Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 25th October 2020

Turn a forecast on its head, and the result would have been today’s weather.  In a classic reminder to ‘never cancel a day’s flying due to the forecast’, RASP’s 900ft all day overcast inverted itself into a gin clear, showery south-westerly airflow with variable cloudbase and a teasing southerly crosswind at ground level.  So, who would want to fly in those conditions?  Well, anyone with the positivity to come in search of adventure at the club, of course..!

 Early morning cloud activity over the airfield.
After a short delay for some passing precipitation, Ed Borlase was first to launch, once again seeking to practice his field landing skills by taking K-13 CCY into the stub landing area, today on a southerly approach.  Adding to his competence and experience, these practices should prove to be of benefit next year when the aim will be to leave the comfort of local soaring for cross-country flying.  Ray Boundy took over from Ed, his aim being to regain crosswind competency after last week’s successful launch failure practices.  An aim well met in the face of some persistent challenging upwind sink between the clouds, and interfering downwind lift beneath them!  Amid all of this he met, adapted to and handled with confidence, particularly in the final stages of round out and hold-off.

 Ray Boundy launching int a gin clear sky…
…and returning..
…for a perfect landing.
With the afternoon clearance Karon Matten then settled into the front seat; sadly the crosswind being too strong to allow her to repeat last week’s solo performances. She did, nonetheless, manage to find some air rising from Tavistock (most of it courtesy of the rugby club) in order to claim Flight of the Day!  Peter Howarth then took time out from the winch to maintain currency following which, looking at our watches (the clocks having reverted to GMT (UCL)) the imminence of misting canopies led us to take a precautionary approach and get CCY back to the hangar in good time.

 Karon Matten carrying out pre-flight checks.
 – All Out...!
– Rotating…
.and rounding out, observed by spectators atop Brentor Church.
So once again, despite there being no soaring, there was nonetheless training benefit aplenty for all those who flew.

Rain interrupting play.
Graham Lobb, a founder member and good friend of the club,
paid us a passing visit today.
Thanks go to Peter Howarth for winching, and to Martin Broadway and Chris Matten for their assistance.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Thursday 22nd October 2020

 With a forecast of wet and windy for most of the week a handful of the Wednesday group decided to attempt some flying during a brief lull on Thursday. The day dawned with wet fog and low cloud but the promise of a brief clearance saw 4 of us at the airfield before 10. First task was to get Hugh's Ka-6 out of the container and get it rigged and then we got the Ka-8 out of the Hangar and put the SF-27 in its place, the Ka-8 being the only club glider permitted to fly without an instructor present. By this time the church on top of Brentor became visible confirming the cloudbase was rising so we took the gliders to the east end and had a lunch break while waiting for the cloud to get high enough to launch. Dave turned up but without an instructor he could not fly so he kindly stepped in to run the launch control, enabling us to use both gliders.

Steve getting ready.

Steve was first in the Ka-8 and waited until the first clearance arrived then launched into the blue hole and on his return reported some scraps of low cloud at 5-600' over the airfield, low cloud to the north but clearer to the south. Hugh was next in his Ka-6 and likewise waited for a blue hole to launch into and reported that the base of the main cumulus was about 800'. 

Playing around the clouds

Next I went In the Ka-8 as a large Cu approached the airfield but offsetting for the wind found me launching up the side of it from about 900'. Initially I found lots of patches of almost no sink which I circled in losing height slowly and then once below moved under the cloud and then pushed upwind and then found some real lift at about 800' and started climbing. At this moment I saw the Ka-6 launching and he released above my height and came towards me slowly descending while I was climbing up the side of the cloud. He came back in below me and when I straightened up and flew into wind again he followed me (told me afterwards) for a while before giving up. I had flown about a mile upwind towards the next cloud but was losing height so also decided to return having stayed aloft for 24 minutes. Phil came down from the winch and flew the Ka-8 next and then the other two flew again to take the gliders back to the Hangar. As we were derigging the Ka-6 the rain stared again.

K8 on approach

Malcolm Wilton-Jones

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 18th October 2020

Part of a new member’s initiation to Dartmoor Gliding is that any wind east of north, or south, could cause wave, so be prepared to soar to great heights.  Hard on the heels of that assertion, however, come a few caveats, one of which is that the wind profile must increase in speed with height.  Today’s spot wind chart did none of that, decaying from 160° on the surface at 10kts to ‘variable’ at 5,000ft amsl.  So no chance of wave, then.  And with that in mind, you could expect that we were in for a pretty boring day’s flying.  Not a bit of it…

Ray Boundy carrying out pre-flight checks.
Ray Boundy and Peter Howarth debrief the ‘awkward’ height launch failure.

In actual fact from early morning the wind settled in the south, at between 6-8kts all day.  We started off with Ray Boundy.  Returning to solo pilot, Ray, having cracked both high and low launch failures, knew he had now to face up to those ‘awkward’ ones (a bit like having a teenage child), where the decision could go either way.  Fortunately, after a demo by Peter Howarth, Ray flew a faultless performance from about 450ft, followed by an extended circuit (but more later).  So, a very big tick achieved by him on the pathway back to solo.

Dave Westcott prepares to fly his K-6 G-CEWO for the first time this year.
Malcolm Wilton-Jones gets away in the club’s SF-27.

On the privateer side, Dave Westcott took his immaculate K-6 G-CEWO aloft for his first flight in her this year, and a little later Malcolm Wilton-Jones took the club’s SF-27 for an exploratory flight, but failed to find anything more than “2 up, 6 down” for 9 minutes.

And the rear seat is…vacant!  As Karon Matten prepares to re-solo.

One Very Happy Bunny..!
Next on the trainee list was Karon Matten.  Karon has been working consistently on her flying over the past few months, but her return to solo has been thwarted by our (standard) gusty crosswinds.  Could today be the day?  Well, after a couple of circuits with Peter Howarth, followed by a particularly ‘nasty’ simulated cable break thrown in just after the winch had reduced and then regained power, then yes it could.  Occurring at 1430 precisely, Karon’s solo was not only well earned but came about 30 years and one month from her very first went solo at Brentor – in 1990!  A tremendous achievement.  Well Done, Karon!

Ed Borlase launches in K-6 G-CEWO for a (very quiet) flight of discovery…
The cloud wot done it..!  Convergence builds in the late afternoon.
So, whilst our attention and focus had been on Karon, had anyone been keeping their eye on the sky?  Fortunately, yes: Colin Boyd noticed and monitored a broad area of cloud had slowly been building from the SE, which could best be described as a mixture of convection and convergence (see photo).  Leaping into the club K-8 for a second time, Colin set off to see the promise could be turned into reality.  Returning from a stint on the winch soon after, Ed Borlase followed him is his K-6 G-CEWO.  Ed said: “ I couldn’t be sure what it was, all I knew that as I headed south under the cloud I kept on going up and, reaching the edge of the cloud, I reversed course and continued going up further, reaching about 1,700ft (200ft below cloudbase).  Colin was above me and the K-13 (with Ray Boundy and Peter Howarth aboard) tried to join us.  I found some areas where I could circle, and others where it just wasn’t necessary.  And all this was achieved in complete silence as neither of the variometers were working..!”  That’s proper seat of the pants flying!  Ed landed 30 minutes after launching and Colin, having got away a little earlier, and landing a little later, emphatically claimed Flight of the Day with 43 minutes!
With Ed at 1,700ft agl, Colin Boyd is seen here in
the club’s K-8 at 1,900ft, just below cloudbase.
Ed Borlase’s view of Ray Boundy and Peter Howarth in K-13 CCY
just south of Brentor Church attempting to join him.
So today we not only achieved a re-solo, and a very big tick in the box in that direction for another, but also two late afternoon soaring flights of over 30 minutes.  Not bad for a ‘no wave’, boring southerly day.

Thanks go to Peter Howarth for instructing, and to Malcolm Wilton-Jones and Ed Borlase for winching.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 17th October 2020

 High pressure is in charge of today's weather. The forecast wind direction is basically from the east. Hang on; high pressure; wind from the east; must mean wave? All  the forecast programs for wave said no. A detailed look at the atmospheric sounding showed the reason why. There was an inversion at about 4000ft - good, but the wind profile was all wrong. Instead of the wind strength increasing with height with a steady direction, the wind was going to be 15knots from the east up to the inversion where the wind strength would reduce and change direction to just east of south. Above the inversion the wind would return to 15 knots easterly all the way up. 

CCY and HXP waiting to go
Colin checking out the varios in CCY
But this is Dartmoor and experience has told us that anything could happen, The only way to know for sure was to get the aircraft out and have a flight. First up was Colin Boyd in the front seat of CCY with Mike Jardine in the rear to check out the vario system after the complete replumbing last week. All was reported OK.

The wave clouds were aligned NE-SW instead of the usual N-S
I was up next flying our Junior One Day Course Abagail Finnie in HXP. The launch was amazing; wafting us up to 1550 ft. The air was obviously buoyant. After a little turbulence pushing out to the east we found a weak wave bar that was giving us 0 knots occasionally 0.5 knot up and 0.5 knots down. We very gradually lost height as I worked through the controls lessons with Abagail. Moving back to Mary Tavy, we found some stronger rotor lift but to exploit this would have required some very steep turns, a definite no on someone's first glider flight. Instead we made our way around the circuit through the rotor to land after 15 minutes. Not exactly soaring but, like Buzz Lightyear, falling with style. Two more flights with me saw Abagail turning the glider with some style balancing ailerons and elevator. She completed her course with Rick and was managing all 3 controls by the end. Excellent.

A view of the wave clouds from the air
Looking down at the runway from the east end
We had another visitor today. Peter Simmonds came for a Trial flight which was flown with Mike Jardine in CCY. During this flight Mike managed to find a more solid wave bar which gave them the longest flight of the day at 26 minutes.

HXP on approach with the Twin Astir behind
Down and safe

Rick and Mike shared the rest of the training tasks today with John Allan, Simon Valiance, David Archer and Chris Maciejowoski along with solo pilot Mike Bennett all getting to experience flying in the lively conditions. Towards the end of the day to sky clouded over and the signs of wave were obscured.
By late afternoon the sky was overcast
So a busy day with 2 visitors experiencing gliding for the first time, and lots of club training for a total of 30 flights.

Thankyou to all those who helped especially to Barry and Heather who the handled winch and retrieve driving.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 11th october 2020

 Last night’s Met Office forecast, of NW’ly 12-14kts, high cloudbase, for some reason got out the wrong side of bed this morning, traipsing in like some hoodie with the prospect of a shower at 1000, or possibly 1200, but, if we hadn’t taken the hint, definitely 1400 for the final flush..!  

A familiar sight…
OK, we thought, let’s fly what we see: whereupon having got new K-13 CCY to the launchpoint, it rained. In this respect AccuWeather proved very useful in showing the rain, as did the fact that you can now look out of the bus launch point windows and see the weather..! That makes it easy to (a) justify having another tea/coffee or (b) get out and wipe down the gliders.  

Dave Westcott acquaints himself with the cockpit of new K-13 CCY.
Takes up slack…
…gets away...
..and turns finals.
Which was exactly what we did, finally being able to make a start at 1130 with some check flights for Dave Westcott and Ed Borlase.  We then moved onto the trainee list.  Ray Boundy was keen to consolidate the aileron reversal exercises he started last week, whilst Karon and Chris Matten also wanted to get back in the sky after a two-week break.

Ray Boundy conducting pre-flight checks.
Ray Boundy rounding out.
By this time, the morning’s overcast had cleared, allowing the sun a chance to do its convective best.  As Karon found at the top of the launch where she ran into a line of energy between the winch and Brentor Church that sent her 100ft above launch height.  To say that it was narrow would be charitable, however, Karon managed three or four beats before being forced to re-join the circuit.  Sadly, husband Chris was unable to fly due to an inability to get his shins beneath the instrument panel of CCY: thankfully Colin Boyd pledged to take the panel and introduce its lower edge to a fretsaw, thus enabling Chris to (hopefully) sample CCY next week.  

Technical Inspector, Colin Boyd, making ‘ears’…
Colin then leapt into the front seat of CCY to give it a quick fling around: a bit of a busman’s holiday as it resulted in a shopping list of tasks to be completed during the week..!  And finally, Peter Howarth rose to the challenge of trying to sort out which clouds meant what, but was unable to..!  

Ed Borlase heads north over Brentor Church.
And so we started to pack the gliders away, with 10 training launches, 1 test flight and 1 almost soaring flight completed.  Thanks go to Rich Roberts who (having looked at the forecast) winched all day without flying.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 10th October 2020

 Today's forecast provided the first challenge of the day with strong(ish) gusty NW winds with frequent showers giving way to longer periods of rain later. The aircraft provided the next challenge with K13 G-DDMX being off line for some TLC. To mitigate this I completed Colin's weighing of (new to us) K13 G-DCCY which after a thorough DI and test flight was released for club use.

Another shower approaches
Meanwhile, today's instructor Mike Jardine had commenced working through his list in K113 G-CHXP with a flight with experienced pilot Mike Bennett followed by John Allen, Chris Maciejowski and David Archer.

CFI mark Courtney waiting with CCY
Mark, me ( about to don face mask,
assisted by David Weeks

After clearing CCY to fly, I used it to fly with CFI Mark Courtney for my annual revalidation flights. This we completed in two flights including the usual practice cable break. This allowed me to continue in the aircraft with today's One Day Course candidate Steven Wright who was spending the day with us.

One day Course candidate Steven Wright.
CCY on the wire
The showers came and went throughout the day causing delays in the flying programme and giving the members a lot of extra work drying off the aircraft. There was no soaring to be had but that did not stop people trying with the SF27 accounting for 5 out of today's 33 flights.

Another shower passing by
We were well blessed with instructors today. Rick Wiles helped me out with my additional One Day Course Simon Vallance who returned today after we started his course a couple of weeks ago but stopped due to the very lively rotor conditions. Thanks Rick.

Simon Vallance waiting to complete his One Day Course with Rick
SF27 on approach with CCY following behind
Roger Green and Mark Courtney took advantage of a lull in the programme for CYY to complete Roger's annual BI revalidation. Excellent news.

Some of the views today were stunning.
Mark's photo of the runway from the SW corner
So what did we achieve. Well 33 flights later we have completed 2 One Day Courses, revalidated 2 Basic Instructors, progressed the members training and challenged the solo pilots with some flying in the SF27 in the breezy conditions and finally managed to repack the hangar with 3 K13s, a K8 and the SF27 using the new packing plan. Whew!


Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 7th October 2020

Depending on which forecast you studied, the rain could arrive anytime after 11:30. With a clear blue sky we started preparing to fly to make the most of the day. The K13 and SF27 were DI’d and towed to the east end launch point.

First to fly with me was John O’Connell. After his recent course at Aston Down he was keen to get back in the K13 after flying a K21. He soon settled back in and with a few prompts around the circuit and approach successfully landed the K13. By the third flight there was no prompts and he was very please with his flying.

John happy with his flying.
Later John had another three good flights in slightly more testing conditions after the wind increased and had moved around towards the south.

In between John’s flights, Steve Fletcher took to the front seat for a couple of cable break practices. So after two long walks he was happy to have refreshed himself with this very important part of the flying syllabus.

The SF27 was kept busy with the solo pilots. Steve Fletcher, Phil Hardwick, Barry Green and Malcolm Wilton-Jones taking turns. Hugh Gascoyne was briefed by Malcolm for his conversion flights.

Hugh ready for his conversion flight.
Whilst we were all making best of the better conditions than forecast, a team were busy in the hangar. The new K13 was weighed and rigged ready for the CofA/ARC to be completed.

G-DCCY being rigged
G-DCCY all rigged.
The next problem was to see if three K13’s, a K8 and SF27 could be shoe-horned into the hangar. The hangar was cleared as much as possible including moving the Zugvogel into storage in one of the containers.

A nearly cleared hangar.
Five gliders neatly arranged.
One of our pilots found time to enjoy his lunch in between all the flying.

Andy Davey enjoying his lunch.
Just in time with all the aircraft neatly arranged in the hangar, the rain arrived. Thank you to all at the airfield today. We made best of the better weather and good work was also achieved in the hangar.

Peter Howarth