Dartmoor Gliding News – Wednesday 30th October 2013

 Having scrubbed today's one day course and trial lesson yesterday due to the threat of gale force winds and rain rattling in from the south, enough club members heeded my call for an early(ish) start for us to get some flying in as well as some chores done.

To bravely go?
So it was out to the east end launch point with K13 DMX, and then a meagre total of five instructional or 'refresher' launches with either Ged or me in the back seat. Meanwhile trial lesson instructor, Steve Lewis, had a day off and played a sort of Craig Revel Horwood judging role, as he and the rest of the gang scoffed doughnuts while observing and critiquing some buttock-clenching approaches, including a couple onto the stub runway from the north (which only tends to happen rarely - and on 'exciting' days).

As John Rogers and I sat awaiting a launch with the glider weighed down with tyres and club members, I decided that enough was enough, so it was then a long ground run back to the safety of the hangar behind a Land Rover Discovery, with Ged providing some extra weight by sitting in the front cockpit.

Shall we, shall we not?
Reflecting on the 'big blow' over the weekend, we were amazed that Dartmoor Gliding Society appeared to have survived unscathed. But then someone ventured behind the hangar to find that a giant beech tree had fallen - and just visible beneath it was the K8 open trailer. Fortunately the hangar and glider workshop were spared, but two certainties are (a) that the trailer will have sustained damage, and (b) that we may be able to help pay for it by selling logs to club members.

Having read about CFI Don and team's stocktaking and general tidying efforts last weekend, we were impressed (but rather bemused) by the way they had re-positioned the launch point caravan at a jaunty 45 degree angle to the runway. All very creative, but this innovation was obviously less-then-ideal visibility-wise, and we also found the radio battery flat. This was partly because of the way the solar panel was now angled away from the sun, but also because someone had left the radio plugged in and switched on.  It was only later that Steve Lewis noticed a 15 metre-long gouge in the ground and realised that it was not Don but the gale which had moved the vehicle. (It is now back in its correct position, by the way.)

An encouraging trend on recent Wednesdays has been the presence of several temporary members who, having enjoyed one-day courses or trial lessons, keep on coming back for more, as well as some who 'take the plunge' and become full members. Recent recruits have included John Rogers and Adrian Pike, and today we were pleased to welcome back Stephen Fletcher.  Stephen, who lives at Dousland,  enjoyed a one-day course with Steve Lewis a week ago, and was so enthused that today he not only joined the club, but signed up for 'fixed price to solo' training. Welcome aboard, Stephen!

Refusing to be deterred by the weather, Stephen and Jorg Beasley (the latter arriving too late to fly) ended their training day with sessions in the simulator.

Canopy polishing
While were were grappling with the autumn weather, back at base John Bolt and my syndicate partner Martin Broadway completed the annual inspection of our ASW20F. Then after flying ended, Alan Holland and Dave Bourchier, aided by John Rogers, did a splendid job giving the cockpit canopy of DMX a thorough fettling.

Bob Pirie

Dartmoor Gliding News – Sunday 27th October 2013

Blanket forecasting of doom and gloom ensured that only 'die-hards' turned up at the club today - so thankfully the One Day Course and Trial Lesson student were contacted by Mike and asked to re-book.  In actual fact the weather (wind, rain and cloudbase) was not as bad as predicted, but the cross wind from the south would have put us out of limits - a repeat of yesterday. 

So what better day to put a sign on the gate 'Closed for Stocktaking' and set Don, clipboard and pen in hand, Arkwright like to make a list and assess the value of our permanent - and consumable - kit. 

Roger Applestihl cutting his way through to the new Trailer Park
Meanwhile, Roger Applestihl and I took a chain saw to some of the denser areas of gorse at the southwest end of the airfield, and were making good progress until I noticed that the Disco's bonnet wasn't fitting quite a snugly as it should, 

Sure enough, a spring had sprung and required replacement - which was proceeding apace until Roger Green  arrived en passant, to regale us with tales of the Green Army's latest acquisition, a Grob Astir Sport, drophead coupe or similar, that required venturing to Germany to pick up, and then converting instruments from German into Englisch

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News–Saturday 26th October 2013

With the ‘big storm of 2013’ on its way our normal early birds were having a well-deserved sleep in. When I arrived the cloud was low, but, by 1000hrs the weather cleared up just enough for us to venture to the launch point and attempt launching a glider. But not before Don had picked up a broom and swept out the hanger, a very rare sight which we managed to catch on camera! Alas, with a strong crosswind and low cloud it was decided to pack the kit away just after midday.

Leading from the front Don sweeps the hangar with Chris Matten with the dustpan.
 Was it a wasted day? Not a chance, not when CFI Don Puttock is at the helm. Junior members Andrew and Saif, along with Andrews’ grandfather cut up the Bocian and set about burning it.

A sad end for the Bocian.
Mr Winchmaster (my dad, Rick Wiles), Chris Matten and Dave Bouchier spent the day working on the Gus launch, again. By the end of the day the engine started, all be it accidentally; with the diesel left in the engine from when it was last used. We’re all about saving money here at DGS! Good job to all involved, the winch will be ready in no time!

The day ended with a friendly chat and a nice beer.

Matt Wiles

Dartmoor Gliding News – Wednesday 23rd October 2013

'O ye of little faith' was my initial reaction when I arrived at the field today. The weather was clearing with the wind dropping and blowing straight down the runway (yet again, exactly as per forecast). But instead of the usual eager group of Wednesday regulars, only the Raine/Rippon/Pike trio was present and poised to tackle all the preparatory chores. We hardly had a quorum to operate and even with instructor Steve Lewis only minutes away and David Jesty having kindly agreed to come in at around noon to help out, the prospect of fitting in a one day course, several trial lessons and plenty of club flying for 'the workers' looked bleak.

But my pessimism was premature, because soon a further ten club members turned up, along with one day course candidate Stephen Fletcher , trial lesson visitors Will and Richard Moore, and Jeremy Plumtree, plus microlight pilot Jorg Beasley, who after a trial lesson a fortnight ago came back for more.

One Day Course candidate Stephen Fletcher

Instructor David Jesty with the Moore family.
Visitor Jeremy Plumstead
Operating both two-seaters plus the K8 from the east end launch point, visitors and members alike enjoyed a total of 31 superb launches delivered by John Howe and David Rippon - with only one cable break at hangar flight time. Throughout the afternoon thermals popped, cumulus developed and 'streeted', and everyone had a fun and safe day's flying, with all three gliders in the air more than once. That little K8 is proving to be a firm favourite, keeping busy right from the start and providing several of us with soaring flights. Not everyone was lucky, but everyone flew and we ended the day respectably early due to low sun (what's that, you may ask?) and the imminent arrival of 'The Brentor Beavers'.

Eager "Beavers" keen to help
"Brentor Beavers?" The Brentor and Mary Tavy Beaver Scouts are a group of local youngsters aged between six-  and eight-years-old, and on the first rung of the Scouting ladder. They started to arrive - many with their parents - shortly after 1700 hours. Following an airfield and hangar tour, our 'Wednesday committee member' Colin Boyd, Steve Lewis and I entertained them to an hour or so of chatting and flying the simulator. Some 'interesting' flights were achieved, with these 'pilots of tomorrow' gaining particular pleasure from looping. (Only two of them tore the wings off.)

Checking out the K13
The evening ended with consumption of cup cakes and flapjacks, and distribution of model glider kits. The Beaver Leader, Sandra Grylls (yes, her husband is distantly related to the famous adventurer and Chief Scout) led a round of applause in appreciation of the visit, and afte wards several of the parents showed plenty of interest in our sport and our club. Steve and I (who did the easy bit) would like to express our appreciation to Colin who did all the hard work.

The Brentor and Mary Tavy Beaver Scouts. 
Finally, thanks to John Howe for lending the club a beautiful picture of a glider over Brentor Church, painted by his daughter. It's in the office at present, but  hopefully this weekend it will be mounted in the clubhouse.

John Howe with the painting 
Bob Pirie

Dartmoor Gliding News – Sunday 21st October 2013

It was most unfortunate (but wisely decided) to cancel the Scouts from Plympton who were booked today, but as our photo shows it would been a fool’s errand. 

Why we didn’t fly today
Instead we concentrated our efforts on briefings, taking exams (see photo of Jerry selecting the right colour for one of his Bronze ‘C’ answers)  and generally improving our knowledge of aerotowing, ridge flying, ridge running (we know the difference between the two...) and how we might explore these, both from a pilot’s point of view and actually going to sites where we can do so.

Jerry Wellington selects a colour from the Kids Colouring box to answer a question in the (multiple-choice) Bronze C exam...
 One of us attached a new yaw string to the K-8 canopy and another of us (thanks, Tony) moved the ‘Visitors Wait Here’ sign to a position adjacent to the clubhouse in order to address safety concerns discussed at Saturday’s committee meeting.

In the afternoon we worked up a huge appetite by hiking as far as the trailer park to survey how we are going to cope with the surplus of demand over available space.  No solutions were immediately obvious (greater intellect required than the Sunday crew could muster) so in the face of failure we retired to the clubhouse, safe in the knowledge that our final glide would place us within reach of Dave Parker’s chocolate and walnut cake (well, either undershoot or overshoot would have been acceptable) and as the clouds continued to scud over the clubhouse we decided to turn for home.
The Trailer Parking dilemma: solutions on a postcard, please
But not before ageing rock star (and sound wizard) Colin Boyd let slip that he is a an avid collector of a variety of technical and scientific items, including grease guns (lack of space precludes...)

Ageing Rock Star Colin Boyd (has a story to tell)
Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News - Saturday 19th October 2013

Right from the start, the weather made this a non flying day. Strong winds, rain, very low cloudbase. Delightful.

This was as good as the weather became
 This didn’t stop CFI Don Puttock. He organised a morning of lectures with our trainees followed by an afternoon of clearing and burning waste.

Junior member Andrew showing off his new cable spicing skills.
Meanwhile David Bourchier assisted John Bolt with the work on the “new” K7M G-DCLT which is making great progress. Rick Wiles continued with the GusLaunch winch engine installation.

Later in the afternoon, the committee held a meeting in the clubhouse.

I hope the weather improves soon.


Dartmoor Gliding News –Wednesday 16th October 2013

Today it seemed like a small group of 'believers' had their faith in the met office rewarded because - exactly as forecast - the torrential rain cleared through at 1100 hours to be replaced by sunshine and hints of cumulus developing. But (again as per forecast) the wind became westerly, increasing in strength all the while, so we had to get the show on the road quickly - and very carefully.

K13 G-DDMX ready to tow out
After a briefing attended by everyone on ground handling and parking of gliders, a handful of pilots manoeuvred K13 DMX to the east end launch point for some dual flying, but the wind strength and gustiness continued to increase to such an extent that we soon swallowed our pride and knocked flying on the head for the day.

It was so windy that we inserted some additional weight before towing back to the hangar.
In this case we used Adrian
With John Howe in the winch, today's score was just two launches and one cable break (a pulled joint from an old repair). From my back seat perspective, conditions were challenging but manageable, and I was pleased that Steve Raine, the only pilot to venture into the front seat, entered into the spirit of the occasion, broke through the 'sheer terror' barrier and actually admitted to having enjoyed himself.

Reflecting on the day,  a downwind dash to the ridge would certainly have been achievable. But with the wind showing every sign of increasing from 'character-building' to 'gale force', I am sure we made the right decision.

Needless to say our one day course and all trial lessons were cancelled, but we were pleased to welcome one new face in the form of John Pike, elder son of our newest full member, Adrian.

SZD Pirat derigged and waiting 
Back at base it was another busy day, with John Bolt and Dave Bourchier continuing their work towards commissioning  K7M G-DCLT..  Meanwhile the rest of us unpacked the hangar, de-rigged the Pirat ready for C of A, and then trailered various airframes awaiting renovation to barn space kindly provided by our friendly neighbour, Mike Stacey

Real team work. Everyone took part in clearing the hangar.
This is K7M G-DBVB on it's way to temporary storage
Bob Pirie

Dartmoor Gliding News - Sunday 13th October 2013

Low cloud provided the curtain raiser today, and closer, together with the much heralded rain which fortunately held off until 4pm.  With aforesaid low cloud and mist lying in the valleys, plus the need to change ends, it was a late-ish start, but there was no lack of enthusiasm as Tony Dean and Dan Leek provided the training impetus, whilst Jerry Wellington and myself vied for Flight of the Day in the club K-8 (he won…dammit!) 

Principal accolade went to Tony Dean who, after joining the club less than 9 months ago, undertook the Briefings and Practical Flight Tests to successfully complete his Bronze C – well done! 

Well done also to Darren Wills for re-soloing in the K-13.  Dan Leek, who has re-joined the club after an absence since June, also cracked on with his training programme, managing 5 flights before cloud once again enveloped the airfield and precipitation was ‘within sight’. 

Thanks go – well to everyone for their team spirit - but especially to Dave Parker for ‘nailing’ the speed on some super launches to 1,300ft.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News – Saturday 12th October 2013

The day started with low cloud, rain and drizzle, and a strong, gusty northerly wind. Lesser pilots might well have given up at this point. In fact, someone had already go the woodburner going. But CFI Don Puttock is made of stronger stuff. With his natural desire to fly and, egged on by our new gang of youngsters, the gliders were got out and prepared for the day.

Our gang of three,  Andrew, Saif and Peter. 
By midday the weather had improved enough for a start to be made even though there was still some drizzle in the air. The day rapidly improved, the wind calmed down while swinging around to the east, blue sky and sunny patches. Astonishing. By 2pm the weather had improved so much that I was able to take returning temporary member Kevin Yates on a 21 minute soaring flight in the first of the day’s thermals.

Kevin Yates ready to go soaring.
A possible wave induced cloud  in the evening sky
 The day remained soarable with an interesting mix of weak wave and some thermals. Best flight of the day was Matt Wiles who flew for 48 minutes in the K8, only returning to protect the remnants of his student budget. We finally stopped flying with the sun setting at around 6:30 and had just enough time to repack the hangar before dark.

A great photo of the launch point taken by Matt Wiles in the K8
Elsewhere The work on K7M G-DCLT continues. Today, the refurbishment of the cockpit edges and refitting of the canopy was completed. Thanks again John and David.

The end of a great day
A great day, inspired by the youngsters, from the most unlikely start.


Dartmoor Gliding News Wednesday 9th October 2013

With no rain for a change, and a brisk NNW crosswind drying out the airfield, the usual group of midweekers - plus several of our newer 'almost regulars' - took advantage of the conditions and the fact that the airfield operation had been set up good and early by the 'Launches-R-Us' team of Phil Hardwick, Dave Rippon and Steve Raine. Meanwhile in the workshop John Bolt and Dave Bourchier continued working towards the resurrection of our recently-acquired second K7M  G-DCLT.

While some were unpacking the hangar, and Steve Lewis was welcoming back one-day courser Michael Welby and new temporary member Thomas Watson, an earnest think tank of 'wise-heads' was seeking to maximise the potential of our trailer park, with Cap'n Broadway's tape measure  ("Suits you, Sir!") proving that that a quart just ain't gonna go into a pint pot.

One Day Course Candidate Michael Welby
Apart from a few cable breaks, the flying programme proceeded smoothly with firstly Steve Raine and then Messrs' Rippon and Craggs giving us some great launches to around 1300 feet. Almost all pilots layed off for the cross wind impeccably, meaning no cables dropped over the fence.

Air Experience visitor Kath Wherry and nephew David
By mid-afternoon, developing cumulus showed signs of being productive despite the strengthening wind, and several short soaring flights were achieved both by the two-seaters and the K8; the latter really proving to be a winner in the popularity stakes. Phil Hardwick (back seating with me in DMX) managed more than 20 hard-earned minutes.

It was good to have Darren Wills back with us from sick leave, and also having Andrew Beaumont, Bob Sansom, John Howe, John Rogers and Rupe Seward seemingly everywhere and itching to get airborne.

And the high point? I guess that was when Adrian Pike, whose three months' temporary membership had just ended, brought a smile to the face of our field treasurer by dusting off his cheque booking and taking out a full flying membership. Welcome aboard, Adrian, and we look forward to providing an evening of fun and flying for your Rotary Club colleagues next summer.

From left to right. Bob Sansom, bright spark John Rogers (a shining example to us all apparently),
new member Adrian Pike and Instructor Bob Pirie
Finally, we were pleased to welcome microlight pilot Jorg Beasley who turned up on the off-chance of getting a flight; flew with Steve, and is already starting to show some symptoms of getting hooked.

Jorg Beasley

Bob Pirie

Dartmoor Gliding News – Sunday 6th October 2013

Gliders in the mist
Saturday's Indian Summer weather continued today, with a classic early morning mist that enveloped the airfield from 0830 until 1015, and then cleared within 10 minutes!  By which time we had everything ready to go, and as the sun broke through we launched into a full programme of Trial Lessons (5), club trainees (2 - the Swanns - Mike and Andrew (Junior), instructor coaching (1) club solo (2) and private aircraft (4) - oh, and Trevor Taylor (1) that eventually totalled 29 flights - not bad for a late start. 

A group of ‘mystical’ glider riggers
The same scene 10 minutes later
 The wind was delightfully light and westerly, enough to get to 1,100ft on the launch with the cable easily retrieved; the cumulus developed into streets from the SW and it was, again, shades and t-shirt order all round.  The thermals were not particularly strong, or wide, however and took some skill to master - thus it was really good to see that Nigel Williamson, in the club's new K-8, claimed flight of the day - he saw the opportunity, flew straight to the cloud and managed to reach 2,000ft for 33 minutes (Trevor Taylor may have flown for longer but he - with his Jantar 1 (>45:1) doesn't count! (and was only 15 minutes longer than the K-8...))

The view to the east as the cloud clings to the Tavy Valley
Our visiting trial lesson students were David and George Pretty from Exeter (hope you pass your RAF interview, George), carpenter Thomas Watson and, later in the afternoon, Andrew and Kevin Yates, from Launceston (Andrew's girlfriend took photos/video of his flight which have been posted to our Facebook page).
Visitor David Pretty
Visitor and RAF candidate George Pretty
Visitor Andy Yates
 After flying his immaculate K-6CR Robin Wilson jumped into the winch, making a welcome change to the usual line-up, Dave Parker and Roger Appleblessim vied with each other for the shortest K-6 flight of the day (they came first equal with 3 minutes, surely this could be limboed under next Sunday..?!), there was strong language and scenes of a violent nature between Leith Whittington and the undercarriage of his Dart 17R, and Mike Jardine was able to get some BI training in before, as the sun began to descend, the air rapidly cooled and fingers of cloud stretched back over the airfield at 800ft.

We all felt so elated we decided to hold an impromptu hangar party - for a good 45 minutes - with K-13s merrily dancing around each other, the Zugvogel playing wallflower and the K-8 gate crasher (all that was needed was coloured lights, disco music and a handbag) before we finally managed to get the thing packed correctly and shut the doors... 

Thanks to everyone (including the weather) for being so supportive on my first duty as a fully completed Asst Cat’.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News–Saturday 5th October 2013

What a difference a day makes. Today saw the start of what can only be described as an Indian Summer; blue sky, gentle westerly breeze and warm enough to be a tee shirt day.

A beautiful looking day
 Instructors Ged Nevisky and Sean Parramore were on duty today. We had a full visitors dairy, many solo pilots, a full fleet of club aircraft and sprinkling of private aircraft. So a busy day in prospect. Early flights confirmed the gentle nature of the weather today and visibility was coast to coast. Beautiful.

Looking south, the west end of the runway is in the mid ground.
Unfortunately, just as one of the best soaring days so far this autumn was developing, the unannounced arrival of a survey aircraft operating at low level in the area caused us to halt operations for a while in the interests of safety. This cost us nearly two hours' worth of launches (including some trial lessons), and caused disappointment among several solo pilots who were 'chomping at the bit' to get airborne.

The situation was eventually resolved and flying continued. Notable flights today included Mike Gadd in the Open Cirrus 1 hour and 17 minutes, Martin Broadway in the ASW20 57 minutes and club Secretary Sandra Buttery who managed her longest solo flight so far, 21 minutes in the K8.

Solo pilot Steve Raine waiting patiently in line with his Astir
The photos of all our visitors are available by following the link  Today's Visitors

Other work going on today included the continuing work on the GusLaunch winch by Rick and Colin and John and David working on the “new” K7m.

Colin at work on the GusLaunch. The side mounted radiator is a novel idea.

Dartmoor Gliding News – Wednesday 2nd October 2013

The cloudbase today never really got above 500 feet. Bit of a problem as the airfield is at 820 feet. So not a flying day.

Steve Raine after a days mowing in a very organic looking tractor
The usual suspects got on with work around the airfield. Steve Raine spent the day mowing, Phil disappeared into the fog with the fencing kit. The was a group, led by John Bolt in the workshop starting the work on the “new” K7M G-DCLT.

Working on CLT in the workshop
 Other news today is that there will shortly be another private glider coming to the airfield. The uniquely modified Skylark 3B complete with winglets and a modified canopy / cockpit. Owner Sean Parramore has already spent a couple of hours flying it from Aston Down.

Sean's new Skylark 3B

The weather for Saturday is looking better.


Dartmoor Gliding News–Sunday 30th September 2013

We've all heard of the rule of the seven 'P's.  Today was the rule of the three 'P's - normally possessed in paltry proportions by glider pilots: patience, persistence and positivity.  

Setting up the airfield at 8.30 it was only just possible to make out the church, thus cloudbase was pretty clearly defined as 200ft above the deck!  So equipment DI'd and ready we retired to the clubhouse where, upon arrival of our two One Day Courses, Dave Hanson and Roy Hodgson, our secret fourth 'P' weapon, Puttock, went into action with a brief on weather, wave, cloud and precipitation (well, fog) which kept the audience engaged until lunch.

At which point, strangely, they decided to depart.  And within half an hour the cloud over the airfield had cleared to reveal a shining white cap cloud over the moor to the east, a clear patch over the Tavy valley, followed downwind by walls of cumulus in a line N-S.  

Classic wave sky
Game on! Dave Parker launched with Don, disappeared from sight on the upwind side of the cloud and didn't return for some time.  I launched with Jerry Wellington to find that, within 10 seconds of release, it was possible to climb up the side of the cloud to 1,500ft.  The primary wave was quite far back, almost over the hangar, but soon moved forward (east) and spread further north-south, such that my job became being Jerry's navigator whilst he concentrated on getting us up to 2,300ft.

Wave clouds above the airfield
Jerry in pilot mode
As the afternoon progressed the wave got stronger, with some classic flying saucer shaped clouds visible to the north, and everyone managing to get at least some contact before it became less well defined (i.e.. rotor) at around 4 pm.  

K13 passing the K7M
Highlight of the day was getting a brace of Applebooms airborne, with Lyndsay celebrating her 35th birthday by taking a 40 min first flight in DMX with Don whilst husband Roger was simultaneously aloft in his K-6.

Lyndsay and Don in the K113
This was followed (back on the ground) by a superb coffee and walnut cake (thanks to Sunday Baker Dave Parker) adorned with candles that just didn't want to go out!  It was good to see the Swanns, Andrew and Mike, back on site, junior member Andrew flying for almost an hour in the wave, and Allan Holland who graciously gave up the prime time slot for Nigel Williamson (Happy Birthday this week) and Jerry Wellington to fly the K-8.

Can't blow the candle out
A good day. Pity the One Day Courses didn't hang on a bit longer - not enough 'P's... 

Martin Cropper