Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 25th March 2015

A sunny day with lightish NW breeze and 3/8th’s cloud cover. Great. This and an enthusiastic RASP (soaring) forecast lead to a rash of private gliders being rigged and ready to do great things. Mumblings about cross country tasks and much programming of flight computers followed.

The Open Cirrus, ASW20 and K8 waiting under an interesting sky.
The 2 Astirs were already lined ready to launch.
The sky looked really good but getting the initial climb to cloudbase proved to be very tricky with very narrow thermal cores. The cloudbase at 2500 –2800 feet discouraged the cross country aspirations of all pilots. There were some good flights however with Mike Gadd top of the tree with a flight of 2 hours 9 minutes in the Open Cirrus. The other notable flight of 1 hour was by Allan Holland in the club K8. Well done chaps.

Today's "Aceof Base" Mike Gadd in the Open Cirrus

Mike took this view of paragliders on Sourton Tor.
We welcomed the return to the airfield today is convalescing Wednesday instructor Bob Pirie who dropped in for a visit. It was nice to hear that he is making progress. Meanwhile, in the hangar the Twin Astir syndicate were involved in getting the C of A and ARC renewal completed which culminated in the glider being reweighed.

David Rippon took this nice view of Brentor from the K8
Thanks to everyone who helped today. Steve Raine, Mike Jardine and Fred Marks for the winch driving and the 2 pre-solo pilots who worked all day without flying.

A winch driver's view of some interesting cloud formations by Mike Jardine

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 22nd March 2015

At most gliding clubs the cocky reply to the casual enquirer is the inevitable “You should have been here yesterday!” Today the answer would have been “You shouldn’t have bothered yesterday - for today’s the day..! But before going into the boring detail of the day’s achievements, we need to pause for a moment and take stock of how we got there.

"All Present, Correct and Ready for Daily Inspection!" – the club fleet was ready to go by 0930.
For when globe trotting, Alpine flying LS-8turbo owning Instructor David Jesty greets you with “Nice to see the hangar’s empty”, causing a nice, warm feeling of smugness, you have to remember that it was largely due to the efforts of Leith ‘Early Start’ Whittington and Chris ‘I’m Right Behind You’ Jones, plus the Howarths and others, that he could have said exactly the same had he arrived at 9 o’clock, or even earlier (see photo). With first launch of the day away by 9:45, and the sky already looking ‘bright’, there was a definite spring in people’s step today and, with the wind in the NE, always the opportunity for wave.

One Day Course visitor Mark Samuel with Mike Jardine.
Our One Day Course student was PPL holder from Callington Mark Samuel (see photo), who was flown by Introductory Flight Pilot Mike Jardine for his first ‘flings’ into the firmament before moving onto David for instructional flying. Mark’s place in the front seat was subsequently taken by local resident Michael Hosking (see photo), who arrived for an Introductory Flight accompanied by a considerable following of family members. So two-seater DMX went from Mike’n’Mark to Mike’n’Mike..! Both enjoyed their flights and Mark will return to complete the launches he wasn’t able to fit in today.

Introductory Flight visitor Mike Hosking with Mike Jardine.
But it was in the single-seat market that the greatest gains were made… With a gentle north easterly wind and few clouds forming the sun did its job a treat - thermals began at around 11 and grew in strength throughout, as did the confidence of our early season pilots to find and exploit them. For example it took newly qualified Introductory Flight Pilot Pete Howarth 10 long minutes to get from 600 to 650 ft agl in the K-13 at 1030 in the morning, whereas it took ASW20 owner Roger Green exactly the same amount of time to get to 3,600ft by 2:30 in the afternoon! (- see Roger’s photos). And whilst those two flights probably bracket the greatest/least height gain for greatest/least effort spectrum, the intervening colours were populated by a Cross Country Endorsement qualifying 2 hours plus for Adrian Irwin in the Zugvögel, 1½ hours by Roger Appleboom in his K-6CR, an hour plus by Chris Jones in the club K-8, which Jeff Cragg and Karl Andrews also flew.

The ASW20 over the Tamar Valley
Approaching Roadford Lake
However Accolade of the Day has to be reserved for Pete Harvey who, having endured endless spins, spiral dives and cable breaks, finally went solo today (see photo). Pete, who has powered experience (but is none the worse for that), started flying with us in July and, travelling from Falmouth on a fortnightly basis, has been a regular feature on Sundays, taking a keen interest in Don’s lectures on ground school days and tenacious pursuit of his Progress Card on flying days. Well Done Pete! And watch out, you K-8 jocks, he’s coming through…

Peter Harvey being congratulated by Martin Cropper after going solo today.
Thanks go to Chris Jones for winching (again), to David Jesty for making a most welcome appearance, to Mike Jardine for his ‘bedside manner’, to Leith and the team for getting the kit out whilst dawn was still causing a blush in the sky and not least to Richard Roberts who, apparently at both ends of the airfield simultaneously, drove the launch rate up to 12 launches per hour at one point, thus enabling us to achieve 32 launches before an unexpected sea-breeze crept in from the south-west to put and end to flying for the day.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 21st March 2015

The weather forecast for today looked reasonably favourable; lightish northerly wind mostly blue skies and definitely no rain; spring is here at last. The soaring forecast was not as positive but that would not be allowed to get in the way of some gliding action.

Chris Jones shared his view of the runway while driving the tractor and roller
Before flying activities could start though there were several housekeeping tasks to do. The monthly maintenance ( cleaning, vacuuming, canopy cleaning, lubricating ) on the aircraft was brought up to date. While this was being done the tractor and roller were put to good use.

Old Friends - Left to right
Steve Clark. Allan Holland, John Bolt, Trevor Taylor and Ged Nevisky with his back to us
Today saw the return of several old friends. Steve Clark dropped in and spent the afternoon with us. Trevor Taylor made his first visit to the airfield after his period of illness. Today also saw the return to the club of the Green Party i.e.. Roger and Barry Green. Roger is planning to base himself and his ASW20 at DGS for the coming year. Welcome home Roger.

Roger with his ASW20
The flying saw some soaring the best flight of which was junior club member Elliot Acton with Rick Wiles in K13 G-DDMX who remained airborne for 28 minutes. The best of the rest was Roger Green in the ASW20 at 20 minutes.

Trevor had a short flight with me in the K13
A day for old friends and junior pilots.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 18th March 2015

The forecast for today looked favourable with the wind light(ish) from the NE with a mostly clear blue sky. Definitely no rain.

Luckily Instructor David Jesty offered  to fly with us today. This and the good forecast ensured that the club was busy. The club fleet was out and there were 4 private gliders, Bob’s K8, Mike in the Open Cirrus and both of the Astir CS’s.

Initially the conditions were a little suppressed by a strong inversion at 1900 feet which allowed some soaring but only to this height. By early afternoon however the increasing temperatures had broken the inversion and pilots were reporting cloudbases around 3800 feet above the airfield ( 4600 feet above sea level). There was signs of wave, lots of thermals and the north ridge was working with thermal enhanced ridge effects to 1000 feet. Great fun in the somewhat boisterous air.

The K8 being flown by Chris Jones as seen by Mike Gadd in the Open Cirrus
Most pilots achieved soaring flights with the longest of the day going to Mike Gadd in the Open Cirrus who chose to land after 2 hours 13 minutes. The other notable flight today was by Chris Jones who flew the club K8 for 1 hour and 10minutes securing on of his required legs for the cross country endorsement. Well done Chris.

No, not a visiting skater, it's pilot Chris Jones celebrating his first 1 hour soaring flight
Where did Chris go during his flight?
 Well not very far actually as this trace shows
(The airfield is top centre)
Not to be forgotten were the 2 seaters. We welcomed visitor Edward Noy who enjoyed 2 short soaring flights with me. By the end of flight two Edward was managing to turn the aircraft quite successfully. David flew all day completing the instructors usual mix of check rides and training flights which included a couple of good soaring flights. Many thanks from us all David.

Visitor Edward Noy contemplating his first ever glider flight.
Fred marks is happy to be flying the K13 from the back seat.
Here he is taking club member David Bourchier for a flight.
Of course the airfield doesn’t run itself, so our thanks is also due to everyone who helped out driving winches, retrieve, log keeping, launching and towing etc.etc. Thanks everyone.

Derigging at the end of the day
The weather has definitely turned a corner. A great start to the season.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 15th March 2015

Despite repeated weather forecasts warning of banks of cloud in the south-west they has also repeatedly predicted that the wind would be from the north-east and therefore, I thought, putting emotion before logic, there would be wave. Just think the factors through for a second: how does/can an overcast equate to wave? It can’t, and didn’t, as the photo of Sheepstor taken on the way to Brentor plainly shows. In fact, as the visibility reduced en route to the airfield (by road) it rapidly became apparent that flying at all would be in jeopardy, let alone wave.

Sheepstor seen en-route to the airfield – could that line in the cloud indicate wave?
That is not to say that the Sunday Soarers sat around in the clubhouse drinking tea…oh, no! For, acting on information received from the Forum, today’s ‘to do’ list was, rather bizarrely, to create a ‘to do’ list! And which, strangely enough, no sooner said than done was populated with 4 things ‘to do’ (see photo). The List, sited in the passageway opposite the (also very useful) Monthly Maintenance Board is a very simple, living document for members to add and remove items as they see fit - let’s see if it produces results!

The 'To Do' List, sited opposite the Glider Monthly Maintenance Board.
There was talk of adding a fifth task: “Improve visibility”, however this was such a forlorn hope we decided to find things ‘to do’ rather than put them on the board! And so Richard Roberts’s attempt to clear away of ‘work in wake’ from putting up the ‘to do’ list (i.e.. drill shavings) developed into a full blown (well, sucked) duel of the hoovers between him and Dave Bourchier (see photo)…whilst in the simulator Chris Jones was trying to intone good gliding advice to newly joined member Heather Lawrie (see photo). Fortunately, this frenzy of activity was brought to a conclusion by the simultaneous arrival of a: John Boon, our Introductory Flight visitor for the day and b: an improvement in the visibility/cloudbase sufficient for us to go flying. And so we deserted the clubhouse (like the Marie Celeste) for the launchpoint, not 100 metres distant.

 Hoovers in series (or should that be parallel?)
Dave Bourchier and Richard Roberts duel it out.

Chris Jones gives advice to Heather Lawrie on the simulator.
Where, of course, it would be nice to say that the clouds parted, the sun shone through and pleasant afternoon’s soaring was enjoyed by all - but that would be stretching fact into fantasy. In truth, the clouds - and an occasional shower - remained, and it was up, round and down for the majority. Our visitor, John, who hails from Northampton and has an interest in BSA motorcycles (see cap in photo), had been driven to the club from Teignmouth by his 90 year old father, yes, that’s 90 years old. So as a motorbike enthusiast who better for John to fly with than newly qualified Introductory Flight Pilot Roger Appleboom? - the post flight debrief was all about bikes!

Visitor John Boon with Introductory Flight Pilot Roger Appleboom.
Now it wasn’t all up, round and down. Slightly shorter flights (well, much, actually) were undertaken by Pete Harvey, who received 3 x simulated cable breaks (for which apologies are extended to winchman Chris Jones, since we put the cable over the fence on all 3 occasions) and a sufficiently longer one was made by Roger Appleboom in the K-8 who, at 11 mins, just managed to pip Adrian Irwin to the post for flight of the day. Chris Owen rounded off his landing technique whilst, at the other end of the spectrum, Heather Lawrie continued her acquaintance with elevator and ailerons. Continuing grey we packed up for the day but the mood was decidedly chipper - no wave, no soaring, no records or medals but flying 16 launches certainly felt better than sitting in the clubhouse looking a ‘to do’ list!

Thanks go to Chris Jones for winching, to Adrian Irwin for picking out a particularly troublesome wedding of snakes in the cable after it had gone over the fence, to Dave Bourchier for hosting and general helpfulness and to Richard Roberts for hovering up wherever needed..!

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 14th March 2015

Arriving at the airfield a little late due to my work commitments three things were immediately apparent. There was more than enough members to fly, the day was deemed too challenging to fly with a strong gusty northerly wind and there was some protracted negotiations underway for the formation of a new syndicate.

The Astir 2 negotiations
The new syndicate seems to be Colin Boyd, Adrian Irwin and Tony Dean and is based around a nicely presented Astir 2 previously owned by the Greens. By then end of the morning the deal had been done. We look forward to seeing them flying their new toy.

The Astir 2 in it's very smart lift top trailer
The weather was definitely improving but there was time to rig the K8, which is now ready to re-join the fleet sporting a very smart replacement canopy bubble and a reworked front skid, before changing ends and attempting some aviation.

The K8 on final approach
The first order of the day was for me to test fly the K8. This glider always surprises me with it’s nice gentle handling, I even managed to find an embryonic thermal which supplied a couple of minutes of entertainment.

K13 G-CHXP on the launch.
The wind was swinging towards the North East but the strength was reducing quickly and became almost smooth. This is probably not the stuff that great wave days are made of but there was some signs of rotor and even a wave bar giving a short beat of zero ( no lift or sink ) in nicely smooth air. Great fun.

Everyone who wanted to fly flew, most attempting to soar or at least prolonging their circuits.

Great fun


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 11th March 2015

As predicted by the forecast, the day turned out to be unflyable because of an increasing crosswind and rain/drizzle arriving late morning.

A drizzly day on Dartmoor
Member Chris Jones had previously booked with CFI Don Puttock to do his Bronze Badge Theoretical Knowledge Test today. Adrian Irwin was then "press-ganged" by Don into attempting it too. A lot of brain cells were used up during the day!

Meanwhile, Don briefed a small band of other members on various topics including thermalling

Adrian Irwin

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 8th March 2015

Today really was a ‘game of two halves’ as our photos demonstrate. The Met Office and Weather Pro forecasts were accurate - a cold front passing through the south-west peninsula a midday followed by sunshine/cloud. The problem was maintaining morale/commitment and interest among those who had gathered in the clubhouse until the clearance arrived. Of which more later.

A game of two halves: the airfield at 9:00am.
And at 4:00pm.
For today the focus was again on Introductory Flight Pilot training, in which the forecast wind direction of due west was going to be of great benefit for trainee IFPs Fred Marks and Phil Hardwick - it was just a pity that it was brought millions of molecules of moisture with it for the first half of the day. However, all credit to CFI Don Puttock, he did manage to inflict sufficient ‘eventualities’ upon Fred for him to become rated within the afternoon; sadly lack of time prevented the same being possible for Phil. So congratulations, then, Fred on gaining your Introductory Flight Pilot rating (and no doubt Phil will do so in the near future).

Don Puttock and Fred Marks.
Fred was awarded his Introductory Flight Pilot Rating – Congratulations, Fred!
That is not to say that all the excitement was reserved for they sexy new swan necked K-13 HXP, oh no. For our trusty red and white K-13 DMX, despite appearing to be the poor relation (in one CFI’s eyes) nevertheless continued to deliver the goods, enabling Chris Owen and Pete Harvey to remain current on launch failures - and soaring as the cloud cleared - and for Paula Howarth to continue practicing all elements of the circuit. Roger Appleboom and Peter Howarth were also persuaded to drag themselves from the winch and into DMX to maintain their back seat currency, utilising Paula Howarth and Chris Owen as ‘ballast’. All this resulted in 19 launches overall - not bad for half a day’s work..!

K-13 HXP viewed from the starboard wing of K-13 DMX.
 So how do you keep nine hyperactive, ambitious and success-driven members motivated in the mist whilst awaiting the weather to lift? Well with a scrap heap challenge, of course! Our photos show how the team loaded three 40 gallon oil drums laden with old cable onto the double bogie trailer, which was carefully positioned as far away as possible across the hardstanding. What the photos do not show, for health and safety reasons, is how we got the oil drums from the vertical into the horizontal position, or how Phil Hardwick managed to ‘create’ a new lid on one of them, using only his bare hands (and a sledge hammer). Now those of you with half an eye and a scintilla of practical awareness will have noticed that the drums were loaded onto the trailer which, empty, had been attached to the green Disco. Only when flying became possible was it realised that we needed the green Disco to act as cable retrieve, which would mean un-attaching the now heavily laden trailer (which helpfully has no jockey wheel…). This proved slightly more entertaining and time consuming - however it was achieved without injury and did prove a point not often seen in scrap heap challenges (or indeed that morning), namely to think the problem through before leaping to a (half-baked) solution!

Scrap Heap Challenge 1: four men and an oil drum.
Scrap Heap Challenge 2: now six men and an oil drum.
Thanks go to the aforementioned winch masters Pete Howarth and Roger Appleboom, and toColin Boyd and Robin Wilson, who helped but did not fly, and to Richard Roberts who, in addition to everything else, re-laid the floor tiles in the clubhouse corridor outside the toilets. Next stop? The safe room (with padded tiles, of course!)

Martin Cropper

Wednesday 4th March 2015

The weather looked a lot better today. The wind, although strong and somewhat gusty from the NW, was at least mostly down the runway. The clear blue sky was very quickly showing the cu marking the thermals predicted by today’s RASP forecast.

A better looking day.
Instructor Don Puttock was busy from one end of the day to the other as pilots took advantage of his presence to further their gliding ambitions / get or remain in practice etc. etc.

Don in the the front seat with Colin Boyd flying from the rear seat
David Rippon ready to commit aviation
Right from the off there was a duel for the longest flight of the day. First shot was fired by Chris Jones with 37 minutes. Adrian Irwin replied with 38 minutes and for a short while he looked confident, but into the OK launchpoint ( corral ) sauntered Sheriff Wyatt ( Allan ) Holland who mounted his trusty steed, Zugvogel, and disappeared for 1 hour and 3 minutes, returning because he wanted to, not because he had to.

Adrian after giving it his best shot
Sheriff Wyatt Holland about to show them whose boss. 
Elsewhere, a trailer load of dead batteries and scrap metal earned the club £100 or so and the repairs to the K8 were completed.

A busy day.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 1st March 2015

Relaxing in the clubhouse for a late lunch having safely retrieved the gliders from the airfield before the wind flung them over the boundary fence, Adrian Irwin reflected with satisfaction, “Well at least I got flight of the day…” “Oh no you didn’t!” came the chorus in response for, whilst Adrian had gallantly worked a weak late February thermal for 13 minutes in the Zugvögel, behind his back Peter and Paula Howarth had taken a bouncy early March two knotter to 1,600ft in the K-13, returning to earth a full 14 minutes after setting off! Oh how we laughed..! (Fortunately Adrian, although fiercely competitive, always takes this kind of ‘banter’ with good grace…)

"Close up, Number 5!"  A flypast by Canada Geese started the day.
They were clearly still in pre-display 
 The day had started with a flypast by some Canada Geese which were clearly still in pre-display season training (as the photo shows). With a cold front encroaching into the SW peninsula and the wind at midday predicted to be 230 at 30 kts, the aim was to get in as much flying as possible before Met stopped play, which we guessed would be about 1400.

Paula Howarth appreciating the improved vis via HXP's canopy whilst thermalling over Higher Farm.
As early morning conditions were bright and only moderately breezy, therefore, we sallied forth with new two-seater HXP and the aforementioned Zugvögel, keen to gain/remain current as appropriate. Paula Howarth was first to clear the cobwebs (see photo), greatly appreciating the improved visibility afforded by HXP’s canopy and its relative silence when compared to DMX, to be followed by Adrian in HKV to the thermal we were marking over Higher Farm. Joining at 900ft, he scratched away to 1,500ft, by which time the wind had taken him way over Blackdown - fortunately the Zugvögel has the punch to get back, and maintain an even keel in a cross wind landing. It was then Pete Howarth’s turn to stay current, which for him means passenger carrying in the K-13, before he was due to convert onto the Zugvögel.

Cirrus heralding the arrival of the cold front in early afternoon.
Sadly, however, by 1230 the wind had gone from breeze to blast, as evidenced by the windsock’s attempt to ascend above the horizontal and it was time to beat retreat. By 1400 the rain was lashing against the windows of the clubhouse, we had the gliders safely packed away, and we were able to compare notes from the log sheet (which never, ever lies..!)

Thanks go to Richard Roberts for being general factotum, and to Colin Boyd for pointing out that when you can hear the wind blowing through the trees, and you can’t successfully recover the cable at full power because of the crosswind, it’s probably time to be packing up.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 28th February 2015

For me, today started in a rush, with a couple of hours of work in Plymouth prior to dashing up to the airfield in time to meet our visitors who were due at 11am.

The weather in Plymouth did not look too hopeful with a very low cloudbase but arriving at the airfield things looked a little better and it was clear that at least we would manage full height launches before needing cloud flying skills. The wind was just west of south, i.e. straight across the runway.

There was just enough of us to operate the airfield with Instructor Ged authorising the airfield and driving the winch with me flying the K13 and Adrian Irwin facilitating the launching the aircraft. David Bourchier was driving cable retrieve.

Ali in K13 G-CHXP with Claire in attendance.
We welcomed visitors Ali White and Claire Oziem, who were both to have their first experiences in a glider. Claire went first and I was amazed to find that it was gently soarable under the overcast but there were signs of the cloudbase lowering. Ali was next. After we launched we were forced to airbrake down under the lowering cloudbase only to find that it was still nicely soarable. After a few minutes of exploring the area immediately south of the airfield it was back to circuit for an uneventful landing in the strengthening crosswind. We hope Ali and Claire return for some more flying soon.

The lowering cloudbase obscuring Dartmoor
And that was it. Within the next half an hour the cloudbase lowered even further and it was threatening to rain. The glider was washed and put back into the hangar just in time to miss the
heavy rain which followed.