Sunday 26th June 2011

Blue sky, very humid and hot with a strong southerly wind.

The day started early with the usual suspects having what can only be described as a gourmet breakfast.

Normal proceedings were somewhat disrupted by the Regional Examiner Simon Minson working with Sean and Steve in the K13 on BI training with, what seemed like, endless practice cable breaks and circuits.

However, in true DGS style the members just got on with it making the best of the available launches. Because of the strong crosswind this was not a classic training day but later in the day the wind went more to the east which permitted some soaring and several members to convert to the Pirat.

The K13 launching into a sparklingly clear  sky
The real highlight of the day was the visibility, the air was gin clear with clear views to the horizon with no haze. Stunning


Saturday 25th June 2011

Very low cloud to start and the church enveloped. The winds westerly and moderate to start.

The morning started with Martin and his band of volunteers working on the aircraft and hangar. Loads of very good work done here and the K8 very much nearer going back on line.

Other work being done today included the rear sun roof repaired on the Disco by Scratch and Mike Jardine with an aluminium panel. It has been riveted in so it will not come off, whilst Rick, Matt and Simon worked on putting a new joystick and software onto the Simulator.

A lecture in the clubhouse filled the rest of the morning and then we went flying----with cloudbases at 400ft, it was launch failure practice for those who haven’t done it for a while.

Later cloudbases rose to a giddy 1100ft and Mike Jardine converted onto the Pirat. Cloudbases came back down again so the other conversions were deferred to another time.

Thanks everyone for keeping everything going.


Wednesday 22nd June 2011

We knew it wasn’t too windy because the rain was coming down vertically. Not only that but Brentor Church was in cloud.

The morning was usefully used, fixing tractors, weighing gliders and --- a sight for sore eyes, Robin Wilson busied himself jet-washing the Pirat trailer in the rain!!!.

Anyway the front cleared through by midday and we had a great afternoon
flying. Richard Clarke, our new member, flew 9 training circuits and made amazing progress---well done Richard.

Thanks everyone who made the afternoon a great success.


Sunday 19th June 2011

A relatively quiet day with many off doing Fathers day things. The
soaring was limited with a fresh breeze. A short window of
reasonable soaring was enjoyed by the fortunate few.

A big welcome to Dave Bassett from Mendips who took advantage of the
visit to fly with his daughter. Thanks again to the stalwarts who kept
the field operating for us.


Meanwhile Sean, Bob and I made an early start to be at North Hill by 9am to meet with Regional Examiner Simon Minsen to start the next step on the road to becoming instructors.

Initially, the low cloudbase and drizzle meant we started with some winch launches, but as the cloud lifted the Pawnee tug was made ready and we then took it in turns to aerotow to 3000 ft for some stalling and spinning, more spinning and yet more spinning excercises. I think we spent most of these flights with the aircraft in "interesting" attitudes. After completing all the stalls and spins we reverted to the winch for testing of the patter and BI excercises. Phew - this was a busy day.

Many thanks to Simon and all at North Hill who made us welcome and provided a K13 for the day and all the launches we could manage. 


Saturday 18th June 2011

The “summer” continues in usual style with strong westerly winds and a low threatening cloudbase.

Bob Jones and I spent much of the day practicing with Don for our BI course tomorrow. We probably landed on every inch of the airfield whilst completing seemingly endless practice cable breaks. This continued until mid afternoon when we decided that the now 18 knot wind with 30 knot gusts suggested that discretion really is the better part of valour and we put the toys away and returned to the clubhouse for some additional practice using the simulator.

While all the fun was happening on the airfield, Martin and John continued to work on the aircraft – we owe a real debt of thanks to these two. Lots of people do lots of work for the club but this is exceptional.

On returning to the clubhouse we discovered that Gus, a friend of  the club, had been on site, removed the tatty old awning and fitted a new permanent  porch. to the clubhouse front. This will help a great deal when the weather is less than perfect. Winter BBQ’s anyone?


Friday 17th June 2011

It was a pleasure to have represented the DGS at the Kelly College CCF dinner this evening. The kind invitation was made by Major Dominic Tomalin in recognition of the college’s affiliation with the Society as part of the Junior Gliding scheme.

Guest of honour, Rear Admiral Chris Snow CBE, Flag Officer Officer Sea Training, presented the awards and it was a surprise and an honour to be asked to accept a college plaque on behalf of the Dartmoor Gliding Society. The trophy now has pride of place in the clubhouse.


The evening was a convivial affair and it was a pleasure to dine in the college anteroom flanked by Lucy Jones and Catarina Bell, looking totally different in their cocktail dresses rather than the fatigue uniforms they have to wear when they glide at Brentor.

Being club secretary can be onerous sometimes – this wasn’t one of them!

Bob Jones

Wednesday 15th June 2011

As so often happens when there’s a pretty grim weather forecast, only a handful of stalwarts from ‘the backbone of the club’ turned up - hopefully to fly, but otherwise to apply their teamwork and good humour to various chores essential to the smooth running of Dartmoor Gliding Society.

Well done to John Bolt for his ongoing efforts to repair the Zugvogel, and to Chris Kaminski for continuing to spruce up the Pirat and the K7/13. But the greatest effort of the day was expended by Phil Hardwick who, after three hours of mowing the airfield, then a couple of hours on the winch - followed by a brief flight of his own - ended the day leading an hour-and-a-half long fence repair project (see below).

Between the early low cloud and rain later in the day, a paltry eight launches were achieved in total; the majority by Mike Keller in the K13 (followed by Martin Broadway), then Andrew and Phil exercising the Astir, and Ged getting familiar with the Pirat.

But just as Bob Jones and I were about to engage in some preparatory antics for his BI course, a message came from the winch driver pleading for help after a cable which had drifted in the crosswind had destroyed a section of fence. At the same time the rain started to fall.

The worst of the rain skirted the airfield, but once the fence had been rebuilt no one had much stomach for flying and the toys were packed away.

Fingers crossed for the weekend, after which Carol and I will be in sunny Portugal while no doubt Brentor will enjoy the best three weeks of the 2011 soaring season.

Bob Pirie

Sunday 12th June 2011

Even lower clouds and driving rain.

After the post-Culdrose party, what better way to start the day than with the Big Brentor Breakfast to line the stomach and lift the spirits! Shame Bibendum Puttock forgot the fresh sage; we're going to lose a Michelin star if it happens again.

Parts refreshed, Chris Kaminski & Martin Smith did some more maintenance work on the Zugvogel & Pirat. I started on the Great ML Paint Job and Don worked on a "speed to fly" presentation for the future edification of cross-country pilots.

Flaming June with the emphasis on the flaming!

Alan Ballard

In case you are wondering, the name 'Bibendum' comes from an ode by the poet Horace (1st Century BC), celebrating Octavian's victory over Antony and Cleopatra.

The Latin phrase "Nunc Est Bibendum," means "Now is the time to drink (or celebrate)".
Today "Bibendum" is associated with Michelin standard dining.


Saturday June 11th – Culdrose Expedition

The day started early to get to Culdrose on time so Don wouldn't hurt us. Chris was the earliest to arrive as, when we pulled up, he was lying down in his 'RV' (which was actually his little blue van.) Ever seen a 6 ft. 3 grown man laying in a little blue van? Believe me, it's funny!!

Then came the security clearances and we all got pretty little badges with our nice little photos on. Sure to say most were taken off when we were out of sight of the security.

We were given a briefing of where we can land as we had to contend with hidden lights, search and rescue helicopters and air traffic controllers watching us. It was nice to know that if we did have a launch failure there were 101 places we could land, even though the runway was so long we would have been able to land ahead anyway!

As Culdrose is a Navy airfield flying was delayed until about 11 due to 2 helicopters taking off, showing off a bit before flying out to show us glider pilots how to really do cross country! We were then transported out to the runway we were using (they have an option of 3) by a double decker bus - now that's what I call style.

Don was quickly cleared to instruct and all of us who came got 2 very successful launches on the auto tow. It was a very different experience from the winch launch as it was a lot slower to 'get going.' The hardest thing to get hold of was the transition to the main climb. We all launched in the Puchacz, a polish dual seater glider which is very nice! This was because the DG505 was too heavy to launch on the wire. By the end we all agreed that DGS should replace the K7m with a Puchacz, Do you think the committee will agree? Hmm..

We were so close to the sea and the wind was just right to set up a sea breeze convergence the whole day only reachable by aerotow. Chris Kaminski decided to take the challenge by flying the DG505 over to it on aerotow. After 52 minutes he was called back by radio. After his landing he was happy to tell us all of his expedition all the way up to Falmouth and nearly down to Lands end before being called back. Then all he could moan about was that his big feet didn't fit in the rudder position so they were uncomfortable!! Was he moaning just to show the rest of us what we were missing? The rest of us kept up the DGS tradition of getting 5 minute circuits.

All in all it was a great day. We really enjoyed ourselves and I think I speak on behalf of all of us when I say a big thank you to Don for setting this expedition up and members of the Seahawk gliding club for making it so enjoyable. Seahawk is a very friendly club and if you have a chance, head up there and give it a go! Make sure you call first though otherwise the navy people get very angry.


Saturday 11th June 2011

Low cloud and showers.

The club members had the gliders and airfield ready waiting for a clearance. In the event they rushed up to the launch point as the weather looked to be improving and managed 2 launches before the rain closed in a sent them back to the clubhouse to continue their flying in the simulator.

The clearance did come but only in time to ensure that we drove home looking at a beautiful sky

The usual suspects were busy at work on the single seaters. The Pirat had the instrument panel cover painted matt black, the battery system wired up and fitted,  the controls painted the appropriate colours, the canopy ejection system refitted, the canopy fit improved and the wheel brake adjusted. The Zugvogel was rigged, taken apart again, and  minor repair work was started on the wings.
Martin and Ged adjust the Pirat canopy while Chris supports it for them.
Bob is a study in concentration as he paints the instrument panel cover
The other big event today was Chris Matten and Colin Boyd's fitting of the new floor in the glider workshop which is undergoing quite a transformation.

Chris looks suitably proud of the new workshop floor.
Our numbers were a little depleted  today as Don and 6 members were away on a visit to the Royal Naval gliding club at Culdrose. we wait with baited breath to find out how they got on.


Wednesday 8th June 2011

Oh, the ups and downs of our sport! 

Last week’s ‘up’ was arriving to find Don completing the Zugvogel’s new cockpit canopy, while today’s was getting acquainted with the club’s newly-acquired Pirat single seater.

And the downs? Well, it was pretty sad to find the Zug in the demeaning position of having been de-rigged and with its fuselage inverted while the minor damage to the skid and surrounding area is being repaired. Thank goodness for the skill and patience of members like John Bolt, Martin Smith , Chris Kaminski and Alan Carter

With a strong and gusty wind and the threat of showers, only a few enthusiasts arrived to indulge in some lively two-seater action with Dave Jesty and myself apart, that is, from Phil and Andrew, who handled the tricky conditions well in their Astir. They took several launches each and in so doing, made a significant contribution to the club’s coffers.

Keith Wearn, one of our fixed-price to solo members, returned after an absence of several months and started to get his money’s worth with seven flights with Dave. Meanwhile three of our more experienced solo pilots, Bob Sansom, John Howe and Robin Wilson flew with me - handling the difficult conditions competently. Robin is now itching to have his first flight in the beautiful K6cr which he and Colin Boyd have acquired.

Enabled firstly by Phil, and then by John Howe, we enjoyed some excellent launches to as high as 1,600 feet. 

With superb timing, I managed to arrange things so that the Pirat - with me in it - was hooked on and ready to go just as cloud streets started to form after a period of showers and over-development.  Following a couple of non-thermic launches, I was then able to put the glider though its paces for more than an hour, including a couple of straight line climbs under cloud streets of several miles’ duration.  She looks splendid, flies well, climbs like an angel and, yes, she spins. All in all a fantastic acquisition - and if we take good care of her, she’ll provide us with years of fun.

Bob Pirie

Sunday 5th June 2011

With a grey, overcast sky and the occasional rain shower, the weather couldn't have been more different to the day before, but we should be used to the Great British Summer by now. A small but perfectly formed band of merry men and ladies made as much use of the remaining hardware on offer to hone their aviation skills.

With a light north-easterly breeze there was a faint whiff of wave but it never materialized. Marta continued her trek towards the mythical beast they call 'The Solo' while Mike Keller and me took turns in running DMX round the block for some circuit training and some much needed solo flights towards our Bronze legs.

Martin Cropper was kept occupied for an hour or so introducing two new lady members to the joys of flight while Chris Kaminski spent most of the day with his head inside the cockpit of an upside down Zugvogel sorting out a damaged nose skid ably assisted by Alan Carter.

Many thanks to those unsung heroes on the winch, Messrs Ballard, Carter and Cropper for getting us lesser mortals airborne.

A beer and chat in the club house brought the day to a pleasing conclusion.

Darren Wills

Saturday 4th June 2011

With the forecast winds from 040 – 060, and the local sounding showing the required profile, a good wave day was a possibility. In the event the wind was 020 and the north edge of Dartmoor set up a fabulous looking wave system too far to the south and east of the airfield for us to reach. We were teased by fantastic looking lenticulars most of the day. There was some thermal and ridge soaring available but it seemed like a poor second best somehow

The 2 seaters were busy all day and when the K13’s front instrument panel was damaged Chris Matten and John Bolt managed to manufacture and install a new one in under an hour to keep the flying on schedule. Many thanks for the F1 style pit stop chaps.

The Zugvogel was back in action today sporting it's new canopy.

David Jesty gives the Zugvogel's new canopy a close inspection
The new club aircraft, an SZD Pirat joined the club fleet today and after some minor adjustments, the instructors test flew it and then conducted familiarisation flights ready for it’s release into general club service. In fact. David Jesty made the best soaring flight of the day during his familiarisation flight. Also on show today was Chris Kaminski’s own fully restored Pirat which is an absolute credit to his restoration skills and probably looks even better than when it was new.

The new club Pirat "G-DCKD" showing off nice lines.
Chris Kaminiski looks suitable proud of his refursbished Pirat.

It occurs to me that with the two SZD Pirats, my own SZD Jantar1, 3 polish members we probably qualify as an outpost for the Anglo-Polish Gliding Club.


Thursday 2nd June 2011 - The Pirat Expedition"

I woke to the bubbling cry of a curlew. Drawing back the curtain, I could see the windsock was still horizontal but there was no sign of the serried rows of lenticular clouds from the previous evening. No, I wasn’t dreaming but the airfield wasn’t Brentor, it was Milfield in Northumberland, home of the Borders GC and three nomads from Dartmoor had journeyed north to look at a glider – a SZ-30 Pirat to be precise.

It all began a few weeks ago when it became clear we needed a single-seater to replace our old K6. Borders GC were offering their Pirat ‘CKD’ for sale, but it was a long way to go to be disappointed. I contacted Barry Lytollis – technical officer at Milfield, who obliged by sending photographs and a mass of technical information. The C of A was current until September, but it would need some work and reweighing then. After an impromptu committee meeting at Brentor, I was given a green light to go up to Northumberland to see if we could strike a deal. It’s a blooming long drive so I was pleased when Ged Nevisky agreed to be co-driver and equally pleased when Chris Kaminski agreed to come and give technical advice – Chris has a very well kept Pirat.

Ged and I set off at 06 dubs on Wednesday 1 June picking up Chris at Tiverton. Next stop was Tamworth for fuel, then north on the A1()M with Ged at the wheel. Yorkshire seemed to whizz by and following our next refuel at Scotch Corner, I took over driving again. About noon we went past The Angel of the North, deciding it needed a lick of paint! After Morpeth we left the dual carriageway and enjoyed fine views over the Cheviot Hills. Just seven miles from the Scottish border, we turned into Milfield: it wasn’t quite two o’clock – less than eight hours to do 470 miles.

Barry Lytollis introduced his team and left us to examine the glider’s paperwork whilst he made us a very welcome cuppa. Then it was into the hangar to give CKD a good going over. Chris was most thorough and having him with us was extremely valuable. By the end of the afternoon we had noted a few deficiencies but none that couldn’t be addressed and the deal was agreed. Then it was time to derig the Pirat, but first we had to get it out of the hangar. That was easier said than done: it was right at the back behind three tugs and some other gliders. Eventually we had the Pirat ‘lashed and stowed’ in the trailer and the Borders fleet returned to its rightful place. We then adjourned to the Red Lion for supper, pausing only to admire the wave clouds over the nearby hills.

And that was how I came to wake up to the sound of a curlew; Barry had kindly arranged for us to have use of the visitor’s accommodation – Borders have four very nicely furnished twin-bedded rooms. The sky was still pink – well, it was 0345! Time to get my head together – bathroom, kitchen for coffee and a nutty bar, check we’ve got everything and off we jolly well go. It was 0430 – not bad. We stopped after a few miles to check the trailer was OK before pressing on south. I wanted to get past Newcastle before the rush started. That went well and we stopped at Wetherby for fuel and to check CKD. There had been some movement and we took the opportunity to re-secure the fuselage.

Having taken the opportunity to refuel ourselves, Ged took the wheel and we continued on our way. The trailer was towing well at 60 mph but there was a slight hiccup when we found ourselves heading for the wrong side of Nottingham – we were on the A1 and should have been on the M1! The road that took us back west passed through Sherwood Forest: none of us had seen it before but we decided the trees there looked much like any other.

Our last stop was at Strensham on the M5 and I drove the final leg. At Bristol we could see stationary traffic tailed back following an accident on the M4, but fortunately we weren’t affected. Having made a brief detour at Tiverton to drop off Chris, we pressed on and reached the familiar gates of Brentor at 1600 precisely – a lapsed time of eleven and a half hours. The total distance travelled over the two days was not far short of 1,000 miles and 475 of them were towing a 30 ft. trailer. It was the longest retrieve any of us had done and I offer thanks for the resilience of my stalwart companions.

So, Pirat ‘Charlie Kilo Delta’ is now residing at Brentor awaiting the attention of some hopeful glider pilots.


Bob Jones

Wednesday 1st June 2011

It's always good to start and end the day on a high note, and we certainly did today!

I arrived on the airfield to find CFI Don grinning proudly from within the depths of the hangar, having played the role of "Zug-Fairy" by creating (with a little help from his friends) a super new Zugvogel cockpit canopy from a redundant K7 canopy. This means that - subject to a blessing by our resident inspectors - the Zug should be back on line shortly.

The new canopy on the Zugvogel
The, as we ended the day with a can of beer, Chairman Steve brought us the good news that our glider acquisition team of Messrs Neviski, Kaminski and Joneski had had a successful foraging trip to Scotland and would be returning with a classic Polish glider from the cold war era called a 'Pirat', which will be an interesting addition to our single seater fleet. As a bonus, we've acquired an excellent aluminium trailer as part of the package.

We owe a big 'thank you' to all those who contributed to the above achievements.

Operations-wise, in order to give both solo pilots and trainees a fair crack of the whip, we started the day with a 'mass rig-in'. Many hands made light work, and resulted in both club two-seaters and five privately-owned single-seaters arriving at the flight line simultaneously. What we lost in terms of a few early launches was more than compensated for by the number of launches (35) as the day progressed and - equally importantly - the number of experienced people getting in some fun flying as well as running the launch point and driving the winch. The day would never have happened without them.

Thanks to Phil Hardwick, Martin Broadway and Alan Holland for some splendid winching, and well done Andrew Beaumont for getting stuck in to training as a winch driver. (Phil's reward came later in the day, when he achieved a chart-topping 92 minutes in the Astir.)

One of our most enthusiastic helpers throughout the day was Richard Clark, who has upgraded his membership from 'temporary' to 'full flying'. It was good to see John Howe airborne once again after his recent knee operation, and we also welcome his son-in-law from the USA, John Dunn, who was introduced to the joys of soaring by Dave Jesty.

John Howe and son inlaw John Dunn ( is every male in this family called John? )
Jeff Craggs continued to whittle away at his post-solo exercises and, finally, 'well done' to Mike Keller for re-soloing.

Bob Pirie