Saturday 30th July 2011

A hazy day with thin high cloud and very poor visibility, no doubt made worse by the moist sea air carried in by the south south east wind.

Today the flying programme started late due to a distinct lack of members with the correct skills to change winches and change ends to match the slight easterly airflow. A training opportunity if I ever saw one – mass tractor driving lessons next week?

There was some soaring opportunities throughout the day as demonstrated by our Wednesday Instructor Bob Pirie who flew his ASW20F for more than 2 hours before returning to the airfield for his syndicate partner to have a go.

Somehow or another Bob also managed to be in the right place at the right time to provide the following pictures which sum up the best of the day’s action.
Glider pilots in the making? Eleven-year-olds Andrew Swann from Plymouth and Joe Hilton from Tavistock had their first glider flights at Brentor today. Andrew's grandad, Mike Swann, was a proud onlooker, while Joe's dad, David, also took to the skies.
K6 owners, Colin Boyd (centre) and  Robin Wilson (right), welcomed Darren Wills to their syndicate today.
Sean Parramore (left) receives a type-conversion briefing for the Pirat from instructor Martin Smith

A welcome visitor (with newly-acquired biker's beard) was Roger Green (left) who now flies at Aston Down with his father, Barry and their 'team manager',Heather. CFI Don appears to be in deep thought (maybe contemplating what leather trousers might do for his own image! )
At the end of a long, hot day's winching, as well as retrieving and repairing cables, Will Wilson managed to grab a few launches in the K8, by which time, sadly, the elusive lift we had been experiencing for most of the day had disappeared. 

Wednesday 27th July 2011

A tantalising - but frustrating - sort of Wednesday!

Tantalising, because on this lovely summer's day, apart from an hour or two when productive cumulus formed just SE of the field, most of the thermals kept their distance. Still, Ged (Open Cirrus) and Bob Sansom (K8) managed well over an hour each, and Phil Hardwick in the Astir, half an hour.

The launch point was packed with privately owned gliders - which stayed there most of the time(!) - and the two seaters were kept busy with early ab initio training, trial lessons and a one-day course. Thanks to CFI Don for carrying most of the workload on a sweltering day.

There was a degree of frustration on two fronts. Firstly, apart from the private owners and a couple of non-private owners, all of whom worked so hard to keep things running on this busy day as well doing their own flying, where were all our other solo pilots who have been crying out for single seaters? As things stood, we lacked a sufficient 'quorum' to get either the Pirat or the K8 out - until late in the day, when we were all too knackered.

The second area of frustration was a bout of equipment failure which beset us. Firstly, the grey Land Rover Discovery spent the day stranded half way up the field, due to a broken half-shaft, which our technical experts attribute to driver error. Then, following a spate of cable breaks plus a torn cable parachute, we ran out of ferrules and for the last hour or so had just one serviceable cable - and no ferrules to repair it had it broken. (All will be well for the weekend, I understand, because the Guslaunch winch with its two fully serviceable cables will be deployed.)

Throughout the day we enjoyed the company and help of a visitor from another club, Chris North, who glides at Kenley and Wormingford.

Despite a late start due to the small number of us available to get the club kit and privately owned gliders out, as well as looking after new members and visitors, more than 40 launches were achieved and the day ended with Andrew Beaumont opening his first can of beer at 19.00hrs, and Colin Boyd roaring off into the sunset in his gleaming red Triumph TR4A.

Bob Pirie

Sunday 24th July 2011

In stark contrast to Saturday’s ‘booming’ conditions Sunday was "down with a bump" time. The day dawned with grey cloud all around that instead of ‘burning off’ gradually got lower … and lower.

Whilst all but the least level headed stayed at home, a small but perfectly formed ‘crowd’ of Sandra, Alan C, Don and Martin busied themselves about fettling and general domestics whilst placing irrational optimism in the hope that surely conditions would improve as a warm front approached from the west.

And improve it did, so much so that by 2.30pm it was possible to fire a few launches off, all into cloud and all around 600-900’ This was to the immense delight of Shrek, Mike Keller and (prospective) new member Dr Peter Duff. Shrek’s enjoyment was clear by the ear to ear grin in evidence at the conclusion of the day and Peter’s by his agreement to stay on for some after school briefing by Don (Peter comes from the Army Gliding Association at Upavon, obviously patience is part of the syllabus there as well).

So was it worth it? 



Saturday 23rd July 2011

Forecast looked good for today,  NW winds light increasing to moderate NNW later, sunny intervals, 20 Centigrade.

The day started with the K8 being test flown by CFI Don who promptly took it to 3000ft and back and then released it back into club service.

The early soaring was difficult with no real cores to the thermals but by early afternoon the thermals had become much more organised with cloud streets as far as you could see. A glider pilot's sky.

So did people take advantage of the conditions? Judge for yourself. 16 year old Simon Thornton completed a Bronze and Cross Country leg with a flight of well over an hour, as did somewhat older pilots Jeff Cragg and Will Wilson. Fellow 16 year old Matthew Wiles managed a Cross Country leg with a flight well in excess of 2 hours. The wooden spoon probably belongs to Alan Carter who landed 1 hour 32 minutes into a 2 hour attempt - better luck next time. Everyone had some soaring and a good time.

Matthew took this picture of the K13 from his SF27 while turning at 3000ft - talk about  multitasking
DCFI Mark Courtney was instructor in charge today and he was kept busy all day. He was joined by visiting instructor Simon Leeson who arrived from North Hill in the beautifully kept Rotax Faulke. Visiting BI Mike Sloggitt had a site familiarisation flight with Don and then promptly flew our trial lessons in the K13. Many thanks to all of you and you are welcome back anytime.


Wednesday 29th July 2011

A sodden airfield, combined with persistent low cloud and frequent showers, seemed to deter our pre-solo pilots from putting in an appearance today, and sadly prevented those of us who did turn up from putting the newly-refurbished K8 through its paces.

Therefore, apart from some occasional 'simulator action', the focus was on supporting Andrew Beaumont's commendable efforts to refit the interior of the Pirat trailer. This involved de-rigging the glider... 'offering up' the centre section, wing outer sections, fuselage and tailplane to the trailer... making adjustments to the fittings... and then re-rigging the glider ready for it to be flown this coming weekend.
Andrew, Chris and Ged get technical
The 'Pirats' of Brentor (or 'How many members does it take to insert a Pirat into its trailer?')
While the above was happening, Phil (accompanied by my nine-year-old grandson, Freddie ) spent most of the day in the tractor mowing the whole airfield, while John Bolt continued to apply his expertise to progressing the repairs to the Zugvogel.

Farmer Phil and Freddie
John Bolt welcomes some help from Chairman Steve in fixing the Zug 
Just as we were packing the kit away and a further deterioration in the weather set in, a roar of ancient machinery was heard from southwest. Initially, I attributed this to the club's tractor, which earlier in the day had suffered from silencer failure. But then - out of the murk - appeared the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight's Lancaster bomber, en route at low level from the RNAS Culdrose Air Day to its home base at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire. A stirring sight indeed, which emptied the clubhouse and saw both the Chairman and Secretary jumping up and down and waving enthusiastically at this most welcome invader of Brentor airspace. (Shortly afterwards some members of the public who live locally appeared enquiring if it had had a problem and landed at Brentor!)

Finally, a word of thanks to those of you who have made grandson Freddie so welcome, both today and two years ago when he took his first glider flight with me at Brentor. The gliding addiction in my family may be about to skip a generation, but if his enthusiasm and natural aptitude are anything to go by, it won't be many years before his name starts appearing on the flying list. (But his nearest gliding club is Booker.)

Bob Pirie

Saturday 18th July 2011

Early rain with the forecast wind strengthening throughout the day did not bode well for today. So, was the day a wash out – not a bit of it.

After ensuring that the airfield was ready to go for when the rain stopped, the first task was to complete the routine maintenance for K13 G-DDMX.  This entails washing the glider, cleaning the canopy and the cockpit, lubricating all the moving parts, and completing any minor tasks. Young pilots Simon Thornton and Matthew Wiles attacked these tasks with the enthusiasm only gifted to the young and completed washing the glider in heavy rain!

16 year old pilots Simon and Matt wash K13 G-DDMX in heavy rain !! 
The rain cleared away by late morning so a dedicated crowd went up to the airfield to sample the challenging conditions with CFI Don.

Meanwhile, Inspectors Martin and John along with myself completed the ARC and refurbishment tasks for the K8 which finished the day rigged and waiting for a test flight prior to re-entering club service. This is great news for our early solo pilots who use this glider as their first single seater, and for the older hands who appreciate it’s easy soaring capabilities.

The day finished  with a committee meeting in the clubhouse.


Wednesday 13th July 2011

After a run of 'under-subscribed' Wednesdays before I went on holiday, it was refreshing to arrive to find a full clubhouse, with more people arriving by the minute. Trouble was, rain appeared to be setting in, and my fear was that disappointment for most might be the order of the day.

With the simulator humming in the background, and Ged briefing our weekend course family (Mark Small and his Mum Laura Ford, accompanied by her husband Douglas) and three visitors from Culdrose, the rest of the team performed an act of faith by preparing the equipment and getting the glider fleet to the launch point.

Following a belated (and damp) start, a full day's flying was achieved (36 launches), including lots of pre-solo training, a couple of early soloists (Mike Gadd and Chris Fagg) improving their skills, and a lucky few enjoying some soaring during a fairly brief thermic slot in the afternoon. For me it was a particular pleasure to fly for the first time with two of our newer members, Rodney Helme (ex-Royal Marines helicopters and former gliding instructor) and Andrew Wilkins (currently Airbuses and lots of other powered aircraft) and, from Culdrose, Nigel Richards (early solo/Lasham trained(!)) and Jordan Richards (18-year-old Bronze C pilot).
A rare K13 moment for our Chairman, Steve Lewis
One bitter sweet moment for came at the end of the day, when I grabbed a flight in the Pirat in what turned out to be totally still air (bitter!), then on hangar landing, looked up to see one of our earliest solo pilots, Mike Gadd, who had taken the next cable in the K13, winding his way up to nearly 2000 feet (sweet - for him at least!).
Instructor Bob grabs a brief (too brief!) solo flight in the Pirat
Everyone ended the long day a bit knackered - but with smiles on their faces. However, it just wouldn't have happened without a hard core few who worked 'above and beyond the call' in return for very little flying.
Sorry if I've forgotten anyone, but I single out John Howe and Dave Rippon (winch), Richard Clarke and Keith Wilson (retrieve), and Martin Broadway (pilot in charge at the launch point), with Bob Sansom alongside him helping to ensure that not a single launch opportunity was wasted. Thanks to Phil and Andrew for their dedication in leading the charge to get the club kit our before rigging their own glider - and to John Bolt, who never appeared at the launch point, but I am told spent most of the day in the hangar with Bob and Steve completing the renovation work on the K8.
John Howe (right) mentors Andrew Beaumont in the winch
Rodney Helme spent much of the day in the control tower

Bob Pirie

9th – 11th July 2011 Nympsfield Expedition

David Jesty in his e-mail to all members promised thermals to die for. He is a man of his word.

David suggested that Sunday and Monday was looking good so Chris Kaminski and I decided to go on a mini expedition and as I had already planned to go the Yeovilton Air show on the Saturday I continued north arriving at Nympsfield on Saturday evening. Chris planned to arrive on Sunday evening.
At the morning weather briefing on Sunday, which was the last day of Nympsfield task week, the outlook was not that good and also the forecast for Monday showed that after a good morning it would overdevelop after lunch.

As David went off to fly his 175Km task, I had to opportunity to fly with Russ, Nympsfield’s cross country instructor. We had an hours flight soaring to 4000ft during which he honed my soaring , did some field landing selection work and generally helped improve my flying skills. Later I flew the Grob 102 solo for 12 minutes and then for 3minutes !!!! Still a good day though.

Chris arrived Sunday evening so we all went to the pub for supper.

On Monday the forecast for the day appeared better than originally thought although still overdeveloping during the afternoon This resulted in an impressive grid with at least 12 gliders in the launch queue by 10.30 am together with David and Chris in the DG 500 complete with tips and myself in the baby Grob.

I launched on the 4th pair of cables at 11.30 and enjoyed the best and longest flight I've ever had, soaring to cloud base of 3000ft initially which subsequently rose up over 4000ft and returning reluctantly at 2 pm to an empty airfield from over 3000ft with air brake as I had run out of water.

David and Chris launched a little later than myself and had over 2 1/2 hours soaring and cross country flying to Chris's great delight . When I enquired as why they had returned I was told that it something to do with Chris's bladder !!!

Later the afternoon did deteriorate with 3 of the gliders landing out in distant fields.

Both Chris and I had a very successful and enjoyable sojourn to Nympsfield and we both thank David very much .


Sunday 10th July 2011

Weather bright with light westerly breeze, backing south later.

We welcomed the Explorer Scouts today, who had a full and productive day under the watchful eye of Martin Cropper. Starting with a briefing in the clubhouse they were involved in all aspects of the operation, including assisting on the ground and observing the winch operations from close up. All 7 did extremely well and Martin was able to award them their "Air Activities" badge at the end of the day with lots of cameras clicking as some proud parents looked on. Thanks to the Scout Leader Ian Maneer for organising and leading this group of helpful Scouts.
Explorer Scouts from West Devon Trailblazer Unit 
Martin Broadway converted onto the Pirat today after a briefing from
Bob Pirie. Duncan flew in a glider for the first time and didn't stop
grinning the entire time---great fun and we hope to see him start
proper training.

Thanks everyone for making this day work so well.


Saturday 9th July 2011

Light westerly wind with a mostly overcast sky did not promise much. But in the event how wrong can you be.

We welcomed Matt Funnell to the club for a one day course who, in fact, recorded the longest flight of the day with 43 minutes with instructor Ged Nevisky.  16 year old Simon Thornton flew his first solo today and not to be outdone so did Mike Gadd. Rick Wiles was passed to fly “Friends and Family” and promptly flew son Matthew around. Congratulations to all of you.

Mike Gadd's first solo landing

I think Mike is pleased with his first solo.
Simon Thornton on final approach after his first solo flight
Simon looks very satisfied with his first solo
Meanwhile, it was a busy day in the hangar with Martin doing C of A work Chris Kaminski’s Pirat and Chris Matten’s  K10. John and I were busy fitting the K8 with it’s new parts freshly arrived from the German manufacturers. This glider is expected back in club service soon.


Wednesday 6th July 2011

The wind was strong from the south and the forecast was for increasing cloud and strengthening wind with a front arriving with rain by mid afternoon.

There was a small group of hardy pilots who flew with Don until the conditions were just too poor to continue. This worked out well as we had all the aircraft and equipment away just before the rain set in.

The rest of the afternoon was taken up with a lecture / discussion about using thermals.   Thanks Don

While all this had been going on Ged was working quietly with Andrew fabricating a replacement tailskid for the Pirat which is once again airworthy as a result. Well done.


Sunday 3rd July 2011

Blue skies and a light SE wind. Broken and weak thermals to start before the thermals became 6-8 knots around 3pm.

Well done Nigel Williamson who got it right. Morning driving the winch and then the afternoon getting his 2nd bronze leg.

Robin Wilson converted onto the Pirat and Alan Carter is now the proud new owner of the SF27.

SF27 in action
Jacob Knight has passed his driving test and spent much of the afternoon learning how to drive the quad and retrieve cables with the Land Rover. Well done Jacob.

Martin Cropper was kept busy with a steady stream of trial lessons, and Andrew Wilkins our new member was treated to a great flight with thermal climbs of 6 and 8 knots.


Saturday 2nd July 2011

Sunny, warm with wind light and variable mostly from south east.

Not a classic soaring day. Thermals were few and far between but what there was was utilised very well by Mike Harris who flew for well over an hour in the club Pirat before the conditions overdeveloped and cut off the soaring.

We had a visit today from the Senior Regional Examine Graham Morris who was working with instructors Ged Nevisky and David Jesty on the first half of their completion course.

Senior Regional Examiner Graham ( front seat), David (rear seat), and Ged in a rare gap between flights  
We owe thanks today to father and son team Rick and Matthew Wiles who completed the repairs and upgrades to the simulator. If your wondering who does what, the mechanical work and overall systems work is done by Rick and the detailed software work including modelling our home airfield and area is done by Matthew.

Rick and Matthew relaxing after finishing the simulator upgrades. 
Another good day


Wednesday 29th June 2011

Wind 8 knots from the west with an initially blue sky. The early rapid build up of cumulus cloud and reports of showers in various locations from arriving members confirmed the impression of how unstable this airmass was going to be.

There was a flurry of activity from the ever optimistic pilots while gliders were rigged to produce an impressive looking grid. Apart from the club K13 and K7m, there was  Astir JSK, Astir FCJ, Open Cirrus CGY, Jantar1 DFL, the beautifully restored K6 FUB and the Martin’s ASW20 (callsign unknown - see note ref my memory later).

The conditions varied throughout the day as the cloud overdeveloped and then recycled. Early flights were disappointing but gradually soaring became possible. This was demonstrated by Robin flying his K6 who was the first to soar; this is becoming a habit – well done. The conditions were never easy but the all the more experienced pilots soared with flights to about an hour and heights to 3100ft QFE (above airfield height).

Apart from the solo activity the 2 seaters were busy as usual with a mix of training and air experience flying. Thanks to Don and David for there efforts

We also welcomed 2 new members today both experienced pilots, one is an ex military helicopter and experienced glider pilot and the other is an Airbus pilot,power instructor with tons of flying experience in all sorts of aircraft. We look forward to sharing the joys of soaring and glider flying with them. I must apologise for the lack of names, my memory is not as reliable as I thought. Perhaps I should learn the write these things down; if I remember!!

The other news today was that the airfield was operated in a new layout with the winch well up into the field at the west end ( thanks to some recent negotiations with the farmer) and the launch point moved  up to the stub runway to provide a landing area behind the launch. This will ( and did ) make it easier to maintain a higher launch rate. As the overall winch run will be longer, higher launches will be the order of the day.