Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 17th May 2017

The forecast was for low cloud and more Dartmoor drizzle and once again the airfield was a tad wet with torrents of water greeting members as they arrived at the gate.

The wet conditions prevented flying today
Phil Hardwick, Ged Neviskey, Steve Raine, Dave Bourchier, Leith and Robin Wilson tackled the intricate task of repairing the David Brown tractor PTO gear box. This was well underway when I and Mike Gadd turned up and helpfully watched. Hi tech engineering took place with delicate taps of lump hammers and other tools I couldn't identify.

The tractor repair team
Unfortunately a very brittle circlip broke on removal so I volunteered to do something useful and go and get another one. How hard could it be? I set off with the only other example from the tractor. After visiting 6 different establishments, all of whom said, 'sorry mate I haven't got anything like that try the place up the road' and then receiving a phone call from Steve Raine asking if I was ever coming back I had to admit defeat and return with the one good circlip so the PTO box could be put back, albeit with one circlip missing. I have to say how lucky we are that we have so many technically proficient members, where would we be without you guys.

Stephen Fletcher

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 14th May 2017

With a willing and eager crew getting the gliders out at 8am, we could have been flying until well past 6pm, if the weather had behaved as forecast (wind SW’ly 20 kts). In the event, however, you had to be either myopic or very broad-minded to accept that the windsock was showing ‘south-westerly’ (when in fact the wind was coming up from the coast ie. southerly). That it freshened as the sun got to work on the ground only exacerbated things, gusting over 20 kts and eventually causing us to ‘stack’ by mid-afternoon, which obviously was ‘sub-optimal’ for those who had yet to fly.

How dark?? That dark! We watch as a shower skirts the airfield.
Oh, for a N-S runway!  Interesting sky as the K-8 is shepherded home...
That is not to say that nothing was achieved; some significant events occurred over the course of the 10 launches we made. Chief among these was the consolidation of her initial experience at the club for Charlotte Duffy, Paula Howarth’s niece, who was by no means perturbed and aims to return as soon as she is able. We also managed to get Chris Owen back in to the K-8 (following a requisite number of launch failures in the K-13) and, once the very dark shower pictured here had left the vicinity of the airfield, even squeezed in a couple of soaring flights before the crosswind became too fierce. These included Allan Holland (of course) who endured 61 minutes in ‘moderately’ turbulent conditions reporting back that thermal cores were very small, that he had to spend a lot of time (speed and height) pushing upwind in the K-8 and that his best climb, from 1,200ft to 2,000ft, was made wings level in the blue upwind of the clouds. Well done, Allan! Our other soarer was Ed Borlase who, as a pre-solo pilot, did extremely well to keep the K-13 under control (in ‘the washer’) between 900-1,200ft.

Allan Holland in the K-8 seen from the K-13.
Ed Borlase soaring (in ‘the washer’) at 1,000ft in the K-13.
Thanks most definitely go to Phil Hardwick, who winched without flying, to Paula Howarth for flying the K-8 (and pointing out that things were getting ‘challenging’ on the approach) and Leith Whittington for permitting us the opportunity to rig and de-rig his Dart 217R (without him flying it..!)

If only we had a N-S runway…

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 10th May 2017

The rasp forecast for the day looked good and with the sun shining in the early morning it looked good for a day of soaring. As a result a good number of members turned up and after yet another change of ends we started flying. Flights were short though with pilots reporting some thermic activity but difficult to centre in with lots of sink around. Fred marks managed a good flight with Peter Dauny our visitor from Jersey. They managed a very creditable 18 mins when everyone else was back on the ground in under 10 mins.
Other visitors were Andrew Davis and Jack Dinham.

Fred Marks with visitor Peter Dauny
Unfortunately just as the thermals started to pick up we had 3 cable breaks in a row and so we stopped flying to replace the cables with the new cables which luckily had just arrived. All hands to the task, we managed to change them and start flying again in under 2 hours.

A likely pairing. Phil Hardwick with Trevor Taylor in the Twin Astir ...
Only to return to the airfield 6 minutes later
So around 4 ish we started flying again but still those elusive thermals teased us. By now a very blue sky with no cumulus clouds to guide us and getting late in the day a few stragglers stayed on in the hope of finding blue thermals. Around 5 pm blue thermals made their presence known and the late shift partied in the sky. Steve Fletcher getting the best flight of the day in the open cirrus of 55 mins.

The Open Cirrus waitiong for Steve before completing the flight of the day
A big thanks go to Barry who winched most of the day, Colin for taking over from him and especially to Heather who cleaned the club house, drove the retrieve all day and worked like a Trojan helping to remove the old cables by pulling them to the side of the airfield. Thankyou Heather.

Stephen Fletcher

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 7th May 2017

"Who can drive the new tractor?" came the cry from Adrian Irwin, as it became apparent that we would have to change ends to accommodate the predicted north-westerly. "I can!" The words had hardly left my lips as I swung myself into the seat of our new David Brown and fired up the engine with increasing confidence as it eagerly responded to a prod on the foot throttle. "I'll just check the hydraulics" I thought, “before pulling away...” There followed 30 minutes of pulling this, pushing that, turning the other, turning it back again as more and more members turned up to offer their valuable input until, you guessed it, we concluded we had no idea about how to lower the hydraulic forks and the (all important) trailer hitch. So how many retiring farmers do you think are on-line and reading emails at 9:30am on a Sunday? Well, fortunately for us Farmer Phil was and, in a telephone conversation with Peter Howarth that resembled a call to the NHS hotline, it transpired that to get the forks to go 'down', you first have to lift the lever 'up' (at least initially, to clear the lock...) before setting it to ‘down’...

Nobbs and Barry Green attempt to figure out the tractor’s hydraulics.
The winch successfully arrives a the west end drawn by the new DB tractor.
With that 'gremlin' dispensed with, we set about aligning the field to a westabout operation, albeit the windspeed was forecast to be low, of which more later. Early arrivals included One Day Course student Peter Spencer who, despite having endured a day in the clubhouse a couple of months ago, nevertheless returned to fly with Pete Howarth (6 launches, one of 25 mins), learning how to operate all three controls together.

Today’s One Day Course student was Peter Spencer, from Wells in Somerset.
Pete also hosted visitors Tony Jago and Michael Boon: Tony's family occupying all know seat and floor space in the Land Rover Discovery to and from the launch point.

Visitor Tony Jago was accompanied by three generations of his family.
Afternoon visitor Michael Boon flew with Peter Howarth.
But what of the conditions? Well the watchword was fly what you see, not what was forecast... The day was initially much cloudier and the lower atmosphere much more moist than predicted by RASP, light airs settling to a gentle SW’ly before lunch. The wind then veered NW and freshened, backed to W before finally settling on SW again in the mid-afternoon. It was only then, with drier air, a better defined horizon and a whiter shade of grey clouds, that we were able to exploit the conditions: in fact in excess of 10 soaring flights were logged (10-49mins, 3 in excess of the half-hour) but none earlier than 3:45pm, so it was worth hanging on for.

HXP about to launch mid-afternoon into a promising sky.
On the slow coach line of the grid trainees/check flight artistes John Knight, Joe Nobbs, Dave Downton, Jeff Cragg and Chris Owen not only had the thermic conditions at their disposal but also those of a demonic instructor, determined to ensure that they could survive a cable break, at any height..!

Fast track pilots Alan Carter (SF-27), Steve Fletcher (Open Cirrus - 36 mins), Adrian Irwin (Zugvögel), Leith Whittington (Dart 17R) and Paula Howarth (K-8 - 43 mins..!) occupied the second line of the grid, where pride of place was surely taken by Mike Bennett, who not only converted to the K-8 for the first time but managed 13 mins soaring on his second flight (both landings requiring some quick thinking, 'over the top' recoveries...). Well done, Mike!

Mike Bennett about to fly the K-8 for his the time.
Thanks must most sincerely go to Barry Green, Colin Boyd, Dave Downton and Mike Bennett for winching, and to Heather Horswill for driving retrieve and dust into the Dyson in the clubhouse. Thanks also go to those who assisted with transporting our guests, maintaining the launch point, and most helpfully pointing out that nothing was happening when I raised/lowered levers in the tractor at the start of the day..!

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 30th April 2017

Rain; lots of it; unknown for 4 weeks; fell today. There were bubbles by the hangar, puddles by the launchpoint, and torrents down the track (the ground being so dry that the rain just ran over the top of the soil...)

Bubbles...
Puddles..
...and Rapids – sights unseen for 4 weeks.
So no flying then. Except via simulator, where Paula Howarth having treated us to 'Breakfast 2' aka a chocolate battenburg sponge, gave niece and potential member Charlotte Duffy a flight via Condor software.

Breakfast 2 – a delicious chocolate battenburg courtesy of Paula Howarth
Potential new member Charlotte  Duffy with Paula Howarth in the simulator.
Elsewhere, Rich Roberts utilised the 'To Do' List hardware database to access the monthly maintenance required on the two K-13s (ie. yellow duster to canopy and hoover to cockpit floor), whilst the real engineering task of the day – fitting a new half-shaft to Rick's Runabout (aka the green Land Rover Discovery) was undertaken by Dave Bourchier and Scratch Hitchens, which they managed to complete successfully in preparation for Rick's Bank Holiday attendance tomorrow. (Obviously the weather precluded them from having the vehicle polished and ready on the 'Bourchier Line', and nominations for 'car door openers' still depend on whether they need to be SQEP'ped (ie. Scuba diver trained) for tomorrow...)

Rich Roberts hoovers out the cockpit of HXP.
Scratch Hitchens and Dave Bourchier replace a half-shaft on Rick’s Runabout.
In other news, we unloaded some noise absorbent insulation for use in the winch cabs as part of their refurbishment (...is that why we have to say “All Out” twice over the radio..?) and subjected the kettle to some pretty rigorous full power trials over the course of the day (response times poor but temperature standards – eventually - achieved...).

It was good to see Dave Bourchier back on site today (following a successful week's flying course at North Hill) albeit in boiler rather than flying suit mode...

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 29th April 2017

The day started out with a beautiful blue sky which seemed to hold endless possibilities. Stepping outside, however, revealed the strong, chilly, SE wind that was inevitably going to play a part in today's proceedings.

A small  crew has assembled at the airfield and it was decided that we would fly one of the K13's in the already lively wind with the idea of calling a halt if conditions deteriorated as the forecast suggested.

A good looking cloud street
From the first launch it was soarable under the cloud streets lining up with the wind. The trick was to climb faster that the glider was being blown away from the airfield to the north. Most flights managed this in short bursts giving an average flight time of 16 minutes with the longest being by Ged Nevisky and Dave Bourchier who managed 27 minutes.

Here's a sight not see for a while.
Allan Holland in the back seat of a 2 seater.
Scratch (Dene Hitchen) is in the front.
As forecast the wind strengthened even more and the decision was made to stop flying but not before everyone had flown including new temporary member John Knight who was returning to begin his flying training.

John Knight relaxing in the clubhouse at the end of the day

A little less wind next time please.

Steve

Dartmoor Gliding news-Wednesday 26th April 2017

Even though there are a lot of members away on the Long Myndd Expedition this week, a small, but beautifully formed group, got together for the second Wednesday flying day of the year.

There was a strong northerly crosswind, which provided additional challenges to launching and landing. The conditions were buoyant from the start but thermals proved tricky to centre and exploit properly. Bob Sansom was up to this task , however, with a climb to 4000 feet during his 34 minute best flight of the day.


We welcomed a visitor today, Jack Dunham who enjoyed a flight with IFP Steve Raine in K13 G-CHXP.

Visitor Jack Dunham pictured here with Ged actually flew with Steve Raine.
A nice day

Steve

   

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 23rd April 2017

The scene on arrival at the airfield could not have been more English: Colin Boyd’s immaculate red Triumph TR4, together with Leith Whittington’s superbly crafted Slingsby T-51 Dart R, set against a sky full of lenticulars – what a way to start St George’s Day!  

A Triumph TR4, a Slingsby Dart and a sky full of lenticulars...
what more could you ask for?
With a steady south-easterly blowing (see photo), the challenge was to get the airfield switched round asap in order to take advantage of these conditions (a quick look at the clouds revealing at least three systems at various heights).  By a little after 1100 we were underway, with potential new member Dom March in the front seat of the K-13, but the classic area between winch and sugar factory failed to deliver, although a little lift was found in the valley between the airfield and Brent Tor church.  Dom’s second launch, to a height of less than 1,000ft, found nothing but strong sink, by which time it was clear that, as predicted, the wind was beginning to swing through south to SW’ly.  Not wishing to subject anyone to a downwind launch or landing, it was decided to change ends for a second time and thus, even though the operation went flawlessly, it wasn’t until what most would consider to be lunchtime (ie. 1pm) that we eventually got into a rhythm.
 
Windsock at start of day: definitely a SE’ly.
By which time the look and feel of the day had completely changed, the warm sunshine and lenticulars being replaced by cool grey cumulus that had us reaching for our fleeces and coats.  This didn’t prevent convection however, as after his third launch Dom was treated to the view from 2,700ft (about 300ft shy of cloudbase), courtesy of a thermal that grew in classic fashion all the way up (17 mins) and took an equal amount of time to descend from.  Our second visitor/temp member was Nigel Aldred who, on holiday locally from his home club at Camphill, managed a respectable 15 mins scratching over the church on his first launch, flying two complete circuits (including landings) thereafter.  Early riser Joe Nobbs (first seen on site at 8:30 AM!) then flew three check flights (under complete cloud cover), followed by Junior trainee Ben Caverhill, before our third visitor/potential new member of the day, Johnn Knight climbed aboard the K-13…  Johnn, who is a lapsed PPL holder with a great deal of experience bush flying in Zimbabwe and Oz, found the engineless 4-minute experience “…quite exhilarating…” and promises to be back.

Junior member Ben Caverhill checks K-13 HXP after the move to the east end.
So, although we logged only 16 launches overall (including two for Leith in his Dart, one of which was 13 mins..!) we have potentially gained two new trainees, plus one (hopefully) taking positive vibes back to Camphill (but not before Nigel returns on Wednesday, if the weather holds…) and so it was all well worth the effort.

Strange cloudscape to the South of the airfield at the end of the day.

Thanks go to Dave Parker, Colin Boyd, and Joe Nobbs for winching, and to the rest of the crew for being responsive and flexible throughout (the ‘visitors’ chairs being occupied only by visitors for most of the time…)

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 22nd April 2017

The early cloud cover was definitely uninspiring. On the south coast there was 8/8 high Cirrus cutting out the sun altogether. Over the airfield there was some sort of transition with 8/8 cumulus cloud and away to the north a thin line of blue sky as the sea air drifted in from the coast. The wind today was 8 knots directly across the runway from the north. As the day wore on the cumulus separated to allow sun onto the ground and the soaring possibilities improved.

The view to the SE was uninspiring to say the least
Looking NW gave some hope of improving conditions
By mid to late afternoon the sky looked great. I am often asked what good conditions look like. My normal answer is to look for a "Simson's" sky; ie. a bright blue sky with individual cumulus clouds with flat bottoms. This afternoon looked just like that.

A "Simson's Sky"
We welcomed several visitors today. First up was David Archer who had one of our Introductory flight vouchers. David is quite keen, having visited us earlier in the year when we were sheltering from the rain in the clubhouse. I hope this is the start of his learning to fly.

Visitor David Archer looks happy
Next came the 6th Plympton Scouts. Earlier in the year they had visited as a group but the wind had strengthened to the point that we had to stop flying. No problems with the weather today though and  Connie, Carrie, Dylan and Jack all completed their gliding badges.

Connie received her Gliding Badge from me after our flight
Jack was the joker of the pack
Carrie looks pleased to get her Gliding Badge from Rick
Dylan shares a moment with his Dad while waiting to fly
Longest flight of the day was flown by Allan Holland in the K8 who came back after 1 hour and 1 minute to let others have a go. The other interesting flight in the K8 was by Tony Tayler, our Shennington visitor, who was keen to fly this aircraft. He took the last flight of the day and managed a short soaring flight under an absolutely blue sky.

A nice day.

Steve

Dartmoor Gliding News-Wednesday 19th April 2017

After it's short break from the flying calendar it gives me great pleasure to say "Welcome back Wednesday's."

Now that there is more instructor cover, the midweek flying day has been re-instated and what a first day it was

In a thermal over Tavistock
A small, but perfectly formed gang, led by Instructor Ged Nevisky got together to fly. The club K13 was joined by the Open Cirrus (Stephen Fletcher), Silent (Barry Green), and the SF27  (Alan Carter).

Looking north towards the airfield and Blackdown (Gibbet Hill) from 5000 feet 
After a late morning start it was immediately soarable. Longest flight of the day was 3 hours 11 minutes by Alan in his SF27. The most interesting, however, was Stephen Fletcher in his Open Cirrus who soared to over 5000 feet to qualify for his silver badge height gain. This is an excellent result, especially when you consider that Steve is a relatively low hours pilot who only converted to the Open Cirrus a couple of weeks ago and this was his first flight in it at Brentor.

Stephen Fletcher
There were numerous soaring flights. In fact, the average flight time for the whole day was 52 minutes including all the training flights and practice cable breaks.

An Excellent Day.

Steve