Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 29th November 2014

The forecast was for light easterly winds with the possibility of high cloud cover. Easterly? Better check the forecast atmospheric soundings. Too many negatives for wave. Still perhaps the forecast is wrong. Off to the airfield with a lightness of step.

The early morning cloudscape
The club aircraft were out and ready early. Today it was the K13, K8 and Zugvogel 3A. We had to wait until a little after 10:30am until the canopies stopped misting up to get the flying underway. Still the wait was pleasant enough in the warm winter sunshine under the vivid blue sky looking for any signs of wave activity. There was a spectacular looking cloud sheet sitting over on the tors to the east. Cap cloud maybe?

K13 waiting to go. In the distance a cap cloud obscures Dartmoor 
First flight was Olly Mawson, our One Day Course Candidate, with me in the K13. We found some reduced sink and what could only be a little rotor. While we soared for 12 minutes, this was at 700 – 800 feet over Mary Tavy before we returned to the airfield to take another launch and continue with Olly’s training. By the end of the day, Olly was able to fly the aircraft around the circuit in a reasonably accurate manner in the beautifully smooth air. Well done Olly. We look forward to seeing you again soon.

One Day Course Candidate Olly Mawson
We had several other visitors today. Arriving with her Introductory Flight Voucher was Victoria Fletcher who enjoyed a couple of flights with Rick Wiles.  Visiting from North Hill was father and son Wyn and Rhodri Davies, both of whom flew with Ged.

Victoria and Rick share a joke before flying
While we were having lots of fun flying, at the other end of the airfield there was a lot of winch training organised by Rick. Well done everyone.

The day finished relatively early as we were once again plagued by canopy misting.

We had a great day with beautiful weather.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 28th November 2014

With the prospect of light north westerly winds it was off to the airfield with the idea of a good training day.

K13 G-DDMX waiting for the off
However, on arrival it was clear the the forecast was misleading. There was fog, lots of it. We got the gliders out and waited. Whilst waiting Phil Hardwick brought the old mower down to the hangar where John Rogers replaced all the wooden covers. Eventually the cloudbase looked like it was rising enough so it was off to the launchpoint.

John Rogers replacing the wooden deck on the topper mower
The first flight revealed that the cloudbase was only about 750 feet with lots of cloud much lower that this. After waiting a little more it became obvious that the cloudbase was not going to get any better.

The prize for the most optimistic pilot goes to Mike Keller who rigged his K8 just in case 
So, plan B saw instructor Ged Nevisky putting everyone through their paces dealing with practice launch failures. By 2:30 pm, as the temperature dipped once more, the cloudbase lowered even more and the canopy started misting up. Time to return to the hangar.

The K8 tow bar in an autumnal setting
Although we only had a short flying day, we made the best use of it that we could. Lots of pilots practiced launch failures. We test out the K8 tow out gear provided by Allan Holland and had a day out with friends.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 22nd November 2014

Originally today was planned as a solo pilot only flying day but with the availability of David Jesty a full training programme could be flown as well.

Kit and David in the K13
Rick Wiles had arrived early to change ends and then continue with his planned tasks today. So K13 and K8 were taken to the east end launchpoint and it was on with the flying. Interestingly, Instructor Ged Nevisky was also on site but he decided to spend the day training winch drivers instead of flying.

Another K13 flight climbs into the air
First in the K13 was Karl Andrews who flew several successful check flights before flying solo in the K8. Kit Smith was next and he continued working his way through his pre-solo training card; stalling today. Next up was Adrian Irwin who is completing a programme of differences training after a lifetime of commercial and military flying. Judging by the exercises ( launch failures ) he must be close to solo.

Visitor Mark Bray with Introductory Flight Pilot Mike Jardine 
Today’s visitor was Mark Bray from Truro. His two flights were unfortunately separated by wait of over a hour while as we waited for a line of very low clouds and showers to blow through.

Dramatic cloudscape over Dartmoor's western flanks
The K8 was kept busy all day with all the solo pilots flying it but try as they might, nobody found any soarable air.

Stefi in the K8

Better luck next time


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 19th November 2014

The forecast looked grim. The was an occluded front moving towards us at 10 knots from the SW. A quick bit of measuring maps and some basic maths meant that we were expecting the front to arrive at 1pm.

Lowering cloudbase
But, with a little arm twisting, we decided to get the K13 out and, “give it a go” in the last of the South easterly wind. As it turned out we only managed 2 launches in the challenging conditions before the lowering cloudbase ahead of the front put a stop to any more aviation.

Getting ready for another flight
After returning the K13 to the hangar, it was decided that several of us would go strop hunting. This sport is unique to glider flying, and requires participants to scour the fields and moorland either side of the runway looking of any glider strops discarded during cable / weak link breakages. In the end we only recovered one strop but that made the whole undertaking worth while. We timed it just right and arrived back at the clubhouse just as the rain started.

Hoping for better weather soon.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 16th November 2014

“You never get wave with low pressure”. So said Allan Holland recounting the words of meteorologists of yore. Well, today was low pressure, the wind was in the north-east and, judging by the roll cloud lying low over the top of Dartmoor, there was wave. Ready and waiting.

All that was needed was to launch, release over the winch at the eastern end of the airfield (where it was already positioned), then sit and wait for the variometer to respond. Easy.

Roll cloud over the moor behind the winch: a sure sign of wave?
But before going into detail about the day’s wave flying let’s reflect upon some of the dialogue that’s been taking place on the Forum about ‘Early Start’. Now that the clocks have gone back and the evenings are drawing in it’s increasingly important to get an ‘Early Start’. How do you define that? Well, by the time I arrived it was defined as: all of the vehicles out of the hangar, both windsocks up, launchpoint opened up, parachutes in and radios on, cable drogues laid out in front of the winch and winch radio and key ready to go in the retrieve.

All this was achieved by 0845 and it was all courtesy of Sunday Soarer Leith Whittington. Of who more later, since before we could really get under way it was necessary for me to check out Chris Jones as winch driver on the ML at the east end. Which meant giving Leith a couple of launches in his Dart 17R prior to getting the K-13 on line. Leith’s first circuit, to the south, looked pretty uneventful but with his second, to the north, he found the spot. Somewhere between the launchpoint and the church, perhaps over the house with the tennis courts that are never used, he started going up. And up. Until we were grateful for the 17m span of his wings which made him easier to see than a 15m glider such as the K-8.

Adrian Irwin on finals in K-13 DMX.
So I raced to get Kit Smith into the air in the K-13 and join him, now well ensconced to the north of the airfield in the valley of North Brentor village. But it was not to be: Kit found the lift, directly over the church - 4 up - but it extended no further than Brentor itself, outside of which was a larger pool where the vario barely went above zero. Kit tried; I tried; we just couldn’t get higher than 1,000ft. Meanwhile Leith continued serenely above us for a total of 1 hour 27 minutes, reaching a maximum of 2,400ft in conditions which were occasionally slightly less than VMC. It was the flight of the day and definitely a case of the Early Bird who caught the worm
Masterclass in the pre-flight checks: could that kneepad have anything to do with it?
As the morning progressed we were treated to some breathtaking skyscapes in the easterly breeze (see photo) but, perhaps significantly, the roll cloud over the moor had dissipated. And so we proceeded, with Kit, Max Smith, Jana Darmovzalova and Adrian Irwin enjoying launches to 1,200ft courtesy of Chris Jones on this winch. Today was Jana’s last day with us (see photo) as she is moving to Cranfield University, and will be gliding at Bicester in future.
Jana Darmovzalova left us today for Cranfield University.
Perhaps inspired by the wind direction we were visited by two members from our sister club at North Hill: father and son team Wynn and Rhodri Davies; however as the afternoon wore on the clouds began to fill in and they were only able to achieve ‘site check’ type flights. Even Allan Holland and Colin Boyd were unable to break the 15 minute barrier in the K-8 and there was a hint of rain in the air.

We were visited today by North Hill members father Wynn Davies…

…and son Rhodri.
So is it possible to get wave in low pressure? Most definitely ‘Yes’; but sometimes you need an ‘Early Start’. A very ‘Early Start’.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News–Saturday 15th November 2014

Setting out for the airfield under a glowering sky with frequent showers things did not look too good. However, the forecast was for light(ish) winds from the southeast and there is always a chance of some soaring in this kind of unstable airflow.

Getting the Zugvogel out
On arrival it was obviously going to be a quiet day. Rick Wiles had already changed ends so after getting the gliders out we set about the task of removing the west end picket fence.

Ionut and today's instructor, David Jesty
First to fly with today’s instructor David Jesty was Stefi who was cleared to fly solo in the K8 after a couple of successful check flights. Next up was Stefi’s boyfriend, Ionut Florica, a professional helicopter pilot from Romanian who is also a keen glider pilot who was also cleared to fly solo.

We had one air-experience visitor today, Adam Rasmussen who enjoyed a couple of flights with Rick.

Visitor Adam Rasmussen waiting to fly
Down at the winch, we continued with the effort to continue the training of a couple of new winch drivers. This is an important skill – no winch driver – no flying.

Ionut took the photo while soaring the K8
And what of the soaring. Well, visitor Ionut, soared the K8 for 16 minutes, only landing as he thought that an approaching shower was going to engulf the airfield. As it turned out the shower never arrived. Following closely on his heals was Dick Masters who managed two 13 minute flights in the Zugvogel.

Sun, showers and cloud summed up the weather.
This view is taken from the south side of the airfield looking north at Mary Tavy and Gibbet Hill
The view south was more threatening but the sun was still shining on Whitsand Bay.
The cloud to the right looks like it marks a line of weak wave. 
During the afternoon the committee held a meeting in the clubhouse which seemed to end amicably enough judging by the smiling faces on show when we arrived back at the clubhouse after flying.

When we repacked the hangar, we used the new packing sequence, planned the other day, to ensure solo pilots have easier access to the Zugvogel.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 12th November 2014

Thanks to the early birds plus a few members of the team who rolled up slightly later (although not that late!), we got the show on the road in bright sunshine but with the access track 'stream' flowing down past the clubhouse in fine fashion, and deep puddles all over the airfield.

The appearance of the sun was all the encouragement we needed
With few of us around, and a forecast that the already brisk cross-wind would strengthen, we got just the K13 and K8 to the launch point (along with plenty of tyres!). After a couple of dual flights, Chris Jones managed to get in a solo flight, and Steve Raine and I did a bit of K8-ing, before the wind strength increased and that plucky little glider was returned to the safety of the hangar. At 10 minutes, Steve's flight was the longest of the day, so he was well-pleased.

Steve Raine just pointing out that he had the longest flight of the day
( in case anyone missed the fact )
Steve Lewis's intrepid one day course student  Andrew Wilkes joined us and 'gave it a go', before agreeing with his mentor that a return visit on Sunday might be less exciting and more productive. He's dead keen, and shows signs of signing up for full membership - and with one of our former airline pilots, Adrian Irwin (Adrian Mk2), actually signing on the dotted line today, this is all good news.

One Day Course candidate Andrew Wilkes will be back again
The rest of my flying day was spent battling the cross-wind with Adrian, helping to re-tread Dave Rippon (who after his long layoff is on the brink of re-soloing in the K8) and Jorg Beasley, back from several weeks away - a combination of coming out of retirement for a few weeks to earn some money, and then winning brownie points by spending it on taking Mrs B. on holiday to Singapore.

The cross wind have been persistant recently
During mid-morning, Adrian Mk1 (Adrian Pike) joined us and worked hard, but with the tricky conditions and a fast-falling temperature, declined to fly. Later, over a cuppa in the clubhouse, several of us admired his professional picture framing skills, the latest example being the rebirth of a previously tattily-framed print of a Spitfire.

The wind decreased slightly late pm, enabling Robin Wilson to get in the final flight of the day - a solo in the K13.

What else happened? Well, the skies were spectacular and the views incredible, with anvil clouds and rainbows aplenty. On on several occasions torrential rain stopped play; the Lamerton Hunt provided a colourful spectacle as they hollered and hunted around in the gorse (a bit like a more decorative version of a DGS strop-hunt); and Colin Boyd and Alan Holland confined themselves to the glider workshop, preparing CLT's wing for re-covering.

Looking at the forecast, it looks like it'll be downhill all the way for a while now, but talk of easterlies on Sunday doesn't surprise me, because that always happens my wife and I head off to the sunshine.

Bob Pirie

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 9th November 2014

Today was makey learney day. In last week's blog mention was made that sometimes there are so few members on site they are required to perform like one-armed paperhangers; today there was plenty of turnout but only one instructor, and winch driver, both of whom were me! So some kind of remedy was required if we were ever going to get the two-seater into the sky with both seats occupied.

The K-8 gets rich – at the end of yet another rainbow..!
Fortunately, brains had already been applied to this prior to my arrival and never let it be said that the Sunday Soarers are 'winch wimps', for by the end of the day we had 3 new potential winch drivers ready to spread the load. The plan involved getting Chris Jones up to speed on the winch whilst using Pete Howarth at the other end as guinea pig in the K-8. Once Chris had winched sufficient launches for Pete to retain currency in the K-8 (where he'd re-soloed only last week) the plan was for Chris then to launch solo in the K-13 whilst I supervised Pete on the winch, but fortunately the cavalry arrived over the hill in the shape of Jerry Wellington and we were able to 'crack on'.

We were treated to an overflight by a Helimed EC135 helicopter today who called up on 130.1kHz on a 'Priority A mission' to Derriford and received permission for the overflight from retired 747 pilot Adrian Irwin.
And they spotted the K-13 in circuit
 And crack on we needed to for various weather experts (seaweed outside the door etc.) predicted a trough line by 1200 that would bring with it all sorts if precipitory mayhem. In the event there were, similar to last week, some rapidly developing cumulus that swept up from the south, and south-west (in the afternoon) creating showers which were sufficient to interrupt flying, but not to stop us (see photo). Whilst this put pressure on the Flying List, we were able to cycle everyone through and I was, a little parochially perhaps, glad that there were no visitors as they would definitely have impinged on club members’ flying.

Another day of sharp showers (it was actually raining on the upper surface of the K-13).
So no surprise then that the longest flight of the day was a mere 7 minutes (both Allan Holland and Jerry Wellington being first equal in the K-8); but - in addition to placing 3 new winchmen in the training pipeline - we were able to get some useful flight training achieved, some launch failure demos, zigzag circuits etc. and I hope that all - especially those who travelled some distance, such as Chris Owen and Pete Harvey from Falmouth and those from closer by such as Adrian Irwin and Chris Jones - got something of value in the day.

At the East End - Pete Howarth as K-8 guinea pig for winch driver training…
Man of the Match Award has to go to Pete Howarth who as we can see, at one point was the flying guinea pig in the K-8 before metamorphosing into returning winchman (he has driven ML winches before) at the other end of the airfield (see photos). And the prize for Best Overall Improver has to go to daughter Paula who, having not flown with yours truly for a while, stunned me with her general handling ability and capacity to assimilate trimming and speed changing - but then that’s 20 year olds for you..!

and at the West End - Pete Howarth as trainee winch driver..!
Thanks go to all the team for their early morning plotting that plucked success from the jaws of what looked like a pretty bleak prospect at the outset.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 8th November 2014

Today started with torrential rain and near gale force winds. Little wonder that the club was quiet then. There had been a call for a work team to help the fencing refurbishment project but this was going to be a non starter. Who says glider pilots are never sensible?

What struck me today was the contrast in the work which was being undertaken. The glider workshop was almost library like as Colin and John worked on the refurbishment of CLT’s wings with only the odd scraping or sanding sounds to break their concentration.

A study in  peace and concentration. Colin and John working on CLT's port wing
The scene in the  hangar couldn’t have been different with loud hammering, welding, and grinding ( and the odd expletive ) as Rick and David attacked the GusLaunch winch defects list. Later they were joined by Allan who was refurbishing the rear skid from one of the gliders.

Rick working on the GusLaunch winch. 
In the clubhouse it was light, warm and clean. Ideal working conditions for me to replace the large screen and sound system on the briefing computer. Here I discovered that Rick had made a really early start today and had already installed the new graphics card in the simulator before banishing himself to the hangar.

So, today the outstanding task list got a little shorter. It looks like good flying weather tomorrow.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 5th November 2014

A cracking autumn day with bright sunshine, a light crosswind from the north and some hints of marginally-productive cloud streets (as ever with the big blue bits anchored above the airfield).

A sunny day with a light northerly crosswind
Everyone present (and there were 19 of us!) should be grateful to our our resident 'sparkies' Steve and Colin who spent yet another day re-wiring the clubhouse, and to those early birds who got the kit out and the airfield ready before most of their colleagues had showed up.

The start of any flying day has its ups and downs; today's 'down' being the realisation that the upper field was full of cows, with their fodder strategically-placed just behind the winch. So it was a case of delaying the start of flying and all hands on deck to get the fence assembled. This was followed by a launch point briefing about these additional hazards to consider when contemplating landing straight ahead after a launch failure. And the 'up'?  Well, John Bolt had a big smile on his face when reporting that having stripped of the first of K7M's CLT's wings, he and Colin had found the structure to be in good condition - although a redundant mouse's nest had had to be removed.

Given that we had a long flying list and only one two-seater with yours truly in the back seat, we still managed to achieve a reasonably productive training day, with plenty of regular attendees or 'returnees', including David Rippon returning after a 6 month absence, enjoying dual flights, and Ian and Chris adding to their tally of solos. (Thanks, by the way, to Steve Lewis who, without any trial lessons to fly, provided sterling service by leading operations at ground level.)

Bob briefing prior to the first flight of the day 
Knowing that low sun and misting cockpit canopies would dictate an early halt to proceedings, and determined that no one who wished to fly should go home disappointed, I suggested at the outset that a 'ration' of two two-seater flights per person would be appropriate. In fact by late afternoon everyone had had a couple of flights and I finished my flying day by relaxing in the back seat beneath a misting canopy with Dave Bourchier proving that he hasn't lost 'the touch'.

Today's only visitor was Julie Stapleton from Torquay, a paragliding friend of Mike Gadd.  Spending the best part of the whole day with us, Julie enjoyed a couple of 'family and friends' flights with Mike, who then went on to impress his guest (if not the rest of us) by achieving the longest flight of the day ( 21 minutes in the K8 ).

Visitor Julie with Mike in the K13
Apart from the K13, the only other gliders to venture onto our soggy airfield and into the air today were the K8 (also flown by Jeff Cragg, Bob Sansom and Alan Holland) and the Twin Asir, flown by various permutations of Robin Wilson and Phil Hardwick.

Anyone contemplating flying this weekend should note that the airfield is now becoming very soggy, and to preserve its surface, we must use the quad bike for retrieves, and keep the Land Rover Discoveries on the hardened tracks as much as possible.

Finally, a further word about our temporarily restricted two-seater availability while CLT is undergoing its scheduled overhaul. With variable weather and short days, it is imperative that (within reason, because I know that sometimes situations can crop up which makes this impossible) everyone who wishes to fly should make a real effort to arrive at the field early to get the kit out, and not rely on others to do it for you. Similarly, we need people around at the end of the day to wash the gliders and pack the hangar and, of course, to light the woodburner and get the kettle on.

Today we enjoyed 22 flawless launches (albeit lower than usual due to the fence being there) in beautiful sunshine, which provided a respite from all the gales and rain of recent weeks. Let's hope that the met men on duty this weekend come up with a similarly pleasant weather package.

Bob Pirie

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 2nd November 2014

With the deluge of rain that poured overnight on Saturday it was touch and go whether we would be able to fly today but, upon arrival at the club - to be greeted by a smiling Roger Appleboom who cheerfully confirmed that the rain was indeed still bucketing down over Somerset - it was apparent that the water had run off the top and not settled.

Today's One Day Course student Shaun Redgrave from Farnham, Surrey.
We were very few on the ground, however, which was to the advantage of our One Day Course student, Shaun Redgrave, from Farnham in Surrey, who was able to ‘bask’ in the undivided attentions of Mike Jardine and myself, and flying uninterrupted by the intrusions of other gliders in the queue. So he romped through the various exercises that took him to using all three controls together, and showed great interest in the overall operation, including the winch (first day back on line for the ML - a bit wheezy to start with but rapidly back in the groove) and retrieve.

One of a number of rainbows between the showers we endured through the day .
With a moderate to fresh SW’ly the wind was 45° off the centreline, but still we were able to achieve launch heights of 1,200ft or more, and that with the winch sited within the boundary. The problem, however, was not with the wind, but the weather. It is often said (well by me, at least) that glider pilots are like farmers - nothing’s ever good enough for them, and that, in particular, applies to the weather.

Hugh Gascoyne on a Stub landing from the North
 So today, having started grey and overcast and then cleared to bright sunshine, became ‘conditionally unstable’? ie. it rained - in short, sharp showers which developed quite readily as the rapidly building cumulus sped across from Kit Hill (see photo). Now whilst this wasn’t enough to send us running to the clubhouse, it was sufficient to literally put a damper on the lift that had begun to show some promise, and generate some spectacular rainbows (see photos). Thus it was that the longest flight of the day was only 11 minutes, by Mike and Shaun, and that before 1130.

The K-13 during longest flight of the day, showing rapidly growing cumulus in the background.
In the afternoon Hugh Gascoigne made another welcome appearance, and so we were able to progress some post-solo training with Jerry Wellington and Hugh managed a couple of ‘displaced circuits’ (i.e.. a landing on the stub and a hangar flight) before it was time for me to make an untimely scarper to Plymouth and the delights of National Express.

Recently re-joined former Instructor Hugh Gascoyne, with rainbow...
Thanks go to Roger Appleboom for his all-day winching, and to the flexibility of other club members who at times resembled one armed paperhangers: simultaneously holding wings, working the hand-held radio and operating the Netbook log. With the evenings drawing in it is becoming progressively more important to get the show started as early as possible and I am indebted to Roger A for getting the kit out well before my arrival at 0845.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News- Saturday 1st November 2014

With the forecast for a low cloudbase and increasingly strong winds from the south, south  west you might be forgiven in expecting us to have stayed in the clubhouse with the woodburner but not a bit of it.

K13 G-DDMX ready for another flight
We had a good turn out of trainee and low hours pilots all looking to take advantage of the opportunity to fly with CFI Don Puttock and by 9:30am the K13 was at the launchpoint ready to go. The cross wind was strong and most flights ended with an approach into the stub runway from the north with pilots reporting very gusty conditions. This continued until about 2:30 by which time everyone had flown and the wind had strengthened to such a degree that it was decided to call it a day.

Our thanks today to Rick Wiles who drove the winch for us all day.
So back to the clubhouse for tea and medals? Not quite, CFI Don went into lecture mode and spent the rest of the afternoon hosting a lecture on the flight envelope, stalling and related subjects.

Don in lecture mode. 
Elsewhere today, John Bolt worked on the C of A and ARC renewal of Roger Green’s Astir II. Colin Boyd led the stripping of the covers from CLT’s wings in preparation for it’s programmed winter refurbishment. Steve Raine worked away on the rewiring of his Astir and Rick Wiles started working on the GusLaunch winch which is now in need of a bit of TLC having been online continuously for the whole flying season.

And relax - the day is finally done.
We did have a visitor today, Andrew Wilkes who was booked in to complete his One Day Course but we had to cancel this because of the weather conditions. He has rebooked and we are hoping for better weather next time.

A productive day from the most unpromising of forecasts.