Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 21st April 2019

A day of triumph over almost unremitting adversity. Hopefully Millennials, and Generation Zs, for whom reality is virtual, will never have to experience 'real life' as we did today: those born into a more manual age, however, will recognise the sort of thing: tractors that won't start, trailers that don't disengage, winches with no batteries, brakes or radios and crosswinds that consistently fail to follow the forecast – in short, today everything we touched seemed to turn to custard...

One Day Course student Alan Mills being briefed by Instructor Peter Howarth.
One Day Course student Tom Mills ready to fly with Instructor Martin Cropper.
Not that our One Day Course students, father and son team Alan and Tom Mills, seemed at all perturbed, and we did at least manage to give them 5 of their 6 launches each, Dad Alan being treated to a 16 minute soaring flight with Peter Howarth before lunch.

Amber Poulostides ready for a soaring flight with Instructor Peter Howarth.

Martin Cropper closes the canopy on visitor Andy Poulostides.
Our other visitors were, courtesy of Ed Borlase, photographer Andy Poulostides and his wife Amber, who had travelled from London to experience the beauty of flight over Dartmoor. And, thanks once again to Peter Howarth's nose for a thermal, it was Amber who was delighted to soar over the moor for 24 minutes.

Visiting photographer Andy Poulostides’s enchanting view of beech trees over the road near the club.
Keen to ensure that our solo stratosphere seekers were given an opportunity to exploit the best of the day (RASP giving a prediction of 5.5 by 1430) we stood down the two-seaters to launch Roger Green (FRW), Richard Roberts (V5), Roger Appleboom (CBY) and Leith Whittington (RRT) into a largely blue sky. At which juncture they promptly fell out of it! It has to be said, however, that with relights most improved their scores: Roger to 10 minutes, Leith to 16 and Richard completing a 2½ hour O/R to North Hill (see GPS download), about which he said, “Hard to get away, then directly over Dartmoor was booming to 6,400ft, straight glide to NHL...Made my way back west in the blue, occasional cu until back to Dartmoor, then booming back up to 5,500ft. Good to hear the SW cross-country crew out and about in the area.”

“Missed it..!”  Instructor Martin Cropper watches K-13 HXP launch.

GPS trace of Rich Roberts’s 145km flight to North Hill and return.
Despite all this excitement, however, event of the day had to be Dave Westcott and Ed Borlase's first flights of the season in their cherry red cherub, K-6CR G-CEWO. This beautiful bird, once resident at North Hill, looked absolutely stunning on the ground, and is even more so in her element, as our library photo shows. We wish Dave and Ed many, many hours of enjoyable flying as they extend their boundaries to Bronze and beyond.
Cherry red cherub K-6 G-CEWO awaits her first flight of the season as one of the K-13s launches.
Delightful view of G-CEWO in flight over Devon before her arrival at Brent Tor.
At the end of the day (which had been quite testing for some, given the abundance of heavy sink) it has to be said that we achieved quite a lot in our 26 launches and that our Member of the Day Award should most definitely go to Roger Appleboom who, from early light, imperturbably tackled each problem as a challenge, then drove the winch (when the first 'up-slack' must have tripled his hearth rate..!) and finally managed to pilot his glider for a couple of soaring flights. And thanks go to everyone who also contributed today (including late arrival Jo Nobbs who, deciding not to fly, had only a speaking part...)

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 20th April 2019

With a light easterly breeze, a forecast temperature of 23 C ( somewhat in excess of Marbella - I've wait quite a while to be able to write that ), and a blue sky, tee shirt and shorts, soaring hats and sun screen were the order of the day. The club fielded the 2*K13's and 2*K8's which were joined by the Zugvogel 3B and the Open Cirrus from the private fleet.

A welcome visitor. Ex member Alan Carter about to launch
Was today going to be soarable? We were hoping so but high pressure conditions sometimes put a lid on that ( literally). The first launch at 11am  was just a circuit in smooth air with our One Day Course candidate Lydia Fenelley. But Lydia's 2nd flight was much better. There was a little disturbance in the otherwise smooth air to the north side of the launchpoint. A little searching and turning found that this was a thermal about 2 knots low down but it soon built to an astonishing 8 knots higher up which whisked us to the inversion at 3600 feet above the airfield. Lydia took good advantage of this to learn to operate the controls and by the time we landed 43 minutes later was quite happily flying the aircraft around.

One Day Course candidate Lydia sporting a fetching borrowed hat
Today's entry into the guess the back of the head competition - Lydia turning us left
This flight encouraged the launchpoint into action and we were soon joined by the other K13 pilotted by Ged with today's instructor Mike Sloggett, followed by Roger Green in the Zugvogel who recorded the longest flight of the day at 1 hour 39 minutes, Stephen Fletcher in the Open Cirrus 1hour 22 minutes. Roger reported finding a thermal that had broken through the inversion and he topped out at 4600 feet.

The dark line marks the inversion
The day settled into this pattern with lots of soaring in the amazingly buoyant conditions. Lots of the flights started with a climb in what became today's "house" thermal. This 6 to 8 knot beauty was in a position between the winch and Mary Tavy just on the edge of the next hill. Sage conjecture at the launchpoint decided that this was a wave effect.

The airfield and Blackdown both look very dry already
Roger Green's view as he turns in a thermal

We also welcomed visitor Janet Ellard who probably needs a medal for persistence as she had made 4 previous attempts to fly with us only to be thwarted by the weather each time. Today made up for that with a great soaring flight.

Visitor Janaet waiting to fly
Team Janet
Thanks to all those who helped and showed remarkable patience dealing with today's challenges with aircraft tyres and misbehaving winches.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 17th April 2019

The day that the forecast didn’t forecast.

The forecast was for light easterly winds that would steadily increase as the day went on. Richard arrived and confidently predicted that RASP and soundings gave little indication of wave today. We got the airfield, K13 and a K8 ready to fly and private owners decided not to rig. First flight was at 09:43 with John Smith and myself in the K13. A short delay was made to fix a noisy wheel on the K13. A missing spacer was the culprit and soon sorted by Colin. The third flight of John’s showed some signs of lift, but not really useable.

At 11:05 Steve Fletcher took off in the K8. He could be seen steadily climbing and finally returned after 1:02. We welcomed Steve’s Friend and Family, Steve Sherbourne. He has some previous gliding experience and also flew with us in April 2018. We had a 19 minute flight in weak wave and climbed to 1700 ft. Activity could be seen on the ground where the second K8 was liberated from the hangar and Richard driving down the airfield to rig.

Steve Sherbourne happy after his wave flight
Richard (Discus) and Malcolm (K8) launched, but conditions had changed and was now more thermic rather than wave. They managed 27 and 24 minutes respectively. Bob Sansom flew with me working towards re-soloing in the near future and had a couple of extended flights.

K8 FXB on the airfield again
Phil Hardwick jumped into the back seat of the K13 to fly me around whilst conditions were not brilliant. I then flew Steve Sherbourne again and we had a 16 minute thermal flight. Again Steve doing most of the upper air flying,

Some more shorter flights ensued Andy Davey (K8), Colin Boyd (K8), Phil Hardwick (K8) and John Smith with me in the K13. Meanwhile Malcolm had taken off in a K8 and managed to use some weak thermals initially before finding some more useable lift to climb to 4000ft. Richard also took off in his Discus.

K8 at 4000ft
Allan Holland then climbed into the K8 and was soon seen climbing with wings level and was obviously in wave. After a short delay due to a cable break Phil Hardwick took off in the second K8 and was soon climbing away. John Smith and I launched in the K13. We had a cable break at 850ft but quickly realised that we were already in wave, so slowed the glider down and climbed to 2700ft. We landed after 22 minutes so that Bob could hopefully have a wave flight. Alan and Phil landed after 1:03 and 40 minutes respectively.

Discus on K13’s wing
K13 seen from the Discus
Bob and I launched and soon contacted the wave for a 45minute flight. Meanwhile Malcolm had launched in the K8 for another 39 minute flight where he again managed to get to 4000ft.

Dartmoor from 4000ft
As for no wave today Richard, he returned to land after 2:24 to claim longest flight of the day.
Thank you to all for a good days flying. 9 hours and 47 minutes in 26 flights. An average of just over 20 minutes a flight. Moral of the day, if there is an easterly wind then DGS is the place to be.

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 13th April 2019

The high pressure continues. The early morning saw a mostly blue sky but with the wind roaring in from the east it was very cold. As always, with the wind in the east, the talk was about wave but the temperature / pressure charts were not encouraging.

The hangar looked almost peaceful in the early morning sunshine. 
The wind was strong, certainly 15 knot +. The K8 was once again left safely in the hangar and a single K13 was got ready for a flight to test the conditions. The first flight was flown by myself with Instructor Mike Jardine as my front seat ballast. This flight confirmed what we already suspected. The flying conditions were very rough, with heavy turbulence all over the sky. The approach was best described as challenging.

Mike and I ready for our flight to check the weather
Phil looked on knowingly as we prepared for the forst flight
Unfortunately, this meant that was no chance that we could fly Steve, today's One Day Course candidate who took this in good spirit and will rebook to return soon. The Twin Astir had made a brief appearance at the launchpoint was quickly returned to it's hangar.

Visitor Steve will be back soon for his One Day Course
Was this the end of the flying? No, this was an ideal opportunity to acclimatise our pilots to flying in these conditions. Perhaps, we should spare a thought for Mike Jardine, today's instructor, who made 11 flights in these testing conditions. Life's tough at the top Mike.

Henry's view from 2000 feet in the gloomy afternoon sky
As the day wore on, there was more and more cloud. Eventually this seemed to arrange itself into a line of energy which allowed Henry Ford to soaring for 24 minutes with Rick who had just returned from North Hill.  Henry is an experienced pilot from the Mendips club who visits us several times a year.

Henry's view to the rear. Scary 
With dreams of the wave that could have been.

Steve Lewis

Dartmoor Gliding News-Wave over Dartmoor

No not Wave clouds over New Zealand. these were seen over Dartmoor yesterday.

Photos by Martin Cropper


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 10th April 2019

Across Roborough Down Cap cloud could be seen and with the forecast easterly wind there was hope of possible wave. This was born out with the early arrivals of Richard Roberts and Roger Green to rig their slick glass machines. Other Wednesday soarers slowly arrived and we got the airfield ready for flying.

Cap cloud seen from Roborough Down
During the DI of HXP it was noticed that the tyre pressure was low. This was soon rectified by Martin Cropper after borrowing a hand held compressor from Steve Fletcher.

Martin inflating the tyre on HXP
The grid slowly assembled with a club K8 & k13, Astir (Phil Hardwick), Open Cirrus (Steve Fletcher), Discus (Richard Roberts), ASW20 (Roger Green) and K6 (Colin Boyd).

First in the K13 with me was Hugh Gasgoyne. His second flight was his first soaring flight since returning to flying. This had him whooping in the front seat as we climbed to 1700’. The height was not wasted as we used it for a couple spin recoveries and also stall recoveries. After a second set of three flights later in the day including eventuality practices, Hugh re-soloed. Well done Hugh. Bob Samson also occupied the front seat with myself and later Martin Cropper in the back seat to continue his progress to hopefully resolo in the near future.

The aircraft waiting at the launch point.
We stacked the K13 for a short while to enable the privateers to launch. Malcolm (K8), Steve, Richard and Roger all launched and managed to get away. So the K13 was pulled forward for Hugh to have his second set of flights. The circuit became very busy with all the solo pilots returning at the same time and Hugh coped well with the extra traffic. The airfield looked like the flight deck of Queen Elizabeth with aircraft scattered all over. After retrieving all aircraft, normal service was resumed.

Steve Fletcher’s view near cloudbase.
Sharing a thermal with Phil’s Astir
Flights of the day were Richard Roberts 2:00, Roger Green 1:40, Alan Holland 1:00, Malcolm Wilton-Jones 1:00, Steve Fletcher 0:54 and Phil Hardwick 0:46. With few trainees and a second instructor available I even managed to climb into the K8 for 1:02.

Thank you to all for a good days flying. 11 hours and 37 minutes in 23 flights. An average of just over 30 minutes a flight
Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 7th April 2019

When asked about the breakdown of a relationship some people begin by saying “Well, it's complicated...” Well if they think relationships are complicated, they should try comprehending the sky above Brentor today... With an easterly airflow attempting to deliver wave, strong sunshine creating convection but slight shifts in wind direction at one moment creating streets and then blue holes (see photo), today was much more of a mental challenge than a physical one. In light of which it was great to see that the prize for Flight of the Day was, ultimately, won by Dave Westcott, at exactly 30 minutes.

One of the cloud streets from the south-east (
note the irregularities) that were rapidly followed by blue holes.
Walk-in’ cyclists Adam, Ruth and family were given a welcome brief by Ed Borlase.
That we were able to fly at all was largely down to the accuracy of the BBC (ie. MeteoGroup) and RASP forecasts, which predicted that cloudbase would not rise to a usable height until around 1200-1300. That gave hope for us all until, right on schedule, at 1245 we we able send returning member Hugh Gascoyne up for a 'snifter' in the K-13, a dramatic “white knuckle ride” which, if nothing else, gave him some interesting hands-on-stick time. Regrettably it also provided evidence that conditions were not suitable for our One Day Course student who, sadly, was sent for an early lunch with his family (in a brace of Series 2 Land Rovers) before contacting Dave (The Voice) to reschedule.

Roger Appleboom checking the airbrakes.
K-13 approach from Ed Borlase’s HeadCam.
In fact, that 'snifter' flight compelled us to stand down for an hour or so. By about 3pm (ie. between meals) conditions had settled into the aforementioned E/SE'ly street/blue hole regime that enabled Roger Appleboom, Ed Borlase and Dave Westcott to take two launches each in the K-13. Thus despite a. a long wait for cloudbase and b. frustration for our One Day Course student at least c. we were able to achieve/maintain competence for our club members in challenging conditions.

Hugh Gascoyne at 1,300ft over the point-to-point course.
Start/Finish of the point-to-point with horses on course.
Thanks go to Scratch (for his work on the winch), and to Rich Roberts and Allan Holland for their assistance and winching but not flying (does that send a 'complicated' message..?)

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 6th April 2019

Driving to the airfield today, there were several clues as to the day ahead. There were signs that Dartmoor was setting off wave in the easterly winds; various tell tale cloud formations could be seen. Worryingly, there were areas were the visibility was poor but this later proved to be a red herring. In places the wind seemed very gusty, completely different to the balmy zephyrs on the coast. There were no signs of precipitation anywhere. Good.

At the airfield, the strength of the wind early on was surprising with gusts almost trying to blow me off my feet. A bit different to the 10 knots easterly with gusts to 20 of the forecast. So the K8's were left in the hangar and the K13's were taken to the launch point. Rick and I decided that the best way to proceed was to take a quick circuit together to check out the conditions. After a false start with a winch power failure and a swap to the winch that Scratch had spent some considerable time cleaning the fuel system of, we flew the test circuit. It was rough on the launch. The air at launch height was turbulent with rotors everywhere but there was definitely some wave in amongst it. The approach needed careful attention.

Cap cloud in view in the NE breeze later in the day
At this point I made the decision ( with regret ) that the conditions were unsuitable to conduct today's One Day Course with candidate Charles Fowler who had travelled quite a long way to fly with us. He will return another day.

Charlie and family trying out the K13 for size.
Loojing forward to flying with you soon,
Rick decided that he would fly again with him as the handling pilot this time as I had flown the first one, after which he considered that the conditions were safe enough for club pilots to fly with him in the K13. This led to a series of circuits with pilots unable to exploit the wave. Curious.

As the afternoon wore on, he conditions  calmed down considerably. This allowed us to launch our privateers, Steve Fletcher in the Open Cirrus and Roger Green in his ASW20 who hooked into the wave and promptly disappeared for nearly 1 1/2 hours only returning by airbraking down from the top of the wave a very low 2300 feet above the airfield. Great flying Roger.

Roger. Climbing strongly at 2100 feet
Looking towards to moor at 2300 feet
By 4pm the conditions had calmed enough for the K8 to be brought out which was promptly flown for 23 and 43 minutes by Malcom Wilton-Jones and Allan Holland respectively in the late afternoon thermal bubbles as the wave become unusable once more as the wind moved around to the north east.

Our thanks to everyone who helped of course, but a special mention for Scratch for his work on the winch fuel system which worked flawlessly all day and for Rick who endured some really rough conditions in the back seat of the K13 to enable everyone to fly.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 3rd April 2019

Driving to the airfield, cars coming the other way were covered in snow and from Roborough Down the Tors of Dartmoor could also be seen covered in snow. So what would the airfield be like and would it be flyable.

The Tors of Dartmoor covered in snow
Arriving at the airfield the vehicles and field were covered in a light dusting of snow.

Vehicles in dusting of snow
The airfield in the snow.
As a small group of dedicated Wednesday soarers slowly arrived it was decided to get things ready and try to do as much flying before the forecast rain arrived. This took a little longer as we had to swap ends after Sunday’s easterly winds.

K13 waiting to fly
By the time things were ready it was obvious that the rain would arrive sooner rather than later. It was decided to give returning member George Beale a quick flight after his two recent trial flights. As it happened we had a cable break at 250ft, so a demonstration of a land ahead launch failure ensued. An experience to put in the logbook ready for future reference. We look forward to seeing George again in the coming weeks.
George getting ready to fly.
After all was packed away, Phil Hardwick and Alan Holland decided to prepare the Gus winch as a back up to ML2. Water and antifreeze were added, but the winch wouldn’t start due to flat batteries. These were removed and given a quick charge whilst we had lunch. After lunch the batteries were replaced and the Gus winch reluctantly fired into life. The winch was left running for a while and we should now have a back up once Rick confirms all is OK.

Thank you to Malcolm Wilton-Jones, Hugh Gasgoyne, John Smith, Robin Wilson and Ed Borlase who also turned up, but were unable to fly. Your efforts are appreciated.

Peter Howarth