Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 26th July 2020

The connections and comparisons between gliding and ‘real life’ are many and varied: for instance, what is the connection between Lady Pauline, wife of Baron John Prescott, and our K-13s?  Those who remember a Labour Party Conference in Blackpool a few years ago will know the answer; none of them like getting wet!  In John’s Prescott’s case he had to get a second Jaguar to convey her from the hotel to the conference venue to prevent her hair getting wet, in our case we had to keep the K-13s cosied up in the hangar until the rain had passed.  So that took care of the morning as, with low scudding cloud and Prescott-unfriendly drops falling we busied ourselves with lifting and shifting stuff from Colin’s old workshop to his new abode.  This will create space for the glider wings currently stored in the hangar to be moved into the vacated workshop, thus enabling us to have a hangar that is used for – storing gliders! (that date, when it comes, being one to be celebrated as a first..!)

Ray Boundy conducting pre-flight ABCD checks…
Before flying the convergence in K-13 HXP.
The showers having largely cleared, the Met Office promised us a window of opportunity until about 1600 before their return and so we whisked one K-13 and the K-8 down to the east end.  As the photos indicate, conditions were suboptimal, being a breezy SW’ly with gusts to 17 kts – but they don’t show an almost unique event.  Currency being the aim of the game we decided that our club trainees should fly only two launches each, with Ray Boundy taking pole position in the front seat of the K-13.  The first launch and flight being uneventful, just prior to the second Phil Hardwick hollered that there was “Orographic downwind” and to be careful if it came our way.  How could that be?  Well, about 30 seconds later and 1,100ft higher it was apparent that there was, indeed, a line of cloud oriented SW-NE and which was by now propelling the glider upwards at 2kts within the first turn.  All credit must go to Ray who, like a rodeo rider, kept his mount as the lift continued until 2-3 minutes later we were at 1,500ft, with cloudbase to the south below us in a curtain.  With wisps appearing out of nowhere, Ray’s task rapidly became one of remaining in VMC.

K-13 HXP returns to earth.
Back on the ground and observing our progress, Ged Nevisky and Phil Hardwick were keen to release the Twin Astir from its lair and get airborne.  Quickly gaining contact, they were able to climb and hence follow the lift downwind, securing an emphatic Flight of the Day of 31 minutes.  The character of the lift remained an enigma, however, as Phil reported that “It looked like a convergence but it didn’t fly like one - we tried both sides but no one was better than the other.  Still, it’s great just flying up the sides of clouds!”  And with that it disappeared.

 Twin Astir being readied for flight by Phil Hardwick and Ged Nevisky.
Canopies closing…
 ‘Returning to solo’ members Chris and Karon Matten continued – separately - with their progress (circuit bashing) until, on her second flight, Karon found her varios approaching zero…  So, what to do?  Well, circle, orbit, circle was her response, adding a very welcome two minutes to her flight time.  After a 30-minute interval caused by a passing shower Ed Borlase stepped into the front seat but sadly his session had to be limited to a hangar flight as the atmosphere was becoming increasingly humid (as predicted).

Peter Howarth preparing for flight in the K-8.
A day on which it would have been quite easy to ‘stack’ due to there being ‘rain in the forecast’, fortunately we were able to fly all today’s trainees and give the Twin Astir, the ‘Concrete Swan’, a chance to exploit some short-lived unique local conditions.  Especial thanks go to Peter Howarth for winching most of the afternoon.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 22nd July 2020

The forecast was for the wind to be light and variable veering more westerly as the day went on. RASP predicted soaring conditions improving during the afternoon. The small group of pilots set about setting the airfield up and rigging private gliders.

First to fly was John Smith, who after many weeks of sterling work on the bus project was itching to get back into the air.

How do we wear these masks?
 The first flight found some unstable air which enabled John to extend the flight to 10 minutes. Mike Bennett was observed circling to the south in the K8, but only managed 7 minutes. John’s next two flights only found heavy sink which resulted in a couple of abbreviated circuits.

Barry Green was next into the K13 after sanitising and donning the obligatory mask.

Barry keen to get going.
 After a good circuit and a couple of well executed cable break practices, he was cleared to  re-solo in the K8. Nobody seemed to be managing any extended flights. Up stepped Steve Lewis. With his Zugvogel still undergoing CofA he climbed into the club K8. He was soon seen climbing away north of the airfield over Black Down.

This spurred the private owners into pulling their aircraft onto the grid.

Privateers getting ready.
 Roger Green, ASW 20, Peter Howarth Astir and Steve Fletcher Open Cirrus. Phil Hardwick said I would probably do better than him, hence I took the opportunity to jump into the Astir. I returned after 33 minutes soaring to get Phil to fly, knowing I could jump back into the back seat of the K13 with John.

Steve Fletcher's view of the ASW 20
 John and I jumped into the K13. After another quick circuit with John not finding anything, we took another launch into a more promising sky. With John struggling to contact anything, I took control to see what I could do. Luckily I managed to find some lift, and we were soon climbing away. John took back control as the lift got better.

John climbing well past 2000ft.
My view of Tavistock.
 After about 20 minutes we used the height to practice some stall and spin recoveries. We landed after 33 minutes.

Notable flights were Steve Lewis 43 minutes (K8), Malcolm 1 hour 4 minutes (K8), Phil Hardwick 1 hour 33 minutes (Astir), Steve Fletcher 2 hour 8 minutes and longest flight Roger Green 2 hour 23 minutes (ASW 20). After a 16 minute flight in the K8, Barry got reacquainted with driving the winch.

Barry back in the driving seat.
A good days flying, slowly getting the club back towards some sense of normality. Thank you to all for the usual duties and keeping things moving.

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 19th July 2020

A day which performed almost exactly to the RASP forecast: frontal cloud cleared by 1130, cloudbase went to 4,300ft amsl, gusts didn’t exceed 15 kts and lift experienced matched the STARS rating of 2.3.  So why not exactly as per the prediction?  Because the wind didn’t veer from north, as we had set up the launchpoint to expect.  Thus the 90-degree crosswind had a crucial effect upon launch heights and hence potential to find the lift that clearly was in evidence (see photos).  So skill was not the dominant factor; luck was – if the roulette wheel delivered your glider into the right spot at the right time, you got away; if it didn’t, you were forced to a rapid return to circuit.

Steve Fletcher sets off in Open Cirrus CGY into a promising sky.
Our club trainees today were Chris and Karon Matten and Ray Boundy, all at various stages in returning to solo.  Complying with COVID-19 precautions, each trainee was responsible for ensuring that the cockpit and parachute were sanitised before getting in (except, of course, in the case of the Mattens), before donning either self of club provided face masks.  Early launches took place before the frontal cloud cleared and were short, but duly challenging in light of the crosswind from the north.

Karon Matten and Martin Cropper carrying out pre-flight checks in K-13 HXP…
and return after a successful flight.
Towards lunchtime, beneath a rapidly expanding blue/white panorama, our soloists could hold back no longer, with Steve Fletcher being first to launch, followed by Peter Howarth, Hugh Gascoyne and Phil Hardwick.  Their efforts were poorly rewarded, however, until later in the afternoon, when Hugh managed 15 mins in his K-6CR (see photo) and Phil 18 mins in the Astir.  Ed Borlase also threw his hat into the ring, preferring to fly dual, but managed only 8 mins on his first flight (see photo), followed by a three-minuter where he found that all the ‘hot-spots’ he’d noted earlier had disappeared!

Peter Howarth gets aloft in his newly acquired share of Astir 571/FCJ.
 Syndicate partner Phil Hardwick making his approach in 571.
 So, who then, won the cap ‘Flight of the Day’?  Let’s do a muster: now whose name has failed to be mentioned.  Ahah!  Step forward long-time returning member Ray Boundy.  Ray and I launched to something shy of 1,050ft and, as is so often the case, thought there was something just above the winch.  Keeping on carrying on we got back to launch height.  Keeping on was the name of the game and, with resolution and persistence Ray retained his place in the thermal until, 20 minutes later, we arrived at cloudbase over Tavistock, with Dartmoor and the rest of the crystal clear horizon at our disposal.  Returning to earth Ray exclaimed, “That was my first soaring flight in 25 years!”  Well Done, Ray.

Keeping a good lookout, Ed spots Hugh Gascoyne’s K-6CR soaring over Blackdown
(below the starboard wing-tip).
At 900ft over the winch, Ed Borlase attempts to connect with the cumulus.
Thanks go to our winch drivers today who faced as much of a challenge as the pilots.  And thanks also go to all pilots for understanding the effects of today’s crosswind (curl-over) and hence making all their approaches with sufficient height and speed to deliver a safe recovery.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 18th July 2020

The forecast was for low cloud until about 9.00 clearing up with the RASP telling us it could be reasonable soaring from about 11.00 onwards. Unfortunately the weather didn’t read the forecast and although we were all set up and ready to go by 1000 it was clear that the gloom and Dartmoor Drizzle wasnt going away in a hurry.

And what is in fashion for winch drivers this year?
Steve's excused was that the grass was wet.
After waiting for about 30 mins on a damp airfield with clouds at 100 feet at best it was decided we would return to the environs of the Launch hut and make tea.  Eventually the clouds parted and we got under way around 1130 but it still wasn’t soaring weather. Mike Bennet was first up and having dealt admirably with a practice break was soon in the K8 for a couple of circuits.

Mike pleased with his re-solo
Around 1.45 Scratch took the K8 and found some lift thoroughly enjoying himself for an hour.  I was next but I limited my flight to 16mins as I knew there was a queue to fly the K8 and time was getting on. Malcolm Willton Jones was next but by Malcolm’s standard did a short flight, the thermals were breaking up and it wasn’t even 4 o’clock yet.

Rick keen to fly again
John and Rick waiting to go
Rick continued training in the K13 with John Allan doing the launches and landings by the end of the day. Last up for a session with Rick was Dave Archer who managed a great flight, see picture of Dave brining the k13 back

Dave Archer returns ...
From an overdeveloped sky
By now the sky had over developed and all who wanted to fly had so it was time to  pack up with Rick taking the K13 for a flight and hangar landing it as the grey rolled in, see picture.
Steve Fletcher.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 15th July 2020

With John Smith, Martin Broadway and Barry Green at the airfield all keen to work towards getting their wings back after lockdown, all we needed was the weather to fly. Unfortunately it was another day with low cloud that didn’t want to clear even though it looked brighter particularly to the south.

John Smith arrived at the airfield first, only to find that cattle ha managed to get in. The landlord was contacted who arrived to herd them back into the top field. He asked if the wire could more securely retain the hurdle fence as it was believed the cattle had managed to breach the fence. The securing wire has now been threaded through the panels and around the poles.

Wire threaded through the panels.
 Scratch arrived to continue cutting the grass. He first wanted to raise the decks and investigate why the mower was not cutting as well as usual. Realising a new hydraulic hose had been fitted the decks were soon raised. As well as a lot of grass under the decks, Phil Hardwick notice that the blades appeared to be fitted upside down. The rotation was checked to confirm and Scratch set about fitting the blades correctly.

Decks raised ready to sort the mower.
When Colin arrive, Andy Davey and Steve Lewis set about helping him with the ARC on their Zugvogel. The fuselage was moved to the hangar to be worked on.

G-CHSH under inspection.
Roger Green was at the airfield to finish the electrics in the containers. The first problem to resolve was an earth on the lighting circuit. This was diagnosed to the wrong connections at the terminal block in the light fittings. When we started fitting the tubes it was noticed that a LED starter had been included. It was found that the wrong tubes had been supplied. This meant that the internal wiring that had been ripped out had to be re-instated. After a lot of work, we were ready to start switching on.

Workshop and storage container illuminated.
Glider workshop illuminated.
It’s been a lot of hard work, but this project is complete ready to move things in.

In the bus, John continued by fixing the tables in place. Only gas, water and electrics to be completed now.

Tables nearly reay.
Even somewhere to hang your coat then flying.
Some good work was achieved around the club. Please can we have some better weather to reward those who have worked hard during lockdown and bad weather.

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News-Roger's Out and Return to Chicklade

Post Lockdown Cross Country

Thursday 9th July Rich Roberts contacted me and advised 11/12 July were looking promising for a 300k out and return from DGS. I was even offered a socially distanced retrieve should it be required !

Saturday 11/7/20 and RASP was certainly looking promising over Dartmoor and even better into Dorset and Wiltshire areas .

I arrived on site early and helped set the airfield up and rig K13 DMX. Then I went on to rig the ASW20 and put the 16.6 meter tips on for today’s flight .After checking Notams etc I was ready to launch just before 13.00.

Steve Lewis launched the Zugvogel into a magnificent looking sky and promptly fell down ! I followed in the ASW20L and I too was back on the ground in short order !
Oh Dear not a great start .

Prior to my next launch Richard assures me he will collect me if required and the day will go on long enough to complete the club 300k task to Chicklade and back .

Second launch was better I found lift albeit broken straight off the wire . After working this for a while this enabled me to glide Tavistock and I got a solid climb to cloudbase at 3750 QNH time now was about 13.50 .

Willsworthy range was active until 16.30 so I made my way up the West side of the moor avoiding the danger areas .I was soon over Meldon reservoir. There were lots of paragliders on Meldon hill but none were soaring .

Meldon Reservoir paragliders just visible on top l/h side .
On to Okehampton and cloud base had gone up to 4500 QNH and conditions were now good . I crossed the M5 just South of Cullompton .North Hill Exeter ,Exmouth and the airport were all clearly visible .
M5 , Exeter , Exe and Exeter airport.
I negotiated my way between Exeter and Dunkeswell ATZ’s and it was at this point I decided to go to well  South of Yeovilton MATZ . Conditions were now stonking !
So climb and glide at 70knts +.

The views along the South coast were stunning . Looking along the curve of Chesil beach and on to Portland Bill

The Jurassic Coast 
Once clear of Yeovilton MATZ stub I started heading North. A Lockheed C130 Hercules passed directly under me going East . Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo but it was quite a site .

I turned Chicklade at 16.00 and made the decision to route home to the North of Yeovilton MATZ .Bath and Wilts gliding club were active with numerous gliders soaring.
I was joined by a K6 at cloudbase .
I actually went straight over Yeovilton MATZ at 4000’ .

All was going well until around Chard where after a long glide into a deteriorating sky and probably poor decision making I found myself down to about 1700’ QFE .Not
a good time to get low at 16.45pm with 90k to run !

I worked a broken weak thermal into a steady 2 knot climb , phew !
I put North Hill gliding club into the glider guider and was pleased when it was within gliding distance 23k’s.

I set off for North Hill but conditions just got better. A sea breeze front was North of Exeter airport and curled around Exeter .I was over Cullompton at 5250’ at about 17.40 pm amazing.

The Sea Breeze Front
I texted Richard to see if Cumulus were still over the moor ?
Reply Moor okay
Willsworthy shut after 16.30 .
This made my mind up and off I went to Brentor.

Just North of Exeter 50k to run 4300QFE and 1140 ‘ below glide .
 I actually had a great run back to DGS routing over Bovey Tracey and straight over 20 k’s of moor. I was very pleased to cross Mary Tavy on the West side of the moor with 1200’ to spare at 90knts. I touched down at 18.04 pm.

My thanks to Richard Roberts for the offer of the retrieve and brow beating me into setting of so late .

Trace of the route flown . 302 km at 72kph 
Roger Green

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 11th July 2020

The weather forecast was favourable, light northerly breeze and good amounts of sunshine. RASP looked really good forecasting a long day with early start a late finish and cloud bases around 4000ft.

Robbing a bank or trying out the K13 - you decide
Today saw the return of 2 seater flying. An early start was made with Rick and Mike familiarising themselves with the delights of K13 G-CHXP aand flying with face coverings after which training started with Mike Bennett pushing towards re soloing. While this was going on K13 G-DDMX was rigged after it's timely completed C of A / ARC after which it going the training effort at the launchpoint. As well as Mike, Dave Archer, Jon Alllan made good use of the instructors and K13's to further their journey towards becoming glider pilots while Ged Nevisky and Scratch also made use of the K13's to get airborn.

Dave Archer with Mike in K13 G-DDMX
Ged  in a beautiful looking sky
So what of the soaring day. The single seater grid today consisted of me with the Zugvogel 3B, Roger Green with his ASW20, Rick and Phil with their Astir,  Steve Fletcher with the Open Cirrus and one of the club K8's.

Looking down the runway to Mary Tavy .
Roger had declared an out and return task to Chicklade a distance of 302km and was looking for an early start. I took the first solo flight into what looked like a perfectly soarable sky. 5 minutes later I was back on the ground left wondering why I couldn't stay up? 15 minutes later off went Roger in the ASW20 only to land back after 5 minutes looking as confused as I felt. The sky was still looking great so at 1pm I took another launch which led to a 30 minute grind in a weak thermal. Once again Roger followed and this time he got away and disappeared. By 2pm the sky was booming, Phil took his Astir to the 4000 ft cloudbase for a flight of 1 hour 53minutes.

After a cable break, I launched again. The difference was astonishing.  Low down things were a bit of a struggle but improved with height, and, from 2000 ft to the cloudbase at 4200 above the airfield took very little time in what was now an 8 knot thermal. I wandered off to the north to visit the reservoirs at Roadford and Meldon and then on to Okehampton to see if I could find the house I lived in 44 years ago. There was evidence of sea air from the north and south coasts with large areas of blue and weak thermals beyond.

Passing Roadford Lake
Meldon Reservoir looks long and narrow from the air
K13 in a 10 knots thermal - whatever next
Looking back towards the airfield the clouds were very interesting indeed. There was a convergence which I could not resist and spent a very enjoyable time wheeling in and out of the curtains of cloud stretching many thousands of feel below me in very strong and reliable lift. Great fun.

Approaching the convergence from the north - game on
Plymouth viewed through a gap in the convergence 
And what of Roger in the ASW20. Well he turned Chicklade in good time. We were concerned that the sea air would prevent him getting back but after a little sole searching while orbiting North Hill he decided to give it a go and returned to us by using the same convergence that I had played in which was now on the far side of Dartmoor to give him a good glide home straight across the moors.
He was airborne for 4 hours 44 minutes and had flown a total of 302km. Excellent.

The ASW20 at the end of his flight
Roger looks pleased with himself - and so he should be
`So with the return of 2 seater flying, Roger's 302km cross country, a convergence to play in and several pilots making good soaring flights this was a GREAT DAY.