Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 23rd July 2017

For the armchair pilot, it depended in which direction the chair was pointing. To the north, it looked classic: lines of puffy cu stretched across the horizon, to the east the sky was overdeveloped, to the south clear as a bell and to the west (ie. upwind) it was changing by the minute. And so did members’ fortunes, depending on when they launched. The early part of the day also won the award for the lowest Sunday launch rate for years: for no clearly identifiable reason we managed only two launches between 1100 and 1200, a hardly nostalgic throw back to the ‘good old’ days when the first launch used to coincide with lunch..! As the number of single seaters increased at the launchpoint, however, so did the launch rate.

Today was the first Sunday outing for Barry Green’s Alisport Silent Targa (silent it ain’t!) – an Italian built ultralight self-launcher with a 13.3m span and 50hp engine. Sharp eyed observers of the accompanying photos will already have noticed that the Silent has a single bladed propeller – the reason for it being..? Barry launched at 1230 and very soon had the engine shut down as a grey mass of cloud kept him aloft for over an hour.

Barry Green’s self-launching Silent Targa…
…and away he goes!
Others without engines included Mike Bennett, Adrian Irwin and Dave Downton in the K-8B, Leith Whittington in his Dart 17R, Roger Appleboom flying his Club Libelle for the first time on site and Steve Fletcher in his Open Cirrus. Steve suffered severe dolly problems (not what you might think) both on the way to and from the launchpoint, which were solved by Roger Appleboom binding the dolly together with a leather belt, on completion of which Roger was amazed to find that he had lost weight (or the belt had stretched..!)

Busy launch queue under a promising sky.
The aforesaid Roger A also flew our visitors, the aptly named Andrew Downton (no relation to our ‘Voice…’), a music teacher from Bovey Tracy, and Rob Giles, from Bere Alston, who was treated to Roger’s company for 20 mins as he sniffed out a thermal to 1,300ft. An unexpected visit came in the form of Sean McNulty, on holiday from Hemel Hempstead, who recently gained his PPL at Denham, the GA airfield that amazingly is permitted to operate within the controlled airspace of London’s Heathrow Airport. When it came to (hesitantly) giving Sean the bill for his three flights he declared it to be a “bargain, compared to flying a Cessna 182 for a day..!”

 Andrew Downton (no relation) looks happy to be flying with Roger
Visitor Roger Giles receiving his pre-flight brief.
Our sole trainee today was Ben Caverhill., who not only flew the entire launch for the first time, but also soared from 800ft to 1,300ft under a huge grey hoover over Blackdown – all his own work!

So what of the stats? Flight of the Day went to Steve Fletcher with 37 mins in the Open Cirrus, closely followed by Henry Ford, visiting from Mendip, who on the last flight of the day found a convergence zone which took him almost to Roadford Reservoir, thus proving that the armchair pilot, as ever, was right: today the direction to go was north.

Thanks are due to Dave Downton and Barry Green for winching, and to Allan Holland for freeing the brakes when they mysteriously seized up.

By the time we had put the hurdle fence back up I think everyone agreed it had been a challenging but enjoyable day.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 22nd July 2017

Just where did the summer go? Poor forecast today with a strong gusty crosswind from the south led to this being declared as a non flying day.

Scratch in welding mode
Mike Jardine was taking care of visitors before leaving early for family duties. Scratch was repairing the hurdle fence trailer which needs a little TLC after many years of service. Flushed from their success with the Zetor tractor engine rebuild, Rick and Phil started the work on the GusLaunch winch engine. The winch is down on power, has some coolant mixing with the oil and is not running cleanly. After diagnosing one cylinder with low compression it has been decided that the head has got to come off. Here we go again. David took the opportunity to start refurbishing the winch roller system which needs some new bearings and grease etc.

The GusLaunch waiting for TLC
Elsewhere the new Zugvogel 3B syndicate got together to begin some fettling of their new toy. The trailer fittings need some work to make rigging a little easier. The trailer is certainly taller that most glider trailers; in fact, even at 6ft 3in I can walk through the trailer standing upright. The trailer has since been christened, the "Cathedral".

The photographer, Mike Jardine, entitled this composition "Three Wise Men"."
"Should have gone to Specsavers, Mike
The Cathedral
Summer weather soon please.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 19th Juky 2017

Having checked the met and rasp forecast on Tuesday evening the weather looked hopeful for some flying on Wednesday afternoon. Unfortunately overnight the forecasters changed their minds but couldn't agree on what the forecast should be with the standard met forecast for Mary Tavy being different from the aviation forecast and the rasp being different again. In the end the weather followed its usual pattern of not following any of them and the low cloud and fog hung over the airfield with depressing certainty.

So the merry band of members that turned up drank tea, discussed putting the world to rights before venturing out to get some jobs done. Steve Raine, Phil Hardwick and I replaced the wheel on the David brown tractor, Phil providing the spare wheel and knowledge whilst us two Steves provided enthusiasm.

It's only flat at the bottom ( honest)

That's better
In the workshop Barry Green and Dave Downton under the watchful eye of Colin continued to work on the k13 wing ready for covering.

The cathedral of patience otherwise known as the workshop
Everyone else including Bob Sansom, Heather, Martin Broadway, Andy Davey and Mike Sloggett worked hard weeding the area where the new workshop will go.

Thanks to everyone for turning up and mucking in.

Steve Fletcher

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 16th July 2017

The weather: “cloudy but dry with cloudbase rising to 1,800ft amsl by 1200 local”; should have allowed us to get some launches in at around lunchtime and into the afternoon (Brentor being 820ft above amsl). The reality of “cloudy but dry” was that we were within the cloud as much as out of it, and when out of it the drizzle was persistent. So once again we turned to Dave Downton to exercise his diplomacy skills in postponing today’s One Day Course and re-booking our Trial Lessons.

Anyone seen rain falling upwards?"
"Water droplets spotted on the underside of the K-8’s wing.
Meanwhile, we set about finding useful things to do (in the wet). Such as, why is there no neutral light on the quad bike? (Roger Appleboom on removing offending item said he would replacement it with one from his garage stores); why are there droplets of water on the underside of the gliders’ wings in the hangar (a very timely question put just as a blast of Wagner announced Colin Boyd’s arrival in the Green Machine).

Peter Howarth cutting the lighter grass in the mist.
Answer, the hangar doors were left open during a rain shower yesterday afternoon. And can we mow the grass? Well perhaps just the light stuff can be kept a bay – thanks to Pete Howarth for that. We also had great fun digging out one of the strimmers from the pile of ‘It’s no good to us but I’m sure the gliding club would like it’ stuff and (after a lot a semi-H&S compliant tweaking) getting it to work. This enabled Roger Appleboom to go on a voyage of discovery for the yellow warning sign that used to caution drivers about driving down the slope to the hangar with gliders attached. After 10 minutes intense strimming the sign re-emerged from the tangle of grass and is now re-transmitting its safety message.

Roger Appleboom with strimmer rediscovers the south side safety sign.
Excitement of the day was the arrival of a new glider on site, courtesy of Alan Carter and Roger Green who having captured a new prize in the shape of a Zugvögel 3B, had brought it all the way from Essex, thus giving us two on site and one third of the UK’s population of the Scheibe built 17m gliders. It also provided evidence of another growing trend at Brentor: members with two gliders – Alan with his (worryingly similar) SF-27, Roger with his ASW-20, plus the aforementioned Zugvögel 3B (with which Steve Lewis is also to be a syndicate member), Roger Appleboom with his K-6CR plus Club Libelle and, until recently, Dave Parker with his K-6CR and Std Cirrus. The rationale for this multi-asseted ownership is, of course, our relative remoteness for those cross-country pilots domiciled in the West Country who nonetheless want to fly all through the year (keep your hot ship up country and a hack in Devon).

There were two interesting spots (in addition to the rain) today: first, two deer (one adult one juvenile) in the woodland over the south side fence (smiley face), they seemed quite happy watching us watching them; the second, cow pats on the airfield (grumpy face).

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 15th July 2017

Right in the middle of the summer season, I would like to report on endless soaring day's with wall to wall sunshine but today was definitely not like that. The forecast was for low cloud in the morning progressing to mist and rain ( the infamous Dartmooor "missle" probably ), so right from the start it was obvious that this would be a non flying day.

The gliders wait under a lowering sky
Arriving at the airfield what did I find? A couple of our older members with tall mugs of tea and even taller stories perhaps? No, not a bit of it. The scene was much more like an industrial complex with jobs being undertaken everywhere you looked by a small army of club members.

If we carry on like this we will need a bigger work bench
Working on the vehicles
Barry, and the two Davids were working on the Landrovers fixing a broken drive shaft, servicing window mechanisms and other unfathomable tasks. David Archer and Jorg then disappeared to the runway to adjust the mower, fit some new drive belts and then mow the runway.

The loneliness of the long distance tractor driver.
In the hangar, Rick and Phil, along with various helpers throughout the day, were completing the rebuild of the tractor engine. By the end of the day, this was complete and it was very pleasing to see (and hear) the tractor start on the very first turn of the key. What a result. Well done everyone. The only remaining task is fitting the replacement brake slave cylinder which is waiting for some spare parts.

Discussing the tractor
Elsewhere Heather and Scratch were refurbishing the rollers on one of the ML winches ( this was after Heather had sorted out the clubhouse and kitchen yet again).

Heather and Scratch at work
All of this activity led me to think about all of the volunteers whose efforts make the gliding club possible. We always think about the instructors of course but what about winch drivers, retrieve drivers, the field treasurers, the committee, tractor drivers, online editors, mechanics etc etc etc. Lots of these efforts are largely unseen but are vital to the smooth running of the club. Some tasks could so easily pass by unnoticed such as Richard and Colin's recent visit to a local show to promote gliding which they did while the rest of us were enjoying a nice soaring day.

So for everyone who gets involved, a big THANKYOU.

Colin Boyd chatting with a youngster at a local show."
"The photo was taken by Richard whose glider is on display

Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 12th July 2017

The morning conditions looked unspectacular but the assembled pilots prepared the equipment and then waited for the improvement as forecast by RASP.

Zugvogel, K8 and K13 waiting for the forecast improvement
The flying programme started with newly solo pilot Andy Davey. After a successful check flight followed by a practice cable break Andy then flew the K13 solo with 2 flights of 17 minutes and 12 minutes.    

Looking south towards Plymouth from the airfield
This one has me puzzled. Which village is this?
The conditions did indeed follow RASP and by early afternoon the pilots were treated with some very strong thermal conditions ( ie. very strong thermals surrounded by very strong sink.)  Best flight of the day was Steve Fletcher in the Open Cirrus who spent 3 hours and 10 minutes soaring in the classic summer conditions.

Steve's view from the Open Cirrus at 2700 feet above the airfield
Many thanks, once again, to instructor Mike Sloggett for supervising the day, and to everyone else who helped.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 9th July 2017

If you read yesterday’s blog then you can be sure that today’s is nothing like the same, with the exception of the weather..! The Met Office low level chart showed a waving cold front across the Bristol Channel being caught up by a warm front across Wales, with the resulting meteorological train-smash due to occur at whatever o’clock, whilst the wind was supposedly W’ly, NW’ly of VRB, depending on which box you referred to. So the similarity with yesterday’s blog is: we elected to go to the launchpoint in a spirit of discovery and let the weather decide what it would deliver (we could always return to the hangar if things turned threatening).

With Gordon Dennis on hand as Duty Instructor, a One day Course booked, two trial lesson visitors plus a number of members declaring their ‘friends and family’ hands at Morning Briefing, there was every good reason to give it a go, and so off we went…

  Bright sunshine on the airfield whilst the threatening fronts pass us by.
Gordon flew with new member David Carter, and other club trainees Callum Doyle and Dave Westcott, whilst IFP Rich Roberts was on hand to fly with our visitors, first of whom was teenager Joe Taggart, to be followed by an even younger Toby Uren. Rich was also first to spot that some of the almost uniformly grey clouds were greyer than others, as the sun intermittently managed to break through to ground level, allowing him to whisk Joe (who declared “I don’t want to go above 1,900ft”) to 1, 899ft (for 12 mins)! (…and some way short of cloudbase).

One Day Course Student John Owen, from Saltash, with Martin Cropper.
Visitor Eddie Robertson also flew with Martin.
Meanwhile, One Day Course student John Owen flew with Martin Cropper. In conversation during the short intervals waiting for cables, the pair discovered that they had both attended a barbecue as guests of the owner of a Mine Captain’s house at Harrowbarrow…27 years ago! Small World! John also spent time with Dave Downton at the winch and discovered the importance of the wing-tip holder and retrieve driver. Martin also flew with visitor Eddie Robertson, whose flights were part of a bucket list fulfilment campaign (being paid for by his daughter..!)

Visitor Tobias Uren being presented with his Certificate by Rich Roberts.
Visitor Joe Taggart flew with IFP Rich Roberts.
Our friends and family visitors came in the shape of Callum Doyle’s partner, Kat McCue, who flew with Gordon, and Colin Boyd’s guest Polly and Helen Schilling, who could be heard enjoying their flights, even at ground level!

Callum's partner Kat McCue
Overall, the high point of the day has to have been at around 1415, when Rich Roberts, our ODC pair and Leith Whittington were aloft simultaneously, Rich for a Flight of the Day winning 1 hr 10 mins in his Discus, Martin and John for a cool 13 mins to 1,200ft, and Leith for 2 flights of 13 mins soaring success in his Dart 17R!

Sharing A Thermal
At the end of the day, and with 34 launches logged, it had to be admitted that: a. the fronts – although threatening - did not put a stop to flying, and b. that HXP, with its new Colin Boyd inspired colour scheme, has been transformed, particularly in terms of visibility. Can someone submit an Unplanned Event Form for an IMPROVEMENT in Flight Safety, please?

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 8th July 2017

Heading out to the airfield, the complex weather situation was immediately apparent. The sky was 8/8th's cloud with very little variation. It almost looked like a grey watercolour sky. At the airfield there was a little more variation in the cloud cover. The morning briefing with instructor Gordon Dennis gave us a chance to discuss the Met office charts. The low level weather chart was very complex. There was a warm front predicted to be only a few miles to the west by midday with a cold front swinging in from the north. The whole lot was moving towards us at 10knots. So, after much discussion, the only real answer was to go flying and see what happens.

There was very little wind and even though it was overcast there was some warmth so maybe there would be the odd thermal to play with. Would there be any rain?

The new piston and liner in the Zetor engine.
Rick was not this clean by the end o the day.
Leaving the clubhouse it became apparent that we would be a little low in numbers as 4 of our stalwarts ( Rick, Phil, Jorg and David) separated from the crowd to head for their day's task, to continue with the engine rebuild on the Zetor tractor. The tractor had a major engine failure when one of the valve guide somehow melted and welded a piston to the cylinder head. The piston and cylinder liner have been replaced, the cylinder head has been refurbished with new valves and guides. So all that is left is to reassemble everything. Today's task. By the end of the day the engine was back together. New will be to refit the fuel system and start the engine - watch this space for developments.

HXP's new wingtip paint
And some on the wing roots.
Good news today is the K13 G-CHXP is back on line after is annual ARC renewal. It is now sporting some additional red paint on the wing tips and roots; very sporting looking. We welcomed visitors Haylie Oliver and Peter Griles today both of whom flew with Fred Marks in HXP. the smiling faces suggest that a good day was had by all.

Haylie with Fred sharing a joke before flying
Peter and Fred waiting for a launch
What of the other flying? Well today saw Mike Bennett convert to the K6 that he now owns a share of. He is delighted with it's flying / handling qualities. Best flight of the day was by me in the K8. I managed to find an elusive thermal to carry me to the 2500 ft cloudbase from where I could see a line of showers slowly advancing towards the airfield from the west. I landed after 33 minutes because I judged that the rain's arrival at the airfield was imminent and I thought that if I waited any longer I would get wet on the way back to the launchpoint. In the event the shower never got as far as the airfield but seemed to stop one field away. Oh well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Mike with his K6,( notice the showers in the background)
A view of Brentor Church from 2000 feet

A good club day.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 5th July 2017

Mostly blue sky day with some east in the wind, so launching from the west end. A well attended day with Mike Sloggett as instructor in charge.

K13 and K8 waiting to go.
A good view from the east end of the airfield from the K13
The talking point today has to be Andy Davey who did his Brentor solo in the K13 today after his recent successful gliding course at Lasham. He completed a couple of flights with Mike and then 2 solos in the K13 after which he converted to the K8 completing a further 2 flights, the second of which was a short soaring flight. Well done Andy.

Andy waiting to solo in the K13
And later Andy after converting to the K8
There was some soaring available in the afternoon with Phil Hardwick leading the way with 39 and 27 minutes in the Twin Astir followed by Bob Sansom in the K8 with 23 minutes. Best flight of the day was, once again. Allan Holland with 45 minutes in the K8.

The well used K8
Thanks in due to all those who help make this day a success.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 2nd July 2017

With a gentle NW’ly wind and a pretty well cloud free early morning sky there was a sense of freshness in the air (after last night’s Dev’n mizzle) as we walked the gliders to the launchpoint. RASP predicted a rising cloudbase and increasing convection during the afternoon – the BBC was not quite so optimistic.

One Day Course student Peter Melhuish flew with Peter Howarth through the the day. "
"Who's in control? You are, Peter..!"
Our One Day Course student was Peter Melhuish, who flew with Duty Instructor Peter Howarth at intervals throughout the day (as Pete said, “...I won’t forget your name..!”), whilst IFP Rich Roberts spread the load by flying with visitor Charlie Russell. The go-getting attitude proved well founded, as demonstrated by Adrian Irwin in the K-8, and Rich Roberts in his super sleek Discus, both of whom launched at lunchtime, Adrian managing 20 mins and Rich remaining aloft for a full 1 hr 2 mins before returning to announce “That was hard work! You’re at 45 degrees for 10 mins after which you’ve gone up maybe 200ft..!” (Peter Howarth and trainee Ed Borlase also snuck in a foray of 15 mins to 1,200ft during this period – you see what Rich meant about climb rate..?)

Visitor Charlie Russell prepares to fly with IFP Rich Roberts...
...and receives his Certificate of Flight from Rich upon their safe return to Earth (Dartmoor).
This was to be no classic British summer’s day, however, as those who held back discovered: the best of the day had passed by 2pm, following which it ‘blued out’ almost 100%. So BBC: 1; RASP: Nil (and good for the manufacturers of sun-protection all day). Thanks go to Leith Whittington and Joe Nobbs for lining the Treasurer’s coffers with their multiple 5 min circuits, and also to Dave Downton and Joe Nobbs for winching.

Ex-Jaguar and Boeing 747 pilot Adrian Irwin releases K-13 DMX into its natural habitat
So far so anti-climactic? Not a bit of it, for Pete Howarth, surveying the benign conditions, decided to share his secret with the rest of us: why not get Dave Downton converted onto the K-8? Well, why not indeed! Except that Dave was at the wrong end of the airfield, incarcerated in the winch, and needed a comprehensive fitting-into and briefing about the K-8 before being sent aloft. Now the wind was NW’ly 7-10kts, so not a problem during the launch the shape of the hill at the east end could provide a lair for ‘clutching hand’ on the approach. In the event we need not have worried! Although Dave’s first launch betrayed a hint of the classic K-8 rapid rotation syndrome, it was succeeded by a circuit that went on aerial rails, and completed with a fully held-off landing that surpassed all his K-13 efforts put together! He then went on to repeat the process twice more. Grinning from ear to rear at the conclusion of the experience he declared that the glider was, “just so light on the controls, it’s a delight to handle..!” Welcome to the K-8 club, Dave, and very well done!
Dave Downton receiving his conversion briefing from a slightly nervous Martin Cropper...
...who shouldn't have worried since Dave performed three flawless landings (off three launches!) in K-8 FXB
We ended the day by re-rigging K-13 HXP ready for its CofA. Colin Boyd, who has hardly had time to draw breath since completing the work on DMX, hopes to have HXP back on-line by next weekend. And so do we, Colin – and thanks for all your time and effort (he had over an hour in his K-6 last Wednesday, so he’s good for another week or so..!)

Martin Cropper