Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 29th October 2014

With fog, low cloud and rain on the menu for most of today, it was impossible to match club members' airborne achievements of last weekend and the previous Wednesday.

Difficult, too, to equal our Chairman's descriptive prose generated during countless hours spent each week commuting on National Express coaches. One has to admire Martin Cropper's commitment; travelling down from London by coach on Friday night, grabbing some 'family time' on Saturday and then, after spending Sunday instructing and running the airfield, heading back to London ready for his day job (and blog-writing) on Monday morning.

But back to today. As usual, we had the usual healthy mixture of Wednesday regulars and newcomers, but were amazed at one point when an enthusiastic visitor appeared out of the murk seeking to purchase a trial lesson voucher. (Even more amazed when, during the afternoon, Jeff Cragg arrived bathed in a brief ray of bright sunshine!)

For most of the day, however, the weather could not have been worse, so we decided to progress various new or ongoing tasks of potential benefit to the entire membership. The only exception to this was the annual inspection of our own ASW20F, and Martin Broadway and I are most grateful to John Bolt for undertaking this, with extra ''muscle' provided by various willing colleagues.

Martin and Bob fettling the ASW20 
'Sod's law'  welcomed us as soon as we had removed the vehicles from the hangar, because we discovered K-13 DMX wedged on its dolly due to a punctured main tyre. So this was placed on the 'to do' list temporarily while Dave Bourchier set about conjuring up replacement parts. As is usually the case with Dave, he was successful. Therefore towards the end of the day he, Phil Hardwick, and Ged Nevisky were able to indulge in the delights of lying on a damp and dirty hangar floor and repairing the glider ready for the next flying day.

As part of repairing the puncture, wheel break was adjusted
The next task was to get K7M CLT de-rigged so that the wing fabric can be removed and the structure inspected, prior to being completely recovered with new fabric. Despite realising that they were temporarily depriving themselves of a key training resource, pre-solo members John Rogers, Adrian Pike, Adrian Irwin and Kit Smith helped to ensure that many hands made light work, and one wing is now in the workshop, with the other, plus the fuselage and tailplane, in the hangar. Inevitably, this upgrading comes with a downside, in that we're temporarily down to one two-seater. However, I am sure that with goodwill all round, combined with some early starts and improved operational efficiency, we'll continue to be able to meet the needs of club members and visitors alike.

Before the hangar doors were closed, some planning for the repacking was undertaken, to make the Zugvogel more accessible to the increasing number of solo pilots wishing to fly it, and putting the currently under-utilised Pirat at the back.

The only blue sky we saw all day made a 30second appearance as we closed the hangar doors
So much for the glider-related tasks. Out on the airfield, Steve Raine (with a little help from his friends) towed out the 'newly-cabled' ML winch ready for action, and brought the Guslaunch down beside the clubhouse for fettling.  Steve then joined Vice-Chairman Colin Boyd to continue their mammoth task of completely re-wiring the clubhouse and hangar.

It's quite amazing how - mainly because of the great team of enthusiasts who form the core of our club's membership - whether at weekend or on Wednesdays, even the duffest of days can turn out to be fulfilling,
and even fun.

Bob Pirie

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 26th October 2014

Those of you who study genealogy will know that there have been some famous members of the Wall family, but not many.  There was Thomas Wall, the ice cream maker of favourites such as Cornetto and Magnum, and Max Wall, the music hall comedian, but few others.  Today we were visited by a double-barrelled branch of the Wall family: Walter Wall-Cloud – who arrived early and did not depart until the end of the day (see photo).
The weather was characterised by wall-to-wall cloud
Now, although that visitation pretty much prevented the sun getting through to the ground to cause any convection, the question was would it put paid to a decent day’s gliding at Brentor? It certainly would not!  For despite the less than promising conditions (cloud as above, wind from due south i.e.. 90 degrees crosswind, not 210 degrees as predicted) the early morning period allowed CFI Don Puttock to put Dart 17R owner Leith Whittington through a successfully handled General Flying Test, thus enabling Don to sign off Leith’s Bronze ‘C’ as completed (subject to being sealed over a Speckled Hen) – well done, Leith.

Spurred on by this Don then turned his attention to lapsed instructor Pete Howarth who, as Don put it, is a ‘re-boot’.  This meant that, not only would he be able to go solo K-13 DMX, but that he should instantly move on to the club K-8, thus achieving two first solos in one day.

Pete Howarth after soloing in the K-13, with daughter and trainee pilot Paula
Pete Howarth after soloing in the K-8: two solos, two types of glider - one day!
At this juncture (i.e.. before he was ‘sentenced’ to the winch), let’s just record the fact that longest flight of the day went to Roger Applewindfall, at 10 minutes (narrowly being Dave Parker), in the club K-8 before lunchtime using some darker tendrils which marked gently rising air under the blanket of cloud (see photo).

Roger Appleboom in the K-8 finds lift under the darkest tendrils
In addition to the aforementioned Mr Wall-Cloud, we hosted three very different types of visitor.  First, Adrian Ellicott who – as a birthday present - had been ‘set up’ by his partner for a glider flight as part of life’s ‘bucket list’, but who to the better of the dare by thoroughly enjoying his 8 minutes above terra firma.  Second was recently moved to Cornwall primary school teacher Jamie Studley who, having often thought about it, decided that ‘now was the time’ to experience soaring flight, and also thoroughly enjoyed his 9 minute flight, departing with an ominous Arnie-like “I’ll be back!”  Third was local Tavistock resident Jackie Marker who, having watched the gliders looking from Brentor church, liked the idea but was very, very nervous on the airfield; only to find the launch a little ‘scary’, and the rest being ‘absolutely marvellous’.  She also declared (not quite Arnie-like): “I’ll be back!”
Visitor Adrian Ellicott
Visitor Jamie Studley, with partner (right) and friends, from Caradon
Visitor Jackie Marker, from Tavistock
On the club-side, Paula Howarth had one of those days when ‘everything clicked’ with Don in instructing, Elliott Acton learned how easy it is to fly a glider when in trim, and father Chris experienced ‘life in the fast lane’ with a hangar flight that saw the K-13 at speeds (high) and heights (low) that defy explanation.  

So despite Mr Walter Wall-Cloud preventing any great soaring flights today, the completion of a Bronze C, two Brentor solos and some very positive trial lessons made this a hugely gratifyingly day to be at the club. 

Oh and, we packed the hangar within 15 minutes of dusk creeping in after the last touch down (see photo).out the way home.

All snuggled up: a well packed hangar at the end of a successful day

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 25th October 2014

Grey day with south westerly breeze. Crossing Roborough Down on the way to the airfield from Plymouth you can see Brentor Church approx. 10miles to the north and today the church and Tor were shining in the early morning sunlight. This raised my spirits considerably but by the time I arrived the grey overcast was there as well.

There was a small number of pilots at the field so we limited ourselves to the K13 with the K8 brought out just in case it became soarable.
Today's Visitor Martin Le Couilliard
 We welcomed a visitor, Martin Le Couilliard, from Jersey who has family connections in Plymouth and is planning to move into the area in the near future and wanted to try gliding as a way of continuing his flying; he normally flies powered aircraft. Martin enjoyed a couple of flights in the K13 during which he started to get to grips with flying a glider.

A couple of members used the quiet flying list to practice flying the K13 from the back seat. We have several members interested in becoming instructors.

Signing on the dotted line. Roger Green returns to DGS
The big news today was the return to the club of ex member Roger Green who has re-joined DGS and is planning to bring his ASW20 to the site in the spring.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 22nd October 2014

This year's autumn weather at Brentor has been characterised by huge contrasts. At one end of the scale there have been some fantastic wave days, while at the other, rather too many non-flyable days due to gale force winds, torrential rain and low cloud - and sometime a combination of all three.

A generally grey day with the wind nicely down the runway
For ab initio and early solo pilots who have flown in wave recently with an instructor, the experience has been memorable. However, for your average student who has had enough of the buttock clenching and character building that accompanies it, and who just wants to progress gently up the training ladder, all this 'shock and awe' in the air - or huddling round the wood burner in the clubhouse - can get a bit much.  What was needed was a relatively benign autumn training day, with 12 knots or so of wind straight down the runway, the winch way back in the west end field routinely powering our two-seaters to 1,500ft and K8s to 1,700 ft plus, and in so doing, not a single cable break.

One Day Course candidate Jessie Kane
Well, as promised by the met man since last weekend such a day arrived this morning, and there were plenty of club members were here to make the most of it, as well as two one-day course candidates, Jesse Kane(celebrating his 31st birthday), and Alan Roberson an ex hang glider pilot (seeking news thrills?)
Club training-wise, our Wednesday regulars were joined by 13-year-old junior member Ross Pratt, who flew with Ged, and whose mum (and chauffeur) Leslie waited patiently but resisted encouragement to have a go herself. Also present was LS4 owner from 'The Park', Bob Purdie, familiarising himself with flying non-glass gliders from our sometimes challenging site. (Coincidentally it turned out that he had flown at one of my former clubs, York Soaring Association in Canada.)

One Day Course candidate Alan Roberson
Despite a technical glitch which delayed the start of our one-day courses by half an hour, Steve Lewis again did a fantastic job, and with a little help from Ged ensured that our visitors left with smiles on their faces.

Single seater-wise, the Astirs of Steve Raine and Phil Hardwick/Andrew Beaumont were as usual rigged and 'up there' early, to be joined later in the day Robin Wilson's K6cr, Mike Keller's K8 and also the club's K8. There were some burblings of ill-defined lift around for much of the time which, combined with the fantastic launches (40 in all) enabled some 'delayed descents'. Alan Holland delayed the longest with a flight time of 17 minutes matching Steve’s soaring flight in the K7M earlier in the day.

A big thank you, by the way, to what I would describe as our 'hard core' members, who made today happen by driving the winch, retrieving cables and gliders efficiently, and running the launch point and tower. I may be wrong, but I don't think anyone got stuck with winch driving for more than an hour or so.

Well, all of the above is really only scene-setting for the two greatest achievements of the day, which were first solos in Brentor gliders by Chris Jones and Ian Osborne. They, like several of their contemporaries, were well on their way to going solo - in their case only needing completion of a few of the more challenging flying exercises to confirm to me that they were ready for the big moment. The weather was right, those exercises were completed and the big moment arrived - in Chris's case with two solo flights at the start of the day, and with Ian squeezing in one impeccable flight just before the drop in temperature drove us all back to the warmth of the clubhouse.

Chris, Bob and Ian celebrating 2 solos
Very well done guys!  Although I was in the privileged position of sending you solo, if you haven't bought
them one already, you owe a beer to my fellow instructors who have also contributed to your training.
Bob Pirie

Footnote: Looking at an old log book and reflecting on what an amazing experience that first solo can be, it occurred to me that I was too young to buy a beer for the chap who sent me solo at Lasham - 57 years ago next Monday.

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 19th October 2014

Attempting to comply with the order on the public address system of the National Express coach to London that I was to 'sit back and relax...' I reflected that the day had in fact been better than expected, and a vast improvement over the strong winds and low cloudbase of yesterday.

Roger Appleboom changing ends with the Zetor.
That said, the wind remained 'fresh' (K-8 off the ground in two steps) and approaches - at no less than 60kts and 45 degrees - were 'fun'. It was also a day when timing was less critical than luck: a strong SW-NE street set itself up quite rapidly just south of the airfield and then just as quickly dissipated, as illustrated by the fact that longest flight of the day, at 25 mins, took place before 1145 (Roger Appletwist) and second longest flight was after 1530 (Jerry Wellington) - both in the club K-8.

K-13 launching to 1,300ft.
With Don Puttock on hand to share the training load we minimised the turn-round time for K-13 G-DDMX and flew with visitors Hamish Halls (see photo), a local resident who remembers gliders flying from the aerodrome at Harrowbeer (Yelverton) in 1950, Tom Scott a commercial property agent who had travelled from London with (voucher buyer) girlfriend Elsa Quinn and Gary Stephenson, from North Devon, who got the last laugh over his family who had set him up as a 'dare' by enjoying a soaring flight to 2,000ft and 11mins in the air.

Visitor Tom Scot with girlfriend Elsa Quinn
Visitor Gary Stephenson
Visitor Hamish Halls looks pleased after his flight.
Whilst it has been said before, it must be said again that the value of putting the winch in the top field is exceptional: even the time spent on the wire gives cause for confidence, and in the expert hands of Allan Holland sent the K-8 to a release height of 1,700ft, whilst the two-seater regularly reached 1,300ft.

It was good to see travelling pairs of trainees Chris Jones and Jana Darmovalova, Chris Owen and Pete Harvey, and Pete and Paula Howarth at the launch point, whilst member Award of the Day must go to Scratch Hitchens who came, winched, but didn't fly in order to return to his ship in Portsmouth ready to sail at 'Oh crack sparrah!' Monday morning.

Allan Holland breaking the weak link in the K-8!
So whilst getting a soaring flight was dependent upon whether you were blessed by presence of the cumulus street or not, it was a day when you were able to 'sit back, relax and enjoy' the launch (unlike the coach) and also some long launches and strong, smooth, lift as it passed over the airfield.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News- Saturday 18th October 2014

With the wind at 15 knots, gusting 25 from the south and a cloudbase which very rarely cleared the tree tops this was destined to be a non flying day right from the off.

Repairing the entrance
The hardy few just got on with work around the airfield. Ged, David, Bob and Stefi dealt with the large pothole that had developed at the entrance gate with lots of swinging of picks and shovels. Rick, who spent the whole day working on the ML winch was joined by Stefi and much of the repainting and a myriad of minor jobs are now complete.

Winchmaster hard at work on the ML winch
Stefi masking the windows prior to spray painting
Ged and I decided to complete a couple of outstanding jobs on K7M G-DCLT. The first was to improve the battery box fasteners and reduce the size of the shelf that it sits on. The second job was to test and repair the Total Energy system on the glider which was definitely not working correctly. For those new to gliding, the Total Energy System is used to prevent the variometers from reacting to changes in airspeed which would make them much less effective in showing the rising/sinking air around the sailplane.  The system operates from a probe mounted on the leading edge of the tail fin. After several hours of testing we found and repaired 2 large leaks in the system and are looking forward to testing our handiwork in the air.

Yours truly removing the tailplane from CLT
Hoping for better weather soon


Dartmoor Gliding News–Wednesday 15th October 2014

After last Sunday's action-filled Blog - what a change!  Nevertheless, today's miserable weather failed to deter ten members from turning up at the club this morning and getting stuck into various chores.

Back in action. Does this mean winter is on the way?
Our number one priority was the ceremonial firing up of the wood burner, to help smooth the seasonal transition from soaring to shivering. Very soon the clubhouse was aglow and after a reviving 'cuppa' we were all ready to tackle various elements of our work programme.

Steve doing some electrical knitting.
Most impressive of all was the start of essential re-wiring of the clubhouse in accordance with the requirements of our insurers. This major task was tackled most ably by Colin Boyd and Steve Raine and was still 'work in progress' by the time I left.

The Discoveries waiting for service
 Ian Osbourne, Jorg Beasley, Robin Wilson and I set about preparing our vehicles and the ML winch for winter, by administering generous doses of antifreeze, while Steve Lewis John Bolt and Ged Nevisky grappled with complex glider weighing issues on the computer. Meanwhile David Bourchier seemed to be in several places at once, dispensing energy, expertise, enthusiasm and cups of tea.

Bob, Ian and Jorg doing replanishing the antifreeze
With weather conditions like today's, one really feels for all those keen trainee pilots who have been disappointed.  All I can say is 'hang in there', because autumn and winter can present us with some clear and crisp days when it's a joy to be airborne - whether on your own, or with an instructor breathing down your neck.

And whenever it is unflyable, there's always plenty to learn...  work to be done...  or good company to be enjoyed in warm and comfortable surroundings. So see you next week!

Bob Pirie

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 12th October 2014

And Now - as John Cleese used to day on Monty Python - for Something Completely Different! After yesterday's shower laden south-westerly, overnight the wind reversed direction to become a cold, dry north-easterly. And what do NE'lies make..? NE'lies make wave!

Mike and Scratch launch for the "sniffer" flight
And so, although the early morning windsock showed nothing at all, it was with a spring in our step that we changed ends as rapidly as possible (or as rapidly as the Zetor tractor permits!) and - before 10:30 - had launched Mike Jardine and Scratch Hitchens in a 'sniffer' flight. Would they find it? There was no indication by way of lenticular cloud or rotor but, on their downwind leg, somewhere east of Brentor Church, they made contact.  And there they would have stayed all day, it seemed,were it not for the fact that Mike had a diary full of visitors to fly, the first of whom was due to arrive at 1100! You could almost see the reluctance with which they brought the K-13 back to earth, where a predictably growing queue of single seaters was eagerly awaiting the chance to explore the height and breadth of the wave. 

Jana Darmovalova piloting a glider for the first time in wave.
For those who know the area, the wave set itself up in the valley west of Blackdown where the disused railway line snakes its way northwards to North Brentor village, and could be followed to an area beyond Bridestowe, almost as far as the Meldon reservoir.

Adrian Irwin in the K-13, joining the ASW-20 on the same beat.
 In terms of height, the early birds, such as Roger Appleblossom, seemed to find 1kt  tailing off to a natural ceiling at 2,800ft, where as those more seasoned waveaholics, such as ageing rock star Colin Boyd, found sweet spots of 4-6 kts up, which didn't stop until 4,000ft or more, the prize finally going to retired banker Martin Broadway, in his 15m ASW20, with a height of 4,300ft, which just beat Chief Pirate Leith Whittington, in his 17m Dart 17'R', who was closely followed by ageing rock star Colin Boyd in the club K8.

Colin Boyd in the K-8 on his way to 4,000ft plus
 Whilst Mike Jardine was busy touting the advantages of silent flight to our visitors and their families (see photos), Chris Jones, Jana Darmovalova and Adrian Irwin enjoyed being able to ascend to 3,000ft or so without effort in K7M G-DCLT, using only minimal amounts of stick and rudder. 

Visitor Frank Roberts with his grandchildren
Visitor Mark Rich
Visitor Nino Tanner
Visitor Peter Tanner
Visitor Shirley White
And so life continued with blissful ease until a little after 4 when, and in hindsight perhaps ahead of an approaching warm front, it all went rapidly downhill.  The wind, which had been increasing gradually in strength through the day, backed  ever so slightly to North whereupon suddenly, it was down, down, down where ever you went. Flights which, only 30 minutes earlier, had been a 'walk in the wavepark' became life or death struggles for survival with 4s mixing it with 6s of sink and full control deflections necessary to keep the glider pointing in the desired direction.

Regrettably this put paid to father and son team Chris and Elliot Acton getting any hands on stick time. So, time to call it a day, then? Obviously not! Time, more like, to bring on lapsed Instructor Hugh Gascoyne to sample the conditions..! With the ASI showing a little over 65kts at 1,200ft with the winch on tick over, followed by a 2 minute roller coaster back to terra firma Hugh, who had asked for 'a few eventualities' got them in the flying describing his 2 flights as 'interesting' (or something similar) but also showing that he 'could still do it!' And well flown too, Hugh. As we left the airfield sitting under a huge Swiss roll of rotor cloud thinking, '

Roll cloud marking the arrival of a huge area of sinking air
 I'm glad I'm down here...', it was with the satisfaction that, not only had some old hands been able to exploit some luxuriantly smooth wave, but also that some who had never flown before were given a taste of flight over heights and distances they thought were not possible without some form of propulsion.

Thanks go to Scratch, Roger and Colin for winching, and to Luke, Jeff Cragg and many others for helping on the ground.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 11th October 2014

At first glance the weather forecast look dire. There had been heavy rain and thunder storms overnight but looking carefully at the details in the forecast there was more than a good chance for a soaring day. There was about a 50% chance of rain with the wind generally light and a little south of west but often when the forecast is like this Brentor will miss the showers altogether and the unstable air will provide some entertainment for the soaring pilots.

K8 G-CGDK and Zugvogel G-CHKV waiting for the weather to improve
 Today proved to be exactly like this. Early on there was a lot of low cloud but this steadily improved. We saw lots of showers passing both north and south of us but the airfield remained dry all day. The airfield was quiet as less well informed members stayed away on the strength of the forecast, but those that did turn up would be well rewarded for their efforts.

Today we had a visit from a group of Explorer Scouts from Saltash. They were attending the airfield for a Gliding Course. We have flown scouts from this troop before and as ever they approached their task with enthusiasm. By the end of the day, all five scouts had learned about gliders and how we handle them, had helped launch the gliders as wing holders and launch marshals and had completed a couple of flights each. This will enable them to claim their gliding badges. Great fun.

The Saltash Scout Group
The Scout Leader Roy, Rick and the scouts share a moment in the launch hut
The scouts helping to launch the K13 supervised by Stefi
And what of the club flying? Well, instructor David Jesty did a couple of check flights with Dick Master and Stefi Guiu after which Dick flew the Zugvogel with a day beating flight of 25 minutes soaring along the edge of a cloud street. Stefi, who has just returned to us after flying most of the summer at home in Romania, immediately claimed the K8 for a couple of flights. Stefi is really becoming attached to this glider. Perhaps we should put her name on it. If it was good enough for Maverick and Iceman …?

Stefi and David in the K13
Stefi in the K8
"Ace of the base" Dick Masters with the Zugvogel.
Special thanks today to Ged Nevisky  who drove the winch all day and Rick for organising the Scouts course.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 8th October 2014

True to form, no sooner had I set foot back on these shores than the weather went downhill fast. However, it was good to be back at the club, and the prospect of gale force winds and heavy showers failed to deter a small  group of optimists intent on flying should the smallest opportunity have presented itself. But it didn't, and tempting though it may have been to try 'just one launch', a crosswind gusting to 30 kts and the arrival of heavy showers made the decision a no-brainer.

Therefore having DI-d the ASK13 and satisfied ourselves that all of the gliders in the club fleet were up-to-date maintenance-wise, it was back to the clubhouse for all of us except Steve Raine, who spent the morning rolling the airfield.

The presence of John Bolt, Phil Hardwick and Dave Bourchier prompted us to enquire what chores needed to be done, but they'd obviously run out of ideas, so it was a case of sitting down for cups of tea, sarnies and a natter. I must say the clubhouse looked in pretty good shape both externally (with the canopy refitted) and internally, following the tidying up done for last Saturday evening's met presentation. The only evidence remaining of that event and the barbecue afterwards was a distinctive 'burgery/sweaty' aroma, and a bag of stale hot dog buns.

Among the other enthusiasts present today, our resident K8 addict Mike Keller needed little persuading to not even think about rigging his little machine,so he consoled himself by sitting down to administer some trial lesson bookings.

Our only ab initio students today were were Ian Osbourne and Adrian Irwin - (the term 'ab initio' being a misnomer really, because prior to hanging up their professional wings fairly recently, both had clocked up thousands of hours as airline pilots, and Adrian had also been an RAF fast jet instructor). But as I have so often found typical of such high achievers, when it comes to learning to glide, they are quite happy to revert to 'square one' of the training syllabus, and are also not slow in coming forward to muck in with club chores.  They started today by being coached in, and then signed off for, daily inspections by our senior engineer, John Bolt, after which I gave them a talk on launch failures.

Finally, we climbed into a Land Rover Discovery and carried out a tour of the airfield to familiarise them with the various approaches, landing areas, obstructions and places where it is preferable not to attempt a landing.

I had hoped that during the day we might have demonstrated some approaches over the valley from the north, followed by landings on the stub runway, but with the weather having deteriorated considerably, we all called it a day and headed for home.

Bob Pirie

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 5th October 2014

It was a definitely going to be a GOOD Day. Why? Because the RASP forecast said so - that’s why. The fact that I had to recheck RASP from the comfort of my luxury executive coach on the way back to London in the evening perhaps gives an indication that all was not what it seemed. The high cloud screening the sun (pictured) as we took the hurdle fence down was surely going to clear wasn’t it? (RASP forecast 100% sunshine from 1300-1600). And the wind was surely going to back from South to South west, wasn’t it? (The Met Office Form 215 gave 200  at 15kts for 1200Z).

High loud over the airfield in the early morning light
So we set up for a westerly launch and, despite the cattle, decided to put the winch in the top field. And a good job we did for, without it being there, we would not have achieved the 1,200-1,300ft launches that we did throughout the day.

So what of the flying? Well, with two private K-6s and a K-8 rigged by 1030 and a string of Trial Lessons it wasn’t through lack of launches that the second longest flight of the day was only 16 minutes (Well Done Jerry Wellington in his K-6CR FUB). It was that the wind didn’t shift and the high skein of cloud didn’t clear.

Visitor Toby Ellis
Visitor Ian Ellis
VisitorRoy Harper
In the two seater father and son team Toby (son) and Ian (father) Ellis were first to launch, closely followed by Full Member Chris Jones’s son Max for a set of 3 training flights. Max’s third flight being around 1230 coincided with the first proper contact with lift: a decent, smooth thermal that enabled us to get to 1,800ft, which also allowed Roger Applepress, fresh from his sojourn to France (where they wouldn’t even consider flying before lunch…) to soar in his K-6CR CBY.

Chris Jones had not only brought son Max to fly with us, but also Jana Darmovalova, an Environmental Science graduate from Plymouth University who had last flown a Blanik in the Czech Republic 17 years ago. She thoroughly enjoyed her two flights with us but, with only 3 weeks in the UK before her contract expires, is going to have to cram in as many flights as possible before having to leave!
Jana Darmovalova surrendering to the experience
 Whilst Roger A transitioned from practising into wind landings on the stub runway to mastering the Guslaunch, Mike Keller, Allan Holland and returning winch man Jerry Wellington attempted to show us how it was all done under the occasional big grey cloud that managed to form beneath the overcast (which ended with Mike’s 7 minutes being trumped by Jerry’s 16 minutes that were finally pipped at the post by Allan Holland with 17 minutes).

Allan Holland in the K8 departs a thermal
And in the two seater Roy Hooper, from Launceston, got some (hopefully) breathtaking video footage in 15 minutes of soaring, whilst also taking control, and recently joined father and daughter team Peter and Paula Howarth pressed on with their training (literally in Paula’s case where wristbands were put to the test - with success!). Peter is a ‘reformed’ former Air Cadet instructor who we hope to get to re-solo as soon as possible.

Peter Howarth downwind in ASK13 G-DDMX for a hangar landing
Also on the field it was good to see Hugh Gascoigne put in another appearance, and long time no see for Steve Clark, a resident of South Brent who keeps a Ventus at Dunkeswell, but does most of his flying in South Africa where the cloudbases are, just ever so slightly, higher than we are used to - and the lift ever so slightly stronger, but that is another story.

So 22 launches later on a day that failed to deliver what was expected were we disappointed? Well, no - the winch and its drivers performed exceptionally, thus making up for the weaker than expected conditions. But we do need to keep the momentum up, particularly with our club trainees, and for that we need - more instructors. Do you know of a box with one or two in?

Martin Cropper