Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 6th February 2021 Condor Racing

 This Saturday due to lockdown we met up for our Condor flight. There were 3 pilots missing from our normal crowd. 

The task set was Long Mynd, Nymphsfield, Weston-Zoy, Chard, Cullompton, Bovey Tracey, Brentor. Distance 304km or 190 miles. All airspace is active, including Bristol airport which is Cat. D airspace, and the red rectangle over Weston-Zoy to make life a little difficult. Weather 14knts from NE, Cloud Base 4593ft Variation low, Thermals Strong Variation low, Width Normal Variation None. For those that have read last week’s blog, a number did complain about the strong turbulence that was set last time, so this week it’s set to weak.

Glider Type = Diana2 only. Aerotow to 3500ft.

After a quick briefing during which I mentioned that Bristol Airport is Class D airspace and no one here had a radio license so we had to fly around it and I also mentioned that the thermal width setting to normal meaning that all the thermalling would need to be done at 45o. Two pilots choose a relight (have another start) after running into trouble. At the start a few or us chose to make life easy and set my altimeter to QHN, meaning we only had to stay below 2000ft when we arrived at the temporary airspace over Weston-Zoy. Alan, Hugh, Phil, Ed and I also chose to fill the water tanks on the gliders, Simon and Matt elected to take half tank, though Matt emptied some out early on. We all started close together with Alan getting the best start followed by Ed, Phil Me, Hugh, Simon and Matt. 

Matt confessed after a restart that he hated the Diana2 as he could never get it to thermal. After getting low again he was left with no option but to press Q twice which gives you 2000ft in height, it also penalises you with 100 penalties points each time it is pressed. Poor Matt had a hard time and ended up pressing Q quite a few times. 

Phil, Ed. Hugh and Alan over 9 miles ahead
Half way to Nymphsfield Hugh had overtaken me and was catching Alan. As we approached Nymphsfield over the River Severn, Phil was bringing up the rear and Alan had trouble with a few thermals. As I said at the start you need to keep at least 45 degree bank or you slipped out of them, they were also a little harder to find. This allowed Hugh to take the lead with me following a few miles behind. 

Next obstacle was Bristol airport. By the time we got there I was catching Hugh who ended up choosing a cloud further away meaning he took a longer way around the airspace, which allowed me to scrape by. At this point the places were Matt with the aid of the Q button was in front, though with penalty points this put him last, me with Hugh right behind me, Phil, Alan, Ed and Simon were all close together. At this point Alan decided to empty his water tanks which made life easier for him.

The next obstacle was the temporary class A airspace over Weston-Zoy. Normally no one would set a task through it in real life, However it does mix things up a bit and does test all the pilots. As I approached I took a quick climb which allowed me to increase speed close to VNE (maximum flying speed without damaging the glider) and as I entered the zone I was under the 2000ft height. I don’t think I would do this is real life. As I lost height I started to slow, meaning I could stay close to the 2000 feet. A lot of banter often goes on over team speak, I heard Phil ask Hugh “Do you really need to be climbing so high just before the controlled airspace!!!”  Once I had reached the turn point I noticed there were very few clouds again. However one was placed nicely over it, I know it’s not real, But it’s isn’t very comfortable being at 1400ft QNH with a glider full of water. I climbed to just under 2000ft and set off again, this time flying at 60knts to maximise the distance for the height I had, I did have to top up my height again near the end of the controlled airspace. As I emerged from it the sky was nearly all blue, not many clouds within flying range. I noticed a few wisps of white. A cloud was developing, what timing!!  I headed for it and started climbing in a strong thermal giving me between 6 and 8 up. It was then I noticed Phil had emerged from the airspace ahead of Hugh. He had a good 2nd leg and taking 2nd place.  

Phil, Hugh and Ed not far behind.
No major airspace to deal with now, towards Chard then Cullompton, Bovey Tracey. All this way I had Phil close behind me. I knew I had the advantage as I was a good 1500ft higher, though one missed thermal could change everything. 
Hugh’s View as he flies over Dunkeswell.
Plenty of height to fly over the ATZ
After Bovey Tracey the flight computer was saying I had enough height to make it back to Brentor. However what the flight computer didn’t know is I had to fly over Dartmoor first so I took a final climb to give me plenty of height. The thermal was a good one giving me a between 8 and 10 up.

If only we had lift like this at Dartmoor!
Now a dilemma, do I stay and get more height allowing me to fly a lot faster to the finish, or level early and fly slower so not to lose the height. As I was climbing so fast I choose the height and then fly very fast to the finish. As I was leaving Phil joined the same thermal. Once Dartmoor was behind me I pressed W to empty the water ready for landing.  One rule we have is that you must finish with enough height to do a circuit and land safely. I went through the finish at 130knts with 1400ft QNH or about 600ft above the ground at Brentor pulling up to convert the speed to height and climbing to over 1000ft, plenty of height for the circuit and landing. Phil wasn’t far behind, with Hugh, Ed, Alan and Simon bringing up the rear. Simon only started flying in September, with the lock downs we have had he did really well only using the thermal helpers twice. Matt finished 1st but due to using the Q 14 times finished last. Was a good mornings flying, But I am really missing getting in the air for real. We are all hoping it will not be much longer.

Final Positions

Rick Wiles

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 30th January 2021 - Condor

Saturday we gathered for the week's Condor2 challenge. Even though we were missing some regular members (Scratch John, and North Hill member Matt) spirits were high as it’s good to have a little human contact, however virtual. We congratulated the Theatre Royal for the slot on the One Show about Alan Fox. Ed informed us that the interviewer should actually have been Elaine Paige not Michel Ball. “A shame” mused Richard as he said, "She knows him so well".

The task was set: - Brentor, Crediton Station, Weston-Zoy, Sherborne, The Park, Glastonbury, and finish at North Hill. Distance of about 251kms or 135 NM.

The task
Conditions were set: - Wind 13knts from NNW, Turbulence = Strong, Cloud base 4500ft high chance of variation, Strength = Moderate with a high chance of variation, Width = Wide with a low chance of variation. There were the usual complaints about tug pilots, task setting, and the strong turbulence which highlighted the difficulties with heavy water loaded gliders towing in a crosswind.  Not a common problem at our club!

Ed led the field across Dartmoor most of us enjoying strong thermals and good cloud bases, at this point Matt joined us on TeamSpeak, He's still unfortunately on East Devon time had missed the start gate, so we all agreed to restart the task from NH (NOT influenced by Ed flying in front of Rick!).

More traumatic launches (see Hugh’s demise below after dropping a wing on the ground run) from north hill Forced Rick to change the wind direction more west and away we went again. Matt leading the way with a EB 29 which we think may have been wider than Brentor Airfield!

More aerotow practice required Hugh?
At the Weston-Zoy turn point, Rick had placed a large rectangular air space 2000' QNH to FL45. The approach was at 2000' at VNE the exit to Sherborne fortunately followed a cloud street all be it into Yeovil’s MATS in my case.

Alan in the distance
Hugh sharing a thermal
This area is known for bad thermals and in Condor it's no different, this caused even more complaints. especially as the fastest way back from Glastonbury was back through it again.  Alan and I required help – i.e., the "Q" button which is the equivalent to a land out but less work. Hugh elected to land out 12 miles from the finish (pic below) rather than resort to using the “Q” button.

Ed below
Matt returned first followed by Rick and ED. The rest of us drowning our sorrows in a virtual pub in the Somerset levels. Had the CFI organised the retrieve crews, unplanned incidents paperwork for airspace infringements the task setter would now be very unpopular. It's a good job, it's only virtual!

The results over laid on the Duo Discus
This isn’t flying but it’s the best we can get at the moment, thank you to all that took part.  The company and chance to use sentences like "you’re turning the wrong way" or "you will climb better without air brakes" help to remind us of better times.