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