Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 27th December 2015

When I said I'd ordered Santa to make sure the weather would be flyable I didn't realise the message would be sent to Satan!” opined CFI Don Puttock as the mist (cloud) crept lower than the foundations of the clubhouse.

But that wasn't the point of today, for today was the 'DGS Post Christmas Breakfast' – a celebration of luxury fayre (bacon and blue chess rolls, smoked salmon mops, scrambled egg with Somerset sausage and quail's eggs) that enticed members and friends to enjoy some time and long tall stories with each other...

Some of the attendees.
It was great to see so many families, plus returning and (potentially) new members in the clubhouse, including Nigel Williamson, son Richard (FlyBe Dash 8 pilot), and family, Sean Parramour, Trevor Taylor (back to full flying fitness) and Paula Howarth's boss (and potential new annual member) and Jayne Marsh partner David Jones, in all totalling over 20 attendees. Alongside the tall tales (and hopes for 500km out and returns in 2016) there was also talk of the End/Start of the Season Club Social Evening to be held at the end of February, venue yet to be chosen (suggestions gratefully received...)

Chairman Martin Cropper thanks Roger Appleboom (left) and Don Puttock (seated centre)
for masterminding the club’s post Christmas Breakfast.
Thanks go to Roger Appleboom and Don Puttock for masterminding the breakfast, to Dave Downton for providing the smoked salmon and to the club's gas cooker for coping with over 12 dishes being prepared on its four burners.

Outside the clubhouse Mike Bennett, who has been leading the charge in getting the track repaired, suggested that the field needed to dry out before we attempt any more work on it, with the benefit of a few days' Easterly winds. So where was the wind on Monday? – easterly, of course! So no crossed wires in his email to Santa..!

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 20th December 2015

Yesterday's blog closed with the hope that we would be able to fly today. Well, the answer would have been 'yes' (but only if we had a tarmac'ed runway) for, in the afternoon (as the panorama by Ed Borlase shows) there were some promising looking cumulus (and associated rainbows) which, had we been able to get into the air, would have made for interesting soaring. Sadly, however, the grass was so soft that we had to put the risk to our gliders first and, particularly after some heavy showers in the morning, we decided that today was 'Look after your airfield (by not using it), day'. But what if we had a tarmac'ed runway – now there's an aspiration...

In the afternoon it was flyable – if only we had a tarmac’ed runway...
So what to do? Well, after a short teach-in about the Circuit, approach speeds and Rules of the Air, Dave Downton decided to maintain currency, at least on the simulator, by setting the new instrument display to work, which is of great benefit (you can actually see what the instruments are showing).

Dave Downton flies the simulator with the new instrument display shown to good effect
(it doesn’t prevent you crashing into the trees, though..!)
Roger Appleboom and Ed Borlase turned their attention to the steps of the launchpoint, where the non-slip treads (ie. chicken wire netting) had definitely seen better days and deserved replacement in order to be ready for (the shapely ankles of) our visitors next year. In fact, this rapidly metamorphosed into a fantasy about the club's pantomime for the 2016 season - “She Stoops So Low..!” (geddit?) in which the casting got as far the Dame/Widow/Witch (a certain prominent male member) and a few one-liners (like that one, but worse) that are not repeatable in a family blog... Oh, and we restocked the log pile for the Wednesday crew.

Roger Appleboom and Ed Borlase work on the non-slip treads for the launchpoint steps.
The finished article.
Looking ahead to Wednesday we are very grateful to Bob Sansom for allowing us to use his K-8 whilst ours is having its fin post repaired, so a team of Schleicher-savvy members will be needed to rig it and, at the very least, get it into the hangar, if flying is not possible. Many thanks, Bob.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 19th December 2015

The weather? Awful. Strong gusty winds and torrential rain all day kept the gliders firmly in the hangar.
The water running off the airfield today
Club stalwarts Rick and Mike kept themselves busy. Today’s tasks included some work on the GusLaunch winch which seemed to involve removing a closely inspect the oil, and replacing the cam belt on the “new” Vitara as a preventative measure. The fan belt also needs replacing but tracking down the correct part is proving problematic. Today’s salvo in this task saw them measuring the existing belt using pieces of string and a tape measure. Very agricultural.

How long is a piece of string?
Rick and Mike seem determine to answer the age old question
Wednesday's Course
In the clubhouse, which was quiet today after Wednesday’s course with potential instructors Steve and Adrian with Don, the simulator received more attention.

Dartmoor's headless horseman?
No, just me working on the simulator

Will they fly tomorrow? I hope so.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 13th December 2015

“Buckit!” announced the young female voice. A strange hush descended upon the occupants of the Land Rover – had she really said what we thought she'd said? Had we struck a bump/rut that the rest of us had not noticed? No, it was, as Paula said, the surprise identification of a bucket atop the hurdle fence (that we were about to take down) which caused her exclamation (see photo). Just shows the effect that farmers can have on a young lady..!

The offending bucket...
Ten-Four big buddy I think we got us a convoy..!”
Changing ends (the cloudbase did rise further...)
The main news of the day was that it (the weather) was flyable; however with the windsock indicating east of south rather than the 190 predicted it was necessary for us to change ends before we could launch. Once we had completed monthly maintenance on both K-13s we were able to get through a very satisfying range of flying, with both Paula – Buckit! - Howarth and Jeff Cragg re-soloing, Peter Howarth flying with Roger Appleboom, Roger then flying with Richard Roberts (allowing him to practice his back-seat skills), whilst Allan Holland and Colin Boyd found a little wave to claim flight of the day at 7 minutes.

Paula Howarth re-soloes in the K-13.
Whilst Fixed Price to Solo trainee Ed Borlase managed four flights, enabling him to put CFI Don Puttock's previous lectures about slow flight, secondary effects, and near-stall controllability of the K-13 into practice, the onset of condensation on the wings by about 3:45pm was enough to persuade us that discretion/safety should come before valour i.e.. getting the gliders properly washed down and the fence up before darkness fell was probably better than pressing on – so that was what we did.

Late afternoon blush on Blackdown.
Thanks go to Leith Whittington who, post laser eye-ops, winched but didn't fly, and to all those who have been working on the track in recent weeks to make passage up and down so much smoother (although there remains room for improvement towards the east end). It was a day that allowed you to appreciate just how much can be achieved when you have two gliders, two cables and a willing team (and no intervention by trial lessons/introductory visitors - much as we love them...)

The gliders queue for their washdown beneath an interesting sky.
Let's hope today wasn't the only flyable one between now and New Year. Or the last day on which we hear a female on the airfield shout “Buckit!”

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 12th December 2015

The poor weather continues unabated. A very low cloudbase accompanied by a strong, gusty southerly wind kept the gliders in the hangar once more.

The cloud base was very low once again.
The day was not wasted though. Early on, while Don shut away in the office creating a new training card, Rick and David spent several hours flitting a ground radio in the Vitara which was looking ( and smelling ) much better after it’s extensive valet by Heather last Wednesday.

The very clean looking Vitara after Heather has sorted it out 
An then came the day’s main event. Don was in full flow delivering a great lecture about weather. The subject ranged from how to obtain and interpret the 214 & 215 met reports to Tephigrams and their uses for soaring predictions. Great stuff.

Don in lecture mode with an attentive audience
The devil makes work for idle hands.
Mike demonstrates the new portable glider simulator encouraged by Don
There may be a flyable break in the weather tomorrow.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 6th December 2015

When you go to the doctor they only tell you three things: drink less, exercise more and eat less!” declared Roger Appleboom as he reversed the gold Disco down the mist covered track at 20mph (a testament to a. his driving skills, b. the Disco's wing mirrors and c. the effect work to date has had on the smoothness of the track...but why was he reversing??) We achieved all three of those objectives today, plus using up what was left of the pile of '¾ to dust' that had been left by the Saturday crew.

The Weather – ‘nuff said!  The visibility didn’t improve all day.
There was also the prospect of setting to work the club's latest acquisition, yes, the new petrol propelled compactor has been delivered beckoned from the hangar to deliver the airfield a fearsome whacking... And so, with great physical effort, we got it up to the top, only to realise BEFORE use that, the ground being so wet, whacking the infill would simply make it outfill, and so we relented – well actually foreman Dave Downton told us so...and whipped us into a chain gang redolent of two weeks ago. There has been great progress with the track which is now much smoother and hence, after each load had been delivered by Richard Roberts's van and spread by us, Roger was able to reverse the gold Disco back to the start - also because it was impossible, in spite of using screen washer and wipers, to see through the windscreen (on subsequent examination, we thought the wipers might have passed their sell by date...)

Roger Appleboom and Dave Downton at work on one of the holes on the track.
 Certain people relish a challenge, glider pilots more than most and so it was not surprising that, once we had sighted a puddle the size of a small swimming pool we just had to set about filling it in – and were almost successful until the 'never ending' pile of hard core ran out before the swimming pool did... Send for another delivery, please! (And if possible get it deposited on the track rather than in the car park...)

The Big One..!  Dave Downton and Roger Appleboom
discuss whether we have enough hard core to fill it...
The Big One – Two... Answer: No.
But we were not far off.  Another delivery, please...
After a late lunch, Richard Roberts managed a successful aerotow and hour's ridge running in Estonia – courtesy of the simulator, whilst the rest of us (with assistance from Dave Bourchier) pressure washed the tools and vehicles (and put the -very heavy- compactor, unused, back in the hangar.)

There was one H&S Cautionary Tale to relate. With all the rain that has fallen over the last month some of the holes on the airfield have become quite deep, as an unwary Dave Downton discovered almost to his peril (see photo) and it took all the efforts of Roger Appleboom and Richard Roberts to save him from drowning!

“Have you found the bottom, yet, Dave?”
Roger Appleboom and Richard Roberts use all their efforts to support Dave Downton
as he (unwittingly) plumbed the depths of one of the deeper holes..
On returning to the surface Roger asked Dave if he had found the bottom, to which Dave splutteringly replied “No, but I think I almost grasped a smoked salmon, about THIS big, which would have done us proud for the Christmas Breakfast to be held in the clubhouse on 27th December..” Oh how we laughed, for whilst not many people have signed up to the Club Christmas Breakfast to be held in the clubhouse at 0830 on 27th December (even though it is on the club calendar), everyone knows you can't catch smoked salmon in Devon - (you have to go to Scotland to do that..!)

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 5th December 2015

Our 4th winter storm, Desmond passed by a long way to the NW ( near Iceland in fact ) but the effects are very clear to see. There are very strong winds; far too much to consider flying today. But our advantage is that there was no rain which gave our centre track repair team an easier day of it up on the runway.

Mike and Simon. Today's track repair team
In the hangar, David and Rick fitted a new alternator to the “new” Suzuki Vitara which has joined the collection of airfield vehicles.

Rick replacing the alternator on the Vitara
Elsewhere, I continued the work on the simulator aimed at improving the feel and accuracy of the controls.

We were pleased to see the return of club member Martin Broadway from sunnier climes. Just 5 minutes after his arrival, Martin joined the track repair team on the wind swept runway.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 2nd December 2015

Looking at the weather forecasts it would have been easy to write today off as  another non flying day but, a more careful look revealed a short, flyable weather window early in the day. Arriving at the airfield as early as my business commitments would allow revealed that I was not the only club one who thought it might be flyable.

The approaching front gave some odd looking clouds
Instructor Ged Nevisky already had a K13 out of the hangar and the few club members present were rushing around getting everything ready and with very little delay we were off to the launchpoint. The weather was already starting to get worse with the southerly crosswind rising quickly.

Robin Wilson was the first to fly with Ged
In the event, we managed a couple of flights in the buoyant air before the rising wind strength and approaching shower associated with the forecast front sent us back to the hangar once more.

Elsewhere, it was a day of deliveries. We received another load of the materials that is being used to repair the track. Ged also delivered a plate compactor, purchased by the tea fund, to make the track repairs more effective.

Ged unpacks the plate compactor
We tried


Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 29th November 2015

Today, whilst most sites across the UK were firmly

at Dartmoor it was most definitely a case of 

 - the question was – what for? Well, unsurprisingly quite a lot, actually, since whilst on a Flying Day everyone is focused on the main aim, on a non-Flying Day each member has their own, disparate objectives to be met. For example, for Paula Howarth the clubhouse provided the perfect environment for studying for her Masters in HR, for Richard Roberts the ‘To Do’ list fed his appetite for work (finishing the ‘spring clean’ of the caravan, followed by stapling the barbed wire to the new fence posts around the perimeter), for Dave Downton it was lectures from CFI Don Puttock on altimetry and airspace whilst for Roger Appleboom it was practising the patter whilst ‘flying’ the simulator (not an easy task with a 4 ring binder across you legs – see photo).

“So that’s what I’ve been missing…!”
P1 Roger Appleboom ‘flies’ the simulator
whilst reading the patter page on ‘lookout’ to P2 Dave Downton.
We also hosted some visitors: BGA Regional Technical Officer John Halford, who arrived to cast an eye over Colin Boyd’s work on the K-8 – and found some more for him to do…) and Gordon Dennis, who instructs at Halesland and Talgarth, whose interest in the field gave us the perfect excuse to try out the club’s new Suzuki Vitara: which is less totally eighties than the club’s old Discos, much more comfy than them , but not as high up from the ground… I

t’s on occasions like this when you fully appreciate the value of the clubhouse, woodburner and tea and coffee on tap when people arrive from afar... As the wind howled around the hangar and the occasional shower blew through, we all took advantage of the simulator, with its new, separate, easy to read instrument panel, to stay ‘current’, before deciding to leave whilst there were still a few logs left on the pallet for the Wednesday crew.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 28th November 2015

Strong winds, rain and low cloud once again made this a non flying day as the Jetstream drives in front after front and some impressive low pressure areas. The next one is storm Clodagh due Sunday, Monday. It will bring extreme conditions to the north of the country. A good animation of the Jetstream forecast is available at http://www.netweather.tv/index.cgi?action=jetstream. A link to this exists on our website at http://www.dartmoorgliding.co.uk/html/rasp_forecast.html.

The Jetsream laying across the UK this morning
David and Rick were busy through the day working on the charging system on the small tractor which has been playing up for some time. They were working on it in the hangar but with the doors closed it had the forbidding look of an industrial hell, mostly dark with a pool of light where they were working.

An industrial Hades? David and Rick working on the small tractor.
We welcomed Treasurer Steve Raines' friends from Guildford who had a good look around and made much use of the simulator assisted by Colin Boyd

Concentrating on the Simulator. 

Today’s Committee meeting was brought forward and all items of business were complete before 5pm. Excellent.


Dartmoor gliding News-Wednesday 25th November 2015

I have tried close inspection of the all the weather forecasts I can find to no avail; today is not looking good. So plan “B” today is hope.
Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never is, but always to be blessed:
The soul, uneasy and confined from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man

Setting off from Plymouth in drizzle under a very low cloudbase, spirits are a little low, but my first view across the Tamar valley to Cornwall reveals large areas in sunshine. Maybe, just maybe. Crossing the southern side of the moor, I am treated to a breathtaking view of low cloud mixed with areas of bright sunshine. The showers are producing stunning rainbows. The trip suddenly seems worthwhile.

The rain has stopped but there is still plenty of water on the airfield
At the airfield, the rain has stopped but a quick walk up to the runway reveals the reason that the hangar doors are firmly closed; the wind is very strong and extremely gusty.

CFI Don in discussion mode
In the clubhouse CFI Don Puttock is in full flow, with a discussion on thermalling techniques and strategies. Later he goes on to review the training requirements for our potential new instructors.

The simulator has suffered a technical failure. The front seat, left rudder  pedal has broken. Step forward “Simulator Repair Man” in the shape of David Bourchier who knew the location of a spare pedal assembly and then proceeded to fit it. This simple job is made extremely difficult because of the lack of access to the nose of the fuselage, but with the application of several hours of patience, blood, sweat and much swearing ( that was from me ) the task is now complete and the simulator is operational once more.

Hoping for better weather soon. 


Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 22nd November 2015

After almost 2 weeks of continual rain it was a wonder we managed to fly at all today – particularly in view of yesterday’s gale force winds, the day dawned with the windsock hanging down at its post, and we had to rely on the forecast of a N-NWl’y to justify changing ends. Fortunately, on firing up the Guslaunch, that decision was vindicated (see photo) as a plume of diesel exhaust trailed away to the south-east.

Starting the winch confirms we were right to change ends..!

Our visitor today was Freya Kennedy-Bruyneel, who flew with Roger Appleboom.
Our only scheduled visitor today was Freya Kennedy-Bruyneel, who was taken aloft by IFP Roger Appleboom - the lack of further bookings allowing Roger to give Freya’s father, Paul some flights in addition to his tasters of a couple of weeks ago. This included exploring the view of a most unusual cloud formed by bonfire smoke rising from Higher Farm (see photo), which was indicative of today’s low temperatures.

A bonfire at Higher Farm fed directly into this low level cumulus, base 300ft agl..
A well predicted trough line then arrived, which fortunately was coincident with lunch. In the afternoon returning member Josef Nobbs converted onto the Zugvögel, and Roger Green was able to practice flying from the back seat in preparation for formal IFP training. With CFI Don Puttock on hand for the benefit of trainees, we were able to get through the Flying List, including Dave Downton and new Fixed Price to Solo member Alec Birch, before the inevitable reduction in ambient temperature reached dew point and condensation on the canopies forced us to stop well before sundown

So as the gliders received a thorough wash down prior to their return to the hangar we were able to reflect on a rewarding, albeit short and (in the soft ground) relatively tiring flying day. Flight of the Day went to Adrian Irwin - or was about to until he was pipped at the post by the final launch when Allan Holland managed to beat him by a short, ‘final glide’ nose..!

Allan Holland pilots the Zugvogel over Brentor church during his 7 minute flight of the day...

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 21st November 2015

There has been a change in the weather. Gone are the low clouds and endless rain to be replaced with blue skies. Good news so far but today’s blue sky was accompanied with a 20knot+, gusty wind  from the north ( straight across the runway ) which stopped flying; and it was cold, very cold. In fact, the shower that we had in the afternoon was “wintery” with sleet as well as rain. I expect there is snow on the higher tors.

There was plenty of work going on. Treasurer Steve Raine and David Bourchier continued with the wood cutting tasks and the amount available for the woodburner is now substantial.

More wood to keep us warm.
Rick led a group working on the winches. The GusLaunch had it’s cables drawn out and rewound  a couple of times to warm the engine and ensure that the brakes are ready for use. The ML had a cable removed to a allow checking of the drum and it even had some more painting done. Good stuff.

The ML's fetching shade of green
Later, in the clubhouse, Rick used the simulator to practiced the instructors patter with me acting as his trainee.

The wind should have abated by tomorrow.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 18th November 2015

The latest storm, ( Barney ), is now spinning it’s way across Norway so we should have a little more settled weather, right?. Wrong!! A very low cloudbase with a 20knot+ southerly cross wind has discouraged flying once again.

Don in lecture mode
 CFI Don continued his lecture stream. The intricacies of winch launching was today’s subject. After lunch, IFP Fred Marks used the simulator to practice the patter. The simulator is a god send on a day like today and several other members put it to good use.

Fred hard at work in the simulator
Outside we had our very own beavers in the shape of  Robin Wilson and David Bourchier who were splitting logs for the wood burner. By the end of the day we had a good pile of logs ready for use. As a Monty Python fan, my only disappointment was that I could not get them to sing the Lumberjack’s song while they were working.

DGS lumberjacks at work. Are they dressed correctly?
I thought that lumberjacks wore high heels, suspenders and a bra. ( According to the song )
The results of their labours.

Onward and upward.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 15th November 2015

After it had been widely trailed that this weekend would be a 'no fly, groundwork' weekend, it was confidently expected that a strong team would be on hand to work on the airfield today.

And so it turned out - well, strong in arm, at any rate as the remainder residue of the "three quarters to dust" bequeathed to us by the Saturday team was manhandled into Richard Roberts's van by Dave Downton, Chris Matten and Martin Cropper, whilst 'roller jockey' Pete Howarth awaited the arrival of each load at the appointed spot on the centreline track. As our pictures show, the other members who responded to the 'call to arms' decided to remain behind the camera...not least of whom was Dave Bourchier, who managed to magic up a rubble bag from somewhere after one of those we were using impaled itself on the towball of Richard Roberts's van.

Today’s airfield track repair team with their equipment
(the other 20 members decided to remain behind the camera...)
 Working from the top of the hill back towards the clubhouse, we had used the residue before we got to the track that leads up from the hangar, so the ‘loaded’ question of the day was “how many more loads will it take to complete the track?” At least another two, would appear to be the answer... And that’s before we start filling holes and rolling the airfield…

“Please, sir, can we have some more..?”
Dave Downton loads the last shovelful into Richard Roberts’s van.
So with the dual aim of not wishing to cram too much pleasure into one day, and in order to keep further opportunities in prospect, we decided to draw stumps early, gave the roller (and Richard’s van) a good wash down and returned, without injury, to our families by daylight.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 14th November

Abigail, the first named storm of the season, has passed with no damage on the airfield if you ignore the wet ground. In Plymouth the strongest gust was measured at 64 MPH; this would have been much more on the airfield with it’s additional altitude and open aspect.

In her wake Abigail has swept up the remnants of Hurricane Kate creating an incredibly moist airflow with warnings for flooding.  Ho hum another maintenance day.

In the clubhouse, CFI, Don, was in full flow with lectures to suit the varying needs of the attendees. For the afternoon lecture everyone was rounded up to share a briefing on Field landings.

Simon looks very pleased with his exam pass.
Simon Collier, who took his first solo flights a little earlier in the autumn, was locked away in the office for an hour or so while he sat the Bronze “C” exam. I am pleased to announce that he passed well and so has taken another important step on his way to his licence. Well Done Simon.

The heroes of the day were the track repair team. Despite some appalling weather with constant rain and wind they spent most of the day doing repairs with the centre track with nothing more than a few shovels and a plate compactor. On their return to the clubhouse for lunch they were already soaked right through their waterproofs, but happily put their wet gear on again for an afternoon session of track mending in the rain.

We had to set limits to the track team.
If they had removed all of their wet clothes, this picture of their organiser
Mike would have needed to be censored 
The next winter storm is called Barney. He is due on Tuesday.