Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 19th February 2017

An occlusion snaking N-S across the west of UK did not make for comforting reading on the Met Office F215, but on arrival at the airfield, the cloud-base being just greater than ‘tor height’, and the wind a mere zephyr, there was nothing to prevent us from flying – and so we did!

But that was not the only business of the day: first we had to celebrate our Inspector, ageing rock star Colin Boyd’s birthday. This we did with a delicious chocolate and peanut butter sponge generously provided by Paula Howarth, which was gratefully gobbled by all attendees, some of whom were almost moved to a twinge of regret that Colin wasn’t there..! Colin, who normally arrives at the sort of time you would expect from an ageing rock star, was at home convalescing after his recent hip replacement operation.

Colin Boyd’s birthday cake – before
and after ... a pity he wasn’t there to enjoy it..!
Once we had got the airfield re-arranged for the south-westerly that was predicted (and duly arrived) we got going with club trainees Dave Downton and Ed Borlase taking the K-13s whilst Roger Appleboom took the club K-8 and Leith Whittington flew his immaculate Dart 17R. Cloudbase was, it must be said, ‘variable’, causing Roger A on one occasion to disappear for severeal seconds. With no visitors to cater for today provided an excellent opportunity for members to practice launch failures, thus remaining current for when the season begins.

Ed Borlase prepares to commit aviation.
All was proceeding smoothly until, at the stroke of 2:30pm (‘precisely..!’) the occlusion arrived, dropping cloudbase to the deck and soaking us all within 5 minutes. And so it was a long and sopping wet trudge back to the hangar to squeegee off the gliders before we could reward ourselves with steaming hot cuppas all round.

The occlusion swept in within 5 minutes.
Thanks go to Inspector’s Apprentice Dave Downton who, loyal to a fault, saved a piece of birthday cake for Colin – for doorstep delivery on his way home!

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 18th February 2017

Today started with mist and a little low cloud ( just like an autumn day really). The small but willing assembly of members at the airfield got on with changing ends to suit the SE breeze and by 11am the visibility had improved sufficiently for flying to commence.

Today's instructor, Gordon, was kept busy with training and check flights, ensuring the winter reduction in flying opportunities had not taken the edge off our pilot's skills. The K8 was kept busy by the solo pilots. Even though the wind was south to south east, a direction which often produces a lively approach, flying conditions were gentle.

Is there a collective name for winches?
A tangle of winches perhaps?
After a quick winch change at around 1pm the sky was suddenly looking better. A cloud street had formed and Allan Holland was quick to take advantage with a soaring flight of 43 minutes in the K8 only returning to let other pilots have a go.

The cloud streets that supplied some much longed for soaring.
All too soon the temperature lowered and the canopies started misting so time to put everything away once more.  Gordon wasn't quite finished though and a talk on circuit planning was delivered.

Gordon with Callum and Chris discussing circuit planning
 Was this the end of the day? Well no, step forward the club committee whose meeting stretched on into the evening; eventually ending around 8pm.

Thanks today are due to every one who help to make this day a success, especially, Barry and Mike for the winching and Heather for driving the retrieve once again. Heather drives the retrieve so often perhaps we should put her name on the side of the Discovery?.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 12th February 2017

Sometimes it's difficult to say “no”, and sometimes objective judgement is clouded (ha, ha) by the forecast. Today's Met Office forecast was definitely for “no”, with winds of 30 kts predicted, but looking at the photo of the trailer park you'd be forgiven for thinking that the day was perfectly flyable: the photo does not, of course, show how quickly the clouds were moving from north to south across our east-west runway.

It may have looked fine, but gusts ripped across the airfield.
So another day with our head in the books, this time for the benefit of Ed Borlase, who revised fundamentals of flight and how a wing works while Dave Downton and Roger Appleboom applied themselves to next season's cross-countries. Speaking of which Mike Gadd has very helpfully posted some short cross country triangles up on the noticeboard just inside the clubhouse door to help us get into the cross-country mindset whilst remaining within gliding range of Brentor. And for those looking for their Silver Distance Rich Roberts has discovered a farm strip which is exactly 52kms from us, just south of the Cornwall Services on the A30, near Indian Queens. So if we get an easterly, that could be the goal for you.

 Phil Hardwick, Ed Borlase, Dave Downton and Roger Appleboom
plan next season’s cross-countries.
Outside the clubhouse Phil Hardwick (who has very generously decided to loan us a tractor for the year, thus saving us at least £5k – thanks, Phil) and Roger Appleboom were busy freeing up the action of one of the PTOs (yes, that power take-offs, not Principal Torture Officers!) that connect the topper to the tractor. So why is that important? Well, with our farmer/landlord having sold his sheep we no longer have an automatic lawn-mower, so those who can drive should regularly expect to spend some time mowing the grass this season, in order that we maintain as much of the airfield as possible available for landing, in event of those unexpected occurrences...

Brentor is out there somewhere
In better viz it would be just to the left of Pew Tor (centre).
And speaking of unexpected occurrences (Launch Failure!) - are you in date..? If you cannot remember the mnemonic 'ASDA', then please rehearse it before you return to the airfield.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 11th February 2017

Not the weather that had been forecast so Rick went looking for his skis whilst everyone else got the fire going and a made a brew. The snow flurries died  down enough that Rick and scratch worked up on the field on the winch and the big mower.

Rick looking for his skis
Today's outdoor workers. Scratch and Rick ( with Ninja headgear)
 Meanwhile the remaining members help prepare the hangar and help rig Mike and my Open Cirrus for weighing under the direction of Steve Lewis and the watchful eye of Ged.

The Open Cirrus on the scales
This all went remarkably well so drinks all round in the clubhouse afterwards. No flying though!

Steve Fletcher

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 5th February 2017

Low cloud prevented an early start.
Although scattered broken stratus prevented an early start, an improving forecast gave us hope that flying might be possible. And so, as glider pilots do, having set up and inspected the kit, we set about looking for something to drive/build/pull-down/remove. Fortunately with Inspector's Apprentice Dave Downton on hand we didn’t need to look far as he passed on Colin Boyd's direction to move the reserve K13 fuselage CLT out of the hangar and swap the K13 wings being worked on between workshop and hangar. With many hands available to make light work the team effortlessly slid the fuselage into a spare trailer (only to discover that it wouldn’t fit, and so had to be taken out, turned through 180 degrees and put in tail first…)

“To me,” “To you!” The team load CLT effortlessly into the trailer...
Actually it wasn't until early lunchtime (or Rich Roberts’s breakfast No3) that the low cloud-base began to lift and some patches of blue began to appear, by which time a fresh northerly wind had sprung up – not out of limits, but enough to provide a test of the team’s abilities. And to add to our problems (of course…) the ground was very soft, and so the challenge was how to get through the Flying List with the least number of ‘transactions’ across the launch/landing area. At which point up steps Roger Appleboom with the bright idea (aren’t they all…) of ‘doubling up’ ie. manning the K-13 with two pilots (where permissible) who could swap roles of PIC over two launches.

Steve Fletcher and Rich Roberts fly for the first time together.
Thus Roger flew with Dave Downton in the back seat (a first for him) and Richard Roberts flew with Steve Fletcher (winner of today’s Mad Millinery competition – see photo) whilst Dave Westcott (runner-up in Mad Millinery) and Pete Harvey flew with Instructor Martin Cropper. And so, in eight launches we managed to complete the list making only minimal marks on the grass. And all agreed that, whilst the air was smooth at height, that snappy little crosswind provided just enough challenge to make their approaches ‘memorable’…

Roger Appleboom pilots HXP whilst Dave Downton samples the back seat.
Thanks go to Rich Roberts and Dave Downton for winching, and to Chris Owen who, post knee-op, drove retrieve without flying. Talking of which, we say farewell shortly to Colin Boyd as he departs, temporarily, into the gentle hands of the NHS Peninsula Health Care at Derriford for a replacement hip. All the best, Colin, and haste ye back (ie. don’t get too used to it..!)

Today we're looking through the Round Window -
Can you see Apprentice David at work on the K-13's wings?
Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 4th Februay 2017

With the torrential rains and gale force winds of the last couple of days, it was definitely looking unlikely that we would fly today. But Saturday dawned with blue skies and light variable winds. Careful study of the forecast indicated that this would be a brief respite before the next front arrived around mid afternoon. So the airfield was readied for as much flying as we could fit in.

The scouts from the 6th Plympton group with todat's pilots.
Today we welcomed visitors from the 6th Plympton Scouts looking to earn their aviation badges. We started the flying programme with enthusiasm and the first flights were completed in beautiful ( but cold ) conditions with very smooth air aloft and some great views. for our visitors to enjoy. Unfortunately just before 1pm the wind suddenly built to 15 knots+ from the south as the approaching front made it's presence felt and we reluctantly called a halt to the flying. The scouts who didn't fly will be returning next week. We did, however manage to help complete three aviation badges which we had great pleasure presenting.

Steve Raine presents a young flyer with his aviation badge
The scouts were not the only visitors today. We also had a visit from a large group of cubs who spent their time watching the glider launching, inspecting the aircraft and using the simulator. Great fun.

The crosswind which ended today's fun
Just after the aircraft were cleaned and returned to the hangar, it started to rain. This very quickly turned to sleet and snow which was our encouragement to leave for the day.

Many thanks to everyone who helped make this day a success.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 29th January 2017

With a pair of warm fronts crossing the West Country there was no prospect of flying today.

Looking towards Dartmoor on the way to the airfield – says it all, really...
That did not, however, prevent DCFI Gordon Dennis, from making a most interesting presentation about his ideas for the flying programme in 2017 and how, with some agile thought and adaptation, the club might be able to make better use of its resources. These ideas will be presented to the committee at its meeting on 18 February, following which we hope to be able to produce a calendar for the entire year.

Spot the raindrops from the clubhouse roof.
 Watch this space!

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 28th January 2017

Today's forecast was for showers increasing in frequency. At Brentor this kind of forecast can be tricky. Sometimes the showers pass us by all day. Sometimes each and every shower pays us a visit giving almost continuous rain. So without visitors today we got out a K13 and K8 to fly until the conditions beat us.

One of a series of spectacular showwrs
The first task of the day was to change ends. This lead to some intricate manoeuvring to turn the winch 180 degrees without getting it stuck on the wet runway surface; the overnight rain had left the runway relatively soft for a 7 ton winch..

The gliding equivalent of a "Push Me Pull You".
The tractor is providing forward movements and the landrovers reverse.
Meanwhile, in the hangar, Rick was to be found with his legs sticking out from under the original ML winch. He and his crew were changing the seal on the fluid flywheel which had been leaking. By the end of the day the task was complete and the winch had been tested and was launching gliders.
Mike clears water from the wings as the pilots sit in the warm.
Flying today required patience as the showers came through but we made the best of it. Lots of practice cable breaks when low clouds passed over and circuits to preserve flying currency.

The view from the K8 in circuit towards the end of the day.

A good winter day with friends

The hardest working pieces of equipment today, the rain clearing squeegees

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 22nd January 2017

After the early morning front had passed through (see photo), and with no visitors scheduled, there was every prospect of today becoming a pleasant south-easterly day – and so it turned out. With recently qualified instructor Peter Howarth at the helm, we had proceedings underway by 10:00, and with Paula Howarth, Leith Whittington, Colin Boyd and Rich Roberts taking up the 'Dress Circle' in the single seaters, whilst Dave Downton, Dave Westcott, Ed Borlase and Ben Caverhill mucked in with the two-seaters the 'stalls', we managed a full day's flying, with 29 launches overall.

As soon as an early morning trough had passed through, we were ready to go.
Dave Downton and Joe Nobbs provided entertainment for all with simulated launch failures, whilst Joe also won the accolade of Flight of the Day in the K-13 by bumping into a mildly buoyant thermal just south of the winch for a full 12 minutes – thus causing third degree burns (thankfully not permanent) to his wallet!

Joe Nobbs brings K-13 DMX into land after a successful simulated launch failure.
Ben Caverhill practices use of the trim lever after changing speed.
Not all the entertainment was in the air, however, as Phil Hardwick demonstrated during his check flights with Peter Howarth with a devastating display of millinery (ie. a fez-like hat) that would have had Tommy Cooper gasping how he did it (answer? - Just like that!)

Glider Pilots do it... in hats!
Phil Hardwick models the ‘must have’ in this season’s gliding millinery...

As the sun dipped behind a cloud bank at about 4:30pm the temperature plummeted and it was time to get the gliders back to the (relative) warmth of their hangar.

Rich Roberts looks for ways to improve the launch rate whilst Joe Nobbs mounts up.

Thanks go to Rich Roberts and Dave Downton for driving the winch, and all those who ran the retrieve and launchpoint: a lean, mean team who consistently delivered just over 5 launches per hour throughout.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 21st January 2017

With high pressure sitting over the UK and a general easterly airflow we have been teased for several days with the sight of wave clouds and lenticulars sitting over Dartmoor. Waking up on Saturday morning the high hopes of an active wave day were dashed. The wind was very light from the SE with a solid looking low dark grey cloud cover.

The wave clouds over Dartmoor on Wednesday morning
Arriving at the airfield, hopes were raised a little as there was an area of sky over the site with only a little cloud cover. Visibilty away from the airfield was poor and was destined to remain like this for most of the day.

Looking east from the launchpoint
 We welcomed the return of Richard Jones our cancelled One Day Course from last Saturday. He and Mike Jardine made sure that his course was flown today. It looks likely that Richard will continue training to become a glider pilot.

Richard Jones with Mike Jardine
Club member Steve Raine recently qualified as an Introductory Flight Pilot and today he flew his inaugural flights with visitor Simon Aikinson.  They both seemed to enjoy their themselves.

Visitor Simon ready to fly with Steve
What of the conditions? The wind was just too light to give any real wave effects although there was an area of reduced sink to the south of the airfield. This was exploited by the solo pilots in their efforts for flight of the day. Today the honours were shared by Colin Boyd, Ged Nevisky, Allan Holland and myself, all of us managing to keep the K8 airborne for 8 minutes. Fans of "Toy Story" and "Buzz Lightyear" would say that this wasn't soaring it was more like "falling with style".

A good day in the cold conditions of a Dartmoor winter.