Sunday 29th January 2012

After considerable efforts from Scratch, Nigel Williamson and Roger Appleboom to repair the Gus-Launch, flying commenced at 11oclock.

Richard Williamson flew with Dave Jesty to regain currency and went for a solo flight in the K13 DMX. Mike Keller then took DMX for a solo flight after which Roger Appleboom continued his training with Dave Jesty, before inclement weather brought flying to a stop.

Mike Keller looks relaxed on final approach
Don honed his gardening skills by cutting a substantial amount of gorse and bramble from the east end of the field, continuing the ongoing spruce up of the club. Lectures from

Don about flight limitations and altimetry followed, with Nigel, Richard and Roger all furthering their ground school.

Although only a few flights were had, it was a constructive day for all involved.

Extra thanks to the winch-repair team!

Richard Williamson

Saturday 29th January 2012

Today started with blue sky and a reasonably light NW breeze. However, looks can be deceptive; it was cold and the forecast gave a front coming through by late afternoon although in the event this arrived too late to stop the fun..

There were lots of members braving the cold and muddy airfield to take advantage of the chance to fly. One of the more notable features was the collection of somewhat strange looking headgear. Perhaps we should have a “Hat of the Month” competition.

A motley collection of hats? Or a motley collection of pilots? You decide
Among the 40 or so flights today was Steve Raine reaffirming his recent solo status. Well done. Also taking advantage of the day were Mike Gadd and Darren Wills, both using the benign conditions to convert to the Zugvogel and have their first flights on type.

Darren looks comfortable in the Zugvogel. ( We must finish the painting behind his head )

Mike looks very pleased with his efforts.
For some members the excitement was not quite over after the gliders were put away. Reports of groups of members extracting each others cars from the muddy car park provided a little light relief at the committee meeting which continued late into the evening.


Thursday 26th January 2012

Another great session with the Kelly College cadets.

Outside the cadets worked on tidying the wooded area near the trailer park and collected a heap of wood ready to be cut into woodburner size chunks.

Inside the lessons continued on the simulator, the more advanced cadets recovering from spins and spiral dives and the newbies learning how the controls work. Well done to all of you for some very good efforts and great progress.


Wednesday 25th January 2012

I could really just write Wednesday weather as usual, i.e. low cloud and drizzle in a westerly gale. I cannot remember a winter with so much of this kind of weather.

The hardy club members were on the ball again with all sorts of work going on around the site. Steve Raine was  to be found happily doing a bit of pruning to the low branches of the trees at the entrance. Ged and Phil scraped the peat from the area in front of the trailers with the JCB to test the effect that this will have on the access here which has always been muddy and difficult. The theory is that the underlying layer will support vehicles better and be mud free once the grass regrows. They then went on to replace a gate post in the car park which seemed to require a lot of physical work - no fancy post machines here.

Steve happy with his work

Ged and Phil working hard as always.
Mike Gadd used his time particularly well by taking and passing his Bronze C exam. Well done Mike.

Mike is congratulated by CFI Don on passing his Bronze C paper in exemplary style 
After the work was done Phil flew the simulator with Don’s guidance with the aim learning to increase cross country speeds using different  “MacCready” settings. Good idea to practice this before the good weather comes.


Sunday 22nd January 2012

A small band of hardy souls were greeted with the sight of the wind sock blowing in the horizontal position again, though not from an easterly direction that sends glider pilots misty-eyed in anticipation of the Wonderful Wave but from the north west.

Still that didn't stop instructor Ged from being kept busy in BVB with a steady stream of pre-solo pilots pitting their wits against the dreaded wind gradient. Amongst them was new member Leith Whittington who had his first flight in a glider since being a Boy Scout 'a few years ago'. Since then he has accumulated many flying hours in the navigators seat of commercial airliners. We wish Leith every success in his new flying career.

Roger Appleboom listening to Ged doing his Tommy Cooper impersonation with new member Leith Whittington stopping the glider from taking off by itself and Shrek lurking furtively in the background
As well as Ged ,many thanks also to a poorly Alan Ballard who gamely came in and drove the winch for us and later on in the afternoon Martin Cropper whose Ass Cat course at Yeovilton was postponed due to a problem with the runway [runway? who needs a runway?!]]. Best of luck next time Martin.

Darren Wills

Saturday 21st January 2012

Strong westerly wind, very low cloudbase, drizzle – no flying then.

The club was very busy though with Vic ( with clean, mud free face – see Saturday 7th January 2012 ) and Martin painting the tailplane of DMX which is now ready to be used as soon as the weather clears. Father and son, Rick and Matt spent the day filling in potholes on the track using the club JCB which seems to be slowly dissolving year on year and would now look good on the set of Mad Max  Robin spent some time trying to tidy the wood store.

Meanwhile Alan Carter had his SF27 in the hangar making use of the club load cell to weigh his glider. Alan seems to be obsessed with weighing his glider; perhaps this has something to do with the work he did when he was in the RAF which, in part, included weighing VC10’s and Tornados.

Thanks to Ged for manning the instructor duty today – no easy on a non flying day.


Wednesday 18th January 2012

Apart from grins on a couple of people's faces... and a battle-scars in the form of cows' (?) muck adhering to BVB's tailplane... there was little evidence of all the fun several members had wave flying at Brentor last Sunday.

For the Wednesday crowd, however, it's been a day of seamless cloud and drizzle. The ground around the clubhouse was reminiscent of the battlefield scenes in 'War Horse', but this didn't deter CFI Don and Phil the Farmer from wading around in the mud as they speculated what income might be generated for the club by coaxing one of our own old 'war horses' - the dumper truck - on a one-way trip to the knacker's yard (i.e. the scrapyard up the road).

" Waddya reckon about a spot of recycling, Phil?"
"Take up slack!"
"All out!"
"Result!" ( the combo rolls into the scrapyard).
The photos speak for themselves! And the exercise was definitely worthwhile, with a substantial sum being raised for the 'Tea Swindle' fund, which pays for much-needed improvements to the club's equipment and facilities. Thank's to today's efforts, the purchase of a base station for the Skylaunch Launch Assistant System, is much closer to becoming a reality.

Apart from a discussion about NOTAMs, some daily inspection training and a lot of stoking of the woodburner, the emphasis remained on financial matters, with our two Field Treasurers in a huddle as they redoubled their efforts to chase-up some £600-worth of long-overdue flying fees from members.

Our Field Treasurers review an e-mail urging members to pay their flying fees (more than £600-worth of which are currently outstanding)
Bob Pirie

Sunday 15th January 2012

“Wave?? - Wossadd??” “Wave? Iss like, well, wave innid, yunnow, goes up an dahn, dunnit – Yer can’t seeit, feelit, tuchit, but if you gah dahn Dartmoor Gliding in an Easterly an ya take a winch launch id’ll be there, juss’ like Ronseal innit: it does wut id sez on the tin.”

Except today was a southerly – so no chance, the wind blowing almost exactly 90 degrees across the runway, pretty strong, and verrryy cold. Just the day for a silliest hat competition! Sponsored by resident expert and retired GP Robin Wilson, who said ’There are some people wandering around without hat’s on – they’ve got to be absolutely stupid!’, and led CFI Don Puttock, who had to send all the way to Australia for his stupid hat, Sandra Buttery recorded all hats on parade on video and came up with the winner – as they say ‘You’ve got to be in it (the hat, that is) to win it!’

And so to the first flight and, lo and bloody behold, the K-13 is glued to the sky! Analysis from the chart shows that the surface wind was around 170 degrees, at 2000ft around 160 and a height another 10 degrees backed – so it was just clipping the western edge of Dartmoor and yet sufficient for us to launch directly into smooth wave to 3, 4 or even more thousand feet, as Jacob Knight (check flight-first 2 launches), Scratch (1hr), Jeff Cragg (2hrs+), Robin Wilson (1hr), Nigel Williamson (1hr), Roger Applebloom (40mins), Luke (20mins - beating his longest flight to date by 13 mins) and John Ashby (40 mins) will be able to tell you. And Trevor Taylor 2hrs 15 minutes to 8400 feet. Not the highest - that was me at 9200 feet.

Above Brentor looking north
If thanks go to anyone (in particular) they go to Don Puttock for realising that it was a ‘Ronseal‘ day: the wave was there - and then enabling trainees to enjoy it (including the low level rotor!) It was one of those days without thermals, visitors, cable breaks or breakdowns: just us pitting ourselves against nature - in the form of gravity - with nature - in the shape of the wind - to achieve what we like best about Brentor: flying with no engine, to improbable heights.

The view from 4000 ft today
Martin Cropper

Saturday 14th January 2012

Today saw us wrapped up against the biting SE wind under 2/8 cloud cover. Good news. The airfield has already dried out considerably and will be ready to roll tomorrow. 
Darren Wills and Mike Gadd looking happy in their warm flying kit.
There was a good turn out of members which ensured a full day for instructor Ged Nevisky. The flights were mostly circuits but occasional thermal activity kept several pilots amused with the best being 19 minutes from Rick Wiles flying the K8. In case you are wondering, even with the strong south east wind there was no sign of wave, the wind and temperature profiles were all wrong.

"Shrek" waiting for his another training flight with instructor Ged in G-DBVB
Other things going on included the usual glider maintenance work by Chris and Martin who had spread out into the workshop to find warmth to enable their glues and potions to harden.

Chris and Martin in the clubhouse. 
Alan Holland fitted a new total energy probe to the K8 hand crafted by himself as part of his quest to improve the variometer system. The winch drivers continue to get to grips with the Launch Assistant system.

Hand crafted total energy probe on the K8
And what are the best dressed glider pilots wearing this winter?

Rick Wiles looking like he only needs an AK47 to complete this outfit


Wednesday 11th January 2012

Fog on the north coast and low cloud both to the north and south of the site, but at sunny Brentor, the few club members who turned up were rewarded with clear skies the whole day, coupled with a light SW breeze.

Operating from a relatively dry area near the eastern boundary gave us maximum launch runs, with heights of up to1,400 feet. Moreover launch speeds were enhanced by the club’s first-ever use of the Skylaunch Launch Assistant, introduced on a trial basis by our winch master, Alan Ballard.

Skylaunch  Launch Assistant on it's temporary mounting in the winch 
This electronic system relies on a transmitter in the glider (today we were using K7/13 ‘BVB’) continuously feeding glider launch speed data to a base station, with digital readout, mounted in the winch. The results were very encouraging, with optimum launch speeds achieved most of the time. As an added bonus, we were using the Guslaunch winch with two new cables, which meant that the only launch failures were of the simulated variety
This group are getting good at handling gliders on very soft airfields.
The small band of pilots who have been turning up regularly on winter Wednesdays regardless of the weather to stay current were rewarded with solo flights - albeit in the two-seater - and Mike Keller, back recently after a bit of a layoff from flying, joined their ranks after a couple of refresher flights.

It was good to have Shrek back with us after a few months away in Poland, with Ged putting him through his paces on his way toward that first solo milestone.

Steve Raine (left) contemplates his first solo with instructor Bob Pirie
But the best news last! Throughout the autumn and winter, one of our newest club members, Steve Raine, has been attending regularly to fly, to undertake ground training (including flying the simulator) and to muck-in with the chores along with the rest of the team. Today his determination was rewarded with two successful solo flights, culminating in elegant ‘arrivals’ on the relatively small dry area of the airfield which we were using as our preferred landing area. (Steve’s rapid progress must be partly attributable to gliding and fixed-wing training he undertook many years ago - firstly as an ATC cadet and then in the Army.) Congratulations, Steve!

And both are still smiling after the event.

Bob Pirie

Sunday 8th January 2012

What had been forecast a medium-height cloud "circuit-bashing" day, turned out to be a clagged-in typical Dartmoor day. Ever the optimists, the enthusiastic band who turned out set-to getting BVB and the winch ready for a change in the weather. Sadly the only change was for the worse.

But Dartmoor weather makes folks resourceful so various people got busy with various tasks from the never-ending list of things that keep a gliding club thriving.

Don was closeted with Martin Cropper engaged in arcane financial shenanigans. Martin C also teamed up, later, with Mike Ashton to give a death defying display of precision chisel work removing layers of 2-pack from the Pirat wing centre-section (I could have watched for hours!) whilst myself and Ged fitted the transponder unit of the Skylaunch Launch Assistant system to K13 BVB in the hope that we could put it through its paces.

Meanwhile, back at the clubhouse Don delivered briefings on various topics whilst tea was drunk in the warmth of the woodburner.(how come he gets all the cushy jobs?) There was also much lively what-iffery regarding the Launch Assistant, in various likely and less-likely scenarios, but more of that another day.

Alan Ballard

Saturday 7th January 2012

A strong, biting cold wind blew from the north west under a glowering, grey sky for most of the day except for a brief spell when the cloud rolled away only to be replaced an hour later.

The hardy Saturday crew were up on the airfield with a single 2 seater to keep their currency,  progress their “standardisation” flights. We welcomed back Will Wilson returning  after a winter break and our globe trotting “Shrek” returning from 4 months at home in Poland.

Duty Instructor Martin Smith in the front seat with Rick Wiles flying from the back
Dene “Scratch” Hitchen added to today’s interest by fitting a video camera to the wingtip of the K13. We look forward to the videos but in the meantime we have a couple of stills to wet our appetites.

Will Wilson ( front ) having a check flight with Martin
Also on the airfield today were Matthew Wiles and Sandra Buttery both very keen to get to grips with their new roles as Junior Gliding Officer and Club Secretary respectively. We wish them every success.

The most unlucky member today ( and surely a candidate for the Wooden Spoon trophy ) was Victor who slipped and fell gracefully face first into some very black looking mud. This necessitated him returning to the clubhouse to clean up before returning to the launch point.
Victor taking the latest DGS beauty treatment
I think mention must be made of Chris Kaminski, Bob Jones, Alan Carter and Chris Matten who all spent the day in the hangar sanding the Pirat wing. Real dedication.


Wednesday 5th January 2012

The sodden state of the airfield is apparently as bad as anyone can remember, and many weeks of constant erosion have caused the hardened access tracks to take on the characteristics of rocky trout streams. What's more, practically the whole glider fleet is off-line temporarily for upgrading or winter maintenance.

Given the above circumstances and today's intermittent showers, one might have expected the hangar doors to have remained closed and maybe a handful of pilots huddled around the woodburner 'setting the world to rights' after all the Christmas and New Year festivities.

But not a bit of it! When I rolled in through the gate, my fellow-instructor Ged and a handful of would-be flyers were already at the launch point with BVB, while Martin Smith and Steve Lewis (later joined by Karon Matten and Bob Jones) were hard at work progressing the fleet renovations. However, not all important achievements happen on flying days, and our spirits (and launch heights!) were raised by the fact that the 'winch fairies' had been at work during the week, extracting the Guslaunch winch (complete with new cables) from the swamp at the east end of the field. Thus with a strong westerly wind, combined with some accomplished driving by Dave Rippon and Phil Hardwick, we were able to achieve launch heights of up to 1,500 feet. Meanwhile the ML winch sat there 'in disgrace' while our resident metallurgists pondered the reason for its two nearly-new cables becoming knackered after just a few weeks of use.

The small cadre of DGS pilots and trainees who turn up regularly to fly on Wednesdays and weekends are arguably among the most 'current' in the country - yet there's always room for improvement, and it was encouraging to see how positive they were about the introduction of regular Standardisation Flights for all pilots, announced by CFI Don on 2nd January.

Spinning and launch failure-related exercises are key features of the programme, and today's generous launch heights resulted in everyone making inroads into the former - although the state of the airfield cramped our style as far as simulated launch failures were concerned. And as for 'real ones' - the new cables didn't let us down.

I'm sure Ged and all the other instructors will join me in saying how encouraging it is to have such a healthy turnout of 'regulars' on both flying and non-flying days. If you're not one of that group - and winter's getting you down - come along and let the Standardisation programme helped to blow the cobwebs away. You'll start the season with more enthusiasm and confidence - and as a safer and more current pilot than you are today.

Bob Pirie

Sunday 1st January 2012

We now seem to be in the middle of the monsoon season. A few hardy souls ventured out complete with wellies.

Yesterday we discovered a little windfall in the new portacabin --- what appears to be most of the body parts for a BMW. With an enterprise rarely seen outside of "Only Fools and Horses" we spent some time trying to identify the model so we can flog the parts on Ebay. Roger Appleboom has taken the task as his homework for the week. If we get this right , the portacabin will come with a small profit---Dell boy would be proud!

Then a briefing on speed to fly and how to use the information to improve cross country speeds----well if you cant do it for real, talking about it is the next best thing. After several attempts using the simulator and some "oh I get it",  the speeds improved, the leader by a short hair was Martin Cropper who flew a blistering speed (complete with tongue out of the corner of his mouth!)

Happy New Year everyone


Saturday 31st December 2011

The year was set to finish with real Devon drizzle - lovely.

As usual there was plenty of work going on, Martin, Alan and myself working in the hangar. Don, Ged and Sandra clearing out the new "porta-cabin" in preparation for it's use as a winch and vehicle parts store. Rick and Ged positioned the Guslaunch winch ready for the next flying day.

A nice day with friends.