Wed 27th February

After a couple of cancellations due to unsuitable weather the EuroFOX finally arrived. The weather was ideal with light southerly winds for the trial, there was a very long list with members hoping for a tow behind the very pretty tug from Aston Down.
120hp Aeropro EuroFOX (John Street)

First off was the DG505 with Mark Courtney and John Street, we decided as there was no wind and an uphill slope we would use the full length of the field, but we were airborne by the beech trees and were at reasonable height by the end of the field, the launch was easy with a nice long rope and four up on the vario.
"There's nothing more useless than the runway behind you" (Mark Courtney)
When the wind picked up a bit the K21s and the Perkoz launched from the usual point by the LPV for a south westerly  takeoff, several single-seaters also launched behind the EuroFOX  Unfortunately ├▒ot everyone had an aerotow due to the cautionary early return to Aston Down. Many thanks to Adrian  Hegner for bringing the EuroFOX to North Hill.
K21 behind the EuroFOX (John Street)

Well done to Andy Davey for his first flight in his new Libelle.
Andy with his new Libelle (Jill Harmer)

It was a very pleasant warm day and it was nice to see the Pawnee back in service after its Annual- thanks to Ian Mitchell and helpers for the speedy turnround. - John Street.

Sun 24th February

With blue skies and a bright sun, as well as a good weather forecast, it was evident that the members present had every intention of getting the most out of the day - so it was no surprise that the hangar doors were open before 8:30am with gliders being pulled out and daily inspections completed.
Early start with bright blue skies (Mike Sloggett)
The winch was soon being set up in the South East corner of the airfield with both K21s, the DG505, the Perkoz and a Junior being walked down to the launch point in the North West corner.

And then it was on with the flying list with Sally Hender doing a sterling job in the launch vehicle. Karen King had some check flights with Peter Smith and resoloed after a bit of a lay-off, and later in the day some familiarisation flights in the Perkoz. Karen was our second successful 1:1 booked training this season, following a number of cancellations due to the weather.
North Hill from the East (Mike Sloggett)
Whilst it would have been good to continue flying through lunch, the decision was made that with limited member resources and everyone needing a break, flying would be adjourned until early afternoon. After lunch the flying list continued to progress until with everyone having flown it was time to fly the gliders back to the hangar.
North Hill sunset (Mike Sloggett)
During the day Mike and Barbie Fairclough brought their Cub R151 across from Watchford Farm to provide some aerotow launches whilst the Pawnee is on Annual (should be available next week).

Both Falkes were busy with some local flying.

Another good day when teamwork ensured that all members who wanted to fly got into the air - a particular thank you to Sally and Rob Hender for helping out with the ground tasks throughout the day.  46 launches in all. - Mike Sloggett

Sat 23rd February

Lovely sunny springlike morning at North Hill (at least at ground level) with a light south easterly wind. Early arrivals got things set up  with both K21s, a Junior and the DG505.

By 11:00, we had managed quite a few launches from the north west corner of the field. However from the air the visibility was seriously murky and Martin Woolner decreed that we should have not more than two gliders in the air at once, later reduced to an even more draconian (safety conscious) one glider in the air at any one time. 
Some very fickle bits of lift were noted by the more able/lucky pilots although in general flights were limited to around 10 minutes. Flying continued through lunch until around 2:30 when Steve Westlake (afternoon duty instructor) decided that we should change ends ......This was done with great efficiency and alacrity and flying continued until around 5:30. 

Mark W had the first successful 1:1 of the year with Rowan in the back seat. He was very pleased with the progress he made from the concentrated effort. 

No epic flights but a good time was had by all. - Mike Horwood

Thurs 21st February

After Wednesday's frustrating low cloud, we were more hopeful for Thursday. The Clubhouse was full with expectant members and the average age was drastically reduced  from a normal Thursday by it being a 'half-term week.' 
Guess the time of the clearance (Mike Sloggett)

There was plenty of time to study the weather, so the blinds were closed, and Jill Harmer led a weather tutorial on the current  situation, with discussions on fohn effects, orographic clouds, omega blocks, jetstreams and left exits and a 'guess the time for the clearance'. With 13:15 being the most popular, an early lunch was called.
Hazy blue sky with contrails (Mark Layton)

At 12:30, some blue holes started appearing in the sky, and the hazy blue sky appeared as the orographic clouds evaporated,  first launch was at 14:00. It was always going to be a challenge to work through a flying list with 5 trainees, 7 checkflights, 2 Family and Friends and 2 visitors from Dartmoor alongside the Solo pilots in a limited day.
DG505 (Mark Layton)

Launches were up to 1400ft, but there was no lift to extend the circuits, flying was brought to an abrupt end when the humidity increased rapidly at 16:50 and the canopies misted. 
Low sun and misted canopies  (Mark Layton)
Unfortunately, some missed out on flying, but thanks to the good team effort for getting as many as possible into the air - 24 launches in total. - J&P

Sun 17th February

A call to arms to rig the DG505 after annual inspection and to derig Junior FZF for the same reason brought a few members to the club on a dismal morning. There were also a few optimists eager to fly and between us mission was accomplished over lunch guided by Pete Harmer. The 505 was returned to the hangar and Dave Weeks set to with strange smelling chemicals to clean the wing tape residue to complete the task. He seemed very jovial afterwards for a while.
Hazy North Hill (Peter Smith)
By this time it was early afternoon and the cloud lifted and sky brightened. A quick trip to the west end to plot the cable retrieve run and assess the wind strength (brisk SSW), then a K21 and a Junior followed across the field. First launch was after 3pm and with the second K21 brought out as well we flew until dusk. Every flight enjoyed some lift with Mike and Barbie setting the target (20mins) in the Junior.
Flying until dusk (Peter Smith)
Everyone on the field flew and a good time was had by all. The approaches were truly character building,  12 launches in all to ~ 1500ft.

A rewarding day much better than the anticipation. Thank you to all present for great teamwork to achieve that. - Peter Smith

Thurs 14th February

On arrival at the airfield it was evident that there was a buzz of excitement in relation to the EuroFox 120hp demonstrator scheduled to arrive later in the day, with the Thursday regulars out in numbers alongside other members. The aerotow list was suitably long, but perhaps more to do with the opportunity for reduced price aerotows than being launched by a different tug to the usual Pawnee.
Swapping tips on the Perkoz in the fog (Mike Sloggett)
Unfortunately the weather was not as good as anticipated with heavy fog present in all directions around the airfield as well as above it. But with suitable optimism as to the likelihood of blue skies appearing at some stage during the day and with a visit from Jemma Woodman (BBC Inside Out) also planned the decision was made to get both K21s, the Perkoz and a Junior out of the hangar. Meanwhile the ground equipment was readied for action including some replacement rope being added to one of the winch drums.
How much rope shall we add (Mike Sloggett)
And then it was a question of patience - the fact that North Hill cafe ran out of clean mugs part-way through the morning was an indication of just how many members were present and eagerly anticipating the arrival of the EuroFox.

Mid-morning with the fog still lingering around and above North Hill and with similar weather at Aston Down a decision was made to  postpone the EuroFox demonstration for another day.

With increasing amounts of blue sky appearing and with a long flying list, keen members were soon walking gliders down to the North West corner of the airfield - and then from late morning onwards it was non-stop flying with all available Club gliders in use for the rest of the day. 

With some wave and thermal lift present to the South of the airfield, several gliders achieved almost hour long flights, including Rick Andrews and Peter Smith in Juniors, Steve Westlake and Trevor Russell, Chris Wool and Peter March in the K21s, and Gordon Bonny in DG100.

And it was nice for once (unless you were one of the pilots in question!) for the lift to be so good as to have to ask gliders to land for others to have an opportunity to fly - all being well a positive sign of the likely improving soaring conditions in the coming weeks.
Rotax Falke tows the Perkoz (Mike Sloggett)
At the same time Ian Mitchell in Rotax Falke provided an aerotow for the Perkoz to allow some airborne filming with CFI Stuart Procter flying Jemma. 
Jemma Woodman with Stuart Procter
The wave lift disappeared as quickly as it had arrived and unfortunately the private owners who had rushed to rig Tom Sides (DG1), Wyn Davies (W7) and Pete Startup (230)  missed out on the good soaring.

As the sun started to set and with everyone who wanted to fly having flown the decision was made to fly all the gliders back to the hangar - another good day made possible by everyone helping each other to fly, thanks all - Mike Sloggett

Wed 13th February

Another sunny Wednesday, another long flying list, a fairly brisk south-south-westerly wind with expectations of some good ridge soaring.

Just like last Wednesday, just as we were about launch some low cloud delayed the first launch, but after a short delay we started to fly as soon as some big-enough gaps appeared in the cloud cover, unfortunately the ridge was not working as well as we would have liked.
John Sillett checks out Sir Chris (John Street)
John Sillett checked out Chris Coville after his exile in the Caribbean, we had three two-seaters on the go and the Junior was being well used but the ridge was only providing slightly extended circuits.

In the afternoon a wave system set up and provided much longer flights, Dave Clements had the longest flight of the day with 18 minutes.
Pete Warren and Tim Petty in the Perkoz (John Street)
Unfortunately after a couple of cable breaks and an inspection of the righthand cable it was decided to put a new length of cable on as the existing rope was far too worn for it to be spliced. So we operated for a while with only one cable run while the team started to replace the defective cable. Thanks to Tim Petty (expert splicer) and Jeff Taberham for their hard work with the new cable.

Because of the delay with the cables and the misting canopies we stopped flying about 4:30pm, we managed 25 flights in total. - John Street.

Sun 10th February

With a forecast of wind on the ridge and a sunny afternoon, it was surprisingly quiet at the club.  The field was very wet and with the tug on its annual, we waited for the field to be dry enough to do some winching. 
View from the winch (Wyn Davies)
We managed to get 6 good flights in, between showers, and the ridge was working reliably,  and an active sky was providing some thermals. 
A glorious day in February (Simon Minson)
Longest flight was Karen K with over 40 mins.
Just a few showers (Wyn Davies)
A lovely day at North Hill.  - Wyn Davies

Sat 9th February

With the field too wet to use, the simulator was in full swing for most of the day, Rob Hender fancied flying over the city and landed at Exeter Airport! Even Sally found out how easy flying is, with a little assistance from pseudo-instructor John Borland. We now have a K21 to use and have sorted out the elevator. 
I wonder how many chairs we will need? (DSGC webcam)

Visiting guest speaker John Lowe was equally impressed by the reality of the Simulator, he had flown at North Hill on a weeks course in 1985. His evening talk on the Hampden Bomber that had crashed on Dartmoor was well received, and followed by a lovely dinner from Graham and Cheryl - North Hill Cafe.- J&P

Thurs 7th February

A Cold Front had cleared through overnight, but the Low pressure was still centred over South Wales so we expected a very unstable showery day with gusty winds. Fortunately it wasn't quite as windy or showery as forecast!
Sunny bits at times at North Hill (Peter Smith)

With 2 K21's,  Junior and Perkoz beating up and down the west ridge, with occasional fast drifting thermals and a little weak wave, the flights were all extended. This was interspersed with some simulated launch failures for Aston Key to be cleared for the Perkoz. 
Good to be working the ridge again (Peter Smith)

There were 23 flights in total with Pete Startup ("should have rigged 230") having the longest flight over lunch of just over the hour.  Congratulations to John Borland for completing his 100th solo flight and outsoaring the Perkoz with Wooly and Aston. Thanks also to Geoff Lawrence and Dave Clements for changing the flat tyre on Freda out in the muddy field. - J&P

Wed 6th February

The forecast for Wednesday was far from clear, it certainly started nice and bright so a pitch inspection was done and it was decided that, with care and moving the launch point during the day we should be able to winch launch. There was virtually no wind so we set up for a southwesterly take off, we started of with a Junior and the two K21s, we were all ready to fly but we had problems with misting canopies inside and out, but with a lot of rubbing and patience we were able to keep the canopies clear.
John Street and Mike Fitz polishing canopies (Mark Courtney)
Mike Fitz and John Street were first to launch by luckily finding a clear bit of sky, Mike enjoyed his flight, his first this year.  John Sillett was next to launch but had to delay his flight due to almost complete low cloud cover which had suddenly appeared.
It looked as if the cloud was not going to disperse any time soon so it was off to an early lunch.
Nick Harrison getting comfortable in the back seat (John Street)
By 1:00pm the cloud base had improved so full height launches were possible, at this time the weather was getting better and as there was a growing number of required flights we got the Perkoz out and Nick Harrison enjoyed sampling the back seat.

As the afternoon progressed it became apparent that extended flights were to be had on the South Ridge. Chris Warnes started the soaring with a 16min flight. This prompted other Wednesday regulars to stay up longer,- not that we are a competitive lot, we just like the chance to stay up! Dave Clements managed 18min, John Street managed 27min, Robert who is not usually competitive landed early due to the sudden return of the low cloud and this was the same excuse that Peter Warren and Sue used for an early exit from the ridge.
We managed 20 flights today and everyone flew, not to bad for a day that that promised little. - John Street.

Sun 3rd February

It was evidently another coats, jumpers, gloves and hats day at North Hill today - not to make snow people but instead to get some gliders out and fly to make the most of the day.

With a bright blue sky and a light South westerly wind making for potential nice flying conditions the only question was whether the lying snow on the airfield would allow the plan to fly to go ahead - a quick inspection indicated that with a frozen top surface aerotow launching would be best rather than winching and importantly that some gliding could take place. And thanks to the members here yesterday, as getting gliders out of the hangar via the newly dug snow trench was going to be straightforward.

All that was needed now was some more members to add to those already at the Club, and whether via telepathy or the Social Media posts or the ‘call to arms’ Googlegroup message, slowly but surely enough members had arrived to allow a Junior and both K21s to be brought out of the hangar. Meanwhile the Pawnee was readied for action on its last available flying day before planned annual inspections and checks.
Aerotow only again (Mark Layton)
Mid-morning the day was underway with members taking the opportunity to either maintain currency or develop their skills in aerotow launching from a snow-covered airfield.
South Coast of Devon glinting in the sunshine (Mike Sloggett)
By lunchtime most members present had flown, so a decision was made to stop for lunch during which time it was evident that the blue sky was steadily being replaced by grey cloud and hints of rain to the west of the airfield, as forecast.
Snow scene at North Hill airfield (Mark Layton)
After lunch and a couple more aerotows from a different part of the airfield to reduce ‘wear and tear’ of the surface, it became clear that the weather was deteriorating to the extent that continuing to fly would not be prudent, both in terms of the flying conditions and also with light rain starting to affect the launching and landing areas by adding more water to the melting snow.
Back to the hangar for cleaning (Mike Sloggett)
So gliders and the Pawnee were reluctantly taken back to their respective hangars and washed down before the doors were closed on a day where as much gliding as possible had been achieved.

During the day Falke (G- BKVG) was flown locally by Guy Adams and John Street

Another day of teamwork when those who managed to get airborne were rewarded with some lovely views of the snowy Devon countryside and the South and North coasts - which Mark Courtney and Stu Proctor were of course thrilled to be told about when they arrived back at the Club having attended the Regional CFI meeting at RNAS Yeovilton. - Mike Sloggett

Sat 2nd February

After the heavy snow and strong winds of Thursday afternoon and evening, a reasonable group of members ventured up to North Hill on the "passable with care" local road report. But there was a bit of work to do before we could get the gliders out of the hangar.....
Digging out the hangar (Mike Horwood)

The snow drifts had blown across the field piling up around the hangar, clubhouse and trailers.....
Snowdrifts (Rob Hender)
.....But it did mean that the field only had a light covering of snow left, and the K21s and Junior were readied for flying, with aerotowing the only real possibility.
Ready to go (Mike Horwood)
The wind was northerly across the field, but quite light initially and James Hood and James Flory were first up, with Stu Procter in the Pawnee.

Next to launch was Nick Redfern in the Junior, but the wind had suddenly picked up from the north and a transient wave bar had appeared over the field.
Junior launching  with a wave bar over the field (Mike Horwood)
The tow was very turbulent and Nick found a small amount of lift on the North ridge to extend the flight, but the wave bar disappeared downwind.
A lovely snow scene over the Blackdown Hills (Nick Redfern)
 On taxying back up the field the Pawnee  struggled with the crosswind and the slippery surface.
Operations were suspended for a cuppa, whilst checking the wind actuals and forecast, but the gusty crosswind was here to stay and it was decided to call it a day. Nick Jones returned from the Regional Chairman's get together with news of how the other local clubs are faring this winter.

So just the two flights in the gorgeous sunshine, and Karen King missed out on her 1:1 training session with Peter Smith. But on the bright side, Ian has confirmed that the Pawnee is available for use tomorrow with the lighter Southwesterly wind forecast prior to its Annual. - J&P