Dartmoor Gliding News-Monday 27th May 2019

With RASP predicting a low cloud-base (1,400ft amsl) until well into the afternoon, the Met Office showing 20kt westerly winds and with no Trial Lessons or One Day Courses booked, all was set for a delightfully dull day pottering around the clubhouse. Until, on arrival at the airfield, the cloud-base was clearly over the tors (ie >2,100ft amsl), the wind was 7kts (windsock at 45 degrees) and the news was that the CFI was expected at 1030 to conduct acceptance tests for two new BIs. So socks, up: PULL - let’s get this airfield ready to aviate..!

With the benefit of a strong team of early arrivers we got the first launch away just after 1000, and by 1045 had struck luck with our first soaring flight, by Pete Howarth in the K-8. The earliness of that event gives a hint of today’s instability: the cloud developed quickly, packed with lashings of energy, but then overdeveloped and in cases collapsed into showers before clearing and the whole process recycled. So for those who wanted soaring (such as Malcolm Wilton-Jones and Andy Davey) it was there to be had, but timing was of the essence and you had to work hard to stay in narrow bands of lift or get much above 1,600ft agl.
Rich Roberts and Roger Green on the wire prior their acceptance flights –
no pre-exam nerves there then..!
But what of our BI brethren? After some hasty behind the scenes negotiations, it was decided (?) that today was the only day on which Rich Roberts, Roger Green and CFI Mark Courtney could meet for Mark to carry out the acceptance checks necessary for them to become Basic Instructors at Brentor. After an intensive period of coaching and examination at DSGC North Hill, Richard and Roger could not have been better prepared for this final furlong: three launch failure exercises and a simulated trial lesson apiece that finally won them their spurs. They have asked for a message of sincere thanks to be sent to all those involved in their training at North Hill, for their generous provision of facilities and time to deliver a comprehensive training package. And to which we all at Dartmoor Gliding Society would like to add our thanks – this is great news for the club!

CFI Mark Courtney with BI trainee Richard Roberts about to launch.
CFI Mark Courtney with wannabe BI Roger Green.
With the acceptance checks completed, Mike Bennett then took the opportunity for some soaring with Mark, before Malcolm Wilton-Jones capped the day with its longest flight: 1hr 2mins in the K-8, as rain approaching from the west caused us to put the toys away dry, rather than wet.

Mike Bennett straps in for some soaring training with Mark.
There was another accomplishment today: a little over a year since requalifying as an Assistant Category instructor, Peter Howarth notched up his 500th hour of gliding on his third flight of the day. Well Done, Peter!

Thanks go to all those who helped today, but most particularly to Dene 'Scratch' Hitchens who, having arrived early to carry out some vital welding on the Guslaunch, then went on to deliver flawless launches for the BI trainees before ‘disappearing’ early (some people put it another way…) without flying. Thanks, Scratch.

Today was a day when many and varied efforts were well rewarded and - did I forget to mention? - the wind was up and down the runway, all day. Now you don’t see many of those around here, do you..?

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 25th May 2019

The conditions at lunch time. Good looking cloud in the distance, nothing close by.
The forecast was suggesting increasing cloud cover with a chance of showers in the late afternoon. The breeze, which started out as a zephyr from the north, would strengthen and swing a little more westerly. RASP was predicting thermals rapidly increasing in strength after lunch and continuing until late afternoon. So a reasonable day in prospect.

Madeleine ready to fly
We welcomed Madeleine Cook today who attended for a One Day Course. Madeline flew with Rick, who was fulfilling the roll of Instructor 2 while Mike Jardine was today's Instructor 1 releasing me for some much needed solo flying. By the end of the day Madeleine was able to fly the aircraft with some style aided, no doubt, by the air time afforded by a couple of good soaring flights.

Mike Jardine conducted today's club training and was busy throughout the day. His efforts included no fewer than 4 soaring flights, no doubt enjoyed by his various charges.

Local soaring was the order of the day. Here soaring above Mary Tavy
What of the soaring? Did the forecast deliver. Well yes. Phil Hardwick led the charge with a 36 minute flight at mid day in his Astir CS. This prompted me to launch in my Zugvogel 3B. A flight which I eventually terminated after just over 3 hours. ( lunch and a comfort break beckoned ). Initially the flight was difficult with elusive narrow cores terminating at a 1900 feet cloudbase. The sink in between was "character forming" and some care was needed. Miss one thermal and things became exciting. Miss 2 thermals and the runway would be the target. Half an hour later,  over the higher tors of Dartmoor the cloudbase had risen to 3000 feet and I was able to maintain 4 knots on the averager. This was better. Time to go somewhere. Venturing north, I encountered lowering cloudbases, 2200 feet at Roadford, and weak thermals. Ahead of this it was obvious that the the sea air was already here from the north coast. So local soaring it was. The best soaring was back over Dartmoor where a convergence was available for quite some time.

Strong sink at 1900 feet on the way to the next thermal
I often include a "conquering hero" shot for the best flight of the day.
Today you will have to put up with my attempt at a "selfie"
The solo pilots put up a good show today with Mendips visitor Henry Ford, Scratch and Allan Holland soaring the K8  for 59, 38 and  48 minutes. Other notable flights were 2 hours by Ged and Phil in the Twin Astir, and 55 minutes by Roger Green in the Zugvogel 3B.

Soaring with the K8
Sharing a thermal with the Twin Astir
So the day delivered in spades. Lots of soaring and smiling faces. And the forecast showers never materialised.

An excellent club day.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 22nd May 2019

With clear blue skies and light variable winds the rasp forecast gave an optimistic good soaring day. We were able to place the winch in the top field to maximise the launches. This encouraged private owners Roger Green (Zugvogel), Steve Fletcher (Open Cirrus), Dave & Ed (K6) and Twin Astir syndicate members to rig ready to fly.

The Launch Point
Today we were joined by two visitors from Lon Mynd. Assistant Instructor Matthew Cook and Stephen Fry. After a quick site check with me in the K13, Matthew enjoyed a soaring flight of 37 minutes in the K8. Later in the day Roger allowed him to fly the Zugvogel and he had another flight of 38 minutes. I flew with Stephen later in the day for an experience flight over the area as he hasn’t flown for a good few years.

Matthew waiting for his site check.
First of the trainees in the K13 with me was John Smith. A couple of cable break practices and circuits continues his good progress towards re-solo in the near future. Next up was John O’Connell who progressed with general flying consolidation and progress. After a flight in the Twin Astir with Phil Hardwick, Robin Wilson had a 22 minute soaring flight with me in the K13 to also consolidate his flying skills ready to also re-solo in the near future.

Dave Downton was also back on the field again, getting back into the swing winching, log keeping and helping at the launch point. And yes, he also flew with me to carry on honing his flying skills.

Dave getting ready to fly.
Dave Wescott in the K6.
The solo pilots were keeping the winch drivers busy. Unfortunately there were a lot of circuits caused by a sea breeze during the day. There were a few notable longer flights. Roger 26 mins, Allan Holland 1hr 01, Hugh 14 minutes. Longest flight of the day was Steve Fletcher 1hr 15.

Steve’s view at 3000ft
A total of 30 flights with soaring flights for those who were in the right place at the right time. Thank you to winch drivers, retrieve drivers and all who helped make a good days flying.

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 19th May 2019

Airfield from the west end: just add a healthy dollop of gliders.
Today’s conundrum was ‘How can wave form from a north-westerly wind ’ Given that there are no wave triggers to the north-west of the airfield, it’s a question that remains unanswered, however the experience of pilots today certainly seemed to point towards wave or rotor at times either suppressing or enhancing thermic activity. As with yesterday’s experience, the greatest benefit was the siting of the winch in the top field, giving 1,500ft launches for the K-8, and at least 6 minutes guaranteed for every K-13 launch (well, all except some…).

The Byrne family: Naomi and Nick, after flying.
Reuben Hutchinson, from Mary Tavy,
receives his flying certificate from Martin Cropper
Our visitors were father and daughter team Nick and Naomi Byrne, Mary Tavy student Reuben Hutchinson, who hopefully obtained some good photo-recce shots of his home and locality, farmer David Colwill, from Holsworthy and Caroline Yorke, who might just have been converted from the ‘delights’ of powered flying. Martin Broadway also continued towards re-soloing, achieving flight of the day at 32 minutes in strong mid-afternoon thermals.

Farmer Dave Colwill, from Holsworthy, is ready to fly.
Visitor Caroline Yorke being briefed by Martin Cropper.
Leith Whittington ‘boldly went’ for some ridge soaring in the club K-8 (achieving a creditable 13 minutes in doing so) and Roger Appleboom managed two extended local soaring flights to 2,000ft plus. With the wind strength freshening in the afternoon, we 'allowed' Allan Holland to obtain 17 minutes in the K-8 before calling ‘time’ on flying.

Ed Borlase’s view of the K-8 soaring beneath an interesting cloud mix.
Thanks go to those who winched and retrieved, in particular to Phil Hardwick who did so without flying (early doors) and to everyone for putting up with putting up the fence at the end of the day.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 18th May 2019

After the weeks of blue skies today was a bit of a surprise. There was a high cirrus cover with some cumulus clouds in a lower layer. There was some brightness through the cirrus so, with a bit of luck, some thermal activity was still possible. The wind was very light from just west of north. The forecast  was for showers in the afternoon but while these were evident to the south, they did not affect the airfield.

The upper cirrus cloud greatly reduce thermal formation
One big advantage today was the fact that the top field was in use, which allowed us to extend the winch by 400 metres. This meant that, even with no effective headwind component, the K13 could still launch to 1350 feet and the K8 nearer to 1600 feet. This would prove extremely useful in allowing the aircraft to find the ellusive thermals.

The lower cumulus layer provided the thermal activity
With careful searching it was definitely possible to soar. Not the strong cores of the last few weeks but usable for local soaring. The longest flight of the day was by Malcom Wilton-Jones was flew the K8 for a little over an hour before airbraking down to let someone else have a go. The K13 made several shortish soaring flights.

Steven Hassall
Today we welcomed Steven Hassall who attended for a One Day Course. He enjoyed flying with both myself and Rick a was able to make some tidy turns by the end of the day. We hope this is the just start of his glider flying journey. Also visiting today was Alexander Hughes who enjoyed a couple of Trial Flights with Rick.

Steve Raine breifing Alexander before his first flight
Alexander and Rick waiting to launch
Rick was also kept busy with club instruction today with several flights with David Archer followed by A series of practice cable breaks with Steve Raine who was keen to practice this,

A "Busman's Holiday".
Retired farmer Phil could not resist cutting the grass
A good club day.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 12th May 2019

The airfield at 0900 – just needs a few gliders to perfect the scene.
Quite a large number of people were dissatisfied with today's flying. And, in the West Country terms, they were probably quite rightly so, being as they were “Them Who Wuzzunt 'Ere..!” From o'crack sparrow to hooty owl time they missed thermals aplenty, and that despite the wind veering from east to south-east, there was no sign of influx from sea breeze to flatten the buoyant air.

Tavistock from 3,000ft:
Almost all the 13,000 inhabitants have no idea what’s going on above...
With our steeplechasers absent at the ICL, it fell to us 'local yokels' to show what could be made of the day, and do well did they prove, with Roger Appleboom departing in CBY before midday for a distinctly career average 3 hrs 46 mins, Club Inspector Colin Boyd taking FUB for a 52 minute survey of his happy hunting ground (ie. Gunnislake), Jo Nobbs absent mindedly using the club's K-8 for >2hrs before he realising that he didn't have a wristwatch, Farmer Phil Hardwick venturing north of the A30 for 2 hrs 11mins, and Ed Borlase (who is responsible for most of this report's photos) having a double bite of the cherry red cherub (EWO): 1 hr 19 mins on the morning and a further 1 hr 10 mins in the afternoon!

Roadford Lake from 3,000ft.  The clouds and their shadows say it all..!
The club K-13 G-DDMX captured by Ed Borlase’s head-cam.
Our visitors included a very welcome return of Tony Hogg, on reciprocal from Seahawk GC at Culdrose, One Day Course student Andrew Hollis, from Dartmouth, Tracey Atkin, from Milton Abbott, and Jamie Lang, who all flew with Instructor Peter Howarth. Pete was also very pleased to be able to send returning member, Hugh Gascoyne, solo in the K-8 for three launches before the end of the day.

Our One Day Course student was Andrew Hollis, from Dartmouth.
Tracey Atkin, from Milton Abbott, enjoys a joke with Pete Howarth.
Visitor Jamie Lang being briefed by Instructor Pete Howarth.
The photos say it all, really: it was a delightful day, the most disappointing aspect being the profligate use of airbrake required to reconnect with mother earth. But “Them Who Wuzzunt 'Ere' wouldn't know that, “Wud 
A huge smile from Hugh Gascoyne as he prepares to re-solo in the club K-8.
Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 15th May 2019

Interestimg, testing, challenging and thought provoking were some of the comments made by the Wednesday soarers during the day. Although the day dawned with a clear blue sky, there was a 15 knot easterly wind generally straight down the strip. So the K8 was left in the hangar and a K13 towed to the launch point.

K13 waiting for a busy day
K13 waiting for a busyHugh Gasgoyne was first to see what the conditions were like. Both launch and landing were a little lively, but Hugh coped well. John O’Connell was next into the front seat. The conditions were initially a bit too much for him on the approach, but by the end of the day and five flights he completed a full flight without me taking over. Well done John.

The other soarers in the front seat were Bob Sansom, Steve Fletcher and Malcolm Wilton-Jones. With an inversion at about 1600ft there was little thermal activity. The longest flight was by Malcolm who kept us aloft for 23 minutes.

Bob waiting to fly
We welcomed back to the airfield Martin Broadway and The Voice Dave Downton. Both enjoyed getting back into the air and we look forward to seeing them both regularly at the airfield.

The voice returns the front seat
Thank you to everybody who turned up to fly and run the airfield, especially Phil Hardwick and Richard Roberts who winched and chose not to fly. A total of 20 flights that pushed some pilots outside their comfort zones, but all gained valuable experience from the day.

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 11th May 2019

A generally favorable weather forecast brought a good turnout to the club today. The temperature was in the mid teens but it was definitely chilly in the strong 15 knot NNW. Although strong, the wind was surpprisingly not very gusty at ground level.

Early on the clouds looked weak
The north Coast from 3500 feet
There was a lot of thermal activity. This made the airborne conditions somewhat turbulent particularly low down where steeply banked turns were the order of the day. These were rewarded with speedy 6 knot elevators to the 3500 feet cloudbase. Above 2000 feet the thermals were generally better organised with wider cores.

Looking down on the airfield from 3500 feet.
Note the K8 on the wire
As the afternoon wore on it was obvious that the sea breeze from the north was causing a convergence. The eventually ended up lying over the airfield. Pilot Roger Green made the best of the convergence while flying his vintage Zugvogel 3B for the longest flight of the day at 2 hours 55 minutes. Roger's video of the convergence is available here.

Roger's Covergence video  

The Okehampton Army camp complete with Ten Tor tents
Roger's view of Roadford Lake
We had several visitors today. Finn Wooldridge was today's One Day Course candidate. Finn enjoyed some of the good soaring which gave him plenty of time to practice handling the controls and flying the aircraft. Finn enjoyed his time with us. I hope he will return to sport gliding soon.

Finn waiting to launch. The cloud cover was building at this point
Finn keeping a good lookout
Carol Jagels got a bit of surprise today. She ended up at the airfield where she was presented with a trial flight as a birthday present. After some initial nervousness, she went soaring with Rick. When Carol left the airfield, she was still smiling. Great.

Carol and Rick
We also had a couple of visiting pilots today. Tony Hogg, an ex Navy helicopter pilot, usually flies at Culdrose. He spent the day with us and had a three flights with today's instructor Mike Jardine. The first of many visits we hope. Graham Banning usually flies at the Essex and Suffolk club from the flatlands of Wormington Airfield near Colchester. He went soaring with Rick in DMX. I am sure the local scenery added some interest for Graham.

Looking south towards Plymouth and the Tamar Estuary from 3500 feet
So a busy day with a total of 34 launches and lots of soaring.

Our special thanks today to the winch drivers who provided consistent service while coping with the very challenging crosswind.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Monday 6th May 2019

Bank Holiday Monday dawned with clear blue skies and a fairly good looking RASP. The field was prepared with the Gus launch as far west as it could go giving an extra 1300feet of cable. So even with the light wind forecast good launch heights should be possible.

Rigging in action. The foreground shows the Zugvogel 3B.
Behind is the very rare Schleicher K10 
The clubs K13 and K8 were prepared for flight while several private gliders were rigged. Amongst all this activity the twin astir was towed down to the hanger for its Annual Inspection.

With rather flat looking cumulus forming the first launch of the day was Rick Wiles the duty instructor. Rick was soon climbing away before air braking back down to report very strong thermal activity.

Early in the day the flat looking CU marked some very usable thermals
Steve Lewis was next in the K13 with Tommy Daves ( Steve's granddaughter's other half) , Tommy enjoyed a good thermaling flight of 39 minutes.

Tommy and Steve soaring in the K13
Wafting along at 4100 feet
Mike Bennett was next to launch in the club K8 and was hoping to get a one hour flight which he judged to perfection landing after exactly 60 minutes nice one Mike.

Mike soaring in the K8 as viewed from the K13
Dene Hitchen (scratch) needed a 2 hour flight after launching in his Astir he was soon climbing away to the cloud base at about 4200ft and managed the longest flight of the day at 2 hours and 18 minutes.

A Buzzard soaring over the launchpoint
The Twin Astir then made an appearance after the successful completion of its inspection unfortunately condition had detreated and despite the best efforts of Phil Hardwick, Malcolm Roberts, Ged Nevisky and Martin Broadway they could not get away.

Twin Astir missed to best of the weather
During all this activity Rick also managed to fit in some training for club members including a few practice cable brakes.

Karon preparing tp fly with Rick

Thanks to everyone who turned up today and especially to the winch drivers you know who you are and Karon for manning the launch point for the majority of the day.

Overall a fantastic days flying

Andrew Davey