Monday 27th February

Today around 30 members attended Mike Robinson's funeral in Exeter.
It was a very appropriate service for Mike, no hymns or prayers, just fantastic memories for a great man. I managed to speak to Shirley,  who mentioned that Mike did not depart wearing a suit but instead his DSGC clothes which was far more fitting. William spoke fondly and frankly of Mike's club activities, that was lovely!
A pleasure for all of us to have known him and to celebrate his life. - Lisa Humphries

And for those who missed William's tribute to Mike:

Mike joined Devon & Somerset Gliding club in 1985 and in over 30 years of membership  made a very significant contributions to the club.  I,  together with the rest of the members will find it difficult to envisage the future without Mike sitting on the 3rd seat on the left hand side of the club house table – together with a cup of tea and his stick repeatedly fall over and tripping up anyone walking past.

Mike was something of a mechanical genius. Not only was he the key player in keeping our ground vehicles going for many years. He also modified them for our needs using his talent with a welder and displaying a truly amazing design ability. This all culminated in his master piece which was the ‘Launch Point Vehicle’ which he fashioned out of an old bus by cutting away part of the roof and building an elevated control tower for the log keeper. He did the majority of this all on his own.
Launch Point Vehicle
Mike didn’t just work on the ground vehicles. When our K6 succumbed to glue problems he stripped the airframe right down and, under the watchful eye of Ian the inspector, totally rebuilt it including spraying it. While he did have some help, the lions share of the work was done by Mike.

Mike was also a pilot. Talking to the instructors it would seem that he was a lot better than he thought he was.. He seemed to prefer tinkering with the ground equipment better than flying – particularly latterly. He really didn’t like flying the modern plastic aircraft and much preferred to fly the older wooden gliders particularly his beloved K6. 
Mike could be somewhat outspoken and wow betide anyone deemed not to be treating club equipment with due reverence. They would be told in no uncertain terms the error of their ways! There can hardly be a member of the club who has not incurred his wrath at some time or another. I know I have. Having said that, Mike‘s bark was much worse than his bite. He was always pleased to help and encourage anyone struggling with their flying or needing help with a mechanical repair. You always knew when he was happy as he would grumble away gentle – if he was quiet someone had upset him!

I would like to leave you with a vision of Mike sitting on his cloud far more interested in modifying the harp with which he has been issued because he thinks he can make it work better. God will be looking on and shaking his head in despair that he will ever get his card rating to fly those new angel wings with which he’s had fitted. No real change there then!  - William Pope

Sunday 26th February

The weather forecast suggested that there might be an opportunity for some flying during the morning, ahead of rain and an increasing wind strength, which had encouraged suitably optimistic members to be at the Club. With overnight rain and some concern about the field surface, particularly with further rain forecast during the day, an early pitch inspection was completed. A decision was made to start flying with the launch point set up on the North East side of the field but with the winch more central to provide the best cable run to minimise damage to the field surface.
Rather grey and damp (Mike Sloggett)
Both K21s were brought out to the launch point and flying started for the day with various eventuality checks and currency practices being completed under a lowish cloudbase prior to the cloudbase rising sufficiently for reasonable height launches and full circuits being possible. Good progress was made with the flying list until the lunch break - then flying recommenced early afternoon during which flights there were continuing opportunities to find various pockets of broken lift enough to 'loiter around in' for extended circuits/flights.
More of the same (Mike Sloggett)
Then with everyone having flown, having had 'fun' with the Blue card flying conditions, and with increasing occasions of strong wind gusts on the ground as well as rain evidently moving in from the South West as forecast a decision was made to stop flying for the day.

Meanwhile on the ground gliders were being fettled ahead of the soaring season and various members were continuing to work on the MT hangar ahead of next Saturday evening's celebration of Matt Wright's life and contribution to the gliding world. - Mike Sloggett

Ad Hoc Friday 24th February

Good soaring days in February are like hens teeth and it looked like we were going to miss this one due to the tug being on maintenance. Step in Mitch, who as he was at North Hill working on the Pawnee and agreed to throw in a few tows around lunchtime using his Falke.

Taking advantage of the day were Pete 230, Tom DG1, Eric G29, Mike and Barbie F and Rick in the Junior.

3 knot thermals to 3,400' North Hill QFE were abundant and most enjoyed local soaring, 230 zig zagging up and down the cloud streets as far as Axminster in the East and Knowstone in the West for a total of 175km.

James Flory did some circuit training at Dunks in the Falke between tows, Fran was on site polishing KL like mad, Nick Jones was marshalling high lifts around the MT hangar in preparation for remembering M5 day, Phil was delivering beer and glasses for same and 877 was in the workshop.

A good day with many thanks to Mitch for making it possible.

Sunday 19th February

There was fog to start with, and a busy clubhouse initially.......
Waiting for the cloud to lift (Mark Courtney)

........but again just enough members to operate and 23 shortish flights  initially under a low cloud base and again at the end. But at least we flew!

Saturday 18th February

The day started with low cloud and fog covering North Hill, but with the promise of improving conditions by late morning. A small but dedicated (read very optimistic) band of members were up early prepping the kit for the forecasted improvement. Then followed a few hours of waiting occupied by all the usual discussions about flying, weather and several house-keeping tasks. James Flory spent a happy(ish) hour cleaning off all the airfield warnings signs and fire extinguisher points, which in places had began to evolve their own ecosystems, whilst Karen King did a sterling job hoovering out gliders until the hoover decided it had had enough excitement for one day and stopped working; it was later brought back to life with some gentle coaxing. 

By now John Pursey, Matt Williamson, and Tim Peters had turned up and together with Paul Kane spent a happy(ish) few hours in the ground hanger stripping down the paint work on the nose of their glider SF27 Sophie. 
Undignified pose for Sophie! (John Pursey)
Ruth then arrived ready to get her ASW19 into the workshop ready for its’ annual. One of new temporary members Sam Smith was also trained on a few of the ground tasks including driving and vehicle DIing ready to get his ground ops card signed off.

By now the Duty Instructor Rowan Smith had assessed things as improving enough to get a K21 out. Whilst this was happening our CFI Stu and Simon Minson arrived and together with William Pope got Victor Golf out to do some currency flying following the wing recovering. Much debate then followed about whether it was worth setting up for flying, there now only being just enough members left to operate. But thanks to Karen’s motivating and Rowan’s willingness to give it a go the winch was driven out to the Southwest corner and Rowan took Sam  on the first flight of the day by early afternoon.  Victor Golf took to the sky shortly afterwards ready to do a sequence of take off and landings to get people back into currency. Thanks to Phil Grant who had offered to winch and retrieve single-handed which allowed Rowan to give Sam two further flights and to fly with Karen three times. James and Roly Clarke then shared two short but very enjoyable flights. The day was finished off by Phil and then Paul Summers enjoying solo flights in HCX. Not long flights but very enjoyable.

We were all done by about 16:00. Overall a short but enjoyable flying day; to quote Mike Sloggett (busy watching the Greens), if you don’t show you’ll never know! - James Flory

Thursday 16th February

It was a slow start with fog overnight lifting into orographic cloud on the hill, so the kit was readied but flying didn't start until just after 11:00, but it did give time for the Junior FZF to be rigged after it's Annual - (thanks to all for the fast turnround).

With the low cloud on Wednesday and it being Half-term week, there were a lot of members on the flying lists, and so all the club fleet was in operation, and four instructors going all day - Thanks to guest Instructor John Sillett for filling in for the holidaymakers. 
Busy launchpoint with all the Club fleet in action (Dave Clements)
There were large areas of zero sink in the light southwesterly wind and nearly all the flights were extended circuits of 12 - 13 minutes. The odd passing cumulus also gave some short-lived soaring. Pete Startup 230 was convinced it was worth rigging and on his third launch, he managed to disappear to the north for just over an hour. 
Some interesting clouds (Dave Clements)
There were the usual winter check flights and launch failure practice for some members. Pete Harmer managed to latch on to one of thermals to get high enough to refresh Reuben's spin training before sending him off on his first solo in K13. Congratulations to Reuben.
Reuben Buss goes solo (Jill Harmer)
The wind picked up a little in the afternoon and some flights were extended on the ridge, but above the normal ridge height lift!

So with a total of 53 launches, a first solo, a soaring flight and 30 members flying it was  a really pleasant, sunny, warm winter's day flying at North Hill. - J&P

Wednesday 15th February

Today was the funeral for Leslie Hill, a founder member, gliding instructor and former Chairman of DSGC. A true gentleman who contributed a lot to our Club. This is a picture I took of Leslie and Gordon Peters on one of their many walks around the Airfield. 
Gordon Peters and Leslie Hill (Lisa Humphries)
The funeral  at Holy Cross Church, Sampford Arundell was very well attended with over 200 people, what a lovely man he was. - Lisa Humphries

Sunday 12th February

With just a handful of members present no doubt due to the uninspiring forecast, confirmed with grey skies and a fresh wind, no surprise that it became evident very quickly that there would be no flying today.

However there is always something to be done and the hangar doors were opened late morning, sadly not to fly but to allow Junior FZF to be taken out, derigged and put into the workshop ahead of it's annual checks and inspection.

And of course the Junior in question was at the back of the hangar!
Hangar repacked (Mike Sloggett)
However with some careful manoeuvring Pete Warren, Mark Courtney, George Sanderson and Mike Sloggett had the Junior out and into the workshop, and the hangar repacked, all within an hour of starting - great teamwork and communication evident! - Mike Sloggett

Saturday 11th February

A very cold snowy day at the club and no flying, but some members fettling with their gliders in preparation for the glorious summer we are sure to have.
North Hill webcam looking west
This evening we were fortunate to host the GASCO  Safety presentation, it was reasonably well attended by North Hill members and some visitors. A very well put together presentation followed by an excellent North Hill Cafe curry.

Many thanks to CFI Stuart for arranging this and hopefully more to come, its good to focus on safety for everyone.
GASCo Cockpit Companion  (Lisa Humphries)
All who attended were given this Cockpit Companion. - Lisa Humphries

Thursday 9th February

After two wet Thursdays, it was a rather 'chilly' but dry start today, but the frost cleared quite quickly. The gliders were readied and walked to the western end and the padded suits came into their own with the fresh southeasterly wind.
It must be a wave gap! (Mike Sloggett)

There was some hope that there might be some of that nice gentle wave that we sometimes get in a southeasterly, but although there were banks of cloud around it can't have been in phase with North Hill. 
Fairly hazy sky (Mike Sloggett)

They were decent high launches with extended circuits of ~ 11minutes and at about noon when the sun was peaking on the south ridge, there was some sort of lift in the Broadhembury valley which enabled Paul Little to claim the longest flight of 19 minutes.  Flights and check flights continued all afternoon, (although with reducing durations) until sunset. 

Thanks also to everyone for getting the K21 KEK rigged and back on line after its annual. - J&P

Wednesday 8th February

Another busy Wednesday, for once the forecast was spot on with a light northwesterly wind, we started flying at about 10am with a large flying list to get through, fortunately we didn't suffer from misting canopies.
An interesting cloud street (John Street)
As there was not much scope for soaring a lot of members opted for card checks, John Street spent the whole day  giving launch failure practices helped by Martin Woolner.
Chris looking serious (John Street)
As forecast, the wind started to back to the northeast, so at lunch time we changed ends to the southwest corner resulting in much better launches.
Junior landing (Dave Clements)
 Both Juniors were in use today and kept busy plus HCX and R37 with the tug on C of A there was no trial lessons today. We managed 43 launches and John Street clocked up walking about 4 miles up and down the field with all the launch failures. - John Street.

Saturday 4th February

After a drop of rain (well more drops than we have had for a long while) the field had drained better than expected, and a Clubhouse full of members were keen to get flying. But we had to wait for the ground frost to clear first. 

It was mainly launch failure practice and check flights to start with in K21s and the Juniors on slightly extended circuits going down the solo list, in the blue skies and  very light south westerly wind. 
K21 landing (John Borland)

With enough members to continue flying through lunchtime, some cumulus formed  to the south and there were thermals forming off the south ridge. Eric Alston got the timing just right and had the longest flight of 36mins with the lift going up to nearly 2000ft. 
James and Stu with more Ass Cat training in K13 (John Borland)

With an increasing southerly wind, we ran out of people in the afternoon, but everyone had flown - 38 launches  and the kit was washed and put away before the forecast rain turned up. - J&P