Saturday 29th December 2012

The weather is still wet. The usual story of high winds, frequent showers and a saturated runway continues although the forecast is suggesting high pressure conditions from next Wednesday. Readers who have been following my recent fascination with the Met Office warning colour scheme may be interested to know that for Monday in the Highlands of Scotland there is a “Yellow Warning for Snow”. I think we all know that you shouldn’t eat yellow snow. Perhaps their system needs a rethink.

Work on the Guslaunch winch continues even in these poor conditions. By bringing out the two Landrovers, the team can just about create enough space in the front of the hangar to give themselves workspace out of the rain. It is still windy, wet and cold though. I am sure we all owe them our thanks.

In the clubhouse, Will Wilson was preparing for his Navigation and Field Landing exercises planned for next Wednesday using the motorglider at Shenington ( weather permitting ) to complete his Cross Country Endorsement.

The day ended with beer and chat with friends in front of the woodburner.


Sunday 23rd December 2012

Although not 'properly' raining, the field was still awash from the previous days' heavy falls so it was another day for classroom activities. The two 'club one day course' candidates, Sam Deeks and Robin Wilson were the only students to venture out.

Martin Cropper gave Sam some simulator instruction whilst I covered MacCready and speed to fly principles with Robin. We also touched on task-setting techniques.

Robin raised a question about thermalling techniques which was the cue to start a rather inappropriate (for this time of year) briefing on thermals and thermalling.

And before Sam could escape he had a briefing on circuit planning.

Would be so nice to put some of this into practice soon!

David Jesty

Saturday 22nd December 2012

Another Amber Alert from the Met Office. Heavy rain, flooding, low cloud and fog. Great.

The DGS trout stream in  full flow.
So while we weren’t flying Ged and Rick worked away at fitting the new radiator to the Guslaunch winch. Thanks chaps, I know that the conditions you were working in were really poor; cold and wet.

The cold and wet conditions managed to give Ged an "etherial glow"
Meanwhile. CFI Don, instructor David Jesty and myself set about putting the world to rights in front of the roaring log burner. After threatening to correct all the text books on the dynamics of winch launching we went on to brainstorm possible costs and benefits surrounding replacing winch equipment.

The only flying today was me in the simulator, practicing my ridge racing skills. 68km flown in 33 minutes i.e. average speed 101.2 knots. So the challenge is on; beat that if you can.


Wednesday 19th December 2012

When I heard that the weather forecast was giving an amber alert, I should have been suitably concerned. Instead, the only thing I could think about was Red Dwarf and the need to change the light bulb to have any colour alert other than blue. Does the Met Office have a supply of different colour bulbs? Perhaps I need to get out more; I certainly need to fly more.

After last night’s torrential rain the airfield was too wet to stand on let alone fly from. Instructor Bob Pirie was standing by in North Devon just in case we could find a way to fly. But with the strengthening wind, frequent showers and lowering cloudbase his services were not needed. Thanks anyway Bob.

The view from the hangar by early afternoon says it all 
We welcomed visitor Michael Langdon-Howe, who was originally booked in for a One Day course today. While the members got on with a little work, wood chopping, scrap metal removal and refurbishment of the “old” quad bike, I introduced Michael to the club facilities, the aircraft and an in depth discussion about gliding followed by a “flying controls” lesson using the simulator. He will return on a better day to complete his course.

Steve looks very please with his early christmas present
There is one piece of news that we seemed to have overlooked. Steve Raine has joined Mike Jardine and Dene “Scratch” Hitchin in the Astir syndicate. He is very pleased with his purchase and is looking forward to flying it.


Sunday 16th December 2012

You just never know what talent is hidden in the most unlikely places. David and Roger set about breakfast.  Home cured bacon resting on a bed of twice cooked organic mushrooms , with sausages and herbs, Italian tomatoes and fresh duck eggs fried in olive oil. A pot of fresh ground coffee or Early Grey tea and toasted rolls with home made orange marmalade. All of this in front of a roaring logburner. What a way to start the day!

a forbidding sky (and a very wet airfield)
Winds were 230/20 with cumulus building quickly and providing the odd shower.

The new tow out trailer was commissioned under the watchful eye of Colin. David Bourchier arrived and quietly set about more work on the Guslaunch.

Just a few people braved the doubtful weather but enough for training to proceed. They do say “never cancel on a forecast”.

Even this sky wasn't enough to prevent David and Sam committing Aviation
David Parker and  Sam Deeks had an intensive days flying. David mastered launch failures in very tricky crosswind conditions and Sam learnt to fly the winch launch and land while dealing with the same conditions.

Many thanks to our new chairman Martin for patiently sitting it out in the winch, and Roger for providing much needed ground support.

Well done everyone


Saturday 15th December 2012

Forecast winds strong SSW and, although yesterdays continuous rain has passed through with the most recent (endless?) frontal system, showers were in the forecast and could clearly be seen from the airfield.

Initially, the plan was to fly with just one two seater so that Will Wilson could complete his general flying test. However, by the time that Rick and helpers had replaced the ML winch cables with some shiny new ones the weather had put paid to that plan. Better luck next time Will.

Chris Kaminski has been working on the Pirat's instrument panel. This will hopefully bring the end of it's extended period of maintenance a little closer.
Elsewhere, Colin Boyd was busy extending to cable retrieve trailer’s arms to ensure that cables will be laid on the grass either side of the track to reduce cable wear. Chris Kaminski was in the workshop continuing the replacing of the instrument panel on the Pirat. Don was passing on sage advice to those pilots with cross country aspiration, and discussing learning to fly with a couple of visitors.

The day finished in usual style with friendly banter in the clubhouse around the woodburner.


Wednesday 12th December 2012

A bitterly cold day, combined with a biting SE breeze and still-sodden airfield beneath the deceptively crunchy surface deterred all but a small hard-core of solo pilots from venturing up to the club today.

However, those of us who made it basked (?) in a total lack of precipitation, and enjoyed the luxury of operating from the west end of the field, with the clubhouse, wood burner and even unfrozen lavatories within easy reach. What's more, our spirits rose with talk of wave (which sadly never materialised) and the formation of a few embryonic cloud streets hinting at some potentially usable lines of energy.

Bob getting ready to give the K8 a workout.
In order to blow away the cobwebs after three weeks in sunnier climes, I took a couple of launches in the K8, managing firstly 11 minutes, but second time around 25 minutes and a climb to 1700 feet by allowing the K8 to do what it does best, namely turning tightly in well-defined thermals, and bimbling along gently to take advantage of whatever those energy lines had to offer.

K7M G-DBVB almost ready to go
Both the K8 and K7M BVB made several flights; the latter either two-up with Ged Nevisky in the back seat or flown solo, but during mid-afternoon everything went downhill fast. First of all there was a cable break, but then during the winding in of the repaired cable the two cables came together and then there was a massive snarl-up a the winch.  The team battled heroically in arctic conditions to unravel the mess, until - with both cables on their last legs anyway and a delivery of new cables scheduled for later in the day - the decision was made to go to work with the cable cutters. Everyone present on the field got stuck into this operation, cutting the cables into sections, then coiling and stacking them ready for delivery to the scrap yard.

As darkness fell and most members went their separate ways, Steve Lewis remained hunched over the woodburner awaiting the arrival of the promised delivery which finally arrived at 6.45pm.

In contrast to this disappointing ending to the day (which unfortunately meant several people didn't get a flight), we had an unscheduled visit by a very welcome potential new member called Naurooz Ismail, who took a couple of trial lesson flights with Ged. Naurooz, who lives in Fowey, first tried gliding about 40 years ago when, as a member of his school's cadet force, he attended a gliding course at Biggin Hill. He soloed in a Slingsby Sedbergh (T21b) after 17 launches, and then did a further dozen or so solo flights before moving on to other pursuits.

Naurooz waiting for Ged to get ready
Bob Pirie

DGS launches Social Networking

This blog has proved to be very popular ( and long may it last ) - many thanks to all our readers.

To augment this service we have launched a Twitter Account and a Facebook page.


For the uninitiated Twitter is a micro blogging tool which we intend to use to announce breaking news and as an index to changes around our other systems ie. the main website, this blog, the Safety Corner, You Tube, Facebook etc.

The short messages ( called Tweets ) will include a link to the item or change. For example, to follow this blog you could wait until you get a message ( tweet ) on Twitter and just click the link to take you to the full article.

The Dartmoor Gliding Twitter page.
To join in just sign up for a free account ( if you don't already have one ) and "Follow" our page. Your twitter account will show any updates ( Tweets ) from us.


The Dartmoor Gliding Facebook page will show all the articles from this blog , the Safety Corner, and many other gliding / aviation related pictures, videos, and articles.

Dartmoor Gliding Facebook page
To follow the action, if you go to our page and click the "Like" button changes will appear in you own Facebook news stream. Announcement of Facebook updates will, of course, also appear in Twitter

To join in the fun just click the links in the right hand sidebar. You can set up free accounts for both systems from there if you need to, if you already have these accounts you will be taken straight to our pages.


Sunday 9th December 2012

Not an inspiring start with low cloud and drizzle.

Get the fire going and lets talk about Macready, polar curves and speed to fly.

Sam and David tried out the principles on the simulator. We were beginning to wonder if Sam would ever get stick and rudder co-ordination when it was realised the rudder was working in reverse---never mind Sam we live and learn.

We then moved on to centring in thermals and more simulator practice.

Meanwhile Martin and Roger made the launchpoint steps safer with chicken wire, and sent back regular reports---these could be summarised as "its still raining or its about to rain"

Well we enjoyed ourselves anyway, and Roger got his bronze and cross country endorsement paperwork signed up.


Saturday 8th December 2012

A chilly, blue sky day with a very light northerly breeze promised very smooth conditions and no real prospect of much soaring. Ideal conditions to perfect / demonstrate classic circuits.

Originally, I thought today would be a game of two halves. As it turned out it was a game in 4 parts, so that spoiled that train of thought. Literary greatness is sometimes not easy.

Getting ready for a trial flight as the family look on
Part 1 was the flying. We welcomed a visitor and her family for a trial flight. Tony returned to complete his one day course. Victor continued his lessons. Several other pilots kept their currency up to date. The highlight was the arrival of club secretary Sandra bearing seasonal mulled wine ( non alcoholic of course ) and mince pies.

Vic and Don were not about to miss the festive cheer even if they were flying
Part 2 was the installation of the “new” engine in the Guslaunch winch. The heavy lifting was supplied by our neighbour and one of the club’s founder members, Mike Stacey, who turned up with a suitable machine from his son’s farm which borders the airfield. By the end of the day the engine had been connected and started. Several jobs remain but this was a big step forward.

Mike Stacey ( driving the Manitu ) carefully lowers the engine.
The smile of winch master Rick says it all. 
Part 3. The Twin Astir syndicate returned with their newly repaired fuselage ( undercarriage damage ), and a small army of willing helpers reassembled the aircraft and put it back in it’s “T” hanger ready for some better conditions.

Part 4. While all this was going on the committee held a meeting in the club house. Even this did not produce enough hot air to produce a thermal.

The Epilogue ( or is that part 5 ). The day finished in the clubhouse with a can of beer and some friendly chat in front of a roaring log burner.


Wednesday 5th December 2012

Blue sky, very cold and the wind was strong northerly.

We welcomed several crew members from HMS Vengeance who had arrived for a days adventure training. Unfortunately, the airfield was just too wet after the torrential rain of yesterday and the cross wind was out of limits for Air Experience flying. Better luck next time.

Work on the replacement engine for the Guslaunch winch seems to be nearing completion. The final bits and pieces were finished ahead of it’s planned installation in the winch Saturday next.

Two Davids, torque wrench and engine
As the weather was conducive to a walk in the open air, the assembled members search the fields both sides of the runway looking for “lost” strops. A couple of strops were found and will be return to flight status shortly.
Strop hunting party in playful mood.
The lunch break was a very convivial affair with members airing their views on an eclectic mix of subjects.

DGS debating society.
Lets hope the field dries out soon.


Sunday 2nd December 2012 – Mike and Roger at Shenington

After helping to organise a recent trip to Shenington for my cross endorsement which was subsequently cancelled due to bad weather, then missing what was rescheduled for the following week (last week) with Steve Raine and David Rippon, I was delighted to get an email from Don on Friday to let me know he was planning a trip up there for Sunday. So I re-organised a few things and after getting the 214, 215 and NOTAMS, I headed up there first thing Sunday morning to meet Don and Roger Appleboom.

Getting the T61 ready on a very frosty morning
An early start was planned to be well ahead of the approaching warm front forecast, so I left at 6am to get to Shenington at 09:45, just in time to see Roger depart on his flight in the T61 Venture with Don on a cold but still and beautiful winter day. So time to drink tea and chat with some friendly local flying enthusiasts, to get some local info on the site, then a final check on the weather and NOTAMS.

Two hours later a grinning Roger and Don landed.

So it was my turn then, here goes, let’s see how much all the reading and studying of charts, air law, compass, field selection etc. had sunk in. I had had mixed feelings, of a little nervousness, (mostly associated with my own confidence to make good judgements), and excitement to go and play with a motor glider with someone I like flying with! Once re-fuelled, strapped in and taxiing however, all I felt was focused and excitement, I had been really looking forward to this.

 Mike ( left hand seat ) and Don ready to go
Don takes care of the take-off and landing, but once in the air I had control, so after a few turns building altitude to about 2500 feet  QHN, I turned to 090 and set off on my planned 100km triangle. The first thing I noticed was how well a 1:500,000 chart actually works at a height of about 2000. Loving maps as I do, particularly Ordinance Survey, I had been concerned that an air-chart would not show what I wanted it to. But in the air I found that the chart really did provide me with what I needed to know, whilst I could then get on with enjoying the view and flying the motor glider.

In a short time my first turn point of Silverstone circuit came into view, and although I knew it was Silverstone, Don needed me to prove it to him by identifying other marks on the chart with what I can see on the ground, the gliders track/ heading, all compared with my own expectations. So off to my next turn point and once Don was happy that I could actually navigate, we decided to fly off-track to find some fields to play with.
Can I find somewhere down there to land?
After some confusion in my head over the wind direction, and a demo from Don, I would select a field; lose more height, still happy? yes, ok, then get into circuit and focus on putting it down safely. When the point is reached on finals when you both know that the landing is going to work, the brakes are put away, and the engine powered back up to climb out for another go somewhere else.

Once we were both happy with my attempts Don then took back control, and we headed back to Shenington to land for a civilised lunch perfectly prepared by Roger – thanks Roger!

1.5 hours airtime, flying a chosen course in a motor glider that was nice to fly, followed by some field landing
practice – what fun – I really enjoyed it and have decided to make it an annual thing, and I now feel more confident about heading off away from the club which I hope to do next year.

Shenington GC are a friendly bunch, I like the site and hope to return again soon

Roger and I passed and lots of thanks to Don Puttock for his time and efforts to do this for us, he seems to enjoy it as much as we do!

Now all I need is the illusive 2 hour soaring flight to complete my XCE. I’ve had 1.5, 1.45 and 1.50 this summer all short of what I needed. Winter wave, spring thermal and currency should sort that out.

My advice to anyone wanting to do this, is lots of preparation – but mostly enjoy it, whether you pass or not, it’s good fun.

Mike Gadd

Sunday 2nd December 2012

The Club One Day Courses continued, this week with Leith and Jacob in the frame.

The ever-lowering cloudbase and imminent rain meant it was a day to stoke-up the log burner and take on some classroom work.

With help from Martin Cropper, topics covered included understanding air charts, navigation and macro/micro weather systems. And the simulator was used for, amongst various tasks, some aero-tow training.

David watching the simulator action - spinning in this case
A useful day.  

David Jesty

Saturday 1st December 2012

A crisp clear start to the day, with a light NW breeze, promised some flying.

The gliders were out and ready in good time after Vic had ensured that the members were up-to-date with the routine glider maintenance tasks. The airfield is still surprisingly wet even though we have had several dry days.

We welcomed Bob Kendrick to the airfield for his One Day Course. After an introduction to gliding on the simulator it was off to sample the delights of flying in the real world. By the end of the day he was making good progress in controlling the Bocian and the coordination of his turns was really improving.

One Day course candidate Bob ( flying with me in the Bocian) in what was the last of the afternoon sun. 
Members were keen to maintain their currency even though all the flights were circuits. This is a good plan, next time might be a wave day; too late to discover that your currency has lapsed. As the afternoon progressed the flying was eventually stopped as showers pushed through the area.

The work on the “new” Guslaunch winch engine continues. Today the usual suspects were joined by Tony Pugh who drilled the new hole in the bell housing casting to permit the filling of the fluid flywheel after it is fitted. Thanks again everyone.

A nice day


Thursday 29th November 2012 – David and Steve go to Shenington

Steve Raine and I collected Don and drove to Shenington on Wednesday evening to carry out the Navigation and Field Landing Tests for their cross country endorsement on Thursday. After a fitful night we were woken at 7.00am by a bright and breezy Don who was keen to get the necessary Notams and Weather out of the way so the first candidate could be airborne by 9.30.

David, Don and Steve look pleased with themselves
Notams were down loaded only to find that part of our route was restricted due to parachute drops at Little Risington . This necessitated a call to ACT who fortunately confirmed that jumping on Thursday would be confined to nights at Hinton so we were cleared to use the restricted air space. Weather proved less of a problem we all ready knew that after a frosty start, we had a glorious bright morning with light winds from the N,which was confirmed by the aviation weather service.

The aircraft was prepared and ready to go by 0925. The altimeter reset to QNH which by coincidence was 1013 mb which, we felt, was a good omen. I was first to set off in a high state of trepidation. Don flew the take off from Shennington and, at 2000 feet, announced ”. You Have Control”. He then allowed a few local circuits to acclimatise to the area taking in Banbury etc., this also gave time to adjust to the aircraft. Then the dreaded you can set off when you are ready was announced

Scheibe Motorfalke - ready to propel our pilots towards their licences
284 degrees was the required course for the first leg to Bidford. By now I had started to enjoy myself, this was fine until I happily picked up what I decided was a major airfield on route. The stoic examiner then began to question where I thought I was. Confidently I defined my position only to be greeted with a big grin and “ok then”. Doubts crept in and I rapidly had to re-asses the situation only to find there were three airfields in a similar position fortunately a railway line came to my rescue. Eventually we arrived just east of Evesham and 5km north identified Bidford. More questions ensued to ascertain if I really did know where I was, in the end Don asked how I actually knew it was a gliding field. “There is an glider sitting in the middle of it” I replied.

The rest of the nav exercise proceeded satisfactorily except for the trend to drift to the west which meant that we had to fly east above the A40 to reach the N Leach turn point. Don then declared himself satisfied with the navigation. The field selection and landing approach tests were then carried out successfully. We finally arrived back at Shennington ready for Steve at 11.30.

Why does Don look worried?
Steve left at 12.00 round the same course with very similar results. It was interesting that both of us drifted to the right on the southerly leg. Whilst Steve did not have the same problem finding Bidford he was further right at the A40 and arrived at an Island further west and then re assessed his position to fly east along the A40 to arrive at the N Leach turn point.

Once again Don declared himself satisfied and Steve followed a similar activity in field selection and field approach. Finally Steve landed at 14.00 with a big happy grin all over his face. We all returned to the clubhouse for tea and medals

We had both passed and were very grateful to Don for the  instruction / examination and for the much needed bacon and egg sandwich after which we duly all climbed into the car to head south west again.

Trundling home, two certainly elated but very tired candidates.

David Rippon