Dartmoor Gliding News – Wednesday 28th August 2013

Today started with fog across much of the peninsula, but the sun soon broke through and by late morning the cu were bubbling, and continued to do so through until late afternoon. Then a convergence occurred, but also brought with it what I can only describe as 'thermic murk', which came as part of the package alongside the clearer, colder air.

The approach to the airfield early am
We had the weather and all the ingredients of a fun day ahead of us - and a busy one, too. Today's 'squad' consisted of a small group of our most experienced members (several of them private owners) to help run the show, outnumbered by a handful of our more energetic temporary members and lots of youngsters eager to get airborne. They included 5 Scouts from Guildford (with their leader, Josh Goodwin),  Andrew Swann (who at 14 is our youngest regular trainee), and Corban Paine  (aged 11) and his mother Leslie, Tony Dean's nephew and sister.

Today's scout group
Corban and Leslie Paine
The only potential downside was a shortage of instructors, so early that morning I phoned CFI Don, who rose to the occasion and arrived mid-morning to support Steve Lewis and yours truly.

With relatively few experienced people around, but plenty of muscle and youthful enthusiasm, we first of all got the club kit out and set up the airfield, then reciprocated by helping the private owners rig their gliders and get them to the launch point. Then we were ready for action - and what a day it was! Everyone flew who wanted to - and even the Zugvogel was extracted from the hangar and kept busy (and for once not abandoned at the launch point for others to put away at the end of the day).

Youthful enthusiasm?
Not sure of the statistics, but most people soared, including my syndicate partner Martin in the ASW 20F, who felt his way into Cornwall and back through the increasing murk returning after a flight in excess of 2 hours, and Jeff Cragg (just-re-treaded to fly the Zugvogel) staying up for 44 minutes and claiming a day's altitude record of 3,000 feet.

In all, thanks to Phil Hardwick's and John Howe's skill with the winch, we achieved 41 launches, and lots of soaring flights. But the most rewarding thing of all was the way our young visitors, our newer members and 'us oldies' had fun together.

Bob Pirie

Dartmoor Gliding News–Monday 26th August 2013

There are those who say that a launch to 850 feet should be treated as a circuit, since that is the height that one would expect to be at when entering the high key  area.  I know there are those who say that, because I’m one of them!

So how did we, with a very light northerly wind, a short run due to the hurdle fence being up, and launches of around 850-900 ft (Darren Wills got the record of 1,000 feet), manage soaring flights of up to 2 hours 31 minutes duration (Trevor Taylor) and up to 3,800 ft QFE (above airfield level)  (Colin Boyd)  Well, by paying heed to the old saying that ‘rules are for the guidance of wise persons, and adherence by fools’. 

Weather-wise, the day began slowly, with mist limiting visibility for no more than 1.5 miles until the sun gradually took effect.  This was not ideal for trial lessons, where a clear horizon really is a bit more than just a ‘nice to have’ however, new member Adrian Iles, 12 year old prospective new member Ross Pratt, dad and daughter team Krista and Paul Linnen, and racing cyclist Mike Taylor seemed happy with their flights (Mike’s first launch being lightly seasoned by a 200ft cable break), thus leaving the launch point clear in the afternoon for club members to go soaring. 

Ross Pratt
Krista Linnen
Mike Taylor
With large patches of blue, the lift was principally confined to a line of energy stretching N-S over the launch-point down to Hurdwick golf course, and was strong between 700-1300 feet.

A good turnout, including the aforesaid Trevor, Colin and Darren (to whom, welcome back), were accompanied by Phil Hardwick, Andrew Beaumont, Bob Pirie, Martin Broadway, Allan Holland, Sean Parramore (also, welcome back) and Roger Appleblossom into the sky, whilst Rick Wiles was able to practice his back seat skills with Dave Bourchier. 

The busy grid on Bank Holiday Monday.
So , that’s it, then.  But no, for, emerging from the Arrivals Lounge, like the proverbial butterfly from the chrysalis, came the superb 17 metre Slingsby Dart, G-DRRT, which, after being flung around by Don Puttock in a test flight, was nurtured into its first flights on type by Leith Whittington, who gave us an object lesson in the benefit of all that span – it just didn’t seem to come down!

Proud owner Leith and his Slingsby Dart 17R
So with the trailer park now brim full there’s going to have to be some shuffling – private owners beware (you will be contacted)!

Martin Cropper’

Dartmoor Gliding News - Sunday 25th August 2013

Today was the first of two Scout sessions organised by Rick Wiles for troops which had travelled to the West Country for their summer camps. 

Coming from groups based around Guildford, Dorking and Leatherhead, we sent 5 out of 6 Scouts aloft, which, due to the fresh to strong wind from the north, did not allow flights of any great duration to be achieved. 

However, all seemed to enjoy the experience, not least Scout Leader Josh, who agreed to fly with Don after 30 minutes of water torture treatment; about Dartmoor letterboxing, in which Don is an expert.

In the afternoon, Roger Applebroom and Nigel Williamson managed to use the northerly to soar the ridge for 10 minutes or so , whilst Jerry Wellington took the Scouts to the clubhouse explore the delights of the simulator, which appeared to work much better than the real experience! 

As ever, our thanks go to Nigel Williamson, and also to new kid Dave Parker, for their winching, and to Luke Botham for turning up to help without being able to stay long enough fly.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News – Saturday 24th August 2013

The forecast for a poor start ( low cloud, showers, gusty winds ), improving through the day, kept many members away today. The day did improve and those members that attended were treated to good launch heights ( 1300 feet + ) and the possibility of some soaring in the entertaining conditions.

One to benefit most was trainee pilot Mike Vosper who missed out last Wednesday.  He managed consecutive soaring flights with CFI Don. In fact he had the longest flight of the day, a heady 30 minutes. Also taking advantage of the quiet day were Rick Wiles and Mike Jardine, both continuing their instructor training heading towards BI.

In and around the hangar saw the K7M getting some TLC with repairs to the canopy and adjustments to the ailerons. After his training, Rick Wiles came down from the airfield to continue with the winch engine. By the end of the day, assisted by David Bourchier and Alan Holland, the winch engine had it’s fluid flywheel refitted. This is a major milestone. Fitting the flywheel has required many hours of drilling and modifying the engine fittings.

Martin and Chris in fettling mode
Also of interest today was the appearance of a new glider syndicate. Martin Smith and Chris Kaminski have bought themselves a Slingsby Skylark 3F, an Annex 2, 18 meter wooden glider. By the end of the day they had rigged it, fettled it and both taken a couple of flights each.

Skylark 3F ready to go.

Dartmoor Gliding News–Wednesday 21st August 2013

A busy, muggy and barely soarable day, with nine gliders at the launch point (and in the air for brief periods) and a full complement of people wanting to fly. Most did get flown, but unfortunately having worked hard all day, Adrian Pike, Mike Vosper and John Howe missed out, mainly because we were one instructor 'down' and then in the afternoon, the K7M went temporarily u/s. Anyway, at least Adrian's son, Tim,  got to try gliding for the first time. Let's all try to ensure that those who missed out get a  fair crack of the whip next time.

Adrian Pike with his son Tim
Today we operated from the east end, and with little wind, cattle in the top field and the fence up, but by moving the launch point back, we managed to achieve reasonable launches. There was little in the way of soaring, with Trevor Taylor managing to stay up for 36 minutes, closely followed by Phil Hardwick, who was giving his son Mark (14) his first flight with him in the Twin Astir. With an increasing number of pilots having become private owners, and thus dividing their efforts between their own rigging/derigging and the club's interests, it was a busy day for everyone. We achieved a good launch rate, and would easily have passed the 40 launch mark had there not been a technical hiccup which cost us the best part of an hour during mid-afternoon.

Rigging private gliders
 As I said, everyone worked hard, but in particular I would like to acknowledge the efforts of 'Scratch' Hitchen and John Howe, who conjured up superb winch launches given the lack of headwind; Adrian, Carl Andrews and John Bolt in the tower, and Phil and Mark Hardwick, along with David Rippon, on grass cutting duties. Thanks to their efforts, those tall reeds on the east end landing area are now history - until the next time they emerge. If anyone has any doubts about the enthusiasm and energy of our club members, they should have seen three of our most 'senior' members, John Bolt, Jeff Cragg and Alan Holland wrestling the K7M down the slope to the hangar at around 1800hrs - when most of their less-active, non-gliding, contemporaries were probably turning on the telly and tucking into their tea.

Phil Hardwick with young Mark supervising from the rear seat
The oldest and youngest solo pilots on the airfield today, Carl Gore (14), John Bolt (ancient) with instructor Bob Pirie looking on from the back seat
But today the younger generation was also well represented, with Mark Hardwick following in the furrows of Father Phil the Farmer, and then a visit by another 14-year-old, Carl Gore, along with his parents and brother. A cadet member of Cambridge Gliding Club, Carl is one of a new breed of glider pilots who, taking advantage of a change in regulations went solo on 9 July, and it was a pleasure to share is first flights at Dartmoor with him.

One Day Course candidate John Bower
Trial Flight visitor Anne Green

Airfield neighbour  Nigel Ellis managed to photograph his house during his trial flight
Patience paid off for Jeremy Tucker.
After waiting for most of the day he was rewarded with the last two flights including a hangar landing.
Today's accolade for the supreme effort of all on our club's behalf must go to Steve Lewis, who completed a total of 17 training flights, including 7 with One Day Course candidate John Bower, and 10 with other trial lesson candidates or temporary members. Meanwhile other club training highlights included Jeff Cragg achieving another impeccable solo after a check flight, 'Scratch' honing his back seat skills (including coping well with a genuine launch failure), and Carl Andrews proving once again that solo time is getting closer.

Bob Pirie

Dartmoor Gliding News – Saturday 17th August 2013

With a dire weather forecast giving strong winds and heavy rain it was not really surprising that the club was quiet today. As it turned out the bad weather didn’t arrive until late morning and at one point we were trying to enthuse those members that had attended to get out a glider for an hour or so but today most people had different targets and tasks in mind.

Rick Wiles was working on the GusLaunch winch moving it ever closer to it’s engine refit. John Bolt and Colin Boyd continued with the K8. This aircraft is almost ready to fly, the outstanding jobs list can now be count on one hand.

In the clubhouse, Don was briefing David Parker on his Nav Ex. Rick came in to practise his patter for BI using the simulator supported by Don and myself. He is making progress with this.

The day finished with the customary beer and banter.


Dartmoor Gliding News–Wednesday 14th August 2013

On reflection, my "up and at 'em" rallying call via the blog for an early start today should have been "all hands to the pumps" due to the appalling weather which, I must confess, was as forecast. Still, eight members plus four visitors did turn up and enjoy themselves, proving yet again that - rain or shine - DGS is an enthusiastic, energetic and friendly club.

I managed to arrive respectably early (by my standards) in fog and steady rain, only to find that Steve Raine had beaten me to it, having already opened up the facilities and got the generator and simulator fired up. Meanwhile our one day course candidate Kim Metcalfe (aged 14), from Bristol, and his grandfather, Cliff McFarlane, from Teignmouth, were waiting patiently in the rain at the gate - probably wondering what they had let themselves in for.

Bob with Cliff and Kim
Getting our priorities right, introductions and tea were made, the log fire ignited and Kim became the focus of attention, with various briefings and some initial training via the simulator - the first 'launch' being just before 10.00hrs, which was somewhat earlier than last Wednesday. He showed great enthusiasm, and I expect by the time you read this, he will have been in touch with Mike Keller to arrange an alternative date for his flights.

Andrew enjoying the simulator
The simulator really does prove its worth on days like this. Once Kim had finished, Andrew Beaumont leapt in to make a 70km cross country 'flight' to North Hill, during which a phone call was received from Gill Stewart who glides at the Bidford Gliding and Flying Cub in the Cotswolds, and her husband Clive (both ex-Lasham many years ago). Visiting Plymouth to attend the potentially moist World Fireworks Championship, they wondered if they could come up to the club and give the simulator a go. Naturally we made them welcome, and before the seat cushion had had a chance to cool down from Andrew's occupancy, the Stewarts were at 4,000 feet, with P1 Gill mumbling about the simulator's 'character-building' characteristics. But they seemed to enjoy themselves.

Clive and Gill Stewart with club member Steve Raine
As usual on days like this, plenty of time was spent drinking tea and engaging in friendly banter, while John Bolt and helpers put finishing touches to the renovated K8, and Alan Holland wielded an angle grinder against a large component for the winch engine which he and others are currently rebuilding.

More tea?
John working on the K8
To end on an upbeat note, John reckons the 'new' K8 is nearly ready to fly, and will be even better than its popular predecessor.

Andrew giving the K8 the "once over"

Bob Pirie

Dartmoor Gliding News – Sunday 11th August 2013

As the wind, for once, blew gently up and down the runway and fluffy cumulus began to sprout in lines to the north, visiting trial lesson candidates Rita Rambellas and Darren Sherlock asked: "And what does a 'good day' look like?" To which the only possible reply was: "Like this!"  Which bode well for their trial lessons, and for our club members hopes for soaring.  

Sadly, the reality of gaining connection with the buoyant air that was clearly generating these clouds  was to prove a little more difficult than the theory.  With a nice long list of club trainees, plus 4 trial lesson students and a One Day Course to fly, there was plenty of trade to be got through, and everyone flew (well... all but one...).  

We certainly felt the benefit of second 2-seater G-DDAK  to spread the load, and the presence of David Jesty to help instruct.  Having passed his Bronze C exam by completing the Met Section, Tony Dean was able to convert to the Zugvogel, managing 4 flights before Allan Holland eventually wrestled the airframe from him.  

David and Don flew with one day course Sam Pawson throughout the day, Jerry Wellington got even nearer to going solo, David J flew with Rita and Darren, whilst Andrew Swann managed yet another 25 min soaring flight. 

Come the afternoon and all eyes were on David Parker's slim, white, minimally marked K-6 - but where was Dave?  Nowhere to be seen!  Sadly, having flown his 'grey' mount for the first time on Wednesday, Dave had succumbed to a migraine and was not fit to fly.  So, having flown with trial lesson student Jenny Hill, and whilst whilst I flew the final candidate Audi mechanic Joshua Clover (pictured), it just so happened that David Jesty was then free to test fly Dave's K-6, to see if he cold iron out some niggling problems with the variometers. After 1hour 25 mins of investigation above 2,000ft, David returned to earth to declare "There might be a bit of a problem with the averager, but otherwise I couldn't find anything wrong..!"     For which Dave P must have been enormously grateful. 

Instructor Martin Cropper explains the instrument panel to visitor Joshua Clover 
In amongst all this, Roger Applegloom and Leith Whittington were quietly plugging away at their solo flying, which for Leith included a (the only one of the day) low cable break, nicely handled.  

As six o'clock nudged seven, and with the hurdle fence already up (which perhaps accounted for the sub-optimal launch heights, but you can't argue with cattle in the top field!), it was time to reflect upon 40 launches, some of which led to soaring, some to training progress, and some to a very first escapade in the sky, and all of which concluded with a very palatable bottle/can of beer courtesy of Tony (Dixie) Dean and his success in the Bronze exam (I think we need to make up some more exams for him to pass!)

Dartmoor Gliding News - Saturday 10th August 2013

Today’s forecast of light winds, sunny periods giving way to increasing cloud cover and eventually showers proved to be very accurate. This was always going to be a training day.

We had lots of visitors today. Air experience visitors were Scott Chenery, Mark Woodley, Barry Smith, Kevin Pike, Tim Baker, Peter Buckland and Elliot Burns. We also welcomed Mike Wilmot, a solo pilot from North Hill. After a series of training and check flights Mike flew solo in the K7M G-DDAK. We also flew Heather's grandson Ethan who was a little apprehensive but still enjoyed his flight.

Scott Chenery
Kevin Pike
Barry Smith
Mark Woodley
Ethan Humphrey
Tim Baker
Peter Buckland
Unfortunately, by 4pm the weather had deteriorated. With the showers becoming more frequent and, with the cloudbase lowering rapid, flying was brought to a premature finish.

Elsewhere on the site today, the committee assembled for a meeting. The minutes will be made available for members soon. In the workshop, John, assisted by various club members, made great progress on preparing the “new” K8. This will be ready soon.

The loneliness of the long distance engineer. Alan at work 
In the hangar, Alan Holland worked away on his own on the new engine for the Gus Launch winch. This requires quite a bit of re-engineering to make it fit the winch, but work in progressing.


Dartmoor Gliding at the Vintage Rally 2013

Recently 3 club members attended the 41st Vintage Glider Club Rally at Lasham. While there they decided to evaluate 3 gliders for possible inclusion into the Dartmoor Club Fleet.

Who needs a yaw string anyway.

First Martin Smith tested the single seater Hols der Teufel as a possible early solo machine, the controls being easy to understand-consisting of a rudder bar, stick...and nothing else. The instrumentation was even easier-there was none, not even a yaw string. Briefing-“How do I know if I am going too slow?” You stall. “How do I know if I’m going too fast?” The wings come off.

Landings on the jets were verboten.

Next Karon Matten flew the R11b Cimbora.

How do you get in the rear seat? (See the clear panel at the back of the wing-it’s hinged).

This is an immaculate glider built in 1984, though to a 1941 design by Mr Rubic (his son designed a cube you may be familiar with). Communication was interesting, by means of speaking tubes, but this was not tested as P1 spoke no English and P2 spoke no Hungarian. The launch was also interesting as the aircraft is only fitted with a nose hook.

Cimbora about to launch.

Lastly, Chris Matten checked out a G2.

Chris strapping into the 2G-and being filmed for the VGC Rally DVD (fame at last!)

Again an interesting launch as he could look between his feet and see the strop assembly and wire-all the way to the winch...unusual! Although all round visibility was excellent (no fuselage to speak of) it was deemed unsuitable for Dartmoor’s changeable weather conditions due to a severe draft up the trouser leg-but great fun to fly.

Look mum-no hands!


And here are a few that we didn’t air test...this time.




Chris Matten

Dartmoor Gliding news – Wednesday 7th August 2013

Today saw a healthy turnout of full and temporary members, along with a one-day course and four trial lesson candidates. But the most impressive statistic of all was the size of the glider fleet at the launch point. In addition to the club's K13, K7M and Zugvogel, no less than seven 'privateers' were rigged and in action today, these being  Bob Sansom's K8, Phil and Andrew's Astir, the syndicated Twin Astir, the ASW20F, the Jantar and a brace of K6s.

The launch queue waits patiently
Much of the early focus was on rigging and preparing the winch and cables, and then in order to achieve the best possible launches in the light crosswind, we decided to move the winch well into the top field. This meant taking the fence down and in the interests of safety, the whole fence, which was a chore - but well worth doing. Thus the start time for the first launch was 'sub-optimal' (to put it mildly) but we cracked on and by around 7.00pm had achieved 41 launches, and most important of all, everyone had flown.

One Day Course candidate Clive Bareham  enjoyed his flights and soaring with Instructor Ged Nevisky
Visitor Anne Bishop waiting to go
The quality and rate of launches were superb, with few launch failures and only one real glitch when we lost the potential of about half a dozen launches during a quest for a replacement shackle pin for the point where the strop attached to the parachute rope. The worthy few who hung in there until the end of the day to help others to fly, and then de-rig and put the equipment away, were absolutely knackered. But good humour prevailed, and I am pleased to report that despite the frantic activity, the day passed without incident or 'excitement'.

CFI Don briefs Dave Parker before his first flight in his "new" K6

Today's highlights?
- another 'first' for Dave Parker, who after being signed off as a winch driver last weekend, flew his pretty K6 for the first time today (in fact several times).
- Steve Lewis pointed the Jantar towards the 300km 'holy grail' of Chicklade, but probably set off too late and returned to base after more than three hours having been defeated by a 'big blue hole' somewhere over mid-Devon.
- Mike Keller re-soloed at Brentor following a recent intensive session developing his skills at Nympsfield, which included his successful conversion to 'glass' gliders.
- several pilots achieved impressive climbs to 3,000ft, and some to 4,000ft or more.
- Temporary members Adrian Pike and John Rogers (in the capable hands of CFI Don) enjoyed long soaring flights - during the latter flight exploiting the lift provided by a convergence.

Soaring the convergence
It is customary in these blogs to mention those who contribute a special effort in order that others may fly. But today everyone 'played a blinder'. So a big thank you to you all.

Bob Pirie