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.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 11th November 2015

The wet SW airflow continues. Cloudbase was far too low for a flying day but at least it was not raining.

The day started with everyone trying out the new simulator screen with a challenge to aerotow launch. Much fun was had as the simulator’s sensitivity caught out the assembled members.

Lunchtime on a non flying day
Taking advantage of the lack of rain Robin Wilson assisted by Heather cleaned his glider trailer. Now that's dedication.  Later saw another strop hunt (in the north field this time) which yielded 2 blue strops.

We are now waiting for a visit from Abigail,  the first named storm of the winter.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 8th November 2015

Today, if you can believe it, was doubly beneficial: A: it was good to see that those who come from afar took heed of the weather forecast and saved themselves petrol guzzling double journeys and B: those who live relatively close made a point of attending in order to benefit from some vital pre-solo briefings by CFI Don Puttock. These included: Aeronautical Charts, Airspace and Danger Areas, Altimetry and Flight Levels, Airbrakes and Approach Control in the a.m; Steve McQueen and the contribution of Triumph motorcycles to the Great Escape in the p.m... or was that just a dream..?

No need for optimism: 0900 and this was as good as it got...
The day had been resolutely and repeatedly predicted to be a washout, and so it proved, becoming progressively wetter and windier as Richard Roberts, Roger Appleboom and Martin Cropper attempted to fill some of the more suspension challenging ruts and potholes in the track.  For those who are keen to deal with this top priority task, it is worth remembering that the field is long and the number of pitfalls many, so without the need to venture anywhere near Claire Petulengro’s emporium on the Barbican it can confidently be predicted that you are about to ‘embark upon a long journey’ – keep your expectations low and do as we did: give up when the coffee and doughnuts arrive (thanks, Don!).

“Now where’s that annoying relative got to..?”
Richard Roberts, star of “Dartmoor, the Hurra Movie” (X) tamps down scalpings to smooth over - a family dispute..?
Thanks go to Roger Appleboom, for collecting the doughnuts, to Ed Borlase for getting the computer past the ‘Access is Denied’ stage and to Dave Downtown for dealing diplomatically with the speculative Trial Lesson seekers who turned up despite the weather ‘not looking very promising..!’ 

Let’s hope that the promise, and manifestation, (of good weather) is better next weekend. 

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 7th November 2015

Saturday roared into life with the first real storm of the winter. Overnight there had been torrential rain leaving flooded roads and fallen tree branches every where. A first light the rain had reduced to heavy drizzle but the wind was SW and gale force.

The first task undertaken at the club ( after the first cup of tea and lighting the woodburner ) was to redirect the water cascading off the airfield away from the car park which resembled a lake and then set about draining the car park itself. The skill with which this was accomplished must be due to many hours with bucket and spade on the beach in their younger days.

The rain water running off the airfield.
There were several other tasks undertaken. Rick and Simon changed the bearings on the ML winch pay on rollers. Rick also worked on the small tractor starting system. Later Rick and Simon replaced the Simulator’s computer and commissioned a new smaller screen to display the instruments separately from the main screen. Interesting.

Rick seemed less than impressed with my attempts at reversing the ML into the hangar
Rick checking out the simulator with it's new instrument display
As the day wore on the conditions cleared and enabled Steve Rain, Mike Jardine and myself to undertake a strop hunt along the whole runway and in the surrounding fields. The reward was a blue strop recovered from the south field.

Mike and Steve repairing the recovered  strop
We welcomed a group of cubs from the 11th Plymouth troop who attended as part of their aviation badge. Peter and Paula Howarth along with Mike Jardine did a good lob of showing them the aircraft and equipment including a chance to fly the simulator.

Today's visitors.

A productive day.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 4th November 2015

Cloudbase today was 700 feet above sea level. This is a bit of a problem as the airfield is 820 feet above sea level. Brentor sat in the cloud ( or is that fog ) all day. The only good point to this is that the runway did not receive the deluge of rain which was coming out of the clouds at lower levels.

So a wasted day then? Not a bit of it.

CFI Don Puttock was in fine form today delivering the ground training for our potential new Introductory Flight Pilots. This was followed by discussions training techniques and some encouragement for Jorg Beasley to study for his Bronze C exam.

Don in Lecture mode
Elsewhere saw the delivery of some much needed materials track maintenance. This work can start soon. The most important item today was Ged delivering and fitting a new grate for the woodburner.

A training day completed in the clubhouse.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 1st November 2015

Like a child born with a silver spoon we didn't realise just how lucky we were today for, in many parts of the country, gliding was impossible due to fog - which was in stark contrast to the gin clear conditions that greeted us on arrival at the airfield.  And with a good turnout and busy Flying List there was everything to play for, particularly with a forecast south-easterly wind...

Today’s gin clear conditions.
First launch saw Roger Appleboom take his K-6 aloft for 7mins, closely followed by Pete Howarth with One Day Course student Alex Baines (see photo). Pete's work was then augmented with a busy schedule that included three members of the Kennedy-Bruyneel family (see photos) and Matt Bryant.

Our One Day Course Student was Alex Baines, from Plympton.
 Meet the Kennedy-Bruyneel family: Cerys, seated in glider, Isaac (middle)
and Dad Paul (right) were flown by IFP Pete Howarth.
Visitor Matt Bryant was flown by IFP Pete Howarth.
On the single seater line, Leith Whittington (Dart 17R) and Roger Appleboom (K-6) seemed manically disposed to beat each other for number of launches (and money paid to the Treasurer) whilst Adrian Irwin attempted to show a more intellectual approach to achieving the longest flight of the day by exploring the air mass both upwind and downwind of the site - sadly they were all beaten in this quest by silently slow mover Pete Howarth who, in company with Paul Kennedy-Briyneel, managed 9 mins in the early afternoon.

Yet another heavy landing by K-6 pilot Roger Appleboom...
Which speaks volumes about the equine nature of the conditions - no, not 'hoofing' but stable,  and becoming more so as the day progressed. That was all to the good for trainees Dave Downton and Richard Johnson, and early soloists Karl Andrews and Paula Howarth.  And also for returning member Josef Nobbs, who was able to re-solo today, in anticipation of returning to the Zugvogel which he flew when last with us some 10 years or so ago: well done Joe!

Returning member Joef Nobbs resoloed today.
It was also a pleasure to see North Hill émigré Henry Ford again - no doubt seduced by our good looks and gay, witty repartee (or could that have been the easterly wind and possibility of wave..?)  Sadly, he was able to benefit from only one of the above, and it wasn't wave..!

With thanks to the lean, mean, launch driving machine of Barry Green and Heather on winch and retrieve (plus first time 'all-outer' Dave Downton at 'tother end..), sadly we had to draw stumps without completing the Flying List. IFP Roger Appleboom did at least manage a flight with potential new member Stephen John Goldthorp  before the rapidly setting sun forced us to call it a day - thus making a total of 45 launches today

Stephen John Goldthorp flew with Roger Appleboom.
Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 31st October 2015

Today started with the most spectacular sunrise, at one point the sky was bright red and as the sun climbed the blue sky was a really vivid blue. Wait a minute “Red sky in the morning – Sailors warning”. Today was going to dispel this old wives tale for what it was.

Why “Old Wives Tale” I wonder. How old does a wife have to be to be “Old”?  Why do they have the reputation for spreading false statements? Anyway I digress.

K13 G-CHXP climbs into the clear sky.
The day was beautiful with light SE winds. A clear blue sky and it was warm enough to spend the whole day without needing additional clothing layers. Great.

New Solo Pilot Simon Collier
There was very little sign of any thermal or wave activity but this did not reduce the enthusiasm. CFI Don Puttock led a busy training programme. First up was Simon Collier who had a couple of check flights before completing his first solo flights at Brentor. Well done Simon.

Don With Amelia and Richard
The balance of Don’s list today were new members, father and daughter team Richard and Amelia Johnson, followed by Mike Bennett and Stephen Fletcher. All seem to be making good progress.

Mary Tavy from circuit height
Today we welcomed visitor Jonathan Williams who had a couple of flights with Introductory Flight Pilot Roger Green.

Visitor Jonathan Williams and Roger Green.
At the other end of the field Rick Wiles spent most of the day training new winch drivers. Thanks everyone.