Wednesday 29th August 2012

Dartmoor shrouded by low cloud... the Open Day decorations looking bedraggled... the trout stream past the hangar in full flood... and just five of us (Steves Lewis and Raine, John Bolt, Andrew Beaumont and yours truly) poised to exploit the clearance which only showed signs of arriving as we headed home. (Or to be more accurate scoffing our sandwiches, emptying our flasks, playing the simulator, exchanging 'war stories' and setting the world to rights - until we were in danger of boring each other to death.)

As ever, this latest 'wet Wednesday' provided another opportunity to spend time with good friends and fellow-enthusiasts. But when is it all going to stop and enable us to indulge in some decent soaring?

Rumour has it the coming weekend from Friday onwards looks promising. Otherwise, you'll be pleased to hear that I'm off abroad again next Thursday, so the weather is bound to improve then.

Looking forward to seeing those of you who can make it on Saturday.

Bob Pirie

Tuesday 28th August 2012

While the poorer members were hard at work some of us rich layabouts with lots of time on our hands went off to do gliding.

We arrived at the club, sort of late because we had been shopping for bubbly, to find Gareth and Tracey busy kicking Leith, Steve, Vic and Richard into shape in order to make the most of what promised to be a good flying day but nobody can drive the winch..   I'll get the SF out ... whoops, looks like I'm the winch driver.  Oh well, grumpy as usual, resigning myself to my fate, got the winch ready and two gliders were towed to the far end.

After a dozen or so launches the cross wind strengthened as forecast and our new friends from Lasham continued experiencing the joys of flying in the good old, ever-increasing, Brentor crosswind, our airfield's only got one runway. However, they did make good use of the stub which provided decent into wind
approaches and allowed the glider to land away from those waiting for a launch.

We had another visitor, Jim, who just wanted to see what goes on and found himself strapped into a waiting glider quite a few £s lighter but committed to 3 month's membership.  Martin Broadway arrived and later, kindly rescued me from the winch so I could fly a K13, matching Vic's soaring flight of 9 minutes but because he had a passenger and that made it harder, he should take the credit for longest flight.  If I'd had the SF rigged I would have got 1/2 hour...ish.

We actually had a great day ending with a presentation to Gareth and Tracey Bird for their really kind help this last week which went some small way to show our appreciation.  Come back soon, please.


Sunday 26th August 2012

After a leisurely breakfast at the Castle Inn at Lydford, Alan and I made our way to the Airfield to see what the day would bring. A south westerly wind, but mostly dry. At least it was flyable.

Early visitors at the launch point
It was not long before the first visitors arrived. Some had bought tickets yesterday and some had come out today to buy tickets at the Open Day prices.

The Bocian and two K13's kept Instructors Gareth, Tracey and Martin busy with trial flights most of the day.

Visiting instructors Tracey and Gareth getting acquainted with the Bocian
Kids were kept quiet in the launch point caravan with colouring books while the adults enjoyed their flying, meanwhile, I managed the paperwork, Mike Keller was on the radio, Alan Carter operated the winch, followed by Nigel Williamson. Roger Appleboom, Colin Boyd, Richard Williamson and Barry Green looked after the launching and Heather Horswill drove the Retrieve, keeping both cables and visitors coming. Alan Holland later arrived to help ferry passengers. Excellent team work for which we were all rewarded with a few short flights at the end of the day.

Visiting Gyrocopter
Highlight of the day was the arrival of Simon Evans from Bolt Head Airfield in his factory built Gyrocopter. A nice looking and interesting aircraft needing only 5m landing run and 50m take off and not at all noisy. He had planned to fly in yesterday at the Open Day, but again the low cloud forced him to cancel.

All in all, another fun day at Brentor!

Sandra Buttery

Saturday 25th August 2012 - Open Day

Not to be thwarted by the impending gloomy weather prediction, preparation for the Open Day was well under way on the Friday. Come Saturday morning , as predicted the weather was not looking good. A wet westerly wind on a already soggy airfield did not bode well for flying.

This did not deter a large number of visitors spending the day with us and taking up the offer of reduced price flights to be flown another day.

Static Displays included club aircraft
And an impressive array of model aircraft
Bob Pirie took the first flight with Sean Parramore taking the second, pulling off at 400 feet as he reached cloud base. So, flying suspended we concentrated on what was happening around the Club House.

The Deputy Mayor of West Devon Borough Council. Councillor William Cann OBE and his wife, Mrs Christine Cann arrived and was greeted by Club Secretary Sandra Buttery and Committee Member Martin Smith who gave them an informative tour of the Club.

Would-be pilots of all ages tried their hand at flying the simulators at the gliding club open day. Here Freddie Fricker (10) prepares for take-off, supervised by Nigel Williamson (right) who built the machine. Looking on are Councillor William Cann and Mrs Christine Cann (left), with Sandra Buttery, Dartmoor Gliding Society secretary and organiser of the open day.
Inside the Club House it was warm and cheerful with stalls, simulator flying, refreshments, competitions and lots of gliding information. In the hangar we welcomed the Tavistock Modellers Club with a fascinating line up of model fixed wing aircraft, helicopters and of course, a motor glider. Nigel Williamson set up his K6 simulator and on show was the stripped ex Perranporth K13 giving a fascinating insight to how a wooden glider is built.

Meanwhile Draw ticket sales and Flight sales were in full swing before we all walked up to he airfield to watch the Sea King helicopter from RMB Chivenor do a spectacular flypast. Unfortunately, as the cloudbase did not move higher than 400 feet, the Spitfire was unable to attend. The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight were most apologetic and promised to attend another time.

RAF Sea King from 22 Squadron Chivenor 

Everyone came back to the Club House where the Draw took place with Club Member Mike Keller winning first prize – a flight in a motor glider with Ian Mitchell. “This will help towards my Bronze cross country endorsement” he said, with a smile.

Lots of visitors stayed for another cup of tea before journeying home, saying they had a very pleasant day while Members put the gliders away in the hangar. A few members stayed for a beer and to reflect on the days' events.

All in all, a successful day despite the good old Dartmoor weather.

Sandra Buttery

Wednesday 23rd August 2012

Today's weather was full of promise (i.e. a westerly wind straight down the runway... sunny periods... and some well-defined cloud streets), but soaring-wise it turned out to be a non-event.

When I arrived, the stalwarts of the Wednesday morning early shift were already well stuck in to essential tasks like getting the kit out and the fence down and cramming scrapped launching cable into oil drums. But the first priority was to load the Pirat wings loaded onto the trailer, ready for Mike Jardine to take with him to Severn Valley Sailplanes en route to a business meeting in Gloucestershire later in the day

Meanwhile out on the airfield a diesel engineer was just packing away his magic wand after breathing new life into the ML winch to finish the repairs started by David Bourchier and Alan Holland who made as special trip to the airfield on Sunday to make sure the winch was ready for use. So after 'test-flying' each drum with the help of BVB, I got stuck into instructional flying with pre- and post-solo pilots as well as with Charlie, a Bronze C pilot from Southdown Gliding Club, whose recent experience has involved fibreglass gliders and aero towing.

Lasped glider pilot Philip who enjoyed a trial lesson with us with Mike Gadd in the Open Cirrus
Mike Gadd used today to acquaint himself with flying the Open Cirrus at Brentor. Mike has recently bought a share in this aircraft and today was the first time that he has flown it at our home airfield after a bit of time flying it at Aston Down doing a type conversion.

Instructor Steve getting ready to fly our visitors

Today the healthy turnout of hard-core of members present was almost matched by the number of visitors booked in for trial lessons, along with their relatives. It is a credit to the whole team - and especially to Steve Lewis who flew with our guests with tireless good humour - that all of them took to the air (in most cases more than once). 

Although initially nervous Sam really enjoyed her air ex flights - a special birthday present from her Dad.
When preparing these blogs, I always try to acknowledge the splendid efforts which our members put into keeping the grass roots of our activities thriving, but today it is difficult to single anyone out, because everyone played a 'blinder'.So thank you and well done to everyone.

However, I am sure no one will object if I do mention Mike Jardine for the way he stepped up to the plate to get the Pirat wings delivered, and to Sandra Buttery (assisted by “old grumpy), for the outstanding amount of imagination and effort they are putting into preparations for the Open Day.To quote two examples: take a look at the small exhibition of our activities and equipment. the clubhouse is also VERY clean and tidy.

New Launch hut colour scheme is well underway.
If you haven't been to the launch point control caravan recently, be prepared to be dazzled . Heather Horswell, Don Puttock and Roger Applebloom have completely painted the inside, and the outside paint job is well underway. Rumour is the Heather would not go home on Sunday until the inside was completely finished. Many thanks one and all.

The freshly painted and tidied launch hut interior - thanks Heather
The foundations are set. Now it is up to all of us to turn up and give our full support to the Open Day an important - and fun - event.

Bob Pirie

Saturday 18th August 2012

As I approached the airfield I was singing one of my favourite Dire Straits songs “ Brothers-in-arms” at the top of my voice.
These mist covered mountains
Are a home now for me
But my home is the lowlands
And always will be”

And what prompted this sudden artistic outburst? You guessed it the airfield was shrouded in fog. ( The BBC weather girl had suggested a little mist ). Well I couldn’t see the mist through the fog.

The usual suspects were in attendance. Rick Wiles was working on the winches and cables assisted by Chris Matten. Matthew Wiles and myself spent several hours completing the grass cutting.

CFI Don, gave a lecture about Navigation and charts to the assembled low hours / trainee pilots. ( This was probably prompted by the fact that we needed GPS to find the edges of the airfield ).

By mid afternoon the sky had cleared enough for a few training flights including some Bronze flying test cable breaks for Will.

Good weather soon please !!!


Wednesday 15th August 2012

Arriving at the airfield in some of the heaviest rain I have ever seen, I was delighted to discover a new trout stream. Moments later my delight turn to alarm as the new trout stream turned out to be the airfield entrance. Too wet to fly then.

There were several of the Wednesday stalwarts present, all keen to get on with some work. As the rain eased, farmer Phil organised the small tractor and mower which was then driven by me and later Andrew Beaumont. We managed to mow the whole of the South side of the airfield and expect to do the north side at the weekend or next Wednesday at the latest. Phil then organised a crew to cut up and collect the old launch cable laying on the airfield.

As the rain subsided, the southerly wind increased in strength to something over gale force 9, 40knots or so and very gusty. The only advantage to this was the speed at which the airfield was drying out, In fact, by the time we left just after 6pm the trout stream had completely disappeared.

During the late afternoon we had a visit from 2 very large families ( 13 children in total ) who were holidaying close by and really wanted to see what gliding is all about. The memory of Andrew demonstrating the simulator completely surround by excited children will stay with me for a long time.


Saturday 11th August 2012

The weather looked really exciting. Blue sky, strong easterly winds. Must be a wave day. A look at the local atmospheric soundings threw some doubt on this.

Plenty of members were in attendance, and the club was ready to fly nice and early. So what happened.

The first flight confirmed my doubts. A lot of rotor and the gusty 15 knots at the ground was more like 30 knots at 1200 feet with very strong rotor but no wave.  DGS pilots are used to these conditions and they all got themselves airborne to try their luck. There were lots of valiant attempts but nobody contacted the wave. Best flight was by Alan Holland who sustained in the rotor for 45 minutes before he could stand it no more and came back to mother earth.

Unfortunately the conditions meant that we had to cancel our full air ex programme today. Flying in rotor would not be the best introduction to our sport.

CFI Don test flys the Bocian before putting the instructors through their paces
The Bocian was put online today and the instructors took the opportunity to convert to this aircraft, initially flying with CFI Don and then later with each other. We ended up with Bob,Sean and myself all fully checked out and ready to conduct lessons in this aircraft as required. While the conditions were challenging, the Bocian proved itself more than capable. It was relatively easy to maintain control in the worst of the rotor and the approach was easily handled. There are differences and club members will need conversion training but I am sure this will add to the fun. After getting the instructors going in the Bocian, Don spent lots of time with Roger Green on his Basic Instructor pre-course work up.

Club Secretary Sandra tried out the Bocian with instructor Bob Pirie 
Particular thanks today must go to Rick for his winching. Given the rough conditions he still managed to supply good launches. Great effort.

The day finished with a beer in the clubhouse while Sandra thoroughly briefed everyone on their roles for the coming Open Day.


Wednesday 8th August 2012

A variation on the theme of grotty weather today with no crosswind (in fact hardly any wind at all) but persistently low cloud, with occasional glimpses of brightness, and frequent bouts or rain and drizzle. No comment is needed about the state of the airfield. Luckily we have a warm and dry simulator, which always helps to get one in a positive mood on such occasions.

Upon opening the hangar doors, we were amazed at the precision and care used to accommodate the Bocian, as well as our other four gliders.

It was flyable - just - with the few members at the launch point kindly allowing three young visitors from Culdrose to at least get a feel for our site via simulated launch failures, early releases due to cloud and a landing on the stub runway. Jake Matthews and Jordan Richards (both 19) and Shaun McBride (18) are all solo glider pilots who have their sights set firmly on Dartmouth and hopefully a seat in the next generation of carrier-borne jets.  Jordon has a Silver C already; Jake is working towards his Bronze and Shaun, having soloed with the Air Cadets, is now close to re-soloing at Culdrose. While on the subject of younger pilots, rumour has it that our own Richard Williamson has been successful in scoring a place on FlyBe's flight training scheme in New Zealand, which is great news. (Well done, Richard, if this is true. How about some info from the horse's mouth on the Forum?)

Our Culdrose visitors
Just as we had decided to throw in the towel when more persistent rain set in, a call came from the 'base team' back at the hangar demanding the return of DMX in order to wash it, de-rig it and put it on the trailer ready for Robin Wilson and Mike Gadd to take it to Dunkeswell for C of A tomorrow morning. (A big 'thank you' especially to these two guys, but also to everyone who resisted excuses not to come to the club and therefore made it all happen.) 

DMX is derigged ready for it's travel
The final challenge of the day was fitting the laden trailer into the hangar, so that Robin and Mike could simply hook up and go.#

DMX on trailer is towed into the hanger
Elsewhere at the Club, Sandra was in overdrive preparing for the Open Day, and Martin Broadway mended a water pipe on the Perranporth winch, from which I infer that the beast is now almost ready to roar.

Bob Pirie

Sunday 5th August 2012 - Publicity Expedition

Five club members arrived at the Halfway House Inn,  Grenofen, with the aim of selling some more raffle tickets,  promote the club and publicise the open day.

There was a lot of passing traffic and a large number of passengers were pointing at us but nobody bought any tickets.  Hopefully some of them checked us out on line when they got home.

The rain which had been falling most of the morning became heavier and more persistent,  Dartmoor disappeared into low cloud and we disappeared into the pub, leaving Jack ( the parrot ) in charge of the caravan.

After a very good Sunday Roast and for me '3 pints' of Cornish Rattler "cider" 'cos it's nowhere near as strong as the real stuff, we went back on duty.  Jack scared the landlord's dog off,  by growling at it.  I had a chat with a very wet biking couple from Sweden who were riding to Spain but they didn't want a ticket either.

No tickets sold, leaflets all over the pub, with a well aired publicity caravan, we went our different ways quite satisfied with the day's effort.


Does anyone want a raffle ticket ?  after all, a free flight in a club aircraft
could be 5 hours in a K8 !!

....... or a Bocian ..... !

Alan Carter

Sunday 5th August 2012

Despite the ominous looking clouds, a few hardy club members arrived bright and early, ready to fly. Under the watchful eye of Gareth Bird, a Full Cat Instructor from Lasham, the field was set up for the south-easterly wind with two K13's ready to fly.

Gareth in BVB ready to fly a visitor
The operation started with DMX flown by Martin Cropper conducting a one day course and BVB took a trial lesson with Gareth after which I had a flight with him. I was excited to get to fly with a different instructor as I always find that I learn something from them. My flight to regain currency with Gareth was no exception - with the rain showers coming and going, we looked at the effect of water on the wings. (Spoiler: the stall speed increases greatly!).

If you've ever wondered what it's like to fly in the rain, this will give you a clue
Following this, I took BVB for a solo flight. Roger Appleboom also managed to get airborne, furthering his experience with the less than favourable conditions.

Less favourable conditions indeed
At about 14:00, the weather took over and it was decided to call it a day. Soggy club members packed up the hangar and had a well deserved cup of tea sat next to the fire before leaving.

Many thanks to Nigel Williamson for winching throughout the day and to visiting instructor Gareth Bird for allowing us to fly this weekend! If you missed him, he will be back over the Open Day/Bank Holiday weekend at the end of the month

Richard Williamson

Saturday 4th August 2012

Despite the continuation of our current run of appalling weather (fierce crosswind, prolonged heavy showers and thus sodden airfield), some clear spells halfway through the day enabled us to complete all the flights needed - although it was a constant battle to prevent the falling cable crossing the downwind fence. But thankfully on the few occasions when attempts at 'laying off' were insufficient, not an angry word was uttered by winch drivers Matt and Will (at least within earshot!).

Today's highlights?

Firstly, that legendary 'full English' for early birds prepared by Rick 'n Matt, followed by the arrival at around 0830 of Lasham instructor Gareth Bird, who had driven all the way down from his home at Farnborough to help us both today and tomorrow. Thank you again for all your help, Gareth, and here's hoping that Tracey's knee recovers sufficiently for her join our instructing team over the Open Day weekend.

One day course candidate Mark Williams with Instructors Gareth ( rear seat ) and Bob 
His first customer was Mark Williams, accompanied by his Mum, who had been given a one-day course as a 22nd birthday present. Mark is a carpenter by trade, so here's hoping that he decides to become involved in the club. Then Gareth and I shared enjoyment of the rather challenging conditions with the handful of ab initio and solo pilots present.

Chris and Ged try out the Bocian for size
Another highlight was the first rigging (at Brentor) of the newly-acquired Bocian two-seater, followed by lots of juggling to get the big bird - as well as our other club gliders - into the hangar. Meanwhile elsewhere in the vicinity of the hangar and clubhouse, hard-working members were busy conducting minor 'same day surgery' on BVB, fettling the ML and ex-Perranporth winches, making the Pirat trailer roadworthy, readying the promotional caravan for an event tomorrow, and carrying out myriad tasks associated with organising the Open Day.

G-DBVB outside the hander receiving some TLC.
Matthew is busy painting the new glider positions on the hangar floor.
Such dedication is admirable and exemplifies the commitment of club members - but it's no substitute for those booming soaring conditions which are so sadly lacking this season. So here's hoping for a change in the weather, if not tomorrow, during the coming week.

Bob Pirie

Wednesday 1st August 2012

Heavy rain, low cloud and a crosswind, which persisted for much of the day, didn't deter a dozen or so of our stalwart members from turning up to find out what the club had to offer or, as it turned out, what they could do for the club.

When not on tea making duties, David kept himself busy in the hangar
As happens on such occasions, there was much drinking of tea and discussion of current topics ranging from club management issues and arrangements for the forthcoming open day, to the appearance in the hangar of a Bocian two-seater glider, which is the latest addition to our training fleet.

The hangar was quite a busy place.
Around mid-day Mike Keller headed home to work on his recently-assumed administration responsibilities for trial lessons, while our field treasurer, Dave Rippon, went off to 'crunch numbers'. But it didn't take an abacus - let alone a pocket calculator - to reveal that several members still owe the club money for flights they have already taken (in some instances ages ago).

Field Treasurer Robin with strimmer and PPE.
For most of the day, when he wasn't fiddling around with some electronic gizmo for his glider, our other field treasurer, Robin Wilson, was to be found braving the appalling weather to strim large areas of grass around the clubhouse and hangar. And I think those of us who are private owners owe him a pint, because he even strimmed around our trailers.

After it stopped raining the members got busy. 
During early pm the sun showed its face for a while and, with the hangar doors open, highlighted the filthy state of our two-seaters, which appeared not to have been washed for ages. So both DMX and BVB were extracted from the hangar and given a very thorough wash - with some technical fine tuning undertaken to the latter supervised by our senior engineer, John Bolt. Also in the hangar was the ex-Perranporth winch, which is the ongoing target of some TLC by some of our dedicated club members.

Mike taking a breather from washing gliders while Steve looks on (supervises?).
I won't list everyone's names, but conclude by saying that it was encouraging on such a foul day to see such a dedicated group of members demonstrating commitment to the club - and having fun in the process.

Bob Pirie