Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 16th October 2016

When does the average Instructor know that it’s time to cease flying? It’s not something that’s taught on Asst Cat Course, nor is it easy to reconcile with the motivating force behind most people’s presence at the club ie. to fly! But sometimes you don’t need to weigh up the factors yourself, sometimes the messages all around you, just waiting to be heard… Strangely enough, there was a conversation on line this week in which someone asked for the crosswind limits of a K-13. Well, you won’t find them in the Flight Manual, that’s for sure, but with the wind today crossed 90 degrees from the South it did call that question to mind…

The workshop ready to receive a new set of wings.
First job of the day, however, was to lift and shift wings from the hangar to the workshop and vice versa, for which many hands did indeed make light work, and was accomplished (without argument or injury) inside 20 minutes. Then, being a Sunday, and as declared by Heather Horswill, it was window cleaning day, including the launchpoint, where Heather requested a long pole to give the necessary reach. Well, we couldn’t find one and so we provided Ed Borlase, who seemed a perfectly adequate substitute..!

“If you could see what I can see…” when Ed Borlase is cleaning windows...
With these tasks completed, ends changed and Roger Appleboom teamed up with One Day Course student Russell Weston, we could start flying. After the first couple of launches the call came from the winch: “Can pilots please lay off properly to the South?” a message which didn’t need relaying from the launchpoint radio, you could hear the emphasis in Barry Green’s tone from the cockpit… The wind at that point was S’ly 7kts, gusting 15.

One Day Course student Russell Weston, from Plympton, with Roger Appleboom.
Roger and Russell on approach in K-13 G-CHXP
Visitor Jonathan Pugh with Roger 
First on the club trainee list was Dave Downton who, after a couple of launches (and near perfect recoveries) was asked “you’ve got to lay off even more”, (well, that was hardly a question). It would appear that the wind was freshening. Roger flew our 1200 visitor Jonathan Pugh whilst Dave made way for Ed Borlase in the other K-13. At which point we noticed the wing tip holder was having difficulty in keeping the wing down. On return from Ed’s first flight I couldn’t find a tyre to put on the wing because they’d all been press-ganged into providing gravitational assistance for the K-8, and then couldn’t find a wing tip holder because they’d all taken shelter behind the launch hut. Something, slowly, was beginning to form in my Holmesian-like brain.

Dave Downton turns onto final approach in K-13 G-DDMX.
Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 9th October 2016

Today we discovered that dramatic steps had been taken, and replaced, to enable us to get into the launchpoint. Following condemnation of the previous flight (which had been held together by a wing and a prayer over the last few months) a plea was posted on the Forum which resulted in, yes, you’ve guessed it, ‘The Voice’ of Dartmoor Dave Downton responding with his wood cleaver and drill to effect a midweek replacement of the steps (see photo). Well Done, Dave, and thank you.

Dramatic Steps have been taken, to put in place New Steps;
thanks to Dave Downton and Colin Boyd.
Today was also new winch induction day. Our new blue winch (which you could be forgiven for thinking is the old one simply given a lick of paint) has some significant differences in the brake department which require each winch driver to be trained in before taking over. This lost us some time and launches today which, although inevitable, was ‘sub-optimal’ and is to be regretted.
Could that be wave? The new winch is framed by a crescent or early morning cloud.
But what of the weather? The forecast predicted 060 at 8-13kts and so naturally, we were all expecting to be at x,000’s of feet in wave by midday, and indeed the early cloud looked that way. But from mid-morning it was clear that the real weather had other ideas, being generally northerly 7kts/light and variable on the surface with no change of direction but increasing in speed with height. Which eventually gave rise to… convection, classic cumulus and some superb thermals (better than August or September’s miserly offerings…) These allowed nearly all club trainees, Charlie Taylor, Dave ‘the Potter’ Westcott, Elliot Acton (22 mins with Peter Howarth) and Jeff Cragg to get some soaring, whilst Peter Howarth flew our One Day Course, Jeff Ellis, and visitors Charlotte Moraiz, Freda Welton and Jeff’s wife Liz Ellis.

One Day Course student Jeff Ellis, from Kingsbridge,
with Asst Cat Flying Instructor Peter Howarth.
 Inquisitive visitor Freda Walton (see text).
Jeff’s wife Liz, prior to her flight with Martin Cropper.
Visitor Charlotte Moraiz.
Although Flight of the Day went, by a country mile, to Roger Green in his ASW-20, mention must also be made of Roger Appleboom managing 1hr 50mins in his K-6 (see photo), Paula Howarth achieving 14 mins in the K-8, Barry Green 22 mins in the Zugvögel and Peter Howarth 15 mins on first flight in his newly acquired K-6CR. Roger, meanwhile, who headed for Cornwall, said that “initially, climbs were to 4,000 ft QFE (!) with big areas of sink in between. Very weak wave in late afternoon…” He also found time to take some spectacular photos, one of the Tamar which, if you trace its course from the top of the photo, shows just how steep, narrow and tortuous the valley becomes upstream, and another in which you can gloat over the queue of cars crossing the bridge at Gunnislake. Those who know the area will be able to make out the zig-zag of the A390 as it careers down to the bridge and the steep incline of Newbridge Hill that then climbs up into the village.

Roger Appleboom, in his K-6CR, seen soaring by Roger Green in his ASW-20.
How many cars can you see crawling across the bridge to Gunnislake?
Roger’s intriguing picture of Sunday afternoon traffic crossing the Tamar.
The River Tamar snakes south towards Plymouth and The Sound.
At the end of the day we had logged 38 launches, with 2 genuine cable breaks (both blue links…) Whilst waiting to be launched, one of our visitors (Freda Welton) asked what was the duration of the average flight. Well, today, Freda, our average flight time was a little over 14½ minutes - not bad for mid-October…

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 2nd October 2016

Over 38 flights took place today over the UK that were in excess of 100km (the longest being 300km, from Keevil, in North Somerset) - one of which was from Dartmoor! But more of that later.

A very promising weather forecast (RASP showing 3.5 by 1:30pm) for the time of year generated an equally good turnout today, with visitors, trainees and solo/privateers aplenty. Plus the all important Acceptance Flights for our two new Asst Cat Flying Instructors, Rick Wiles and Peter Howarth. Undertaking the new modular BGA Course has been like a marathon for Rick and Pete, requiring them to give up weekends and travel to at least three other clubs in order to complete the various sections, plus ground school at Brentor, demanding a great deal of commitment and time away from home. And yet they seem to have come through with their sense of humour intact! Well Done both, and thanks also to CFI Don Puttock for leading their training.

Newly Qualified Asst Cat/Flying Instructors Rick Wiles and Peter Howarth
congratulate each other having completed their Acceptance Flights today
(CFI Don Puttock was in the air at the time)
On the ground we got off to a bit of a faltering start, but it wasn't long before Duty Pilot (Don Puttock) put things right and by afternoon we managed 2 hours at 8 launches per hour, with 3 others at 6 lph and 1 at 7 lph.

By 11am the sky was starting to look very impressive over Cornwall, and not long after the Cu began popping off over the airfield. The wind was a little disappointing, choosing to align itself much further SW than the westerly that had been forecast, however it was nothing like the Southerly near gale that blew yesterday, and did not hamper our operations.

Roger Appleboom, today's intrepid IFP, flew with visitors David Gilbertson, Martin Hills, visiting photographer Roger Bacon and émigré paraglider Jan Baev, whilst shiny newly qualified Peter Howarth flew with trainees Dave Westcott and Callum Doyle and Rick Wiles flew with trainee Ed Borlase - we waste no time at Brentor!

Visitor David Gilbertson flew with IFP Roger Appleboom
Visitor Martin Hills
Photographer Roger Brown travelled from London to visit the club.
Four of our solo members managed flights in excess of 30 mins, including Barry Green (43 mins), Richard Roberts (47 mins), Robin Wilson (57 mins), and Roger Green (2hr 9 mins). Richard used the day principally to show off the sinuous lines of his new Discus 2bw (which in Schemmp-Hirth-speak means: yes, it's got "2 bloody winglets"!), whilst Roger, in no need of such fripperies, flew a quadrangle of 110kms in his ASW-20, around Roadford Lake (reservoir), Launceston, Gunnislake, Princetown and back, spending 65% of his flight above 3,000ft amsl, and almost all of it above 2,000ft amsl (just the launch and the landing weren't...), returning to base as a convergence began to set up in late afternoon.

Flying N-S to the west of Dartmoor, Roger spotted a convergence zone begging to set up.
With Tavistock approaching on the nose,
another view of the convergence from Roger’s ASW-20.
Roger Green’s view of Roadford Lake to the north of the A30.
Late afternoon?? Yes, it has to be admitted that 'late afternoon' is creeping in and rapidly reducing temperatures (misting canopies) plus low angle of the sun (glare) mean we may need to start packing away (stack) before our keen, newly qualified instructors are ready to hang up their parachutes. So remember, you have a part to play in safety (whether it be advising caution or just calling "Stop, Stop, Stop"); and no one will object to us achieving less than the 53 launches that we did today, if a potential incident is avoided in doing so.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 25th September 2016

Pinch yourself: are we still flying? Yes, we are..! Today exceeded all expectations.

With various forecasts predicted that, after a benign sunrise, the day would turn into either
     a. heavy rain showers becoming more persistent or
     b. winds gusting from the west to over 20-25kts, we actually flew all day.

Ed Borlase captured this double rainbow mid-morning.
OK, well, there was a break for 30 mins whilst a shower passed through but that was nothing like the torrential downpours that afflicted others in the locality. And yes, we did send the K-8 back to the stables because the wind freshened and crossed on the runway sufficient for us to be concerned, but otherwise conditions did not become as threatening as the forecast predicted.

K-13 G-CHXP rotates in to the climb.
And so it was that IFP (soon to become fully fledged Flying Instructor) Peter Howarth was able to fly all our voucher visitors: Charlie Blanchard, the amazingly light (so light that they had to fly in the back seat of the K-13) and polite family of Josh Lai, Mia Burgon and Louis Costello and Chris Greatrex.
Visitor Chris Greatrex about to fly with Peter Howarth.
Josh Lai, Mia Burgon and Louis Costello flew with Peter Howarth today.
As cloud and energy systems passed over the site it was possible to find some significant amounts of 'up', however these were difficult to centre in and hence Flight of the Day went to Bob Sansom with 17 mins (most of which were spent at or around 1,000ft agl). Steve Fletcher, Adrian Irwin, Ed Borlase, Jeff Cragg, Joe Nobbs and Paula Howarth also managed to find lift in patches as the sun continued to shine and wind remain within limits.

Club member Bob Sansom achieved Flight of the Day
during this soaring flight just to the SE of the airfield.
Ed Borlase’s view of the approach cross-field into the SW’ly wind.
Down in the clubhouse Allan Holland arrived to present Chairman Martin Cropper with an absolutely superb pastel painting made by former member Eric Rodmell recording a flight to Okehampton and back that Eric and Allan made in wave in 1997. Eric joined the club at age 77, went solo at age 79 and will be 100 years of age next month. Happy Birthday Eric!

At the end of the day we had logged 32 launches which, given that we expected to be either rained off or blown out by midday, was not at all bad.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 18th September 2016

With a ridge of high pressure out in the Atlantic and RASP indicating plus 3 and beyond by late morning there was everything to play for today. And that didn't apply to just us, even the animal kingdom got in on the act as, whilst we we towing out the gliders, we were greeted by the sight of a young deer grazing by the south boundary! It remained intent on feeding until we got quite close before deciding to bolt into the gorse by the eastern trailer park from which, try as we might, we couldn't extricate it. So should we stop flying until we could be sure it was not going to cross the runway? Or should we, as Paula Howarth succinctly put it: “Play it by deer..!” (We didn't see it again).

Bright and cloudless during tow out of the gliders, when we were met by...
Bambi:  ...a young deer grazing by the southern boundary..!
The day positively blossomed with cu, quite low at first, in lines from SW-NE from about 1130 onwards, allowing One Day Course student Craig Davidson and other trainees to be given extended flights from the start. Today's IFP, Roger Appleboom, had a very busy time, not only with Craig, but flying with visitors David Westcott, Peter Fordham, Barry Lavers and Leanne King. We also welcomed reciprocal aviators in the shape of Henry Ford, from Mendip, and Vincent Radley, from the Mynd, to the delights of flying at Brentor (indeed Henry shared second equal place for Flight of the Day with Paula Howarth at 24 mins (K-8) – the winner being Richard Roberts with 30 Mins in his K-6CR).

Visitor Barry Lavers.
Driving Test Examiner Leanne King gave Roger a ‘Pass’!
Visitor Peter Fordham prepares to fly with IFP Roger Appleboom.
Whilst solo pilots Leith Whittington and Martin Broadway and trainees Dave Downton, Dave Westcott, Ed Borlase and check rider Jo Nobbs plugged away at attempting to soar in cyclic conditions, by 3.30pm it had to be admitted that the skyscape had become permanently overcast, thus preventing the sun from weaving further magic. At the end of the day, however, with 42 launches in the bag, (including 3 by the Zugvogel – the hangar was empty..!), it had to said that some very pleasant conditions had been enjoyed by all

Paula Howarth’s view of the River Tamar
from the cockpit of the K-8 at 2,300ft agl.
A picture in concentration:
Paula Howarth in training to drive the winch.

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding News-Another Week at Aston Down by Paula Howarth

Driving through the gates at Aston Down felt like slipping into an old pair of comfy slippers rather than the slight daunting feeling we had last year. Dad (Peter Howarth) and I unloaded the car, settled into our rooms and made ourselves comfy in the clubhouse, contemplating the week ahead of us. What weird and wonderful exercises would Don have in store for us? What conditions would we face? Would Dad get the chance to fly the ASW19? Would I achieve a soaring flight I have desperately longed for? Stay tuned…

Monday – 8:15am, in the briefing room to meet our course mates and reacquaint ourselves with the quirks of the Aston Down airfield (I.e. Don't land in the crop!) We weren't in any rush as it was wet and foggy. Aims of the week discussed, weather, RASP and NOTAMs studied and the optimistic approach adopted that this weather WILL clear – because that's what all glider pilots do – it was time to get the toys out. Having being used to our trusty wooden gliders of the K13 and K8, I was really excited to get to grips with the glass fibre K21, one of the club dual training aircrafts, and the K23, the single seater. This was the first aim of my course: to convert to glass fibre. At the launch point, the question was who's going to test the cloud base? And guess who drew the short straw… Me! A quick briefing on what to do when launching into cloud and it was time to go. We launched and before long Don and I were in cloud at 800ft, but we held on to 900ft to do the cloud exercise – release under tension, open the air brakes and wait until we see the ground. My week of flying had begun and just 6 flights in, it was a great feeling to know that Don wanted to send me off solo… Shame the ruddy cross wind was a tad too strong! Dad had a couple flights in the K23 to familiarise himself with the airfield once again.

Tuesday – conditions were better although the crosswind was still pretty strong. So it was more of the same as yesterday. Getting used to the K21, circuit planning, oh and the small matter of my first ever REAL cable break. And boy did I break the cable! (See photo) it was a low level break and those of you who know Aston Down will know that it's fairly easy to make the decision to land ahead. I felt great and it just goes to show that the training really does pay off and natural instinct just takes over based on those eventualities we all go through during our pre flight checks. Unfortunately due to the cross wind again, it was decided that going solo would have to wait another day.

The damage to the cable…oops!
Wednesday – today we were flying from the other end of the airfield, the southern end. Last year this was my solo end… Was this a sign? It was also club day so there were a few more faces and gliders at the launch point. Don and I flew together again a couple of times; he was rather silent on flight 2 and lo and behold, when we landed I was asked “do you want to do that on your own now?” YES!! So it was out with the instructor and in with the ballast. Waiting for the take up slack, I glanced over my shoulder at Dad and he definitely did not look as nervous as the last time I soloed at this airfield! Over the course of the morning, I did quite a few solo flights in the K21, mainly circuits and stalls as conditions weren't anything special. Towards the end of the day, I had a briefing from instructor-to-be Dad on the K23. The short version is that it's a glass fibre K8, so for anyone from DGS thinking about glass fibre aircraft, the K23 is the perfect starting point. First couple of flights took a bit of getting used to, but by the third flight, I was loving this little single seater. Dad got the chance to fly the ASW19 today too.

Peter: Having not flown a glider of this type, I approached Don to ask for a conversion briefing and any other details that I needed to know about flying the ASW19. The reply was, “nothing special to know other than remember it has got a retractable undercarriage”. So after a thorough check of the placard and careful familiarisation with the cockpit layout, it was time to pull the glider onto the grid, get strapped in and do my checks. Shortly afterwards I was being pulled up into the air by the Skylaunch winch. At 1500’ it was wheel up and try to find some lift and get used to flying the glider. No lift found and only reduced sink, but at least I could go further to try and find something. It was soon time to start planning my circuit and landing. So using WULF, I configured the aircraft for landing, putting the wheel down and set off downwind. A good circuit and landing opposite the bus, the first flight was over. The second flight was much the same. I unfortunately didn’t have chance to fly the ASW19 again and have a good soaring flight, but it was a good experience.

Dad contemplating the ASW19 cockpit before launching.
 Thursday – this was the worst day weather wise. Thick fog and drizzle meant there was no rush to get the toys to the launch point. Instead it was a briefing about aircraft limitations and the importance of a reference point during the approach. By late morning cloud base was high enough to get the toys out for some all important circuit practice and further familiarisation of the K23. Before that though, Don set me off on a Bronze C paper to see how I'd fair. Unfortunately I didn't reach the pass mark on a few of the sections but I was pleased with what I achieved given that I haven't done any studying for it yet. Maybe a goal to achieve over the winter perhaps? I then joined everyone at the launch point to explore the conditions: 1200’ cloud base and flights of only 10 minutes. Dad also had a flight with Don aka. Bloggs in the K21 where he had to induce a launch failure and Patter through how to deal with it. Spirits weren't too damp though as we had a lovely roast pork with all the trimmings to look forward to for the course meal.

Friday – what a beautiful morning! RASP showed an inversion that would disappear over the course of the day. Visibility was 30km, light winds and lots of cumulus to bounce around underneath. The launch point was very busy with club members declaring all sorts of cross country tasks. I've never seen so many gliders queued for a launch, mainly ASW19s and 20s. Then came along an Ash 31; a motor glider with a 31m wing span that self launched – what a sight that was! I had three flights in the K23 while it was quiet and could feel that the bubbles were starting to form. But when it came to my turn again, it was so busy at the launch point that I decided not to launch. It was fairly intimidating seeing so many gliders, knowing that they all wanted the nearest thermal to go off soaring, and I didn't fancy getting caught up in all of that seeing as I'm new to the skills of soaring. Instead I took myself off to the winch, a lovely Skylaunch winch which I was allowed to have a go at under the guidance of Dave.

Waiting to launch in the K23.

Waiting until the afternoon to launch paid off massively for me. My next launch took me to to 1500’ off the top of the launch where I hit a fantastic thermal straight away. Left wing down and I circled to a fabulous 3,400’ before pushing into wind in the direction of the river Severn. Unfortunately I hit nothing but sink and couldn't find any more lift so it was back down to the ground after 25 minutes. However my next launch was by far the best flight I have ever done. Off the top of the launch I climbed to a massive 3,700’, right up to cloud base. I was beaming at this achievement alone! So I pushed off into wind again but after losing 1000’ I was determined to find some lift again. I turned around to try and find my original thermal. In my 1 o’clock just above me I saw a glider thermaling – there was my thermal! So I joined, turning to the right in the same direction as the above aircraft. “How great is this?!” I thought, and then as I continued with my lookout, I saw below me another glider had joined – this was so exciting! The top glider peeled off as they reached cloud base so I was now the top glider, climbing higher and higher. This must have been the best thermal going (6-8 knots) as before I knew it, another glider had joined just below me in MY thermal! I looked up and there was the cloud – time to leave and explore. I pushed off in a more north westerly direction but once again there was a lot of sink around. A glider was thermaling off to the north east of the airfield so I headed off to join them. This wasn't such an easy thermal to join and it took a couple of turns to align myself in the thermal. By now I was starting to feel tired and I knew I still had the hardest part to do – the landing. It was about half 4 and the thermals were disappearing so I headed off to the high key area to lose height and generally bimble around. 800ft – time to get into my circuit. Back on the ground I felt exhausted, relieved, happy and excited that I had achieved my highest climb, my longest flight of 50 minutes, and longest flight of the day for the course.

The cloud under which I thermaled to 3,700’ with Aston Down airfield below.
Once again, a very successful week at Aston Down. Great experiences and new skills learned to take home ready to fly at our home airfield. I highly recommend to pilots at any stage in their flying career, and I hope by reading this, people will see just how much can be achieved in such a short space of time.

Paula Howarth

Dartmoor Gliding News-Sunday 11th September 2016

After a 1000 briefing in which Gordon Dennis had shown a cloud profile from Penzance to Bristol from OGIMET (some sort of Cornish Met Office?) that was completely blue, we were huddled in the launch hut sheltering from the rain! That said, we were lucky to have a launch hut to shelter in since, the first operation of the day, to change ends, had been hampered by over an hour due to a recalcitrant tractor which refused to start (persuasion came in the form of jump leads).

So instead of getting some valuable training flights in before the arrival of a stream of visitors, our trainees had to play a waiting game until much later in the day – which, although part of gliding, is unfortunate and sometimes more than a bit frustrating.

Once the rain cleared and the wind steadied from just east of south, thermic activity began to take place. And with came an increase in windspeed and gusts, making final approaches quite tricky and providing some excellent spectator sport!

After a couple of re-lights, Roger Appleboom (K-6) managed to find cloudbase at 2,000ft agl (see photo), and set off for Okehampton under cumulus that was beginning to street. Once there he very wisely decided not to push on, and began a very long row back to base. 

Cloud streeting...:
The view from Roger Appleboom’s cockpit at 2,000ft as he headed for Okehampton.
Meanwhile, Robin Wilson (also K-6) discovering that the sinky bits were more prevalent than the lifty bits, very wisely decided to make his first field landing just to the west of the airfield - an willing crew was quickly mustered to assist in his embarrassment!

Robin’s field landing: “How did he get it in so near the hedge?”
Robin Wilson and Allan Holland de-rig the K-6 after Robin’s field landing.
Our visitors included One Day Course medical student Georgina Covell, James Inchley, Steve Wickenden (his SEVENTH rebooking..! - Voice of Dartmoor Dave Downton was very happy to strike him from the list..!) and Tim Baxter.

One Day Course visitor was medical student Georgina Covell.

Visitor Steve Wickenden: this was his SEVENTH time of booking –
two flights later he was very happy
Visitor Tim Baxter with IFP Peter Howarth.
Visitor James Inchley being briefed by Martin Cropper.
As has already been said, our trainees, including Ben Caverhill and Callum Doyle, had to wait until the dying embers of the day for their training flights and deserve to be thanked for patiently helping out around the airfield whilst awaiting their turns.

At the other end of the airfield, Paula Howarth received winch training from Rick Wiles, whilst Barry Green and Heather Horswill also provided the end-to-end supply chain of launches and cables.

So, after a late start, and no club single-seaters in the air (the cross wind was out of limits for the K-8), 29 launches in all was no mean achievement – and with some strong lift and well organised thermals along the way – an enjoyable one as well...

Martin Cropper

Dartmoor Gliding Club News-Saturday 10th September 2016

Saturday started with low cloud at 700 feet but with the promise of the cloud clearing as the day progressed and it did with launches up to 1300 feet by midday.

Visitor James Moorwood
Visitor Philip Bilton looks happy to be going flying
With 5 trial flights booked I was kept busy. One guest had traveled from as far a field as Weston-super-Mare to fly with us.

Visitor Barry Stevens
Visitor Caroline Smale
And finally visitor George Williams.
New club member Sefton Greene was introduced to the basic controls of a glider whilst Instructor Ged was busy flying with Mike Bennett.

Light thermals produced a 21 minute flight for Barry Bilton from Weston did it Martin Broadway to take a flight in the Zugvogel ?

Member numbers were low so every body was busy through the day. Looking after the launches were Steve Raine and Mike Bennett. Steve finished the days flying with some IFP rear seat flying practise.

It wasn't all over until the committee meeting finished at around 8pm.

A productive day and thanks to all who made it so.

Mike Jardine