Wednesday 31st August 2011

The day started off somewhat overcast but with a brisk wind from the east and with the eternal optimism of glider pilots a grid of 4 club gliders and 5 private gliders assembled.

There was signs of wave trying to set up with some relatively light rotor on the approach and some fleeting areas of reduced sink but ultimately the conditions were not quite right.

However, during the early afternoon the high cloud cover cleared away and we were treated to strong thermal conditions with cloud streets from horizon to horizon. Lots of pilots took advantage of the conditions the best flight was ( predictably ) Trevor flying the Jantar who returned after 2 1/2 hours with a big grin and stories of “daring do”.

High level cloud then stopped the thermals as quickly as they had started but the shrewd pilots now waited to see if the wave would set up as the heat of the day died away. Good try, better luck next time chaps.

Many thanks to visiting instructor Mike Sloggett for looking after our One Day Course candidate and several air experience lessons.

For me, the highlight of the day was the successful test flight and return to club use of the Zugvogel. Perhaps it is not referred to as the “Chairman’s Barge” for nothing. I claim the 5th Amendment.

The "Chairman's Barge" flies again 

Monday 29th August 2011

With weather forecasts browsed and RASP studied, the eager band of pilots licked their lips in anticipation of the copious amounts of fluffy cumulus ahead.

Rick Wiles was hoping to reach North Hill [ and back ? ] in pursuit of his Silver “C”.  We gathered at the launch point and waited.., and waited and waited some more. As is the way with gliding, the sky hadn't read the forecast and we had to wait until much later on in the day until soaring could start in earnest.
Instructor Martin Cropper with Chris Kaminski in his Pirat at the head of the waiting grid
In the meantime, Sandra Buttery took advantage of the quiet launch point to convert onto her SF27 and Matt Wiles converted onto the Pirat, well done to you both!

Sandra looks nice and relaxed prior to her first flight in the SF27
Matt and Pirat ( rhymes quite nicely) prior to type conversion flight
With time ticking away, Rick was unable to get away to North Hill but he enjoyed an hour or so soaring in the Pirat before we packed away for the day.

Many thanks to everyone for their help and to our winch drivers, Martin Cropper and Alan Ballard for excellent launches all today. Better luck next time Rick.

Darren Wills

Sunday 28th August 2011

After yesterday’s highlights of the Open Day and flypast by the Lancaster Sunday was never going to match yesterday in terms of spectacularity.

However, with the westerly wind up and down the runway  (for once) the day enabled launches of up to 1300ft to be achieved on a regular basis. The conditions encouraged Don to send our Airbus pilot Andrew Wilkins, solo; congratulations Andrew.

CFI Don congratulates a jubilant looking Martin Wilkins on his first solo glider flight
Don made good progress with student pilots Roger Appleboom (who was under the binoculared scrutiny of his fiercest critic, Lindsay) and Marta Radowska.

Scratch Hitchens finally got to test fly the Astir after its u/c troubles – ‘three greens’?

We also welcomed Mike Fitzpatrick from Plymouth who looks set to join the Wednesday set, and Matt Irish with what appeared to be his entire family from Widecombe (including Shackleton flight mechanic Trevor Iley – and two spaniels!) and Stephen Butt.

As ever, thanks are due to the unsung heroes at the other end of the airfield, Alan Ballard and Scratch for providing us with reliable and trouble free launches.

Martin Cropper

Saturday 27th August 2011– Open Day

An early start for lots of members today, getting out the gliders, cleaning the clubhouse ready for our visitors.

The weather did not really cooperate with early showers giving way to a generally overcast day. The wind was westerly i.e.. straight down the runway enabling 1300 - 1400 feet launches even with the slightly shorter cable length. The fence is currently up between the runway and top field while some cattle take advantage of the ungrazed top field.

There was a steady flow of visitors, eager to learn about gliding and take advantage of the trial lessons on offer. Also popular with the visitors was the simulator which was kept busy all day.

At 12:30 there was a temporary halt to gliding while visitors and members alike took advantage of the BBQ. This ensured that the local airspace was “sanitised” waiting for the arrival of the star of the show; the Battle of Britain Flight Avro Lancaster. Everyone was enthralled by the exciting show which included several passes and culminated in a  low “beat up” of the launch point. Absolutely brilliant.

Lancaster on low approach to the launch point.
Was it all play today? No, the “Three Mustfixiteers”, Martin Smith, John Bolt and Chris Kaminski, finished the upgrading of the Zugvogel ( 30 jobs in total ) and assembled it ready for a test flight and return to the club fleet. I think I speak for the whole club when I say thank you once again. Almost seems like too small a phrase for the debt of thanks we owe to you guys. Thanks also to the legions of club members who also lend a hand with the airworthiness tasks.

The Zugvogel being reassembled ready to go.
I will publish slideshows of the Open Day ASAP


Wednesday 24th August 2011

There was a healthy response to the recent plea via the club forum for a prompt start, with the day’s one-day course instructor Martin Cropper getting the hangar open and the vehicles out single-handedly, followed by a steady stream of members arriving shortly thereafter.

Prolonged heavy showers were threatened, and the first of these rolled in just as we were about to start flying. While most of us adjourned to the clubhouse, John Bolt and Martin Broadway worked in the hangar for much of the day; firstly assembling some new cable parachutes, and then putting the finishing touches to the Zugvogel which, subject to inspection, is ready to be rigged.

With breaks in the low cloud and rain appearing, a concerted effort was made to get flying underway with both two-seaters and later the K8 in action plus - as ever when it’s even remotely flyable - - Phil and Andrew’s Astir.

It was good to have Keith Wilson back training with us after a couple of months’ layoff, and we also welcomed ‘one-day coursers’, twins Dan and Chris Sanders from Wembury, along with their father, Ed. Having given them their courses as an 18th birthday present, Dad couldn’t resist having a go as well, and was rewarded with more than an hour in the air with Dave Jesty.
Today’s ‘one-day coursers’ Dan (left) and Chris Sanders with their Dad, Ed, and instructor Martin Cropper.
Gliding-wise, we had to pick our moments and cloud base remained low for most of the day. However, many of us benefited from a convergence, which created some glowering and turbulent - but very soarable - cloud streets. Several soaring flights were achieved, including climbs up the side of the clouds, with Bob Sansom topping the heap at around 2,600ft while solo in DMX.

At around 17.00hrs, with the Basic Instructors’ preparation course about to start, course instructor Mark Courtenay and I agreed to release both two-seaters for ‘one last flight’ by a couple of our solo pilots. All of us on the ground were then quite impressed as John Howe and Mike Gadd grappled competently with the last remnants of the day’s lift. John scored 38 minutes - and a Bronze leg in the process - while Mike missed out on his half hour by just one minute. A great effort, guys and - before I forget - thanks to Dave Rippon for providing a very efficient launching service.

I should like to make special mention of Andrew and Phil’s efforts to replenish our diminishing stock of launching strops. Having suffered the only blue strop loss of the day - potentially leaving us with just one - Andrew enlisted Phil’s help to redress the balance. Both then spent a prickly hour foraging in the gorse - and returned brandishing three blue strops. Next time any of us breaks a weak link, I suggest we all follow their example to ensure that our personal misfortune does not have a knock-on effect on our colleagues.

Finally, good news on the winching front, because in addition to four new cable parachutes, our winch master Alan Ballard was on hand to take delivery of two brand new drums of cable. So all set for Saturday’s open day!

Bob Pirie

Sunday 21st August 2011

Fifty-five launches , 7 gliders on the grid, 14 members present, one 1 day course, 3 trial lessons, seventeen flights longer than 15 minutes, no cable breaks: the stats – a bit like England vs. India – say it all.

And the Met? Alto cumulus 800ft-1500ft at 1200Z with Mist – Outlook: Little change. That was Nigel Williamson’s interpretation of the Met Office’s F214 and F215s for the day as part of his Bronze exam; good job that he, like the rest of us, took little notice of the forecast.

Mike Gadd looks pleased waiting for his first flight in a K8
This was a classic English summer’s day with cloudbase at 2.2kft agl and some 4-6kt thermals which enabled everyone to enjoy a. great launches to 1300-1400ft (the wind being Westerly straight down the runway) b. the rare sight of a vintage Slingsby Tutor actually soaring (6 minutes) (thanks to Martin Smith) and c. the even rarer sight of Alan Carter willingly part with £60 for 8 flights in his SF-27 – (one of which was for 27 minutes!)
Martin Smith in his Tutor side slipping to the runway ( this is normal - it does not have air brakes or spoilers) 
We are all hugely indebted to Nigel Williamson for winching from 1000 through till 1400, and to Scratch Hitchen for taking over thereafter (and tutoring Jeff Cragg).

We were also very pleased to host aero modeller Dante Pertusini who was on holiday from London for a one day course (‘it’s very different’), Dr Stephen Burchett from Ivybridge for taking a trial lesson (‘I’ll be converting this to full membership’), Cessna 152 PPL pundit Eily Tatlow from Bodmin (‘that launch is just fantastic’) and to Tom Broadbridge and friend Katie Connell for keeping the two seaters in work.
Instructor Martin Cropper (rear seat) with One Day Course candidate Dante Pertusini  in G-DBVB
Just another day at the office? If only they were all like this! Oh, and, never, ever cancel a day’s flying on the basis of the forecast..!

PS. Technical Note: How did the Sunday Crew achieve this launch total? One, by having seven gliders to launch but also, two, by being able to maintain a launch rate of 8-9 launches per hour (with peak at 10 launches 1500-1600). And the principal reason for that launch rate was because gliders were landing in the ‘undershoot’ created by moving the launch point in from the east end of the airfield, thus on only one or two occasions did a glider landing prevent another from launching. Today really vindicated that decision – which has proved hugely beneficial from flight safety, aircraft handling and hassle reduction points of view – whilst enabling pilots to get into the air to exploit the conditions. The decision to move the launch point at the east end gets my vote – and I expect everyone else who flew today…

Martin Cropper

The decision to move the launch point was made after we negotiated limited use of the top field with our farmer. This allows the winch to be moved into the top field so that even with the new launch point position existing launch heights can be maintained and even improved on. 
We owe our thanks to our farmer


Saturday 20th August 2011

Lots of very early activity; better check the forecast then. The forecasts suggest low cloud ( look out of window – confirmed ) SW wind ( another look out of window – wrong SE ). No rain forecast ( can’t see out of window to check, too many raindrops ).

So as today’s forecast was not very reliable we did what every good glider pilot would do, we waited for the weather to clear.

While we were waiting there was plenty of jobs to be done. Top of the list was to refurbish the front of the cable path on the Gus Launch winch which had some deep grooves caused by the cables over a period of time. Step forward 16 year old junior member Matthew Wiles who calmly announced that he could weld. And he could. The cable path is now beautifully smooth after some very expert welding and a little grinding. Thanks Matt.
Matthew demonstrates his welding skills
Meanwhile Matt’s dad Rick was teaching Mike Jardine and Darren Wills how to drive the big tractor and operate all the hydraulics. In the interest of health and safety, this was all completed  with my driving school headboard and “L” plates on the tractor roof.
Mike, Rick and Darren pose for the end of course photo call with their driving school vehicle
At midday  the weather cleared and there followed a hectic afternoon of trial lessons and training flights – thanks Don. It never really became thermic but that did not stop some valiant efforts to sustain the flights.

Definitely a game of 2 halves.


Wednesday 17th August 2011

Persistent rain interspersed with occasional clear spells seem to characterise our English summer and we had both today - especially the former - plus more than our fair share of launch failures. However, despite these annoyances and some decidedly 'moist' flying conditions during the early part of the day, enthusiasm and good humour won through. Everyone who wanted to fly flew, and I think most of us went home with smiles on our faces.

Today's 'VIP guest' was one-day course student Kenny Hunter from Langley, Bucks., who with his girlfriend and two daughters was waiting for the gates to open when I arrived, closely followed by CFI Don. Kenny's faith in the club's ability to deliver his birthday present was rewarded by Don and Martin Cropper, and he ended the day with probably the biggest smile of all of us. Meanwhile his 'cheerleaders' were introduced to the joys of the simulator and the control tower.

Smilin' in the rain. Kenny Hunter enjoys his one-day course
A new temporary member who came along and flew with us today, after sizing us up last week was Martin Johns , a paragliding enthusiast. Welcome aboard, Martin

Mention of paragliding reminds me to report that Roger Green, who learned to glide at DGS having arrived as an experienced hang glider pilot, completed his Silver C badge recently at Aston Down, where he and his father Barry now fly.

Looking ahead, there are undoubtedly some urgent technical issues which need to be addressed regarding winches and cables, but Chairman Steve Lewis is on the case and has probably already agreed a way forward with Winchmaster Alan Ballard as I write this.

No, it's not 'tripple A' (anti-aircraft artillery), but the Chairman checking out the Zetor tractor's new silencer
And looking even further ahead to next Wednesday, can we please all aim for a particularly prompt start. We'll have two one-day courses to deliver, plus all the club flying, although no trial lessons. Don will be away at Shennington, so Dave Jesty, Martin Cropper and I will be there to provide instruction.

All's right with the world' as Andrew Beaumont carries out the traditional 'end of day' ceremony

Bob Pirie

Sunday 14th August 2011

Another of those days that start with a poor forecast and turn out to be fantastic soaring but later in the day.

The K13 was rigged first thing with many hands making the task quite simple.

Field landing checks for Mike Keller and Jeff Cragg took up the first part of the day, well done to both. Jeff is dangerously close to completing that bronze C---watch this space.

Chris and Mike brought their pristine Pirat out for an airing and put it away again just before it got soarable, there must be a connection there between the soaring conditions and the status of the Pirat!!. Thanks to both these guys for keeping the flying operations running smoothly.

Thanks again to Alan Ballard and Martin Cropper for their selfless efforts winching and taking care of an entire family of trial lessons.Training flights continued all day with Roger and Shrek, Shrek was finally rewarded with a soaring flight around North Dartmoor --- fantastic.


Saturday 13th August 2011

Very low cloudbase, drizzle. So gliders out and wait for it to clear.

The time was not wasted. In fact, Matthew Wiles used it to take his Bronze exam paper which he passed to complete his Bronze C. Well done Matt.

As the cloudbase raised a little a keen group took to the air in the K13 to experience flying in low cloud conditions which was enjoyed by everyone. Several pilots were also practicing field landings for their Bronze C by landing in the “stub”. from the north.

Flying was delayed several times throughout the day as the cloudbase lowered again. Don, ever resourceful, used this time at the launch point to encourage some clearance of the gorse growing through and damaging the boundary fences.
Where's Matt then?
Oh there he is !
Matt and Darren were clearing some of the gorse behind
the launch hut
The usual suspects were in the hangar fettling aircraft all day and  towards the end of the day the tractor was finally fitted with it’s new exhaust.


Wednesday 10th August 2011

The day started with three 'squads' getting things moving. While one group prepared the equipment and got the gliders out, another readied K13 DMX for rigging following its ARC inspection and the splendid efforts of last weekend's shift to get most of the fettling and remedial work done. Meanwhile a third, consisting of Steve Lewis and Ged Nevisky, concentrated on repairing the generator.

Success was achieved with two of the three tasks, because we found that some very minor re-instatement work needed to be done to the K13's inspection patches, which will need the blessing of one of our inspectors before the glider is rigged. Our attention was soon focused on getting airborne, with John Howe and Will Wilson winching, and Jeff Craggs getting ever closer to discarding his winch driver's L-plates.
Vets do it... wearing long rubber gloves. Ged does it - gloveless - to DMX's mud-clogged wheel-box.
(And he still has a smile on his face.)
Only the K7/13, K8 and Pirat took to the air, with the improving weather promising more than it actually delivered (or, to be more accurate, more than we managed to achieve). However, the single seaters were kept busy, and trainee pilot Richard Clarke made excellent progress with Don. Meanwhile I was pleased to be able two add two new names to our list of solo pilots. The first was Fred Marks from North Hill, who has remained well and truly 'bitten by the bug' after a recent enforced layoff, and Dick Masters, an ex-RNGSA glider pilot who started the 'retreading' process at Brentor a few months ago and reappeared today to sign up as a full flying member. Both soloed in BVB, with Dick coping well with a 'real' launch failure on his first re-solo flight, and topping the day's charts with 21 minutes airborne on his next.

Dick Masters does his final checks before re-soloing, while Bob Sansom prepares to attach the cable
Seasonal sustenance was provided by Don in the form of a huge bag of ripe plums, and John Howe, who at this time of year dispenses cucumbers to Wednesday regulars. Meanwhile, in readiness for those cold winter days, the launch hut now boasts a custom-fitted gas stove, thanks to the efforts of Don and Chris Fagg.

Shortly after 1700 hrs. there was a 'changing of the guard' with DCFI Mark Courtenay arriving to spend the evening putting our potential basic instructors, Sean Parramore and Steve Lewis, through their paces.

Bob Pirie

Sunday 7th August 2011

The weather forecast was far from encouraging, but we did manage to enjoy some flying in between the rain showers. Shrek and Roger Appleboom continued their training with a challenging cross wind, and got seriously wet in the final rain shower of the day.

Well done to Nigel Williamson for passing his bronze C exam.

For a good part of the day strange noised were heard from inside the SF27 fuselage as Alan Carter continued his fettling----well that is what he said he was doing.


Saturday 6th August 2011

An initial low, threatening cloud base gradually improved as the SW wind freshened.

Today really was a game of two halves.

The first group , desperate to fly, got the gliders out and disappeared to the runway for a day of fun and games. As the day improved there was some soaring to be had and most pilots ended the day with a grin on their faces. Most notable event today saw Alan Carter, new owner of the SF27, having his first flights in his new purchase ( and first on type ).

New SF27 owner Alan Carter certainly looks pleased with his purchase.
The second group assembled in the hangar for the C of A / ARC work for K13 G-DDMX. Initially, estimates suggested that the jobs listed for this glider would take at least 3 weeks. However, the assembled group guided and supervised by inspectors John Bolt and Martin Smith, worked their way through the list with gusto and by the end of the day most of the jobs had been completed. The K13 is now expected back into club service on Wednesday. Thank you everyone for giving up your flying to achieve this astonishing result.

Most of the K13 crew pause for a photo. Missing is John Bolt ( workshop) and me (camera) 


Wednesday 3rd August 2011

Several members heeded Don's plea for an early start, resulting in K13 DMX being washed and then de-rigged promptly ready for its ARC inspection, and enabling him and Alan Carter to spend much of the day helping John Bolt with the preparatory work.

Again, there was a strong showing of private owner members, with everyone chipping in to get the field ready for the day's flying. Bob Jones arrived brandishing a new winch parachute and some cable ferrules, so after a short delay, launching returned more or less to business as usual, with only a couple of glitches when pilots allowed the increasingly strong crosswind to carry cables over the fence and into the gorse. (In once instance - "mea culpa!").
The grid pointing hopefully towards a poor looking sky
A lovely summer's day and the presence of plenty of gliders and pilots at the launch point was small consolation for the lack of thermals. However, several of our members managed to make real progress up the learning curve.

In addition to ab initio training activities, Chris Fagg and Dave Rippon completed successful type conversions onto the K8 and Pirat respectively.
Chris Fagg receives a briefing from instructor Bob Pirie before his first K8 flight
David Rippon looks relaxed before his first flight in the Pirat - his pre flight briefing was given by instructor David Jesty
Jeff Craggs opted not to fly but instead to spend most of the day undergoing intensive winch driver training with Bob Jones, while - in addition to flying with Dave Jesty - our newest young member, Neil, ( grandson of founder member Mike Stacey) received an introduction to the mysteries of the control tower from Will Wilson.
There is no place to hide David
Today we welcomed one visitor, Fred Marks, from North Hill, who opted to lend a hand but not fly. Also present were DGS's very latest 'happy couple' - the newly-engaged Sandra Buttery and Alan Carter. Our congratulations to you both.

How many glider pilots does it take to splice a rope? Visitor Fred (black shirt) leads the way
The day ended with the second cable drifting into the gorse (not mine this time!), followed shortly by the onset of rain.

Finally, a reminder regarding Sean P's request for a few people to assist next Wednesday evening, in order to facilitate Basic Instructor training.

Bob Pirie

Sunday 31st July 2011

What a good day.

The weather looked unpromising to start, but the wet weather held off until late pm giving us loads of time to get on with some flying.

Down to one cable and no ferrules, the creative team managed a full days flying without a single hiccup. The equipment situation will be resolved by Mr Skylaunch on Monday. Thanks to everyone for pitching in and making the day run so smoothly---great teamwork.

The birthday girl Sandra, was wandering around with a big grin, then we realised she is sporting a posh new engagement ring. I know our best wishes go out to Sandra and Alan. Alan showed Sandra a good time by letting her help paint his new trailer, how does he do it?

Two instructors and two ab-initio pupils works well too, Shrek and Roger enjoyed a busy and tiring day getting to grips with flying and making great progress with David and myself. Martin looked after the trial lessons before relieving Nigel who had patiently spent the morning driving the winch.