Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 28th December 2019

The weather was much calmer today with light winds and no rain. Unfortunately, the cloud base was barely above the top of the trees all day, in fact even the church was in the cloud all day. This is maybe 200 feet above the runway.

There were a lot of members on the field today, all determined to push our current projects forward. The majority put their minds to the roof for the vehicle hangar. Over the course of the day all the roof fittings were assembled onto the inner edges of the 2 containers. The metal roof trusses were sorted and assembled but here the project hit a slight hiatus. We now need some mechanical help to raise the roof trusses into position. They are too heavy and unwieldy to do this by hand. Watch this space for the next instalment.

Team working on the Vehicle Hangar Project
Instructors Mike and Rick fitting the roof base to the northern container

"Good view from here Petunia"
Notice the very low cloud and  K6 FUB out of it's trailer
Team effort- testing the fit of the arch
While all this fun was being had, Roger and Barry Green along with me dug as trench from the generator house to the first container, installed an armoured cable between the two and then back filled after first laying in the warning tape to ( hopefully ) stop the cable being dug up in the future. This was quite heavy work and reminded me that i'm definitely getting older. New years resolution - go to the gym.

Roger swinging the pick
Good looking trench

The tape over the cable to protect future members
In the hangar, Mike Bennet and Hugh Gascoyne were conducting major refurbishment to their K6 trailer which also involved quite a bit of welding from Scratch. Scratch always seems to have the welder out. Big boy toys obviously.

Mysterious goings on in the hangar
In the clubhouse the newly improved simulator was put to good use particularly by Dave Archer who manager a fairly long session practicing control co-odination and attitude control using a simulated Duo Discus. Good ambitions Dave.

Dave in the simulator making another left turn
Lets hope for flying weather soon.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 21st December 2019

The weather forecast remains grim. Today was calm in the morning with blustery, heavy showers later, giving way to longer periods of rain.  The airfield is very wet and even in the morning calm the southerly breeze was blanketing the airfield with low, orographic cloud.

Low cloud over the church
So on with the maintenance work. Scratch, assisted by Rick, had the welder out again to replace the inner gate post which was cut off on Wednesday to get the somewhat oversize container lorry onto the site. The gatepost was then finished off by Phil and Steve Fletcher replace the fence and signs which are attached to the gatepost.

Rick and Scratch working on the gatepost
Post. fence and signs all restored.
Steve and Phil also replaced the Airfield main gate sign which also had to be removed for the lorry. Meanwhile, Colin turned up to do a little painting on a glider wing. Malcolm and I took the opportunity to service the water drainage on the left hand side of the entrance. This entailed a lot of digging out mud and leaves, rodding through the pipes ( something the members seemed to find funny ?? ) and restoring the brick protection over the pipe ends.

Me sorting out the drainage ( Why was this funny?)
At this point it was decided that a tea break was in order but after re-emerging from the clubhouse it was obvious that the rain was only minutes away so it was a quick tidy up and the back indoors for lunch.

After lunch it was indoor work only which mostly entailed fitting the simulator with a new controller. After much fettling and a little swearing the finished controls are now silky smooth make the simulator even more realistic to use.

Rick  delving in the back of the simulator
The Simulator in action.
( A clue to the identity of the pilot is that he is flying from the back seat.) 
Today is the Winter Solstice so at least the days will start to lengthen from here. I could almost kid myself into thinking that summer is on the way ( Well at least it is downhill from here )


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 18th December 2019

Wednesday the 18th was the big day when the first of our containers was scheduled to arrive. Everything was organised and the lorry would have a crane to hoist it into position. The Saturday crew had put blocks in place ready for the Containers to stand on, these were set precisely at the correct positions and levels, using Laser leveling and black arts beyond me, everything was planned to the finest detail! I did ask whether the lorry would fit through the gates and was assured that it wouldn’t be a problem so what could possibly go wrong?

The club was informed that it would get here around midday. The Wednesday fliers had originally hoped to arrive early and get the field set up and gliders up onto the field ready to fly before the container arrived, but that was before the rain continued over the days and nights leading up to Wednesday. As Wednesday neared, the weather forecast deteriorated and in the end correctly forecast low cloud and silly winds! So no hurry in getting to the airfield then as there wouldn’t be any flying and the container wasn’t due to arrive until midday. Unfortunately no one told the driver he wasn’t expected until midday and he duly turned up at 8.30. Luckily a small group of early birds had already arrived and opened up the gates, lit the fire and Mike made tea.

The Lorry and the Entrance  ( sounds like a pub name)
But the lorry was now stuck in the entrance to the club, being 60 feet long and articulated it couldn’t make the turn so club members duly demolished gate posts and fencing and removed the DGS sign on the road so that the Lorry could get in. See picture. The cab end of the Lorry with the crane weighed 23 tons, the trailer was 7 tons and the the container 4 tons making an all up weight of 34 tons!

Once through the gate the driver deftly reversed into the area where we wanted the container placed. Mike made some more tea. Watching the driver put out the hydraulic stabilisers and jacks was very interesting. Eventually the container was lifted into place by the Lorry's crane (rated to 82 tons).

Impressive crane
With a club member on each corner the container was put into place but with winds of 20 mph gusting 40 it took quite a bit of effort to get the container onto its marks. Once in place Mike made some more tea (see picture).

The outriggers balancing the load
From the moment the lorry got stuck in the entrance way to the point he drove out was around 2 hours, pretty good going really. Once he left we settled down in the club hut whilst Heather cleaned the club hut and put up the Christmas Decorations. Mike made some more tea.

DAY two


Everyone arrived early for the second container. No problems at the entrance as it was now 6 feet wider! With less wind the container was more easily placed onto the correct marks. We measured the distances between the containers, front, back, tops and bottoms with Phil and Scratch giving the thumbs up that all was well. This time it had taken just 1 hour from start to finish, as there was no Mike we drank less Tea.

Making it look easy in the gentle breezes
Left a bit. Checking the final position
You will note that the Trailers are marked CMA CGM, its been suggested that this stands for Club Maintenance Area and Colin’s Glider Maintenance which sums up what the containers will be used for.

Containers in position ready for the roof
A huge thank you to all the club members who turned up to help on Saturday, Wednesday and Thursday when no flying was ever going to happen but important work was done instead, Thank you

Steve Fletcher

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 14th December 2019

The airfield is very wet and, with the strong, gusty winds, it was decided that we would not fly even though the wind was forecast to calm down in the afternoon.

"It is an ill wind that blows nobody any good" or so the saying would have you believe. Well today's ill wind provided plenty of good as it ensured that there was a large number of helpers to dig the holes and set out the bases for the containers that are due to arrive later this week as part of the "Winch Garage Project".

Digging holes in seemingly random places
The real boss today was the laser level
looking a bit like a three legged extra terrestrial
Most of the gang
There was a surprising amount of work in this task to get the bases in the exact position at the correct levels. At times it almost looked like we knew what we were doing with pickaxes and shovles flying and the laser level beeping it's approval.

Taking down the windsock showing that the wind had abated by late afternoon
Thank you everyone for the help and patience.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 7th December 2019

Well what can I say The weather gods seem to have a plan to keep our Saturday flyers on the ground. Today was no exception with very low cloud and fog making it difficult to see the runway letalone fly from it.

Runway in the mist
 Was the airfield deserted? No it was quite busy actually. In the clubhouse there was a well attended First Aid course which continued throughout the day. No offence, but I hope we don't need their newly acquired skills any time soon.

First Aid Course in full flow
Meanwhile, in the hangar, Scratch was busy repairing the hydraulic jacking mechanism on the Supercat winch which had managed to bend it's mounting brackets. By the end of the day this was better than new and, as a bonus, the locking mechanism on the towing hook from the Zetor tractor had been improved. Also in the hangar. Colin had continued with the fabric repair to HXP wing.

Welder at work. Scratch wrestling with part of the Supercat
Colin at work in the Hangar
On the airfield the surrounding areas have been searched for truant strops but none were found. Not a surprise really as the Supercat winch seems not to promote weak leak breakage.

Last Saturday, the members spent a happy couple of hours erect a new tool shed for all the ground working and gardening tools and Scratch fitted as new rear wheel hub to one of the quadbikes.

Scratch welding up the new wheel hub.
More welding? Bit of a theme here!
Outdoor toolshed
Hoping for better weather on a Saturday soon.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 4th December 2019

With a forecast light variable winds, the main decision to make was which end to fly from. Having put up a windsock this confirmed the RASP forecast which gave a light northeasterly, possibly backing to a more easterly flow in the afternoon. So the field was set up to fly from the west end.

View from the launchpoint at start of the day
The first flight took off at 09:56 with Robin Wilson and myself in the K13.

Robin preparing to fly.
We were visited to day by Paul Davie a BI from London Gliding Club. He was at Dartmoor to view Leith’s Dart with a view to buy. He was keen to fly and sample the views that our club offers of Dartmoor and surrounding area. After a couple of flights he was even more keen to possibly return and fly with us again. We look forward to Paul joining us in the future.

Paul Davie set to fly
The K8 was kept busy, with Steve Fletcher, Andy Davey, Barry Green, Martin Broadway Malcolm Wilton Jones and Bob Sansom all taking turns to maintain recency.

Hugh Gasgoine Jumped into the back seat of the K13 and flew me around practicing patter and flying in preparation for BI training next year.

After a long stint getting conversant with the supacat winch, Martin Cropper returned to the launch point and jumped into the K8. He could be seen circling to the north of the airfield and eventually returned after 19 minutes.

Martin happy thinking he had achieved flight of the day.
Having completed the flying list for the K13, I decided to jump into the K8 after Martin. I launched with Martin’s words of wisdom “He’ll be after the longest flight” ringing in my ears. So could I do it. Circling in weak lift which was only enough to maintain height and even make a modest climb of 100ft, I returned after 22 minutes to  pip Martin’s time.

Synchronised retrieve of the K13 and K8.
Whilst I was flying Phil Hardwick jumped into the back seat of the K13 to practice BI patter and flying with Martin.

Thank you to winch drivers, retrievers and all who helped at the launch point.  We achieved a steady launch rate throughout the day and achieved 25 flights which is good for this time of year.

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 1st December 2019

North-east; North-west? With the forecast predicting a north-easterly (with the prospect of wave, and the airfield set up for easterly launching), but the windsock showing north-west, so what to do? In the best traditions of gliding we went with what we could see ie. the windsock, and changed ends to launch into the north-westerly.

K-13 ready to launch from the east end at the start of the day.
Two launches with Roger Appleboom later, which confirmed that the cloudbase was anywhere between 800 and 1,000ft agl, and the sink rate anywhere between 2-8 kts, the windsock settled in the north-east, thus forcing us to change ends again..! (Perhaps a more sage and patient Duty Instructor would have sat back with their cup of tea, and waited…)

Dave Downton and Peter Howarth begin their ground run in DMX.
So you can imagine that this did not do wonders for the launch rate or total. That said, everyone flew who wanted to (a brave bunch of aviators…) To be fair, the cloudbase did lift, the sun came out and the wind strength did moderate a little as the day went on. The consistent feature, however, was the vicious sink to windward which, combined with the brisk wind called for pilots to lay off, monitor the vario and be on their toes in the circuit to ensure that their final turns did not leave them halfway towards Tavistock fighting to get back to the centreline.

Martin Cropper and Dave Downton are the first couple
to be voted off in the DG Strictly Silly Hat competition..!
Which, it must be said (with grateful thanks), that all pilots did and hence that, in addition to Roger A, Dave Downton, Ed Borlase and Phil Hardwick should be ‘reet proud’ of themselves in meeting today’s challenging conditions.

Ed Borlase practices his panning skills as
Phil Hardwick puts his pedal to the metal in the Zetor on the north side of the airfield...
 ...in order to capture Ray Boundy and Martin Cropper on approach from the west end.
We also welcomed new-to-Sunday trainee member John Allen, one of the sailing fraternity who regaled us with tales of long soaring flights during the summer (slight temporal meteorological shift incurred today) and returning member Ray Boundy, who demonstrated that he has not lost his touch despite an interruption of some two decades in his flying.

Prospective new member John Allen in conversation with Martin Cropper.
DMX shows a ‘clean pair of heels’ as it gets aloft in the clear late afternoon sunshine.
By 4pm the onset of misting on the canopies had us scurrying back to the clubhouse, and by 4:30 the site was silent. Thanks go, as ever, to winch drivers Phil Hardwick and Dave Downton and all those who put up with multiple end-changes with cheerful patience…

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 16th November 2019

After what seems like weeks of rain, the forecast today was predicting a mostly dry day. The wind was light and variable between N and NE. The airfield was set up with the launchpoint at the west end and the Supercat winch at the east end.

The morning briefing was well attended and it was obvious as we were only fielding one K13 and one K8 we would need to stay efficient to ensure everyone had the flying that they wanted.

Te sky looked like this for most of the day
By 10:30 the early morning orographic low cloud had moved away and it was game on. The launch point stayed on track all day with no unexpected delays. Launching from the west always gives a lower launch rate than flying from the east as the launching aircraft are delayed by the landing ones. The top field is far too wet to touch down there other than in an emergency.

The first few flights were treated to the view of the lower clouds moving away to the north
Never the less by last launch at 4:30 we had achieved 31 launches including 6 launches with our One Day Course candidate Philip Dent and 3 launches with new member John Allan who returned today to commence his flying training after completing a successful One Day Course several weeks ago. Everyone who wanted to fly did so and the instructors even managed to give extra flights to our trainess as the worked down the flying list for a second time.

One Day Course candidate Philip Dent  
New member John Allan being briefed by today's instructor Mike Jardine
Excellent team work everyone. And was there any soaring? Well no, even though the sky looked like there were wave bars around, the longest flight of the day was a lowly 8 minutes. But trying was fun anyway.

Philip Dent watches the K8 after helping to launch it
The K8 launching into a mostly Blue sky

Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 13th November 2019

The day started smoothly with a small band of members keen to set the field and fly before the forecast rain arrived sometime after midday. Although the forecast predicted south-westerly winds, the windsock indicated a definite easterly component. So we plummeted that the easterly component would stay whilst flying could be done and the winch was towed to the east end.

We were delayed in starting due to the delivery of the new shelter for the winch. The organised help to offload the pallet was not available so I had to go in search of Mr Stacy’s son to bring the forklift. This was soon done and flying could commence.

Pallet offloaded to await the next stage.
First up was John Smith. After a circuit and launch failure, he was allowed to add another solo flight to his total.

John returning to the airfield.
The solo pilots took turns to maintain recency with circuits in the K8. Steve Fletcher, Hugh Gasgoyne, Malcolm Wilton-Jones and Andy Davey managed flights of 4 to six minutes.

K8 returning past the K13.
We were joined by Robin’s friend and family, Mike Boyde. A power pilot who last flew in a glider 53 years ago. Steve Lewis took Mike for a flight ahead of the approaching rain.

Mike and Robin.
Thank you to Phil Hardwick and Hugh for winching and the couple of pilots who helped but were unable to fly due to the arrival of the rain. With the aircraft safely back in the hangar it was time for a warming cup of tea and coffee before traveling home. Only 8 flights, but most flew who wanted to.

Peter Howarth