Wednesday 29th February 2012

Being temporarily earthbound today gave me plenty of time to indulge in the traditional DGS Leap Year mud wrestling fest at the east end launchpoint, while keeping one eye on the antics of Don and Ged and their students - as well as solo pilots - as they grappled with a persistent crosswind (and an occasionally tricky downwind component).

Several real or simulated launch failures occurred, leading to some 'interesting' arrivals, as well as cables drifting off into the bushes. But there were no serious delays and everyone seemed to make the most of this non-soarable day in the sunshine.

It is encouraging to see how enthusiastically some pilots are applying themselves to completing their Standardisation Flights.

In addition to the usual training and solo flying activities, two temporary members came along for trial lessons, with Ged and Chairman Steve exercising their instructional and 'people' skills from the back seat. Their two charges showed every indication of having had a good time and we look forward to welcoming them back next week.
The visibility got even worse towards evening. 
One item of entertaining material I can promise is a much-needed procedures document to help us all to use our club ground equipment and launch point control radios more efficiently and more safely. Its publication will be announced shortly via the Forum - and it will be available on the Training Materials section of this website.

Bob Pirie

Sunday 26th February 2012

After yesterday's moist weather, today was a day of elusive thermals, both in the air and on the ground. Unseasonably warm temperatures (13 degrees C) meant that thermals were no longer needed on the legs, and T-shirts only necessary on the torsos, but high pressure ensured that thermals were pretty rare in the air as well.

Nonetheless, a good deal of flying was achieved, as Richard Williamson's photos illustrate.

Don flew a number of launch failures with Richard, whilst David Jesty gently encouraged his charges to land in the postage stamp of the airfield that wasn't peat bog. With virtually nil wind and stable conditions the day was a challenge to both winch drivers (Alan B and Nigel W) and solo pilots, with Mike Gadd doing well to achieve 18 minutes in the K-8 and Trevor Taylor managing to remain vertically out of earshot from the airfield for a full 1hr 30 minutes.

Another welcome surprise was the arrival of Henry Ford, a reciprocal member from North Hill, with Andria who unexpectedly experienced the second cable break of the day (to Nigel Williamson's delight, as he lined up the K-8 for a hangar landing approach!)

Andria Manantena, who is a ab-initio from Northill after Henry Ford taught her to drive the quad.
We also managed to fly a one day course, Paul Collings, from Totnes, and a Trial Lesson, Gary Scampton, from Lifton, which again is pretty good for February, a time of year when the financiers don't expect us to be making any income from trial lessons.

Thanks go to Alan Ballard and Nigel Williamson (for their tireless winching), and apologies to Ged Nevisky (for carving up his best efforts at rolling the ground in the vicinity of the launch point).

Martin Cropper

Saturday 25th February 2012

The high pressure and light wind conditions have trapped a layer of very moist air which gave cloudbases varying from 20 to 200 feet with typical Devon drizzle.

So onwards with project “First Impressions” interspersed with some pre bronze lectures.

Was this all today. Well no, at about 3pm the clouds lifted enough for our hardy bunch to take the K13 to the launchpoint and commit aviation. This continued until just after 5pm when the cloudbase suddenly lowered to 200 feet again. Very Well done to spot and use this opportunity to fly.

The day ended with the committee meeting late into the evening.


Thursday 23rd February 2012

Very low cloud, but no drizzle. So this turned out to be a very busy housekeeping day.

The new launch caravan was located at the west end of the airfield. The marketing caravan and Landrover were found a new home out of sight behind the hangar. A trip to the scrapyard generated a little more cash for paint. The paint for the hangar floor arrived, and the hangar is a little closer to clear.

Alan Ballard, our Winchmaster, busied himself setting up our brand new winch parachutes. Richard and Matt created a classroom in the clubhouse for the cadets afternoon session.

Well done to Steve Raine for a convincing pass of the bronze C exam.

Then 18 cadets arrived!! Richard and Matt delivered classroom tuition for the early cadets, while Sean and I looked after the more experienced cadets with briefings on effects of controls, airfield operations and Daily Inspections.


Wednesday 22nd February 2012

Our hopes of sneaking in a few early launches before the rain and gales arrived were shattered when some optimist went and set up the windsock. From that point, everything nose-dived weather-wise.

Undaunted, the determined band of regulars therefore applied themselves to various tasks, and later in the morning most of us reconvened in the clubhouse to discuss some briefing notes I've just drafted (with Don and Dave Jesty's help) covering DGS launch point, winch and ground equipment radio procedures. Clear and reliable radio communications are essential for the safe and efficient operation of any gliding club, and hopefully the end product of this exercise will help us to become more competent - and confident - in the use of radio.

In the clubhouse, our Field Treasurers once again found themselves immersed in earnest discussion with Chairman Steve about how to persuade members - and visitors from other clubs - who owe us money to settle their accounts.

Work-wise, Andrew and Phil spent most of the time in the hangar with John Bolt, negotiating the intricacies of the annual inspection of their Astir. Meanwhile Alan Holland engaged in some self-imposed penance for all the fun he had in the Zug last Sunday, by attempting a very fiddly repair to that glider's trimmer cable.

Outdoors, the only signs of life were occasional glimpses through the murk of Ged in the tractor, rolling the airfield.

A small but significant achievement today was when, with the help of a shoehorn, some Vaseline and words of encouragement from our lofty Chairman, the similarly lofty Steve Raine was eventually persuaded that he could actually fit into the cockpit of the K8.

Bob Pirie

Sunday 19th February 2012

Sunday turned out to be a fantastic day of gliding with a total of 49 launches.

We had a Fresh North Westerly Wind which meant we were launching to the West. But this didn't just mean it was circuits for everyone
Let's go!
Jacob Knight made a bold attempt to get his bronze leg. Unfortunately, he missed the target by just two minutes, which makes this his fourth 28 minute flight - I'm sure he'll get there eventually. Allan Holland took the award for the longest flight in the Zugvogel with a flight of just under an hour. I launched just after him and could not keep up.

Shrek and David Jesty prepare to 'commit aviation' on Sunday afternoon.  If only that street to the left was reachable..!
There was a good show of students and instructors so everyone was kept busy.

Don Puttock and Leith Whittington's reaction on being told that Alan Cater had offered to buy the beers at the end of the day's flying!
All in all it was a great days gliding, and look forward to more of the same.

Matthew Mackay

Saturday 19th February 2012

As I sat contemplating today’s blog, a couple of statistics interested me. Firstly, this is the 400th blog post and secondly, there have been approximately 35000 page views. So, thanks to all the contributors and readers.

The forecast today was for a cold front arriving about midday bringing rain and gusty winds. In the event the front arrived at 10:30am while we were halfway down the runway towing the K13 out for the first launch. A nifty about turn saw us return to the hangar before we got really wet.

So, on with the other tasks of the day. Matthew Wiles once again showed off his welding skills by repairing one of the vertical rollers on the Guslaunch winch. Remarkable skills, learned at school apparently.
When I said "loving your work Matt", this is not what I meant
On the aircraft front. Alan Carter covered and painted the first couple of coats on the Pirat wing centre section. Martin Smith sorted out the wear and tear on G-DBVB’s undercarriage and John Bolt completed the ARC renewal on Bob and Ged’s Open Cirrus.

John relaxing after his day's work 
Martin, Sandra and Karon then disappeared off to Perranporth to collect the final donations from the defunct Cornish Gliding Club, namely two caravans. One is intended as additional crew accommodation at the launch point and the other has a loftier future as a potential marketing tool.

With Spring definitely on the way ( lighter evenings, snow drops in the hedgerows, busy songbirds in the gardens), the weather MUST improve soon ( mustn't it?).


Wednesday 15th February 2012

Today it was 'blowing a hooley" from the northwest when everyone arrived, so after a course inspection and the now-traditional firing-up of the woodburner, it was back to the clubhouse for a chat about the objectives and content of our recently introduced standardisation sessions for Brentor pilots. Copies of the BGA's most recent Safe Winch Launching leaflet were handed round and we nattered about these, before fellow instructor, Dave Jesty, and I headed into the wilderness to re-assess the weather as well as surface conditions at the east end of the field.

Reluctantly, we made the decision to make phone calls cancelling trial lessons. Meanwhile for club members - all present being solo pilots - it was a case of dual flying only and honing skills at tackling a strong cross wind and an unforgiving wind gradient. Launching took place from the south side of the field near the corner of the stub runway, with all but a couple of landings taking place on the stub itself, which was into wind and mercifully mud-free.

A welcome visitor late in the day was my old Mosquito syndicate partner, Jeff Taberham, who now keeps the glider at North Hill. A DGS member in the mid-eighties - and claiming still to be a life member of our club - he clearly enjoyed chatting about the good old days over a cuppa with Chairman Steve Lewis (who needed thawing out after spending time attending to a technical problem with the winch).

Thanks to everyone who turned up, and especially to Phil Hardwick followed by John Howe for giving us excellent launches on a challenging day.

Bob Pirie

Sunday 12th February 2012

Weather forecasts had said it was going to be the same as Saturday, with low cloud clearing by mid-morning and staying clear until sunset. Unluckily for the motley assortment of pilots at the club, it wasn't to be. Low cloud, mist and some crosswind dampened spirits until someone pointed out a tiny patch of blue several miles away. Optimistic to a man, we changed ends to take advantage of the touch of west in an otherwise northerly wind and settled down to wait it out.

The gliders look ready to go - where is the break in the weather? 
Tall stories about playing in the orographic with hang-gliders (centred around Father and Son Green) and Shrek telling Roger Appleboom and I about Polish news' ability to kill mice took us close to midday, when David Jesty and Leith Whittington decided to launch in BVB 'to have a go.' Three minutes later, they were back on the ground and saying they could have stayed on the cable longer than they thought - the clouds were there, but it was the fresh crosswind that was the issue.

On this, a full flying programme began as usual, being careful to stay well upwind of the airfield. As Martin Cropper and David took pre-solos up, winch and retrieve were operated by Alan Ballard and Nigel Williamson and the K8 was occasionally seen on circuits, the visibility began to improve.

Still unhappy with the circumstances, Leith said of his flights that 'they weren't all that bad, but I like a horizon from time to time...' Leith - don't complain too much, you got flight of the day at 5 minutes with Martin in BVB. John 'Ray Mears' Ashby, not content to go inside and be warm, launched aircraft wearing a hat that looked remarkably like an Artic Fox had been curling itself around his head, although on closer inspection no animals were harmed in keeping John's head warm that day.

Flying continued as normal throughout the day, except when John decided that falling backwards into a tyre was a good idea. As it was, it clouded in again very quickly as the last flights of the day were going up, calling a stop to flying before 1700. Aircraft washed, David's brand new car washed and 27 launches counted, the day ended in the clubhouse with a fire on.

The cloud returned at the end of the day.
A good day's flying out of what could have been a hangar and clubhouse day, thanks to all.

Joseph Morel

If you are wondering - Joseph is one of our junior pilots and a very keen member.

Saturday 11th February 2012

Very similar weather to Wednesday i.e. blue sky, cold, light easterly wind with a single wave bar sitting 3 miles upwind over the western flanks of the higher moorland.

After changing winches to use the recently repaired GusLaunch ( thanks Ged ) a full flying program commenced with Scratch Hitchins and Mike Jardine taking in turns to fly the 2 seater from the rear seat to keep their friends and family privileges.

Mike and Scratch took in turns flying each other around in the K13.
Air ex instructor Sean Parramore was kept busy with the 4 morning flights with Steve Wright, todays One Day Course student. Steve’s course was completed with 4 more flights, this time with Ged, today’s supervising instructor.
One day course student Steve Wright with Instructor Sean.
Meanwhile, Martin was working away on the Pirat, adjusting the airbrakes and replacing the fabric cover on the wing centre section. Sandra prepared the clubhouse for the evenings committee meeting and Chris hung the Cornish Gliding Club sign in the hangar as a mark of respect and thanks for their donations to us.


Thursday 9th February 2012

Freezing to start and then the sun came out.

Richard Williamson sat the Bronze C exam to see what he needed to brush up on. He passed with flying colours. I am taking side bets now;  will Richard overtake Dad Nigel and get to that Bronze C first?

Welcome to the 18 Kelly College CCF cadets. Thanks for pressing on with operation “first impressions” with such enthusiasm. Cadets rotated through volunteering activities, team building exercises and practical simulator training, under the watchful eye of commanding officer Dominic Tomalin.

Richard Williamson and I looked after the classroom stuff (nearest to the fire!) Richard is a civilian instructor with the ATC. Meanwhile Karon Matten, Jacob Knight and Robin Wilson led the volunteering groups---thanks everyone for making this a great day.

The west face of the workshop is now clear of gorse brambles and rubbish and ready for a jet wash and paint, a cupboard full of tins of paint has been shifted from its old home in the hangar to the Portacabin and ready for sorting good from paint paint stock, the scrap metal trailer is loaded for another trip to the scrap metal yard, and a bonfire has removed the chopped down gorse. Good job guys---soon we wont recognise the place.

Half term next week and then we all start flying.


Wednesday 8th February 2012

Light NE wind, blue sky and very cold again. The wind strength seemed to be too light to set up wave?

There was a cap cloud over the moor and a single long white cloud sitting across the wind over the edge of the higher moor about 4 miles upwind. This was possibly a hydraulic jump – single wave with no downwind resonance. In the event even the Jantar did not have the performance to reach it to find out.

Instructors Don and David were kept busy with check flights, pre-solo training and cable breaks.

A Day in February
The solo pilots made valiant efforts to soar in the somewhat bubbly air ( possibly thermal / ridge mixed with some wave effects). The average seemed to be about 10 minutes or so with the exception of Trevor. Using his superior skill in our superior aircraft ( SZD Jantar 1 ) he wafted around the local area for well in excess of 30 minutes until one too many errors brought him back to circuit height.

Trevor in the Jantar 1 on approach
On the ground Ged spent several hours repairing the diesel engine in the Guslaunch winch which is now fully serviceable again. Thanks Ged.


Sunday 5th February 2012

A hardy bunch turned up this morning and set to work moving the winch and launch point before I arrived, G-DBVB was out and the drill for the day was to take off from where we landed, this saves time and further churning of the airfield (The south side was firmer, so we stayed on that side).

Even launching from opposite the stub we managed 1,000ft launches. Martin Cropper did a trial lesson Mike Keller did some solos, and I put several folks including Martha and Shrek through their paces.

Alan and Nigel had both winches running (we used the ML, only one cable break all day) and Alan was spotted eyeing up the winch from Perranporth (Boys and toys).

A good day, thanks to all.

Martin Smith

Sunday 5th February 2012 - David Jesty and Don' s Away Day

David Jesty and I attended the regional CFI's meeting at Yeovilton, after some interesting and informative presentations we had our £1.86 brunch.

Business completed early enough for David and I to accept Darren Smith's invitation to fly. 20 minutes later David found himself being the first DGS pilot to take advantage of the reciprocal arrangements---an aerotow in a Puchacz to 4000ft behind a Rotax Falke, followed by every conceivable type of spin entry with the Yeovilton CFI.

We left the happy bunch with invitations to return soon.


Saturday 4th February 2012 – The Perranporth Job

Since Christmas I have been in contact with John Shaw ex CFI of the sadly now defunct Cornish Gliding Club with a view to transfer their remaining assets to DGS.

Today was the planned day to go to Perranporth to collect our new equipment, so it was with a heady mixture of excitement, and a not a little sadness at the final passing of the Cornish club, that I met tow car drivers Bob Jones and Martin Smith at Brentor. Martin made quite an entrance as he slid a full 10 meters past the airfield gate on the overnight snow which had turned the airfield into a Christmas scene. As we headed west to Cornwall the snow turned to rain which got heavier and heavier as the day progressed.

Getting ready in the snow.
We were met at the hangar on the Perranporth airfield by John Shaw and his wife, representing the local club, Sandra Buttery, Alan Carter, Karon and Chris Matten from DGS (our labourers for the day) and a little later by Ged Nevisky who turned up with a very big articulated low loader with one biggest Hiab cranes I have ever seen.

The day was filled with dismantling and sorting out equipment, de-rigging gliders and loading trailers, pumping up tyres and loading the lorry. There was a very welcome break when Karon and Sandra returned with delicious Cornish pasties and lashings of hot coffee.

The convoy on it's way home
Eventually, the work was done and we headed off towards Brentor in what had almost become a monsoon. Martin took one of the trailers and gliders to the off airfield storage rented for the purpose while the other glider, winch, Landrover and the rest of the equipment were delivered to our home airfield.

Off loading in the rain.
Thanks everyone for their efforts and many thanks to John on behalf the the Cornish Gliding Club for helping to make this happen.


Saturday 4th February 2012

The day started with a few chores and a little disaster management.

The axle was re-attached to the trailer, the first cabinet was taken out of the hangar and re-located in the winch and engineering portacabin, Dave Parker fixed the plumbing that had blown apart after the freezing. A quick check confirmed it was now lunchtime and still raining.

The teach-ins included spins and spiral dive recoveries on the simulator followed by MacCready ( speed to fly theory ) and a flight around the set task on the simulator.

Matt completed with a racing finish at ground level and 1/2 knot short of VNE---somehow the wings remained attached as he pulled serious g after passing the finish line.

Then just like Christmas, our new toys arrived with a tired and wet crew.


Friday 3rd February 2012 Club Annual Dinner

As we entered the bar at the Blacksmiths Arms in Lamerton, we were welcomed by a huge roaring log fire and friendly staff.

After tasting a few of their finest ales we made our way to our seats in the dining room, admiring the array of mystery raffle prizes on the way.The meal was excellent and the wine was flowing (sorry Martin, for splattering your shirt when I knocked over a glass!).

During some thankfully brief speeches Steve Lewis thanked Mike Keller for arranging the evening and we all agreed he did a good job and chose an excellent venue. Don Puttock then gave his presentation. He reminisced about the amazing flypast of the Lancaster at our Open Day last year. Don then presented the Spitfire Trophy for the best achievement last year to Nigel Williamson.

Don presents Nigel with his trophy
The Clubs' tea swindle has made an enormous difference to the social side of the club and provides funds for projects around the clubhouse and airfield. This has been made possible through the efforts of Pauline Puttock to whom I presented a beautiful white orchid in recognition of her work.

Pauline looks happy with her orchid.
The highlight of the evening was the fun-filled raffle with Chris Matten winning the booby prize of a stalk of Brussels sprouts and Mike Keller picking the star prize of a tin of Quality Street. Thank you to all who generously bought tickets and entered into the spirit of things. The evening raised £45 for the Clubs' project fund.
Does Chris know what to do with his stalk of sprouts?


Thursday 2nd February 2012

It must be cold because the water is frozen in the pipes and there is ice on the inside of the windows.

The Kelly College cadets continued with "operation first impressions", and now one cabinet is ready to be shifted to its new home in the portacabin.

Gorse and wood clearance has created a reasonable size bonfire, which I have been told I should leave to those that know what they are doing--- last time I had to call the fire brigade.

Meanwhile in the warmth of the club room the cadets all learned about spinning and spiral dives. After a few less conventional attempts at recovery, they all got it bang on, so well done.


Wednesday 1st February 2012

Blue sky with a bitingly cold wind from the northeast. Would there be wave today. It wouldn’t dare as Wednesday instructor is away in Portugal at the moment.

Richard Williamson , one of our younger pilots, spent some of his day trying out a new camera and long lens. I think his photos speak for themselves.

(to replay slideshow click date bottom left - to view in browser click the arrow )

Plenty of members at the club today kept instructors Don and David busy. the solo pilots gave both the K8 and Zugvogel a good workout. Every inch of the local area was explored as our pilots searched for the illusive wave but, despite all sorts "it almost” worked stories, they had to put up with extended circuits. Good effort – better luck next time.

Continuing my review of glider pilots headwear, I captured this photo of new club secretary Sandra Buttery sporting a faux fur hat. A puzzling choice for someone who was an animal welfare officer in her previous career?
Sandra sporting the winning hat.