Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 22nd July 2018

I arrived at the airfield to find Leith and Phil starting to rig, but the hangar and clubhouse remained locked. This was down to a stubborn padlock that refused to open. After a lot of fiddling we eventually managed to gain access to the hangar and the clubhouse key. Time to put the kettle on for a morning cuppa, only the gas had run out so the generator was started and teas and coffees were soon served.

We then set about the tasks of getting the airfield ready for the days flying. First task was to bring the ML1 on line. Phil Hadwick set about moving the batteries from the Gus winch into ML1 and then towing the winch up on to the field. The airfield was soon set ready for flying. Unfortunately we were further delayed because the Twister Display Team had left their aircraft at the field overnight. The pilots finally arrived and after preparing the aircraft, departed shortly after 11:30. First launch was at 11:43.

Twister Display aircraft at airfield
Twister Display team leaving
First up was John Smith, a returning recent one day course student, who had three flights with me with another two later in the day.

We had a number of private owners that had rigged today. Leith in his Dart, Phil Hardwick in his Astir, Steve Fletcher in his Open Cirrus and Dave Downton in his K6. Also rigged for the first time was Dave Westcott’s K6 for Ed Borlase to convert to and subsequently becoming Dave’s syndicate partner
Colin Boyd was kept busy sorting out instrument problems in the K6’s and test flying both. Dave Westcott first had a flight in the K8 before he converted to his K6. Ed followed shortly after for his conversion flights. Both thoroughly enjoyed their flights.

David Westcott in his K6

Ed Borlase ready for his first flight in a K6
Our first visitor today was a prospective junior member who had two flights with me and some hands on the controls for the first time. A keen flight simulator pilot who will hopefully return and hone his skills in the air. His dad who has flown gliders in the past showed a keen interest in the aircraft and operations. Maybe two possible members.

Our junior member ready to fly with me.
Also Ed brought up Sharon Soper for a friend and family flight. She had two flights with Martin, the second was 32 minutes. She enjoyed both flights and managed not to scream on the second launch.

Sharon Soper and family.
Towards the end of the day, a strange sight was seen. Martin Cropper in a glider that was not a K13. He enjoyed a couple of flights in Dave’s K6.

Martin in the K6.
Josef Knobbs did a sterling job winching all afternoon before having three flights in the K8, which unfortunately were only circuits. The longest flights of the day were Steve Fletcher 1 hour 40 minutes and Phil Hardwick 1 hour 48 minutes.

Thanks to Joe & Alan for winching and everybody else who contributed to a good days flying. A total of 30 flights which was very good considering the late start.

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 21st July 2018

Today we hurried up to get the airfield ready so that we could wait. Early cloudbase was too low with clouds scudding by just a couple of hundred feet over our heads. To add insult to injury there was a little drizzle in the air. Not known to miss a opportunity, we used the time to re-assemle the newly refurbished club K8 and weigh it, moving it a large step forwards towards it's long awaited return to the fleet. It is looking nice and just needs a little fettling before it's ready to go.

Waiting to go. A shower clearly visible to the NE (left).
There was a bit of a dilemma choosing which end to set up from. The light breeze was very variable; one minute with a little east in it; then westerly; then nothing at all. Biting the bullet the decision was made to fly from the east end. By midday the cloudbase had risen sufficiently to permit flying to start, so it was off to the launch point under some very black looking clouds.The first few flights were unremarkable with the air showing little hints bubbly lift but not enough to enhance flight times much.

One Day Course Candidate Donald Macrea
Then came what was going to be the best flight of the day. Launching K13 G-CHXP with One Day Course candidate Donald Macrea, we managed to find a little area with some themal activity, enough to maintain height and eventually climb the 500 feet to cloudbase. To the north and east we could see showers. Looking south the sky was definitely clearer. With the light southerly breeze, the rising air was condensing just to the south of the airfield setting off lines of showers. Heading south we soon discovered that this edge of the clouds was very active with 4-6 knots of lift over a wide area. This allowed us to climb up the side of the clouds and enjoy some time turning to follow the uneven faces of the clouds well above the cloudbase. This was very reminiscent of flying in a convergence. All too soon the clouds were forming faster than we could avoid them so airbraking down to cloudbase was the only answer. We could stay airborne here easily for a while but the rain was growing towards the south quickly. It was pouring down on the airfield. To stay in the lift we ended up flying in the rain. There is something surreal about flying a K13 through rain at 60 knots with 4 knots up showing on the vario. As enjoyable as all this was it was time to go; Airbrakes out and a fast return to the runway. A couple of minutes later we were on the ground just as the current shower moved away to the north. Amazing.

Heading south, some spots of rain already on the canopy
We had a couple of other visitors today. Elizabeth Vanstone enjoyed a couple of flights with Rick. Our other "visitor" was ex member and pilot Matthew Wiles ( Rick's son ) who enjoyed a couple before flying with Rick and one with Mike Jardine. It was nice to see Matthew again and hopefully he will be coming back soon.

Steve explaining the instruments to Elisabeth withh Rick in the rear seat
A smiling Matthew with dad Rick
The other notable event today was the return to flight status of the very rare Schleicher K10. This single seat wooden glider is design evolution of the K6 series that led to the very popular K6E. Owned by Chris and Karon Matten, it was flown by Rick who now has an insurance share.   The flights were successful with Rick reporting very nice handling.

The K10 takes off in a light southerly crosswind
Our thanks as always to all the helpers who make this amazing sport possible


Dartmoor Gliding News- Wednesday 18th July 2018

Another Wednesday with instructor cover for afternoon and evening with 3 guest bookings awaited the regular Wednesday flyers. Unfortunately the day dawned grey and overcast. When I looked at the Met office forecast at 10.00 it predicted 30% to 40% light showers during the afternoon. The 4k RASP forecast predicted no rain with intermittent good thermalling on and off throughout the afternoon. Winds were forecast to be south moving steadily round during the day to SW.

As I drove to the field it was pouring with rain in Tavistock but dry at the airfield. At 11.00 Mike Bennet looked at the forecast in the club hut to see the Met office had changed the forecast since 10.00 and were now forecasting 80% chance of heavy rain all afternoon! The RASP still said dry.

Undaunted the crew set the field up with the launch point at the eastern end and the Gus Launch in the western end top field. The wind socks were showing a slight breeze of no more than 5 knots from the SE. Phil and I decided not to rig our gliders, a slight tail wind, gloomy clouds with heavy showers seen over Dartmoor didn't look promising.

In the Hangar the sorcerer and his apprentice continued to practice their dark arts on the clubs K8, wow what a transformation, Colin and Dave have done an amazing job.

Rick Wiles arrived a few minutes earlier than planned and with his usual optimism quickly flew with Bob Sansom a few times to get him back to currency whilst  Mike Jardine took my friend Steve Sherbourne for 4 flights. Steve having a go at the controls and flying very well according to Mike.

Steve Shebourne and Mike
Initially no one could find any lift but on their last flight Mike and Steve reported something happening to the North. Mike Bennet and Bob flew Bob's K8 and both reported sink to the South. Something was obviously starting to happen, whilst mainly overcast there were a few broken bits in the cloud cover. 

Rick Wiles flew our visitor Ernest Tidbury and managed 11 mins on the second flight reporting back that there was some very weak lift in places.

Ernest Tidbury with Rick
My turn in Bob's K8 so a hunting I did go. I found a weak thermal to the North of the Winch which after persevering for 10 minutes I eventually managed to get some height, the thermal strengthened but was quite tight, eventually getting me over 2000 feet and allowing me to get away. I found a good line of energy from Mary Tavy towards Hurdwick which allowed me to climb at 2 knots in a straight line for about 2 miles so I worked that a few times before deciding I should return and let someone else have a go, maybe I should have rigged the Cirrus after all!

 Rick flew Carole Hopcroft who returned for her second flight after last weeks disappointing short one and found a nice thermal getting to 2400 feet, a lovely 17 minute soaring flight.

 Landing in the K8  I was surprised to see the Windsock was now showing a steady Northerly breeze, it had changed from South Easterly to Northerly during my short 46 min flight.

Other than a few drops of water which couldn’t be called rain that landed on my canopy the day reminded dry.

A big thank you to Phil and Barry who didn’t fly but winched all afternoon and to Heather for driving the retrieve and fetching and carrying visitors. The last flight saw Rick taking a smiling Heather  aloft. Thank you heather for also cleaning the club hut, making tea and smiling at everyone.

Steve Fletcher

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 15th July 2018

Yet another good soaring day, with RASP predicting 4.5  during the afternoon. And so it proved from the get-go, with first launch Ed Borlase, in the K-8, managing 53 mins, achieving 4,000ft plus (see photo), to be succeeded by another in the afternoon of 32 mins.

Ed Borlase’s view from the cockpit of the K-8 as he passes 2,400 ft during his 53 min morning flight.
Indeed conditions were so good that we were treated to a visit by our CFI at lunchtime, no not in his car but by air, although he didn't land for a cup of tea as 'the sea breeze was already in evidence' and so he headed back north to the clouds and guaranteed lift.

From 4,000 ft, sea breeze approaching from the SE is clearly in evidence;
there were still some areas of strong lift, however, as the cumulus shows.
Back on the ground there was a definite 'teccy' feel to the day, as Inspector Colin Boyd sought to rectify instrument faults with newly ARC-ed K-13 HXP, whilst Dave Downton investigated problems with the ASI in his immaculate K-6E. The K-13 problems occasioned a happy coincidence as, without prior warning, we were visited by Les Saker, Technical Officer from Mendip GC, who just happened to be in the area with his wife attending a dog show. It wasn't long before his head was in the innards of the K-13, the instrument panel screws virtually undoing themselves in respect of such expert attention. Once Les had completed a re-plumbing of the varios, a second test flight showed that instruments in both cockpits were in general agreement, in celebration of which we extended the flight to become a 2,500ft half-hour tour of the local area (which he didn't know).

Mendip GC’s Technical Officer Les Saker gives Colin Boyd a hand with the K-13.
Later in the afternoon (by which time the sea breeze had really begun to seep in) Ed Borlase's F&F guest, Steve Goldthorp was given a quarter of an hour's tour of the same area.

Ed Borlase’s F&F guest Steve Goldthorp is ready to go with Martin Cropper.
As the sky became bluer, albeit there were still areas of strong lift to be found, the intense sink between those areas caused us to question if those who wanted to had, and those who hadn't were happy not to – as a result of which we repacked the hangar happy in knowledge of having two K-13s back in service, and a K-8 that had spent more time above 2,000ft today than below it.

Placing the winch in the middle of the top field gives a really encouraging advantage in time and finding thermals (launches to 1,200-1,300ft, instead of 900-1,000ft) and getting centred in them – well done to whoever thought of it..!

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 14th July 2018

Approaching the airfield under a mostly blue sky with the beginnings of some cumulus to whet the appetite of the soaring pilot (cumulus of this type show thermal activity and position), it was obviously going to be a good day. A song by Louis Armstrong kept surfacing from my subconscious.

"I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world"

The airfield was a hive of activity as people streamed out of the daily briefing by Instructor Rick Wiles. The airfield and aircraft were readied in quick time. The breeze today was westerly about 5 or 6 knots. Lovely.

The midday sky looked inviting
Right from the first flight it was soarable. It was not easy to get away with very small thermal cores (bubbles?) low down requiring constant recentering but with increasing height conditions became easier. Above 2000 feet it was easier to stay up than to come down. On the first flight cloudbase was encountered at 3500 feet above the airfield but by 2pm this had risen to 4500+ feet  (5300 feet above sea level)

Looking over Tavistock towards Plymouth from the 4500 feet cloudbase.
The Tamar and Tavy estuaries shining in the haze
Did the pilots make good use of the conditions. Of course they did, with numerous soaring flights, 5 of which were in excess of 1 hour. Longest flight was by Steve Fletcher in his Open Cirrus with 2 hours 12 minutes. The club K8 did 3 flights over an hour.

Steve Fletcher approaching Roadford
We hosted a One Day Course today with candidate David Murphy. David enjoyed lots of soaring and finished his course with a flourish by flying more than half of a 1 hour 3 minute flight himself. Great stuff. We also welcomed John Smith who was returning to gliding after many years of absence. John has about 50 hours solo and had a couple of flights with Rick. Lets hope he gets bitten by the flying bug again.

David Murphy and myself getting ready for our first flight
David turning the K13 in a 5 knot thermal at 4000 feet
John Smith ready to fly with Rick
Our thanks must go especially to Scratch who drove the winch all day. The launches very nice all day mate. Heather was once again on duty in the retrieve. Thank you too.

What a wonderful world?. "Oh Yeah"


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 12th July 2018

The RASP was looking good for the morning but very flat for the afternoon and evening. Unfortunately, flying today was always going to start late as supervising instructor Rick was not due at the airfierld until 3.30.

A large number of members turned up to help with various jobs or tinker with their gliders. More members turned up in the afternoon to help with the late afternoon and evening flying over seen by Rick. With a dull over cast sky across the area no one bothered to rig and with the airfield finally set up the first of our trial flight visitors, Dennis O'Connor donned his parachute and walked toward the awaiting glider.

Dennis O'Connor and Rick under a grey sky
Then came a challenge. During the one and a half hours between delivering glider DMX to the eastern end of the airfield and us being ready to fly it the main wheel tyre decided to deflate. Thankfully there was a spare wheel with inflated tyre in the hangar and whilst not as quick as a Formula 1 team the wheel was changed in a very fast time. See picture.

Not a Formula 1 trye change but fairly speedy not the less
It was obvious though that another event must have been happening as the number of people on the airfield was definitely thinning out as the afternoon went on ( World Cup football ??), luckily there were enough members who weren’t that interested in watching 22 millionaires kick an inflated bladder around a piece of grass who stayed on to keep things going. 

Rick and Dennis launched into a grey sky with no thermals to help stay aloft they were back down after 5 mins so Rick took Dennis up again for another flight. The same story for our second visitor of the day, Chris Harris.

Chris Harris
Our Last visitor was Carole Hopcroft who had a short flight and landed just before some light rain passed over the airfield. With gloomy dark grey clouds and that light rain hanging around Rick wisely took the decision to stop flying for the day and invited Carole to return next Wednesday.

Carol Hopcroft
It is difficult for this not to be a disappointing day after the fabulous soaring weather we have had recently.

Steve Fletcher

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 8th July 2018

With high pressure and warm weather continuing, driving to the airfield it looked like another hot day was in store for us again. The usual crew of Sunday soarers set about setting up the airfield ready for flying.

Our one day student was Becky Woodward from Kingsbridge. Gliding was another adventurous sport to try on her list. Becky was a bit anxious about flying but some encouraging words from myself and also Colin Boyd saw her complete the days flying and by the end was able to fly the glider using all three controls, Well done Becky.

Becky ready to fly with me
Our other visitor was Richard Grigg who had a 27 minute soaring flight with Martin.

Richard getting ready to fly with Martin.
Our solo pilots Leith Whittington, Colin Boyd, David Westcott and Ed Borlase only managed circuits in the K8, although Leith did extend one to 17 minutes. David had earlier managed 33 minutes solo in the K13. Phil Hardwick managed 1 hour and 8 minutes in his Astir. The longest flight of the day was Roger Green in his Zugvogel. 2 hours and 39 minutes visiting Oakhampton, Roadford Reservoir and Plymouth. See pictures below.

Roadford Lake
Near Plymouth
Thanks to Phil, Dave and Roger for winching, although Roger didn’t fly. Also everybody else for their help running the field today. Just a reminder to everybody that during this hot weather we must all drink plenty of water and look out for each other throughout the flying day. Sun cream and hats also vital.

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 7th July 2018

Another hot day in this long run of lovely summer weather. The pressure remains high as does the temperature with the thermometer topping out at 29 degrees. The light breeze, such as it was, moved around from south east to south eventually settling to westerly by late afternoon but never stronger than about 5 knots. This was a little bit of a puzzle as the RASP forecast winds were from the north.

The airfield hiding in the cloud shadows from 3000 feet
Early on thermals were in the blue but as the day progressed some cumulus bubbled up to help to guide the soaring pilots. It was soarable right from the first launch but early on it needed some attention and a little luck to get away. By far the best flight of the day was by Mike |Jardine flying his Astir CS who was airborne for 3 hours and 12 minutes. There were several other flights around the hour mark.

Mike Jardine's view of the K8 while soaring over a very green looking Black Down
We welcomed 3 visitors today. Steve Butler, Anthony Pain and Ivan Kingdom all of whom enjoyed soaring flights with their Introductory Flight Vouchers. Each had a good chance to try out the controls during their flights. It has to be said that it was very hot in the K13, particularly after closing the canopy before the launch commenced. Perhaps I have gone soft and got too used to the air con in my car.

Steve Bultler and his granddoughter
Anthony Pain
Ivan Kingdom with Rick and the K13
Our thanks once again to Heather for her retrieve driving, and out winch drivers who were suffering in the heat in the GusLaunch winch which came back online today after an engine rebuild.

Looking at Roadford from the 3500 foot cloudbase.
A good day.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 30th June 2018

The current high pressure weather continues. The pressure has lowered a couple of hectopascals with a line of showers in the SW approaches threatening thunder storms this evening. The wind remains light easterly. Air temperatures were 29 degrees+ all day.

Was this part of a wave system? The beginnings of the roll cloud is in the foreground
For the most part the sky was blue and would remain this way throughout the day except for a peculiar looking roll cloud orientated east west. Was this set off by a different wave system? Was it a so called "Morning Glory" cloud? ( no sniggering please ). This cloud moved steadily to the north throughout the morning and early afternoon. Underneath it there was no apparent effect on soaring; at least. not at the heights we were flying at.

Underneath The roll cloud.
The roll cloud moving north
Initially flights showed very little rising air but by about 12.30 there were some strong thermals bubbles to be found along with some large areas of sink. This was the wave enhanced thermals that we have got used to over the last few weeks; strong, very small cores needing constant centering to use effectively; great fun and challenging in equal amounts. One pilot reported a weakish wave bar at 3000 feet but lost height pushing forward to find the hopefully stronger primary wave bar ( remember those areas of strong sink ) and then was too low to find the wave again. I am sure there is a lesson in there somewhere.

Even Brentor looks parched as the hot spell continues
Looking towards the runway from the west. Can you spot the K6 soaring a little lower?
There was lots of soaring throughout the day with many flights in excess of 30 minutes. Longest flight of the day was by Barry Green who flew his K6 for 1 hour 7 minutes only coming back to make the aircraft available for his syndicate partner.  

Richard Eastmond and family
Today we hosted 2 One Day Course candidates, Kevin Matthele and Richard Eastmond both of whom enjoyed soaring and learning to fly the K13 with me in the hot conditions.

One day Course Candidate Kevin
Our thanks once again must go to Heather for her retrieve driving, to the winch drivers for their patience sat in the winch watching everyone else soaring ( as a pilot this is VERY frustrating) and to those members who managed the puncture repair on DMX with the speed and agility befitting a Fornula One team ( well nearly).


Dartmoor Gliding News-Armed Services Day

Saturday 30th July was Armed Services Day in Plymouth. As part of this there was an air display on Plymouth Hoe. There was also another display centred on Sheeps Tor on the moor.