Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 26th April 2015

Another Sunday with a NE’ly wind forecast (Met Office 040 at 10kts) gave the possibility of wave, plus RASP predicting booming conditions in the afternoon led us into the not unreasonable belief that a good day among the clouds was in prospect. Our enthusiasm to get started was hampered, somewhat, by the low cloudbase, as clearly indicated by the tower on Brentor church, and hence we busied ourselves with monthly maintenance on the club gliders whilst the cloud gradually lifted.

Which by 11:00 it had, and we got under with our two One Day Courses, a father and son team: Alan and Sam Cade, who were flown, initially, by Introductory Flight Pilot Mike Jardine (see photos). At that point the wind resolutely remained exactly from the north (so no wave) and it was not until after lunch that the sun managed to break through to create convection, the first soaring flight being 19 mins by Adrian Irwin in the club K-8. Indeed Adrian’s claim to Flight of the Day looked pretty secure until much later on, around half past three, when Roger Appleboom, ‘fresh’ from the winch, managed 33 mins in the K-8 (to be followed by Barry Green with 22 mins in the same glider). To complete the solo listing, Allan Holland made it look oh so easy to go from release to cloudbase in a single spiral for as flight time of 17 mins.

Our One Day Course students were Alan Cade, a paediatrician at Derriford Hospital, accompanied by his son…
  …Sam Cade, aged 14.  Both enjoyed six flights each, with Alan receiving a bonus visit to the winch – courtesy of a land ahead launch failure..!
There was a good mix of trainees, with Pete Harvey consolidating his K-13 solo time whilst Kit Smith, unusually, managed to miss the thermals thus giving him the opportunity to practice his crosswind approaches and landings which, under the influence of the trees on the northern boundary, were quite ‘interesting’! Returning One Day Course temporary member Dave Downton enjoyed 3 flights with Mike and me.

As the time approached six o’clock we had a general consensus that all who wanted to fly had flown, so the day’s total was 32 launches and just over 4 hours total flying – a little disappointing but to be expected given the low cloudbase at start of day. We rejoiced in an abundance of winch drivers, however, thanks going to Roger Appleboom, Colin Boyd, Allan Holland, Mike Jardine and Barry Green. Thus although the promised wave and ‘booming’ conditions predicted by RASP never materialised, we nonetheless had some valuable ‘experiential learning’ in the crosswind. Thanks also go to Heather Horsewill for willingly clearing up the clubhouse after last evening’s AGM.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 25th April 2015

There was lots of excitement about the great soaring forecast for most of the country this weekend. However, the frontal system whose passing had promised great soaring elsewhere was still firmly in place over the SW peninsula giving us low cloud and a  forecast for heavy rain later. Oh dear, a maintenance day then.

This is how we normally see Rick Wiles
There was a lot of work done by the members today but special mention must be made of Rick Wiles and David Bourchier who worked tirelessly throughout the day. By the close of play, all three Landrovers were serviceable The GusLaunch had a welding repair completed and it’s new steps had been test fitted.

The Landrovers are all serviceable again.
(We did look for a Car Show type model but couldn't find one)
Bob Sansom holding the stairs in postion while we went for a cup of tea.
 As the afternoon wore on more and more members started to appear ready for the AGM scheduled for 6:30. The business of the AGM was enacted without delay after which an interesting,lively debate ensued.

Chairman Martin Cropper guiding the AGM.
(Pity my camera doesn't have a wider lens. About half of the attendees are out of shot)
The better weather must come here soon. Please!!!


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 24th April 2015

The strong winds are still roaring over the airfield. 16.5 knots with gusts of 32 knots+ from 030 i.e. mostly across the runway meant that the gliders were left safely in the hangar today.
Convalescing Wednesday Instructor Bob Pirie arrived to spend a few hours with us today and is looking forward to being able to fly soon. He helped out with loading the scrap from the old caravans which was the dispatched to the scrap yard.

Bob Sansom and Bob Pirie getting rid of the scrap from the old caravans
On the way to the airfield, member Jorg Beasley picked up a couple of spare parts which enabled David Bourchier to complete the repairs to the Gold Landrover and it is good to report that it is now fully serviceable once more with a new water pump, drive belt and tensioner ( apparently ).

The refreshed Safety Notice Board after the ministrations of Mike 
 Inside the clubhouse, our Safety Officer Mike Gadd sorted out the Safety Notice Board which is now clear of old notices and displays the latest Safety briefings. Excellent work Mike.

We let accident prone John Rogers rewind the winch cables
( We must be mad but we bravely stood well clear )
After a little work to sort out the cables on the GusLaunch winch we returned to the clubhouse for tea and doughnuts supplied by John Rogers who spent his day walking into things. Good job we had the Safety Officer on site.

John sporting light frontal damage after finding something to walk into.


Dartmoor gliding News-Sunday 19th April 2015

If you take the road directly north out of Plymouth towards Tavistock and the club, but turn off right at Roborough roundabout, the lane leads you through Shaugh Prior, up onto Dartmoor, where a vast expanse of china clay pits clings to its southern edge (of which more later) sited between the villages of Lee Moor and Wotter.

And ‘wotter’ day we had today..! With the Met Office wind forecast to be 070 at 20kts, we were once again apprehensive that it would be too strong. In the event, the wind never went above 10kts and remained between north and north-east; so perfect for wave. Well, not quite since the profile did not increase with height but the cloudless sky allowed the sun to get to work on the ground creating strong afternoon thermals from which some memorable soaring flights ensued.

Roger Green's view of Tavistock down the wing of his ASW20
Launching before 0945 it was immediately apparent that some wave, albeit weak, was present thus enabling Paula Howarth to follow that well known path between the winch and the ‘sugar factory’ at Harford Bridge and achieve 15 minutes on first launch of the day. She was followed by Roger Appleboom with One Day Course student David Downton, from Plymouth, who remained aloft for 24 mins before 1045. This caused the ‘sudden’ realisation among the solo pilots that it might be worth getting into the sky, with Adrian Irwin departing in the Zugvögel to exploit the secondary wave, found partway down the airfield, for a leisurely hour (and one minute) by 1130.

Visitor Joy Norgate, from Newton Abbott
Visitor Martyn Griffiths flew with Roger Appleboom.
Visitor Mary Browne and Roger Appleboom
There was a steady stream of visitors for introductory flights who, with attendant partners, family and ‘groupies’ gave Dave Bourchier, Jerry Wellington and other ‘meeters and greeters’ plenty of opportunity to practice their “Welcome to Dartmoor Gliding” skills, “the emergency exits are here, here, and here...” Among these were Joy Norgate, from Newton Abbott, Martyn Griffiths, Mary Browne, Stephen Hart and Kirsty Falconer, from Tavistock (see photos). They were flown by IFPs Roger Appleboom and Pete Howarth, who took turns to man that equally vital piece of machinery, the winch (for which there are ‘Sits Vacant…’)

Visitor Stephen Hart flew with Peter Howarth
Visitor Kirsty Falconer, from Tavistock, with Peter Howarth.
Happy to Fly’ Ausie visitor Richard Henwood with Peter Howarth.
As the day wore on the wave was largely replaced by convection, the valley north of the field to Blackdown and large areas to the south veritably bursting with energy (but no cumulus), challenging trainees Elliot Acton (26 mins) and Kit Smith (43 mins) to stay within the thermals’ cores. And with the wind remaining relatively light from the north-north west what do think happened next? At about 1500 we were ‘gate crashed’ by a convergence zone that set itself up along a NW-SE line that was tantalisingly too far away to be reached by the two-seaters, but well within the grasp of those with glass (or a K-6) to hand, such as Roger Green and Martin Broadway, in their ASW-20Fs, Mike Gadd, in his Open Cirrus and Roger Appleboom in his K-6CR. Mike was able to use the convergence to climb to 5,300ft amsl, and reckoned that the line extended from just north of Tavistock to Ivybridge, a distance of approximately 16 miles, or 27 kms. This allowed the pair to take the spectacular photos of the china clay pits at Lee Moor and Wotter reproduced here
Mike Gadd in Open Cirrus approaching Lee Moor
That's a big hole
Although by close of play we had managed only 36 launches, if you take into account that 5 flights were in excess of 1 hour, (total 9½ hours flying) and that 4 launches were simulated launch failures, you get an average flight time of almost 19 mins per flight – which is not bad for Brentor at this time of year… Let’s hope that today set, as they say in management, a ‘benchmark’ for the rest of the season to be measured against, by the end of which we’ll be saying not “Wotter good day!” but “Notter-nother good day!”..?

"Plymouth in the mist" The Tamar estuary views through the convergence
Thanks go to winch drivers Roger, Pete and Allan Holland, and to Colin Boyd and Dave Bourchier for repairing the fence after a cable ‘excursion’ following a practice cable break. Thanks also go to ‘meeters and greeters’ and others who ensured that the paperwork was completed before the visitors donned their parachute.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 18th April 2015

Another blue sky day but with easterly winds forecast there was great excitement among the handful of experienced pilots on the airfield. Would there be wave? Thoughts of Gold Heights and oxygen use were discussed.

The good news was that there was definitely wave in the area with some lenticulars and rotor clouds making brief appearances locally. So we rigged, flew to great heights and had a wonderful day, did we? Well no. In the morning the wind was very strong and gusty. Base wind speeds at  21.2 knots with gusts up to 48 knots.

The windsock had a good workout today
So the gliders were left in their trailers, we changed ends and waited for the forecast, early afternoon, reduction in wind strength. By mid afternoon the wind had indeed reduced to about 15 knots but it was still very gusty as witnessed by the almost constant gust alarms from the weather station and by 3:30pm we abandoned any thoughts of flying today.

The weather station showing the wind at 21.2 knots from the east ( top right quadrant ). 

While we waited expectantly, Rick Wiles and David Bourchier were working away on the various defects afflicting our Land Rover Discoveries. By the end of the day various parts had been added to the wanted list and several faults fully investigated. Well done chaps.

Ever wondered what a broken Discovery CV join looks like?
Neither have I but just in case here's one
A disappointing day. Perhaps tomorrow will be better.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 15th April 2015

Clear blue skies and a light northerly wind promised a warm day with good soaring.
In the event we got the warm day with tee shirt and shorts being the preferred dress code. The soaring was poor. The pressure was high with a strong inversion and locally the heat was just not high enough to break this up and allow proper thermal activity. Just to tease us, there were obvious thermals all day over the higher parts of Dartmoor to the east marked by a growing line of cumulus clouds.

The cumulus teased us all day
 There were 4 private gliders out today; Colin’s K6, Bob’s K8, Steve’s Astir and Martin’s ASW20 which was sporting a new drag inducing device as he had left the roll of wing tape attached to the wing/fuselage join.

The new drag inducing device (wing tape) left attached on the ASW20
ASW20 owner and inventor of drag inducing devices Martin Broadway
The most notable flight of the day was by Allan Holland in the club K8 who managed to scratch out a 40minute flight by shear hard work in the low level bubbles around the adjacent slopes. Excellent effort.

Heather went flying with Fred Marks
Today’s visitor was Anne Cathercole who enjoyed a couple of short flights in the K13 with me. She did very well in her attempts to control the aircraft and left the site with a big smile and promising to return for some more flying. Also flying in the K13 was Heather who works tirelessly around the site. Heather had been retrieving cables all day. On her last visit she managed to clean the whole clubhouse single handed.

Visitor Anne in K13 G-CHXP
Anne's flight on the launch
2/3 airbrake approach as Anne returns to terra firma.

A enjoyable day with friends.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 12th April 2015

With the wind attempting to blow the windsock above the horizontal (20 gusting 29 knots) and due south (i.e.. 90º across the runway) it was an unpalatable but not difficult decision not to fly today (see photo). Which - as ever - was a shame, particularly when members travel for hours to get to the airfield, however safety first.

“Hooray, Up She Rises!”  20kt, 90 degree crosswinds attempt to lift the windsock above the horizontal.
So how to divert the interests of 8 highly motivated and skilled would be aviators? Step forward the ‘To Do’ list, from which we managed to remove a significant number of tasks, plus some that didn’t even get on the list, as the photos here describe.

“Hi, Ho!” Rich Roberts sports a pair of ‘knocking sticks’ in order to set about the old caravan.
At the top of the list was ‘Dismantle one caravan’ to which, at the risk of becoming typecast, Richard Roberts and myself were assigned to see if we could break our 3 hour record (we failed – the second caravan was a much better crafted construction than the first). Remaining with the caravan theme, the second task was to pressure wash the club’s caravan, for which Heather Horsewill was a willing volunteer, ably assisted by Barry Green and Adrian Irwin. Two hours later, the removal of mould and mildew complete, it was transformed into an almost desirable looking mobile residence. Next job will be the internals…

Heather Horsewill places the club caravan ‘under pressure'.
Anyone recognise this?  The club caravan post Heather’s attentions.
Not content to rest on her pressure washer laurels, Heather then turned her attention to the apron outside the clubhouse, which was treated to a similar facelift by removal of mud and nut cases (not Heather!). Rick Wiles (our Introductory Flight Pilot for the day) was keen to make use of the non-flying opportunity to repair the shock absorbers on the red Discovery following which, assisted by Dave Bourchier, he turned his grinder and welder to the Zetor tractor, where the seat had parted from the chassis, making for an ‘interesting’ ride (now welded back in place), and the metal ‘sunroof’ was leaking (holes now patched over).

“There’s Murder of the Dancefloor!”
The closest Rick Wiles has got to a disco in 15 years – thank goodness…
“The club is well equipped with PSE (PPE?)…” (…it’s just that some choose to leave it on the workbench..!)
Rick grinds away the seat of the Zetor prior to welding it back in place. 
Meanwhile, in expletive deleted corner, Mike Keller and Barry were trying to replace the water pump in the gold Disco. A simple task to describe but, in the ‘tradition’ of British car manufacture from the nineteen eighties, a complete and utter pig to execute. Just gaining access to the pump took 3 hours and which, with an aluminium bolt looking more like a boxer’s ear, will be a job for completion another day.

Mike Keller boxing the Disco's ears.
So six jobs (almost) completed that won’t intrude into a flying day, and it was well worth the chat at elevenses and lunch time. Thanks go to all those named; let’s hope we are rewarded with better weather next Sunday

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 11th April 2015

The weather looked promising. A cold front had swept through yesterday taking the high pressure with it. This left us with an unstable airmass. The only downside of this was the drop in temperature. Thursday was around 20 centigrade; today about 11 but feeling much colder in the brisk westerly airflow.

Due to the somewhat leisurely arrival of members and some urgent maintenance work, the first launch was not until midday when the 13 climbed away from the launch straight to cloudbase some 3800 feet above the runway. So a good day was in prospect.

Looking down at the airfield from 3800 feet
Tony Dean captured this view of Roadford Lake from the Zugvogel
There was a lot of soaring, the best of which was Chris Jones in the K8 who stayed aloft for 1hour 24 minutes missing out on his 2 hour soaring flight. Close on his heels was Adrian Irwin in the Zugvogel  who returned after 1 hour 10 minutes to bag his outstanding soaring flight for his Cross Country Endorsement. Well done Adrian. Tony Dean managed couple of 40+ minute flights in the Zugvogel while trying for his 2 hour flight and Colin Boyd managed a late afternoon 30+ minutes in the K8. Strangely there were no private gliders out today. Syndicate owners should be kicking themselves that they were not here.

The view to Plymouth and the Tamar Estuary
How steep do you turn in thermals?
Chris Jones shows us the way.
Notice the K13 soaring above
We had two Introductory Flight visitors, Myles Simpson and Phyllis Lancaster ( a sprightly 81 years young ) both of whom flew with Rick Wiles.  Also returning today was Air Training Corps Cadet and DGS temporary member Heather Lawrie. She had a couple of flights with me working on her aircraft handling skills and was busy around the launchpoint helping out. Great fun.
Visitor Myles Simpson
Visitor Phyllis looks happy to be flying
Heather returns the K13 to the launchpoint at the end of one of her flights
As the day progressed reports that the Gold Landrover had some mechanical problems began to filter through. The alternator drive belts had come off and couldn’t be refitted due to a wobbly pulley. Time for a new water pump then, although, reports that the power steering pump had also failed proved thankfully to be a red herring ( the power steering pump doesn't work with the drive belt removed!! ). More work to do.

A good day.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 5th April 2015

“Stop, Stop, Stop!” went the cry. What on earth for now? On the day when, with 4 instructors on site, 3 winch drivers, 5 trial lesson/introductory flights and a One Day Course gave the potential to achieve the first 40+ launch day of the year the last thing we wanted was unnecessary stoppages… A swift glance in the direction of pointing fingers revealed the cause: a deer on the runway! So OK perhaps a valid “Stop” call, then… (see photo captured by Sunday Sharp-Shooter Paula Howarth).

 “Stop, Stop Stop!” A deer crossing the airfield causes the launch to be delayed.
In fact, our launch total of 35 was unlikely to have been bettered since today was, once again, a game of two halves (and almost venison in two halves..!) Up until exactly 3pm the light north/north-easterly had been producing prodigious convection, with thermals mixing with wave that had Allan Holland struggling to maintain control over the Zugvögel in rotor during his 2 hours flight to east of site, Roger Appleboom having the brake the K-13 all the way down from Tavistock in order to return to terra firma and Roger Green spending a shade less than 2 hours aloft among smooth thermals to the west in his super sexy ASW-20. At three, the windsock suddenly swung on its pole indicating a southerly, and the day died. Just like that. The fact that this was cold sea air cutting in from the coast was confirmed by clouds which continued to move across the field from the north. So farewell, then, to 40 launches plus, but thankfully we had managed 2 half-hours, 3 one hour plus and one 2 hours plus flight before conditions changed.

Chris Jones returns in the club’s K-8 G-CGDK after an early morning soaring flight.
One Day Course student Margaret Hannah, from Totnes.
And a lot of other business was done (not all, unfortunately, recorded on camera). Our One Day Course candidate was Margaret Hannah. Margaret, a retired psychotherapist from Totnes, has previous powered experience and, like many of her ilk, found the rate of turn and angle of bank used by glider pilots quite difficult to assimilate. However she certainly enjoyed her six flights (and visit to the winch) and will be very welcome when she returns to ‘unlearn’ the ways of the propelled fraternity. Our Introductory Flight visitors were Jason Bastin and Thomas Jennings, who flew with Roger Appleboom, Mark Smith, who flew with Pete Howarth (see photo) and relatives Louis (see photo) and Eric Smith. David Jesty completed the instructing team (following an early morning half-hour limber up in the K-8) providing check flights for Jerry Wellington and Barry Green, whilst Caribbean sojourner Martin Broadway also re-qualified for solo flight (with a 300ft launch failure in which demonstrated that he is by no means averse to using sideslip..!) Chris Jones and Jeff Cragg also maintained the K-8’s utilisation rate, whilst also winching and retrieving respectively, and Pete Harvey was able to make his third and fourth solos in the K-13.

Introductory Flight visitor Mark Smith with Peter Howarth.
Introductory Flight visitor Louis Smith also flew with Peter Howarth.
Before concluding, mention must be made of the weather station that David Bourchier has set up at the launch point (see photos). With a digital/pictorial display of wind speed, direction and temperature, this is a great advance that will assist us in making informed decisions, particularly in relation to the crosswind, in future. The by now traditional Sunday thanks are also necessary to Richard Roberts, who certainly had 40 launches in his sights (until the weather changed). Oh and, if space permits, thanks are also due to Peter Howarth who – like many others – is a Sunday multi-rôler, delivering Introductory Flights from one end of the field and then winching at the other – today adding another string to his bow: that of Rice Krispie chocolate Easter egg cake baker – many thanks, Pete, they were delicious!

The weather station recently installed at the launch point courtesy of Dave Bourchier.
Martin Cropper