Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 25th February 2015

The poor run of weather continues. Today’s issue was fog which persisted throughout most of the day.

The simulator was pressed into service. Aerotow launching was todays lesson. Several members practiced this with a range of success ( eventually).

Chris Jones attempting an aerotow in the simulator.
Note his stainless steel cup in front of him on the right.
Inflight refreshments obviously 
Step forward CFI Don Puttock who delivered a complete day’s lectures. Altimetry and Navigation in the morning with approach control taking centre stage in the afternoon.

Don in lecture mode
Later in the afternoon the weather improved enough for a Robin Wilson to do a little fettling with his beautifully presented K6.

K6 G-CFUB ready for a bit of fettling
The days are lengthening. Roll on summer.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 22nd February 2015

Today was a day to be grateful that attendance was ‘modest’ (Adrian Irwin, Mike Jardine, Richard Roberts and I), for the weather forecast was truly awful - wind 190 at 40 kts and persistent, heavy rain from 1200 - and so it turned out.

Irwin adds to the contribution made by the rain in cleaning the gold Disco.
Precipitation within sight: counting the raindrops on the hangar hardstanding.

Every cloud has a silver lining, however, (there were certainly plenty to choose from) and today’s came from returning member Richard Roberts who, courtesy of his business contacts, by 2pm had completely recovered the floor of the launchpoint (see photos).

'Suits you, sir!'  Richard Roberts cutting the new launchpoint flooring.
The new floor in the launchpoint, from the control tower end.
The new floor in the launchpoint, from the spectators' end.  Now all it needs is a lick of paint…
You may not be aware that the carpet the clubhouse, much admired by visitors with its unique motif of a thermalling glider, was provided by Richard’s company over 20 years ago - and, thanks to the quality of the material, is wearing pretty well..! Let’s hope the new flooring in the launchpoint does so too.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 21st February 2015

There was new snow on the higher peaks of Dartmoor today. The weather was not really suitable for a club flying day with a very gusty 15knot NW wind and vicious showers with rain and hail blowing through fairly regularly. Near the showers the cloudbase was low. The runway was also extremely wet.

Snow on the higher Tors
Today saw the return of instructor Ged Nevisky to the airfield after his recent illness. While not yet fit to fly Ged turned up today to authorise the airfield and supervise our low hours pilots. Welcome back and thank you for the help.

 In the clubhouse the simulator was put to good use with some spinning exercises and general flying practice, and we had a brief look at the various methods of forecasting soaring conditions.

One worker, 5 watchers. Allan attaching the hoist
Outside, Rick Wiles and Allan Holland, assisted by Fred Marks and others, braved the cold to continue the work on the GusLaunch winch. By the end of the day the cab had been refitted and a start had been made on connecting the controls and cables.

End of the day. The cab is once more attached


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 19th February 2015

Leaving Plymouth this morning the low cloud cover made this day look somewhat dark and miserable. To my surprise the airfield was bathed in bright sunlight on my arrival but this was not to last. Gradually, the sky filled with cloud and with the moderate southerly breeze, it suddenly felt very,very cold. This led to everyone putting on all the layers of clothes they had. The launch hut was a popular place to evade the worst of the wind.

No, not a terrorist. Just club junior member Kit Smith trying to keep warm 
With Wednesday Instructor Bob Pirie still on the sick list, and his usual standby, Ged Nevisky, also currently also unwell, step forward CFI Don Puttock once again to provide his usual brand of high quality training.

Three club gliders form today's grid
 We welcomed 2 visitors today. Heather Laurie, an ATC cadet, started on the road to learning to fly with a couple of flights with me. The second visitor was Mark Ringwood a Friends and Family visitor who flew with Mike Gadd.

ATC Cadet Heather Laurie shares a joke with myself and our ground crew "Scratch"
Mark Ringwood with Mike Gadd in DMX
And what of the club flying. Well Don put his group through their paces in the southerly cross wind conditions and a few battled it out for soaring honours in the Zugvogel but the best was only a flight of 7 minutes.

Adrian Irwin in the Zugvogel making another attempt on the "Longest Flight" honours 
A useful and fun training day in trying conditions


Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 15th February 2015

In order to get things off to a ‘flying‘ start, and ensure that solo pilots get some launches before becoming ‘welded’ to the winch, I have recently taken the first turn winching on a few occasions (particularly having ended up there having towed out/DI’ed the cables). Climbing into the cab today I was encouraged to see that the Launch Assistant (a cunning little gizmo that shows what speed the glider is flying at up the wire) had been refitted, following repairs (see photo of Scratch in winch - it’s the black box attached to windscreen). At the first ‘All Out!’, and appearance of the glider in view, I was not too worried when the display remained at “---“, since this was our newly acquired K-13 HXP, in which the connections had been giving some ‘teething problems’. At the second launch, however, imagine my surprise when the display sprang into life to show “59”, followed by 09”, and then “55”, followed by “05”!!! Concentrating solely on the glider, it slowly began to dawn on me - the box had been installed upside down, even though the maker’s name ‘Skylaunch’ was the right way up! Turning the box around allowed normal service to be resumed..!

The day dawned with the prospect of wave - any day at Dartmoor with the wind between NE-SE has potential for wave - and the cap cloud over the tors raised our hopes (see photo). It was not to be, however, as humidity and sun pretty soon mixed to form low cumulus which gradually spread across the sky (see photo) - although conditions did improve in the afternoon, as we shall see.

Early morning scene with cap cloud visible over Dartmoor - would that mean wave later..?
…Unfortunately not – as low cumulus developed from mid-morning.
Dispensing with any dalliance with wave was probably a good thing, for today the focus was to be on Don and the two Rogers, Appleboom and Green, who were scheduled to complete the practical phase of their Introductory Flight Pilot training. And which, after 7 flights apiece (mostly ending at less explored parts of the airfield) they duly did. So congratulations, then , to Roger Appleboom and Roger Green - well done, both!!

Did you get my best side?"
Port and starboard views of IFP trainee Roger Appleboom as he briefs 'Bloggs', CFI Don Puttock.
IFP trainee Roger Green gets K-13 HXP balanced on the main wheel as part of his IFP training.
But that activity did not prevent the club from undertaking normal operations, with Chris Owen, Elliot and Chris Acton taking the hot seat in K-13 DMX, whilst Adrian Irwin, Jerry Wellington and Allan Holland slugged it out in ‘hot ship’ Zugvogel HKV. It was good to see Dene ‘Scratch’ Hitchen today, keen as ever to maintain currency, both on the winch and in the back seat of the K-13. On leaving the club today Scratch - courtesy of one of Her Majesty’s steamers of the ‘grey funnel line’ - departs for 9 months’ operational deployment on the seven seas - well, the Med and the Gulf to be precise…

Twelve year old Elliot Acton's photo of Chris Owen landing K-13 DMX.
As the afternoon wore on some breaks in the cloud eventually allowed the sun to penetrate. Adrian Irwin having consolidated his conversion to the Zugvogel - it was time for Jerry Wellington to get a feel for the glider, taking a launch which, opportunist that he is, he converted into a 18 minute soaring flight - not bad for first flight on type! The day completed with Scratch returning to the launchpoint to give Elliot a couple of free flights in the K-13 as ‘ballast’.

'Scratch' Hitchen taking up slack in the ML winch.
So in the final analysis it was 33 launches, 6 simulated launch failures, two qualifications to IFP, one conversion to new type and an 18 minute Flight of the Day on a pretty wobbly mid February thermal - so 50 achievements in all, then - or should that read 05..?

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 14th February 2015

The day started dry with a 12 knot northerly wind, i.e. dead across the runway. Again!! The wind was due to reduce later in the afternoon as the low, which brought so much rain yesterday, moves away slowly to the east filling in (pressure increasing) as it goes.

With CFI Don Puttock on duty again today the flying was soon underway. Rick Wiles was first and used today to fly HXP for the first time before disappearing to the hangar for more work on the GusLaunch winch. Today involved refitting the adjusted differential unit into the axel. The cab is to be refitted next. While on the subject of work in the hangar, our thanks should go the Colin Boyd who spent his day there working on a new canopy for the K8.

Today's small grid. K13 G-CHXP and Zugvogel 3A G-CHXV
 Next up for Don’s ministrations in the K13 was Adrian Irwin just sharpening his skills further while waiting for the wind strength to reduce before taking his first flight in the Zugvogel. Today also saw the return of Andrew Beaumont back with us after overwintering in Mauritius; he wasted no time in getting some check flights and practice cable breaks done with Don ready for some flying in his own glider when conditions permit.

Andrew with Don in HXP
Step forward Fred Marks, who used today to take his first flights in a K13 flying from the back seat working towards permission to fly friends and family.

Startring his back seat flying - Fred Marks
As the cross wind abated, Field Treasurer Robin Wilson took the Zugvogel for a couple of circuits. It was nice to see this aircraft flying again. Adrian Irwin has waited patiently all day for his first flights in this aircraft but unfortunately only managed an aborted launch before canopy misting stopped play.

So from an unpromising sort of a day, today became a day of firsts. Rick had his first flight in HXP. Fred had his first flight from the back seat of a 2 seater. Andrew had his first flight of the year. The Zugvogel flew for the first time this year and Adrian had his first flight in the Zugvogel (almost).

A day of firsts.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 11th February 2015

The wind today was light southerly, with 8/8ths cloud cover at about 1300 feet above the airfield (QFE). You could be forgiven thinking that this was going to be a grey, boring day. But not a bit of it with CFI Don Puttock on the job.

John Rogers and Don ready to go
Don set out to ensure that all the members flying today improved their skills with carefully planned flights with him in K13 G-CHXP. Viewing from the ground we were treated to watch exercises ranging from circuits and approaches, stalling and spinning, energy dumping, out of position, ground effect etc.etc. Phew!

HXP takes to the air again
Everyone who wanted to fly did so and all seemed to be happy with their efforts.

Returning to the clubhouse another treat was in store. The glass in the wood burner's door has be replaced and we wasted no time in trying it out.

The woodburner complete with new glass
A good day.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 8th February 2015

“What on earth (or words to that effect) are they doing down there??” How many times have you heard, or said, that at Brentor? Being a convex - i.e.. brow of a hill - site it is not possible to see what’s going on at the other end, and the absence of knowledge is frequently ‘frustrating’ - even when ‘they’ are frequently working as hard as possible either to repair the cable or get the gliders back on-line etc.

Or not. As occurred when Pete Howarth arrived at the other end of the airfield, having been given a low launch failure by CFI Don Puttock as part of his Introductory Flight Pilot training, resulting in them being greeted by Lyons ‘Nippy’ trainee winch driver Dave Parker, replete with tray, pot of tea and Hob Nobs! (Clearly some VHF induced conspiracy here??!) Back at the launch point we could have no idea that everything stopped for tea!

Dave Parker awaiting arrival of the 1058 K-13 Launch Failure Service
CFI Don Puttock 'hob nobs' with a certain irresistible comestible!
Everything stops for tea!
After yesterday’s spectacular wave day, the forecast was for the wind to back north westerly (so no wave then) and we started by changing ends. We were able to make good use of both K-13s, with Don focussing on Pete Howarth in HXP, whilst I worked with the club trainees in DMX. Although the overhead was gin clear, the ground was subject to early morning mist, clutching the base of Brentor church, and producing some orographic fingers which crept over the launchpoint, causing Pete Harvey and others to land long for the first few launches (or should that be land long - for tea..!)

Early morning mist clings to Brentor whilst Pete Harvey keeps a good lookout.
 In the launch hut we were assisted for a couple of hours by Elliot Acton: Elliot who, along with Dad Chris, was celebrating his twelfth birthday - and where better to do so than a sunny Brentor (see photo). Roger Appleboom (K-6) and Leith Whittington (Dart) were the triple-syllable soloists today, their levels of difficulty being increased by the freshening crosswind (windsock approaching the horizontal) thus making precision approaches and landings all the more satisfying.

Elliot and Chris Acton celebrating Elliot's twelfth birthday.
Whilst Pete continued to be ‘beasted’ by Don (now role-playing the part of ‘Bloggs’) I flew with daughter Paula Howarth, who accomplished the entire ‘up, round and down’ sequence without intervention from me, despite the crosswind.

Following which Don, who had obviously had/seen enough of Pete, allowed father and daughter to fly together, for the first time! It was refreshing to see Tony Deane present himself for a check flight today - ex-ATC Instructor Tony travels from deepest Cornwall and, after two landings on the stub runway, a launch failure and a hangar landing, now knows that the K-13 flies at 45 knots, not 50 - so my day (and his, I hope!) was made.

Peter and Paula Howarth flew for the first time together today.
Huge thanks go to Dave Parker and Colin Boyd for winching without flying, to Roger Appleboom for winching and flying, and to Richard Roberts for neither winching nor flying, but otherwise being determined to do everything he can to increase the launch rate.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the airfield…

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 7th February 2015

The forecast showed some exciting possibilities. The early wind would be extremely strong and gusty but would abate around midday. The wind was just east of north with North East forecast or flying heights. NE would there be wave? Careful inspection of the atmospheric soundings suggested that conditions would be favourable for wave after midday but that it would become increasingly cloudy with 8/8ths cover indicated.

The gliders were out of the hangar ready as the club waited for the wicked crosswind to abate. The hangar was occupied by Astir G-CJSK and it’s syndicate doing it’s annual C of A and ARC renewal while the rest of us drank tea in the clubhouse.

Today's visitors Rhodri and Wyn Davies
Eventually, conditions improved. The wind decreased but was still fully  across the runway. Signs of wave became obvious as the cloud cover increased. So game on.

Rhodri and myself in K13 G-CHXP waiting to launch.
The sky looks wonderful but required a climb through the rotor to get to the wave.
Wyn flying close the the wave bar gave....
A climb rate of 5 knots ( or 2.6 metres per sec ).
Subsequent study of the baragraph trace showed climbs averaging up to 6.8 knots
Both of the K13’s were kept busy. Most flights went soaring in the wave as pilots and instructors chased the ever changing wave patterns. Instructor David Jesty flew with the club members in K13 G-DDMX while I concentrated flying with our North Hill visitors Wyn and Rod Davies in K13 G-CHXP. Some flights launched straight into the wave, others had to climb out through the rotor which could be best described as “character forming”.

Approaching the secondary wave bar to share it with K13 G-DDMX passing ahead.
Flying above the cloud was exhilarating in the warm afternoon sunshine with heights to about 3600 feet above the airfield readily achieved. Because of the increasing cloud cover, returning to the airfield required the descent to be in the blue hole east of Mary Tavy to about 1500 feet from where a circuit at cloudbase could be constructed. Great fun. Approaches were interesting with the rotors and crosswinds but we have flown in worse.

Early on the snow on the top of Dartmoor enhance the view. Later this was obscured by the cloud
Most flights were limited to about half an hour, to ensure everyone got a chance to have a go. Longest flight of the day was visitor Wymn and I; we returned after 56 minutes; it would have been possible to soar all afternoon.
Instructor David Jesty with Roger Green in the back seat getting ready for another flight
We finished flying a little early as the cloudbase was descending rapidly and  everyone who wanted to fly had done so.

A good soaring day.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 4th February 2015

With the snow-capped peaks of Dartmoor in the distance and the bright sunshine the views were spectacular.

The reality was slightly different: Frozen tractor hydraulics, gliders breaking through the permafrost on tow-out to the launch point and having to be man-handled out of the mud and the who-can-wear-most-layers competition to combat the cold.

K13 G-DDMX basks in the late afternoon sun while the club members try to combat the cold
With a 90 degree crosswind and a non-working ridge the launches were low and the flights were short. However, all who wanted to fly did so, enjoying the beautiful views from aloft and helping to maintain their currency ready for the next soaring opportunity. (Fingers crossed, next Saturday!)

Pilot Chris Jones in the K8 looking NE overhead the west end on the airfield.
Snow caps the higher tors in the distance

David Jesty

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 1st February 2015

Leaving the airfield not having flown there’s always a feeling of guilt that creeps in (particularly when conditions moderate in the afternoon, as they did today). Although it has to be said that flying today would only have been possible if: the runway was turned through 90 degrees, the wind was not blowing at 30kts - gusting 35, the hardstanding by the hangar was not masquerading as an ice-rink and the field itself was not akin to a quagmire having been drenched by almost continuous rain the day before.

So four good reason not to fly, but still there’s that nagging doubt that, as the Duty Instructor, I should have been able to organise things better. However, determined to hand over two serviceable K-13s to the Wednesday crew (which would almost certainly not have been the case had we taken DMX up to the top of the hill, where the crosswind would easily have got underneath the wing) I was resolute in resisting the corporate curiosity to ‘give it a go’ (aka peer pressure).

So it was ground tasks for us, where a natural division of labour seemed to take place: Adrian Irwin and Richard Roberts getting on with the manly, practical tasks ensuring the diesel was topped up at the winch and cleaning the filth out the Discos, whilst ‘drawing board’ clean finger nailed types such as Pete Howarth and myself busied ourselves with applying the ‘Dartmoor Gliding’ logos to ‘newcomers’ K-8 GDK and K-13 HXP (see photos) - surely a rite of passage demonstrating they have arrived as permanent features of the DGS fleet.

The K-8 and K-13 snuggled up in the hangar with their new nose art.
That took us until lunchtime, following which we democratically elected Richard as our chauffeur to go up and inspect the airfield at the east (launchpoint) end. It was indeed pretty wet and ‘springy’ where the soil is thin over the granite, but in the boggy bits (where of course we never land) the K-13 would have sunk to its axle with ease, another good reason for keeping it in the haven that is the hangar. And so, not dressed for the weather, we beat a hasty retreat to the clubhouse and decided to depart - a little earlier than usual - for the delights of home and domesticity.

Snow on the tors is visible as chauffeur Richard Roberts drives the team to the launchpoint to inspect the terrain.
Thanks go to Adrian Irwin for entertaining us with tall tales of civil aviation - in particular the ergonomics of using the loo in the Boeing 757!

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 31st January 2-15

While nearing the club in the morning, it was obvious that the forecast was correct and so the chance to fly was very slim.

First jobs on arrival, Stefi cleaned the fire and made it ready for lighting, whilst I put the Generator on. Within 10 minutes of our arriving Adrian Irwin walked in followed by duty instructor Mike a little later.

Today's instructor Mike Sloggett in lecture mode with Stefi and Adrian.
Mike conducted 2 lectures for Stefi and Adrian, Field selection and ridge soaring. While Mike was doing the lectures I did a few small jobs. It was too cold to start anything big.

Both Colin Boyd and Allan Holland arrived later in the morning. Both went to do a little work on the winch differential, but were not there long.

We all decided to leave and by 1:30 the club was locked up.

We had a very early finish today, fingers crossed we get better weather soon.

Rick Wiles