Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 18th December 2016

Yet another sparkling start to a Sunday led us expect a decent day's flying; so, with the windsock giving no clear indication of wind direction, we set up for a westerly launch. After a later than usual start, getting underway at about 1145, the air was so still it was as if we were in flight test conditions in which the glider did exactly what you asked of it, and your position in the sky was the exact result of your own actions, with no allowance being necessary for (or excuse capable of being attributed to) external forces. Even the cups on the launchpoint weather station were still (and yet it was possible to feel a slight movement of air from the south on your cheek, or hair).

Visiting pilot Henry Ford, from Mendip GC, about to launch in the Zugvogel.
And so, with Peter Howarth conducting operations, we were able to crack on through some very useful check flight/currency work with Dave Downton, Chris Owen and Peter Harvey, whilst Roger Appleboom, Leith Whittington, Karl Andrews and visiting pilot from Mendip GC Henry Ford attempted to stretch their flights beyond 5 mins (Henry's bold venture in the Zugvogel across to Blackdown taking 6 mins, thus equal with two of Roger's energy conserving efforts in the K-8).

Today's visitor was Josh Balsdon, a land agent student at Leicester University who, at home on holiday, was brought to the club by his parents, both of whom had flown with us some years ago (not easily frightened then..!)

Visitor Josh Balsdon (whose parents had previously flown with us)
flew with Roger Appleboom.
Sadly, having got into a groove of about 6 launches per hour, the afternoon's flying was suddenly curtailed by the curse of condensation – misting canopies causing us to return the gliders to the hangar by 3:30pm. Still, 22 launches between 11:45 and 3:30pm (with a couple of simulated launch failures thrown in) was not too bad – for which thanks go in particular to Barry Green and Heather Horswill, the winch and retrieve driving machine!

Whilst wishing everyone all the best over the seasonal break, please remember that Licensed pilots can fly any day they can get the requisite number of suitably qualified members together, and that the next training flying day will be New Year's Eve, Saturday 31 December.

Happy Christmas!

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 17th December 2016

The day started with lots of low cloud. The valleys were also full of fog. The airfield and aircraft were got ready as the assembled club members hoped for a clearance.

The winch driver' view before the first flights 
Rather than sitting around chatting whilst waiting, Instructor Gordon Dennis led a very interactive lecture on Navigation which saw everyone pouring over charts, planning and analysing tasks. Great stuff.

Little or no wind made for very smooth flying conditions
By 1 o'clock the cloud was looking somewhat higher so time to go flying. The first launch was a little premature as the launch was abandoned at the 800 ft cloudbase. After this the cloudbase rose very quickly and a series of circuits were flown by the K13 and K8 as pilots took to the air to maintain currency.

Waiting to launch
At 3.40 the very moist atmosphere took charge again as canopy misting ( inside and out ), and a rapidly lowering cloudbase,  prevented any further flying.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 11th December 2016

On arrival today the club was buzzing with activity (not all of it productive – about which more later…) as we made arrangements to change ends for the light westerly wind that was forecast. The sun beamed down on the gliders laden with dew which appeared more like golden champagne bubbles than water.

K-13: During tow-out the conditions were champagne sparkling...
As we made the long walk to the other end we could see the fingers of mist clinging to the river valleys that would shortly be ‘burned off’ by the winter sun. And then something happened which no-one predicted. Cloud. Lots of it. First, at the launchpoint, then over the winch and west end. Then, it cleared … and then returned. And so we waited for the sun to do its work. And waited. Until as the long tall tales and jokes began to peter out, we began to wonder why. Until, at CFI Don Puttock’s prompting, we began to look at RASP and the dew point. The weather station in the launchpoint gave the outside air temperature as being 11oC. Now you normally expect the dew point to be something most people would recognise as ‘cold’. Today, RASP forecast a dew point at 1200 to be 8.5oC – yes 8.5oC! Almost tropical… Allow a little room for error (both on the reading in the launchpoint and the forecast), plus the usual dry adiabatic lapse rate, and you could see that cloud could most possibly form at a little over 200ft above the airfield, particularly as the air was being pushed inland and uphill by a southerly breeze.

Church and windsock: And the reverse angle reveals a similar situation to the west.
Orographics, then. And with the Met Office saying “‘TIL 13Z”, surely there was time to retire to the clubhouse to enjoy Roger Appleboom’s stollen cake (sadly no photo) before returning to fly in the afternoon. Except ‘TIL 13Z’ meant that a moderate blue hole would appear at about 14Z, only to be swamped by yet more orographics as they swept up the hill. So no flying today.

 Zugvogel:...and then the orographic rolled up from the south.
To turn the unproductive activity mentioned earlier: those of you with (not necessarily all that) long memories will recall that is was quite usual to turn up at any gliding club to find people, not busily pulling out the gliders, but poring over some piece of heavy machinery that either refused to work, had started but now stopped or was flat or was otherwise u/s. Well today the machinery in question was one of the Land Dover Discoveries, which wouldn’t start. So a battery was despatched from the red Discovery, which did the trick. But upon returning said battery to the gold Discovery, then wouldn’t turn the engine over! So the question in our ‘And finally ‘push me/pull you photo is: Which Disco is pulling which? (Answers on a postcard please).

A typical gliding club scene: but which Land Rover's pulling which?

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Mike's First Solo

The ramblings of a fledgling glider pilot by Mike Bennett

I clearly recall the day that my wife slid a DGS one day course voucher under my nose, a rather special birthday gift and something I had wanted to do for a number of years. I warned her that there was a good chance that I might 'get the bug'. She smiled and reminded me of the fact that she had been an activities widow for the last 25 years what with caving, rock climbing, mountaineering etc. etc So nothing new there!

My first flight happened on the 13th June 2015, a rather overcast, windy day not suited to flying. I met up with my pilot, Rick and he explained that the conditions were anything but ideal but we would give it a go. I sat slightly bemused in the front seat trying to take in the brief he had delivered when suddenly we were propelled along the ground and into the air, a somewhat violent process!

"How I done it" Mike with Instructor Rick Wiles
At the top of the launch we released, it went quiet and for the first time I began to see the attraction of unpowered flight. Three minutes later we arrived back on terra firma, with a bump, not Ricks' best landing, he would admit later. No more flying that day but the damage was done. Like Toad of Toad Hall on first seeing a motor car I was left dazed but desperate for more.
Over the course of the next 17 months I clocked up 138 launches, mainly under the tuition of Ged and Gordon, gradually building up my confidence and experience. I would be the first to admit that I am not an instinctive pilot and it has taken a lot of persistence and patience on their parts to help me to progress.

Saturday 26th November 2016, Wind ENE 10 kts, Cloud base 1000ft above airfield. I met up with Gordon and he suggested that we do six flights in close succession to get me up to speed. He was to act as a passenger and me the pilot only stepping in if absolutely necessary. First flight saw low cloud base and an early release leading to a short flight and uneventful landing. The next five flights followed in a similar vein but thankfully the cloud base lifted slightly allowing full height releases.

Launch 145

At 1600, having done six flights he suggested one more and asked me to run through my checks whilst he went to the loo. Checks complete I sat waiting for him wondering what the hold up was. He ambled across sans parachute and said " I cannot teach you any more, fancy trying it on your own?". Yes please was my reply. I had been waiting for the chance for the last few months!!!!

Checks redone I looked at the placard, minimum front seat weight 75kgs, whoops!,, Im only 73 kgs inc. chute, quickly out and 15 kgs of ballast strapped in. So 88 kgs, inside placard limitations- a lesson I will not forget.

For the third time, checks done and ready to go!

Am I ready this time? Mike in K13 G-DDMX
Sitting watching the cable pay out I felt a moments hesitation. Am I ready? Too late now. As soon as the all out, all out came those thoughts disappeared and I launched, as if in auto pilot. Top of launch saw me at 1100ft and I lowered the nose and released gently. Wings level I re-trimmed, 45 kts, and took my hands off the controls to check stick neutral. Flying up wind away from the release area I settled the glider down and mentally ran through my priorities, lookout, airspeed, proximity and angles.

Mike nicely in circuit on his first solo
I banked the glider over and turned back towards the airfield to check my bearings just as the vario started to moan, sink! The moan became a continuous babble , sink, sink, sink! Ok so what have I been taught? Lower the nose, close with the airfield, turn downwind, check those angles, reference point clear, nail the approach speed of 55kts. All too soon it was time for final turns, diagonal then base leg and I was there looking at the reference ;point. Having turned slightly too late and not wishing to undershoot I deliberately left the air brakes alone and flew forward- gotta clear the cross track!!! Ok, half airbrake, check ASI 55 kts and losing height I attempted a fully held off landing. Touch down, not perfect but safe.

I sat in the cockpit awaiting retrieve and a big grin came over my face. Done it!
In the end the experience was uneventful. Just as my instructors would want I suspect and also a testament to their professionalism. I cannot thank them enough!

A somewhat bemused Mike with Instructor Gordon Dennis
Looking ahead I see so much scope to improve and develop and my enthusiasm is renewed.I am lucky to have the opportunity to progress within the sport, surrounded by like minded, friendly club members.

I cannot wait for my next flight!

Mike Bennett

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 10th December 2016

The view from the clubhouse towards the runway.
No prizes for guessing that a warm front was very close.
With rain and low cloud keeping the gliders in the hangar, the members had the chance to benefit  from a couple of briefings. First up was one of our new Assistant Category Instructors, Rick Wiles who gave a lecture on getting the information for a flying day using the NOTAM system for Navigation issues and the Met Office's F214 and F215 weather forecasts. These forecasts are very useful but do contain quite a bit of detail and need quite a bit of explaining. Well Done Rick.

Rick in full flow
After a break for tea and cakes, it was CFI Don Puttock's turn, this time with a briefing on the requirements for the Bronze C and Cross Country endorsements with a detailed look at the requirements for the Navigation test.

Don decided on  a slightly more relaxed style for his presentation.
Regardless of your experience it is always of value to take the opportunity to revisit sessions like these to keep your knowledge fresh on the subjects. It was great to see so many members at the club today keeping their flying knowledge up to date.

Meanwhile, in the hangar, Scratch and David were working on reassembling the 2nd quad bike which has needed more than a little TLC ( more like major surgery actually ).

Mike Jardine

Dartmoor Gliding News-My First Solo by Dave Downton

I do not normally mention my achievements, but on this occasion, I feel the need in order to say thank you to so many generous people.

As you may be aware I flew my first solo in HXP on Sunday afternoon (20/11/16), twenty months and 198 flights after I first came to the club on the 19th of April 2015 for a one day course given to me by my wife and children. Thanks to Roger for the introduction to gliding. It has been a long road, but my determination to achieve this milestone at our airfield had something to do with that, and my age may also have had a part to play.

As an ex-instructor in a past life (in other disciplines) I am all too aware of the burden of responsibility which rests on the shoulders of our instructors. Sending someone out on their own for the first time, hoping that they remember and do all that they have been taught and waiting for them to return safely, knowing that you are unable to influence the outcome, can be a little daunting.

Martin took the decision to do just that after 105 flights together. On our return to the launch point Martin said “That was good do you think you can do that on your own?” to which I replied, “I think so.”

That was how I found myself sat alone in the cockpit running through my pre-flight checks as I had done so many times before. I looked to my left to see Martin staring at the ground and thought that he looking as apprehensive as I feel.

Ready for first solo. Instructor Martin Cropper inspects the cable.
I asked for the cable to be attached and waited for the all-out which seemed to take an age.
Then I saw the cable move. “Cable live!” came the cry followed shortly after by, “All out, all out”. Suddenly at 14:46 I was moving along the ground and everything went into auto. Up I flew thinking of nothing but the job in hand, a beautiful launch (thank you Barry). I released a little over 1000 feet, settled down to 45 knots and trimmed just as I had done so many times before. This was about the time when I heard that familiar voice in my head, keep an eye on your speed, watch your attitude, keep that yaw string straight, stick and rudder together; Martin was definitely there in spirit if not in body.

I flew over the church where a little over 71 years previously my parents were married. I wondered what they would of thought of their son floating above in a plane without an engine.
I headed for my high key area and then started my downwind leg. Once in my low-key area, I increased my speed to 50 knots, set the trim, then that voice returned, ‘don’t let the speed drop, not too much rudder, don’t let the speed increase’. My base leg and final turn drifted into one manoeuvre and with my eyes on the reference point it was air brakes open as I began my descent. The speed started to increase, so it was nose up, I should have increased the air brakes, but forgot that so I touched down gently but long. I came to a stop and sat there for a moment feeling relieved and thinking, it wasn’t perfect but it felt safe.

The retrieve arrived in the shape of Martin driving the quad and Paula sat on the front. Paula shouted well done and Martin said that wasn’t a proper base leg you had better do it again (I think secretly he was probably as relieved as me).

Ready for flight two
On our way back to the launch point, Heather and Colin passed us in the cable retrieve towing a single cable and waving enthusiastically.

We arrived at the launch point to calls of well done and handshakes.

The second launch felt easier, although a clunk from the tow hook saw me instinctively dipping the nose thinking the cable had released, however, I soon eased the stick back as the glider increased speed. Another circuit and landing this time really long, not intentionally, I came around with too much height and speed, I am still very wary of the trees at the east end.

Back in the clubhouse Dave Downton (right, with Coke)
celebrates going solo with Instructor Peter Howarth.
I owe a great debt of gratitude to Martin for all the time and patience that he has invested in me, also to Ged and Gordon with 47 and 26 flights respectively. I would also like to express my thanks to the club members who it seemed, ran the airfield solely for my benefit, Heather and Barry for retrieve and winch, Paula, Peter, Robin and Colin for running the launch point and retrieving me. And thank you all for the enthusiastic congratulations which you all afforded me.

And finally, a big thank you to my family for starting this off with the present of that wonderful, One Day Course.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 27th November 2016

With high pressure settled over the UK and an east/north-easterly wind in place from Wednesday, the forecasts all week held out the prospect of wave for Sunday – and so it was with a spring in our step that we leapt up to the airfield where, initially, the sky was clear as a bell. That was to change all too soon, however, as the Met Office forecast revealed that a 'weather feature' (ie. cold front) would sink slowly across the SW, pushing a bank of cloud ahead of it.

 No, this is NOT the sky we saw on Sunday –
this is the sky we SHOULD have seen on Sunday...
Fortunately, the base of the cloud didn't descend to the 800ft amsl predicted, but remained high enough for us to continue launching (ie. 1,900ft amsl). With no visitors to host today, it was a bit like a musician practising their scales: here's how you launch into cloud, here's how you trim with no horizon, here's how you fly a crosswind circuit, here's how you anticipate foreshortened diagonal and base legs, and here's how you realise that you MUST keep the speed on all the way down the final approach – oh and complete a fully held off landing as the crosswind performs a dating service between your glider and the downwind boundary...

What we DID get on Sunday; grey, grey, grey.
With CFI Don Puttock on hand to provide some (unexpected) advanced instruction for IFP candidate Rich Roberts, and Adrian Irwin, Karl Andrews and Roger ('There's a Wave Bar Out There Somewhere...) Appleboom available to keep the solo gliders cycling through, we started apace until...most unexpectedly (ie. as Adrian rotated the Zugvögel into the climb) the winch began sucking on air instead of diesel! Fortunately Adrian, who is not one of those pole-benders you see occasionally, was able to guide the Zugvögel back to earth without drama. The subsequent post-mortem revealed an incompatibility between metals used in the fuel supply line – a fault which we are deeply grateful to Dave Bourchier and Barry Green for identifying and, eventually, rectifying sufficiently to allow us to continue.

The reason why we didn’t get soaring weather on Sunday.
And so Dave Downton, Ed Borlase and Dave Westcott were able to resume practising their aforementioned 'musician's scales' whilst, just before dusk the cloudbase did, finally, lift.
With thanks as ever to Barry Green for winching, to Heather Horswill for providing the retrieve service, mention should also be made of Ed Borlase's friend Adam who, as a drone hobbyist, obtained some very interesting videos of gliders launching that we hope he will be able to expand upon in future...

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 26th November 2016

With high pressure in charge and a promised ENE wind there was everything to play for. However, arriving at the airfield revealed a problem, the cloud base was very low; too low to fly.

Keeping faith that the cloudbase would rise through the day the airfield was got ready, the winch and launchpoint changed ends and the aircraft were taken to the launch point. And then we waited.

By 12:30 there was signs that the cloudbase was rising and there were even a couple of very small patches of blue sky. The first couple of flights released early from the winch to avoid the cloud but by 1:30 it was game on.

There were signs of wave all over the sky
 There were signs of wave all over the sky. This wasn't our usual strong north-south wave system but a system with wave bars visible on a northwest to southeast which seem to provide large areas of very gentle lift and / or reduced sink rates. But Dartmoor pilots are up to the challenge and there were several soaring flights. The best of these was a 38 minute flight by Roger Appleboom in his K6 whose flight was best described as "falling with style". He never really climbed much but used the reduce sink and light lift to stretch out his 1400 foot winch launch. Good Effort Roger.

One Day Course candidate Stephn Witten
Also treated to some soaring was today's One Day Course candidate Stephen Witten and visitor Nigel Weathermead. We hope we will see them both again soon.

Nigel Weaathermead ready to fly with IFP Mike Jardine.
And the biggest news story of the day. Mike Bennett flew solo for the first time today. Congratulations Mike.

Mike Bennett flying the K13 solo for the first time is nicely in the circuit
A somewhat bemused Mike with instructor Gordon Dennis
The flying day finishes early at this time of year and today was no different. We flew until sunset when common sense dictated that the gliders were returned to the hangar. This wasn't the end of the day for some as all the instructors and IFP's rushed off to Tavistock for the planned Instructors meeting.

Thanks once again to Heather for driving retrieve all day and Barry for his winching.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 20th November 2016

In the local villages of St Dominick (Cornwall) and Milton Combe (Devon) there are pubs called the 'Who'd Have Thought It?' Well, today at Brentor was 'Who'd Have Thought It?' day – as weather forecasts all week predicted heavy rain for Sunday as Storm Angus picked up momentum in the Atlantic – in the event it picked up so much momentum that it swept through the south-west on Saturday night overnight leaving us with clear air, bright sunshine and the merest zephyr of a breeze from the north-west.

Who’d Have Thought It?
After yesterday’s rain today was surprisingly bright and clear.
With only two visitors booked today, and a small but happy band of members in attendance, we decided that one K-13 and the K-8 would be sufficient to meet our needs, and managed to get some early launches in before the arrival of our guests. These were Lisa and Andy Postle, from Plymouth, who arrived with their extended family, to be flown by Asst Cat Instructor Peter Howarth. Peter has a bit of a reputation, not only as a very deeply pocketed gliding Dad, but also as a soaring 'sniffer', who can detect rising air on the flattest of days: and so it proved as he delivered Flight of the Day at 11 mins on his second flight with Lisa.

 One of today’s visitors was Lisa Postle, a sailmaker from Plymouth who flew with Peter Howarth.
Lisa’s husband Andy also flew with Peter.
Crewing Up: Peter assists Lisa into the front cockpit
As the day progressed the surface wind dropped further: not good for launch heights but beneficial and instructive for launch failure training, so much so that, having successfully accomplished some spin training in the morning, there was nothing else for it but to send Dave Downton for his first solo! Dave joined the club over a year ago, in his sixty eighth year, and has become a stalwart member of the team, fixing gliders with Colin Boyd, running the instructor roster and booking visitors onto the calendar: indeed in many respects Dave is the shop window for the club being the first contact people have with us (the 'Voice' of Dartmoor Gliding).

Dave Downton about to be sent aloft for his first solo.
Flying wise, however, it has been a struggle to find the weather conditions in which to complete the syllabus. This has even included going to other clubs (Mendip, thanks to Gordon Dennis, and the Long Mynd), but to no avail. Until today, after his 197th launch, Dave was finally ready to go. So how often, in the middle of November, would you expect to get a nil wind, sunny day, with very few visitors and plenty of cables on which to practice spins and launch failures? Who'd Have Thought It?

Thanks go to Barry Green, for delivering the shopping list of launches demanded, to Heather Horswill for retrieving the cables (and repainting the Gents door in the clubhouse), to Richard Roberts (for repairing that annoying stair tread in the launchpoint), to the logkeeping team (for logging all today's 23 launches) and to Dave himself, for showing selflessness and tenacity throughout the long and winding road that has eventually led to the achievement of solo status. Well Done, Dave!

Back in the clubhouse Dave Downton (right, with Coke)
celebrates going solo with Instructor Peter Howarth.
At the end of the day, in the clubhouse, Dave did the traditional thing by buying the beers for all, but chose to stick with Coke for himself, later revealing that he celebrated with his wife at home with a bottle of wine which had been put by (some time ago) specifically for that purpose.

Now Who'd Have Thought That!

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 19th November 2016

Today was always going to be a race. Now, before you imaging dozens of gliders in the grid waiting to be launched to zoom around a task at eye watering speeds, let me explain. The forecast was showing rain on the way, the only doubt seemed to be exactly when it would arrive.

Today's instructor, Gordon Dennis, pushed the somewhat limited team to get flying as early as possible due to the forecast rain. Flying started with Mike Bennett flying with Gordon. In the distance it was already raining. Steve Fletcher managed a couple of launches in the K8. Our One Day Course candidate, Melanie Jones,  had a couple of flights with new Ass Cat instructor Rick Wiles. And then it rained.

One Day Course candidate Melanie Jones waiting to go.
We waited for 40 minutes or so to see if the weather might improve, but no, the  cloud base just got lower, and the rain got steadily heavier. The gliders were towed back in the rain leading to some very wet club members after which the gliders were cleaned before being returned to the hangar.

Spare a thought for our Introductory Flight visitor, Michelle Bycroft, who was attending for the second time only to be rained off at the last moment. Sorry for that; better luck next time.

We tried.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 13th November 2016

After yesterday’s gloomy low cloud, today dawned with very welcome bright, clear, sunshine; and a dew that proved more than equal to most “waterproof” hiking boots! (rubber overshoes being the only sure way of staying dry – thanks to Phil Sherwood for proving that point.)

The surface wind forecast was N’ly at 10 kts – which was pretty much what we got – although upper wind strengths were certainly well in excess of that; and the RASP forecast showed the minuscule rise from zero at around 1230, returning to zero thereafter. That was not quite (for one of us, at least) what we experienced…

One Day Course student Pete Holt flew with Roger Appleboom.
Getting airborne by 1030, our One Day Course Student was Peter Holt, a commercial pilot wanting a taste of gliding flight and who swiftly got the measure of Roger Appleboom’s teaching technique (deciding that it was probably better to laugh at his jokes rather than outdo them!) At the end of the day he was still smiling, particularly with the cool aplomb with which Roger handled a mid-afternoon low launch failure.

Peter maintaining a good lookout.
Other guests were friends from our neighbouring village of Mary Tavy: Laure Bury and Paul Westaway, who were treated to spectacular views of their village in today’s sunshine.

Visitor Laure Bury, from the nearby village of Mary Tavy.
Visitor Paul Westaway, also from Mary Tavy.
For trainees Dave Downton, Chris Owen, Ed Borlase, Phil Sherwood and Ben Caverhill there was just a hint of Groundhog Day as the crosswind was, once again, 90 degrees from the N, however the reduced windspeed and gusts made final turns and approaches much easier to judge.

At around 1130 the sky went from clear to ‘smokin’, with little grey tufts of cu appearing with great speed at no less than 1,200ft agl. These rapidly transformed themselves into about three lines of energy spread down the length of the airfield which raised the hopes of solo pilots Adrian Irwin, Pete Harvey, Rich Roberts and Roger and Barry Green however just as quickly a parasol of cirrus formed to cut off those hopes in their prime..!

But just a minute… where’s the K-8? Well it’s not on the ground so must be… Looking directly overhead the launchpoint there the little fellah could be seen under the leaden top cover, pointing directly North at about 1,500ft! Upon reaching the northern boundary of the airfield it reversed course south (remember those lines of energy?). Returning member Alan Carter had, behind our backs, managed to thermal up into a line of energy at the Eastern end of the airfield, there to make a number of N-S beats thus earning himself the award of Flight of the Day with an emphatic 24 mins (he says he came down to make the glider available for anyone else – but we know it was because his soaring fees piggy bank was running low..!)

With two K-13s, both club single-seaters (Zugvögel and K-8) and Rich Roberts’s Discus on-line, our hourly launch rate was never less than 6, with two hours seeing 8 launches, and our overall total was 41. Thanks, as ever, go to Barry Green, Dave Downton and Allan Holland for winching, and to Heather Horswill for driving the retrieve (and also, it must be said, to former Club Secretary Sandra Buttery for keeping her company in the cab..!) And also to Tony Dean in the launchpoint: those who think that the launch total could have been bettered are probably right – but then we did observe the 2 minutes silence at 11 o’clock: We Will Remember Them.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 6th November 2016

Contrary to most Sundays today the forecast actually tempted us into the air, predicting a reduction in wind strength from yesterday's 25kts plus to a gentle 10kts, albeit 90 degrees crossed from the North. An upward blip on RASP around lunchtime provided additional temptation, and so we set to with a will. Little did we know...

At the third attempt Alison Jackson, from Exeter,
finally flew her One Day Course with Peter Howarth.
It was great to see One Day Course student Alison Jackson on the field again today: this was our third attempt to get Alison flying and, thanks to efficient use of time by our new Asst Cat Instructor Peter Howarth, she successfully achieved all 6 flights of the course, plus a visit to the winch and learning how to run the wing, hook on and de-rig a glider. We look forward to the possibility of seeing Alison return in future.

Visitor Matthew Nicholson also flew with Peter Howarth.
Visiting brothers Nigel and Chris Thomas.
The wind through the morning remained consistent at 10 kts, northerly, thus enabling trainees Dave Downton and Dave Westcott to practice their crosswind skills (as if anyone at Brentor needed greater proficiency in dealing with this element of the syllabus). As the afternoon progressed, however, the wind backed 30 or so degrees (a good thing) and steadily increased in both strength and gusts (both bad things) until one very wise pilot decided it was time to land the K-8 at the hangar end of the runway (thank you., Allan...) That said, it remained safe enough for the K-13s to soldier on, with Pete Howarth flying visiting brothers Nigel and Chris Thomas, and Matthew Nicholson, whilst solo privateers Paula Howarth and Rich Roberts consolidated their conversions onto K-6 and Discus respectively.

‘What do you mean, Shower Approaching?’
The airfield was caught by just the edge of this downpour.
The low atmospheric pressure eventually manifested itself as a densely isolated shower that clipped the airfield as it passed N-S, preventing flying for 30 mins and which, with an associated sharp drop in temperature, persuaded us that hangar flights were now the order of the day. And so we 'proceeded in a westerly direction' to put the gliders away, conduct a shuffle of assorted mainplanes for Colin Boyd to work on in the workshop and position the 'new' ML winch on the hardstanding ready for work on the cable drums tomorrow, before darkness fell.

‘The Shower now departing...’ has left a very wet K-6 in its wake!
So that was it, a typical Brentor (35 launch) day of honing skills, maintaining currency and coping with a 'boisterous' 90 degree crosswind. Thanks go to... but what's this?? A logkeeping error??? Surely not..!! Could it be..? Launch No 10, Mr Leith Whittington, Dart 17R, is recorded as 10 minutes... as thus warrants his first ever award of 'Flight of the Day'*. Well Done, Leith (and if the angle of bank continues to increase you could be buying the beers on more than one occasion...) No, really, thanks go to Barry Green at the winch for coping with tricky crosswind conditions today, and to Heather Horswill who, as ever, delivered the cables throughout.

*Jointly shared with Allan Holland for an exciting (when viewed from below) 10 minutes ridge soaring in the K-8.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 30th October 2016

About fifteen years ago there was no such thing as RASP, you had to use the BBC weather forecast plus a sounding to work out how what conditions were going to be like (remember UDCSS..?). And then along RASP and everybody wanted it; blindly adhered to its predictions.

Even as the hurdle fence was being taken down
there were indications of wave present.
At Dartmoor we are very lucky in that the site at Brentor is a RASP BGA turn point prediction point. Today the prediction was as follows: wind direction 090 (tick) strength 11kts (tick) temperature 17C (tick) overall 'Stars' forecast x-x-x (ie. nil) (wrong!) Today we experienced wave all day, with climbs of up to 10 up (and 8 down..!) all over the locality - it was just a matter of finding it, of which more later.

The turnout today was excellent – which was just as well with the hurdle fence to get down, and a mysteriously flat K-8 tyre to be dealt with (thanks to Pete Harvey). We got going a little after 10 when it was already evident that a weak secondary N-S wave bar was established partway down the airfield – if only we could reach the primary which must be somewhere east of Mary Tavy.

Today's One Day Course visitor was Jerry Griffiths who, despite being an active mountain biker, suffered from mal de l'air, which was most unfortunate but he hopes to return, suitably equipped with Stugeron and grey wrist bands..! Other visitors included Spencer Ham and son Ryan, Maureen Summerhayes and, all the way from Canada, Roger Spall, who greatly enjoyed participating in the banter at the launchpoint before a couple of early evening flights with Rick Wiles. Check flights were flown with Matt Wiles and Alan Carter, whilst trainees Jan Baev, Phillip Sellwood and Peter Harvey were given their first taste of wave.

Brentor’s fame is spreading:
Visitor Roger Spall travelled all the way from Canada to fly with us!
Maureen Summerhayes flew with Asst Cat Instructor Rick Wiles.
Visitor Spencer Ham flew with Asst Cat Instructor Peter Howarth.
Spencer’s son Ryan also flew with Peter.
Reaching the wave did prove a little troublesome for some (note the '8 down' above) but, launching between 2pm and 3pm, Richard Roberts (Discus B) and Roger Green (ASW 20) managed to get away for some spectacular flying (Rich to 5,500ft QFE) in what they found to be silky smooth conditions above 2,300ft (it was very different below 1,000ft..!) Strangely, the best lift was to be found not just upwind of the clouds (which were cumulus rolls rather than altostratus lenticularis), as you might expect, but further out in the blue gaps between each wave street. Richard made use of two or three clearly marked 'avenues' to make progress north to Okehampton, and then turn south for a 25 mile (35kms) run down to the now defunct airport at Plymouth, before recovering to base (flight time 1hr 55mins).

Richard's View of the wave bars from 5000 feet
Scratch Hitchens took the opportunity to brush up his back seat skills by giving Heather Horswill a flight in the K-13 by way of thanks for her many hours of retrieve driving, whilst Paula Howarth converted onto the K-6 kindly purchased for her use by father Peter: thanks, Dad!

Paula Howarth prepares for her first flight on type in the K-6CR.
Overall we manage 34 launches which, for the number of members present, may sound a little low but was actually a reflection of the clocks having gone back which robbed us of at least an hour's flying (the last flight landing at 4:56pm, exactly coincident with sunset).

Glider coming home:
K-13 DMX about to overfly the oak tree on last flight of the day.
It was one of those days when, once you got to the plateau of the Cu at around 2,300ft, and had a breathtaking view out to 20 miles plus all round, you entered a strangely smooth and eerie world which made you feel uniquely privileged.

So thanks must, most sincerely, go to all those who helped get us there, not least Colin Boyd for ensuring that we have the steeds to get us there. Colin is looking for assistance in the workshop – if you think you have the necessary workshop skills (and time – not only to listen to his jokes!) then please get in touch.

Martin Cropper