DGS News - Wednesday 29th May 2013

A sunny and very soarable day, with a one-day course, several trial lessons and  a small team of our solo pilots sharing the heavy workload, but at the same time taking the opportunity to enjoy themselves and extend their skills.

Instructor Bob introducing Phil Hardwick to the delights of back seat flying
 The day started around the hangar and clubhouse with Colin Boyd finalising plans to collect the 'new' engine for the Guslaunch winch, and Ged Nevisky and Mike Jardine completing paperwork following their epic 300k and 50k flights. Meanwhile the rest of us got the K-13 and Bocian on-line, while Phil the Farmer and two members of the next generation of Hardwicks, Mark (14) and Nicola (17) changed ends of ground equipment due to to the easterly element in the north wind, and got the ML winch DI’d and ready. Their presence helped to reinforce our club's status as an Accredited Youth Gliding Centre, and Nicola was rewarded later in the day with a flight with Steve Lewis in the Bocian.

One Day Course candidate Terry McAuliffe
The instructing team was kept busy until mid-afternoon, but we were a bit disappointed by the lack of home grown 'trade' (i.e. club members) seeking instruction - not to mention their help in keeping things running smoothly.

Sheila Smith and son in law Mark Pogson both enjoyed Air Experience flights
While Ged and Steve concentrated on delivering a one-day course to ex-power pilot Terry McAuliffe and a stream of trial lessons  in the guise of Geoffrey Roberts, Sheila Smith and her son in law Mark Pogson, I first of all introduced Steve Raine to the front seat delights of the Bocian (in a tricky cross-wind), then gave Phil and Mike Gadd their first taste of the pleasures - and responsibilities - of flying the K-13 from the back seat. Currently, they're two of our most focused solo pilots, and here's hoping they extend their horizons to include a Basic Instructor rating among their goals.

Geoffrey Roberts and family with Ged
During the afternoon a flash of blue overalls heralded the arrival of Alan Holland, who extracted the Zugvogel from the back of the hangar and disappeared into the sky for an hour or so, to be followed - as conditions deteriorated - by John Howe and yours truly.

Is Mike Gadd hiding in the back seat of the K13?
Thanks to John, Phil, Mike and Andrew Beaumont for running an efficient launching operation, although commiserations to Andrew for not getting airborne. (Although one might say: "Serves you and Phil right for parking your glider at t'other place!"

Earlier in this report I mentioned one day course member lapsed power pilot Terry. During the day another ex-power pilot, Roy Young, came along to give us a 'once-over', and from discussions Ged and Steve had with both these gentlemen he will be back for a One Day Course soon. With the cost of power-flying, combined with the closure of Plymouth Airport, hopefully more disillusioned or deprived power pilots will gravitate to Brentor.  "Bring 'em on!", I say.

Bob Pirie

DGS News - Monday 27th May 2013

Forecast was for an occlusion approaching from the west so we got going as swiftly as possible.  The wind was following the isobars up over the hill from the south making a landing on the 'stub' runway look promising.

After a delay caused by broken speaker wire at the winch, Don and Jerry managed to get airborne in the K-13, twice. However the windsock was telling its own story and after a quick dose of C&D (common sense and discretion) we decided to get the glider back to the safety of the hangar. 

Which wasn't all bad - since it enabled us to enjoy Dave Parker's toasted crumpets in the clubhouse and watch Don's latest CD on Met whilst the rain lashed against the windows.

Martin Cropper        

DGS News Sunday 26th May 2013

Safe in the knowledge that Appleboom was away on one of his motor biking jaunts, a not inconsiderable sense of confident satisfaction filled me as I rounded the corner to the club.  Surely 'flight of the day' would be mine today?  The forecast looked good, RASP was encouraging and there was a queue of trial lessons to be flown, and even if these didn't deliver there was the prospect of the Zugvogel - whose lightly loaded big wings were bound to waft me to glory, weren't they?

So, buoyed up by the great news that Ged Nevisky had completed 300kms to Chicklade yesterday, and that Mike Jardine had dropped in on our neighbours at North Hill, we got the launch point set up at the east end, whilst I chuckled silently that victory today would be mine.  Guaranteed. 

But what's this appearing over the hill? Robin Wilson with his (pristine) K-6?  'No, Robin, you'll never make it to North Hill, not with those clouds, just potter about a bit mate.'  And then that sharp white pointy thing - surely it can't be Bob Pirie with his ASW-20?  Robin launches, and promptly shoots up to 4000 feet plus, shortly followed by Bob who disappears in a westerly direction, not to be seen again for 3 hours, during which he rounded most of Devon - twice! 

Well, you can dream - but if people will insist on turning up with their gliders, ready to go - it's back to the Bocian for you, my boy!  Where Henry Flowers was ready to go for his One Day Course, and having been 'encouraged' to learn his pre-flight checks at his last visit (when we were unable to fly) showed us all that he had - CB SIFT CB as well as the final E! At 14 years of age, Henry is shaping up to be a good prospect for solo at 15. 

Dave Parker sizing up the Zugvogel
A target which was not available to Don's squad of Dave Parker and Jerry Wellington when they started to fly.  Dave was converted to the Zugvogel by Don (and his later confession made interesting listening!) whilst Jerry got in valuable crosswind circuit practice as part of his Fixed Price to Solo.

Luke Botham and Mike Keller managed flights in the Bocian before 'previous engagements' called them away, and our trio of trial lessons included Tim Smith, from Plymouth City Council, Justin Nichols, who was visiting from London, and Justin's father-in-law Alan Wright, whose previous flying experience was in Fleet Air Arm Tiger Moths from Roborough.  He proved that he hadn't lost his touch! 

Tim Smith
Justin Nichols
Alan Wright
With Robin's descent from Silver Height (75 ft the right side - now that's worth a small fee to the OO, I would have thought?)  and Bob's return from his milk round it was time to put the gliders away and reflect upon a day - not only of dashed dreams but of many smiling faces as well - and not one of them Appleboom's!

Martin Cropper

DGS News Saturday 25th May 2013

I arrived to find the hangar doors open, gliders being rigged and the cables already out. Well I guess this will be a good day then.

A short time later Scratch arrived with his caravan and Malcolm with his camper van---even more evidence that this will be a good day.

Ged thrust a 300km declaration under my nose and Mike Jardine got clearance to attempt his 50K, Ok I am now convinced it will be a good day.

First launch in the K13 and climb away at 4 knots, followed by Ged in the Open Cirrus, no more evidence required.

Lots going on.

Dave Parker flew some more solos (getting closer to being cleared to fly his nice new K6).

Dave Parker and an anonymous glider trailer. Lurking inside is his new K6 G-CFTB 
Scratch found himself over Meldon Reservoir with me during his launch failure practice!

A phone call later and Steve Raine set off to collect Mike from North Hill,

A long time later Ged reappeared over the horizon to complete his diamond goal flight, and Robin Wilson reviewed his climb from a launch failure to discover he had completed a silver height.

I later heard that Mike Gadd spent the day walking in some woods trying not to look up at the sky.

The day finished with a convivial dinner of aromatic duck washed down with
old speckled hen----perfeck.


DGS News – My 50km flight Mike Jardine.

A check on the Friday RASP and it all looks good for Saturday. North Hill possibly ? An 8.30am start at the airfield , Ged was already preparing for his 300k .

Gliders rigged , a few words with Don , NOTAMS , route etc. and then down to the launch point. Some food and water packed, radio checked  , QFE and QNH pressure settings noted on my map , GPS set for Brentor to give me an idea as to distance away from the launch point . It starts with a good ' Scratch ' launch , find the lift and then soon up to 3,000 feet and heading out for the first 10 miles to Okehampton.

The next hour and 20 minutes spent between Milford reservoir and Lyford Gorge loosing and gaining height. Radio check with Brentor to confirm my position and height 2,600 , keep persevering was the advise from Dave Parker. One more dark cloud to try and I was soon above  3,800 feet and off for Okehampton .Okay look for the best clouds , what looks like the best route from this cloud to the next cloud  , where are their shadows on the ground , head for the nearest.

I made steady progress to Okehampton from cloud to cloud , overhead the town at 3,200 feet. The GPS indicated 10 miles from Brentor , another climb and back up to 3,800 feet. Ok radio check with Brentor , I'm heading now for Crediton , re set the GPS for North hill   , with Map , GPS course and moving from cloud to cloud and keeping to the sunny side which seemed to work for me height was maintained between 3,600 and 4,000 feet. The miles were counting down on the GPS. Having Changed to QNH en route another 800 feet was gained , 4,800 feet and the clouds are now streeting.

2.8 miles to North Hill. What a great looking day.
 At 7 miles from North hill on the GPS , 3,800 feet and there is Dunkeswell and yes now I can see North hill I know I can get there , I can start to relax and enjoy the views. The Exe estuary , Exeter Airport , M5 traffic it looks busy. I arrive North of North hill 3,000 feet back on QFE , plenty of looking out for activity , which way are they launching and landing , which side of the airfield do they use for each , a K21 on a left hand down wind for me to observe. Okay I have the set up now. Time to loose height , no rush still taking in the views , a Radio call to North hill to advise my position and intention.

Finally down to 1000 feet , radio call , downwind left hand to the airfield , then on to the approach and landing some 2 hours 57 minutes after my launch , fantastic , maybe a little slow but so was the tortoise.

North Hill at last - Brilliant
I was given a very warm welcome and lots of assistance from all at North hill much appreciated. A familiar figure of Mark Courtney came across to assist and offer a cup of tea and then sign my paper work.

All in all a very satisfying day , a good learning session and an opportunity to puts lots of advice into practice.

It all came together on the day.

A Final thanks to Steve Raine who came to retrieve me .

Mike Jardine

DGS News - How I didn't do a 300km Fight

About 4 weeks ago while we were reporting on the DGS pilots visit to the Nympsfield Task Week, I mentioned that I would get some pictures and a report on Ged's attempted 300km flight which ended with him in a field in Wales. Well here is how he saw the flight


How I didn't do a 300km Fight - Ged Nevisky

Into the briefing at 10.00am. 2 tasks set a 200km and a 300km both into wales.

All or nothing says I lets go for the 300km Nympsfield-Craven Arms-Carreg Cennen Castle-Nympsfield. The gliders all ready to go so into the launch queue, there are a few delays so don’t get airborne till around 1215.

This photo of Ged in the Open Cirrus was taken on a previous occation at DGS
Top of the launch about 1000ft there’s a K21 thermalling about 1/4 mile away so lets join him, its a good thermal both going up nicely. I leave the thermal about 3000ft and set off on task, GPS dings as I cross the start line and tells me the heading to first turn point 97km away it also says I am 6800ft below the glideslope (a bit to do then).

Sky is looking good and I take some early climbs to top up height and see what the thermals are like, then after about 45 minutes things seem to stop working and I glide for about 15-20 minutes with no lift at all and I am down from 3500ft to less than 1000ft above ground, I have a field all picked out and think that’s it. (I later learn this is the area where Phil Hardwick lands out.) I then I get a sniff of lift and start to climb again although very slowly and decide to move to a better looking cloud close by, that one is much better and I climb quickly to about 2500ft and set off again, things are going much better and I am just short of the turn point at over 4000ft as I round the turn point I see a hang glider about 1000ft above me obviously from The Long Mynd which is about 10k away. I am hopeful at this point as that leg was directly into wind and things should get easier.

GPS switches to next turn point Carreg Cennen Castle north of Swansea over 90km away and over 6000ft below the glide slope. The sky is starting to overdevelop and the climbs are weakening as I work along the track, I can’t see any good clouds ahead and decide to turn left to the only decent looking cloud nearby it seems to be coming off a small ridge right next to Shobden airfield and I am able to slowly climb away but I have to be careful I don’t go into Shobden airspace. I set off again and manage another couple of climbs before everything dies and the sky is completely overcast. I can see the ridges next to Talgarth in the distance which are probably working in the westerly wind but I am too low to reach them. I am now flying down a valley and try to get some lift off some small ridges on the left but nothing seems to be working, oh well have to go and land out, there are some decent fields to my right up sloping and into wind, I didn’t realise how steep the slope was till I was on the final approach, probably about 30deg. good job the glider had a wheel brake as I started to roll backwards after landing.

Open Cirrus in Welsh field - what no sheep? 
Spend the next 4hrs having tea and biscuits with the farmer and his wife as I wait for the retrieve. (It really was in the middle of nowhere thanks Andrew) We just managed to load the glider before it went dark. Got back to Nympsfield 1230.

This picture gives some idea of how steep his field really was.


DGS News Wednesday 22nd May 2013

With an increase in the northerly crosswind and strong thermic conditions forecast, we managed to fit in a trial lesson for Stephen Holley, plus a few solo flights in the Bocian by Mike Jardine, before the order of the day reverted to two-seaters only; always with an instructor in the back, and with rigorous attention to glider parking and ground-handling. The Zugvogel remained safely in the hangar and the only glimpses of privately-owned gliders were when their owners exposed their fuselages to the elements while they fettled instruments, trailers lights etc..

The only ab initio member on the field today was  Roger White (the guy in the vest!)  who, having arrived on his lovingly-restored motorbike, opted not to fly but work with Colin Boyd, first of all setting up the ML winch for the day's flying, and then attempting to breath life (with some success) into the dormant ex- Perranporth winch.

We had a good turnout of experienced pilots, some needing 'refreshing' after long lay-offs (in today's case by me in DMX) or wishing to explore the delights of the Bocian (with Ged).  Having firstly coached current pilots John Howe and Robin Wilson in not only flying safely, but also in exploiting lift in such challenging conditions, it was great to be able to help 'remove the rust' from Jeff Craggs, John  Bolt and John Blaskett.

Unfortunately John Blaskett, at the bottom of the flying list, had his session curtailed when the increasing wind-strength prompted us to call a halt to proceedings, but he has clearly been 're-bitten by the bug'. John Bolt is obviously relishing being 'back in the saddle' with his years of extensive experience starting to come to the fore, and Jeff Craggs achieved the day's longest flight of 44 minutes after many months off the scene. He was in fine form, and his 'commentary and self-criticism'' (heard from the back seat) were as entertaining as ever.

Bob Sansom and John Howe did a great job winch driving, with Jeff and Robin on retrieve; Bob ending the day with an 'exciting' maiden flight in the Bocian with Ged. A major regret was that Mike Keller, who does such a splendid job with trial lesson bookings and manned the tower for most of the day, had to leave before his turn came around - so 'we owe you one' next time, Mike.

Finally, as usual Dave Bourchier seemed to be everywhere - hooking on, retrieving and generally keeping the launch point running.

After an early finish, we reconvened in the clubhouse, where Mike Gadd's evangelising on the joys of the Inter-Club League led to some enthusiastic discussion.

Bob Pirie

Team Dartmoor at the Interclub Competition – Round 1

Well after a week of weather uncertainty, the competition organiser for The Park (Steven Lambourne) , finally decided on Friday to call the first ICL competition of 2013 as ON. As the weekend weather had looked so bad, by Friday I had lost most of my team for the meet, but Ged and I were still up for going, after all it would be poor not showing up after we had been accepted into the ICL this year. I think that if the host organiser calls the event as ON, it is good manners to show up and attend after all the advanced preparation that goes into hosting a meet. So Friday morning Ged and prepared and made our way with the Open Cirrus to meet Darren Wills and Malcolm Roberts (Team Dartmoor crew) at 'The Park' near Mere in Wiltshire. First impressions on the drive up was how big the fields were in that area, and coupled with an early (low height) crop this time of year, landing out options were looking plentiful.

We arrived in plenty of time to rig tents, rig the Cirrus and open a bottle of wine to relax in their fine club house and chat with some of the local pilots before an early night in readiness for a 10am briefing on an ever improving forecast for the following day.

One way of dealing with how to share a shared Glider is to agree weeks in advance of any weather knowledge who will fly on which day - however we had not known this strategy at the time, so even on Sat morning, Ged and I had not really agreed who would fly the shared Open Cirrus and therefore who would be the only entering pilot for this day of the ICL. Well the forecast was looking hopeful enough for a task but not good enough to get too excited, so instead of tossing a coin Ged made the call that I should take the glider that day - which I excepted NERVOUSLY.

Having completed my cross country endorsement early this year, I had only pushed the glider out from the club as far as Roadford and Burrator reservoir. So I have not yet flown a cross country, yet alone a defined task in a competition - so by the time I was sitting at briefing on Sat morning with my chart, and GPS, I was feeling a little apprehensive to say the least. However flying cross country is why I want to fly gliders, and having a competition where the tasks are set for you, and having crew ready to fetch me in case I landed out - there was never a better opportunity to give it a go than at one of these very friendly and brilliantly organised ICL meets. Here we go then, I'm entered into the Novice class of the first comp I have ever flown!

My task was a 91.7km race, with a start line (12km line) from cloudbase over The Park, with a further 3 turn points before HOPEFULLY finishing at The Park.

Start: PRK (The Park)
1. Point: BCA (Bishops Caundle - 27.2km)
1. Point: YEO (Yeovilton Reservoir - 16.1km)
2. Point: PR1 (Park Control Point E - 42.8km)
Finish: PRK (The Park)

A view of Mikes task and his trace
After putting all the points into my PDA (Glider Guider running LK8000), and marking out the task on a chart (in case the PDA failed), we DI'd the glider and waited for my turn to start. It is typical at this comps to let the Pundits go first, then the Intermediates, then finally the Novice (although if a Novice is ready and waiting, like I was, and no other higher classes are ready, then this rule is quite loose . As I am not Aerotow endorsed, Ged, Darren, and Malcolm helped me to the winch launch cue and I was ready to start - now very apprehensive.

After a beautifully smooth (Skylaunch!) winch to 1200ft, I found myself immediately in lift and I started to climb out to 2000ft QNE  - then struggled for a very determined and focused hour to get to cloudbase 5.5nm downwind. My next task was to fly back upwind to the start line to trigger my start, so all I needed to do was fly into the start sector I had programmed into the PDA and radio my start gate to control point. However when I got back into the start sector, my PDA would not trigger my task to start (I am still not not 100% sure why this happened, but I suspect this was incorrect programming of the start sector type when I entered the task on the ground). So I decided to quit the task with the PDA, set the altimeter to QNH, enter the waypoint manually into the PDA and get out the chart (as now I didn't trust the PDA) - and get started on the task. What an amazing feeling this was, I was heading away from the club on a 91km task on my first cross country, and ahead of me was a very promising looking sky! At this point I must also add how important lookout is at any time, let alone at a comp where there were gliders everywhere, and often sharing your Thermal. I didn't want to spend any time messing about with settings on the PDA, and not looking around.

The Open Cirrus rides smoothly up the wire to 1200 feet
After lots of very conservative flying and taking more thermals than I really needed, I finally made the first turn point (BCA) and rounded it (or at least I thought I had!), entered the next waypoint into the PDA, and headed towards my next turn point (YEO), checking the compass to verify what the PDA was telling me. By now the conditions were brilliant, a had just taken a rapid climb (6-8kts) to 4500 QNH (short of cloudbase as I didn't want to enter cloud), and my route to point 2 (YEO) had a great good looking sky. Although I was still high, I decided to head towards good clouds, pulling the stick back in lift and pushing in sink, and I continued this strategy all the way round turn point 2 (YEO), and back along my longest leg of 42km towards point 3. At this point I knew I was at least 42km from home, my PDA was telling me I had 300ft of spare height needed to reach point 3, so bearing in mind that it was very likely that I was going to find more lift, decided to speed up a little and extend my glides between Thermals. During this 42km leg I only stopped twice to circle, the first (2kt) thermal was not really needed and only wasted time, the 2nd was definitely needed as I was down to 2000ft (and starting to check my landing options). This second and final climb was a nice 6kt which elevated me back to 4500ft, within very easy reach of my my final point 3 and my final glide home. So unless I hit some unexpected nasty sink, I knew I was home and dry with 2000ft to spare. (during this last climb a glider arrived below me, but left the climb 2000ft before I did, obviously making the better decision in this case to race back with just enough height ahead of me).

Arriving back at point 3, I had a decision to make, to continue flying along this track for another 8km to get my silver leg of 50km, or head 5.5km back to the club and finish. By this time, I had been flying for 3 hours, the conditions were not good where I needed to go and I needed to relieve myself (after failing with the in flight plumbing), and felt jubilant that I had completed the task and my first cross country, so decided for a lower risk gentle circuit and touch down feeling very pleased with myself. (Silver legs will have to wait).
So after a quick field retrieve (thanks Darren), I had parked the glider and rushed my logger to the control point to officially enter my task into the scores. And now came the shock, as my trace appeared on the screen, I instantly knew what I had done - in all the busyness of getting to point 2, I had flown the wrong side of it, and had therefore missed it by 0.7KM - what an anti-climax! I left the room, went to my tent and decided to make tea. 

After about 15 minutes Darren appeared, and told me that I was within the rules, they would allow my task, but with a penalty of 50 points - so Dartmoor Gliding would score then, excellent!

Whether or not I had made the task, I had the best gliding flight I've ever had, to be out of range of the field and flying cross country is what I set to to do when I decided to fly gliders. I had experience of this in the past in hang gliding, but always downwind dashing, not having the performance to actually fly and navigate a route of turn points over this sort of distance - which is only the start of what is possible with these beautiful flying machines.

I came last (see scores to follow), beaten by better pilots than me, that flew faster than me in Astirs and K6E's - but I don't care - this time!

So let's have a look at the old scoreboard
The next ICL is in 2 weeks in Keevil, unfortunately I can't make this one, but I'm still hoping to put a team together for it - please let me know if you can attend this. And please don't wait for forecasts of perfect conditions before you decide, you can't always read the weather as this weekend has just proved. The conditions at the The Park were excellent from a very dodgy forecast. Also I think it is only good manners when a comp is called as ON by the organisers that know the local conditions well, that we show up and have some fun with our fellow flying friends.

There are always lessons learned, mine this time are:
- Understand start gates, and how to program them into the PDA tactical flight software
- Do always make sure you have a backup if the PDA fails (as I'm glad I did in this case)
- Request that task setters set at least one 50KM leg into the Novice class (for Silver legs)
- Get my in-flight plumbing sorted out

Finally, thanks to Ged to letting me take the glider that day, the conditions turned out better than expected with most pilots making the tasks (Pundit 186km, Intermediate 142km), I'm sure he would taken good advantage of the conditions. Thanks to Darren and Malcolm for crew, and making up Team Dartmoor.

Team Dartmoor. Darren, Mike, Ged and Malcolm
Looking forward to the next one and more flying - this is addictive!

Mike Gadd

DGS News Sunday 19th May 2013

The weather was not as expected, or forecast. However the Sunday Soarers as keen and optimistic as ever, following the now famous breakfast decided to crack on and give things a try.

Ready for a flight with instructor Martin Cropper in The K13 is visitor Liz Jameson
Roger Applebloom rigged his K6, an inspired decision? Well it turned out that his effort was rewarded. He had a number of launches and the honour of longest flight was his, that is becoming a regular thing. Well done Roger.

We had a party of visitors, one of whom was our trial lesson for the day Liz Jameson. She flew in DMX with Martin Cropper and had 2 enjoyable flights. She commented how addictive gliding could be. We would all agree!

Later in the day another group of visitors called in to see us. They were from Halesland, and were returning home having been at Culdrose. It was good to welcome them and share a pot of tea and a few hobnob biscuits with them. Food and refreshment does seem to play an important part in gliding on Sundays.

DGS's newest solo pilot, Dave Parker, eyeing up the Zugvogel already 
I have  finally gone solo today. It seems to have been a long time getting here, well worth the effort though. Three launches and uneventful circuits now in the log. Yet more tea and hobnobs. ( beer to follow)

Thank you all for the constant encouragement, not only the Instructing team but also winching, retrieve, and ground crews. The team work adds to the many delightful facets of this activity.

As the flying day came to an end Mike Gadd returned from the weekends flying at The Park. He was very pleased with the outcome. Looking forward to hearing his comments on the blog also.

Dave Parker

Saturday 18th May 2013

Exciting news – Mike Gadd and Ged Nevisky are taking part in the Interclub League Competition this weekend. Mike flew the Open Cirrus in the Novice class today. He completed the 91km racing task. Excellent. Mike has promised photos and a “How I did” blog early next week. I’m looking forward to that already.

This photo was taken by Mike Gadd while flying the Open Cirrus in the Dartmoor wave.
Photos of his current exploits are promised early next week
The forecast today promised good weather and that is what we got. Lots of sunshine, reasonably warm although the brisk NW breeze kept most people in their fleeces. The soaring forecast looked like this would be the “day of days. In the event the soaring started well but was wiped out by the sea air which somehow managed to arrive just after midday.

Today’s instructor team, Don Puttock, Bob Pirie and myself kept the 2 seaters in the air and working until well into the evening. We have a healthy mix of trainee pilots at the moment who are all making great progress. We are also seeing some of our temporary members returning to start their flying training. Today these included Karl Andrews and Daniel Luke.

Visitor Carol Jones was treated to a soaring flight by CFI Don
Apart from Carol Jones who came for an Air Experience flight we welcomed Mark Briffa who attended for a One Day Course. Mark made good progress in the less that smooth conditions aloft and was managing to fly us around the local area by the end of the day.

One Day Course candidate Mark Briffa and his somewhat camera sky family.

A productive day


DGS News Wednesday 15th May 2013

The Jetstream effect still continues. Low cloud, showers and strong winds all conspired to prevent flying today. In fact, the Jetstream topic is causing so much debate that a Jetstream forecast has been added to the RASP Forecast page of the club website.

We welcomed visitors Terry McCauliffe and Nick Borst-Smith to the club today who had arrived hoping that the weather would clear, but they were disappointed like the rest of us. They did avail themselves of the simulator and will be back soon.

Working on the Bocian

The refurbished undercarriage ( amazing what you can get excited about )
The Bocian undercarriage refurbishment was completed today with the refitting of the frame, wheel and new rubber bands. I know it sounds odd that it has rubber bands in the suspension but these are BIG. They look like the “bungees” that you might be use to hold things to a roof rack but they are thicker than your thumb and it is impossible to stretch them by hand. The Bocian uses 2 loops of these twisted to form 8 strands.

Chris provided this picture of the bungees. He referred to them as "knicker elastic". Now that's a scary thought
The other excitement today was the arrival of club member John Blaskett with his new glider in tow. The DG100 incited quite a lot of interest. We look forward to seeing it flying soon.

New  owner John Blaskett and DG100. The registration is interesting. Did it once belong to a sailor?

DGS News Sunday 12th May 2013

From Country File last Sunday all the way through the week the weather forecast was clear, bright with occasional showers, until today dawned and all known forecasters were predicting 'If you're not wet yet, you soon will be.'  So without warning someone had thrust the Jetstream say down south and allowed a warm front to come down over Wales and West Country which arrived - just in time for us to have the K-13 out on the hangar apron ready for DI!

Warm front anyone?
If anyone you are not sure of what warm sector conditions look like, the photo of the windsock should give you a clue - the moor was visible, as was the church - but only just.  Which was a pity for One Day Course student 15-year old Harry Fowler who, having travelled with his family from Tintagel, ended up giving us a one day course on how to fly the simulator!

Young Harry showing how a simulator should be flown 
Don engaged Sunday Soarers Dave Parker and Jerry Wellington with some useful post event analysis of how not to land your glider using a low, slow downwind final turn (with the assistance of You Tube), which became 'how to navigate your way from Brentor to Roadford Reservoir, (via Shenington and Bidford)', and then morphed into 'the Dartmoor Ridge milk run: Cox Tor to Standon Hill to Whiteways Cross and back via the front of Blackdown' a white knuckle ride coming to a cockpit near you (if you're lucky enough to be at the club in a 20kt westerly).

Jerry and David must be suffering brain fade - they attended the Saturday evening event as well 
But then, just as Don was beginning to get into his stride he was rudely interrupted - by a visitor - from North Hill!  Thankfully the visitor and his partner had arrived by car, not by air, and seemed keen to encourage us to visit the North Hillites more frequently, alluding to the existence of a Brentor and Back cup at North Hill.  When I pointed out that we - in the shape of Phil Hardwick - had already visited NH recently (thus winning the North Hill and Back Cup) and Don was able to show that we had won the Aero Club's Albatross Award at the BGA Conference he quietened down a little, and showed a keen interest in our simulator, which is another asset they don't have at NH.  

So, with warm sector conditions continuing to prevail, we said good bye to Harry and family (hopefully he'll be back in a couple of weeks) and returned home for another week of looking forward to a good forecast for Sunday, which might, for once, be manifest by good weather on the day itself.

Martin Cropper

DGS News Saturday 11th May 2013

Low cloud, drizzle and the wind blowing a hoolie from the west. Welcome to summer on Dartmoor. With a few thousand teenagers attempting Ten Tors just across the way this weekend a slightly more modest number prepared the airfield for aviation.

Once the rain had stopped and cloud base had lifted first up with CFI Don was new junior member Peter Clifford from Plympton. Despite the very windy conditions he still came back after two flights with a smile on his face. Hope to see him and his dad back at DGS soon.

My turn next.

'I reckon the ridge at Cox Tor will be working today, shall we go and have a look?' says Don, more of an order than a suggestion.

'Why not?' says I through gritted teeth. Having made sure I had a phone with plenty of numbers of people to ring to come and fetch us when we land in a field, off we go.

1500 feet off the launch, 180 degree turn and we are off like a scolded cat down wind to Cox Tor. 'Down to a thousand feet Don' 'Down to less than a thousand feet Don'. Airfield seems a hundred miles behind us and the ground perilously close.

The vario comes out of hibernation and wails like a banshee. Lift! We are going up and up. Momentarily registering ten up. We beat up and down the ridge and even find a thermal, climbing back up to 1500 feet QFE.

'Time to go home' says Don. Airfield looks even further away now. Desperately scanning fields for suitable landing area just in case (good practice for my up coming cross country endorsement flight) we pick up some helpful lift along the way (thermal, wave?). Who cares?! We are back in circuit at the airfield with plenty of height to spare. Air brakes fully open, nose pointing at the ground, demonstration of energy dump, round out and land. Simples.

Just to prove it wasn't a fluke Jerry Wellington, Sandra Buttery and Mike Jardine all have flights to Cox Tor and back. Jerry's flight reaching 2500 feet QFE. Seven launches, four flights between 18 and 30 minutes.

Not bad for a dull and dismal day.

Thanks to Mike and Rick for winching and Don for taking us out of our comfort zone.

The evening rounded off with Don’s presentation and burger-fest for ab-initio pilots and anybody else who could stay awake.

Darren Wills

DGS News Wednesday 8th May 2013

Low cloud and drizzle giving way to periods of heavy rain and a very gusty, strong westerly made this a non flying day.

The rain has not yet softened the airfield enough to permit some rolling but we are expecting to be able to perform this essential maintenance on Saturday.

The highlight of the day as the return of Vic England with his son to collect his car after his fall last Saturday. He spent a precautionary 48 hours in hospital ( possible concussion ), but apart some cuts and bruises he is fit and well and looking forward to flying soon.


DGS NEWS – The SF27 Flies Again

Martin Smith made a special trip to the club to sign off the months of work and insisted I fly the SF, as it was rigged.  I wish I had got him to test fly it as a reward but he seemed to need to get home.

Now that all the excess 12kg+ weight ( filler and paint mostly ) is off of the wings and centred around the mass of the pilot, who now wears a parachute because the placard is back to 110kg , it rolls a lot better,  is a bit more lively and definitely lighter.

All the work has been definitely  worth it.
However, the crosswind gusts were a real challenge for the first flight in this glider since last September, so I went again and again until I managed to land it, a bit better. Now that I can wear a parachute,  I have to get the seating position correct so that I can round out properly, if the airfield was 25 feet higher my landings would have been spot on.  The semi-reclining seat after the armchair of the K8 takes a bit of getting used to again.

Now, if only I can beat this glider's 1988 510 km flight in Germany of 9hrs 19 minutes.

Next job, get that horrible blue bit off of the fuselage.

Alan Carter

DGS News Monday 6th May 2013

It was a beautiful warm sunny morning with a blue sky and little wisps of wave smiling provocatively in the distance. The K13 was already on its way to the launch point when we arrived with “Sunday Soarer” Roger Appleboom getting his K-6CR ready to show to his wife Lindsey.

After a couple of launches from the east end, with the wind direction being South/South East it was decided to change ends and launch from the west, although that persistent cross wind continued, giving some challenging conditions.

Don Puttock, David Jesty and Martin Cropper got to work on trainee pilots Roger White, Jerry Wellington and Dave Parker. We welcomed Trial Lesson student Mark Ohlsen who enjoyed two flights with David Jesty. Jeff Cragg knuckled down with some check flights and Sean Parramore dropped in just to say hello and enjoyed a flight in the K8.

Alan Carter's SF27 with newly refurbished wings
And then, appearing from the hangar, it arrived at the launch point, like the phoenix from the ashes, the wings gleaming in the bright sunshine …. it was of course Alan Carters' SF27! Having finished refurbishing the wings and being freshly signed off it was ready for its first flight and a well earned jolly for Alan after a winter of scraping, sanding, filling and painting in a cold, dark, damp corner of the hangar. At least he had a smile on his face after enjoying an exciting flight as the SF's 'new' wings slipped through the air like a well oiled machine!

Meanwhile, Scratch tirelessly operated the winch all day only stopping when I took over for a short time so that he could do some back seat flying to regain his currency for his friends and family flying.

Returning to the launch point, I found the Sunday Soarers enjoying a pot of tea and hobnobs around the quad bike which doubled as a very useful table. Then they were off to the sky again to play in the evening sunshine.

Another enjoyable day with friends taking advantage of the extra Bank Holiday flying.


DGS News Sunday 5th May 2013

If the Armchair Pilot, inexplicably struck down by an unforeseen cold/virus/bone-in-the-foot that just happened to coincide with snooker from the Crucible, had been distracted by the shape of a cumulus drifting past his conservatory, he probably would have surmised 'Not a bad day; they'll be flying 5 hours/500kms today no doubt' before returning to the 10-7 frame cliff-hanger between Ronnie O'Sullivan and Barry Hawkins.
If, however, he put down his copy of the 'Mail on Sunday' and attended the airfield, he might have formed a different view. For when Allan Holland returns from the sky saying 'That was hard work: whenever I turned on the surge all I got was extremely heavy sink', you know that blue sky and cumulus does not necessarily mean it's going to be a 'walk in the park'. 

Karl Andrews (from Yelverton) ready for a trial flight with Martin Cropper
 That said, early in the day the prospect was promising: sun, warmth, freshness and breeze directly from the South (but not too strong); but as time went by the upper wind going to the west complicated matters and it wasn't possible to tell if it was thermal, wave, sea-breeze or a mix of all three.  Nonetheless, it was good to see the K-6s of Colin Boyd and Roger Appleboom (max time 11 minutes) on line, to welcome the return of Scratch Hitchens from sea (spinning tales of his own private air display by the Red Arrows in Cyprus) and trainees Leith Whittington and Dave Parker, who managed to keep Don entertained all day ('They're getting close' Don said, but to what..?)

Kevin Knight (from Tavistock) came for a trial lesson today
Whilst Trial Lesson students Karl Andrews, Kevin Knight, Ivan Mackay and Bob Goodall all did their best interpretations of Arnold Schwarzenegger's: 'I'll be Back!', we must also remember that, without the contributions made by Nigel Williamson on winch, Heather Horswill on retrieve, and Dave Bourchier on any/everything else, they wouldn't have ascended to the heavens in the first place. 

So,whilst it was a day when the sky wasn't easy to read, it was a. a lot more challenging than watching snooker on the telly and b. much more satisfying than reading the 'Mail on Sunday'.  

See you at the launch point, Armchair Pilot..!

Martin Cropper

DGS News Saturday 4th May 2013

Sometimes a gliding day becomes a bit of a roller coaster. Today was like that as I set off of the airfield in fog and drizzle. Arriving at the airfield the weather had definitely improved. Cloud base was rising rapidly and there were blue holes appearing every where. Ok,  gliders out and lets go.

Now we discovered that we would be operating with only one 2 seater; the Bocian really needed it’s undercarriage serviced . So we divide into 2 groups, one group go flying, the other group get on with the Bocian undercarriage.

One Day Course candidate Jeremy Hester ready to go
By the time flying started, the weather was really looking good. There was obvious streeting in the brisk westerly wind. We welcomed Jeremy Hester who came to complete a One Day Course that he had started in the autumn when the weather had stopped play before he had finished. This time he enjoyed a circuit followed by a soaring flight in the very strong conditions.

CFI Don in work mode with Jerry Wellington
Best flight of the day was the Twin Astir flown by Ged and Phil who were airborne for just over an hour during which time they made their way upwind to Launceston. CFI Don was kept busy today with early lessons for new member Roger White, improving lessons with Jerry Wellington, advanced lessons with licenced pilots Will Wilson and Steve Raine, and he managed to fit in a trial lesson in between. Phew!

CFI Don in "Are you wearing those shorts for a bet?" mode
On return to the hangar we discovered that between them, Allan Holland, Chris Kaminski and David Bouchier had removed the Bocian undercarriage and had plans in place to ensure that it is repaired soon. Many thanks.

Unhappily we also discovered that club stalwart Vic England had fallen on the uneven ground opposite the clubhouse and had several cuts and grazes on his face. Paramedics whisked him away to ensure that there was no other damage. More information on this soon.

A day of highs and lows.


DGS News Wednesday 1st May 2013

Blue sky and a forecast moderate wind from the north east promised a good day. There was further encouragement from our own optimist, Trevor Taylor who was busy telling everyone who would listen ( and some that wouldn’t)  that this was to be the “day of days”, an easy 300km etc.

The wind actually stayed just west of north for most of the day and was 10 – 12 knots for most of that. The soaring conditions never became easy. Later in the day some thermals were workable coming off the north ridge. This required some careful centring to climb quickly enough in the strong northerly wind but once above 2000 feet the thermals were much more organised and it was reasonable straightforward  to work energy lines between this height and the cloudbase at around 3000 feet.

One Day Course candidate Michael Langdon-Howe in the Bocian
There were several soaring flights including both of the 2 seaters. The best flight of the day was 1 hour 54 minutes by Mike Gadd who attempted to fly his Open Cirrus to North Hill and back but the patchy conditions caused him to turn back short of his target. We welcomed Michael Langdon-Howe for his One Day Course. He had an enjoyable day in the Bocian including a couple of soaring flights the longest of which approaching 50 minutes.

Jeff Craggs returned to the airfield today after a 7 month absence but did not get a chance to fly due to the somewhat late start, a slow launch rate and his need to leave early. Sorry for that Jeff. Better luck next time.