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