Dartmoor Gliding News - Wednesday 27th November 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Dartmoor Gliding News - Sunday 24th November 2013

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

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

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

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

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News - Saturday 23rd November 2013

Good forecast for a change. Blue sky, wind light northerly veering to north , north east no stronger than 7 knots. Great, possible thermal? ridge? wave? The day offered lots of possibilities.

Leaving home early ( practice for a New Year resolution ) I was stunned by the beautiful blue sky with a light red horizon from the dawn. Overhead, the moon glowed brightly, the clear morning air making all the surface features easy to see. If I was even a little artistic I am sure that I would have been moved to write poetry or something. Even scraping the frost off the car seemed strangely pleasurable today.

The airfield was already a bustling scene when I arrived, aircraft out ready for inspection, winch being warmed up and cables inspected, Landrovers loaded with all the operational bits and pieces, parachutes, progress cards, radios etc. Good work everyone. The aircraft were inspect and the canopies carefully cleaned. ( canopy misting is always a problem on a day like this ) and we were ready to go.

Today's busy launch queue
There was a full flying programme, Instructor Ged Nevisky and I kept the 2 seaters busy and in the air all day, the K8 and Zugvogel were both used to entertain the solo pilots. We even had a private glider at the launchpoint; one of the Astirs. Not a bad grid for the end of November.

Stefi with her new favourite aircraft, our venerable K8
We welcomed several visitors today. Martin Ward was our One Day Course candidate, Mick Shaw with son Raffe, and Mark Shaw ( no relation) had Air Experience flights. The big news today was that our new member Stefi, who re-soloed last week and pronounced the K13 as her favourite glider, continued her meteoric progress and converted to the K8 which has now become her favourite glider. Longest flight of the day was by Mike Gadd with 19 minutes in the Zugvogel followed very closely by Martin Ward in K7m G-DDAK being flown by me at 17 minutes.

One Day Course candidate Martin Ward
The Shaw family
Air Experience visitor Mark Shaw
Flying continued until late with the gliders eventually hangar flying against the backdrop of one of the most stunning sunsets.

K13 on it's hangar flight
The end of a great day

To Cox Tor and Back ( Nearly)

On Sunday 3rd October CFI Don Puttock and Roger Applebloom took K13 G-DDMX to Cox Tor with the aim of soaring the hills and then returning to the airfield. They launched to 1500 feet in a strong breeze that was just a little south of west. Initially everything went well but the wind was backing to become southerly. In this wind direction the hill does not work. By the time the intrepid duo realised this the ensuing field landing was inevitable.

Arriving at Cox Tor with good height
Looking back towards the airfield
Parts of the moor look really wet
Looking east towards the mast at  Princetown
Visibility is deteriorating - is something changing? Did the pilots miss this clue?
The cloudbase is lowering
Do we need one of these fields?
Are we closer to the hill?

800 feet above airfield height. This is not enough to return home.
Definitely lower now.
The hill has stopped working.
Getting lower
And lower
Time to find a field
All the photos were taken by Roger


Dartmoor Gliding News - Wednesday 20th November 2013

We were hoping that the gods of irony would have smiled on us today and supplied an excellent flying day as our usual Wednesday Instructor Bob was away on holiday, but it was not to be.

The day started with low cloud, rain and a strong breeze. As the rain cleared away, the wind strengthened and gusts in excess of 35 knots were bending the trees. So no flying today.

We welcomed visitor Stephen Barr who was booked in for a One Day Course. While we were unable to fly, he made the best of his time at the club being introduced to the members, facilities and aircraft. He then had a series of flying lessons on the simulator to prepare him for his course which has been re-booked for next week.


Dartmoor Gliding News – Sunday 17th September 2013

At first it appeared as if today was going to be ‘three syllable surname’ day, the reason being that, at the start, only Leigh Whittington and Roger Appleboom were able to fly, leaving those with less than three syllables (such as Andy and Mike Swann) confined to supporting roles on the ground. 

Fortunately, the arrival ageing (gracefully) rock star Colin Boyd, and second (albeit reluctant) winch driver, enabled us to make progress with two-seat training in the afternoon.  In still air, and a leaden cloudscape, the launches were not high, but the stillness allowed accurate flying to be practised, without disturbance from turbulence or thermal. 

Trial Lesson student 14 year old Cameron Fawcett-Hunter
This included Trial Lesson student 14 year old Cameron Fawcett-Hunter, an air cadet from Sidmouth, who rapidly assimilated use of all three controls over the course of three flights, and also 14 year old member Andrew Swann.  Andrew is to be congratulated on being the recent and very worthy recipient of a substantial grant from the Caroline Trust.  So whilst Andrew was able to practice making take-offs to the west and landings to the east, his granddad Mike, was later treated to views over the autumnal countryside as bonfire smoke hung low and fingers of mist crept in with the dusk.

Those who were unable to attend yesterday evening’s Extraordinary General Meeting - perhaps preferring Strictly to the delights of the clubhouse - missed some lively debate over the new Articles of Association, in terms of what should be ‘in’ or ‘out’.  Suffice to say that the meeting concluded with a vote at which the new Articles were adopted, unanimously, and thus the club’s operations as a Company will now be aligned with current legislation.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News - Saturday 16th November 2013

To paraphrase entertainer Larry Grayson “What a grey day”. The calm winds did nothing to encourage the low cloud and occasional drizzle to go away. There was enough height underneath the overcast for full height launches so it was game on.

Our latest solo, Stefi.
The big news of the day was that new member Stefi Guiu flew solo today after a series of practice cable breaks. A delighted Stefi pronounced that the K13 is her new favourite, much better that her last favourite, the IS28B” that she last flew some time ago at home in Romania.Well done Stefi.

The club was busy with visitors today. Instructor Mike Sloggett flew with One Day Course Candidate Derek Frey, Don Puttock managed all the club flying and training and the three of us flew the other visitors.

Visitor grandmother Irena Belikova who last flew gliders more than 30 years ago in a Blanik 
Grandson Mishka
Back seat driver grand daughter Elizabeth
One Day Course candidate Derek Frey
Visitor Rob Williams had the "Rolls Royce" treatment fkying with CFI Don Puttock 
After flying the clubhouse was busy with members attending an EGM where changes to the club's Articles of Association were agreed.

A pleasing day

Steve Lewis

Dartmoor Gliding News – Wednesday 13th November 2013

A big thank you to everyone who heeded the call and came along earlier than usual to get K13 DMX rigged (after 10 days or so on its trailer), before we got down to the more important business of flying.We are particularly grateful to Vice Chairman, Colin Boyd, for delivering what he promised and getting the glider's main pins fettled in time for today.

'Get em Flyin!' is becoming a sort of Wednesday battle cry, and today not only did we get DMX, the K7M and the K8 out and airborne, but a group of enthusiasts even dusted off and flew the Zugvogel, for the first time since August, I believe. The next challenge? To get the Pirat components off the floor (where we left them more than a month ago), rigged into something resembling a glider, and then  C of A'd.  After all the hard work that a small group of enthusiasts put into upgrading that aircraft, it would be wonderful to get it on-line again.

Robin Wilson waiting in the Zugvogel
But back to today's antics. After a gung ho start, things went off the boil for a while while Articles of Association were debated, a few cable breaks occurred,  cables were dropped over the fence and a 'vintage' knot in one of the winch cable parachute ropes had to be 'Bouchiered'.  (You won't find this word in any dictionary, but to be Bouchiered means "to be subjected to much tutting and tooth sucking, then being taken forcibly into the hangar, cursed, attacked with sharp and/or heavy implements and eventually returned to service with a wry grin.")

Gliding is all about people.
 Apart from a soggy airfield and a steady crosswind demanding plenty of layoff, it was a very pleasant flying day. Thermals were non-existent, but by the time we wrapped things up around 1600 hrs to wash down the gliders, 34 launches had been achieved, including training flights for Adrian Pike, John Rogers, Steve Fletcher and Jorg Beasley; rear seat flying in DMX for Mike Gadd and Phil Hardwick;  a couple of trial lesson flights for Tony Williams, and umpteen solo flights in the K8 and Zug for the rest of the team.

This brings me to the most rewarding aspect of the day as far as I'm concerned, which is that we had no less than 20 members present (about a third of Dartmoor Gliding Society's full flying membership).  And to paraphrase someone else's remark: "Isn't it great that there are so many pilots present, keeping current, flying safely, and having fun."

Today's instructing team consisted of Steve, Ged and yours truly. However, the real work was done by Phil and Dave Rippon in the winch (aided by Colin Boyd); Andrew Beaumont and Bob Sansom on cable retrieve and John Howe in the tower.

The late afternoon sun lit up the clouds. 
Finally, we were pleased to be joined, at the end of the day, by Leith Whittington, who stuck his head above the parapet and clarified some of his thoughts regarding the Club's new Articles of Association which he has put so much effort into drafting.

Overall, a pleasant and productive day.

Bob Pirie

PLAYING AWAY- From Scary Tow to Solo Tow

Why aero tow when winch launching is far cheaper and so widely used?

Well, there is the teasing prospect of mountain soaring in Talgarth, which seems to be inching closer to a reality, and the even more tantalising possibility of soaring the Alps, which has moved from 'pipe dream' to possibility;and, of course, the urge to again push against the boundary of my own comfort zone. So when Don came up with the idea of a structured course to get interested parties up to aero-tow standard over a weekend, I made sure I was near the front of the queue. Modular teaching doesn't always equate to modular learning, but I was sure it would be fun to 'give it a go'.

Pawnee Tug with the North Hill K13
8-15am Sunday morning at North Hill, and a duty instructor was already opening up; cheery wave, handshake, all important first impressions, and straight into the Sunday routine of checking over vehicles, and pulling the winch into position.

It was a clear start to the day, and by 9am both Don and Dave Parker had arrived, as well as quite a few North Hill pilots; with aircraft checked and flying activities commenced, it was time for the 3 Brentorians to slope off for the first of the day's Aero-tow briefings.

Refueling the tug
First anomaly for a winch-only pilot: Start your ground run with stick held fully back [on the K13 at least] so the glider balances on it's wheel, BUT, ease the stick progressively forward so the glider, which is a much more efficient flying machine than the Tug, doesn't over-fly it.

Roger and Don
Anomaly 2; prop wash, which forced the left wing to drop; much like taking off in a cross-wind. And the lack of responsiveness of the controls on the long but slow ground run. And the super-responsive elevator, sluggish ailerons, and impossibly leaden rudder whilst on 60+ knot tow. All  this while trying to keep station behind the Tug.

The view while on tow
There's knowing it, and there's doing it, and the first couple of flights were a steep learning curve, with a part of my anatomy chewing large chunks out of the glider seat, but by the 3rd, flight nerves steadied and we were playing with the prop-wash, 'boxing the wake', and on the 4th launch practicing descending as well as ascending tows, as well as responding to Tug pilot signals; rudder flick-air brakes out, wing wiggle-pull off.
On the 5th flight the morning's exertions seemed to have been too much for Don, who remained silent throughout the flight; asleep, heart-attack, or reading Samuel Johnson? At 800 feet, high key, I just had to find out..........

Keeping the glider wings parallel to the tugs
''You still there, Don?"
"Mmmm?......oh....have we taken off yet?"
"I was thinking of going home now!"

The 6th flight, and I was on my own in the glider; I didn't feel ready, but we never do when we first dip our toe in the water. Concentrating hard on preventing a wing-drop, I was slow progressing the stick forward, so leapt off the ground a bit, but eased back enough to let the Tug catch me up without over-flying; and then the training took over and I just got on with the task in hand.The 'gun-sight' concept was invaluable, thinking yourself onto the target rather than forcing yourself there, and concentrating on having the glider wings mirror the Tug's. There was even plenty of time to keep a lookout and check ASI and altimeter without loosing the Tug. Wing wiggle, check the rope is taut, pull off, watch the length of spaghetti wriggle away, nose up, Tug dips right, I go left and climb....................and then I'm on my own 2000ft above North Hill with parachutes floating down to Dunkerswell, gliders circling below, Dartmoor in the distance to the South West, the sea to the South, and North, the Quantocks, What a neat way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Dave and Don 
I wasn't the only one having a good day. Fellow Sunday Soarer Dave Parker, never having flown outside Brentor, was  a gnat's whisker from also going solo, beaten only by the fast approaching bad light; lucky so & so gets another bite at it next week.

Thanks must go to all at North Hill for their great hospitality and for making this course such a success, and look forward to seeing them at Brentor.

Special thanks must go to CFI's Don Puttock and Pete Harmer for organizing the day, and to Mark Courtney for 'tugging' most of the day and giving us both such enthusiastic support.

Roger Appleboom

Dartmoor Gliding – Sunday 10th November 2013

With the forecast predicting 'dry and bright', a rose between two days of rain there was everything to play for today - and with Don and Roger Appletizer away at North Hill aerotow training there were precious few bodies in the team.

Roger Appleavgas refuelling the North Hill tug prior to his aerotow lessons
 Thanks to early arrivals Jeff Cragg and Jerry Wellington, however, the kit was out and ready in time for first trial lesson candidate Anita Macgregor from Inwardleigh, who declared her flights to be 'delightful'.

Jerry then took up the running, having left the winch for Allan Holland's enjoyment whilst I converted Jeff onto K-7M G-DDAK. Sadly, a thin skein of cloud cut off the sun which put paid to 'dry and bright' and any further development in conditions.

Trial Lesson student Sophie Lord from Tavistock. Guess how many children she has..?
High point of the afternoon was the arrival of Sophie Lord and her 'tribe' of 5, plus partner Ian, from Tavistock, and the ensuing scramble for the 4 available chairs...  Actually the high point of the afternoon was Allan Holland's first two flights on type in G-DDAK and his declaration that it was 'a delight to fly' and that it was 'better than DMX'.

Five! And here they are to prove it.
Just as we were packing things away (after a thorough wash down) we were joined by new member enquirer Jan, a paraglider from Bulgaria, who was so impressed that he may well reappear next Saturday.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News – Saturday 9th November 2013

If you had listened to the BBC forecast I am sure that you would have stayed at home as many of our members and visitors had. Careful perusal of the Met Office forecast actually revealed a rain free period between 10:30 and 3pm. This is exactly what we got and those members turned up were rewarded with some nice flying with the wind straight down the runway and a chance to move training / currency forward with CFI Don.

Peter looks pleased at reaching an important training milestone today.
 Rick Wiles and Mike Jardine used the opportunity to move their BI training forward. The big news of the day though is that we sign up two new members. Junior Peter Clifford signed up as a full member after the end of his 3 month temporary membership. Peter marked the occasion with an important milestone in his training, his first unprompted flight. He flew the launch, circuit and landing without any input from Don. Excellent.

New member Stefi seen here launching aircraft
The other new member is Romanian glider pilot Stefi Guiu, who is currently studying nutrition and health at Plymouth University has joined us and had three flights with Don working towards re-establishing her solo status. Welcome to the club Stefi

As expected the cloud darkened and the rain started again at 3:45 sending us scurrying back to the clubhouse for tea and medals.

An surprisingly good day.