Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 24th February 2018

After a mostly dry week the airfield is finally drying out. Watching the forecast over the last few days revealed a potential for easterly winds and the formation of wave. The sounding forecast showed a sharp inversion at about 925 hpa ( the airfield was at 968 hpa today so the inversion was at about 1290 feet above the airfield ) and although the wind strength was not really increasing with height, the profile was really encouraging.
The soundings forecast for 1300 gmt
Early in the day there was 8/8th cloud but this cleared away leaving a blue sky day. The only cloud visible were some wisps indicating areas of wave rotors. At the east end of the airfield the windsock was hanging mostly limp with occasional gusts but experienced Dartmoor pilots know that on a wave day it often looks like this as the rotor back washes that end of the runway  So game on.

The Zugvogel 3B ready to fly
 This was a licensed pilots only day. Most of the assembled members were preoccupied with tasks around the airfield but the Zugvogel 3B syndicate ( Alan Carter, Roger Green and myself ) were determined to fly so we woke the glider from it's winter slumbers and reasonably quickly had it assembled and ready to fly. Allan Holland very kindly offered to drive the winch for us.

The other syndicate members bravely nominated me to fly first. I ensured that I was well strapped in and that everything was secure ( I had an idea of what might happen next ) and off I went. The ground run was a little long ( windsock still limp ) and the initial climb was unremarkable. At about 500 feet all hell broke loose as I flew into the rotor and keeping the glider climbing correctly took a lot of control input. Releasing the cable at 1000 feet the glider began a wild dance through the rotor. Don't fight it Stephen, work with it.

Thankfully I was climbing in this rough air and suddenly at 1200 feet the air went completely smooth. This is WAVE. After a short, slow climb, I made my first mistake. Convinced that the climb rates should be better than this, I pushed forward to the east looking for what I thought was going to be the primary wave. In my defence, remember that the sky was blue so I had no visual references to help me. I flew into violent rotor and deeply sinking air and had to do a quick about turn and head for the airfield arriving adjacent to the runway at 800 feet convinced that I was going to have to land shortly.

This is where fate took a hand in the events and I flew into very strong rising air. Turning steeply I centred what turned out to be a wave enhanced thermal bubble which propelled me skywards with the variometers off the clock. Four circles later I was passing 1800 feet when the air went smooth again. Turning south across the wind I followed the wave bar in smooth lift and promised myself to climb first before going exploring again.

Looking west towards Dartmoor
Climb rates were not remarkable, probably averaging a couple of knots and ultimately I topped out at 4800 feet. The visibility was not very good with some haze but this lent some enchantment to the view, which I know so well, with the sun shining brightly off the Tamar estuaries which would have otherwise been invisible through the haze.

Yours truely relaxing in the sun
( the left strap looks a bit dishevelled after the rotor )
The hazy view with this thin cloud layer quite invisible from the ground
I had promised Roger that I would be back in an hour so it was time to go. There was an area of smooth air with no lift just to the south of the airfield so it was here that I started my decent. With the glider at 60 knots with the airbrakes fully deployed, I flew large lazy circles down through the mostly smooth air. At one time I flew into the rotor again and even with the airbrakes fully out the glider started climbing strongly once more. Turning away soon sorted that out and after a few more circles I was able to start a circuit from what would normally be considered ridiculously high, but in these conditions you need to maintain lots of energy ( for energy read height ) to cope with the rotors that always populate the circuit area ). The circuit was very rough but uneventful with a nice landing. This flight had taken 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Roger ready to launch
Roger guides the Zugvogel up the wire.
( notice the limp windsock and the haze trapped as a cap cloud over Dartmoor beyond )
Roger Green was next up. After a short briefing from me ( It's very rough Roger! ) he had a similar flight to mine topping out at 4100 feet and landing back after 1 hour and 10 minutes. Our 3rd sydicate partner had already headed home so there was some time to spare before we needed to derig. We offered Rick Wiles the chance to fly the Zugvogel. ( Instructors are included in our insurance cover ). Rick flew for about 30 minutes topping out at 3500 feet.

Roger's View of the airfield from the south looking north
Roger topped out at just over 4100 feet
After rescuing Allan from the winch, we quickly derigged the glider and washed the mud from the fuselage ( Roger had managed to find a soft spot in the runway ) before returning to the clubhouse to thaw out. At ground level the temperature had stayed about 3degrees all day.

Our special thanks to Allan Holland for the winch driving and to Alan Carter for helping us to get the glider ready without flying it.

A great flying day for experienced pilots.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 17th February 2018

The airfield is still too wet to fly although the recent improvement in the weather is suggesting that we will be flying soon.

Was this wasted day? No a bit of is. For the last week a team of members lead by Mike Bennett have morphed into Civil Engineers and  organised some major site improvements. For several years, the water draining off the airfield had gouged it's own ditch down the cross track making this track increasingly difficult to use. This has been banished for good.

Working on the drainage sump
The drainage pipe
A large drainage pipe has been installed to carry the water away, fed by a sump at the junction between the cross and main tracks. The cross track has been completely rebuild and refinished. While they were at it, Mikes crew have also relayed long stretches of the main track.

Jorg on the roller
A JCB and driver helped the effort
There were lots of members involved in this effort which involved endless hard, physical, working in poor weather, staying at the airfield through the night to receive the 200 tons of road plannings ( track material ), driving many miles with tractor, trailer and excavator ( thanks Phil) and generally lots of effort by all those involved. We thank you all.

A renewed section of track
Some of the crew at lunch

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 4th February 2018

With yesterday’s sharp showers only adding to the already waterlogged field, it did not take the brain of a mastermind to conclude that flying would not be possible.  The day was, however, a good drying day, with a steady north-easterly breeze (gusting 20 kts plus) hoovering moisture from the soil, and with a cold week in prospect let’s hope that by next weekend the field is flyable (see advert on the Forum re flying at NHL this Wednesday).

Early Day State of Play: Cloud over the Moor and Water on the pitch
– just too much of both!
And so a few refugees gathered to, amongst other things, study Bronze C meteorology and compare notes about K-6s until such time as the interior of the clubhouse more closely resembled that of a POW hut (the woodburner sucking in heat rather than dispensing it) and we disloyally voted to put our faith in the heaters of our cars and depart.

Looking towards Brentor from the east end of the runway.
Wave slot in view.
Later in the day, there was clear evidence of a wave system to the east of the moor - such a shame that the state of the field wouldn’t allow us to investigate (...grrr!)

Looking east. Tors are just visible beneath the roll cloud, plus a wave slot top left.
 Later in the day there was clear evidence of wave over Brent Tor.
But finally, whilst admitting that our sport is a but ‘nerdy’, attracting those who could be described as being ‘obsessive’, a limit of nerdiness was reached, if not surpassed, today by one member who, on watching a video of local soaring when the audio vario pipped, then bleeped, and finally screeched from 6 to 10 up said, “I’d like that on my alarm clock!” Identity of the accused (and forecast for the future of their marriage) may be obtained on receipt of a small bribe..!

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 28th January 2018

Another first for Dartmoor Gliding..!  Announcing that Burns’ Night Suppers have been a tradition since the fifth anniversary of the great Bard’s death in 1896, Master of Ceremonies (and Catering) Roger Appleboom informed the assembled company that there was no record anywhere of a Burns’ Night Breakfast being held, and hence that today’s occasion was yet another first for Dartmoor Gliding. 

Paula Howarth’s boyfriend Phil timorously releases the haggis to the table..!
Whereupon, with due pomp, drone and skirl of bagpipes the revered repast was marched in by Paula Howarth’s boyfriend, Phil, and timorously placed on the table (was it still alive?) whilst we reverentially said the ‘Selkirk Grace’, followed by a recording of Burns making his ‘Address to a Haggis’ (“Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face, Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race...”) on what appeared to be surprisingly clear audio. 

The assembled gathering participate in ‘The Selkirk Grace’.
Plunging into the haggis, lome sausage (Celtic and seasonal) plus the traditional neaps and tatties (well, baked beans actually...) it was then time to exchange “where we’re ats”, “what we’re ats” and “where we wanna be’s” for the forthcoming season; eg. is anyone up for an exped to Talgarth, or the Long Mynd this year??  (And don’t forget, if you need to get aerotow trained or just to maintain currency, the facilities at North Hill are available to us, particularly mid-week – just email CFI Mark Courtenay for a go ahead.) 

Dave Westcott on the look-out for escaped haggis...
Breakfast MC Roger Appleboom congratulates Phil on his expert Celtic delivery of the haggis.
Although the weather (in its manifestation of a totally waterlogged field) precluded flying, it was a warm and friendly gathering that eventually broke a little before midday, whilst others turned to more mundane tasks, such as working out how an artificial horizon works in a Discus 2 (ah, yes, press the ‘on/off’ switch..!) 

So with another Dartmoor first firmly established, it was a non-alcoholic “slàinte mhòr” (good health) and “Haste ye Back” (in time for our next social, which is to be on the evening of Friday 9 March, at 7pm in the old pub at Grenofen.  See advert from Mike Bennett on the Forum for details...)

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 27th January 2018

Good weather forecasting goes to the very heart of gliding. Image my reaction then to the news that a minor fire had disabled the Met Office Supercomputer, preventing it from running any forecast updates. Nothing for it but to reach for my own weather supercomputer. The seaweed came in wet (raining), half of it was missing (windy) and the little airsacks were plump and full (low atmospheric pressure). Weather forcasting sorted.

The water running off the airfield. The low cloud is almost obscuring the trees
Another no flying day. Was the airfield deserted? No the clubhouse was busy with our instructors practicing the delivery of lectures to each other and the assembled club members.

Mike Jardine in full flow
Later in the day the clubhouse became even busier when the Committee convened for their regular meeting.

Hoping for flying weather soon (please!!!)