Dartmoor Gliding News – Sunday 29th December 2013

Take two middle-aged professionals, one a retired Doctor, the other a serving naval officer, and ask them to get the winch ready for launching - you’d think that not too hard a task for them (to get right), wouldn’t you?

For example, you wouldn’t expect them to upend the bulk diesel tank just in order to fill a jerry can, would you?  Particularly when there was every possibility of there being enough fuel in the winch tank already?  And you wouldn’t expect them to chortle away that they were getting every drop out of what had been delivered, even if it did look a ‘bit iffy’, and then upend that jerry can full into the winch tank, would you?  
No, you wouldn’t.  But, armed with in excess of 30 years combined membership, that is exactly what they did.

An hour later, the completely predictable result occurred as Darren Wills converted the K-8 into the full climb when the winch engine gave a cough, a large cloud of white smoke emanated from the exhaust, and it died.  Who said you can’t have a launch failure due to fuel starvation..! (Fuel contamination more like...)

Thus what should have been the start to a very promising day, with bright sunshine and a light southerly raising the prospect of fourteen year old Andrew Swann being able to make his first solo, turned into a very slow and embarrassing beginning.

Fortunately, and thanks to the many hours of work put in by Rick Wiles and his industrious team, the Guslaunch, newly re-engined, was – as of yesterday - available as an alternative and, after 45 minutes or so of totally harmonious teamwork, was in place and ready to launch.

Andrew waiting in the K13
Thus, a simulated launch failure later (satisfactory), and only 3 hours after the first launch of the day, Andrew Swann did eventually manage to ascend into the heavens on his own, just 5 months and 61 launches after joining the club.  Well done, Andrew.

CFI Don Puttock congratulates 14 year old Andrew on his first solo
With the indications of a warm front approaching from the SW, that left a reducing ‘window of opportunity’ for the remaining club members to fly; however, thanks to Bob Pirie’s organisational skills, and alternating between K-13 and K-8, Martin Broadway, Roger Applecore, Tony Dean, Roger Green and Robin Wilson all managed to fly, however by 4 o’clock the front had manifested itself in the form of rain and it was time to head for the hangar and clubhouse to celebrate Andrew’s achievement. 

Wings make good umbrellas too 
 Sunday night saw a return to the gale force conditions that prevailed before Christmas, and with no relent in prospect between now and the New Year sadly the club flying day on Wednesday being organised by Bob will not be taking place.  Which makes our thanks to him, for getting us all ‘through the list’ today, and to Rick Wiles for having the Guslaunch back up and running, all the more pertinent - and the red-faces of two middle-aged, so called, professionals, all the redder.

Winch drivers view as the next rain storm arrives
But nothing should be allowed to detract from Andrew Swann’s achievement today – a very positive outcome that reflects his commitment, and that of driver/helper/coach Grandad Mike, to make a very uplifting end to the flying year.

Andrew and Granddad Mike
Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News – Saturday 28th December 2013

With the forecast for light southerly winds and showers a flying day looked possible. After the recent “monsoon” style rain the airfield was very wet but with care and a single K13 it would be possible.

It was decided to test out the GusLaunch winch after it’s recent engine change. Instructor Ged Nevisky took the first launch and was whisked smoothly up to 1200 feet, not bad for a nil wind day. The winch gave faultless launches throughout the day and now only needs minor adjustments to the brakes and throttle linkage to return to regular use which will release the ML winch for some much needed TLC and new cables.

 The flying conditions were simply inspiring. After endless flying days with strong blustery crosswinds, it was refreshing to launch into a still sky, the air was smooth; even at launch heights the winds were light; the visibility was was good; every shower passed us by either to the north or south. Apart for a little reduced sink there was no soaring to be had but, on a day like this, that did not seem to matter. It was nice to take a smooth launch ( thanks to the GusLaunch ) and then gently float back down.

Mike Gadd with his nephew jacob.
We had several visitors to share the day with. Local pilot Mike Gadd arrived with his Australian nephew, Jacob French, and proceeded to exercise his newly awarded Friends and Family privileges. Well done Mike.

Julie was initially a little nervous ( my entry into this winter's silly hat contest probably didn't help ) but was soon enjoying herself trying out the controls
Lapsed glider pilot Bob Vincent was soon back into the swing flying his second circuit unaided.  
Lapsed glider pilot Bob Vincent arrived with Julie Smith. They both enjoyed their flights and will hopefully be back for more soon. Our last visitor of the day was 10 year old Alyesha Cawse who flew with Ged. She enjoyed her flights so much that after we had returned to the clubhouse she proceeded to fly the simulator.

Alyesha wait for a launch with Instructor Ged
The simulator also attracted Jacob French who spent more than half an hour practicing control coordination and soaring in ridge and thermal lift.

Alyesha concentrating on flying the simulator 
A great day.


Dartmoor Gliding News – Sunday 22nd December 2013

On checking my emails first thing this morning there were 5 weather warnings from the Met Office, and a reminder from Amazon that Christmas is coming.  What to view first?  Well, the Met Office warnings all seemed to ‘bracket’ today, as did the weatherman on the radio, so it was off to the club without more ado, where the talk was all about the wind being predicted to be 270 at 40 knots, and therefore that Cox Tor would definitely be working.

Sunrise over the trailer park
 Well, perhaps not all the talk, and thankfully a lashing of rain did give the Sunday Soarers sufficient time to enjoy their quails’ eggs, salmon and scrambled ducks’ eggs at a gentlemanly pace before being compelled to open the hangar doors, for what was certainly going to be the last flying day before Christmas.

Breakfast of Quails eggs, Smoked Salmon and Scrambled duck eggs, c/w toast and marmalade
A quick planting, Amundsen like, of the windsock showed that Cox Tor definitely would not be on, (sighs of relief all round) but that aviation certainly would be, albeit with a 90 degree southerly crosswind.  With Dave Parker and Roger App.store taking the fight to the heavens, we got off to some ‘cracking’ 1,500ft launches, however the intervention of an ‘isolated’ shower, as illustrated, put a stop to proceedings for a period.

It was a day of Isolated...
... Showers
That didn’t deter Leith Whittington from getting airborne nor, after another shower, Andrew Swann, who was given a ‘master class’ flight by Allan Holland, that terminated in a hangar landing where the wheel (without a brake) stopped just prior to the track.

Back Seat Rider Andrew Swann about to be launched with P1 Allan Holland
A high wind day where it was possible to ‘moonwalk’ a glider, Michael Jackson like, backwards over the airfield before ‘breaking’ into circuit, one had to be alert to the strong crosswind, and approaching squally showers, but it was a well worthwhile being there.

Safety Note: Do not, whoever you are*, turn up at the airfield at this time of year with anything less than vast amounts of windproof clothing and waterproof footwear (*may include nuts, and CFIs – or is that vice versa?)

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News - Saturday 21st December 2013

The monsoon style rain this week has left the airfield ( and everywhere else ) WET. The water was running down the track continuing it’s work creating it’s own canyon in the middle of the track. Today’s forecast threatened increasingly gusty winds, low cloud and more rain. In fact the rain held off.

The airfield trout stream
Given the forecast and the proximity to Christmas it was not surprising that the airfield was quiet. Rick was doing some preventative maintenance on the generators and tidying the Guslaunch spares in the hangar. Chris and Karon arrived to remove the K10 trailer to a local engineer who is going to build a new chassis with all new draw bar and suspension parts and then refit the old trailers top half. There are probably several trailers that could use this treatment.

"We count them out..." One of our trailers is missing. No the K10 trailer is away for some much needed TLC
Mid afternoon the committee assembled to hold their final meeting of the year. Minutes from this will be available soon.

The committee in action

Dartmoor Gliding News - Wednesday 16th December 2013

I'm seldom the first one through the gate, but when I drew up in the lane at around 10.15 this morning, the weather was true to forecast (i.e. a gale blowing and rain lashing down). The gate was securely padlocked and not surprisingly there was not a single member - let alone a sheep or a cow - in sight.

So the first task was to wrestle with various half-remembered padlock codes, with rain pouring down my neck and fast-moving run-off from the airfield sloshing over my boots.

Having gained access, I fired up the log burner and before long John Bolt, Steve Lewis and John Howe trickled in, followed a little later by Colin Boyd, brandishing a smart new instrument panel which he'd fabricated for the refurbished K7M. Such delicate craftsmanship contrasts with the brute force and skill with a chainsaw which he has exerted in recent weeks, while 'derigging' the fallen beech tree.

The woodburner was put to good use. (Stoker Bob Pirie)
The final arrival was Jorg Beasley, responding to recent urging to 'get to the club early - and get your name on the flying list'. But with 'real' flying out of the question today, the best we could deliver were some simulator sessions for John H. and Jorg.

Jorg practicing soaring in the simulator guided by BI Steve
As we fortified ourselves with hot tea and mince pies, John B. and Colin set about inserting instruments into the appropriate orifices in the new panel, and John and Steve formulated a plan for completing the weighing of the Pirat. Once that's been done, it will be time for those eagerly-awaited test flights.

John Bolt with the new rear instrument panel for the "new" K7M
I must say the inside of the clubhouse was looking great following last Sunday's housekeeping efforts by Cap'n Cropper and his crew.  And now it is even more shipshape, with the 'lost property' clothing having been removed and, along with some donated items of warm clothing, delivered by John Howe to a charity for homeless people in Plymouth.

Looking ahead, the weather for this coming weekend looks decidedly 'dodgy' - but we remain ever-hopeful. Also, I am pleased tor report more expressions of interest in New Year's Day flying - but the presence of a second instructor would be useful.

All that remains is to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy, safe and soarable 2014.

Bob Pirie

Dartmoor Gliding News - Sunday 15th December 2013

As glider pilots we're used to taking decisions: will I make it back? What field should I choose? Should I power up through the middle of the thermal or leave room for my fellow plots? So decision making comes relatively easy to us. And so it proved today as early cloud gathered, began to precipitate and then lower until it was almost impossible to see the mould growing on the T-21's trailer!  Yes, based on all available evidence I would say that the best conclusion to arrive at was: no aviation today!

Martin in dusting mode
So the decision for today's team had to be how best to postpone one of Don's lectures? What better, then, at this time of year than a little spring cleaning? With Jerry Wellington making a near perfect impersonation of Freddy Mercury's 'I Want to Break Free' and Roger Apfelsaft and I dusting anything that didn't move we managed to put off the inevitable for a couple of hours.  Ironically, it was Jerry's 'can I do you now, sir?' that evicted Don from the Tech Office and within minutes he was back 'on point' just to the left of the whiteboard.
Freddy Mercury?
 On this occasion, however,  the primary and secondary effects of something or other metamorphosed into an interesting comparison of how much the average person may be expected to spend in obtaining the Licence via BGA or EASA routes.  The future costs would appear to be less under EASA, depending of course on whether you decide to use a motor glider or not, and if you could decide to raise the cloudbase from 500ft below the level of the airfield. Now that kind of decision making ability is one that appeals!

Don manning his much loved whiteboard
Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News - Saturday 14th December 2013

The wind was strong and gusty from SSW. The forecast was for this to increase to gale force with heavy rain. The decision not to fly was easily but reluctantly made.

As usual there was plenty going on. Don delivered a lecture on altimetry. John and Ged weighed the Pirat in preparation to it re-joining the fleet. Mike Ashton arrived with a new canopy cover for the Pirat. Thanks Mike. Rick and Scratch completed the work on the GusLaunch winch. It is now ready for testing with it’s new engine. The only job outstanding seems to be the fitting of heating in the cab.

Mike Ashton with the Pirat and it's new canopy cover
 We welcomed a new member Ray Swinfield to the club. Ray is an experienced pilot and had a good look around and a long chat with CFI Don.

New member Ray Swinfield  welocmed to the club by CFI Don.
Fed up with the weather.


Dartmoor Gliding News - Wednesday 11th December 2013

Apart from a tricky cross wind (which seems to be a regular feature on Wednesdays) - but this time from SSE - the conditions were perfect for spending a day in the winter sunshine with old friends and keeping current.

An interesting looking sky greeted us today
It would have been OK for training, too, but for the fact that it wasn't until the afternoon that our only two ab initio students rolled up - and one of them had such a bad cold that even had he wanted to fly, he would have been hard-pressed to have persuaded an instructor to share the confines of a cockpit with him. (Hope you feel better soon, JR!)

K13 G-DDMX launching again.
The crosswind is evident from the windsock on the left and the fact that the pilot has applied left rudder
Despite being a bit thin on the ground at the start of the day, we managed to get cracking promptly with Ged Nevisky and me operating the two-seaters, and Steve Lewis overseeing things on the ground, while lamenting a worrying lack of candidates for trial lessons (either for real or on the simulator). Apart from ab initio Jorg Beasley , all the other club members who flew were solo pilots either brushing up their skills or simply getting - or staying - current. Because of the conditions, most were happy to swallow their pride and fly dual, but later on a few flew solo in the two seaters.

Another flight on it's way
(The above paragraph stimulates two thoughts: (a) It would appear that our 'order book' for trial lesson and one day course vouchers may be well down on last year - which at this time of year when everyone is scratching round for Christmas present ideas is a bit worrying. In view of this, let's all make a special effort to promote the club and persuade our friends and relatives to give gliding a try in 2014. (b) With the often inclement weather and the particularly challenging nature of our site, I am always impressed by the hard core of solo pilots who are determined to stay current and turn up week after week in order to do so. But as with most gliding clubs, there are still some who, no matter how experienced and competent they believe themselves to be, only occasionally grab what I would suggest is no more than a 'token' flight and remain eternally un-current. Might I suggest that we all make an honest re-assessment of our level of currency, and not 'leave it to chance' until the next wave day or the start of the soaring season.

But back to today...

Phil ready to practice his back seat flying shares a joke with instructor Bob 
With the easterly element to the wind and some well-defined lenticulars developing, there was always the possibility of wave developing, but apart from a few 'whispers' of smooth air and reduced sink, it was mainly a case of abortive searches and 'interesting' approaches. Because of the conditions, the K8 spent most of the day parked securely at the launch point until Alan Holland turned up in the afternoon and contributed to the club's coffers by taking a couple of launches.

In all we clocked up 24 launches plus three cable breaks - the last one coinciding with sunset (as per last week) and thus knocking on the head all further thoughts of flying.

Before I end this report, I should like to thank Dave Rippon and John Howe for delivering some excellent launches, and to congratulate everyone who flew for laying off well for the cross-wind during their launches - without a single cable being dropped across the fence.

At the end of the day the lenticulars were still teasing us.
Finally, yet another vote of thanks to Colin Boyd who, helped by Martin Broadway, spent most of the day converting the fallen beech tree into logs - and ultimately generating cash for he club's 'tea swindle' fund as well as fuel for the log burner.   Never has a club member been more deserving of the accolade: "He's a lumberjack and he's OK!"

Bob Pirie

Dartmoor Gliding News - Sunday 8th December 2013

It was a day when, after a couple of factors intervene to prevent the optimum launch rate, you were eventually grateful to the membership team for putting the trial lessons first and themselves second.  And it’s quite possible for this message to be communicated non-verbally: a rain shower here, an unintended cable break there, and on these short daylight days it’s very easy to lose the time required to fly a relatively modest flying list, let alone great British public, but members of the team seem to realise this without being told.

A not very promising start...’
Thus it was today when, as Roger Applebaron will tell you, the cloudbase at the start was well below the height of a K-8’s average launch.  We did, however, almost get into a groove before our twice postponed trial lesson students Anne Campkin, Mike Peace and son Joe arrived for their trial flights.

...But a burst of light at the finish
By the time these were complete, there was precious little time for anything else; but that’s not to say that Dave Parker, Darren Wills, Andrew Swann and the aforementioned Roger A didn’t fly, but just not very much.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News - Saturday 7th December 2013

The day started with low cloud and drizzle. So hurry up and wait. The time was not wasted however. After getting the gliders out, the Pirat was reassembled and has finally had it’s C of A inspection completed. All that remains is the ARC paperwork to return it to fleet service.

How many glider pilots does it take to assemble a Pirat? That will be 9 then.
Cof A inspection underway
Our One Day Course candidate, Chris Skinner, was given a good introduction to the club and gliding, a controls lesson on the simulator, by which time conditions had improved sufficiently to allow flying to start. By the end of the day Chris's flying was showing real promise.

One Day Course Candidate Chris Skinner
 Mike Jardine and Rick Wiles continued their instructor training throughout the day. The big news today is that John Blaskett has re-soloed. Well done John.

John is congratulated on his solo by CFI Don

The day finished which beer and social chat in front of the roaring log burner.


Dartmoor Gliding News - Wednesday 4th December 2013

Today's low cloud and drizzle cleared through during the late morning, leaving us with a lumpy crosswind from the north and some interesting cloudscapes, which became particularly spectacular as the sun set and misting canopies (coinciding with a cable break) causing us to knock flying on the head for the day.

 We achieved 14 launches.From the outset, may I reiterate my apologies to those who failed to fly today. Also to Steve Raine who, as darkness fell, found himself abandoned at the winch without transport while the rest of us, having put the gliders away in record time, were settling down in front of the log burner.

Mike Gadd in wheel changing mode
The day started productively with early-birds Steve and Dave Rippon braving the weather to prepare the airfield and launching equipment, while the rest of the team got the gliders ready. Mike Gadd very commendably bit the bullet and replaced DMX's main-wheel, which has has a slow puncture for weeks now, while our Fleet Manager Ged Nevisky and Engineer John Bolt repaired DAK's worn tail skid. John also sorted out the sloppy airbrake lock on the K8 and, with John Howe, lubricated that glider's aileron linkages which had become stiff and creaky (rather like the rest of us!).

Camera shy Ged working on the tail skid of DAK
Meanwhile our hard-working Vice Chairman, Colin Boyd, appeared with a trailer-load of sand and gravel which he decanted into 'dumpy bags' ready for a further decanting into the field roller. The latter used to be filled with water, but now leaks. Colin has also 'led the charge' to get the fallen beech tree sawn up, with logs now available in return for donations to the Tea Swindle Fund.

As soon as the weather improved, it was out to the east end launch point with the two-seaters, but conditions were a bit too lively to risk the K8.

During several years at Brentor, in all seasons and weathers, I have heard a lot of discussion about exploiting the short and shallow ridge running along the north side of the airfield and I know a few pilots have used it productively, albeit to a limited extent. However, today it was my turn and during a solo test flight in DMX, having started flying a ridge pattern shortly coming off the launch, I eventually subsided into reliable ridge lift at around 600 feet. Throughout the day several pilots dabbled with this phenomenon, but gradually the wind diminished and for most of the day it was back to normal circuits (with several stub landings adding spice to life).

One Day Course candidate Steve Barr
We had four instructors on the field today (Steve Lewis, Ged, David Jesty and yours truly), several solo pilots and plenty of students; a level of turnout at this damp and frigid time of the year that  says a lot about the levels of commitment and enthusiasm existing within the club. But for the ultimate in enthusiasm, we need look no further than one day course candidate Steve Barr who,. having turned up and participated in ground-based activities on two 'duff' days, actually got airborne several times today as well as working hard on the ground from early morning until sunset.

K13 G-DDMX "laying off" on the wire to compensate for the cross wind fron the right
Today the number of launches was few, but our thanks go to Steve Raine and Phil Hardwick for delivering some splendid ones in tricky crosswind conditions. Not a single cable was dropped across the fence, but it's clear that many pilots still need to brush up their crosswind layoff skills. If in doubt, ask any instructor.

Bob Pirie

Dartmoor Gliding News - Sunday 1st December 2013

Today we were saved by three distinct threats not turning into reality: a. the cloudbase not descending below the tops of the moor, b. spots of moisture not turning into rain and c. the wind not veering to the north-east, as predicted. 

The fact that all three of those threats did not materialise enabled us to get a full day’s training in for those who attended including One Day Course student Liz Howse , a farm vet from Holsworthy, who flew seven times with Don and despite that still had appetite enough to fly the simulator once we had put the gliders to bed.

One Day Course student Liz Howse
It was a good day for maintaining currency since the air was smooth, enabling precise manoeuvring, and it was good to see Mike Keller and Martin Broadway doing just that in our universally popular K-8, along with Sunday regulars Leith Whittington and Roger Bloomingdapple, whilst elegantly ageing rock star Colin Boyd also logged his first flight on that airframe. 

With thanks to Allan Holland and Martin Broadway for their winching, it may have been a grey day, but it was certainly worthwhile.  And, talking about worthwhile, Luke Botham’s flying certainly demonstrated the value in maintaining currency using joystick computer games, but they can’t replace reality in those vital few second before landing when peripheral vision and ground rush is needed.   

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News - Saturday 30th November 2013

Blue sky, frosty start, and winds forecast to be Northerly at maximum of 8 knots. Should be a pleasant training day.

K13 G-DDMX "laying off" into the Northerly crosswind. 
 We welcomed our 4th Scout group of the year. They were treated to a couple of Air Experience flights each and some time on the simulator building towards their Aviation Badge.

Today's visiting Scout group 
Club training continues apace. The most notable today was 14 year old Andrew Swann who is progressing well. His exercises included flight and circuit planning, and flying close to and at the stall. We also welcomed Andrew’s friend, Sam Peck, who was introduced to gliding.

K7M G-DDAK  flaringing before touchdown.
A good day filled with young people.


Dartmoor Gliding News - Wednesday 27th November 2013

After the nice weather last weekend we were hopeful for another good flying day, but this was not to be. The cloudbase never got above about 500 feet all day.

This was particularly frustrating for today’s One Day Course candidate Steve Barr who spent his second day with us when we are not flying. He was entertained to some more simulator flying. I am sure it will happen soon Steve.

Steve Raine is a picture of concentration on his cross country to North Hill
 The simulator was kept busy throughout the day. Steve Raine took advantage of it to fly a cross country from Brentor to North Hill which he completed after a low save on his final glide. I am sure he will be doing this for real next season.

The club was full of members today which meant that lots of jobs got done. About 6 weeks or so ago there was a serious storm which blew a tree over behind the hangar which landed on top of the K8 open trailer. We feared the worst. Today several members armed with chainsaws, ropes, Landrovers and boundless enthusiasm set about cutting up the tree. By the end of the day there was piles of firewood where the tree had been and the K8 trailer had been rescued. It was miraculously unharmed.

The K8 trailer after it had several tons of tree sitting on it for weeks

St. Eutaceous Tavistock
 Elsewhere David Rippon had gone to St Eustacious  church in Tavistock to erect and decorate the gliding club Christmas tree as part of a large display of Christmas trees.. The main baubles were the model K13’s that were assembled a couple weeks ago.

The biggest gaggle of the year. K13's on our Christmas tree


Dartmoor Gliding News - Sunday 24th November 2013

Today was our third Scouts day of the year.  With six members of the 6th Plympton Scout Group due to arrive at 1000 and the forecast predicting a light north-easterly, it was good to see that a strong team, led by Mike Sloggett, had changed ends and were getting the kit ready in good time for the Scouts’ arrival. 

The Plympton Scout group with MArtin Cropper, Rick Wiles and Mike Sloggett
 The first couple of launches, certainly indicated that ‘something’ was about, but whether it was wave, or not, was difficult to tell.  And so as we continued to launch the Scouts, with Robin Wilson winching us up to well over 1300ft, all eyes were on the windsock to see if it would swing to the east.  Which it did, slightly – and off went Roger Appleboom in the K-8 to find – just enough to tickle the vario - but not enough to sustain continued aviation.  Indeed , the longest flight of the day, which was to Jerry Wellington’s credit, was by dint of a weak thermal, yes a thermal in November, which kept him at approximately 1200ft for 26 minutes.  Well done Jerry.

A Plympton Scout with Instructor Mike Sloggett  in the K7M
Another Plympton Scout in the K13 with Martin Cropper
In addition to the Scouts there was a healthy club flying list including Jeff Cragg, Darren Wills, Robin Wilson, Andrew Swann and Scoutmaster Rick Wiles, who managed to get some family and friends time in the back seat.

Martin Cropper presents a well earned Aviation Badge
So whilst the much anticipated wave failed to materialise (despite much willpower being exerted, the wind never really veered far enough from north), as the sun set after 28 launches, the day concluded with some very happy Scouts and a pleasantly satisfied team.

Martin Cropper