Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 22nd April 2018

The forecast hinted that a depression over Northern Ireland would drag a cold front over Wales, that with luck we in the West Country would escape. RASP hinted that, following a mid-morning burst of sunshine, low cloudbase could become a limiting factor. And so, in true gliding fashion, there was nothing more to be said than “Let’s give it a go..!”

Morning Sky by Ed Borlase shows interesting prospects.
Turning the airfield around (from yesterday’s SE’ly wind) was successfully accomplished and, with an interesting looking sky (showing signs of wave downwind from Bodmin Moor) we started launching at a little after 1100.

Martin Cropper and visitor Mark Kennedy after Mark’s first flight.
With two One Day Courses and a Trial Lesson, plus an enthusiastic gaggle of club members, there was a lot to fit in. And from the very first launch there was a buoyancy, not only in the mood of those assembled, but in the air itself, providing visitor Mark Kennedy and Leith Whittington with 6 and 7 minute flights apiece on their first excursions into the sky.

Visitor Mark Kennedy in discussion with Leith Whittington under an interesting sky.
Visitor Ed Clarke, from Newton Abbot, prepares to aviate with Martin Cropper.
Roger Appleboom, always keen to avoid being sent to the winch, echoed that performance, before later announcing that his third flight was to be his 1,000th launch (a shame no-one had a cake handy, but we celebrated nonetheless!)

“All Your Launches and Landings Add Up..!”
Roger Appleboom celebrates his 1,000th flight.
As lunchtime turned into afternoon, however, the clear blue turned into a grey wall of cloud, gradually reducing launch heights from around 1,000ft to 700-800ft that, with intermittent rains showers sadly caused us to call it a day by about 1630. But that was not before all club members flew, at least two launches (with associated eventualities) – so there could be no accusation of being short changed, or deprived of an ‘interesting’ flight.

At the end of the day we welcomed the return of Peter Howarth from North Hill, having completed his Post Course Assessment and re-qualified as an Asst Cat Instructor, courtesy of Simon Minson and the team there. Well Done, Peter!

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 21st April 2018

Although the balmy temperatures of last week are now just a distant memory the forecast still looked favourable. Sunshine with possible showers. The forecasts differed on the wind direction, varying between East and South. Most agreed the wind strength would be 10 rising to 15 knots in the afternoon with possible gusty conditions later.

The  DGS pilots seemed to think that this would be a good day. The club aircraft of 2*K13 and the K8 were joined by 2*Astir CS, Steve Fletchers's Open Cirrus and Richard Roberts' beautiful Discus. The airtfield has dried out considerably with just a few soft patches to keep us on our toes. This was helped enormously by Scratch and the application of the roller both before and after flying. Thanks mate.

Today's Grid looks very untidy. "Keep them in line gentlemen"

Tee shirt and shorts were in evidence
Initially, flights were extended circuits in the seemingly bouyant air showing some wave influence but this quickly improved with lots of flights over half an hour in wave enhanced thermals. The longest flight was 1 hour and 1 minute by Allan Holland in the K8 who only returned to make the aircraft available for someone else to fly. One interesting  technique was to approach the downwind side of the showers passing through the area where large areas of rising air could be found. While demonstrating this to Matt Fletcher, today's One Day Course Candidate, I did mistime it a bit. I had intended to land and have enough time to walk the aircraft back to the launch point BEFORE the shower arrived. However, less than 1 minute after touchdown, it rained and I got very wet on the walk back in the shower which stopped 5 minutes later.

One Day Course Candidate Matt Fletcher
As well as One Day Course candidate Matt, we were also joined by visitor Robert Brown who enjoyed a soaring flight with Mike Jardine.

Visitor Robert Brown with Instructor Mike
The club training was handled by Rick and Mike with a cameo appearance from CFI Mark Courtney It was interesting to see that, after a couple of check flights, Mike Bennett flew solo and promptly enjoyed a soaring flight in DMX. By far the most encouraging flight today was Ged Nevisky, flying for the first time in almost a year after his medical challenges. Ged flew with Mark and had a thoroughly enjoyable flight.

Ged can just be seen in the back seat with Mark in front
A good day in which we completed 34 flights and proved that a K13 with 2 pilots could easily out soar a Discus. Who Knew?

The Discus returning to the launch point. Unseen is the K13 soaring above

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 14th April 2018

Finally there was some promise in a Saturday weather forecast. Driving to the airfield through the early morning fog led me passed several magnificent magnolia trees in full bloom which definitely raised spirits by reinforcing the idea that spring is finally winning it's battle against the winter weather.

Although there was blue sky above the airfield it was obvious that visibility was going to be relatively poor at perhaps 5 miles but with the fresh south easterly breeze sometimes swinging to the east it was game on.

K13's waiting to go.
The very keen group of assembled members quickly had the gliders and equipment ready to go. The early morning cloud revealed some wave bars in the area but by first launch these had all disappeared. The air was quite buoyant from the first launches but finding that elusive thermal was the order of the day. Several flights were extended beyond normal circuits and then suddenly things got going with 3 flights approaching the half hour mark. Later in the day, the wave made a re-appearance although it was never really very strong with definite bars giving 0 to 1/2 knots. Careful flying would allow extended soaring at launch height. Interesting.

One Day Course Candidate, Brian Cunningham, waiting for another flight
We welcomed Brian Cunningham today who joined us for a One Day Course. Brian was able to enjoy all the best soaring that the day had to offer and was making good progress flying the K13 by the end of the day. We also had visits from Martin Strawbridge and Chris Pope both of  who joined us for Air Experience flights.

Visitor Martin Strawbridge
Visitor Chris Pope and family
Instructor Rick Wiles was kept busy today with club members today all of whom were keen to re-establish their flying status after the winter lay offs. This seemed to involve quite a few practice launch failures which were handled efficiently by pilots and ground crew alike. Experienced pilot Joe Nobbs re-soloed after a lay off.

The gliders needed ( and  got ) a good wash at the end of the day
So what a day. Lots of flying with 36 flights in total. Thanks to all who helped, not just Heather for retrieve driving all day but also the winch drivers who provided a first class service all day and all those who helped moving the gliders around the somewhat muddy launchpoint and a special mention for Steve Raine who worked all day as log keeper.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 8th April 2018

Twenty launches, five flights to 2,500ft plus, seven simulated launch failures and a longest flight of 2hrs 27 mins made for a good day at Brentor today. 

Preparations began the evening before, at the AGM, when interest was expressed in the fair weather forecast, but concerns remained over the state of the field as the result of rain which did not clear until well into the afternoon.  An early morning inspection revealed that the launch/landing areas were ‘tenable’, but great care would be needed to avoid causing damage to other areas (which could be be described as a ‘curate’s mill pond’ – good in parts – if you’re a duck..!)  And so it proved that, on occasion, a great deal of teamwork was required to get the gliders from their resting places back to the track but, once there the passage back to the launchpoint was quick and uneventful. 

 K-8B illustrates the N-S divide in the sky that remained almost all day
A host of birds were making the best of the day, with buzzards in abundance exploiting the light northerly ridge lift, whilst skylarks aplenty and possibly the odd swallow made use of the lower air for feeding.

Buzzard approaching (many made the most of the day...)
Roger Appleboom showed the way in the soaring stakes, taking the K-8 to 2,500ft beneath a grey lump of cloud that set itself up just to the NE of the field, from where we (including Andy Davey and Steve Fletcher) obtained reliable lift all day. 

Leith Whittington (Dart 17R G-DRRT) returns after a 2.5hr flight.
As lunchtime approached Leith Whittington took the hint, got himself to 3kft and set off on a shuttlecock task between Tavistock and Callington that easily totalled more than Silver Distance in 2hrs 27 mins.  Steve Fletcher, Dave Downton and Ed Borlase enjoyed practising the delights of ‘abbreviated’ launches, whilst Dave Westcott went searching for lift.  Unfortunately for him, it was Ed Borlase who ‘pinched’ Dave’s sky, being fortunate in finding three thermals (starting over the point-to point racecourse) that took him to 3,000ft, from which there was only one way down: spinning..!

Ed Borlase approaching 1,000ft over Blackdown (he topped out at 2,950ft).
 A group of four horses rounding the final turn at the point-to-point races.
At the end of the day some very weary bodies (and quad bikes) towed the gliders back for a very thorough washing down, before a quick brew and off to reflect upon a day where we seemed to be just on the edge of the good weather. 

Well worth it.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 25th March 2018

We’re flying!  After a delay caused by ‘an Obstruction on the Runway’ (see photo), by lunchtime we were up and running, with check flights and simulated launch failures (cable breaks) aplenty as the instructing team strove to check out as many members as possible (in which they were fortuitously assisted by the addition of an hour’s daylight...) 

Delayed Due to an Obstruction on the Runway
And it wasn’t all ‘up, round and down’  as the light NW’ly and heat from that rare golden orb in the sky started to set off thermals in the valley to the north of the site, which were instantly spotted and taken advantage of by Andy Davey, Roger Appleboom and Peter Howarth in the K-8 (Roger reaching 1,800ft whilst Peter managed 2,200ft in their half-hour flights), whilst Mark Jerman shot to 1,600ft on his check flight before being told to get back on the ground and join the queue for the K-8! 

A packed grid under a promising sky...
Trainees Ed Borlase and Dave Westcott enjoyed the opportunity to get back in the groove under increasingly cloud-free conditions, whilst Leith Whittington did his best to line the Treasurer’s pockets with as many launches as possible in his Dart 17R (one of which included 2 minutes in wave...) and Rich Roberts fly his ever so sleek Discus for the first time from Brentor this year.  As the afternoon drew on (and Allan Holland was being checked out by Peter Howarth) we decided that low angle of the sun was becoming an increasing threat and hence it was time to pack the kit away safety – at 7pm! 

A successful day saw 25 launches achieved on the 25th day of the month.  Thanks go in bucket-loads to our winch drivers, Dave Downton and Roger Appleboom, who between them coped with nine simulated/real cable breaks, which with a nearly-90 degree crosswind resulted in the cable going over the boundary on a number of occasions, that can (it is suspected form the launchpoint end) cause a certain amount of, er, frustration... and opportunity to build  teamwork with the retrieve driver, of course..! Well Done Guys!

Martin Cropper