Dartmoor Gliding News – Wednesday 26th February 2014

Faith in the forecasters' predication that early showers would dissipate (or at least become 'occasional') encouraged a dozen or so regulars to set aside thoughts of tea and log fires to get the show on the road early(ish). But one of our first tasks, while the winch was being prepared and gliders DI'd, was to help Andrew and Phil roll their trailer down to the hangar for that glider's annual inspection by our senior engineer, John Bolt.

For most of the day the sun shone and sufficient cumulus appeared occasionally to keep us interested -  if not airborne. But as has been the case for the whole of the winter, the main challenge was the fence-to-fence mud which, combined with some much rawer air that rolled in during the afternoon, was a real challenge to our resilience.

The cloud bases remained low most of the day but offered some entertainment for the pilots
 We started and continued the day using just two gliders; DAK with me instructing and the Zugvogel which Steve Lewis once again persuaded us to excavate from the back of the hangar. Apart from a brief 'hop' to test the airs, Steve spent the whole time on the ground, running the launch point and helping to keep spirits up. He had plenty of experienced helpers - the usual crowd, so I won't name them all - but two of our most determined ab initio students, John Rogers and Jorg Beasley, deserve a special mention. Thankfully they managed to get some air-time today, but otherwise they worked hard and competently along with the rest of the team.

Many hands make light work.
Bob Pirie, Phil Hardwick, and David Rippon (he must be wearing that hat for a bet).
Throughout the day DAK was kept busy with refresher flights and pre-solo training for Jorg and John. Meanwhile practically everyone had a trip in the Zug, with Robin Wilson achieving the longest flight of 12 minutes. (At this time of year we must be grateful for small mercies!)

Today's "ace" Robin Wilson waiting for a launch in the Zugvogel
With only one winch cable available, a slick launching and retrieving operation was needed - and delivered - and by the time the late pm drop in temperature persuaded us all that gliding was longer fun, we had achieved 20 or so launches plus a couple of cable breaks. As with last Saturday, this again proves that even with a single cable, provided members get their act together, and provided there's a sensible ratio of gliders and people to operate them, a satisfying day's flying is achievable. Had we had more gliders out on the muddy field today, it would have been chaos.

Apart from couple of instances late pm when the subtle wind-shift from south west to south caught out pilots and cables fell over the fence, the aftermath of one cable break caused us concern for a while. Having retrieved the cable and parachute from among the gorse on the north slope of the hill, when the team returned to the launch point it was discovered that Phil the Farmer was missing. A search by glider and ground team was initiated, but he then reappeared having been attending to some other task, so all's well that ends well.

One additional bit of good news. Apparently while we were all at the far end of the field, Colin Boyd dropped in at the clubhouse to deliver a new vario for the K8.

A really worthwhile day with a great group of people - but there must surely be an end to all this mud, cold and damp soon.

Bob Pirie

Dartmoor Gliding News–Sunday 23rd February 2014

With high winds and a low cloud base forecast, today was always going to be a no-fly day so Don quickly set about organising a list of things for us to do.

Top of this list was moving DMX's canopy into the safety of Roger's van ready for him to transport up the line to see about making the necessary repairs.  This was considered heavy work so obviously when we got back to the clubhouse there were plenty of sausage sandwiches waiting for us to make sure we were able to keep going.

Colin intently searching for a good field
 Don then organised a really interesting lecture on cross-country flying which everyone got very closely involved with; as you can see in the picture Colin Boyd was practising his field landing recognition skills and how to spot the difference between sheep and cows from high up.

Dave's cake
Apparently this lecture was also classed as heavy work, so thankfully Tony Dean had brought in some Cornish pasties for everyone to have at lunchtime, followed by a delicious cake made by Dave Parker, which again managed to just about keep everybody going.

Pasties for lunch
Another lecture followed lunch, and what else could the subject have been other than 'Maximum weight limits and stresses acting on a plane'.  Very appropriate considering the Sunday Soarers had turned into the Sunday eaters.

I could have been a model. Dave and Roger in flying outfits.
Roger and Dave were keen to show off their stretchy outfits, Dave looking particularly fetching in his new waterproof (and occasionally very high visibility) onesie.

Dave posing in his "onesie" 
Tony did manage some physical activity after his pasty and added a coat of paint to the inside of the Gus Launch.  The tin has been left in situ so there is no longer any reason for the winch driver to be bored between periods of activity, they can literally add the next layer and watch paint dry.

Lots of training card activities were signed off and everybody left really happy and looking forward to the days when we can regularly go flying again.

Jerry Wellington

Dartmoor Gliding News–Saturday 22nd February 2014

The forecast was suggesting a gap in the storms with fairly good conditions deteriorating towards the end of the day.

So gliders out and on with the fun. The members took the muddy conditions with typical good humour. The K13 was busy throughout the day. Training highlight today was junior member Michael Larkin’s first unprompted flight; CFI Don was in the rear seat but said nothing. This is an important milestone. Very well done Michael.

The winch driver's view of an interesting sky
The solo pilots were all desperate to fly. The K8 was busy as usual and the Zugvogel was on line for the first time in several months allowing some pilots the chance to convert to it and the more experienced to reacquaint themselves with it’s delightful handling.

Andrew Swann in the K8 made a good attempt at the longest soaring flight
but was eventually beaten by Allan Holland in the Zugvogel
 The air was interesting. The strong southerly crosswind was lifting little bubbles off the southern side of the airfield. These could be used to sustain flights up to about 15 minutes with some low level soaring. The K13 managed to find a thermal to the dizzy heights of 1400 feet. Great fun.

Ray Swinfield had his first flight in a Zugvogel
As the afternoon wore on the cross wind got stronger and stronger as the temperature dropped dramatically. With typical DGS grit and determination we stuck to the task in hand to make sure that everyone who wanted to fly had done so. In fact it was 6:45 by the time we had washed the gliders and repacked the hangar.

Rick Wiles was one of several experienced pilots queuing to reacquaint themselves with the Zugvogel
The warm clubhouse and a cold beer was a great way to finish a satisfying day.


Dartmoor Gliding News – Wednesday 19th February 2014

Today was another Wednesday washout with low cloud, fog and eventually rain. But you don't have to probe too far among all the mud and crud of Brentor to find something resembling a silver lining, which today took the form of a healthy turnout by more than a dozen of our most enthusiastic members intent on resolving some of the technical challenges associated with our launching equipment, which threatened to keep us grounded - whatever the weather.

All action at the workbench in the hangar. The GusLaunch gets some urgent repairs
I arrived to find that Colin Boyd, Steve Raine and Dave Rippon had already dismantled the Guslaunch winch's cable roller mechanism out on the airfield. They then lugged it back to the hangar and, with the arrival of Allan Holland and the assistance of several others, most of the morning was spent filing out grooves, fitting new bearings and then returning the whole assembly to the winch.

Meanwhile another team consisting primarily of John Rogers, Jorg Beasley and John Howe set about curing a serious disability which had beset the cable retrieve trailer. Then finally, Phil the Farmer fired up the tractor and we towed the recently-deceased grey Land Rover Discovery from pride of place at the front of the hangar to a less prominent position out the back.

"One wheel on my wagon?". Not with these guys on the job
So, all in all, ''Job well done!' And here's hoping that the team's efforts will be rewarded by some decent flying this coming weekend - and maybe the odd pint from grateful weekenders..

What other news? John Howe, obviously suffering following the recent death of his brother-in-law, raised our spirits by bringing along a nice 'thank you' letter from the Plymouth charity to whom the club recently donated a load of warm clothing. The arrival of Bob Sansom with a Transit-load of dry firewood was a most welcome sight, and it was good to have Andrew Beaumont back on-side following his winter migration to sunnier climes. For a change John Bolt was not freezing his fingers off in the bowels of a K-13 in the workshop, but performed well as Duty Stoker for the log burner.

Just as the rain set in, John Blaskett arrived with a working party consisting of his son-in-law and grandson, intent on fettling his glider and trailer.   But after a stint of trailer-washing, they called it a day and joined us in the clubhouse for tea and tall stories.

John Blaskett ( centre ) supervising his work party.  
Just to get us all thinking about improving safety and efficiency when we once again start doing some serious flying at Brentor, I gave a talk on Ground Radio Procedures. (You'll find the notes among the training materials for members on the club's website,and I do urge all members to read them.)

Bob Pirie

Dartmoor Gliding News–Sunday 16th February 2014

Today promised to be a good day, forecast sunshine, light winds, Cold weather passing through the day before and the prospect of a hearty Breakfast to start. Initially icy, the slippery stuff disappeared around 9am. But it was still cold.

K13 and K8 waiting at the launchpoint
The K13 was out and the K8. Don kicked off the proceedings with currency checks with Leith Whittington and training for Mike Swann, Mike Larkin and Andrew Swann while myself and Roger Appleboom managed the winch and retrieve.

The light S-SW forecast made most of us think it could just get going thermally (I know!!!), and on the grass we had Pundit predictions of between 11am and 1pm. for when thermal activity might start. Thermals actually started at 11 am over on the moors to the south in the nice winds and started 1 pm over us. But by then the light winds soon became the DGS norm and we had a crisp southerly x wind. The field was very soft and muddy. Despite the sunshine it was cold.

Thermal activity over dartmoor
Actually though, this was a great day to learn something, in these very variable conditions. It was hoped that the thermal activity would be better developed and allow for a ½-1 hour flights to get Glider Pilot Licence (GPL) durations in reasonable conditions. But, apart from the 20minute flight managed by Don and Mike Swann thermals where extremely narrow and affected by strong winds to the degree that thermalling and monitoring your gliding range in the light K8 became the main flight management task. In the K13 this was not such a problem apparently because of extra ballast taken on board in the form of hobnobs.

In the K8 though as the Southerly wind srengthened during the day it was very easy to find yourself after 3 or 4 nice turns in 3-4 up well over Brentor Church being whisked away in a northerly direction. In the K8 at 1400ft you would think not so much of a problem, but the moment you headed back into wind towards the field and you hit ‘blue 6-8 down’, it made it very interesting when you opted for a north circuit and found a classic grabbing hand as well rapidly changing your comfortable thoughts of a nice parallel landing alongside the launch point.

Southern circuits were not much better. You still managed to find 4-6 down and the need to increase speed to 60+ making for fast base leg and final turns.

The day was really interesting and fun, all but one of the trainees flew and Dave Parker got his ARC done on his far too clean K6 (examiners words). Roger Appleboom, myself and Allan Holland flew the K8. And young Andrew Swann in the K13 got the first of his ‘interesting attitudes’=‘you have control’ training. This
picture said it all, after just being announced

Is Andrew ( on the left ) really worried? I don't think so.
Our Gus winch did what our Gus winch seems to want do…. Show its displeasure on a cold day and threw loops at the last moment on the last flight. Meaning Dave , Alan, Andrew and myself where hand clearing loops and repairing an end of the day cable break in the dark (the strain of having to drag far too many Hobnobs Into the air!) and the K13 being dragged back by torchlight.

Sadly Luke didn’t fly but spring must be around the corner because Trevor popped up to show his medical is all in order.

Tony Dean

Dartmoor Gliding News – Saturday 15th February 2014

Yesterday’s storm was the worst of a very bad winter. With this in mind it was not surprising that the club was quiet today.

Arriving at the club, Rick Wiles was already hard at work on the club computers. We tested the new online booking system that he has been writing. This will go live soon.

After this we made an inspection of the airfield and equipment which all seems to have survived very well. The Guslaunch winch started easily, the launch hut was where we left it and all the trailers were in the correct places. As expected, the runway is very,very wet.

Landrover repair man Rick Wiles
 Rick continued his day by fixing the driver door locks on the Gold and Green Discoveries and the drivers window on the Grey one. In his usual ( keep busy ) style, he and Allan Holland then proceeded to replace the header tank  on the ML winch. The news for the ML winch’s injector pump is not good. The unit has now been sent to a specialist for rebuilding. This is always an expensive undertaking.

Rick and Allan working on the ML winch.
Outside, in the lee of the hangar, I could have believed that spring had arrived. The sun shone in a deep blue sky, it was pleasantly warm and even the birds were singing. What a difference a day makes.

Looking forward to the new season.


Dartmoor Gliding News – Wednesday 12th February 2014

Probably the worst day of the year (so far!) both deluge and gale-wise, justifying decisions by fellow-instructors Ged Nevisky and Steve Lewis to focus on domestic DIY projects.

However, Steve Raine having e-mailed me complaining of serious Brentor withdrawal symptoms, and knowing that there would be one or two other members seeking refuge from the storm, I decided that non-attendance was not an option, and drove down from North Cornwall (with my wife’s cries of ‘****** idiot’ ringing in my ears).

Bob pictured with his ASW20 taken when the weather was much nicer.
After an 'interesting' journey I arrived at the club to find the facilities unlocked, the generator chugging and Steve, Dave Rippon and Colin Boyd trying to coax life into the wood burner. In fact Steve had got there so early that he claimed already to have attempted a short cross-country flight via the simulator, followed by an impeccable landing.

As any dedicated Field Treasurer would do on a tempestuous day like this, Dave Rippon made his excuses and left on the grounds that ‘numbers needed to be crunched’. A little later Sandra Buttery and Alan Carter arrived to undertake a ceremonial hand-over of the 'Tea Swindle' kitty to Vice-Chairman Colin.  Then, after catching up on all the DGS chat, they scooped up their bedding (?) and pointed their 4 x 4 in the direction of Aston Down.

A phone call back to base persuaded me that with hurricane-force winds forecast for Lundy-Fastnet, it would be prudent to call it a day and return home. However, in the few hours that I had been on-site, an amazing amount of rain had fallen. Water pouring off the fields blocked my route between Milton Abbot and Launceston, necessitating a back-track to Tavistock, followed by a run along the north side of the moor and then a final leg home via Okehampton.

The forecast for the next few days is pretty appalling, but let's hope that by next Wednesday things will have improved sufficiently to stimulate a good turnout of members.

Bob Pirie

Dartmoor Gliding News - Sunday 9th January 2014

Today, with the forecast weather being very hostile and the trout stream deep enough to float a whale, discretion dictated no flying. 

Don in full flow. (Is it just me or is he demonstrating the pose of Christ The Redeemer, Rio De Janeiro?) 
So we settled in for a lecture from Don, this time the BGA Cloud Flying Endorsement. With the gourmet breakfast enjoyed on a Sunday and the very warm clubhouse thanks to the wood burner even Don’s well practiced lecture left a couple of members struggling to resist a late morning siesta.

A little siesta after the morning lecture
In the afternoon newly solo Andrew, his friend Michael and grandfather Mike attended Don’s Navigation lecture as part of their preparation for the Bronze exam.

How would our Sunday flyers punctuate an afternoon in the clubhouse?. Has to be with a cream tea of course. Is there any truth in the rumour that flying on a Sunday increases your waistline? I’ll leave the answer to that to your own views.


Dartmoor Gliding News – Saturday 8th February 2014

The Dartmoor Monsoon continues as one storm after the next smashes into southwest. It was very windy with showers and longer periods of rain and sleet.

The Met Office picture of this weekend's storm.
We arrived to find that the wind had caused some minor damage to the clubhouse. The large porch had been ripped from the building and it had sailed across the roof knocking off the wood burner’s chimney on the way. This in turn had bent up the roofing panel that it’s support wires had been attached to.

The porch panel flew here from the front of the building. The chimney is laying on the roof
So first order of the day was to remove the porch roof from it’s resting place and lay it on the ground in a safe place. We then recovered the dislodged chimney sections and bent the damaged roofing panel back into place.

This prompted a site inspection. The launch hut lives out on the runway and has been taken the full extent of the weather. It has moved a little but it’s drawbar and support leg have now sunk into the mud anchoring it in place. A couple of trailers have moved and we secured these. We will be encouraging owners to chain their trailers down.

At the hangar, Rick was working with Ray, the diesel fitter, on the ML winch. Unfortunately after checking out the whole fuel system it became apparent that the diesel pump is faulty. This has been removed for refurbishment or replacement. This is an expensive undertaking but must be done.

Our Romanian pilot Stefi was with us today. As she was the only inexperienced pilot on the airfield she became the focus of Don’s lectures; Principals of Flight this time. She is also studying the Bronze syllabus.

Mid afternoon there was an influx of club members as the committee assembled for a meeting. All that hot air might have produced a thermal except that by now the wind was gale force 9 and not even our committee could heat that up.

The day finished with a beer and tall stories.


Dartmoor Gliding News – Sunday 2nd February 2014

Mud, Mud Glorious Mud.

Pirat at the muddy launchpoint
There was so much of it around yesterday that even our gliders have started to look a bit mucky.

Not that this was going to put Don off organising a full day for each of the hardy souls who braved the elements; his priority was to ensure that everybody learned something new during the day and so we had various bodies training to operate the winch, drive the Quads for the first time and retrieving their first gliders, ground crew organisation and support, operation of the radios and logbook - oh and of course a little bit of flying also.

Hail at 45 degrees. Main dry forecast?
With 2 instructors available to us for the first time in several weeks, a forecast for a largely dry day with a slight south-westerly breeze and a veritable plethora of willing young students available we had the makings of a good day ahead, and indeed flying started very positively.

The DGS Treasurer ( AKA Martin Cropper ) was last seen heading for the rainbows end
However, a domestic emergency for Martin Cropper meant he had to leave us for the day (rumour had it that his Aga had gone out and if he wasn't able to fix it he would have no dinner that night - personally I cannot believe this ridiculous rumour as Martin would never leave his post for such a small matter, surely?).  Special thanks go out to Allan Holland who stepped up to drive the winch for the rest of the afternoon.  We also suffered a couple of cable breaks, which when you only have one cable available has you at a bit of a disadvantage.  The most disruptive break caused the parachute to drift a couple of hundred yards into the next-door field and had me climbing a tree to disentangle it before we could fix the cable and bring it back online, which lost us another 30 minutes at least.  The forecast was a little bit inaccurate, especially the 15 knot southerly crosswind that caused people to be on their toes all day.

Don lecturing when the showers called a temporary halt to the flying
Roger Applewhatsit had a most productive day flying the Pirat for the first time, and once he had mastered the effects of turbulence coming in to land, declared that he had had a really good day, in fact the rainbow gods seemed to be smiling down at him between the extremely heavy hail showers.  Dave Parker kept up his currency in the K13 and very generously gave the new quad bike riders some useful practice in long glider retrieves.  When the rain didn't permit flying Don kept up his series of classroom lectures.  Mike Swann tirelessly operated the cable retrieve truck all day before finally gaining his reward of the last couple of flights before the light faded and by half past six in the pitch black all the gliders were safely washed and put back in the hangar and a very tired but happy crew departed.

Roger Applerecords waiting to launch in the Pirat between showers
Jerry Wellington

Dartmoor Gliding News–Saturday 1st February 2014

The forecast for today read like a list of all possible weather with snow, hail, rain showers, gale force winds, and flood warnings everywhere. So not a flying day then.

There was work going on at the club. The ML winch was attacked by Dene Hitchen, Allan Holland and Rick Wiles. Dene ( Scatch to his friends ) worked on refurbishing the rollers. Allan and Rick worked away at the stubborn engine which still doesn’t want to play.

The ML winch still undergoing maintenance
Alongside all this winch work, Ged and Mike assisted John Bolt to complete the C of A and ARC renewal of the Open Cirrus.

Mike, John and Ged working on the annual inspections for the Open Cirrus
In the clubhouse Don was working with Darren Wills on the preparation for his cross country navigation test. I was really impressed by Darren’s command of all the data streams required. His weather briefing was particularly good. After all this work, Darren used the simulator to practice some cross country flying in thermal conditions eventually landing out just short of North Hill after about an hours flying.

Will the weather improve soon? I really hope so.