Wednesday 28th December 2011

The few stalwarts intent on 'committing aviation' at the club today found themselves engaged in an increasingly chilly and moist 'Rain Dance'. Not only were there heavy rain showers to be endured and huge puddles to skipped across or waded through, but a pair of Raines (Steve and son Rob) eager to get airborne.
Rob Raine settles into K-13 DMX for his first glider flight, accompanied by his father Steve (centre) and Insturctor Dave Jesty.
The only other pilot to fly today (apart from Dave Jesty and myself sharing back-seat duties) was Rick Wiles, who prised himself away from computer work in the clubhouse in a brief attempt (cable break!) to stay current.

In addition to the wet and increasingly gusty conditions, our main problem today centred around cable breaks, resulting in a pathetic 'successful launch-to-launch failure' ratio of 3:4. This was through no fault of either the pilots or the winch driver, and we suspect that unreported snarl-ups in recent weeks may have compromised the integrity of the relatively new cables on the ML winch. Today, the few successful launches delivered to us by John Howe were corkers, but otherwise he and club Chairman Steve Lewis spent far too much time having to retrieve and re-join broken cables - getting colder and wetter in the process (along with those of us at the launch point).

Back at the hangar our technical team (  Chris Kaminski and Martin Smith ) augmented by Mike Keller, Mike Ashton and Alan Carter spent many hours continuing to renovate the Pirat's wing centre section, while Ged Nevisky worked beneath the red Land Rover Discovery attending to unreported serious damage to a rear shock absorber assembly.

Team work on the Pirat wing
Sandra Buttery was also on-site, while three of our staunch committeemen, Steve Lewis, Bob Jones and Ged Nevisky, were seen in earnest conversation regarding matters strategic - or maybe just comparing hangovers, Christmas prezzies and New Year Resolutions.

Pictured through a fogged-up lens enjoying the comfort of a warm clubhouse are (from left) Ged, Dave and Rick.
A happy, safe and soarable 2012 to you all.

Bob Pirie

Saturday 24th December 2011

Just a few of us managed somehow to escape family duties.

With the airfield still wet and showers in the forecast it was a couple of hours of chat with friends in the clubhouse in front of the woodburner.

Hope the weather improves soon.


Wednesday 21st December 2011

Only a handful of us were in attendance today and the presence of three instructors ensured personal attention - albeit in the form of briefings and simulator training - for ab initio students Joe Morel (our newest Junior Member, and - as usual - Steve Raine). These guys, aided and abetted by Ged and myself, gave DMX its long-overdue monthly 'sprucing up', bringing a hint of a smile to Fleet Manager Chris Kaminski's face.

Meanwhile Chris and Martin Smith continued with their excellent work on the Pirat and the Zugvogel, for which we are all most grateful - or will be when the wave and those thermals start popping.
With no flying in prospect due to low cloud combined with mud and standing water everywhere, the clubhouse with its wood-burner yet again provided a cosy bolt hole for ground training or exchanging 'war stories', and the lack of pupils enabled some of us instructors to discuss trends and techniques with CFI Don. Full marks to him for turning up today. Having suffered a car breakdown en route, he then had no other option than to accept an 'unrefusable offer' of a £100 brand new car battery from a representative one of a leading breakdown organisation.

Come rain or shine, our Airfield Manager Phil Hardwick is usually with us every Wednesday; if not flying, toiling - often alongside Ged - at maintaining machinery and repairing the churned-up ground. Today was no exception, but this time he was accompanied by Charlie Brown, a friend and agricultural contractor from Holsworthy, who came along to assess how we might improve drainage and minimise surface damage.
Phil and Charlie disappeared into the murk for a few hours, when they returned to the clubhouse saying very little, other than that they had 'a few ideas to put to the Committee'. Sounds intriguing - so watch this space!
As I threw in the towel and went off Christmas Shopping, the clubhouse was still 'buzzing', with Charlie Brown now parked in the front seat of the simulator with a smile on his face. Either he had found the company of this eccentric group of gliding addicts amusing, or perhaps he was showing signs of 'catching the gliding bug'.

Anyway, thanks for coming along Charlie, and we look forward to hearing what you and Phil recommend.
No photos this week. All that remains is to wish everyone a wonderful Christmas and a happy, healthy, safe and soarable 2012. And fingers crossed for next Wednesday, when few of us may convene in the hope of getting airborne!

Bob Pirie

Sunday 18th December 2011

A small band of toughies came out to fly.

Roger Appleboom showed us a new level of “hardy”, off came the boots, socks wrung out and then back on with the boots. With temperatures just above freezing that takes some doing---Martin Smith, can you beat that?

No sign of tension in either pilot’s face as slack is taken up on DMX: so exactly who has control?
Thanks to Sean and Martin Cropper we had a steady supply of first class winch launches, and in between launches Sean even serviced the gas cooker!!

Sean Parramore executing yet another 1,400ft launch for the K-13 into an interesting sky.
Roger Green completed his training and is now cleared to fly family and friends, well done Roger. BI rating next.

Several grinning muddy faces huddled around the stove at the days end.

Well done everybody.


Saturday 17th December 2011

The news proclaimed that today shoppers will be spending £1.5 million per minute and I guess that’s where most of the DGS members were.

With very low numbers and a very wet, very cold airfield we decided not to get the toys out.

After chopping enough wood to keep the stove burning furiously all day, we retired to the clubhouse and spent our time discussing cross country flying and strategies for his 50km silver leg with Mike Jardine. This is the last leg he requires for his silver badge.

After our discussions Mike flew the simulator from Brentor to North Hill and was able to practice some of the techniques he will use when he flies the real thing in the spring. Well done Mike.


Wednesday 14th December 2011

Wednesday instructor Bob was on sick leave today. Get well soon Bob.

This was not really going to make much difference today as the airfield was just too wet to fly after the tremendous storms Monday night / Tuesday morning. We did have a chance to check for damage and luckily apart from the huge pools of standing water on the runway and the stones wash down the track onto the hangar apron ( again ), all is well.

The hangar apron was soon sorted out by David Rippon  and Steve Raines who must have removed about a dozen loads of gravel in the wheel barrow. Thanks chaps.

Phil “the farmer” and Ged spent their time repairing the JCB and then using it to repair part of the track on the runway until it blew another hydraulic hose. Time for more spanner work chaps?

The simulator was well used with some cross county / soaring practice followed by spinning training followed by mountain flying in Lithuania.

Some good weather please !!!


Sunday 11th December 2011

The rain arrived as forecast.

In intrepid fashion Martin Cropper and Alan Ballard set about some cable maintenance (which involved stretching the cables while being rained on).

Roger Appleboom undertook some glider maintenance, and then we all stopped for tea and mince pies.

Lectures were on Daily Inspection and Launch Failures.


Saturday 10th December 2011

Today’s forecast gave light, westerly winds, with a clear sky and low temperatures, giving way to showers and increasing winds after dark.

Had to scrape the ice off the car so it was certainly cold but I took advantage of the warm clubhouse to climb into my thermal suit ( the woodburner is a VERY good thing ). After wandering into the hangar I was amazed to see Martin Smith working on the Pirat in a tee shirt. It is obvious that he is made of tough stuff – perhaps that is why he owns 2 open cockpit gliders.

The early blue sky gave way to increasing cloud and some showers. At least this meant that we were treated to a seemingly endless display of rainbows.

The K13 chasing rain bows
The 2 seaters were busy throughout the day with pilots maintaining currency and furthering their training. Flying finished just before dark as the low sun angle and misting canopies ( and lowering temperatures ) sent everyone scurrying for the clubhouse. It is astounding how quickly 2 gliders can be washed and put away when a warm clubhouse beckons. McLaren style pit stops come to mind.

Last flight of the day.
A satisfying day.


Wednesday 7th December 2011

An ever-hopeful team of enthusiasts gathered around a roaring fire, while outside the rain teemed down on a sodden airfield - parts of which now resemble a WW1 battlefield. However, the forecasters were good to their word, and in most un-Wednesdaylike fashion, the weather actually improved, with only occasional further showers, but this coincided with an increase in the strength and gustiness of the NW wind.

With the aircraft and equipment already DI'd, at the first hint of an improvement we hitched up K13 DMX to the quad bike and hauled just the one glider to the east end of the field, setting up shop on the dry 'high spot' beside the launch caravan, and agreeing to confine landings as much as possible to the small 'tennis court'-like strip to the south of the centre track. The potential downside of overshooting, undershooting or failing to cope with the crosswind and thus ending up in a boggy part of the field inspired everyone to land with amazing accuracy, and most of the time we avoided having to tow the glider by attaching the cable for the next launch where the glider had stopped.

Robin Wilson stands by to help launch John Howe and Bob Pirie.
Steve Lewis scrutinises a muddy strop for a hint of colour coding.
Thanks to Dave Rippon and Jeff Craggs - and John Howe and Robin Wilson who did their stint later in the day - for providing some excellent launches (the majority to 1,400-1,500 feet). Meanwhile those at the receiving end responded well, with only one cable parachute dropped over the fence during a total of 16 launches. Flying-wise, the emphasis was on honing our skills in the challenging conditions, rather than simply keeping just-about-current with a benign potter around the circuit. The generous launch heights gave everyone an opportunity to work at revising their spin recovery skills with either me, or my fellow-instructor Ged, and the strong and increasingly gusty crosswind enabled us to carry out some quite interesting circuit and approach exercises as well.

John Bolt, Bob Jones and Steve Lewis bask in the comfort of the launchpoint control caravan.
But the day wasn't all about hard work, and just to remind us what the skies around Brentor are really all about, with rain showers all around us, Robin Wilson connected with a strong thermal and wound the glider up in a gap between the lower level clouds to the ultimate cloudbase at 2,000 ft.

Unusual place for daily prayers Phil

Phil Hardwick and Robin Wilson wash down the K13 at the end of a muddy day.
With the current weather conditions, maintaining the airfield can be a thankless task for our Airfield Maintenance team, led by Phil Hardwick, who has been very wisely seeking advice from some of our 'old hands' – especially life member and ex chairman, Phil Jarman who, while he is no longer a regular visitor, is a useful source of information on the original building of the club. Today’s subject was the position and type of the original land drains.  During the day Ged took delivery of a lorry load of stone chippings supplied by Phil J., meanwhile Phil H. spent most of his time trying, unsuccessfully, to breath life into the digger, to enable hole-filling to get underway.
'Trailer for sale or rent'. Jeff Craggs relaxes after a heavy day's winching and spinning.

Bob Pirie

Sunday 4th December 2011

From 72 hours prior to the weekend there was the potential that a weak ridge might allow flying on Sunday. And on the day there was sufficient optimism and attendance to convert potential into reality. With the Met Office confidently predicting a Westerly 20kts conditions on site were, of course, Southerly at 7.

David Jesty kicked proceedings into action and Roger Applebloom was able to benefit from not 3, 4 or 5 but 8 (yes, 8) launches which included launch failures high, launch failures low, launch failures as part of the flight and, finally, as the wind became more Westerly, spins.

With time to spare he was all ‘launch failured’ out and we gave the K-13 a thoroughly well deserved wash down (on the outside, not inside!) before returning it to the hangar.

Yes, the field was very wet and, yes, we did need to manoeuvre the glider and quad on the track at all times but, with a lifting cloudbase and willing crew Roger was able to make some significant steps towards going solo. It could have been you.

Thanks go to Allan Ballard for his tireless winching.

Martin Cropper

Saturday 3rd December 2011

Yet another wet day – very frustrating when the television weatherman was taking about parts of the country suffering from a drought. Perhaps we could sell them our surplus water ??

There were lots of members on the airfield, all keen to help. The early job was to clear the stones and mud, which has washed down the track, from the hangar apron. Along with this, the drainage channels were cleared out along the track to try and stop a repeat. Good thinking. After completing their task, this crew decided to hunt through the fields adjacent to the runway for strops. They returned a good while later with the spoils of their search which will be recycled and reused to make up new strops.

Clearing the hangar apron to let the K8 out of the hangar.
Meanwhile, Ged was up to his elbows in diesel and oil, fixing one of the generators. I suspect that he secretly likes doing oily jobs. Rick spent his time working with Chris on the phone system and broadband connection which has been somewhat "flaky" recently. This appeared to be was working very well by the end of the day.

The technical crew spent most of the day working on the Pirat adjusting the new aileron cables and fitting the new control stick. The Pirat is putting up a good fight trying to resist it’s upgrading but I think the technicians are winning.

How many gliders pilots does it take to ----- work on a Pirat?
At a particularly frustrating juncture in the Pirat “battle”, Martin and Chris took a break and, by way of light relief, fitted the new DGS branding to the nose of the Zugvogel. Very smart.

The Zugvogel now sports new corporate branding - very smart.
During a coffee break, junior pilot Matthew, encouraged by a group of  "experts ?", flew the simulator from Brentor to Northhill completing the trip in 28 minutes, a new club record.

Thanks everyone for your efforts. I am sure that it cannot continue raining for much longer. ( I hope ).


Wednesday 30th November 2011

Despite the SW wind being somewhat less than forecast, with the last couple of days of rain and showers, and with more showers arriving periodically, the decision was reluctantly taken to make this a non flying day; the runway was really too soft.

The assembled members made sure that this would not be a wasted day.

Mike Ashton had already sourced a new tyre and inner tube for the K8 and, after fitting, got a group together to rig the aircraft which is now ready for the next flying day.

Chris Matten had arranged for a new tyre for the quad bike. Ged fitted it to the quad which is now fully operational. Not satisfied with this as a day’s work, Ged removed the damaged tailskid from G-DBVB, took it to a local fabrication specialist for repair and then later collected it, refitted it to the aircraft which is now ready for the next flying day.

While all this was going on, John was working away quietly in the workshop on the Pirat, Robin was collecting up scrap metal to be recycled, Steve Raines was studying some of the subjects he will need to be familiar with before he can fly solo and I fabricated some new launch strops to ensure that the airfield is as ready to go as the aircraft.

All of the above was accomplished with the usual good humour and banter so typical of DGS.