Wed 29th January

With a useless weather forecast for Thursday, the Wednesday regulars were nearly outnumbered by the Thursday contingent who descended on us, and with the number of flights we needed to do, the help from Mark Courtney and Mike Sloggett was most welcome.
Dave Perriam with Mike Sloggett in the Perkoz (David Clements)
Once again it was aerotow only due to the soft condition of the field, we started flying as soon as the canopies were clear,with fairly bright sun this did not take long.
Lined up for aerotows (David Clements)
The two K21s and the Perkoz and a Junior were all in constant use all day until poor light and misting canopies put an end to flying but everyone flew.  Sandy Harrop was cleared for solo aerotow and Malcolm Vest took to the air again with a solo aerotow.
Perkoz landing (David Clements)
Chris Warnes and Nick Harrison flew back seat in preparation for their respective B.I. courses, Eric Alston had the longest flight of 50 mins, there was a bit of lift on the West ridge and the odd thermal and a bit of early wave of the southwest corner.
Mark's turn in Pawnee (David Clements)
Many thanks to Mark Courtney and Robert Lee for the 25 aerotows and all who helped with groundwork for a very successful winter's day. - John Street.

Wed 22nd January

After the previous four days of sunshine and lovely gliding weather the grey skies returned with a mix of low cloud, misty rain and fog above and around North Hill from early morning today. So with the actual weather being as forecast it was to be expected that few members would turn up today but several did, more in hope than anything else. After some further reviewing of the latest aviation and other meteorological forecasts it was evident that the weather was unlikely to change during the day
The sky looks better in the simulator Mike Sloggett)
So it was an opportunity to get some ‘virtual’ gliding underway using the Club simulator and also to complete some ground briefings including the theory of thermalling - well it was good to talk about potential days ahead if nothing else... - Mike Sloggett

Mon 20th January - Ad-hoc day

Chairman Nick’s ad-hoc flying day today was well supported with (I am told!) a long queue of cars waiting at the gate first thing and eager to get going.

A careful pitch inspection was carried out and the winch and launch point positions selected to suit ground conditions given that the almost still conditions gave us many options. The field was quickly set up and 2 K21s and a Junior carefully removed from the hangar across the icy concrete and turned to face the sun to warm the canopies. HCX was first away at 10:30 and other than a short lunch break we kept up a steady launch rate until dropping temperatures and a low sun brought play to a close soon after 16:00hrs. JB helped by flying with 3 members and enabling us to almost complete the flying list. By the time we put the gliders to bed ice had re-formed on the concrete outside the hangar – take extra care if the cold spell continues! 
Carefully selected launch point (Peter Smith)
It was good to see Mike Fairclough back at the Club and flying. Gordon Hutchinson was the only private glider to fly with 3 launches in the DG202.  Junior FZF did 8 flights and KEK was also flown solo when available.

A really nice day and well worth the doing with 34 glider flights.

Thank you to everyone one who pitched in and helped to make it work. Apologies to Malcolm for not being able to get him in the air.

Special thanks are due to Nick for looking ahead and prompting the day, much appreciated. - Peter Smith

From the Chairman
No rain
No wind
No cloud
No lift
K21 waiting to launch (Pete Startup)
Lots of sun
Lots of launches
Lots of happy faces
Winching (Pete Startup)
Thanks everybody - Nick Jones Chairman

Sun 19th January

For the first time in a number of weeks there was suitable optimism about the weather being good for flying today, maybe allowing both Saturday and Sunday members to get into the air for the first time in a while. And on arrival at the airfield it was evident that a large number of members thought the same with the flying list full of names by soon after 9am.
Sunshine launch queue (Mike Sloggett)
With blue skies, a bright sun and a light North Easterly wind the only question was around the condition of the field surface and whether winching would be possible or whether it might be aerotow only. An inspection of the grass indicated that once the morning frost had melted then the surface would undoubtedly cut up with winch launching and use of vehicles for cable retrieves so the decision was made to set up for aerotow launching only - with maybe winch launching later if field conditions allowed.

Both K21s, the Perkoz and both Juniors were walked up to the South West corner of the field and soon flying was underway with Peter Field (Duty Instructor) and Rick Andrew (Duty Launch Marshall) ensuring that the flying list was steadily progressed with training and currency flights.

With enough Instructors and tug pilots available the decision was made to continue  flying through the lunch - with the afternoon duty team of Guy Adams (Duty Instructor) and Jeff Taberham (Duty Launch Marshall) making sure that by the time hangar flights were being flown all members had got into the air at least once.
Welcome back Liam
During the day we welcomed Liam Vile back to North Hill, a Friends and Family flight was completed and Rotax Falke (G-CDSC) did some local flying.
Another great winter's day flying (Mike Sloggett)
A good day enjoyed by all - as ever getting others into the air needed members working together on the ground - a particular Thank You to those members who helped from start to finish today. - Mike Sloggett

Sat 18th January

It was a cold, clear start with the first real frost of the winter, bringing out members to sample the sparkling conditions. Once the airfield surface thawed, the squelchiness from all the rain meant careful positioning of the kit. 
First flight with mist in the valleys (Stuart Procter)
It was aerotow only to ensure the grass didn't suffer too much.
Frost on the ground (Stuart Procter)
 Congratulations to Dan Hender for his first solo aerotow in the Junior  after some enjoyable spinning in the DG505 with Simon Minson.
Dan Hender first solo aerotow (Jill Harmer)
Sally Hender  enjoyed her first flight in the Perkoz with Stu Procter.
DG505 (Simon Minson)
21 flights in total - a great winters day - J&P

Wed 15th January

Wednesday was sandwiched between a diabolical day on Tuesday and an equally diabolical forecast for Thursday, the Wednesday club arrived to the " sunlit uplands of North Hill".
The aerotow queue (David Clements)
The gliders were out of the hangar and their daily inspections done under the expert supervision of James Flory. The only problem was the canopies would not de-mist so back into the clubhouse  for a lecture by James on aerotowing. This was very apt because of the delicate condition of the airfield surface, and after a field inspection it was decided it would be aerotows only.
Takeoff  (David Clements)
We had a long list and because of the delayed start we decided to limit the flight times to 30min, from the first launch it was obvious it was going to be a good soaring day, we had a kind of wave with ridge lift and for a while before lunch a cloud street to just under 3,000ft.
Pawnee on approach (David Clements)
We managed 15 aerotows the instructing was done by James Flory, Pete Field and John Street the aerotows by James Flory, Peter Field and Pete Harmer.
Lunchtime shower (Mark Layton)
Everyone who wanted to fly had a good flight and brushed up on their aerotowing. - John Street

Sun 12th January

Unusually very few pre-solo pilots today. Rather low cloud base with a threat of rain to begin with, but once we saw a few private gliders being rigged, we sensed there must be a chance of good soaring conditions.
Blue sky at times (Emma Kendall)
Soon enough, the cloud lifted and a steady westerly activated the ridge. Next the thermals kicked off and had pilots extending beyond the ridge and out towards Cullompton, while nimbly dodging the cloud and showers. 

There were plenty of instructors around: Phil Morrison to kick off, our CFI, John Sillett, James Flory, Paul Summers, Ian Mitch, Peter Smith, Ron Johns all helping out in the afternoon.
Cloudy at times (Emma Kendall)
Pete Startup 230, Simon Minson (SM whose electrics threw a wobbly), Eric Alston G29 and Rich Roberts from Dartmoor GS V5 flew. Rowan did some more stuff in the Falke with Ian and VG was well utilised by several punters.
DG505 in circuit  (Emma Kendall)
Ridge worked for a while but went soft as the wind slowly backed and there was the tiniest hint of wave out from the ridge. A bit like Portmoak, one minute it was clear, the next a lot of orographic around which seemingly formed in seconds. Quite showery to start with which is why the privates didn't launch until nearly midday.

A busy day with nearly 40 launches  and HCX was derigged for its Annual at the end of the day.- Emma Kendall (soon to be moving to RAF Leeming) / Phil Morrison / Pete Startup

Sat 11th January

After the Tug pilot's message on GG yesterday, we had a very disappointing turnout to the club! But with a keen duty instructor going up and down the airfield in hope of improving conditions it was decided at about 12:30 to set up and give it a go! Dan Hender (assisted by Sally) had his first official DLM duty with very few members to actually Marshall!

Matthew Howard was first on the list, so jumped in with JP and promptly launched into cloud, so pulled off at about 500ft and had a 4 minute flight! After a while it was decided to use the remaining cable to see if the cloud base had changed but the cloud was not playing ball. So with only two flights, we packed all the equipment away again, and more tea and coffee was consumed. Thanks to everyone who gave it a go, better luck tomorrow. 
Matt landing after his second flight with JP (Dan Hender)
Rowan Smith was doing lots of techie things in the Clubhouse and Pete Harmer finished fixing the door handles. - Dan Hender

Fri 10th January

The weather over the last few months have not been good  for gliding, so today’s positive weather forecast meant that for the second week in a row, members decided to take advantage of the blue skies and sunshine to get into the air on a Friday.

From the start of the day to the end, the good weather allowed members to regain or retain currency.
Congratulations to Stirling (Malcolm Vest)
The Instructors  Peter Smith, Mike Sloggett, Ron Johns and Phil Morrison were kept busy all day in the K21s completing pre-solo training and currency checks whilst both Juniors were in steady demand - with congratulations to  Stirling Melhuish  for completing a successful conversion to the Junior.
Robert Lee completed some aerotows in the Pawnee (Robert Lee)
Gordon Hutchinson brought his new glider DG202 (JDP) out for the first time taking a couple of high aerotows to get familiar with it.
Gordon's new glider DG202 (Mike Sloggett)
The two Falkes were in use most of the day.
Another great ad-hoc day (Mike Sloggett)
And late afternoon with the sun setting and the temperature dropping steadily with everyone having flown the gliders were washed and put away.

As ever continuing teamwork during the day by all to help get others into the air  36 winch launches and 4 aerrotows - Thank you to all involved today - another good call  for an ad-hoc day on North Hill GG - Mike Sloggett

Thurs 9th January

After another wet Wednesday with workers completing the reference markers and refreshing parts of the winch rope, there was hope for possibilities for flying on Thursday. It was a very bright start, but the field was very wet. Although all the kit was got ready, it was decided that it would be aerotow-only to protect the field.

Thanks to Wooly for holding the fort on the two-seater list, and Robert Lee for covering the Tug duty.There were 5 aerotows completed before the deluge showing on the weather radar arrived in force. 
Wooly has been doing the treatment on the patio table  (Jill Harmer)
And Pete Harmer was busy fixing door handles....

Hope for a planned ad-hoc day tomorrow with some more sunshine. - J&P

Sun 5th January

The cloud cover at the start was hopefully not going to be an omen of the previous day. We started with waking the vehicles from their slumber in anticipation of a favourable decision from the weather gods.
A bit grey today (Mike Sloggett)
Luckily we were not disappointed, the cloudbase was such that full height launches were near achievable at the start. After a weather check, first up was Matthew Howard for a couple of flights and the training list commenced in earnest. The single-seater list had a few keen members eager to get some stick time, however Andy Davey had the best air time of the day of 24 mins. Thanks to James Flory for flying the trial flight visitor (winch launches) which resulted in a smiling Caterina Gibbs. 
Brighter at times (Mike Sloggett)

Around midday the decision was made to break for lunch as the moisture in the air was not favourable for flying! The afternoon’s weather slightly improved which was appeasing to all as it meant the flying could continue for a good few hours, time was called after a cable break just before the gloom descended.
New skills were learnt by people today, myself attempting ‘the bubble’ and Matthew learning how to use the hose!
Washing the gliders (Mike Sloggett)
Many thanks to the instructors and everyone today, with limited numbers and miserable conditions we achieved a lot, around 23 flights, it truly is a team effort to make it work. Thank you All. - Jacob Brook (newbie blogger)

Sat 4th January

As the low orographic cloud meant there was going to be a delayed start, some of us decided to DI and refuel all the vehicles.  This then led on to other mundane but necessary ground tasks.  
Getting the ground vehicles ready (Ashley Thomas)
 All available weak link cables were checked, cleaned and if necessary repaired. 
Weak links and strops (Ashley Thomas)
 While the vehicle hangar was empty, it was swept to remove a build up of mud, grass and pine needles. The channels for the doors were also cleaned out to allow them to move freely.  Separately to this others arriving on-site and packed away the Christmas decorations for another year. - Ashley Thomas
Instructor training (Mark Courtney)
Meanwhile in the Briefing room, some DSGC and a couple of Dartmoor GS instructors were going through some Instructor training. At lunchtime, the skies started to look a little more promising and the gliders were readied for flying, but no sooner was the launch point set up, than some heavy drizzle appeared and more tea was called for.

This rainbow didn't have the hoped for pot of gold (Mark Courtney)
The radar displays were again consulted and a new line of rain / drizzle had appeared in a progressive line from Barnstaple so after just a little more pondering everything was put away. - J&P

Fri 3rd January

For the second day of the week an “adhoc” opportunity came along. With an optimistic forecast and a shout out on GG it was unsurprisingly busy today. The wind was forecast to be northwesterly 15 gusting 25, as per normal that was not the case! The clubhouse had lots of members gathered by 8:30 and despite the sky being grey, they started getting things ready for the day. The wind forecast was spot-on with regard to wind strength but it was due North!
Great winter's day (James Hood)
With four instructors and four two-seaters at our disposal we set up in the southeast corner and were ready to launch by 9:30.
At the top of the launch it was obvious that areas around the club were sitting in strong down wave, this made dashes to the North ridge tricky to say the least.
Several attempts were made but with the prospect of a muddy field landing in the back of people’s minds it was not surprising that pilots opted to abandon the chance of soaring the North ridge at 500ft and scuttled home!
Pete Startup in a K21! (Mark Courtney)
There were several soaring flights today however, even though the energy was transient and careful tiptoeing was the name of the game.
For the second time in as many weeks Peter Smith won the badge for fooling the Flarm into thinking he had landed, by slowing down into a very strong wind until his ground speed was nearly zero!
The Eagle with Chairman Nick (Mark Courtney)
The Eagle was rigged by the usual band of keen pilots and enjoyed its first soaring flight of 2020.
There were quite a large group of juniors at the club today - it was obvious they had not seen each other for some time because they never stopped chatting, only taking a break when their smartphones had to be attended to.
Charlie enjoying some flying after winch driving (James Hood)
Charlie Stuckey drove the winch and had four juniors watching him do so (more chatting I suspect) and others drove the retrieve (whilst chatting) can you see a theme?
There were at least 12 people on the list so flights were limited to two, later in the day people had the opportunity to take a third however.
As the day wore on the wind dropped significantly, and backed a little allowing for some gentle ridge soaring.
Gorgeous clear skies with brilliant visibility (Mark Courtney)
Big thanks to the winch drivers today especially in the morning when conditions were challenging.
Everyone worked as a team today which enabled us to achieve 50 flights, big thanks to everyone (yes this includes the juniors! )
When bad winter weather prevents us from flying, these days are little gems and should be encouraged, it is hoped that throughout the year this will continue.
Thanks to the instructors who helped me today, Peter Smith, Martin Woolner, James Hood, James Flory, Rowan Smith, and Lisa Humphries.
Keep your eye on GG for further “little gems”. - Mark Courtney