Saturday 26th February 2011

The heavy rains this week mean that the airfield is still too soft and wet to operate. The forecast for the coming week is for dry, windy weather so that will dry things out and get us flying again.

John finished off the aileron repair for BVB. Several members studied ( or revised ) the subtleties of Navigation and the Bronze Exam with Don. Scratch and Mike completed the annual inspection of their Astir.

Rick continued his work on the club computer network. We now have one computer in the office for pilots to access the internet for Notams, weather forecasts etc. and for instructors to prepare presentations and training materials, one in the clubroom driving the Simulator and another in the main clubroom with a big screen for lectures / presentations. online videos etc. All the computers are connected to the internet. The network is wireless enabled for members to use with their laptops, smartphones, PDAs.  Welcome to the 21st century DGS.

Next week definitely looks better.


Wednesday 23rd February 2011

Regular readers of this blog will recognise this forecast, mist and rain. However, there were plenty of members at the club. Hardy lot these glider pilots. The warm clubhouse, well stocked kitchen and simulator probably helps.

Apart from the chat and play there was lots of work being done. John and Ged completed the repairs to the aileron from BVB which was started by Martin at the weekend. It’s that team work again. There was a lot of clearing of scrap metal going on lead by Robin who seems to have made this his personal mission.

Another team assembled after lunch to do some fencing. No, not the sword fighting kind but repairs to the runway perimeter fences. This well balanced team even had their own doctor with them just in case any of the less fit members required CPR; driving in fence posts is a very physical endeavour.

Perhaps next week the weather will be better.


Richard Morgan - Off to Kenya

I have recently heard from Wednesday flyer and popular member Richard Morgan that he needs to take a break from gliding. This was a great disappointment but he is going to Kenya for a period of charity work so I feel I should smile with good grace and wish him well. Richard is a popular member and will be missed.

Richard Morgan being congratulated by instructor Bob Pirie after his first solo a little while ago.
Richard said

"I did want to express my thanks to everyone at the club. I am inordinately proud of having reached the solo level, and I do of course recognise that this is simply the beginning. I think the club is superb with so many friendly people and the quality of instruction etc cannot be bettered. So please accept my thanks to all concerned and my congratulations Steve for the great club that Dartmoor is."

Many thanks for the kind words Richard and good luck


Sunday 20th February 2011

Sometimes it’s not about the flying, it’s the taking part.  With the wind forecast to be in the E/SE/SSE there was always the prospect of wave and, with yesterday looking soarable but the field too wet, 24 hours of drying time later there was a certain impetus to get a glider into the air. 

But getting the K-13 to the launch point itself proved a challenge when a little lack of local knowledge turned into a major ‘team building’ exercise of ‘get this item out of a bog without the aid of mechanical means – using a couple of bits of old hardboard and two rethreaded tyres, and a few club members’ (thanks to Dave London for being the human conveyor belt).  This resulted in the K-13, which had sunk to the axle, being hauled out of the ‘soft patch’ and flying could commence. 

The first couple of flights by Mike Keller in the K-13 indicated that cloud streaming in from the SE had something in it, and the K-8 was sent for, to add to the mix. Saturday’s clear blue and white streeting cumulus was not to be repeated, however, as high cirrus crept in from the south told its own story and the lower level cloud grew greyer and greyer.  Not, however, before Allan Holland managed to achieve 25 minutes in the K-8 under impossible looking cloud (how does he do it?). 

And so by 1630 we had put them back in the hangar, in anticipation of the rain, which duly arrived before sunset. So, apart from 10 pretty short launches, what was achieved?  Well, everyone who wanted to fly did so, thus maintaining continuity.  And Andrew Carter took and passed his Bronze ‘C’ exam with an overall mark of 95% (well done, Andrew).  Plus Sandra Butterly (who brought her own electric sewing machine with her) completed the manufacture of covers for the new vertebrae shock absorbing cushions for the entire club fleet . 

So the year to date?  3 solos and 3 Bronze C exam passes:  not bad for February and certainly better than some clubs achieve by this time of year.   

Martin Cropper

Saturday 19th February 2011

The day started with fog and low cloud ( again ) but this was forecast to clear. Unfortunately, after a thorough inspection the airfield was just too wet to operate.  This was particularly bad news for junior Matthew who is desperate to have his first flight in his new SF27. Better luck next time Matt, but the practice at rigging and de-rigging was good for you.

The assembled members set to work around the airfield, one group picking up some scrap cable, and another group pushing in the worst of the ruts caused by last weeks flying on a very wet runway. This will make the roller much more effective when things dry out a little.  A by-product of this operation was the very amusing sight of  the volunteers moving around the runway looking like they were auditioning for the “Ministry of Silly Walks”.The only pity was that my camera was not available to record the spectacle.

After lunch Don gave a detailed briefing on flying at Talgarth which had the audience enthralled. They have not been that quiet or attentive in a long time.

We made the best of what was a disappointing day.


Thursday 17th February 2011

The forecast winds were 090/20, and sure enough the wave was evident in the morning. By the time the Kelly College cadets arrived in the afternoon, the skies were overcast with periodic drizzle.

The cadets had their last winter ground school which included seeing the winch and airfield close up as part of their formal safety briefing. Now all we have to do is go flying---yipppeee.

Thanks again to David Jesty for helping out.


David Jesty - DGS Safety Officer

I am pleased to announce that David Jesty  has taken on the role of Dartmoor Gliding Society Safety Officer.

David brings a wealth of experience to the role. He is an experienced cross country pilot, Assistant Instructor, and holds all 3 Diamonds. I think we are in safe hands.

Our thanks of course, to the outgoing Safety Officer, Ged Neviski, who has served several years in the role. Is Ged puuting his feet up? Well no, he will now have more time to focus on his other roles as Vice Chairman, Assistant Category Instructor, Voucher Salesman, Trial Flight Organiser and DGS first point of contact.

Ged and David share a flight together in an ASK21


Wednesday 16th February 2011

A combination of wet and windy weather and a swamp-like airfield seem to have become the norm for recent Wednesdays, and despite a brief 'false dawn', today was no exception.

But thanks to a warm clubhouse, a fully-functioning and realistic simulator and the presence of a bunch of solo pilots eager to hone their skills in advance of the soaring season, we had a productive morning.

We started the day by exploring the potential of a 19km triangular flight, the turning points being Mary Tavy bus garage, Lamerton crossroads (with the main Launceston-Tavistock road) and the T-junction outside the pub at Chillaton. With each 'leg' do-able on a good day without getting out of gliding range of Brentor, this may seem a bit tame to the pundits. But go round it three times, and hopefully you'll have proved to yourself that 50 km is a less daunting task than you perhaps thought - and maybe the experience will give pilots greater confidence to go for the real thing (subject, of course, to the required rating, authorisation and briefing). 

During our local solo flying, we all tend to lapse into enjoyable but purpose-less bumbling from thermal to thermal, and hopefully the triangle will provide a fun way of improving our selectivity as far as thermals are concerned, our speeds, and our confidence.

Next on the agenda was some quite intensive action involving the simulator; the topic for the day being aero towing, in preparation for expeditions to other gliding sites (e.g. Talgarth) in the coming months. Inevitably there were some rope breaks and crunching noises initially, but soon everyone was following the tug aircraft reasonably competently right up to release height. I am sure what's been learnt and practised on the simulator will help to facilitate a smooth and faster-than-average transition to the real thing.  

Bob Pirie

Sunday 13th February 2011

Wet, wet, wet – the complete opposite of Saturday.

A few stalwarts turned out to a very Wet Dartmoor Gliding club this morning, Mike Keller made a good start learning to fly the aero tow using the Simulator, well ahead of the planned club expedition to Talgarth.

Martin Smith

Saturday 12th February 2011

The day started with thick fog, but, with the promise that this would soon clear, the airfield was readied for the day; the winch was positioned and the aircraft were inspected and taken to the launch point.

Into the mist
And, sure enough the fog cleared to reveal a beautiful blue sky. All the early flights were training or check flights as the assembled members took advantage of the three instructors on site today.

Andrew Carter and Richard Williamson both converted to flying the K8 single seater. Judging by their smiles this was an enjoyable experience. Well done

Andrew Carter, first time in K8

Richard Williamson, first time in K8
We welcomed back club member Andrew Beaumont who has spent the last couple of months in self enforced exile in Mauritius. He regained his solo status after a suitably challenging check flight ( well done ). He did struggle with the temperature today as he has spent 2 months with temperatures above 30C. We were all suitably sympathetic.

The formation of cloud streets signalled the arrival of thermic conditions and the fleet launched with almost indecent haste. Pilots enjoyed the surprisingly buoyant conditions for half and hour or so until the cloud collapsed and dropped quite heavy rain across the airfield area. This brought all the gliders back to the runway where they were treated to a perfectly semi-circular rainbow. After the shower cleared away the conditions continued to be somewhat soarable for most of the afternoon.

Rainbow over the launch point
This was a really good day.


Thursday 10th February 2011

Kelly College cadets had another session of groundschool and flying the imulator. Not too long now before we get out for the real thing.

Cadets at work in the simulator
We now have a novel way of finishing a hill soaring session----point at the hill and crash.  Thanks heavens we don't have to write accident reports for the simulator, we would be buried in paper!!

Thanks to David Jesty for the assistance.


Wednesday 9th February 2011

Hedging their bets, a small band of optimists started the day by ensuring that the clubhouse stove was firing 'on afterburner', then ventured onto the sodden airfield intent on exercising the K8  (the easiest glider to ground-handle in the prevailing conditions). But after the first two cables, the lowering cloudbase convinced us that  further attempts at aviating were inadvisable.

So it was back to the clubhouse and 'on' with the simulator to  practise spinning; the main focus being on bridging the gap between what we say we should be doing - and what actually happens (or should happen!) in real life. At this time of year, with few opportunities to soar above launch height, we all risk becoming rusty when it comes to practising the avoidance of and recovery from spins. Therefore I urge everyone to spend a few minutes in the simulator with an instructor to bring your skills up to scratch. Thanks to Dave Jesty for sharing with us some of the simulation techniques he gained while coaching Kelley College cadets.

By this time, John Bolt had completed the C of A work on the K7/13 (Thanks, John!), so the presence of so many of us craving fresh air and exercise enabled the glider to be rigged quickly, ready to be put to work again.Then finally, a celebratory pot of blue paint was opened and inroads were made in repairing those minor eruptions of hangar- and cable-rash which had been detracting from the appearance of this fine training glider.

Bob Pirie

Sunday 6th February 2011

Its amazing how a good breakfast can change your outlook on the day but not the actual events. The weather continued its theme of strong winds rain and low cloud.

A series of lectures for bronze and pre-solo pilots included "soaring weather, polar curves, altimetry and airbrakes and approach control". Marta showed us all up by using her quick mind to resolve altimetry problems in record time, the boys were still considering the question when she produced the answer.

After the brains were sufficiently topped up, we practised on the simulator. Again Marta demonstrated to Martin that overflying the airfield at 300ft while inverted could become a standard start to a circuit----however there is still some more development required, we might run out of aircraft if we did it for real."


Saturday 5th February 2010

Rain, low cloud and high winds made this a clubhouse day.There was plenty going on though.

Matthew was busy studying for the Bronze exam. Bob and I were practicing for our BI test using the simulator. Don gave a very informative lecture on recognising the clues to potentially good soaring days from all the forecast information available to today’s pilots. 

Rick Wiles continued the development of the clubhouse computer network. We now have a computer driving the simulator and a separate one in the office for preparing presentations, study and research. Both computers share a common file system. There is a third computer being prepared to drive the new plasma screen (thanks to the tea fund) which will be positioned to enable it to be used to give lectures and presentations without interfering with the simulator.


Wednesday 2nd February 2011

With the cloudbase at 780 feet AMSL and the airfield elevation at 820 feet AMSL the visibility made this a non flying day. The mild, damp  conditions were not wasted though. 

Bob spent a large part of the day with the tractor and roller starting the process of repairing the damage to the runway and tracks inflicted by our heavy use throughout the winter.  John completed the C of A on the K13 BVB. There was a group chopping wood again. The DGS lumberjacks did not receive my suggestion that they should be singing the song from a certain Monty Python sketch at all well!

After refreshments Don gave a very interesting talk and slide show on “Ridge Soaring” which was followed by some ridge soaring using the simulator.

Ged and Phil then used the JCB to level the area next to the clubhouse ready for some further cosmetic work in the spring. The other bit of news today was that the ML winch guillotine mechanisms have now been modified to remove potential snags from the cable drum area. Thanks David and Alan.


Sunday 30th January 2010

With the Met Office predicting a surface wind of 030 at 6kts levels of anticipation were high that the wave would now set in.  Unpacking the hangar, the talk was of how low the temperatures had been on the way to the airfield: variously -2⁰C in Cornwall, -4⁰C locally at the airfield and -6⁰C in Tavistock.  Coming after a mild week in which the airfield had thawed, these low temperatures had caused the mud to freeze up in the wheel boxes of the gliders.  Now frozen wheel boxes can be enough to cause some gliding sites to shut down operations altogether.  But not so the men and women of Dartmoor who, after 30 minutes of work with paint scrapers and a veritable Mt Etna of a hair dryer, had the all of the fleet’s available glider on line and ready to ride the wave.  
CFI Don Puttock decided to go on a sniffer, (something apparently he used to do in the margins of competitions), by giving Heather Horswill a valedictory flight in thanks for all her hard work in support of the club.

Heather Horswill waiting to be launched for her valedictory flight
 The wind, which had hovered tantalisingly about 010-020, backed to the north.  They returned with nothing on the scent. And so it remained; with clear, blue sky, and a steady, light northerly strangling all hope of wave

Don, ever the exponent of ‘expectation management’, switched targets from ‘achievement’ to ‘development’.  Which proved to be remarkably successful.  On the ground, Mike Keller took and passed the Bronze C theoretical exam, following which he was briefed and graduated from the K-8 to the K-6.  Then, after careful tuition with Ged Nevisky, Jacob Knight (17) and Alan Carter converted onto the Zugvogel, it’s light wing loading winning broad grins and a thumbs up from Alan, who achieved the flight of the day.  The light wind conditions also allowed Nigel Williamson to go solo in his winch driver training, under Alan Ballard’s tutelage, and enabled Sandra Butterly to reacquaint herself with her old friend,  the K-8.

Plymouth Sound (on the horizon) from 1100f
So a day which promised great heights was transformed into a day of great progress, in all sorts of other directions.  Finally, all hands turned to in de-rigging K-13 BVB ready for its ARC inspection on Monday.  Then, like hobbits in the Shire, it was time to  retire to the clubhouse to smoke (metaphorical) pipes and exchange tales of even greater achievement (although probably only in exaggeration!)
The Shire (note smoke rising from chimney..!)  The hangar and clubhouse at dusk
 Martin Cropper