Dartmoor Gliding news-Wednesday 26th April 2017

Even though there are a lot of members away on the Long Myndd Expedition this week, a small, but beautifully formed group, got together for the second Wednesday flying day of the year.

There was a strong northerly crosswind, which provided additional challenges to launching and landing. The conditions were buoyant from the start but thermals proved tricky to centre and exploit properly. Bob Sansom was up to this task , however, with a climb to 4000 feet during his 34 minute best flight of the day.

We welcomed a visitor today, Jack Dunham who enjoyed a flight with IFP Steve Raine in K13 G-CHXP.

Visitor Jack Dunham pictured here with Ged actually flew with Steve Raine.
A nice day



Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 23rd April 2017

The scene on arrival at the airfield could not have been more English: Colin Boyd’s immaculate red Triumph TR4, together with Leith Whittington’s superbly crafted Slingsby T-51 Dart R, set against a sky full of lenticulars – what a way to start St George’s Day!  

A Triumph TR4, a Slingsby Dart and a sky full of lenticulars...
what more could you ask for?
With a steady south-easterly blowing (see photo), the challenge was to get the airfield switched round asap in order to take advantage of these conditions (a quick look at the clouds revealing at least three systems at various heights).  By a little after 1100 we were underway, with potential new member Dom March in the front seat of the K-13, but the classic area between winch and sugar factory failed to deliver, although a little lift was found in the valley between the airfield and Brent Tor church.  Dom’s second launch, to a height of less than 1,000ft, found nothing but strong sink, by which time it was clear that, as predicted, the wind was beginning to swing through south to SW’ly.  Not wishing to subject anyone to a downwind launch or landing, it was decided to change ends for a second time and thus, even though the operation went flawlessly, it wasn’t until what most would consider to be lunchtime (ie. 1pm) that we eventually got into a rhythm.
Windsock at start of day: definitely a SE’ly.
By which time the look and feel of the day had completely changed, the warm sunshine and lenticulars being replaced by cool grey cumulus that had us reaching for our fleeces and coats.  This didn’t prevent convection however, as after his third launch Dom was treated to the view from 2,700ft (about 300ft shy of cloudbase), courtesy of a thermal that grew in classic fashion all the way up (17 mins) and took an equal amount of time to descend from.  Our second visitor/temp member was Nigel Aldred who, on holiday locally from his home club at Camphill, managed a respectable 15 mins scratching over the church on his first launch, flying two complete circuits (including landings) thereafter.  Early riser Joe Nobbs (first seen on site at 8:30 AM!) then flew three check flights (under complete cloud cover), followed by Junior trainee Ben Caverhill, before our third visitor/potential new member of the day, Johnn Knight climbed aboard the K-13…  Johnn, who is a lapsed PPL holder with a great deal of experience bush flying in Zimbabwe and Oz, found the engineless 4-minute experience “…quite exhilarating…” and promises to be back.

Junior member Ben Caverhill checks K-13 HXP after the move to the east end.
So, although we logged only 16 launches overall (including two for Leith in his Dart, one of which was 13 mins..!) we have potentially gained two new trainees, plus one (hopefully) taking positive vibes back to Camphill (but not before Nigel returns on Wednesday, if the weather holds…) and so it was all well worth the effort.

Strange cloudscape to the South of the airfield at the end of the day.

Thanks go to Dave Parker, Colin Boyd, and Joe Nobbs for winching, and to the rest of the crew for being responsive and flexible throughout (the ‘visitors’ chairs being occupied only by visitors for most of the time…)

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 22nd April 2017

The early cloud cover was definitely uninspiring. On the south coast there was 8/8 high Cirrus cutting out the sun altogether. Over the airfield there was some sort of transition with 8/8 cumulus cloud and away to the north a thin line of blue sky as the sea air drifted in from the coast. The wind today was 8 knots directly across the runway from the north. As the day wore on the cumulus separated to allow sun onto the ground and the soaring possibilities improved.

The view to the SE was uninspiring to say the least
Looking NW gave some hope of improving conditions
By mid to late afternoon the sky looked great. I am often asked what good conditions look like. My normal answer is to look for a "Simson's" sky; ie. a bright blue sky with individual cumulus clouds with flat bottoms. This afternoon looked just like that.

A "Simson's Sky"
We welcomed several visitors today. First up was David Archer who had one of our Introductory flight vouchers. David is quite keen, having visited us earlier in the year when we were sheltering from the rain in the clubhouse. I hope this is the start of his learning to fly.

Visitor David Archer looks happy
Next came the 6th Plympton Scouts. Earlier in the year they had visited as a group but the wind had strengthened to the point that we had to stop flying. No problems with the weather today though and  Connie, Carrie, Dylan and Jack all completed their gliding badges.

Connie received her Gliding Badge from me after our flight
Jack was the joker of the pack
Carrie looks pleased to get her Gliding Badge from Rick
Dylan shares a moment with his Dad while waiting to fly
Longest flight of the day was flown by Allan Holland in the K8 who came back after 1 hour and 1 minute to let others have a go. The other interesting flight in the K8 was by Tony Tayler, our Shennington visitor, who was keen to fly this aircraft. He took the last flight of the day and managed a short soaring flight under an absolutely blue sky.

A nice day.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 19th April 2017

After it's short break from the flying calendar it gives me great pleasure to say "Welcome back Wednesday's."

Now that there is more instructor cover, the midweek flying day has been re-instated and what a first day it was

In a thermal over Tavistock
A small, but perfectly formed gang, led by Instructor Ged Nevisky got together to fly. The club K13 was joined by the Open Cirrus (Stephen Fletcher), Silent (Barry Green), and the SF27  (Alan Carter).

Looking north towards the airfield and Blackdown (Gibbet Hill) from 5000 feet 
After a late morning start it was immediately soarable. Longest flight of the day was 3 hours 11 minutes by Alan in his SF27. The most interesting, however, was Stephen Fletcher in his Open Cirrus who soared to over 5000 feet to qualify for his silver badge height gain. This is an excellent result, especially when you consider that Steve is a relatively low hours pilot who only converted to the Open Cirrus a couple of weeks ago and this was his first flight in it at Brentor.

Stephen Fletcher
There were numerous soaring flights. In fact, the average flight time for the whole day was 52 minutes including all the training flights and practice cable breaks.

An Excellent Day.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Monday 17th April 2017

Everything was ready on the field early on Bank Holiday Monday, and a briefing by Instructor Rick Wiles with what proved a falsely optimistic forecast with a Northerly wind, and sadly the thermals escaped everyone except Rick and Callum who shared what was left of a dying thermal before their hangar landing at the very end of the day. Peter Howarth also kindly was there to Instruct

Towing out at the start of the day
We welcomed three Friends & Family visitors – Mark Duffy and two Juniors James and Charlotte Duffy, brought by Paula, and also Tim Forth who had three early flights.

Midday there were delays due to cable tangles at the winch following near-solo pilots being taken through their Practice Cable-Break exercises. It was a cold Northerly for those waiting, including the Duffy family, but their flights went well, and we thank them for their patience.

Paula's Brother-in-law Mark
Niece Chatlotte
Nephew James
Experienced pilot Tony Tayler from Shenington is staying at a Campsite near Tavistock, came regularly at the weekend and was a pleasure to have on the field and in the air.

Heather kindly drove the Retrieve vehicle all day.

Robin Wilson

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 16th April 2017

The Armchair Pilot, looking at today's photos, might well have concluded that the blue sky, peppered with cumulus, made it absolutely certain that no effort would be required to stay aloft for hours on end. The reality was a little different as the NW'ly wind gave little chance for thermals to develop locally and it was only by having a clear strategy before launch that we (notably Roger Appleboom with our visitors) achieved soaring flights.

With Peter Howarth directing operations, there was lots of training/recertifying work to be done and we got underway a little after 1030 with a Training List which included Chris Owen, Ed Borlase, Dave Downton, Pete Harvey (check Flights), Phillip Selwood and Callum Doyle.

Visitor Hilary Nicholls, from London SW18 (Earlsfield), flew with IFP Roger Appleboom.
Hugo Nicholls enjoyed a 10 mins soaring flight with Roger.
Hugo’s brother Ollie also flew with Roger.
Exploring the inner atmosphere a little more extensively were Leith Whittington, Paula Howarth and Adrian Irwin, but for no longer than 11 mins (joint honours to the last two mentioned), whilst the aforesaid Roger Appleboom enjoyed showing Hilary Nicholls and her sons Hugo and Ollie, (and afternoon visitor Dave Carter) what can be achieved with no engine other than some dark grey cloud over Blackdown... We also welcomed potential new member Tony Forth (who also attended yesterday, and came back..!): Tony is a veteran of Shennington and former Skylark owner who was quickly shoved into driving the retrieve (to prevent him from leaving) before flying with Pete Howarth.

Afternoon Visitor, Dave Carter, about to aviate.
Whilst it might be said that the day didn't deliver quite as much as expected, we nevertheless got in some very useful training (inc. 6 simulated cable breaks, courtesy of PCBH...) and, after 39 launches, all went away happy with what they had achieved today.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 15th April 2017

Early in the morning looked unpromising with low cloud and even some drizzle over the coast. The forecast looked a little better and with a full flying programme in prospect it was off to the airfield. It looked that the early drizzle had also fallen there but the cloudbase was lifting a little and the wind was light(ish) from the NW so aircraft out ready for action.

Barry's Silent; A self-launching Ultralight Motorglider
The promise of some soaring has encouraged several private owners to join the grid including Richard's Discus, Roger's ASW20, Phil's Astir and the very interesting ultralight motorglider Barry's Silent Targa.

Visitor Des Law waiting for his instructor (me)
Visitor Phil Torr who enjoyed a soaring flight in unpromising looking sky
Instructor Rick Wiles was in charge of the flying today and he spent the whole day delivering training and check flights to the club members and visiting pilots alike in the slowly increasing wind. We welcomed 4 visitors for air experience flying today; Des Law, Phil Torr, Andy Tettmar, and Mike Pope. Our other visitor today was Tony Taylor, an experienced pilot from the Shenington Gliding Club, Banbury who was holidaying nearby.

Visitor Andy Tettmar flew with Rick
Visitor Mike Pope turned out to be quite adept at handling the controls. 
Soaring conditions were best described as variable but improving as the day wore on. Discussions around the launchpoint were suggesting some westerly wave causing the large areas of sink that termintated most soaring attempts. Despite all the assembled high performance hot ships, best flight of the day was by Phil in his  Astir who managed to soar for 41minutes before returning to terra firma. So, with the Astir having the best flight today and the K8 last Saturday, I think that makes it  David 2 Goliath 0.

Roger Green ready to launch in his beautiful ASW20
Our thanks as always to the winch drivers, retrieve drivers and all the helpers at the launchpoint. you know who you are.

The season is definitely starting.



Dartmoor Gliding news-Sunday 9th April 2017

Play it like it is? Or go with the forecast? With the windsock indicating a gentle SE’ly we left the launchpoint set up at the west end and, for the first pair of cables, all went well. Then, almost exactly as predicted, the wind began to swing, through south to SW. If there was a bugle we could have used it to call: “Change Ends!” Always an interesting manoeuvre, in this case (and in the interests of the Treasurer’s coffers) we elected to fly the gliders down to land at the winch end, which was followed by the tractor towing the winch to the west, returning in stately progress with the launchpoint. All this takes time, of course, but proved highly entertaining for our visitors Joy Aird and her husband (who has flown with us before) who arrived in the middle of the ‘action’.

Arian Irwin launches over the Dart 17R as we change ends.
The cavalry arrives: the launchpoint appears over the hill.
Once the wind had settled in the west, we made up for lost time with some serious flying (7 launches per hour) in an initially pleasant sky that caused the occasional cumulus to bubble up, enabling Adrian Irwin to remain aloft for over 20 minutes. By mid-afternoon the sky had darkened, however, and cloud-base reduced (enough for another West Country club to scrub for the day) but we soldiered on, and eventually blue sky and sunshine returned. Which was greatly appreciated by the latter stages of the training crew (Dave Downton, Dave Westcott, Dave Parker, Chris Owen, Tony Dean (check flights), Ed Borlase and Phillip Selwood) who understandably don’t like flying without a horizon. In the single seats, Adrian was joined by soloists Phil Hardwick (11 mins) and Leith Whittington (7 mins – careful, that’s almost soaring…)

Joy Aird about to proceed aloft with IFP Roger Appleboom.
 Visitor Dominic March.
Roger Appleboom chatting with visitor Ben Phillips.
Our visitors (Joy Aird, Dominic March and that rare bird, the Walkin, Ben Phillips) enjoyed the flying skills of Roger Appleboom, whilst down at the winch Phil, Dave and Adrian delivered an impeccable service, cheerfully putting up with numerous simulated launch failures (ho, ho). So as the last launch of the day inevitably encountered a ‘cable break’, and concluded with that long satisfying approach down the length of the airfield for a hangar landing, what was the final score? 41 launches. Not bad for a day with an hour taken out. Of course, we would have achieved more, had we been blessed with a Duty Instructor who can get the field set up the right way round at the start of the day…

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 8th April 2017

Today was a day of red faces. What caused this embarrassment? More of that later.

The weather is typical of a high pressure system. A full day of sunshine. No clouds at all. Visibility restricted by the haze held in place under the inversion. The brisk breezes were from the SSE ( about 45 degrees further south than forecast ). But the airfield is drying out, the members are champing at the bit to fly and we have a full training and visitor flying programme so on with the show.

Alex Sykes with uncle Mike
Mary Spink with Mike Jardine
The day started at a reasonably early time with Rick flying club members in K13 G-DDMX. These flights continued throughout the day. Thanks for the hard work Rick. The visitor flying was handled by Steve Raine and new Ass Cat Mike Jardine in K13 G-CHXP. Mike stared by flying his niece Alex Sykes and her friend Mary Spink . Steve then had a series of flights with visitor Eleanor Carr followed by Mike who took visitor Adrian Distin for a further series of flights.

Steve sharing a pre-flight joke with Eleanor
Smile please! Adrian ready to launch with Mike
The solo pilots put a lot of effort in to finding thermals. With the pressure so high these proved to be elusive and the few that were around were very narrow and broken and did not climb much above launch height. Best flight of the day was Allan Holland in the K8 who managed 1 hour 7 minutes in conditions ideally suited to that aircraft with it's ability to turn seemingly impossibly small circles at very low speeds.

Richard's Discus waiting to go. It was outclimbed by the K8 today??
The flying day was brought to a close at 6pm after 40 flights for no other reason than the need to put everything away before the very well attended AGM held in the clubhouse.

And what of the red faces. They were not caused by any kind of embarrassment but by the endless sunshine. More sunscreen next time perhaps.


Dartmoor Gliding News-New Instructors

Congratulations to our new instructors.

Mike, Rick and Peter in the evening sunshine

The instructor Cadre at Dartmoor Gliding is growing. Mike Jardine has now finished his course and is a qualified Assistant Category Instuctor.

Rick Wiles and Peter Howarth both qualified as Assistant Category Instructors last summer are now also qualified to supervise and authorise the airfield.

Congratulations and thank you all for your hard work on the club's behalf


Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 2nd April 2017

A fine spring day. How quickly the weather can change! From yesterday’s prolonged showers, this morning’s bright sunshine was a transformation - the only link between the two being the spongy state of the airfield, a factor which demanded our close attention as we carefully manoeuvred the gliders and vehicles about to avoid damage to the soil. With a gentle breeze from east of north (ie. not the NW’ly that had been predicted), and with Peter Howarth and Rick Wiles undergoing their Asst Cat completion briefings with DCFI Gordon Dennis in the clubhouse, we were atypically slow in setting up the launchpoint, waiting for the wind to settle and ground to dry whilst Rich Jones cut out some frayed strands and respliced the north cable shock rope (see photo) – but that’s variety: the splice of life!

Variety..the Splice of Life!
Richard Jones splicing one of the shot ropes
whilst we wait for the wind to settle west of north.
By 1100 we were on our way upwards, with the first of 38 launches that were to send 17 members and one visitor into the sky, three of whom would fly for more than an hour, one venturing as far as Taunton and back. The air was clear and fresh as we welcomed our first Sunday visitor of the year: Robert Stone from Exeter, who arrived with a strong supporting cast (ie. children). Robert went on a soaring flight with IFP Roger Appleboom for 17 mins, whilst the other K-13 was used to launch the club list (Daves Downton and Westcott, Ed Borlase and Richard Jones, Chris Owen, Alan Carter and Phil Hardwick) for shorter (some very much shorter!) training flights.

Today’s visitor was Robert Stone, who came from Exeter – with nieces!
Adrian Irwin showed the way with 1hr 12mins in the K-8 before lunch, followed by Roger Green in his super sleek ASW-20 and Rich Roberts in his Discus 2, which took him to Taunton and back (he played the discretion over valour card on encountering a blue hole over the Somerset Levels, wishing to avoid a possible long retrieve…) Dave Downton soloed for the first time this year, and Paula Howarth took the K-8 for an airing.

Dave Downton departs on his first solo of the year...
As the afternoon progressed we were able to witness the sea breeze draw in from both north and south coasts, creating a convergence cloud that delivered some lift over the airfield (see Paula Howarth’s photo) whilst the windsock swung through 180 degrees.

Paula Howarth’s late afternoon view of Tavistock from 1,600ft.
Note the convergence cloud overhead.
Also in mid-afternoon Peter Howarth and Rick Wiles were able to emerge from the clubhouse and announce – they had passed! And so we have two new fully qualified and able to run the filed Asst Cat Instructors! Congratulations to both on completing a journey that has taken well over a year to complete, many visits to other sites and a great deal of support from their families.

A sky to die for!
View from the cockpit of Roger Appleboom’s K-6CR
as he heads NE over Meldon Reservoir.
With the sun resisting its descent until gone 8pm these days, there was time to fit in check flights for Alan Carter and Phil Hardwick before returning the gliders to the hangar. But the excitement did not stop there, as the Sunday crew were then treated to the delights of Gordon’s ridge soaring workshop (see yesterday’s blog) in preparation for the club’s exped to ye Longe Mynde.

Thanks go to Phil Hardwick, Dave Downton and Rich Roberts for winching, to Heather Horswill for cleaning the clubhouse whilst we were out playing with our toys, and to Trevor Taylor (for keeping his visit mercifully brief!).

A proper Brentor Sunday.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 1st April 2017

So, April 1st. The one playing the tricks today was the weather. In bright sunshine the airfield was readied for action; then it rained. We waited and drank a lot of tea. The sun shone and we got ready again; then it rained. By now the already soggy runway looked more like a lake and it was reluctantly decided that this would be a non flying day after all.

After a quick inspection of our new mower, the aircraft were returned to the hangar providing some much needed exercise after all that tea drinking.

The new mower.
DCFI Gordon was prepared for this eventually and got everyone together for a Ridge Soaring Workshop, particularly welcome as several members are off to the Long Mynd for a weeks flying on the ridges soon.  Instead of the usual style lecture, this took the form of several groups of pilots working of different problems / case studies and the afternoon slipped rapidy by. Everyone learned something new and everyone took part with enthusiasm. A great event; Thanks Gordon.

Gordon's Ridge Flying Workshop
As Usual the weather looks a lot better for tomorrow.