Dartmoor Gliding News - Wednesday 24th May 2023

It was a morning of gathering things to take up to the club after the Aston Down Expedition last week.  My air chart needed to go back into my glider after cleaning off the Aston Down tasks and refolding it for the Dartmoor region.  Also, as an Official Observer I had prepared the paperwork for John Allan's claim for his silver/gold 5 hours duration that he achieved at Aston Down on the last day.  In the back of my car I had a broken up wooden pallet for further chopping up and putting in the wood store.

First launch was at 0954 from the east end in a northerly cross wind.  First up was our only pre-solo trainee (Ed: Then more were to turn up), Guy Balmer, with Duty Instructor, Mike Jardine. Then Valerie Kiely arrived with Martin Broadway (Ed: Long time, no see!).

Martin Broadway working to get current again found a thermal to take him to 2,200 feet but it took concentration (Ed: Does the RNLI know that you are wearing one of their hats in such a trendy fashion and at such a jaunty angle?).
Meanwhile at the trailer park privateers, John (Mini Nimbus), Andy (Libelle), Steve Fletcher (Open Cirrus), and Phil (DG300) were rigging. At the East end Richard was rigging his Discus.
The privateers arrive at the launch point
Developing skies perhaps?
I was standing in for Hugh Gascoyne as the Duty Basic Instructor for his 1100 visitor, Mike Barrett. Mike came to DGS to take a glider flight as an 80th Birthday present from his eldest daughter.  Mike and his wife Fran hail from Bathpool, near Launceston. He is a former army helicopter pilot who then enjoyed a career in the commercial sector flying helicopters. He had also flown in gliders for four hours but since that was before I was born I discounted it.  We experienced an enjoyable flight and although the thermals were small and broken we managed to hold our own for 10 minutes.

Former helicopter pilot Mike Barrett is keen to return to the skies with Gavin
Mike receives his certificate (Ed: To add to the very many he has from his former aviation career) from Gavin
Steve Fletcher spent some time with Andrew Berry, who came for a look see and joined as a full member (Ed: Welcome Andrew). He has power and some glider experience but after a 15 year break he has decided to come back to it and start from the beginning.  Sadly he couldn't stay and didn't have a chance to fly with either Mike or I.

The contrast between Blackdown and the lush Devon fields
After the customary practice launch failure Steve Lesson took a solo flight in the K-13 before transferring to the K-8 for his second flight in a single seater.

Steve looks pleased whilst readying himself for his second ever flight in a K-8 (Ed: He achieved 12 minutes but the later flights today would prove to be more testing)
Meanwhile Valerie was flying with Mike while equipped with her customary Go Pro head cam (Ed: I must find her You Tube channel).
Mike and Valerie back from another training sortie (Ed:  Her flight was captured by Go Pro for eternity)
We had walk in from Lydford (Ed: Well he actually came on his motorbike) who observed winch operations before riding the retrieve with Martin to go a watch the flight operations.

Privateers waiting at the launch point (Ed: Come on up its lovely!  Actually it was bumpy, turbulent, bitty, and hard work).
From my viewpoint at the winch it didn't appear that pilots were staying up for long, but I had yet to launch Richard in his Discus.  The forecast north crosswind and sunny skies continued with only the occasional haze cap to mark the thermals.

Later, after 1500 gliders seemed to be staying up as I could see three were sharing the same thermal  (Ed: time to dust off the thermalling protocol chaps). Steve Lesson in the K-8 tried to join the fun but suffered a launch failure (Ed: The weak link broke).  Meanwhile at the launch point Steve Fletcher was explaining what we did to another walk in.  This time a junior.  Unfortunately he wasn't able to take up the offer of a flight today (Ed: Maybe another time?).

Andrew " Night Owl" Downing arrived in the afternoon and had a 27 minute soaring flight with Mike (Ed:  Congratulations Andrew I hope that was you on the stick for the majority of the flight).

Mike Jardine took the last flight at 1645 with Valerie for a hangar landing.  That didn't stop the privateers.  By this time both Andy and Malcolm had found some northerly wave and were exploiting it. (Ed: Northerly wave is rare at Brentor and is probably formed by the mountains in south Wales.  I had noticed small wave-like clouds to the north throughout the afternoon and wondered about them.  Well done guys!).

What of the privateers achievements today?  Well, John Allan, Steve Fetcher, Phil Hardwick, Malcolm Wilton-Jones, and Richard Roberts all achieved flights of over an hour in the challenging conditions (Ed: Of note Richard achieved his 1 hr 20 mins aloft after a cable break). The "Man of the Match was Andy Davey in his Libelle achieving 2 hours 43 minutes (Ed: What a great effort).  With the club gliders put away there were plenty of hands available to assist the privateers in derigging.

In Summary:  a cloudless blue sky and a brisk northerly crosswind set us up for challenging soaring conditions to which we rose to the challenge admirably.

Gavin Short

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