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 ).


Sunday 2nd October 2011

The weather today was very similar to yesterday, in other words it was HOT, with high pressure, a strong inversion, and very little chance of significant thermal development.

The club was open early with duty instructor DCFI Mark Courtney, North Hill visitors James and David, Regional Examiner Simon Minson, Chris Kaminski, Sean Parramore and myself all on the airfield before 8.30.

Club flying was fairly busy with the K13, K8, and Zugvogel and Chris Kaminski’s Pirat making what seemed like endless soaring attempts. 

The K8 waiting for one more launch in the evening light.
The other K13 G-DBVB was kept busy with Sean and myself flying with Examiner Simon to complete our Basic Instructor course which involved a series of practice launch failures and various circuit exercises. Between us we probably landed on every bit of the airfield. The good news is that we both passed and are now looking forward to joining the growing club instructor team after we have completed our acceptance flights with CFI Don and the last of the paperwork.

Sean, Regional Examiner Simon Minson and myself share an end of course joke. 
Our thanks today must go to the club members for their good humour while dealing with the disruptions caused by our BI course antics and the winch drivers for dealing with the multiple practice launch failures. If I had to single someone out it would have to be Marta who seemed to be everywhere pulling, pushing, launching,  encouraging, organising, clearing drains ?? and generally keeping everyone in order. Many thanks one and all.
Too much detail Marta !!! - Thanks for all your efforts.
Club Fleet Manager Chris couldn't resist an artistic moment at the end of the day with the balloon passing ,the sheep making their way onto the airfield and the sunset starting to colour the sky. Perhaps we should change his name to Ansel Adams(ski)


Saturday 1st October 2011

Blue sky, light SSE winds and forecast temperatures in the high 20’s. This made for a very pleasant day indeed. Unfortunately, there was also a strong inversion and this coupled with very high atmospheric pressure effectively put the lid any thermal development.

A busy day with a full air experience diary which was handled in exemplary fashion by BI Mike Sloggett. Thanks Mike.

                              Today's Visitors

Don was kept busy fulfilling the members training requirements but still managed to find time at the end of the day to have a few flights with Sean and myself as a last work up for our final instructor tests which are scheduled for tomorrow.
CFI Don with words of wisdom for Sean
Congratulations to Sandra who was signed off as a winch driver after an intensive period of training. Discussions are now underway about curtains and flowers for the winch. I think Sandra is winding us up (again).
One happy new winch driver ( with dodgy looking gloves )