Dartmoor Gliding News-Monday 26th August 2019

Bank Holiday Monday, a small group of members gathered under the Dartmoor mist. This was forecast to clear around 11 o’clock, so after a cup of tea and coffee we set about getting thigs ready at a leisurely pace. After finding the new Jeep with a flat battery, Scratch found a loose battery terminal which was tightened and the battery put on charge. It was also discovered that there is an auxiliary position on the ignition switch that allows the key to be removed but the radio will still remain on. Care must be taken to remove the key at the off position which has now been marked.

Following the main brief, I gave our one day course student, Kevin Richards a safety brief and explained what he should expect during the day. We then made our way to the launch point ready to fly.

Kevin Richards looking forward to hi first flight.
By the end of his six flights he was able to fly the aircraft around using all three controls and thoroughly enjoyed his day.

We were also joined today by Saturday soarer Rita Smith. After her three flights, one of 25 minutes her turns had greatly improved and she was very happy with her overall flying.

Private owners Mike/Hugh (K6 FUB), Barry (SF27 FLZ) and Robin/Martin/Phil (Twin Astir DSL) all took turns to launch into the continually varying conditions. Longest flight was Barry with 53 minutes. Scratch, Malcolm and Bob flew the K8 with a longest flight of 14 minutes by Bob.

K8 FXB off on another flight.
Later in the day we were joined by Paula Howarth and boyfriend Fel, who were passing and they wanted to see how things were going. As everybody had had their fill of flying there was time for them to sign forms and have the last few flights. A few calculations and weight conversions allowed Fel to be shoehorned into the front seat of HXP.

Fel smiling before his flight.
Paula doing the last of her pre-flight checks.
Thank you to Heather who retrieved all day again using the new pick-up. Also thanks to all the winch drivers and those at the launch point who kept things moving. 26 flights, which was pretty good for a 11:30 start and a bank holiday.

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 25th August 2019

With a cold front waving down the SW peninsula and with RASP predicting a rapidly rising cloud-base with good soaring conditions by 1230, it was with the glider pilots’ traditional optimism that we changed ends from yesterday’s strong easterly to be ready for the light SW’ly expected today. Perhaps the discovery that the tow-out trailer had a flat tyre, caused by a hole you could put your fist through, should have been a portent of things to come.

The K-13 flightline.
Our One Day Course visitors were two brothers, Henry and Ben Cornford, from Ugborough, escorted by their parents, one of whom (Mum) had recently suffered a fall and hence the observed proceedings throughout the day from their Range Rover by the launchpoint. The first two launches were (almost) the most interesting of the day for, on releasing just below 8/8ths cloud-base, both gliders found pools of gently rising air that enabled them to maintain 1,000-1,200ft agl for over ten minutes apiece. As Roger Green put it: “If the K-13 has a descent rate of 150ft/min and you meet air that is rising at 150 ft/min, you’re not going to go up, but you’re not going to come down either..!”

Visitor Ben Cornford flew with Roger Green.
Visitor Henry Cornford flew with Martin Cropper.
Henry and Ben Cornford being presented with their One Day Course Certificates
by Martin Cropper and Roger Green.
As lunch hove into view, and the overcast began to abate, it was time for the single seaters to check the promised improvement in conditions. Which didn’t. Really. Happen. Roger Appleboom struggled to achieve 13 mins in the K-8 and at the end of the day Peter Howarth managed to reach 25 mins but no-one saw anything like the +3.5 star soaring that RASP had led us to expect.

In addition to the One Day Courses, Colin Boyd brought his friend Charlie Rachshaw on site in thanks for all the welding Charlie has been doing for the club. He had a soaring flight of 14 mins with Peter Howarth and departed very pleased with the experience. Dave Downton also continued his journey to re-soloing and Dave Westcott maintained currency in the K-8.

Visitor Charlie Rachshaw flew with Peter Howarth.
We also put the new vehicles, a Nissan pick-up and Jeep people carrier, through their paces: a quantum leap forward from the Range Rover Discovery’s – we now have windows which work..!

Our new Nissan pick-up.
At the end of the day, despite our high expectations not being met, we each achieved what we had set out to achieve, and so shouldn’t complain. Better than being sat on the ground…

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 24th August 2019

Blue sky day today with surface winds in the SE, initially light but backing to the east and strengthening later. Regular readers will know that with any east in the forecast we generally get at least a little excited about the chances of wave. But the soundings were not encouraging, showing a stable airmass with a low inversion ( 1500 ft?). RASP was showing no appreciable thermal activity.

This was the view from the launchpoint at 1.30 pm
No obvious signds of lift anywhere
The other complication for today was that duty instructor Rick Wiles needed to leave early at 2pm to go on holiday. So an early start was in order. Earlier in the week the target for first launch was set to 9.30am. This was amended at the briefing to 10am and Rick took the first flight at 10.10am. Not bad.

Visitor Paul Thomas
We welcomed visitor Paul Thomas who attended for a 2 flight Introduction to gliding. Paul flew with me and during our first launch we found some signs of weak wave to the east of the airfield. Our second flight we concentrated in maximising the weak wave found in our first flight following a beat from Mary Tavy south to the campsite at Peter Tavy and back. This kind of flying can be extremely challenging with the variometer needle hovering around zero most of the time. Care has to be taken not to lose any of the hard won height gains. So accurate flying along the beat and turning before running off the ends into the sink are the order of the day. The maximum height gained in our 24 minute flight was 200 ft above launch height to 1350ft. This represents a climb rate of about 0.15 knot average. Not meteoric but great fun anyway. To put this into context, my highest average climb rate on a strong wave day at Brentor  was 27.8 knots to 7500 ft.

Ged and Phil in the Twin Astir waiting to try their luck
Only 2 privateers joined us today. Ged and Phil got the Twin Astir out encouraged by my soaring in the K13. Richard Roberts also rigged his Discus. The club fielded a K8 along with the 2 K13's

Mike waiting to launch the K8
Longest flight of the day was a 40 minute effort by Richard Roberts flying his Discus. He initially used the same beat as I had earlier ( north - south ) but found another going SW - NE towards the higher Tors. This was probably set off by the southerly part of the SE wind. This bar was just a large area of zero with the top at just 1400 ft. Was the maximum height controlled by the low inversion? Interesting.

Who needs a parasol to shelter from the sun?
Richard uses the K13 wing instead while Rita and Rick suffer in the heat.
Rick got through his flying list in an expeditious manner and was last seen being dragged out of the gate by his wife while trying to change into his holiday clothes. That's dedication Rick.

Elsewhere on the airfield the project to move the T21 trailer took another step forward as the first of the twin axles were fitted and the trailer was moved to the rigging line freeing up the area behind for the intended MT storage area. Owners Chris and Karon Matten have been helped with this by Scratch and Rick in previous weeks.

The T21 trailer. Chris was helped by camera shy Scratch.
Today we also took delivery of 2 new (to us) vehicles donated to the club by Scratch. There is a Nissan Nivara Pick up destined to be our work vehicle towing cables etc.and a Jeep Grand Cherokee which will be used for personel transportation. More detains and photos to come in a later blog.

Heather was cleaning her new cable tow vehicle when a vacuum failure intervened.
Ged is obviously an expert in these domestic machines. Who knew? 
A good day.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 21st August 2019

With the wind stubbornly due south, we set the field up for the forecast SSW wind. With no cattle in the top field we moved ML1 part way into the field. As it was the cables fell short of the launch point, so this was moved closer to the windsock at the east end. Low cloud delayed the start of flying so we took chance to rig K8 GDK ready for Colin to complete the CofA and ARC.

How many pilots does it take to check control connections?
G-CGDK ready for completion.
Today we welcomed our ODC student, Steve Jackson an ex power pilot who was keen to experience gliding. After the relevant briefs by BI Richard Roberts they were ready to take to the air. This was only after the first training flight resulted in a cable break which drew comments on the ground like, “That looked interesting” and similar. A failed carabina was the culprit which resulted in a delay whilst a replacement was found. Steve soon got used to handling the controls with Richard and later in the day completed his flights with me. He was also keen to be helping around the launch point hooking cables, signalling to the launch controller and moving aircraft around. Looks like we may have a convert from the power world and look forward to seeing him again soon.

Steve Jackson with BI Richard.
Trial flight candidate Umesh Achara also had two flights with Richard and thoroughly enjoyed them.

Umesh Achara and Richard.
Private owners were in abundance today with Mike Bennett (K6), Steve Fletcher (Open Cirrus), Barry Green (SF27), Dave Westcott (K6) and Phil Hardwick/Malcolm Roberts (Twin Astir). The club K8 was flown by Malcolm Wilton-Jones, Bob Sansom and Allan Holland.

Steve’s view of the airfield during his 2 hour flight
Trainees John Smith, Dave Downton and John O’Connell kept me busy in the K13. All making progress, particularly John who today seemed to improve in leaps and bounds. Keep up the good work all.

The last visitor was Richard’s sister-in-law, Sally Raine who enjoyed her experience flight with Richard.

Sally Raine ready to fly with Richard.
Last flight of the day was Steve Jackson with me at 17:42.

Last flight taking off.
A total of 29 flights with everybody flying and having a good day. Many thanks to Heather for retrieving all day and keeping the launch point supplied with cables. Also thanks to the sterling efforts of Dave Downton and Allan Holland who dealt with the cross wind at the winch.

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 17th August 2019

Setting off to the airfield under a low looking, cloudy sky was not the most encouraging. Crossing the southern part of Dartmoor there were a few gaps, some even had a little sun shining through. Good. On the other hand there were large areas of orographic cloud obscuring many of the tors. Bad. Arriving at the airfield the cloudbase was barely above the church. There was even some drizzle in the air. Still bad.

The forecast was for improving cloud and visibility so we did what we always do. The gliders were got ready, the morning briefing was done, the Trial Lesson Safety Briefing was done with today's One Day Course Canidiate, Allen Lee, and then we waited. 

Allen Lee with me waiting to go
Allen and I launch under a  promising looking 
The first flight, at midday, showed some promise with the air feeling "bubbly". Half an hour later and the thermals had started. Not easy, with tight narrow cores, and, initially it was hard work to gain altitude but this rapidly improved as did the cloudbase. Within an hour the 2000 ft cloudbase had become 3000 ft and streets had formed giving very reliable lift The cores were showing between 4 & 6 knots. Excellent. In exactly the right place to enjoy all this was Allen Lee, who was flying in HXP with me. We romped around the local area for more than an hour before deciding that it was lunch time and airbraking back down to the runway. 

Our view early in the flight looking SW
over Tavistock towards the Tamar Estuary at Saltash
Also in the right place to enjoy all of the was trainee pilot Rita Smith who flew with Mike in DMX. Their flight was 43 minutes giving plenty of time for Rita to practice her basic handling skills although the lively conditions would have been a bit of a challenge.

Mike & Rita's view of soaring with HXP
At 2pm the soaring switched off, the wind, which had become westerly during the soaring, moved back to the SW. It took about 3/4 hour for things to recycle. The wind, once again, became westerly, the streets reformed and it was game on. During this phase of the day Steve Fletcher flew his Open Cirrus for 1hr 12 minutes to record to longest flight of the day; Allen Lee had c couple of flights with Mike to complete his One Day Course with a soaring flight of 32 minutes. Phil Hardwick got the Twin Astir out and he had a couple of flights with Rick Wiles for a best of 33 minutes.

Steve Fletcher found  a convergence. Here he's at 3000ft
With the wind strengthening still further,and the day going blue, we called a halt at about 4.30 andreturned to the clubhousse for tea and medals.

The sky going blue with definite signs of wave in the strengthening westerly
Flying was only part of the today's story. There was a group working on moving the T21 trailer. Sadly this trailer had succummbed to the Dartmoor conditions and the axle sub frame needs to be replaced before it can be moved. The space where this trailer resides is earmarked for use as a winch and vehicle storeage facility. By the end of the day the old subframe had been removed and  the chassis  prepared for the new one. Well done
The T21 fuselage taking temporay shelter in the hangar
A special mention must go to Scratch. Apart from rushing around in his usual style, he came to our aid when the winch, engine stop cable broke, rendering the winch inoperable. He left the job that he was doing repairing the mower assembly and quickly diagnose and replace the engine stop cable for us. Thanks mate.

The mower at the hangar for repair by Scratch.
He is missing from this photo because he moves around so fast.

Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 14th August 2019

Another band of rain and wind was forecast for today, so there was no decision to make and today was going to be a no flying day.

Phil Hardwick set about one of his favourite tasks and fired up the tractor to mow the south side of the airfield.

Following the recent entry on the forum the caravan was moved closer to the bus so that the items to be retained could be removed and stored in the bus. The heat exchanger, oven, hob and unit were removed.

Getting ready for action.
After the required items had been successfully removed the caravan was moved to it’s final resting place behind the trailers. With lump hammers, jemmy and a sledge hammer we set about gutting the caravan.

Not much left.
With everything out it was time to set about the shell. It wasn’t long before we were left with various piles of scrap to be further sorted and disposed of.

All done.
It was definitely a day where DGS did Top Gear proud and another caravan was definitely off the road for good.

Let’s hope for better weather soon.

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 11th August 2019

Much like having to admit that Pete Howarth can thermal better than me, my fingers are being forced to type that the weather was “BETTER”, yes “BETTER” than forecast. With some sources predicting thunder-showers, lightning, and SW’ly winds gusting 20kts+, what we experienced was fantastic visibility and strong, smooth (6-8kt) lift under streeting cu to 2,200ft (although cloudbase was variable, which just added to the fun).

Although today’s One Day Course cancelled, we had a trial lesson booked for 1pm, and Duty Instructor Pete Howarth naturally planned to get some training launches in with Rave Downton prior to that.

And naturally all proceed in accordance with that plan until - the start of launch No 2. At which juncture a well-known gliding club character, ‘gremlin’, put in a terminating appearance, just as our visitors were arriving (of course). These arrivals provoked Rich Roberts to metamorphose into ‘elastic man’, simultaneously populating both ends of the airfield as he cleared ‘work-in-way’ from one end of the airfield whilst putting a solution in place at the other (well he did have a little help from others, and the tractor) such that we lost only 90 minutes before being able to resume operations. Which was all to the good since in that time a few light showers crossed the airfield that would have precented launching anyway, following which some very promising cu began to appear.

K-13 HXP launching to the west.
Martin Cropper managed 38 mins with our visitor, Cressida Sparrow – a clinical psychiatrist from Plymouth – before returning the K-13 for others to use.

Cressida Sparrow being awarded her certificate by Martin Cropper.
This prompted Martin Broadway to follow in the K-8, reporting 6-8kt climbs to 2,000ft on handing over to Roger Appleboom. He was followed by Rich Roberts (Discus not rigged..!) and Allan Holland who, on landing, actually smiled, declaring “Well that was very entertaining..!”

K-8 FXB at rest under a promising sky.
Variety was thrown into the mix by Ed Borlase who, after a confidence boosting check flight with Pete Howarth, requested a photo-recce opportunity for his new camera, cheekily asking P1 to pay..! The results of that sortie can be seen in the accompanying photos.

Instructor Peter Howarth clearly enjoying today’s conditions.
A sunlit and shadow dappled landscape looking SW, with a distant rain shower.
Variations in cloudbase provided a challenge for us today.
 Virga in evidence in this view by Ed Borlase towards Tavistock.
With everyone flown who wanted to, and some ‘work-in-wake’ remaining to put gremlin properly back in his box, we finished relatively early, still slightly bemused as to how conditions had over trumped the forecast, but thankful for that all the same… Superhuman effort of the day award goes to Rich Roberts, with everyone who helped deserving extra shares in gratitude for - notwithstanding the weather - today was a day when problem solving and teamwork overcame calamity.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 10th August 2019

With yellow warnings for damaging winds from the SW in the Met Office forecast, this was always going to be a non flying day. Why was this not a named storm?

Looking down the runway towards the east end.
Seems quiet - but there was a SW gale blowing. 
Some of the assembled members got on with the important business of socialising with a little work thrown in. Several more members had other ideas and they got on with enough work to make a person tired just listing it. Thanks chaps. ( and girls)

Gus Launch underwent a starter motor change 
"It is an ill wind that blows nobody any good" and making use of the non flying day, the committee started their meeting at 3pm which allowed them to finish and head off by a very early 6pm.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 7th August 2019

Thanks to the Sunday soarers, the field was set up for the forecast southwesterly winds and we set about getting the aircraft ready to fly. Unfortunately with cattle in the top field we were limited to the shorter field.

 Right from the first launch it was obvious that there was a queue of showers approaching from Cornwall. Thankfully all passed to the north or south of the airfield. We only had to stop for short periods after catching the edge of the showers and to also allow the visibility to improve. It was initially decided to limit the trainee flights to two each, so at least everybody would get a chance to fly. Dave Downton was first up and it was only the conditions that prevented him from re-soloing. Next time hopefully Dave.

We welcomed back Paula Howarth who was taking a much needed break from studying. Not lost her touch as she was doing all the flying on the second flight. Later in the day she did a perfect hangar flight with no prompting.

Paula happy to be back for the day.
Jonathan Pullen was our One Day Course After a briefing from BI Richard Roberts they were soon off into the air for the first of six flights. By the end of the day Jonathan was getting to grips with flying and enjoyed his day.

Jonathan ready with Richard.
Richard was also kept busy with two visitors. Christopher Adams and Peter Satterly. Unfortunately we didn’t get a picture of Peter. Possibly an additional module for the BI course. Basic photography. We are not blessed with a David ‘Borlase’ Bailey on a Wednesday to capture events around the airfield.

Christopher and BI Richard.
Trainees John Smith, David Archer and Angie Liversedge also kept be busy in the back seat of the K13.
The new syndicate of Hugh Gasgoyne and Michael Bennett brought their new purchase to the launch point to get acquainted with flying the K6CR.

Hugh & Mike happy with their new toy.
The K8 was kept busy with Phil Hardwick, Steve Fletcher, Bob Sansom, Barry Green, Alan Holland and Malcolm Wilton-Jones. A respectable time of 22 minutes by Steve Fletcher was only beaten by Malcolm with his usual 1hr 06 minutes. What is his secret?

Thank you to Heather who retrieved all day again and all winch drivers who delivered a good launch rate and the K13 achieving up to 1300ft. Also to all who helped run the airfield smoothly we achieved a respectable 35 flights.

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 4th August 2019

It was a day of two halves, really. In the morning the sky was low and gray; in the afternoon, however, we managed to ‘steal’ some soaring flights once cloud base had lifted sufficiently. Meteorologically, there was a depression NW of Ireland from which an occlusion trailed across the UK. East of the occlusion all was clear, but by 0900 we in the West Country were definitely within it, hence the low and gray. Which was not good news for Charles Fowler, our Junior One Day Course student, or his father, who had driven from Bournemouth to be with us. Unfortunately, the weather does not respond well to being ‘prodded’ and at 1100, there being no change in evidence, they decided to depart for London, hoping to return at a later, less inclement, date.

 Westward Ho!
Dave Westcott and Ed Borlase migrate their K-6CR up market to the west end trailer park.
That’s not to say that we all sat around long-facedly putting the world to rights in the clubhouse. First, we changed ends so that the airfield would be ready for Wednesday, when the wind is expected to be westerly (following yesterday’s highly successful south-easterly airflow). Then there was some social mobility as Dave Downton (K-6E), Ed Borlase and Dave Westcott (K-6CR) decided that the east end (trailer park) was no longer good enough for their gliders, and hence relocated them to the ‘Schleicher Village’ at the west end (where obviously the market is on the ‘up’). In confirmation of this, excitement reached fever pitch as Colin Boyd sealed the sale his K-6CR to Hugh Gascoyne – which although tight lipped about the price, brought a broad smile on both faces..!

Dave Downton dons up ready for flight.
At about 1215 the cloudbase began to lift. Quite rapidly. With general consensus, we took one of the K-13s and a K-8 to the launchpoint (good job we had prepared it earlier..!) Getting our first launch away just prior to 2pm, Dave Downton was able to practice more cross-wind approaches, as the wind obstinately remained due south (despite the predicted SW’ly). This, plus the inevitable early departure of the Tost rings from the CG hook, took him pretty close to his objective of re-soloing.
2pm: first launch of the day gets away.
“Easing – back...” Dave Downton rounding out.
The K-13 got a lot of pushback (in the traditional, not argumentative, way) today.
Roger Appleboom was first to accept the challenge presented by some pretty good looking cumulus, at first finding that the associated lift was not quite so – associated. A leap into the atmosphere by Martin Cropper for 24 mins inspired him, however, and on his second flight he found strong lift to 2,000ft for a duration a shade over the half hour limit ie. 38 mins (could we give the club K-8s remotely operated airbrakes, please..?) We then extended the invitation to our long-suffering winch driver, Peter Howarth, who gladly climbed away, with wings level, from 1,000-2,000ft in a N-S direction just over the airfield, later reporting it to feel ‘like wave’. How can that be? With no obstruction south of the airfield to cause wave to form? Peter had the good grace to return within the half-hour, thus leaving Roger with the prize of ‘Flight of the Day’.

Roger Appleboom departs in the club K-8...
...mixes it with some good looking cu...
...and returns with a perfectly held off landing.
Thanks go to the team on the ground who chose not to fly: Roger Green, Dave Westcott and Ed Borlase, and to Pete Howarth who, wrestling with the cross wind, could be heard gunning the Guslaunch to full throttle for as long as he dared after each cable release. Eight launches were all we managed but, as Pete said back in the clubhouse “If you get a soaring flight when you least expected it, that makes it all the more worthwhile..!”

Martin Cropper