Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 13th August 2017

A steady southerly wind greeted us this morning (ie. not the south-westerly predicted), but it was well within limits and with the cloudbase rising all the prospects were looking good.

Our One Day Course student, ornithologist Tim O'Leary arrived spot on 9:30 am for his welcome presentation with Roger Appleboom, and our other visitors, Gary Andrews and Stephen Venning, were also very prompt. Although the sky looked promising it delivered only in fits and starts, hence both visitors were treated to two short flights in K-13 HXP.

One Day Course student Tim O’Leary is congratulated by Instructor Roger Appleboom
at the end of a successful day.
Visitor Gary Andrews also flew with Roger Appleboom.
A picture of concentration as visitor Stephen Venning
Star billing today has to go to Philip Hardwick (Farmer Phil) who, after a couple of hours winching, brought his Astir to the launchpoint, surveyed the sky and then launched into the only usable cumulus in the sky (over the launchpoint, and thence downwind), taking him to cloudbase at 2,500ft for a Flight of the Day winning 1 hr 25 mins. Leith Whittington came a close second (well, using the term 'close' loosely) in the single seater stakes with 11 mins whilst in the two seaters Roger Appleboom and Tim O'Leary did best with 20 mins, whilst Ed Borlase (with Martin Cropper) managed a very creditable 13 mins scratching at 800ft approx just to the south of the site.

Dave Downton about to be launched in his immaculate and resplendent K-6 Easyjet..!
 ...And away he goes..!
And the prize for most colourful glider at Brentor to date must surely go to Dave Downton's immaculately finished and resplendent K-6, or K-6Easyjet, as it is alternatively known. Dave is thoroughly enjoying his new mount, with its superior performance, “It just doesn't seem to want to come down!” he said. If only all gliders were like that (ie. orange..!)

 Cirrus towards the end of the day herald rain for Monday morning...
Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 12th August 2017

If you had taken any notice of the forecast for today you probably would have stayed at home. If you went to the airfield anyway you were met with relatively benign, flyable conditions. The wind was 8 to 10 knots but only about 10degress to the north of the runway direction. There was none of the forecast rain. As the day wore on, what was initially 8/8th's cloud became 6/8th's with with enough thermal activity to provide a challenge.

The benign conditions
Winchmanster Scratch has his toys nicely lined up and ready for the day
Low down the thermal bubbles were tight and narrow - great fun. Several flights were extended just soaring low down - even more fun. There were 10 or so flights with times in double figures with Martin Broadway showing the competition a clean pair of heels with 35 minutes in the K8.

The K8 takes another launch
Jo Hurst was today's One Day Course candidate. By the end of her course she was flying the glider around the circuit with some style. We also welcomed visitor Bela Carole Csete who enjoyed his Introductory flights. Today's training was handled by Rick Wiles who seems to have an insatiable appetite for the back seat of a K13.

One Day Course candidate Jo Hurst
Visitor Bela Carole Csete is keen to learn to fly.
A nice day with a few friends.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Thursday 10th August 2017

Flying on Thursday? This is the middle of a club flying week masterminded by DCFI Gordon Dennis. It is fair to say that they have already seen several seasons of weather this week, but it is also fair to say that they have been making the best of it, flying at every opportunity.

But today will be different. There is a very encouraging forecast and even RASP ( Regional Atmospheric Soaring Prediction ) looks ok. In response to this the club is busy with a lot of solo pilots hoping to get some soaring in. After the well attended morning briefing it was off to the east end launch point ready for first flight at around 10.30am in the light NW breeze.

The solo line
The launchpoint was busy and to keep things moving along the 2 line system was adopted, single seaters on the inside, 2 seaters on the outside. This greatly simplifies the task of organising the launchpoint and keeps the amount of glider moving to an acceptable level.

Ed Borlasse with Gordon in DMX
The 2 seaters were kept busy. Gordon concentrated on flying club members Tony Tayler, Ross Tayler, Edward Borlase and Callum Doyle who each had 3 training flights. This along with check flights for Peter Harvey and Mike Bennett kept Gordon firmly in the back seat of K13 G-DDMX all day to the final flight at 6.30pm. K13 G-CHXP was also busy flying today's visitors, Bella Karoly Csete ( today's One Day Course ) and Roy Wilkins flew with Roger Appleboom, Toni Pike enjoyed a couple of soaring flights with me, and Cindy Nilsen flew with Colin Boyd who was exercising his Friends and Family privileges.

Roy Wilkins waiting to fly
Visitor Toni Pike
There was quite an array of private gliders with the Open Cirrus, Standard Cirrus, Club Libelle, Zugvogel 3B, K6e, Astir and Twin Astir all putting in an appearance. Most interesting flight today was Robin flying the Twin Astir solo who found a working thermal for a flight of 37 minutes. Also of interest was Dave Downton who flew his "new" K6e for the first time.The conditions didn't live up to expectations bur everyone had fun trying in the very patching soaring.

Pete Harvey in the Standard Cirrus
Zugvogel 3B
Club Libelle
A great day leading to a total of 50 launches.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 6th August 2017

Stay flexible and expect the unexpected! A good maxim for anyone involved in gliding and proved its worth today, as the weather steadfastly refused to conform with the expected westerly, dry with long sunny periods, instead preferring a steady southerly and lead grey 100% cloud cover throughout. Our expectations for a relatively quiet, trainee focussed day were also wide of the mark, as Dave ‘the Voice’ was inundated with callers seeking air experience opportunities, whilst others simply turned up without being invited! So we had to switch from meeting ‘club’ to ‘visitor’ expectations, a change which was made admirably by all today – patience being a virtue that was deeply mined – and everyone flew who wanted to, eventually…

One Day Course student Craig Knight
The day started with Roger Appleboom taking our One Day Course student, Craig Knight, for his first perambulation about the sky, closely followed by Louise Stone, fresh from milking 24 cows in the South Hams (so this really was the latter part of her day). After a couple of familiarisation flights Craig ‘gave way’ to Peter Stevenson, Ashley Goodbeer and Loretta Elizabeth Capel. (the last two from Exeter)in K-13 HXP, whilst the front seat of the other was taken by our second Louise, Louise Hill. Louise, who had come all the way from Richmond, London (well a B&B at Whitsand Bay, actually…) with her boyfriend Alex, was visiting the West Country when a planned trip to her mother’s had to be called off (due to her feeling ‘unwell’) and so, on arrival in Cornwall, was not expecting to be proposed to by Alex! (Surprise, surprise..!) Their visit to us today was all part of Alex’s pre-planned engagement celebrations (and for him relief as Louise said yes, sporting a very sparkly ring on her left hand) – is that a first for Dartmoor Gliding..?

Visitor Louise Stone chats with Martin Cropper.
Visitor Peter Stephenson with Roger Appleboom.
Visitor Ashley Goodbeer from Exeter.
Loretta Elizabeth Capel looks pleased after her flight with Roger Appleboom
Trainee-wise we also had a few surprises. Not least being the ‘new’ ML2 winch for its delivery (or not) of power, as Dave Westcott discovered at about 150ft into his first launch! Thankfully Dave handled the recovery with composure, and no need for instructor intervention. On the long walk back he gratefully recalled the watchwords: ‘Always Expect a Launch Failure’ and will proudly record the event as a ‘first’ in his logbook. Junior Pilot Jack Simmonds was also in the training hot seat, making progress co-ordinating his turns in (very slightly) rising air. Thankfully, there was none of that left by the time it was Ed Borlase’s turn to fly, enabling him to complete three well-judged circuits ending with a hangar landing that came to rest just at the top of the cross-track.

 Louise Hill receiving her pre-flight brief from Martin Cropper.
Louise Hill landing after her first flight.
Visitor Alex Lennon-Smith with Martin Cropper.
Thanks go, in particular today, to Colin Boyd for realising that we were slightly short-handed with winch drivers, to Dave Downton for winching and Leith Whittington for helping at the launchpoint all day without flying, and to Joe Nobbs for winching and then saving us the trouble of having to tow the K-8 by flying it from one end of the airfield to the other (and lining the Treasurer’s coffers paying for the privilege..!)

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News- Saturday 5th August 2017

The weather forecast looked good with a NW wind and rising temperatures with thermals predicted.

A tempting sky as the K13 made its way from the hanger,
with the Zugvogel of the three wise men being rigged for its first flight at Dartmoor.
First in the air was John Ashworth for his one day course which went well,
A trial flight for Dave Dupont with instructor Martin Cropper
Next in the air we're family visitors Matthew Bell flying with myself .....
..... and his father in law Clive Elks flying with Martin
catching thermals to 3000 feet and 30 minutes in the air
Scratch on Approach in K13-GDDMX for a hangar landing at the end of a busy day.
Needs a wash. Thanks for showing us that Scratch
HXP . All members had flights with 36  launches courtesy of Barry, Scratch and Alan good teamwork.
A good day had by all. Now let's hope the weather stays good for the clubs soaring week.
Mike Jardine

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 30th July 2017

Followers of 1980's disco supergroup Imagination will already know that their No2 hit, 'It's Just an Occlusion' is often the reason for stopping gliding, and so it proved today.

 K-13 HXP is towed out under an interesting sky.
But not before a spirited and determined team had decided to get the most from the day before said occlusion arrived. With One Day Course student Peter Sings on hand and the wind a moderate south-westerly breeze, Duty Instructor Peter Howarth got K-13 HXP to the launchpoint under an interesting sky (see photo) and by a little after 1030 we were off. Andy Davey was today's trainee, having recently solo'ed during a couple of one week courses at Lasham (congratulations, Andy!), whilst Roger Appleboom flew with Peter Sings.

The first light shower arrived at 1130, causing a fifteen minute break in proceedings, to be followed by a full blown opening of the heavens at 1230 (see photo) which stopped flying for an hour. On resuming operations at 1:30 pm Roger Appleboom, reaching the top of the launch, determined that what could see to the SW was certainly no illusion, but the occlusion itself, and thus that the safest option was to get the K-13 back under cover before things became too challenging.

A rain shower moves up the Tavy valley.
‘New’ winch ML2 defies an angry sky...
 ...and the resulting downpour.
As we treated ourselves to an early beer, Peter Sings departed clutching his temporary membership card declaring that he certainly would be back. So, worth it to gain a new member? Most definitely..!

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 29th July 2017

Sometimes gliding can be a test of your patience. The current run of poor weather on Saturday's has been testing indeed. Today, the cloudbase was low ( 600 feet or so) with a front to come through later with associated torrential rain. And unfortunately the forecast was exactly right; when the rain arrived, it was indeed torrential. So another non flying day.

The cloud scudding over Brentor Church
As always the attending members just got on with the the next jobs on the list. Rick, Fred, Scratch were working on the GusLaunch winch engine which has been suffering with low compression in one cylinder. During the stripping down of the affected cylinder head it was discovered that a plug of rags had been pulled into to air intake and this was the cause of the low compression. The cylinder head was quickly reassembled after the offending rags were removed. There still remains an issue of some coolant finding it's way into the engine oil which will be the next fault to be worked on.

Barry and Fred with the GusLaunch winch.
Meanwhile, David and Barry completed a brake system service on the ML2 winch, Mike spent his day in the tractor cutting the grass. Heather was working quietly in the clubhouse tidying the rear lobby after which she proceeded to give it a fresh coat of paint. Amazing.

Heather trying to avoid having her picture taken again.
Note the fetching paint motif on her jeans!!
The big surprise of the day was a visit from John Bolt who was in the area catching up with old friends. John was one of the club's original members who has been an Instructor, Chairman, Inspector and a general stalwart member over many years. John now lives in Winchester. It brightened up our day to see John looking so well.

Hopefully we will fly soon.


Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 23rd July 2017

For the armchair pilot, it depended in which direction the chair was pointing. To the north, it looked classic: lines of puffy cu stretched across the horizon, to the east the sky was overdeveloped, to the south clear as a bell and to the west (ie. upwind) it was changing by the minute. And so did members’ fortunes, depending on when they launched. The early part of the day also won the award for the lowest Sunday launch rate for years: for no clearly identifiable reason we managed only two launches between 1100 and 1200, a hardly nostalgic throw back to the ‘good old’ days when the first launch used to coincide with lunch..! As the number of single seaters increased at the launchpoint, however, so did the launch rate.

Today was the first Sunday outing for Barry Green’s Alisport Silent Targa (silent it ain’t!) – an Italian built ultralight self-launcher with a 13.3m span and 50hp engine. Sharp eyed observers of the accompanying photos will already have noticed that the Silent has a single bladed propeller – the reason for it being..? Barry launched at 1230 and very soon had the engine shut down as a grey mass of cloud kept him aloft for over an hour.

Barry Green’s self-launching Silent Targa…
…and away he goes!
Others without engines included Mike Bennett, Adrian Irwin and Dave Downton in the K-8B, Leith Whittington in his Dart 17R, Roger Appleboom flying his Club Libelle for the first time on site and Steve Fletcher in his Open Cirrus. Steve suffered severe dolly problems (not what you might think) both on the way to and from the launchpoint, which were solved by Roger Appleboom binding the dolly together with a leather belt, on completion of which Roger was amazed to find that he had lost weight (or the belt had stretched..!)

Busy launch queue under a promising sky.
The aforesaid Roger A also flew our visitors, the aptly named Andrew Downton (no relation to our ‘Voice…’), a music teacher from Bovey Tracy, and Rob Giles, from Bere Alston, who was treated to Roger’s company for 20 mins as he sniffed out a thermal to 1,300ft. An unexpected visit came in the form of Sean McNulty, on holiday from Hemel Hempstead, who recently gained his PPL at Denham, the GA airfield that amazingly is permitted to operate within the controlled airspace of London’s Heathrow Airport. When it came to (hesitantly) giving Sean the bill for his three flights he declared it to be a “bargain, compared to flying a Cessna 182 for a day..!”

 Andrew Downton (no relation) looks happy to be flying with Roger
Visitor Roger Giles receiving his pre-flight brief.
Our sole trainee today was Ben Caverhill., who not only flew the entire launch for the first time, but also soared from 800ft to 1,300ft under a huge grey hoover over Blackdown – all his own work!

So what of the stats? Flight of the Day went to Steve Fletcher with 37 mins in the Open Cirrus, closely followed by Henry Ford, visiting from Mendip, who on the last flight of the day found a convergence zone which took him almost to Roadford Reservoir, thus proving that the armchair pilot, as ever, was right: today the direction to go was north.

Thanks are due to Dave Downton and Barry Green for winching, and to Allan Holland for freeing the brakes when they mysteriously seized up.

By the time we had put the hurdle fence back up I think everyone agreed it had been a challenging but enjoyable day.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Saturday 22nd July 2017

Just where did the summer go? Poor forecast today with a strong gusty crosswind from the south led to this being declared as a non flying day.

Scratch in welding mode
Mike Jardine was taking care of visitors before leaving early for family duties. Scratch was repairing the hurdle fence trailer which needs a little TLC after many years of service. Flushed from their success with the Zetor tractor engine rebuild, Rick and Phil started the work on the GusLaunch winch engine. The winch is down on power, has some coolant mixing with the oil and is not running cleanly. After diagnosing one cylinder with low compression it has been decided that the head has got to come off. Here we go again. David took the opportunity to start refurbishing the winch roller system which needs some new bearings and grease etc.

The GusLaunch waiting for TLC
Elsewhere the new Zugvogel 3B syndicate got together to begin some fettling of their new toy. The trailer fittings need some work to make rigging a little easier. The trailer is certainly taller that most glider trailers; in fact, even at 6ft 3in I can walk through the trailer standing upright. The trailer has since been christened, the "Cathedral".

The photographer, Mike Jardine, entitled this composition "Three Wise Men"."
"Should have gone to Specsavers, Mike
The Cathedral
Summer weather soon please.