Wednesday 26th September 2012 – The Quincentennial Post

“ Quincentennial” ? yes indeed this is the 500th post to the DGS blog and I thought that we could not let this pass without a little reflection.

The blog has been running for 3 years, has had 500 posts, contains 639 photographs excluding slideshows and has attracted 54,500 page views from no fewer than 10 countries. 

So many thanks to all the members who have contributed posts,  photographs, and information without which there could not be a blog. Most of all many thanks to all our readers who have made all this effort worthwhile.

What about today? Well the forecast occasional shower continued nearly all day and kept us firmly on the ground. The heavy rains over the previous few days had deposited about 2 tons of stone chippings on the hangar apron. The assembled members made light work of getting this all cleared away.

The low cloudbase never really cleared
Meanwhile, Roger continued trimming the oak tree next to the trailer park. I could not resist a quick rendition of the Monty Python “Lumberjack Song” to accompany his efforts.

During a slightly drier spell, Field Manager Phil organised some volunteers to replace the corner post at the top of the track and replace the fencing there.

Phil in wellies on the bonnet of the Landrover hammering in a new post in the rain. That's dedication.
DGS fencing - and not a rapier in sight

A useful days work.


Saturday 22nd September 2012

Blue sky, fresh ESE breeze. Promising start. Will there be wave?

The day got off to a busy start. The winch was moved to the east end, the launchpoint was brought to the west end, gliders out and inspected. K13 G-DDMX was reassembled after it’s exclusion to a local field on Wednesday and off we go.

How many glider pilots does it take to remove a bolt from a trailer? The rigging crew
The first couple of 2 seater flights showed enough promise to send most of the solo pilots to their trailers to rig in anticipation of some good flying. In addition to the club fleet, the launch queue was eventually joined by my Jantar 1, Martin’s ASW20, Mike’s Astir CS, the Green’s Foka 5 and Alan’s SF27a.

The 2 seaters were busy with Mike Sloggett flying all of our many visitors and Ged covering all the rest of the instruction requirements. We welcomed Dave Wallis to the club today who is returning after a break of 10 years or so.

There was weak wave most of the day and this lead to most flights having some soaring, several around the half hour, 5 flights over 1 hour including 1hour 58 minutes by Martin Broadway (ASW20) and 2 hours and 5 minutes by me in the Jantar 1 ( see “How I did it” below ).

The day finished late with a convivial beer and chat in the clubhouse as the sun started to set.

A very good day was had by all.


Saturday 22nd September 2012 – “Soaring the Wave”

The Jantar looked wonderful sat at the launch point with the sun glinting off new canopy. There had been several short soaring flights but nobody had really connected. I was eager to try for myself.

The Jantar 1 waiting at the launchpoint 
So flaps set to negative 1, cable on, take up slack, all out, keep hand on release, got good control of the ailerons, flaps to 0, this beautiful glider wafts up into the air on it’s 19 meter wings, more height and power, let the glider rotate into the full climb, look along the wing to check climb angle, the graceful upward curve of the wing with it’s fin like winglet brings another smile, flaps to full positive, good climb rate , the nose gently pulls down near the top of the launch, the cable back releases at 1150 feet. Good launch.

There are signs of wave lift right off the launch. Flaps to +1. Flying left handed, turn right to track away to the south, the lift continues, reset the flight computer which had shut down during the launch ( wiring fault? ), raise the undercarriage, fly right handed and relax. There is gentle wave lift averaging less than 1 knot. I fly back and forth along the wave bar between the airfield and the eastern outskirts Tavistock which eventually lifts me to 1700 feet at which point the lift seemed to peter out.

Searching around I find a little bubble of lift as I run into a thermal. Steeply banking in the thermal reminds of just how beautifully the Jantar handles. Flaps +1, 45 degrees of bank at 45 knots and the glider flies like it’s on rails. This thermal raises me about 200 feet, until the lift feels different, so I level the wings with the glider tracking south. Another wave bar, stronger this time, the averager is showing 1.8 knots.

While all this has been going on, the club fleet has been launching. There are gliders all over the place. There is a group underneath me trying to use the wave. To the north east of the airfield there is a group of 4 gliders turning steeply in what must be thermals. That looks like hard work.

Eventually this wave bar carries me up to 2700 feet and while exploring the local area looking for more lift I am joined by the club Zugvogel ( must be Alan Holland ) and the ASW20 flown by Martin Broadway. My previous experience of the area leads leads me to suspect that we have been flying in the secondary wave bar. Difficult to be certain as the wave has been moving around all over the place.

So I turn towards the east, flaps to negative 1, 75 knots and a short run into wind brings me into another wave bar ( the primary?) overhead Cox Tor. Slow down. turn right, flaps to positive 2, 40 knots and the Jantar once again climbs at 1.5 knots eventually topping out at 3080 feet on a short beat running from Cox Tor to the Willsworthy ranges.

I spend the next half an hour or so, in the company of the ASW20 flying over and around the increasing amounts of cloud which seemed unrelated to the wave system. They did not give any appreciable lift.

As the flight had progressed, the blue sky had given away to an increasing grey top cover. This must be the start of the change of weather that is forecast for this evening. Visibility is becoming more of an issue, the top cover had cut off the sunshine and I am beginning to feel really cold. Time to go.

Careful hassll checks, flaps to 0, 65 knots, full airbrake, and head towards Mary Tavy to perform a left hand circuit to the north of the airfield. High key is reached at 1700 feet, keeping a very good look out and staying wide to the north to avoid any circuit traffic as the full airbrake let down continues, undercarriage down. low key reached at 650 feet, brakes away, nice position, final turn over the top paddock ( will there be rotor on the approach? ). 60 knots, 3/4 airbrakes, approach looks good, round out to the north side of the launchpoint and wait ( and wait some more ) as the speed decays and I touchdown gently and stop a couple of hundred meters up the runway ( I had forgotten just how far the Jantar goes in the ground effect). Time in the air 2 hours 5 minutes.

The Jantar on final approach.
This flight put a big smile on my face.


Wednesday 19th September 2012

The blue sky and light NW wind looked promising. Was this sent to mock us? We were unsure whether we would be able to fly due to problems reported on both winches from the weekend crew. The Guslaunch has a head gasket fault and requires the ministrations of a diesel fitter who is booked for tomorrow. The ML winch has a somewhat mysterious lack of power particularly at low revs.

However, in true DGS style, most of the Wednesday stalwarts turned up with the intention of getting some of the work done around around the airfield even if they could not fly.

Steve Raine, Robin Wilson and Bob Sansom headed out to the runway to pick up the 3 full lengths of scrap winch cable which have been languishing on the north track for a couple of weeks.

Steve, Robin and Bob - the DGS scrap cable gang.
Roger Applebloom was assisted by myself and John Howe to trim back the branches of one of the oak trees that have grown to overhang the trailer park.

Roger in lumberjack mode.
Ged Nevisky, assisted by Dave Bourchier took a look at the ML winch problem. They cleaned through all of the fuel system and adjusted the throttle linkage. As they could find no further faults, it was decided to try a couple of test launches and by 1.30pm we were ready to go.

Dave and Ged mount a two pronged attack on the ML winch
We flew 2 test launches in the K13 with me as the handling pilot and Ged as observer. The launches went exactly as expected so the winch was signed off as serviceable and went on to perform flawlessly for the rest of the day.

The day was definitely good enough for some local soaring. Ged checked out Trevor in the Twin Astir who then launched again with syndicate partner Robin Wilson to reappeared 1 hour 31 minutes later with big smiles on their faces after the best flight of the day. Everyone flew, some more successfully than others but everyone had fun.

Steve Raine was very keen to record another half hour bronze leg flying the K13 and pushed things a little too far and ended up landing in a field adjacent to the airfield. The field selection was good and Steve landed perfectly safely. Alan Holland, Dave Bourchier and myself spent the next hour and a half retrieving him and the glider.
Steve and K13 safely in his field

K13 on the trailer ready to return to the airfield
The day finished in good spirits in the clubhouse with Steve Raine providing a round of beer as the customary penance for landing out.


Saturday 15th September 2012

The day started out with far more cloud than forecast but that soon cleared sufficiently to start training flights.

New member Tony Pugh made more great progress, culminating in him doing the full launch and landing. Next step: approach control and use of airbrakes?- (Sorry Tony, despite my promise, I forgot to start a progress card for you. I blame that on Ged buying me a beer at the end of flying)

Mike Sloggett kindly helped out with some instructional flights before having to go off to watch Plymouth Argyle lose 1-3 to Port Vale. (Ha! you should have stayed and enjoyed more flying, Mike.)

Whilst Ged was having fun in the Twin Astir and checking-out Malcom to fly it solo, I flew with two returning temporary members, Mike and Terry covering the tricky technique of control coordination.

All was progressing nicely then the winch over-heated. Emulsified oil in the sump confirmed that this was serious so with great regret we had to stop flying and put the toys away. Ged was soon on the phone giving engine serial numbers etc. to an engine magician. Hopefully it will be fixed very soon.

David Jesty

While all the flying was going on the Tour of Britain cycle race passed along the road at the west end of the airfield.

This picture does not really show just how fast racing cyclists are
The overall race winner was local man Jonathan Tiernan-Locke who, like several club members, comes from Plymouth.


Wednesday 12th September 2012

I arrived at the airfield to be greeted by a few of our hardy members plus Jeremy and his wife who had travelled from Yeovil for a one day course, Tony an ex airline pilot who had an air ex flight on Sat. and obviously enjoyed it because he was back for some more and Tim who was on holiday in the south west for a few days. Tim just dropped in on spec. he flew gliders many years ago and now fly's PPL from Anglesey where he lives.

It was 8/8ths cloud cover down to about 500ft, the forecast was to clear later so it was get the kit out change ends and hope for the best. While we were waiting Jeremy had some practise on the simulator. Eventually we started to get some breaks in the cloud so it was off to the launch point to get ready.

The cloud still looked quite low but I decided to try a launch with Tony anyway, expecting to release about 800ft I was most surprised when we dodged the worst of the cloud and ended up at 1300ft, I managed a further 2 flights with Jeremy one to 1400ft and one to 1100ft before we were grounded by a heavy shower and low cloud, we retired to the launch hut to wait for the weather to clear where the main topic was all things aviation from how when landing a 747 the pilot is about 80ft in the air to landing on Anglesey in a cessna with fast jets in the circuit.

After about an hour we decided to try another launch but this time only reached about 900ft, we hung on for a while longer but with more rain and low cloud approaching it was decided to call it a day.

Thanks to all the members for their help you know who you are and to Dave Bouchier and John Bolt who spent the day putting new bearings in the wheel of DMX and trying to fix the starting problem of the Grey Landrover.


Tuesday 11th September 2012 - Andrew's 50 km

Great news. Andrew Beaumont completed his 50 km cross country silver leg in his Astir CS today.
Andrew in the Astir CS with syndicate parter Phil.

Here is what he had to say.

Just to let you know that I completed my 50K silver distance flight, but failing the height gain by a couple of hundred ft for the second time in a fortnight. Flew from Nympsfield to Rivar Hill, some 65K in Ihr 36mins although I messed around for a while even returning to Nympsfield before setting off. 

I became lowish halfway, picked a field before climbing again and then had a good 1000ft gain to 3600ft (QFE) some 15km out and a final glide downwind to finish. Logger says my final glide angle was 46 to 1 so I arrived at about 2400ft QFE. ( Rivar hill being 30ft higher than NYM ) Only one problem was that battery failed half way,and as the electric vario stopped I wasn't so keen to try returning home. Fortunately the logger had new batteries.

It was a good day

David Jesty on the other hand flew upwind to Talgarth to fly the ridges before returning to very generously retreive me. Many thanks to him.



Saturday 8th September 2012

The Indian summer continues. Blue sky, warm and light SE wind. The atmospheric pressure was even higher today which effectively put a lid on thermal production.

A busy day on the airfield with a full member training programme supervised by CFI Don and a One Day Course and several air ex visitors flown by me.

The privately owned Twin Astir made an appearance today and it made several “interesting” approaches and long landing runs as the pilots explored it’s characteristics with no headwind to slow it down. We welcomed new member and experienced pilot Ted who had joined us from the Canterbury Gliding Club in New Zealand.

A pleasant day out with friends.


Wednesday 5th September 2012

Blue sky, warm, wind 8 knots NNE. A tee shirt and shorts sort of day.

Everyone was on parade good and early today. Ends changed. Club gliders out. Private gliders, rigged ( and polished? ). And then wait for the tremendous soaring day that this must be!

Meanwhile, instructor Bob Pirie welcomed and set about integrating our young visitors from Culdrose into the club operation. Instructor Ged Nevisky, freshly returned from his summer holidays, delivered a one day course and I did 3 Air Ex flights.
Our Culdrose visitors injected some youth into the Wednesday crowd
The soaring never really got going. There were a few low, scratching efforts but nothing to write home about. But everyone flew well and coped with the “lively” approach with some style.

Today's launch queue
The club members showed great restraint and patience to overcome the seeming endless winch/cable issues and the even longer launch queue. While all this was going on John Bolt assisted by Dave Bourchier investigated the main wheel issues with DMX and discovered a huge stone jammed in the wheel box and a failed bearing.

Darren demonstrating the art of waiting alongside the immaculately restored K6 FUB
So. Our pleas for an improvement in the weather has been answered. Our new plea is for some good soaring conditions.


Saturday 1st September 2012

The forecast leading up to Saturday was looking very good. The RASP soaring forecast was for strong convection over a long period of the day. Rushing up to the airfield with thoughts of flying the Jantar for 4, 5 maybe 6 hours today I was interested to see that other pilots had got the message and there was a flurry of activity as pilots rigged ( assembled )  their aircraft, and others were rushing about preparing the club and aircraft.

At this point there were a couple of negatives. The weather was not co-operating, the cloud cover was complete ( 8/8 in aviation terms ) and very low. Due to an administrative oversight there was no duty instructor. What to do?

Enter a knight in shining armour in the shape of Wednesday instructor Bob Pirie who very graciously agreed to supervise the airfield which meant reducing his plans to fly solo in his very beautiful ASW20. And suddenly, the weather also started to play ball and within about 15 minutes the cloud cover rolled away. So by 11am it was game on.

There was a lot of visitors to the airfield today. Duty BI Sean was tied up with a One Day Course student so I agreed to help out with the other visitors.

So what happened? Well there was lots of flying activity. The ASW20, Fokka 5, Astir CS and K8 all made valiant soaring efforts. The club 2 seaters including the Bocian were kept busy. The soaring was ultimately a little disappointing. Thermals to 1800 feet interrupted several times by parcels of sea air moving through the area made the day challenging but most pilots including several of the 2 seater flights managed a little soaring. 

Yours truly and 3 of our visitors Megan, Finley and Theo Jenkins share a moment between flights.
And did I fly the Jantar for 5 hours? Well no. I did manage to get the fuselage out of the trailer before commencing 2 seater flying with the visitors. I did 10 flights in the 2 seater with our visitors and the chance to introduce our sport to so many people and practice soaring the difficult conditions all day made today a satisfying second best.