Dartmoore Gliding News-Sunday 25th June 2017

Well this was to be our Longest Day, and the call has to be made ’10 out of 10 for Effort!’ since Roger Appleboom, Dave Downton, Chris Owen and Rich Roberts had camped out at the club and had all the kit ready to roll at 6:30am. Sadly, as our photo shows, the weather had other ideas, the cloud being on the deck and, with very little wind, showing no signs of lifting any time soon. A good crowd soon developed and, with little else to be done, were soon treated to be very informative teach-in by Don Puttock on Met, METARs and how TAFs are compiled, the upshot of which was that we might as well give up all hope of flying, since a cold front to the north was going to take ages to clear through and until such time as it did, ambient temperature and dew point would be synonymous (ie. mist remaining).

Come on, weather! The scene at 6:30am as mist surrounds the Libelle trailer.
Venturing down to the hangar a little later for a chat, Gordon Dennis and Don were treated to, if not a damascene moment, at least a patch of light that soon led to a patch of blue big enough to fit a K-13 into. And so the bell was rung and the stampede was on! Let’s get something out of the day (if not the 100 launches that had been our aim..!) And so, by mid-day, we had both K-13s and the K-8 at the east end of the airfield and were ready to go. With only one cable break hampering proceedings early on, we struck a launch rate of eight and then seven per hour, getting trainees Charlotte Duffy, Ed Borlase and Dominic Marsh away in the K-13s, whilst Chris Owen savoured the ‘delights’ of the K-8 in the breezy conditions that were now prevailing.

Visitor Ian Harvey ready to go with Gordon Dennis.
Visitor Sara Walker looking forward to the prospect of aviating.
Sara Walker gets airborne in K-13 HXP with Roger Appleboom.
At about 2:00pm the first in a long line of visitors which Dave Downton had spent most of the morning placating began to arrive. They included Ralph Bebbington, Irene Elsley (supported by the largest family yet seen on the airfield), Ian Harvey, Sara Walker and Tracey Sutcliffe, who all seemed to enjoy their flights, albeit brief, as the blue patch had failed to expand, giving way to wall to wall cloud for the afternoon.

The Launchpoint mid-afternoon.
Ralph Bebbington was our first visitor of the day, flying with IFP Roger Appleboom.
Visitor Irene Elsley was supported by her own family Supporters’ Club!
 Visitor Irene Elsley with her Certificate, and Supporters Club!
By about 5:00pm, having flown our final visitor, and completed the in-house list, the adrenalin seemed to disperse from our corporate system and we decided (some having seen both 5 o’clocks in the day) to pack the kit away.

Roger Appleboom searching North Brentor village for Granny Downton’s house...
So with 29 launches achieved we were a little shy of the 100 objective, but the ambition, commitment and ability to mount a Longest Day had been proved. A very large vote of thanks must go to Rich Roberts, who was the powerhouse behind this whole operation, which was not simply a matter of sending a few emails, but organising the instructors to ensure a safe operation, getting together crews of winch and retrieve drivers, making up state-boards for the clubhouse and marking up the airfield (for the grids of gliders), amongst other things… Thanks, Rich, without you this would not have happened!

Brentor Church, aka High Key Area in a westerly…
Only 364 days to wait before we show that we can do it again!

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 21st June 2017

A glorious sunny hot day welcomed us to the field but as always on a day like that the possibility of soaring was going to be very limited. Mike Sloggett was duty instructor and Steve Raine was IFP. Steve took trial flight visitor Jason Bennet up for a couple of flights but was back down within 6 mins due to lack of thermic activity.

K13 G-DDMX waits expectantly under a blue sky
Mike Sloggett flew with Callum Doyle and Andy Davey. Steve Raine flew again with Terence Mandela another trial flight but again the flight was short. The soarers went up in the k8 but only managed around 5 mins. The best flight in the morning being only 17 mins by me in the K8.

Today's Launch queue
Around 2 o'clock the wind picked up and veered a little to the west so the decision was taken to change ends. The twin astir syndicate took to the air a number of times but never managed more than 5 mins each time. Even Allan Holland was struggling managing just 16 mins.

Try as we may it proved difficult to stay up, Allen Holland trying a last minute flight at 5 o'clock to see if he could beat 17 mins but after 8 he was back on the ground again. Well what a turn up, sorry Allen, I will try not to beat you again!

Steve Fletcher

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 18th June 2017

After the annoying and feckless unpredictability of youth, many find the more measured, dependable nature that comes with age to be a great relief after those earlier, annoying, traits. Returning to the club on Sunday by towing his glider down the length of the runway just as we were about to call "Up Slack!" on the second cable, Trevor Taylor proved that, even after a prolonged absence, he can dependably be relied upon to be just as annoying as he was when he left us over a year ago! Thankfully, (although it felt like it..!) the delay didn't prove long enough to prevent Roger Appleboom from launching into a cumulus dotted sky, which eventually yielded him a flight time of over 3hrs 15 mins.

Earlier in the day we had welcomed Sophie Castle, with her family, from Exeter as our One Day Course student. Sophie flew 6 launches with IFP Richard Robert and Duty Instructor Peter Howarth, whilst her family explored the delights of Tavistock's Sunday Market. By the end of the day she was piloting DMX herself, using stick and rudder together, to the surprise and delight of the family upon their return..!

One Day Course student Sophie Castle receiving her pre-flight briefing from IFP Rich Roberts
The day started, and remained, as predicted: high pressure centred over Wales delivering a light, warm, south-easterly; no likelihood of wave but some scattered, broken cu in prospect.

Trainee pilots Dave Westcott, Ed Borlase, Phil Selwood and John Knight all found it to be a classic glider pilot's day: difficult to start with ('was that to the right or left?'), a struggle to centre in the thermal ('don't let it push you out!'), to increasingly assured lift above 1,500ft before being vacuumed towards cloudbase between 2,500-3,500ft. For our solo pilots the clear, not over-populated sky proved difficult to resist - particularly the challenge posed by the low hanging 'fruits' that was richly compensated for by the easy flying once you had got into 'the zone'. Flight of the Day went to no, not the aforesaid Roger Appleboom, or Adrian Irwin, who managed 1hr 10 mins in the Zugvögel, but most definitely to Pete Harvey who, launching in his Std Cirrus a little before 1545, and landing at 1758, secured the 2hr soaring flight necessary for his EASA Licence. Well done, Pete!

Visitor Michael Hughes was treated to a 24 min soaring flight with Richard.
Visitor Alfred Lloyd, who flew with IFP Rich Roberts.
Other pilots achieving notable flights included visitors Alfred Lloyd and Michael Hughes (24 mins with Rich Roberts), club member Paula Howarth who flew from the back seat with instructor Dad Peter up front and, reluctantly, it has to be said, Trevor Taylor who, in company with Rich Roberts (but no serviceable ASI), spent almost an hour soaring in the Twin Astir. Apparently they judged the speed by poking their fingers through the DV panel – if you can believe that…

“You’ve got the glider on back to front!” 
Paula Howarth tries out the back seat while Instructor Dad Pete rides up front.
So at the end of the day what did we have? Frustratingly, we were one launch short of 40 but, with an overall flight time of 12 hrs 31 mins, which equated to an average of 19 mins per flight. Thanks go to Dave Downton for getting us off to a good start in the winch, to Adrian Irwin for relieving him, and to Roger Appleboom for taking on the mantle after his 3hr plus flight. Thanks also go to Colin Boyd and his Apprentice as, with a cracked rib found in the port wing of K-13 DMX, they again found themselves working on Monday and Tuesday in order to have it ready to fly on Wednesday. Good job they’re not feckless, unpredictable or annoying (well, not all at the same time…)

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 17th June 2017

High pressure is in charge of the weather. The day started with an endless blue sky only spoiled by the occasional arial graffiti left by the high flying airliners on their way to exotic destinations. Although RASP seemed reasonably hopeful, I was a little doubtful. When the atmospheric pressure is high the situation is like a bottle of champagne; when the cork is in, no bubbles; release the cork, bubbles everywhere. High pressure works like the cork limiting the formation of thermals, to release this, the temperature needs to reach a a  "trigger" temperature. Looking at the the atmospheric soundings today's trigger temperature could be as high as 30 celsius.

Looking south towards Tavistock
The airfield from the south side
Today's instructor in charge was Mike Sloggett who has, once again, leaped into the breach to help fill the void left by Ged's recall to hospital and Rick going on holiday (how dare he?). Thanks Mike. Initially we thought that K13 G-CHXP would need to be shared between Mike and I to fly both the visitors and club members but, shortly after we started flying, the cavalry ( in the shape of Colin Boyd ) appeared over the horizon with K13 G-DDMX in tow fresh from it's annual inspection. After a short test flight (I didn't enjoy doing that, honest) we were in business with a 2 seater each.

Kathy waiting to fly
My visitors today were Jacob Little, Kathy Poverino, and Nicola Burke all of whom enjoyed their flying in the relatively calm conditions. Mike's day was a mix of training flights with new and experienced pilots alike.

Nicola and Mother share a moment for the camera
The day started with light variable winds. Right from the start their were signs that thermals were trying to form with the air feeling frothy and light in places but without any signs of cores or even thermal bubbles. Quite suddenly things changed and some gliders were soaring. This was accompanied by a sudden change in the wind strength and direction. The wind remained 8 knots NW for the rest of the day. The soaring stopped as suddenly as it had started and looking downwind over the higher tors it was now obvious that a sea breeze front had passed through. Why is this always easy to see after the event?

Remnants of the sea breeze front over Dartmoor
Best flight was by Bob Sansom flying the K8 for 39 minutes followed by Mike and Andy Davey in HXP with 29 minutes. Mike and Andy used the height that they had gained to complete Andy's spinning excercises and to put him even closer to his first solo flight.

End of the day
A good  day.

Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 14th June 2017

A beautiful blue sky welcomed everyone to Brentor. Was it the influence of Mike Sloggett, our Duty Instructor for the day? We also welcomed Tim Petty from North Hill who came to give our set-up the once over. We are looking forward to welcoming you back Tim.

First question of the day; was the light wind SSE, S or SSW? Not quite enough to change the launch point to the west end, but enough to have an effect on the launches. With our curtailed launch heights only a few magnificent aviators managed to soar for any length of time. Leading the pack today was Robin Wilson flying the club K8 for 41 minutes closely followed by Andrew Beaumont with 38 minutes in the same aircraft

We also welcomed our Introductory Flight visitors, Harry Martin all the way from Manchester! We hope the rest of his West Country tour proved as enjoyable as his flights with us. Nearer to home, from Cornwall, were Harry Ridsdale and Des Sibborn who also had a conducted tour of the airspace round Brentor. ‘Mrs
Des’ was very keen to come back and fly with us. Some potential new members perhaps?

Visitor Harry Ridsdate with IFP Steve Raine
It was also good to see Ged back on the field again. ( Ged has since returned to hospital - more news when we have it )

An fine day.

Steve Raine

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 11th June 2017

Although the wind speed didn’t quite reach the levels predicted (gusts up to 32 kts by 1200), it was the direction (due south, ie. 90 crossed the runway rather than the 240 degrees forecast), coupled with the steady 20-25kts strength which put paid to flying today.

 Once again the wind blew up from the south all day, exceeding our crosswind limits.
And so, whilst Dave Downton set about an unexpected repair to K-13 DMX’s fuselage, some of us set about some fettling their gliders, whilst others (notably Pete Harvey) couldn’t resist the temptation to get into our new tractor and mow the grass (a relatively novel activity for us Sunday Soarers…) Back in the clubhouse after an hour of cutting, he eventually agreed (once he could hear the question) that the ear defenders provided were of some benefit... (the committee has voted for 3 new sets on H&S grounds).

Pete Harvey cutting grass to the south of the track.
Looking ahead, we have the Longest Day on Sunday 25 June, for which we need all hands to the pumps, while in August the club has an Open Week when, between Saturday 5th and Sunday7 13thm, the club is OPEN for nine straight days. This is an invitation to all club members to make use of the club’s facilities to improve your skill set, whatever your currency, status or level of expertise. There will be a barbecue, ground school and other activities so look out for further advertising which will be on the Forum, noticeboards and social media in the near future.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 10th June 2017

"Flaming June". Well that's one way to put it! Today an frontal system was positioned overhead. This has brought the expected rain, low cloud and fog. In fact, it was difficult to see from one side of the runway to the other. So definitely a no flying day.

There's a runway there somewhere.
There was some work going on around the site. Jorg was grass cutting, Rick seemed to need to remove another piston from the tractor. In the clubhouse, the computer and printer has been repositioned from the office to a new computer desk in the main club room and some of the blank forms, cards certificates have been reoganised into the desk drawers.

In the words of D:Ream "Things Can Only Get Better".


Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 4th June 2017

With the forecast showing a trough line arcing neatly from Plymouth over the SW peninsula to Wales, there was a sense of foreboding as we gathered in the clubhouse at 9am. Sure enough, by 9:15am the rain was rattling on the porch roof so loudly it drowned out the noise of the diesel generator. So no flying this morning, then. There was the prospect of a post trough clearance, however, at around lunchtime (a concept about as vague as an auctioneer’s valuation on ‘Bargain Hunt’…) so we remained optimistic that flight might be possible ‘later’.
Better In than Out: rainwater streams past Colin’s van beside the hangar.
So it was out with the books (for new Junior member Charlotte Duffy, capably being ‘mentored’ by Paula Howarth into realising that her favourite supermarket is no longer ‘Morrison’s’, but ‘ASDA’..!), simulator (Rich Roberts discovering just how low you can get away from on the slopes at Denbigh) and ‘To Do’ list (Martin Cropper deciding that, after a decade or so, the leaves in the gutter and drainpipe really did deserve to be cleared out). Note that only one of these involved getting wet (see photo…)

Martin Cropper looks pleased to be donning latex to clear out the guttering.
At about the aforesaid ‘lunchtime’, the hammering on the roof having abated on one or two occasions, it was decided to send a search party onto the airfield to look for blue holes in the cloudscape. In this task they were, in part, successful in managing to give chase to a few that scarpered downwind over the hill; whereupon, on turning around, they were confronted by a wall of grey to the South threatening to dump large quantities of water on the airfield again. This, accompanied by the very fragile nature of the ground, particularly in the launchpoint area, and the squally wind, led us to conclude that the risk of damage was too great to attempt flying today.

Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil and Do No Evil chasing after blue holes…
 …until turning around and were met with this..!
In the afternoon Rich Roberts, accompanied by Pete Howarth and Martin Cropper, retrieved his misspent youth by spray painting ‘ML 1’and ‘ML 2’ on the sides of the winches, because he couldn’t remember which was which (hence the need for a current winch driver, ie. Pete, to point that if green = ‘New Winch’, blue = ‘New, New Winch’)!

Dee ML’s get stencilled up as Rich Roberts re-lives his misspent youth with a can of spray paint.
Thanks go to all who turned up, willing to give it a go, and who hopefully will be rewarded with better conditions next week.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 3rd June 2017

We are in the middle of the great summer weather, right? No, wrong!! Yesterday it rained all day. Although today started off with a bright blue sky, another weak trough with associated showers was due to cross our location around midday.

The cloud cover built up rapidly during the morning effectively stopping any noticeable convection. In fact best flight of the day was the first flight by Instructor Mike Jardine with new trainee Dominic March who stayed airbourne for 15 minutes.

Dominic and Mike ready to fly
We welcomed two visitors today, Donald Britz who flew with Mike and Lynette Alcock who flew with me. During Lynette's first 2 flights the approaching showers could be seen clearly. She showed great patience as we waited for half an hour or so for the first of the showers to pass through before completing flight three. Shortly after this we stood down for an hour and a half as the main band of showers lashed the airfield.

Visitor Donald with Mike
Visitor Lynette looks excited to be flying
Eventually the rain stopped and flying started again. We were obviously in a new airmass with a cleaner, cooler feel and the wind has moved from south west to west. Soaring was even more difficult now and the best anyone managed was a whole 8 minutes in the K8 by Mike Bennett. It was about the same time that Barry Green had his first flight in his new K6 which he now shares with Mike. Great stuff.

Mike with the K8
Barry with his "new" K6
While all this fun was being had, a few dedicated members were busy at work in the hangar. Rick Wiles, Philip Hardwick and David Bourchier spent their day stripping down the engine of the Zetor tractor whose engine has mysteriously seized while mowing. By the end of the day a faulty cylinder head leading to two welded pistons had been diagnosed and all the offending parts were stripped ready for repair/replacement. This was in fact the 4th day that David had spent working on the airfield this week. Thank you all.

 Rick and David wearing this week's fashionable gliding attire
Phil and Rick discussing tactics.
"Angels with dirty faces" No, just Rick at the end of a long day



Dartmoor Gliding News-Monday 29th May 2017

For those of you that may have read the blog for Saturday will understand when I say while traveling to the club I felt a sense of deja vu. Visibility was down to 100m and less in some places with the forecast that it should lift early afternoon. The question is would it and would we fly.

On arrival at the club at 08:30 I saw Mike Bennett already at work cutting grass near the gate. Would more members turn up? By 09:30 there was 6 of us at the club, 1st job, change ends in anticipation of flying.
Next list of jobs to tackle, Grass cutting, a job that seems never ending now our farmer no longer has sheep and at this time of year it is growing so fast. Someone to drive the tractor and grass cutter, step forward fellow instructor Peter Howarth.

View from the tractor cab
Peter on his final cut before lunch, Cloud base still a little low.
Next job - bearings need changing on ML2, step forward David Bourchier and Barry Green.

Barry and David working on removing the bearings
Next task - grass cutting around the trailers, step forward Mike Bennett and myself.

Mike making good progress through the grass.
And last ( but definitely not least) - Heather who decided to continue her ever ending battle to keep the club house clean and tidy.

Heather working on the Hangar Apron
Once Heather had finished in the club house she decided to turn her attention to cleaning the hangar apron.

So, did we fly? The cloud base had lifted and at lunch time Callum Doyle arrived and while we were enjoying our lunch we decided to get one glider out and go flying for the afternoon.

Mike keeping a good look out
View of the airfield.
Everyone that wanted to fly did and at the end of the day it was time to put HXP back in the hanger and close the door on the day.

A big thankyou to the members that turn up and for all the hard work that was done in the morning followed by a successful afternoons flying.

HXP on its way back after flying


Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 28th Mat 2017

As we took the hurdle fence down, and the windsock was yet to declare its hand, the conversation was not about whether it was going to rain, but when. The BBC forecast for Tavistock had a black cloud at 1200, the Met Office F215 showed a warm front approaching from the S at 2:30pm whilst MeteoGroup gave T&L from 4pm onwards. Some well-informed members may have used this information to support their decision to stay away. Others, less well blessed (with decision making powers, not information) found themselves at the airfield taking the hurdle fence down…

Orographic cloud extending from Sheep’s Tor (right of photo) to Princetown (mast at left) and beyond.
As already stated, the wind took its time to settle into the predicted light SE’ly, by which time we had changed ends and Pete Howarth had already given Richard Brannan, our One Day Course student, his first couple of flights. Fleeces and gilets were then exchanged for T-shirts as the sun heated the atmosphere and Paula Howarth put the K-8 on-line for its first foray, clear blue sky giving way to an interesting variety of clouds that moved in from the SE. Rich Brennan deciding to give up three of his ODC flights to brother Steve, (hence photos showing both) we then used the K-13 for club trainees, including Charlotte Duffy, our latest Junior member.

Today’s One Day Course student was Richard Brennan, from Yorkshire
Richard’s brother Steve (from Crediton) also flew with Pete Howarth.
At which point a certain reluctance was noticed in the vario needle’s indication of ‘down’… Well, it was certainly noted by Roger Appleboom who, winch driving duties completed, elbowed his was to the head of the single-seater queue and, being flung into the air in the K-8, connected with weak wave in the valley to the N of the airfield for a very rewarding 31 mins to a ceiling of “somewhere between 2,500ft and 3,000ft” (as a graduate of Denbigh Gliding, accuracy of analysis is everything with Roger…).

Roger Appleboom about to pilot the K-8 into an ‘interesting’ sky…
He was quickly followed by Rich Roberts with his F&F guest Chris Hooper in the K-13 who also managed to find the wave running N-S over the west end launchpoint for half an hour, to 2,000ft+.

Chris Hooper, who flew F&F with Rich Roberts.
As the afternoon drew on the ‘interesting looking’ clouds had become more layered and uniformly grey, although there remained some dramatic rotor and finger-like orographic shapes beneath the higher sheet. This did not prevent Martin Cropper with his F&F guest, Josh Gruitt, from taking to the skies, however, in the event blundering from 6 down to ½ up in three dismal attempts to impress/connect, none of which were successful..!

Josh Gruitt, who was Martin Cropper’s F&F guest.
As we replaced the hurdle fence and shut the hangar doors there was still, save a few spots, no rain, hail or thunder - and indeed so it remained as afternoon turned into a warm and pleasant evening. For the well informed but weak willed team at Brentor today the weather cards ran in their favour, enabling them to experience thermal (Pete Howarth) wave (the aforesaid Roger and Rich) and disappointment (MC!) All of which served, if nothing else, to prove the old adage: never cancel a day’s flying due to the weather forecast!

Thanks go to Roger Appleboom and Pete Howarth for winching (and training) and to Josef Nobbs for more than capably hosting our visitors (and anyone else who came into view…)

Martin Cropper