Wednesday 30th January 2013

Despite a major flood diversion on my drive from North Cornwall, I managed to get to today's meeting of the 'Wednesday Optimists' and was cheered to find several of the usual gang present, the wood-burner at full blast and Stoker Ged using the circular saw to create a stock of dry firewood. Moreover our spirits were lifted even further by the unveiling and scoffing of a delicious sponge cake created by Mrs Raine in honour of Steve's birthday.

What happened to the candles Steve?
What can one say about the weather, other than 'more of the usual, with the sun shining but a flooded airfield combined with a gale force wind to ensure that the day was 'doubly unflyable'.'  So a pleasant several hours were spent in the clubhouse reminiscing, crystal ball gazing, exchanging tall stories, flight simulating and, following the arrival of Alan Holland, discussing possible ways of resolving the Gus Launch winch's (one of our club's backup winches) engine problem.

The weather must surely improve one of these days and, who knows, wave may soon be upon us. So I again urge those pilots among you who haven't flown since the autumn (or earlier) and are therefore totally out of currency, to come on down as soon as possible and take the necessary steps to become current - and safe to fly.

"Hibernation followed by a hasty check flight does not a current pilot make!"

Bob Pirie

Sunday 27th January 2013

A clear blue sky and bracing westerly wind offered a challenge that couldn’t be resisted by a hardy few eager to remain (or get) current.  But mindful of conditions on the field, only the minimum of movement was made on the ground to avoid damage to the ground and/or aircraft. 

Thus the launch rate was not at the forefront of our minds.  By the time we had got to the launch point some white/grey rapidly forming cumulus gave a hint of convection, just enough to tempt the unwary…Nigel Williamson was not one of these, however, carefully resisting the urge to respond to 5 up on the vario on the diagonal leg (SE corner of the field), and a textbook reaction to a simulated launch failure enabling him to re-
solo in what could best be described as ‘sporting’ conditions.  

Nigel in K13 G-DDMX
David Jesty also took the opportunity to restore his currency, winning the flight of the day award with a duration of 9 minutes, deftly achieved by maintaining straight and level flight in the narrow ribbons of rising air, rather than attempt the 360 which would a. have put you instantly in 4kt sink air and b. placed somewhere over the Tavy valley on completion of the circle.

Roger Appleboom also took advantage of the wind to practice his 60kt two-thirds airbrake approaches – none of that ‘shallowing approach – put the airbrakes away ’ stuff for him! 

On completion of which we gave DMX a good wash down, which was surprisingly easy with a. water in the tap and b. mud on the glider that wasn’t c. f-f-freezing.

Martin Cropper

Saturday 26th January 2013 Revisited

Can’t keep a good photo down.

Before flying on Saturday, Winch Master Rick managed to get the ML stuck in the softest spot at the east end of the airfield. Here’s the evidence.

Winch and tractors in a "push me pull you" configuration.

The new DGS car park? No it is the two Landrovers and two tractors used to finally extract the winch.


Saturday 26th January 2013

The morning arrived with a nice looking blue sky. Bit of surprise really, the torrential rain in the early hours had been enough to wake me up. The forecast was for this break in the weather to only last until mid / late afternoon with more showers due and the brisk southerly wind increasing.

While Rick proceeded to get the winch stuck while changing ends ( it took 2 tractors and 2 Landrovers to get it out ), the K13 had a much needed canopy clean and a little fettling.

The main flying event today was Will Wilson completing his General Flying Test with CFI Don Puttock. This means that Will has now completed his Bronze Badge. Well done Will, Cross Country Endorsement next then.

Will looks happy to have completed his Bronze Badge
In the hangar, work on replacing the front skid and main undercarriage unit on K7M-G-DBVB was continued by Colin Boyd and Alan Holland. This now needs an Inspector to approve the work before the skirts are replaced. Rick was working on the Guslaunch winch again. Mike Gadd popped in to pick up a hole saw for the replacement instrument panel that he is putting together for K8 G-DDWG.  

And what did I do. Well I bravely stayed in the warm clubhouse and introduced a visitor to gliding using the simulator after which I set it up to do some spin training with several pilots. Tough work, I know, but someone has to do it.

The day ended with the usual beer and banter in front of the woodburner.


Wednesday 23rd January 2013

Blizzards to the north and east of us... The summit of snow-covered Cox Tor wreathed in cloud - but with a glimmer of brightness along the north face of the Moor...  And even lower and darker cloud glowering at us to the south and west, as if to say: 'If you fink you're 'ard enough - just try me!'

So having 'walked the course' and found a few solid(ish) patches of grass amid the snow and mud at the west end launch point, the handful of us present took up the challenge by firing up the winch and getting K13 DMX on line. With everyone current, abbreviated solo circuits were expected to be the order of the day.

K13 G-DDMX getting ready for another flight
However, our decision to fly was justified, and we achieved launches up to around 1200 ft, and enjoyed stately circuits above the spectacular scenery in some of the smoothest air any of us could remember.

The lowering cloudbase eventually put paid to the fun.
But then the cloud achieved what it had been threatening to do and rolled in to put a stop to our antics. So it was back to the hangar to wash off the kit - then into the clubhouse to bask in front of the woodburner with can of beer in hand. Thanks, by the way, to John Howe for bringing a bulging sack of freshly cut logs, to augment the sodden sticks with which our 'super stoker', Ged Nevisky, had been struggling.

A special mention, too, to Dave Bourchier and our Vice Chairman, Colin Boyd, for slaving away in a cold hangar as they continued with the renovation of K7/13 BVB's skid assembly.

Bob Pirie

Sunday 20th January 2013 - the videos

During his flying on Sunday, whiles practicing with some new video and sound recording kit Sam Deeks produced these 2 videos.

The first shows a lowish cable break with a straight ahead landing flown by instructor Martin Cropper

And the second shows a flight scratching for ridge lift on the north side of the airfield.


Sunday 20th January 2012

With the Met Office predicting an easterly wind at 5 kts with rare sunshine, and the knowledge that Sam Deeks wanted to test his new 'Drift Innovation' HD camera in the air, I had visions of the vario going b-b-b-b-beep from the top of the launch and being able to say (rather patronisingly) on Sam's podcast 'And this is what Dartmoor likes like from 7 - sorry 8 - oh look now it's 9 thousand feet'. So arriving at the airfield to find the wind due north, and the sky completely overcast, soon shattered that illusion.

What the windsock doesn't tell you is the temperature - only those with a perverse desire for hypothermia would have worn less than 4 layers.  The effects of which were confirmed by an inoperable release on DMX due to frozen mud in the mechanism.  Fortunately, Dave Bourchier had a hot air gun in his car and within 5 minutes we had the offending mud thawed out. 

Dave Bourchier and hot air gun sort out the frozen winch hook.
So with the expert guidance of Martin Smith ('You need Tessa tape') Sam got the camera mounted on the fin of the K-13 up at the 'crunchy' launch point.   With the Green Army, the Carters (or should that be the Buttery's?) and Mike Keller on board, plus the added  'tease' of a little 'was it ridge or was it wave' generating extended flight times, there was enough interest at the launch point to keep the cold at bay. 

NIce view of the snow on the top of Dartmoor.
Meanwhile, in the hangar, Martin Smith, Colin Boyd and Dave Bourchier were making progress with the Bocian and K-7M's CofAs, so the initial prospect/disappointment was made up for by people being able to a. stay current and b. getting the airframes ready for the forthcoming season.

Thanks go to Nigel Williamson, who did not fly, for his smooth winching and patient tuition of next generation winch drivers. And thanks must also go Allan Holland, Alan Carter and Dave Bourchier who, at the end of the day, spent an hour removing, cleaning and replacing DMX's frozen tailwheel, and to Sam Deeks for heating water into order to remove frozen mud from the under the wings and tailplane.

Martin Cropper

Saturday 19th January 2013

Most of the snow has thawed and made the journey to the club possible. Wind NE – NNE so possible wave but the big issue is the large areas of very low cloud,

Mike Gadd working on the Open Cirrus
The club sat under the low cloud so on with the ground tasks. The Guslaunch winch radiator was welded in place. The welder today was 17 year old Matthew who was taught to weld  ( very well incidentally ) for a school project. The Open Cirrus syndicate, Ged and Mike worked with inspector John to complete the CofA and ARC renewal on their beautifully presented aircraft.

The Guslaunch rebuild crew, Dave Bouchier, Rick and Matt Wiles
At 2:30 the cloud lifted a little and it was game on. Several check flights and a few solo flights rewarded the pilots for their patience and persistence. There was some signs of wave but the cloudbase remained just too low to allow this to be exploited to any real degree.

BY 4:15 the cloudbase had lowered again and stopped flying for the day. After returning the gliders to the hanger we discovered that the mud had in fact frozen on and removing it was a bit of a challenge. CFI Don was even seen to help with the glider washing. Whatever next!

CFI Don pictured scrubbing the icy mud from the K13  tailplane.

Wednesday 16th January 2013

Even the expectation (and arrival!) of an easterly failed to persuade several members from emerging from hibernation. However, sufficient hardy regulars (plus one day course member Mike Lickfold) did turn up to take advantage of good availability of gliders (K13 and K8), winch and instructors (Ged Nevisky and yours truly), coupled with the ever popular west end launch point (which started with a green surface - but soon revealed itself as a boot-topping swamp beneath this facade).

While two of our two-seaters are off-line for maintenance, it was great to have the recently-fettled DMX back. Meanwhile the ML winch (driven by David Rippon and Steve Raine) was in better form than ever, thanks to the commitment of Dave Bourchier, who had spent the previous day alone on the airfield, servicing its brakes.

Flying-wise, Ged devoted his day to the one day course, while I concentrated on helping to return a few 'recently-dormant pilots' to currency, these being Dave B., Sandra Buttery and Mike Gadd. Meanwhile Dave Rippon and Steve Raine alternated in keeping the K8 busy, and the ever-enthusiastic Phil Hardwick braved the mud in the Astir. The hoped-for soaring conditions didn't materialise, but after my recent 'knee-enforced' layoff, it was great to be back sharing a day in the fresh air with so many enthusiasts keen to fly and to help keep the club running.

At this time of year so many solo pilots lapse into non-currency, then moan when they can't get refresher flights (and clog up the training system) when the better weather arrives. If you risk falling into this category, don't put off the 'evil hour' but get down to the airfield soon - not just for a check flight and 'token' solo circuit, but to get really current and to stay current ready for the arrival of wave and the start of the season.

As ever, there were several members present who opted to stay on the ground freezing their n**s off on the club's behalf, rather than flying, such as John Bolt manning the control tower and flying log, and vice-chairman Colin Boyd and Alan Carter slaving over a cold quad bike rebuild in the back of the hangar.
Thanks, too, to Alan Holland for helping out later in the day with cable retrieve.

Bob Pirie

Sunday 13th January 2013

A welcome break in the weather brightened the spirits of the few who turned up to a still very soggy and boggy airfield today. With a northerly wind that would veer during the day all were hoping for the possibility of some wave flying.

The early signs were good with the first flight of the day in DMX clocking up sixteen minutes so the K8 and the Zugvogel were trundled out in anticipation of epic flying conditions. But alas! As is often the case that was as good as it was going to get. Despite valiant efforts to connect with whatever was up there those two hour cross country endorsement flights never materialized.

Climbing like a homesick angel - K8 G-DDWG takes another launch
That said just getting back into the cockpit and being airborne again after Christmas/work commitments/illness/awful weather [delete where necessary] blew the cobwebs away allowing the pilots to keep current and generally enjoy the thrill of flying.

Looks like there was a bit of mud to wash off at the end of the day.
Sterling work as ever from Phil Hardwick and Roger Green in the winch kept the day flowing while much tinkering [and possibly some industrial language] came from Colin and David in the hanger.

Many thanks for everybody's efforts in what at the moment seems to be a rare flying day at DGS.

Darren Wills

Saturday 12th January 2013

Rain, rain and more rain ( again !! ).

It was very busy in the hangar today with the Bocian de-rigged and it's C of A started. Just some work on the fuselage needed to finish this off. K7M G-DBVB was also derigged ready for some much needed TLC prior to it’s C of A.

In the clubhouse Don was leading some revision subjects for the more experienced pilot.

The forecast for tomorrow is much better.

For those who missed the news on Twitter and Facebook, Sam Deeks has just published his latest podcast, Show #6  "Playing Away From Home".  Click here to have a look (listen?).


Sunday 6th January 2013 - Mendips Expedition

Here are some photos taken during the Mendips Expedition last Sunday by Martin Cropper.

Leith and Don in the Mendips K13

Sam Deeks checking that it is all clear behind  
Leith and Don ready to go

Sam's turn

Wednesday 9th January 2013

The forecast showed an area of settled weather between the seeming endless frontal systems. Interesting. I left home in Plymouth in thick fog. Oh no!. The fog continued all the way through to Tavistock and beyond until the final hill before the club when I burst out into beautiful sunshine. Hurray!!

Steve Raine is ready for his check flight with Ged
It would seem almost rude not to fly on a day like this. Despite the very wet airfield, that is exactly what we did. After a test flight for the newly returned G-DDMX, the hardly few stalwarts were treated to a chance to have a check ride with today’s instructor Ged followed by some solo flying in the K8 G-DDWG.

Robin Wilson waiting in the K8
Although, it was circuits only today, everyone had fun in the beautifully smooth air.

A good day


Sunday 6th January 2013- Mendips Part 2

Sunday's part of the expedition to Halesland saw three intrepid aviators (Leith Whittington, Sam Deeks and Martin Cropper) rendezvous at Okehampton Services at  0730, arriving at Mendip 90 minutes later, just in time to witness the opening of the hangar doors by the home team and Don Puttock and Roger Appleboom, accompanied by the predicted fog/low cloud.

Ready to go
But no need to worry - Leith said it would clear by 0900.  Which it didn't.  By 1030 it was a case of 'pick your window, your launching through it' and we managed to get Martin and Roger away for a couple of short flights before the fingers of cloud reached up the gully to the S of the site and we waited.
Gorillas in the mist ( well Martin, Don and Leith actually )
Until Leith reminded Don that what he really needed was launch failures and it was game on!  Two flights into cloud at 500' and a third where the K-13 weaved its way between the layers up the launch (VFR, officer? Of course - no-one else would be flying in that!) got Leith into the launch failure mindset before it was Sam's turn - who actually managed a little soaring on the ridge/quarry to S of the site before various layers of cloud met in the middle/bottom/top and reluctantly we had to call it a day at 1515. 

A very interesting experience and one which would be well worth repeating - on a no cloud day! 

Thanks go to Barry Hogarth, Patrick Haxell, Jack, Con and all others of the Mendip team for making us so very welcome.

Martin Cropper

Saturday 5th January 2013–The Mendips Expedition

Winds 230/07 with cloudbase around 900ft QFE. Ridges trying to work.

Sean and Don in the Mendips K13
Our last minute expedition an attempt to keep pilots current while DGS field dries out.

Sean, Alan and myself met the Halesland group, and after morning briefing we set about flying. Alan and Sean are now cleared solo and have made some new gliding friends.


And this is how Alan Carter saw the day.

Friday 4th January, Don invited members on a jolly to Halesland, not thinking I could go I sent him an email. No sooner had it gone, the phone rang, Sean offered me a lift, Sandra got home from work and I got my escape chit signed.

At the agreed time on Saturday, 7.30, that other 7.30,  the one in the morning,  the haunt of milkmen, homebound cats, fitness fanatics and idiots, Sean collected me from Exeter and I proceeded to bore him for the hour's drive north.

We arrived at Halesland in good time, followed shortly by Don who had trouble with his sat nav, the Mendips club is very close to his house so he got confused by the persistent cries of "turn round at the earliest opportunity" from the windscreen.

DI's done, briefing finished, the Dartmoor contingent led the way and were thrown into the air by 10.30 only to disappear into cloud at 800 feet QFE. Turn left, fly a short distance and bimble along the ridge in a light 8 knot SE breeze in zero sink with a good 870 feet drop to the south to the Somerset levels.
Site check done.

Now for one of Don's launch failures. I've got 55 knots at 400 feet so decision time,  I'm pointing directly at the winch so no option to land straight ahead, turn left as briefed then find myself heading directly towards a glider only 20 feet lower and 100 yards ahead in circuit. Loads to think about now !! the airfield offers so many options to land, I call out my options but just hang on to see how the other glider goes, trying to keep away and inside of it's turn, no sink, still at 350 feet, oh well just a boring normal landing to the left of the other K13, now on the ground and landed long.

I gave Don the credit for planning this series of traps and challenges on purpose, it was a lot to think about and good fun too. What's more, he actually signed me ok to fly at Halesland.

The K8 flight,  I pulled off,  just in cloud at 700ft, flew towards Axbridge and found 2 knots up at the ridge but couldn't use it because I was at cloud base. I just played around with the ridge lift to get a feel for the site, very pleasant circuit with the challenge of 5 hang gliders sitting at 400 feet at low key, so I hovered above them for a bit, just to annoy them, then turned to fly base leg across a refreshingly flat field that gave the impression of not a lot of height, even at 350 feet. 5 minute circuit from a 700 foot launch, that'll do for a familiarisation flight.

The members at Mendips Gliding Club made us feel really welcome, we mucked in, they were great and I was sad to have to call it a day.

I'm so glad I got up early.


Saturday 5th January 2013

The high pressure continues with the associated low cloud and drizzle. The runway is still very wet and it was decided to let it rest to preserve the surface for the better weather that is surely just around the corner.

K13 G-DDMX being assembled ready for use.
The club was surprisingly busy. The main event was the return of K13 G-DDMX from it’s period of maintenance. So the first job was to get it off it’s trailer and reassemble it ready for use. Other tasks undertaken included more work on the Pirat by Chris Kaminski, a group working on the Gus launch winch, and the committee discussing club business.

At the end of the day a few minutes of fun were had as members tried to remember how all the gliders fit in the hanger.


Wednesday 2nd January 2013

So the new year started with some high pressure weather. Hurray. Well not quite, with the westerly airflow, it has brought low cloud, hill fog and drizzle. Still no flying then.

The usual suspects were at the airfield in spite of the weather. The task at the top of today’s list was to paint the new guard for the Guslaunch winch drum which dutifully received a coat of bright yellow paint thanks to David Rippon and Steve Raine. Once they were in the swing of things with their paint brushes there was no stopping them. After only slight persuasion from Vice Chairman Colin Boyd, the tow out trailer received some bright yellow paint as well.

Vice Chairman Colin applies gentle persuasion to painters David and Steve
Meanwhile David Bourchier and Ged Nevisky replaced the bearings in the front roller assembly on the ML winch which have suffered from the ravages of the weather. The rollers now rotate smoothly once more.


Sunday 30th December 2012

Walked out to start the generator and the light came on. Now that's what I call progress.

Roger decided we needed to see the old year out with a festive breakfast so Smoked Salmon nestled on a bed of delicious scrambled duck egg with freshly ground coffee was produced for the gourmet breakfast.

The field was wet, correction, the field was underwater---so no flying today.

Leith continued his briefings, practiced on the simulator and had a practice run at the old exam---not quite solo, but you can't hold him back.

Darren mastered spin recoveries on the simulator.

A quiet but productive day.

When it came to switch the generator off, the light obligingly came on.