Sun 3rd December

The forecast for today wasn’t as optimistic as yesterday’s weather, and with the overnight rain fewer members arrived this morning. Duty instructor, Mike Sloggett, along with James Flory arranged the unpacking of the hangar. The airfield was still pretty wet from the rain and with so few members the decision was made to aerotow only, which made the duty tug pilot Mark Courtney happy.  

The EuroFox view (Simon Leeson)

A K21 and the DG505 were towed across to the north side. Stuart Thomson took the first flight with Mike, Paul Summers and Dave Perriam shared the next two taking in turns being P1. Peter Warren, Rob Hender, Graham Hawker and myself all got a turn behind the Fox. James Flory and Mark Courtney sharing the tug duties.

By 2pm everyone who wanted to fly, had flown and the decision was made to stop for a late lunch. However as we headed back to the clubhouse the weather was beginning to break a little, so the plan changed and everything was packed away.  A useful days flying with a compact and bijou team! The carrot and coriander soup provided by Julie was thoroughly enjoyed, warming us up after a chilly days flying! Thanks to everyone for a lovely day. - Sally Hender

Sat 2nd December

It was a cold (-5C) start this morning with the windows frozen in the Clubhouse at 8:00. The members that were on site decided given the temperature to wait an hour or so till it warmed up to get the aircraft out. During this time James Flory trialled his new more organised morning briefing by PowerPoint in the clubhouse which was warmly received by those present. 

Mist in the valleys (Connor Williams)

After this a K21, Perkoz and Junior were brought out and the airfield was setup with the launch point in the north east corner and winch in the north west. Flying got underway not long after 10:00 with members taking advantage of the Eurofox (duty tuggy Simon Leeson was in a good mood and so allowed some of the other tug pilots present a few tows). 

James and Andy trying out the new forcefeedback joystick (Connor Williams)

Sadly due to misting canopies we had to pack up about 15:30 however we got pretty much everyone on the list flown - so a good day overall. Once everything was packed away James Flory and Andy Batchelor tried out the new force feedback on the simulator and seemed very impressed. - Connor Williams

Wed 29th November

 Following the very successful Adhoc day held on Tuesday, Glenn’s call out for Wednesday was met with a small but eager crew who were clothed in a variety of insulated jackets, coveralls, woolly hats and gloves. With KEK in the workshop for its annual inspection, we pulled the other K21, the Perkoz and a Junior down a soggy field to the west end. And even though there wasn’t much headwind, those opting for a winch launch still were seeing 1400ft on the altimeter and Robert was able to achieve 3000 ft aerotows. 

Cloudy skies (Mike Sloggett)

The day progressed with four instructors onsite to handle our group, making it easy to achieve check flights. Glenn put Nicholas Johnson through a number of simulated cable failure exercises and Ron flew solo in a Junior (can you believe it) before providing instruction to new member David Gregory.

Timing was key (Mike Sloggett)

A quick break for lunch with Julie and Beth, then back to the field where temperatures had risen to a balmy 7 degrees. As canopies began to mist and the clouds started lowering, a decision was made to hangar fly the ships back home. Timing was everything as Glenn and Sandy found when they took a Eurofox check flight, only to have to make an early release at 600ft to avoid the rapidly lowering cloudbase. But still time to wash the aircraft and close up the hangar before dark.

Increasing orographic cloud (Mike Sloggett)

No rain, warmer than expected and “smooth as silk” air. A much better than expected day. Sorry if you missed it.- Tom Sides

Tues 28th November - AdHoc Day

Given the recent spell of variable weather this week was looking poor for Thursday and possibly Wednesday as well so Mark Courtney spotting a possible for Tuesday put out a call on Google group and it worked. The weather was flyable! Light ENE wind cloud base 2000ft plus with some annoying orographic which kept appearing and disappearing. Visibility was good with Dartmoor clearly visible in the west. A west end launch point was set up and the first flight (Fox aerotow) took off at 10:18.

 Club Eurofox (John Borland)

The Winch was set up but the main demand was to get cleared for  Aerotow behind the new Fox. The Fox launches were impressive despite the soft ground conditions The turnround time was remarkable. The shortest being 10 minutes between takeoff’s and a number below 15 minutes. The Fox can do it if we get our act together team!

At lunch time the very light wind decided to shift to a NW so a quick change of ends was completed and a quick visit to the Café. Thanks Julie for opening.

The Aerotow flights continued but with no demand it was decided to put the winch to bed early. In all we flew 7 launches and 14 Aerotows.

Thanks to Mark for organising the day. We cheated the weather!. Instructors. Mark Courtney, Chris Wool, Steve Westlake, Guy Adams, Tug pilots Simon Jordy,  Mark Courtney and Robert Lee. Nine Pilots cleared to Aerotow Fox. Well over 25 members attended and everyone who wanted to fly did. A nice and successful winters day.

The list of pilots added to the “cleared”   to Aerotow Fox is as follows :-
Wyn Davies, Paul Medlock, Chris Mew, George Sanderson, Andrew Pincombe, Roger Ellis, Nick Harrison, Barbara Fairclough. - John  Borland

Sat 25th November

 My call-out for an early start was answered by quite a few early birds today. When I turned into the gate at 8am, the Fox was out of its lair. The hangar doors were open, the launch point was set up, and the winch was already down the other end of the field! Impressive! 

First frost of the season (Peter Smith)

Mr. Leeson was grooming the Fox, so Pete Smith took the reins with both hands and kick-started the day. The first aerotow was at 09:35 (five minutes late) with Ian checking out Simon Leeson, James Flory was checked next. In the meantime, the Pawnee was used for a 4,000-foot tow for myself and Dave Perriam. Dave is now ready for Mr. Minson to test him for his Basic Instructor rating.

Two tugs in action (Mark Courtney)

The list was understandably long due to the fact that the sky was actually blue for the first time in months! The air was silky smooth and made for perfect conditions for training and checking pilots. At one point, we had the Pawnee, the Fox, and the winch going flat out to clear the list. There were many achievements today, so I’ve listed them below. Feel free to pipe up if I’ve missed anything important!
Pilots cleared to tow behind Foxy:

- Ruth Comer
- Ashley Thomas
- Chris Woodward
- Andy Batchelor
- Paul Medlock
- Dave Perriam

Andy Broderick was nearly cleared but needs simulated rope breaks.

Other achievements today:

- Steve Westlake had a five-year Instructor refresher and passed with flying colors, with Simon Leeson in the front playing the devil (he does that far too easily).
- Andy Davey had his simulated launch failures sorted to finally complete his blue card checks (rain had gotten in the way for a couple of weeks).
- Andy Broderick passed his Bronze flying test, following on from his bronze exams, so he is now a bronze pilot! (Not in a suntan way, you understand.) Just navigation to complete for a full license.
- James Flory, myself, Simon Leeson, and Stuart Procter all did some aerotows and are now well and truly at home flying the Fox.

The motor glider VG was on the go with various pilots most of the day. Stuart Procter flew the Cub in first thing, and Malcolm Vest flew it back to its roost at Watchford Farm late in the day. Pete Smith did the lion's share of the instructing today, helped by James Flory, Stuart Procter, Steve Westlake, and the dastardly devil himself, Simon Leeson. Robert Lee flew two booked Trial lesson visitors, both customers left with broad smiles! 

Towing the DG505 back to the launch point (Mark Courtney)

Canopies misting up and low sun called an end to a fantastic day, just the regular winter tasks of washing gliders and tugs before the hangar doors were slammed shut just after 4:30, just as the temperature plummeted!
The work was not yet finished, though, as KEK was derigged and put into the workshop for its annual inspection. And Stewart Henshall and Connor Williams worked late into the evening fine-tuning the DSGC Simulator new force-feedback control system. 

Rarely have I seen a day where so many people worked so hard together to get the best from a rare late autumn gem of a day. So many did so much, and I thank you. I have to thank two people in particular, however, who were pivotal to the day's success, and that is Pete Smith, who started instructing at 9 and was derigging the K21 at 5:30, and Sally, who spent the entire day orchestrating proceedings, barking occasionally, interspersed with her unique laugh.
Roll on the next day like that at NH. - Mark Courtney (not a first-time blogger!)

Thurs 23rd November

Thursday arrived with a strong NW wind and low cloud about 200' above the field. A good crowd of Thursday regulars had turned up more in hope than expectation. Julie had the café open by 8:45 so tea and chat followed for some time. 

Stewart Henshall and Kevin Fairburn arrived and disappeared into the Simulator room to continue the work on installing the new force-feedback joystick with the linkage manufactured by Peter Smith. After a lot of experiments, Chris Wool was invited to have a go and declared it a great improvement. There is more work to do to finalize all the settings but the performance is very encouraging.

The new linkage for the force-feedback joystick (Stewart Henshall)

By lunch time the cloudbase had improved enough to try a winch launch. It was declared a no-solo day due to the wind strength and variable low cloudbase. Mark Courtney and Guy Adams did the first met flight and confirmed the ridge was working with cloudbase around 900feet. 

With the wind on the ridge approx 30kts north westerly, Chris and Guy Adams proceeded to work through the list to get everyone flown -  eleven in all. Big thanks to Chris and Guy for persevering in the challenging conditions. It can't have been that comfortable in the backseat at times. Eleven pilots with currency restored. All kit was safely put to bed by 16:30 however the lights were still burning in the simulator room - Great work Stewart, Kevin and Peter. This is becoming an ever more useful asset to the club especially in the difficult winter months. - John Borland

Wed 22nd November

 It was a borderline forecast but as the days shorten it was worth a try. An early met flight and rapid descent determined cloudbase above 1200ft QFE and possibly higher in the lighter bits, so enough to fly. Mark Layton in a K21 and Dave Perriam in the Perkoz were swiftly away finding some lift along the west ridge. By the time Julian West and I launched the cloud was descending. George Sanderson and Ashley Thomas managed circuits and Tom Sides flew briefly in the Perkoz. Julian and I took a final launch before proceedings were halted, with me in the knowledge that we were never going to reach cloudbase anyway.

We suspended operations until early afternoon and were then well sustained by Julie and her helper. Two more checks confirmed that the ridge was working but cloudbase restricting the ability to use it, so sadly it was toys back to the hangar. 

Two Foxes (Mark Courtney)

Meanwhile the "skulk" of  Eurofoxes arrived in quick succession as promised, with the new one refuelling and quickly heading off  back to the north, and the yellow one fitted into the tug hangar behind G-GNHL. - Peter Smith

Wed 15th November

What a change from recent days and weeks...  A pleasant start to the day with sunshine and less wind. This brought out many hopefuls, all desperate to get into the air again. Even better, we even found some soaring, mainly in ridge lift but later in some thermals too. High cloud came over fairly early on heralding the next lot of rain for tomorrow, but it only served to keep things on the cool side today.

EuroFox Tug Pilots (Mark Courtney)

  Much was accomplished, with 5 Tug pilots  checked out by Ian Mitchell and now able to aerotow in the Eurofox (Stuart Procter, Mark Courtney, Simon Jordy, Robert Lee and Peter Field) which will probably speed up the transition somewhat. Well done all.

James Flory Full Cat congratulated by Graham Morris (Mark Courtney)

Big congratulations also to James Flory who  passed his Full Cat Instructor evaluation with  Senior Regional Examiner Graham Morris.

In all 45 glider flights took place and even Tom had a smile on his face . Meanwhile Kevin & Stewart  (with assistance from Peter Smith) spent their day in the simulator  room, working on an upgrade to the controls whilst the power supply unit is being replaced. It will be out of action while this takes place.
Thanks also to Julie and Beth on their first day in the Cafe, who produced a very tasty Leek and Potato soup, to warm us up. - Chris Warnes

News from Dan's trip to South Africa

Bit embarrassing at the moment as the gliding weather hasn’t really kicked in yet.

Dan's first flight in South Afica NS4 (Steve Clark)

Our first flight I wanted to be at least 500kms but an inversion killed it and made for a very weird day, now 8/8 cloud and virga, forecast to be thunderstorms . Instead introducing Dan to SA cuisine, sheep’s tails last night, biltong today, bobotie tonight and we are planning on a half a sheep’s head in a few days ! He seems to be coping .... Steve Clark NS4 (ed: watch them on glideandseek)

Sun 12th November

 A weekend of two halves. After the very successful day on Saturday it was a rather different day on Sunday! Low cloud fog and drizzle were the conditions members faced first thing. Unsurprisingly there weren’t many members at the club, apart from a few who stayed the night in the caravans. Despite the forecast Ron, who was on duty in the morning, did the 1 hour 30 minute journey from his home “where there be dragons” in Cornwall. Now that’s dedication! Pete Smith also turned up in the morning ready for his afternoon shift! 

James showing the size of fish he caught in the stream by the Clubhouse (Mark Courtney)

However the day was far from wasted, Simon Leeson spent a couple of hours with Steve Westlake going through the “classroom bit” of his five year check. Simon Minson was on site to complete the theory section of the BI tests for Dave (I was here at 7) Perriam, and Simon (I was  late as usual) Jordy!
Various members dropped in for a bacon sandwich and coffee, Julie and her Sister Beth providing the nourishment. 

The Beech Tree just visible in the gloom (Mark Courtney)

By late lunchtime people started to leave, the BI candidates were still there when we all left. Rumour is that they are still there now!

Now for some maybe good news, looking at the jet stream forecast there looks to be the “potential” for a shift in the jet stream with a large area of high pressure in the Atlantic. This may well give us a period of better weather from the middle / end of next week. Fingers crossed! (ed: be careful what you wish for!) - Mark Courtney (always the optimist)

Sat 11th November

A diamond of a day - The past few weeks have been  testing our patience!
There seems to be no end to the rain at the moment, so when you get a rare good forecast you need to grab it with two hands! This is exactly what members did yesterday! Whilst the members were meeting Julie and her twin sister Beth, who are the new catering team in the clubhouse, others were getting both tugs ready and unpacking the hangar. The field was still very wet, and soft, but we managed to find a reasonable run with care. The launch point vehicle was left down the bottom and the Discovery was parked on the apron and was our communication hub for the day.

The EuroFox launched at 08:15 so more tug pilots could build experience. It was very calm conditions with a rare blue sky, ideal for learning the skill of a  aerotow. Steve Westlake was the duty instructor for the day, helped by Glenn, and James Flory. With so many tows required the tuggies shared like grownups (well almost).
Ian Mitchell  managed to squeeze in a check flight with Stuart before leaving to fly at Dunkeswell for trial lessons and a flight to issue a pass for navigation and field landings for Andy Bachelor. Well done Andy! 

Simultaneous taxiing (Mark Courtney)

Stuart now with chest puffed out started to help the Pawnee with the club tows before Robert got in the EuroFox again for more landing practice. Ashley got checked out for aerotow by Steve Westlake but missed out on actually flying his first solo aerotow. Conditions were perfect for the sort of flying we wanted to do today with lots of members glad of the reduced rate for aerotow training.

Aerotowing from the Eurofox (Stuart Procter)

The Falke VG was in use for most of the day with various pilots. A long, but very enjoyable day, gliders, tugs and people were washed and hosed down by about 4:30, misting canopies stopped flying about 30 mins before. 

Somerset levels are wet from VG (Carl Tharme)

 It’s great to be able to have a nice coffee and something to eat again after what seems like weeks. Julie and Beth are now up and running on flying days, reduced menu to start, but the promise of an expanding menu soon! - Mark Courtney