ) after which they continued with the work on K13 G-DDMX. That's what I call dedication. Thanks chaps.
Chris and Alan at work on DMX 

Sunday 30th October 2011

The morning brought low cloud---or was it fog? The usual suspects were there for a brilliantly cooked mega breakfast, courtesy of Sandra.

The fog lifted and the small crew pulled the 2 seater out of the hangar, and left Chris quietly muttering about how the damp will mess up some of the work he needed to do.
Chris muttering into his dust mask
Cloudbase rose to 700ft for a while, and Marta demonstrated a perfect circuit and landing while weaving around the scudding clouds---fabulous view.

A combination of a technical fault on the 2 seater and lowering clouds forced us to stop. (Chris came to the rescue and organised a new hook for the K13).

We all adjourned to the clubhouse and talked about the plans for "silver legs" over the coming months, and we then tested out Marta’s new presentation for NOTAMs.

Thanks to all those hardy guys that made the day possible.


And this is how Alan Carter saw the day.

After breakfast we looked through the hole in the wall and it looked to be getting brighter as the fog lifted.

Rather than change ends and make a mess of the field we opted for a slight tailwind and a good stiff crosswind due to increase to about 24knots.

I got rid of all the loose cables in the Rover and the winch, fuelled both and got ready to winch and retrieve, as there were only a few die-hards and all were busy.

Marta was to fly with Don for a couple of trips and went first. The 3rd launch with BVB met with a stop call and I shut the winch because it appeared they had pulled off, the next attempt was the same. The hook spring had failed on BVB, so flying was binned.

So, back to the hangar for a bit of work on DMX, BVB and the Zug and the clubhouse for a couple of lectures from Don. We had a worthwhile discussion about Loggers then Notams. The weather got bad soon after as the fog came back.

BVB will be fixed in time for Wednesday with a new hook.

It's always worth going, you never know what the gliding club has in store for the day.

No soaring, lots of fettling and a good breakfast.

Alan Carter

Saturday 29th October 2011

Strong southerly wind, low cloudbase and the forecast for it all to get worse.

However, as it was flyable early on and our intrepid trainees were keen to test themselves ( or instructors ? ) against the challenging conditions, it was game on. After all too brief a flying window, the wind and gusts dramatically increased, the low cloudbase lowered even more, and it started to drizzle; it was all over.

So, off to the clubhouse, cosy and warm thanks to the woodburner, for tea and lectures. Today’s lectures, delivered by Don were “An Introduction to Notams”, “An Introduction to the Half Million Chart”, and “Approach Control” all designed for and delivered to a very attentive group of pre solo pilots.

Don in lecture mode with the pre solo pilots - notice the interest from the other pilots in the clubhouse - revision  perhaps
Meanwhile, in the hangar, the K13 G-DDMX was having new fabric fitted to the underside of the cockpit area prior to the refitting of it’s skid and return to club service. Special thanks to Chris and Martin but thanks to all the club members who have helped with this project.
K13 G-DDMX receiving some TLC in the hangar
At 5pm the instructors left for Tavistock for the Quarterly Instructor’s meeting. The most remarkable part of this was that there were 10 ( yes 10 ) instructors on the list of attendees. How times are changing.


Wednesday 26th October 2011

The field was probably as soggy as I've ever seen it and with only a light crosswind, launch heights were modest. However, the sun shone and for most of the day the showers (and sadly most of the potentially productive cumulus clouds) managed to avoid us.

Pilot-wise, we had a good turnout (but there's always room for more!), with Richard Clarke and Steve Raine furthering their pre-solo skills in BVB with Ged and myself, and Tony Thorne clearly enjoying his first flights in a two-seater after being earthbound for the last couple of years. There were also several solo pilots on hand competing in an Astir and two K8s to achieve the longest flight - which looked like being a paltry ten minutes or so. But then during the late afternoon, after making a generous contribution to the club's coffers with several launches in the Astir, Phil the Farmer grabbed the only really useable lift of the day and clocked up a couple of good climbs and 48 minutes. Tony and I tried to catch him during a 20 minute flight in BVB - but Phil was clearly 'on a roll'.

As usual, lots of good things were happening on the ground, with Jeff Craggs and John Howe driving the winch. Jeff was supervised by Steve Lewis and then Bob Jones and ended the day by being signed off as our latest fully qualified winch driver. Congratulations, Jeff!

Back in the hangar Chris Kaminski continued with fettling and streamlining the Zugvogel, until Bob Jones arrived hauling the trailer carrying K13 DMX's fuselage, which had had some welding work done at Dunkeswell. But then eagle-eyed Chris spotted a small area where further welding work was needed - so back the fuselage went, this time behind CFI Don's car.

With brand new cables on both winches, cable breaks are currently rare. However we seem once again to be having a 'run' on broken blue weak links and lost strops. Consequently the dying hours of the afternoon saw Chairman Steve and Vice Chairman Ged armed with saws and up a slippery tree retrieving a cable parachute assembly. Meanwhile the Duty Instructor found himself foraging badger-like through the bowels of a gorse thicket on a strop-hunt (finding three blue ones in the process). Yet again we ask all pilots please to 'aim off' in crosswinds, to resist the urge to 'pole bend' and, of you do break a weak link, to make an effort to find the strop after you have landed.

Finally, a word about our instructor team. With a smile on his face and a glint in his eye, Don told me that with four more having been categorised in recent weeks, we now have 10 rostered instructors in total, which is well on the way to achieving his 'dream team' of 16. So here's hoping for a good turnout at the instructors' meeting he's arranged for this Saturday.

Bob Pirie

Sunday 23rd October 2011

Woke up on Sunday to strong southerly; 180/40knots has been mentioned in the forecast, so no chance of flying, but as usual plenty of things to do for few hardy members who turned up.

"Fettlers" turned to fettling with Alan and Sandra stripping many various layers of paint from SF27 and myself, assisted by my new willing apprentice Marta, started mixing epoxy and microballons to do some filling on the Zug.

Don Puttock in the meantime prepared for us a lecture on wave flying, very timely as Brentor wave season is almost upon us. He talked about history, meteorology, theory of wave, than moved on practical advice on finding it, staying up in it and of course various safety aspects. All of it made even more entertaining by his wide experience of wave soaring in many different locations (not just Brentor). Brentor wave was also discussed at some length, with local knowledge provided by Martin Cropper. All of this advice very much appreciated by a mixed audience of pre-solo, early solo and those of us who tasted the exhilaration of wave flying.

After coffee break, Don's training sessions continued with Marta, Roger and Dave covering the usual ground school subjects.

Finally all of us ended the day with interesting discussion on the subject of "Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men" as it applies to gliding and club operations.

Chris Kaminski

Saturday 22nd October 2011

The forecast gave the day starting clear with a strong southerly wind with increasing winds, gusts and cloud cover in the afternoon. This was exactly what happened.

The local winds had some east in it so first task of the day was to change ends. The second task of the day was to de rig the K13 G-DDMX and put it onto the trailer ready to be taken to have some TLC to the fuselage tubes. Martin Smith and Chris Kaminski then took it away to the repairers to ensure that it will only be offline for the least possible time. Thanks chaps.
DMX on it's trailer ready to go
The day was fairly busy with a One Day Course, and several trainees for Don to juggle into the one remaining 2 seater. The other aircraft flying today was K6 G-CFUB. This beautifully restored glider was well flown by each of it’s 3 owners in turn who made the challenging conditions look easy.
The intrepid K6 syndicate pictured on a much warmer day.
Special thanks today to Will Wilson who seem to spend most of the day driving the winch. Thanks Will.

And finally, I am happy to report that I finished my Basic Instructors acceptance flights today and will be joining the club instructor group as soon as the paperwork is returned. In the manner of Oscar winners, I would like to thank Don and Mark for their help but, most of all, the club members for their patience and good humour while all the practice and test flights were undertaken.


Wednesday 20th October 2011

A 'character-building' sort of day - with a chilly NW crosswind and plenty of sunshine interspersed with heavy showers, plus, of course, a very muddy airfield.

To give the surface of the churned-up east end landing area a rest, we set up the launch point on the actual south side, further forward than usual and on the threshold of the stub runway. This gave us a better 'into wind' component and enabled launching gliders to get off the ground before the seriously swampy bit. Meanwhile all landings took place on relatively firm ground on either side of the centre track, with most pilots stopping more or less opposite the launch point to minimise the amount of retrieving.

In order further to protect the ground, we left the control caravan beside the northern boundary fence, and operated 'al fresco' using the grey Discovery as our control vehicle and Colin Boyd's van as a shelter when it rained. Apart from the Spartan conditions, the system worked well.
Looking for "divine guidance" at the south side launchpoint. 
We experienced one potential 'wooden spoon award' situation in that having endured the whole day without the quad bike, believing it to be unserviceable, just as we were putting the kit away the Chairman leaped aboard and the supposedly sick machine came to life. Many thanks to whoever fixed it. Another sick asset, K13 DMX, sat outside the hangar draped in a tarpaulin as we headed out to the launch point, but by the end of the day it appeared to be well on the road to recovery, thanks to John Bolt's efforts.

It was good to have recently-qualified grandad Chris Fagg back with us, and also to see Trevor around again, although he and his syndicate partner Steve were focused more on fine-tuning trailers than flying.
Chris Fagg in BVB. ( Kate Winslet looked much better on the bow of the Titanic Chris! )
As far as new faces were concerned, an experienced but long-lapsed solo pilot, Malcolm Roberts from Hayle, in Cornwall, spent much of the afternoon with us, while his patient wife looked after their dogs back at the clubhouse. He hopes to fly with us in the Spring. Meanwhile new member Steve Raine (whose photo appeared in one of our blogs a few weeks back) was true to his word and returned to prove to himself that he hasn't forgotten all of those skills he gained many years ago first in the air cadets and later in the Army.

Finally, a moment of sadness when one of our most enthusiastic trainees, Przemyslaw Wozny ('Shrek'), mentioned casually that this would be his last visit for a while as his current job in the UK has just come to an end and he is returning to Poland. Good luck, Shrek - and hurry back!
Shrek, in somber mood, contemplates his return to Poland
Bob Pirie

Saturday 15th October 2011 Additional

Andrew Beaumont and I travelled to North Hill on Saturday, to avail ourselves of services of Ian Mitchell and his Rotax Falke.

Andrew completed Bronze Cross Country navigation exercise, and I completed my x-country endorsement.

Andrew sat in his Astir with syndicate partner Phil who also completed his navigation excercise for the Cross Country Endorsement - who will complete the field landing test first? 

Will have to steel myself now, to risk landing my Pirat in the field and possibly scratching paintwork.

Chris with his beautifully restored Pirat now ready for a few cross country adventures.
Chris Kaminski

Sunday 16th October 2011

The day started early and the airfield was a hive of activity by 8.45. The cloud looked low with 8/8 cover to start with, not all promising. However, with a look at RASP and the other forecasts, it was certain conditions would be flyable soon and get better as the day went on and indeed it did.

Don decided he and I would fly to complete my Basic instructor acceptance checks, First launch was at 10.56, at about 200 feet the strop decided to detach itself from the rest of the cable, Don was adamant he didn't pull the bung so didn't get to test for cloud base, however always good launch failure practice. Second flight shortly ensued to see what height cloud base was, going into cloud at 750 feet I decided it prudent to release and turn away from the cloud.

Having now established cloud base I decided to hand over to Marta Radkowska and I would fly later again. Marta worked hard for the rest of the morning with 3 flights, and there was an buzz in the air as she went on to fly her first solo in the K13. Well done you,
Marta in playful mood after her first solo
Don was in contact with Ian Mitchell from North Hill on each hour to advise him of local conditions, and just after 13.13 he arrived in the Rotax Faulke to give one trial lesson and field selection and cross country training. I am pleased to announce that Alan Carter successfully completed his Bronze “C” Cross Country Endorsement and field selection. Well done!I am further pleased to announce the successful completion of his Bronze Cross Country navigation exercise by Phil Hardwick Well done! Thank you Ian for taking the time to help out. Much appreciated!

Alan Carter (left) is congratulated on his Cross Country Endorsement by Instructor  Ian Mitchell
I am particularly pleased to announce that Sandra Buttery, who worked relentless under the watch full eye of our winch master Alan Ballard for most of the afternoon, who gained her wings on the ML winch. Sandra is now signed off to drive both winches, I wonder if net curtains, or pink paint will appear on the winches shortly Mmm!.
Sandra looks at home in the ML winch
We welcomed Ciok Slawek back to today, who has decided to pursue gliding again after doing some in his native country. Instructor Martin Cropper worked hard getting trial lessons completed. Total launches for the day were 37.

And to close this momentous day I finally got my instructor rating finished with the acceptance flights being completed with Don today. My thanks to Don, Mark, Martin, Ged and Bob, without their help none of it would have been possible. (scary ah!)
CFI Don congratulates yours truly on completing my BI rating

Sean Parramore

Saturday 15th October 2011

Saturdays forecast of sun and light winds turned out be correct. Many thanks to those that turned out early it was a great help achieving first launch just before 9.40.

Welcome to new members Joseph, and to "Jack" an African grey parrot belonging to Sandra....!
New member Jack already has his wings.
During a busy flying session we managed 4 trial lessons, Simon Thornton converted to the K8 and Matt Wiles to the Zugvogel, well done to both.
Junior member Matthew waits for his first flight in the Zugvogel.
( the missing paintwork on the side of the cockpit and behind Matt's head are part of the project to fit  a new canopy )
Several members could be found training on the winch, which is really good to see, and some excellent launches were being had, with Bob Pirie keeping the field open late in the afternoon we achieved 43 launches in total, good effort all round.

Martin Smith

A correction is required for last Sunday; our returning old member was named as Dave Turner; in fact his name is Dave Parker ( no not Lady Penelope's chauffeur ) and to remove any further confusion this is what he looks like.
Welcome back Dave Parker

Wednesday 12th October 2011

An even moister and foggier re-run of last Wednesday. Not much point in taking photos this time; no flying and just the usual gang undertaking a combination of ground training, flying the simulator, tackling various chores and having a natter with the woodburner roaring in the background.

Don was there intending to do Steve's BI completion flights, but with the weather as it was, and Andrew and Phil hoping to do their navex and field landing exercises this weekend, our CFI delivered an excellent and well-attended lecture on field selection and landings.

Continuing the airfield improvement work initiated by our Field Manager last Wednesday, a small team got stuck into levelling the access track from the hangar where it crosses the airfield, and rolling some of the more dodgy parts of the landing areas.

This soggy and dark season can be a bit of a 'downer' for glider pilots, and moves are currently underway to use it as an opportunity to initiate some training in the use of radio, as well as briefings on the opportunities, techniques and potential risks of wave soaring. The sessions will be tailored for pilots of all levels, including pre-solo, so keep an eye on the Forum for more information.

DGS is much more than 'just a gliding club' so even when it's pretty obvious that a flying day is likely to turn into a non-flying day, do come along and share in the ground training, work programme, fresh air and good company of a great bunch of enthusiasts. And how many other clubs have a simulator, highly tuned wooddburner and irresistible tea-swindle?

Bob Pirie

Sunday 9th October 2011

Three o’clock in the afternoon’s always the best time to fly’, so the saying goes. Well, the pictures (taken at precisely 3pm) say it all, really – a day which started unflyable, rose to below average and went downhill from there.
Winches in the mist
Symmetrical puddles - very artistic. Did someone airbrush Dartmoor out of the background? 
With Martin Smith on site there’s always cause for optimism –and today that optimism was sufficient for us to fly two trial lessons, sign up one returning member after 2½ years with a very short flight (welcome back, Dave Turner) and give Marta and Shrek some (very valuable) simulated cable breaks. However, by then the cloudbase was unquestionably too low and it was time to abandon aviation for the day.

And no, we didn’t move the winch (at all) and yes, we were VERY CAREFUL with the new cables.

Martin Cropper

Saturday 8th October 2011

The weather was not all that promising with a heavy looking overcast. But with the westerly wind straight down the runway it was game on.

First launch was to 1400 feet – great. Second launch 700 foot cloudbase –oh dear. Two more launches and it was all over. The cloudbase descended rapidly and the drizzle was only interrupted by frequent showers. So aircraft back to the hangar and members back to the clubhouse for tall stories, tea and sympathy.

From the clubhouse occasionally we could hear the distant rumblings of a tractor. Ged had decided that the airfield was soft enough to benefit  from the roller and spent the rest of the day rolling the runway and tracks. Thanks mate.


Wednesday 5th October 2011

Undeterred by persistent low cloud and occasional rain, a hardy group of regulars arrived early and got stuck into various tasks which including removing the latest crop of cow dung from DMX’s wheel box, performing the monthly maintenance procedures on BVB and filling some of the potentially glider-breaking ruts which have for so long extended across the south side landing area. (We even found a rubber bumper from the Pirat’s tail skid in the process.)
Not quite keyhole surgery, but Andrew Beaumont uses his surgeon-like talents to clear cow's muck from DMX's wheelbox. 

No, not 'Mad Max', but Phil the Farmer maintaining a low profile as he attacks undulations in the airfield.
However, by far the biggest task was the replacement of the cables on both winches by a hard-working (and ultimately damp) team - thanks partly to the arrival of a delivery of reels of cable and ferrules at 0945hrs.
John Howe and Tony Thorne put their backs into changing winch cables

Ouch! John Bolt gives David Rippon's cable 'the big snip'.

Ged Nevisky and John Bolt tooled-up for action.

Bob Pirie examines the new winch cable.

Unfortunately today’s one-day course had to be postponed until next week, but we were pleased to welcome one enthusiastic potential member, Steve Raine, who lives near Hatherleigh. Steve did some gliding as a cadet many years ago, and later underwent fixed wing training with the Army Air Corps.
Prospective club member Steve Raine with Chairman Steve Lewis.
Once again, the only flying we achieved was on the simulator, with several members taking up the challenge of a race to North Hill. Just as Steve was polishing his laurels with a very respectable 43 minutes, Andrew Beaumont notched up 38 minutes. Around the time I left, Phil Hardwick , surrounded by a panel of experts, had just crossed the start-line, and I am sure we’ll hear about it if he managed to improve on Andrew’s flight.

Bob Pirie

After Bob left, Phil did indeed beat Andrew's time by 30 secs. Not to be outdone I had another go and set a new target to be beaten at 34 1/2 minutes. ( clue: I used the same conditions but changed the aircraft from a Discus 2c to Nimbus 4 and completed the whole flight without turning ).