Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 26th August 2020

 A strong wind warning in place for early morning but moderating, we took a leisurely approach to getting things ready. The SF27 fresh from it’s CofA and ARC was given a thorough daily inspection by Malcolm ready for a test flight.

SF27 ready for daily inspection.
First to fly today was John Smith with me in the K13. Three flights including two without ASI he made good progress towards re-soloing.

Next to launch was Malcolm in the SF27 on it’s test flight. 

Malcolm launching in the SF27
At the top of the launch Malcolm explored some of the flight characteristics, but due to some heavy sink was soon committed to a circuit and landing. The SF27 was declared fit to join the fleet. Next to convert to the SF27 was Roger Green. Unfortunately while adjusting the rudder pedals it was noticed they were catching on something. Colin was summoned from the hangar, but the aircraft had to be returned to the hangar for a more thorough diagnosis.

While this was happening John O’Connell got ready for his training flights with me in the K13. Three flights and an unplanned demonstration of a launch failure procedure helped him with his progress.

News from the hangar that a ventilation pipe in the nose of the SF27 was causing the restriction of the rudder pedals. This was removed pending a modified pipe to be fitted. We were asked if the aircraft was required back at the launch point. Unfortunately the winch had suffered a mechanical failure. A broken alternator belt needed replacing. With no spare it was decided to stop flying. 

With two cables on the field we were able to launch two gliders. I jumped into my Astir G-CFCJ and Steve Fletcher in his Open Cirrus G-CCGY. I managed an extended flight of 12 minutes, but Steve took flight of the day with 40 minutes.

Steve launching the Open Cirrus
Thank you for all the help around the airfield today. It was good to see Heather back sporting her new footwear and serving tea and coffee in the bus.

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding Neqws-Sunday 23rd August 2020

Taken from the new Bronze ‘C’ exam confuser: Q. Which of the following may induce a condition known as ‘deja-vu’? Answer A: The cloudbase was too low for flying at the start of the day; B: The wind became too strong/gusty for flying C: Flying was curtailed due to frequent rain showers; D. All of the above.  And you’d be right, whatever your answer.  Today was, like so many recently, like yesterday, last week and the week before.  Except that today was, most unusually, forecast with a westerly wind ie. up and down the runway.

So, putting recent experience to use, as soon as we saw a patch of blue to the west (‘as big as a Dutchman’s trousers’) we got the gliders out and, with nostalgic tales of the T-21 from Chris Matten ringing in our ears, by 1230 we were flying.  The westerly wind gave great launches, between 1,200-400ft all day, but the sink was also consistent and strong.  The grey canopy provided lift in parts, from which we had a grandstand view of showers marching across the countryside, but the wind strength also proved testing in the latter parts of the circuit.  

Karon Matten being briefed on ‘slow flying’ by Martin Cropper.

Karon Matten continued to make good progress towards re-soloing, but increasing gustiness meant that this was not to be her day.  Peter Howarth took K-8 FXB for a test flight post annual maintenance and subsequently found some lift for a satisfying Flight of the Day.  

Peter Howarth awaiting the opportunity to test fly K-8 FXB...
…and returning her safely back to earth.

Back in the K-13 Ray Boundy also enjoyed making use of some unusually placed lift, before prudence drew him home.  

 Ray Boundy receiving some ‘turning tips’ from Martin Cropper.

Noticing that soaring flight as being committed, Rich Roberts leapt into the K-8 only to discover that, the day having progressed, the wind/gusts had become too strong and it was returned to the hangar.  ‘Relegated’ to the front seat of the K-13, Ed Borlase then took a couple of flights which, having found lift enough to return him to his 1,300ft launch height, caused the log-keeper’s watch to tick a couple of seconds more than on previous flights, thus enabling him to ‘snatch’ the prize from Peter.  After light rain stopped play for a period Chris Matten brought up the rear with some tidy circuits on his return-to-solo flightpath.

 Rich Roberts accelerates into the climb in K-8 FXB.

So despite A. initial low cloudbase B. strong and gusty wind C. rain showers providing good reason for the pundits to keep the pounds in their pockets, the trainees once again gained some valuable experience, benefitting from above average launch heights to plan and take time in the execution of their circuits.

Thanks go to Phil Hardwick, who winched without flying, and also Peter Howarth and Rich Roberts for their winching.  Next week’s question: what indicators predict good soaring weather?  (Answers required by next weekend.)

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 22nd August 2020

 The RASP for the day predicted 20-25 its winds from 240 and cloud base to 2400 AMSL. So whilst work was undergoing back at the hangar by some members a small flying team got together.

There's rain in them there hills
Looking east from the launchpoint
K13's DMX and HXP waiting for the shower to clear.

So with anticipation we took the two K13’s to the launch point. On arrival before we could get ready we were caught up with by a heavy shower. We had to let that pass and watched it head for the moors on its easterly journey. Once passed the skies opened up for us but we had a strong south westerly wind to contend with.

Waiting for DMX to go

Training flights commenced with John Allan in DMX with some slip and skid demo’s with Rick and Dave Archer in HXP with me for some secondary effect of the rudder demo’

The showers were never far away
Interesting view
Mike Bennett keeping a good lookout

Once in the air we could see rain showers to our right and to our left leaving a gap to fly through between them. After time the skies improved as Mike Bennett took to the air.

The instructors view from the back seat

A good day for crosswind training flights keeping well south of the airfield on the left hand down wind leg anticipating the drift.

Flying east down wind for a left hand circuit.

Some 20 flights for the day, Mark CFI flying with Phil , Rick and I taking flights with Scratch, Martin B, Malcolm, Mike B and Ged. All taking the opportunity to keep current.

And what of the work at the hangar. Well, Colin, Gavin and Steve moved the SF27 closer to joining the club fleet by completing it's weighing ( aircraft need to be weighed periodically and the Centre of gravity (C of G) calculated). After completing this Colin and Gavin spent their time on the delicate task of refing the canopy fit on Gavin's Standard Cirrus whilst Steve assembled a spare set of K13 wheels with new tyres, inner tubers and bearings.

The SF27 is ready to go. Test flights next
Gavin work on the Std Cirrus canopy
The K13 spare wheels looking innocent
after a couple of hours wrestling them into submission

A great day and usual thanks to the winch drivers and those assisting.

Mike Jardine

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 16th August 2020

 Those of you who have had to wait-in for relatives, friends, bosses or neighbours to arrive/turn up at an expected time, only to receive calls of increasing apology/implausible excuses as the hours pass will know how we felt on the airfield today.  In our case the very well expected guests were Mr and Mrs Thunder-Shower, but were they going to arrive at 10am, midday, 2pm or 4pm?  Initially expecting them to meet an ETA of 1000 we were understandably reluctant to get the gliders out but, with nothing more than lines of grey streaming from the SE over the tor tops by 1030 we set up for an easterly run.

Karon Matten and Martin Cropper preparing for flight.
Karon making use of reduced sink over Brentor Church.

Our understanding was that this was going to be a trainees’ day: get in what you could while being ready to retreat to shelter in the launchpoint if/when necessary.  Karon Matten went first and, finding some reduced sink in a S’ly line between Brentor church and the airfield, achieved Flight of the Day on her first launch (minutes amounting to slightly fewer than the fingers of two hands).  

K-13 HXP launches into a grey sky.
Karon gets the airbrakes open in reaction to
a simulated low launch failure.

After two further launches came husband Chris, but his session was interrupted by rain (not thunder), causing a 1½ hour delay (including a false start) and hence he handed the baton to Ray Boundy.  Ray’s flights were, not surprisingly, enhanced by his ability to recall points for development from last week’s flights and hence his circuits and final turns were a beauty to behold.  We then flung Ed Borlase into the front seat for three launches (two of which were simulatedly interrupted…).  By that time, using the coin-tossing theory that, having so far failed to have turned up, there was increasing probability that Mr and Mrs T-S might arrive sometime soon we decided we’d better get the K-13 back down to the hangar.  As it turned out they seemed to take a wrong turning out of Exeter Services which caused them to pass us by.  Good job we didn’t sit on the ground waiting for them, then..!

 Ray Boundy rounding out in the K-13.

So a day when the miserly pundits got the pleasure of keeping their money in their pockets whilst the trainees got some very real benefit from flying in what were unpromisingly grey, but actually quite benign conditions and hence maintain currency – and improve – their flying skills.

Thanks go especially to Peter Settings-Howarth for not only winching throughout but also for getting four strips of the airfield grass mown before anyone else had turned up..!

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 12th August 2020

With yellow warnings for thunderstorms continuing we going to rely on other forecasts and keep an eye on conditions should anything develop. Rasp gave a very optimistic outlook for the afternoon, so would there be anything to celebrate today.

First to fly today was John O’Connell. Returning to fly for the first time after the poor winter weather and lockdown.

John back in the front seat.
By the end of the day after five flights, John was doing the complete launch and flying the circuit. Hopefully he will be back to where he was and doing the complete flight in the near future. On his third flight we were lucky to contact a thermal and extend the flight to 22 minutes.

The second trainee was Johns Smith, who made good progress towards re-soloing in the near future.

The first solo pilots to try their hand were Barry (K8), Malcolm (K8), Andy (Zugvogel) and Steve L (Zugvogel). Longest flight of these was 7 minutes. Up stepped Roger Green with the ASW20 fitted with wing tips. But even with a glide angle of 44:1 could only manage a meagre 7 minutes. Next in line was Richard in the Discus. After dropping the cable over the fence he was seen climbing slowly away. But after this one climb he slowly decended without finding other lift for a flight of 22 minutes.

Richard nearly ready to launch.
Next to get ready whilst watching Richard was Steve F in his Open Cirrus.

Open Cirrus Waiting.
After launching he was soon climbing away. This inspired the Twin Astir to try again with Phil Hardwick and Martin Broadway on board only to return after 4 minutes. Steve Lewis also decided to try again in the Zugvogel and managed to find some lift and climb away. Steve Fletcher finally returned as did Steve Lewis. Steve Lewis had managed 46 minutes, but Steve Fletcher was able to celebrate the longest flight of the day with 51 minutes. This was not the only celebration for Steve, as today was exactly 5 years since Steve first flew at DGS and rekindled his love of flying after 35 year lay-off. Well done Steve.

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 9th August 2020

If the weather was a prisoner-of-war you can imagine that, after the initial pleasantries (Name: “Weather”; Rank: “High” Number: “42”) the answer to “And what are you going to be like, today?” would be “I Can’t Answer That Question!”  From which the tabloid-style forecasters at RASP would paint pictures of burgeoning cumulus, straight down the runway winds and 2.5 Stars or more rating from 1230 onwards.  All of course to be accompanied by a NOTAM warning of AIRPROX with low flying craft of a pink, porcine nature…  Today’s weather definitely appeared to have attended one of those Resistance to Interrogation courses that take place at RAF St Mawgan, as it steadfastly refused to tell why the buoyant clouds we could see upwind ran out of ‘puff’ as they approached Brentor.  

 Early morning mist enveloped the airfield.
Crossed wings salute the return of the K-13 from its first flight.

So, whilst soaring was going to be a challenge (but see later…), training went ahead as normal.  Well, normal once the sun had managed to prise the ambient temperature sufficiently far from the dew point to dispel the early morning mist.  Returning to solo member Dave Westcott performed some useful slow flying/stalling exercises which, with his eventualities training last weekend, enabled him to regain solo status.  Ray Boundy, found guilty of ‘reading a book’ during the week, used his time to build the diagonal leg into his circuits (they didn’t have ‘diagonal legs’ in Ray’s day) which he found very productive.

Solo again, Dave Westcott celebrates by mustering
his fingers and thumbs (well he is a potter…)
And holds off in the K-8 with flair.

This was also the first Sunday on which we benefitted from use of the bus as a launchpoint.  What an improvement!  For the first time it’s not like living in a caravan – true there were teething problems but by using the driver’s seat for the log-keeper the operation worked well.

The Twin Astir sharing a thermal with the K-8.

And so to the soaring.  As the first paragraph indicates, there should have been some – but could we find it?  We were all very pleased to welcome long standing member Malcolm Roberts back to the club today.  Malcolm, who battled against the tourist traffic in Cornwall to get here, had planned to join syndicate partner Phil Hardwick for a pleasant day in their Twin Astir.  Well, pleasant no doubt it was but also brief as their returns to terra firma were never very long after the departures.  

Ed Borlase squeezes another couple of turns
from the only cloud which was working.

Later in the afternoon the wind veered from NW’ly to N’ly, and gusts increased in strength.  After two failed attempts that gave a fleeting glimpse of where it was, perhaps this was what enabled Ed Borlase to actually connect for more than two turns, on the northern boundary just west of the launchpoint.  Indeed, he continued turning beneath a scrappy cloud for another eight orbits, thus enabling us to say: “ten out of ten for tenacity, Ed!”  Hugh Gascoyne in his K-6 also had success in the same area, but fell back to earth just four minutes short of Ed’s Flight of the Day…16 minutes!  Ed put his success down to a herd of three John Deere tractors working a field at the bottom of the valley which, in light of there being no other factor, might just have given sufficient oomph to propel both the K-8 and Twin Astir upwards sufficiently long enough for Ed to gather the accompanying photos.

Hugh Gascoyne gets aloft in his K-6.

Thanks go to winch drivers Phil Hardwick, Peter Howarth and Mike Bennett, and also to Chris Matten for his log keeping/launchpoint comms.

Three wheels on my wagon -
as one of the quad’s wheels ‘goes its own way’.

We also had the first divorce on the airfield (well the first in living memory).  Three quarters of the way down the centreline track, the right half-shaft and rear wheel of one of the quadbikes decided to part company and, shooting off on its own, left the bike marooned in the middle of the airfield.  With typical gliding club resourcefulness, one of the glider dollies was brought up from the hangar to support the wheel-less corner and within ten minutes we were back in operation (albeit one quad bike down).  So who was riding the quad bike at the time of the incident?  “I Can’t Answer That Question!”

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 8th August 2020

Leaving Plymouth under an intense, blue sky, it was easy to convince yourself that the hopeless looking RASP forecast must surely be wrong. Approaching Tavistock , however, it became apparent that the distant line of cloud seen from the south coast was a substantial cloud sheet. 

At the airfield the very low cloud manifested as mist hanging in the top of the trees. The higher Tors to the east were in hiding, even Brentor Church was in hiding. A non flying day? Not a bit of it. The gliders were out and taken to the east end launchpoint ready for the clearance that someone had seen in the forecast.

What's missing? Where has the church gone?
View restored by lunchtime.

By lunchtime the clouds had rolled way enough to enable flying to start. K13 G-CHXP was busy with our Saturday trainees, John Allan and David Archer who made good use of the northerly crosswind conditions to extend their skills. Unfortunately, their was no thermal activity to spice up the day for the solo pilot but this did not stop privateers Phil Hardwick (Astir CS) and Martin Broadway with Ged Nevisky ( Twin Astir ) taking launches. The K8 made a couple of flights but all with the same result -circuits only.

Malcolm's view from the top to the launch in the K8

David Archer looking towards the low cloud

Meanwhile, in and around the hangar Roger Green and I completed the current round of fettling of our Zugvogel 3B after it's recent ARC and repairs. In the hangar, Colin continued working his way through the club's "new" SF27 getting it ready for use on the club fleet. The instruments are now arranged in the same pattern as the other club aircraft, the electrics have been checked, the battery relocated to a more convenient position and the wings weighed in preparation for the aircraft to be reweighed new week.

Socially distanced lounging - K8 wings cast a good shadow

The "Loneliness of the  Long Distance Winch Driver"


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 5th August 2020

With low cloud hanging over the airfield and the forecast for it to remain all day and rain with strengthening winds it was a no brainer to declare it would be a no flying day.
Although the bus had been moved to it’s new home at the east end of the field it was decided that we would bring it back to load the glass panels with suitable padding and securing them to transport them to the east end ready to fit them into the new control tower.

Ready to load glass panels
At east end ready to install glass panels.
A job that sounded relatively easy soon became a trial of adversity. Firstly the forecast wind and rain duly arrived causing handling problems manoeuvring the panels to the top of the bus and into position. Once in position the retaining beading was also awkward to locate and install. Andy, Malcolm and Phil managed to control the panels whilst getting them up into position. John and I then started getting the beading into place with occasional help from the others. About five hours later all panels were finally in place. All that needs to be done is to refit the desk and radio before the new tower can be used.

Fully glazed tower.
While we were working at the east end, the space vacated by the bus next to the clubhouse was filled with the two ML winches to await a decision on their future.

Moving ML2 into position.
After moving the bus, Scratch made use of his time fixing a new tail skid to K8 GDK.

Richard with assistance brought the fuselage of K13 CLT from it’s storage in the old Jantar trailer up to the hangar ready for collection after the sale.

CLT on it’s way to the hangar.
One of the last jobs undertaken today was to fit a couple of lights with motion sensors into Colin’s new workshop so he can locate items without having to start the generator.

One of the new lights in position.
No flying, but a good amount of work achieved around the club. Thanks go to all who were at the club helping with the many tasks.

Peter Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 2nd August 2020

It’s strange isn’t it: the glider pilot’s irrepressible optimism?  (Some might say foolhardiness.)  Despite MeteoPro, Windy and AccuWeather all telling us that a large expanse of rain was due to arrive at 1000, following a short shower and seeing a blue channel to the west, we confounded the science and decided to get the gliders out.  

 K-13 leads the K-8 in convoy to the launch point.
Talk about false dawn..!  We did at least get two launches away before the really heavy stuff arrived, causing us to ‘stack’ for ninety minutes.  

Rain shower lashing down over Tavy Cleave.
And after the rain, the sun.
The clearance, when it came through, was not particularly buoyant, the sky looking like the inside of a concrete mixer for much of the time, but by mid-afternoon the sun broke through and Steve Fletcher did manage to get away - softly, softly to start with: “On my second flight I took Steve Lewis’s advice and aimed for the dangly bits which weren’t far away when I came off the cable.  I managed a slow inconsistent climb in a bouncy thermal varying between 2 and nothing up.  I stayed with it to 1,500 feet when things stabilised at a constant 2 until I got to Mary Tavy when it started to go at 4 up, eventually taking me to Peter Tavy where I was near to cloud base at 2,550 feet.”  Hugh Gascoyne also managed a soaring flight in his K-6CR.

Steve Fletcher’s view from his Open Cirrus at 2,500ft over Peter Tavy.
All other launches fell into the training category, where much useful work was achieved: Dave Westcott returning to flight after a six-month layoff with circuits and three launch failures, and Karon Matten, Chris Matten and Ray Boundy all making good progress.  

Returning to solo pilot Dave Westcott and Martin Cropper are looking for..?
 K-13 HXP gets aloft with Dave Westcott at the controls.
 The club’s new fleet of four K-13s make a formation landing
courtesy of some photo-wizardry by Ed Borlase
 (note shower clouds in background).
Peter Howarth and Ed Borlase gave the K-8 an airing but, as the afternoon wore on the sky returned to its ragged, concrete mixer appearance with patchy lift giving only extended circuits. By 1800 everyone had flown as so we returned the kit, now thoroughly dried, to the hangar.  

Ed Borlase in the K-8 about to release from the final launch of the day.
So was our optimism justified?  Well it enabled us to make 19 rather than 17 launches, give the gliders a good wipe-down, and was infinitely better than saying “There’s rain in the forecast so we’ll stay in the clubhouse for a threat and error management lecture..!”  Thanks go to Steve Fletcher, High Gascoyne and Ed Borlase for their (in one case trainee) winching.

Martin Cropper