Matt Wright - Sunday 4th December

It is with great sadness that I have to report that Matt Wright has been fatally injured in his glider at Brentor today. We do not know any details and the AAIB are investigating.

 Matt was a highly experienced pilot and friend to all of us at the Devon and Somerset Gliding Club. He was always full of energy and loved every aspect of aviation. Not only was he an expert glider pilot, but also an accomplished commercial Airline Captain, film maker and cartoonist. 

Our sincere condolences go to his family at this sad time.

Lisa Humphries
Chairman, DSGC

Sunday 4th December

Sunday's good weather forecast, albeit predicting a cold and fresh Easterly wind, saw a small but enthusiastic group of members arrive at the Club keen to make the most of the day.

Both K21s, the DG505 and a Junior were taken out of the hangar whilst both winches were prepared for use on what was being called SupaCat Sunday.
Clear blue sky (Mike Sloggett)
The launch point was initially set up in the South West corner and with an immediate Blue Card recognising the wind direction and strength.

There was optimism that there might be wave lift to the West of the field nearer the motorway with a plan to fly the DG505 downwind to see if  there was any wave 'back there' and with a retrieve crew being organised 'just in case'.

Meanwhile the first launch of the day was a K21 to primarily complete a weather check flight but after a launch to 1500' in the fresh Easterly it was evident that there was wave lift already in existence to the East of the Club.

The wave lift was not particularly strong but more than sufficient to provide flights for as long as people wanted - as ever in the spirit of teamwork and so that everyone could have the fun of trying to find and then stay in the wave, training flights were generally kept to no more than half an hour.

Part-way through the day the SupaCat was brought into use and with suitable feedback on launch speeds, either post launch or through 'too fast signals', overall everyone seemed pretty happy with the launches provided by the SupaCat and it's drivers (well done all involved).

Just after lunch a decision was made to change sides in terms of the launch point and winch positions and even though the wind had changed slightly in direction and speed it was evident that the wave was continuing in various parts of the sky around the field.
North Hill (Mike Sloggett)
As ever patience was needed in looking for same and some flights were successful in finding wave during the afternoon and some were not.

With canopies misting and with the sun rapidly going down hangar flights were completed late afternoon by which time everyone who wanted to fly had done so. - Mike Sloggett

Saturday 3rd December

I checked the weather forecast yesterday evening to be presented with strong Easterly winds gusting up to 24-25 kts. For once I hoped that the forecast would be wrong and the winds in our favour. As I arrived at the Clubhouse things were looking good, there was little or no wind present. This was not to be the case at the northwest end of the field, with 20 kts averaging on the ground.
Wind sock showing the strength of the wind even before being raised (Will Stainer)
Due to lack of members (2 present at 9am) and the wind strengthening only one K21 was brought out. Lukasz Kieruczenko was first to be put through his paces with some simulated launch failures for his white card checks. Conditions were turbulent with plenty of sink around, most winch launches lasting around 3-4 mins.

After lunch Martin Woolner and myself took an aerotow to 2000ft. Somehow, we managed to make it last only 12 mins. With 8 kts down on final approach it was one of the shortest aerotows I’ve ever had!
A spot of winch driving (Will Stainer)
Towards the afternoon several more flights were carried out, with James Flory undergoing some instructor checks. By 3:30pm everyone on the list had flown and kit was packed away. Total of 9 flights on another brisk North Hill weekend. - Will Stainer

Thursday 1st December

Most members had a foggy trip to the club today, but halfway up the hill it turned into bright sunshine. With a slight delay to get the airframes and canopies up to temperatures  that were usable, the launchpoint was setup in the southeast corner with just a very slight northwesterly draught.

Being artistic (Mark Courtney)
As soon as it was possible, the Thursday regulars were keen to get into the air to view the spectacular views all around the Blackdown Hills. So it was 1 flight each to make sure everyone got the opportunity. 

And a large selection of photos to choose from that didn't quite do the serene views justice.

From the DG505 (James Hood)
Fog receding from the Blackdown Hills (Peter Smith)
Low sun emphasised the great  views along the ridge (Mark Layton)
Trees popping up through the fog in the valley (Mark Layton)
We got going again quickly after lunch and found that the fog started reforming again in the valleys, but it wasn't a problem over the Blackdown Hills. 
Congratulations to John Borland for converting to the Junior in the excellent conditions.
John Borland converted to Junior (Jill Harmer)

In fact we were able to continue flying until the shadows lengthened behind the Beech trees with the last two launches landing from the west to avoid the low sun. 36 flights in total and one of the most spectacular days that we have seen at North Hill. - J&P
Turning out over Broadhembury (M5Matt)
A perfect day for a tow (M5Matt)

Wednesday 30th November

The forecast was for a very cold frosty day so all who turned up were wearing as many clothes as they could get on. We walked the two K21s and a Junior to the southwest corner, but by the time we had the arrived at the launch point some of us were a bit on the warm side in the bright sunshine and lack of wind and some even took a layer or two of clothes off! 
Well wrapped up (Dave Clements)
The flying was very pleasant with perfect visibility but with no hint of lift, everyone flew and we finished flying at 4.00pm because of the danger of  canopy misting.
Hooking on (Mark Layton)
Lumberjack JB was clearing fallen branches from the footpath and Matt was putting his drone through its paces.
Junior on finals (Dave Clements)
Robert again claimed the longest flight - but had to have a 3,000ft aerotow to claim it. - John Street

Monday 28th November

It was such a lovely day today, with plenty of sunshine, and a fresh easterly wind, and a small group of members opened the Club for a special Birthday treat for Ellie Carter -14years today. 
Having got special permission to take the day off school, JB put Ellie through her paces with all the usual handling and launch failure checks and as luck would have it, the wind also dropped at just the right time.

So after a lot of delicious birthday cake, one final check flight with Pete Harmer and as the sun was starting to head downwards, Ellie enjoyed two perfect circuits in K21 solo "without that noisy Instructor in the back".

Ellie Carter - solo
- Congratulations to Ellie for a very special birthday treat, and thanks to all the helpers for making it possible - J&P

Saturday 26th November

Yet again another cold winters day with the wind chill on the airfield making it feel like 2° to 3°. Members unfortunately were greeted by low cloud and poor visibility, which scuppered  flying for the first part of the morning.

After much debating, plenty of tea and mid-morning snacks a decision was made to unpack kit in the hope that some flying could be achieved, albeit only cable breaks. Kit was walked to the SW corner and flying commenced a little before noon. Initially it was red card conditions which quickly turned into yellow with the freshening wind.
To start, it was cable breaks and check flights because of the cloud. Most launches were around 700-900ft. Several hours later there were enough gaps in the cloud to gain full launch height allowing members to fly around for 6-7 minutes.
Another North Hill sunset (Lizzie Westcott)
Towards mid-afternoon around 3:30, kit was packed away in preparation for the AGM that evening. Total of 19 flights. - Will Stainer

The clubhouse was packed to the brim with 90 members. It was a good meeting with constructive comments and friendly atmosphere was enjoyed by all. The new Committee can now work towards fulfilling the members wishes over the coming year. Thanks to all of those who attended ....
Wide angle makes the clubhouse look huge (Mark Courtney)
 .....and a special thanks to Cheryl and Graham for the excellent food they provided for 40 members. - Lisa Humphries

The AGM was followed by the annual presentation of trophies. 
Trophy winners (Robert Lee)
 Thank you to Martin Woolner  for presenting the trophies, stepping down as CFI, and congratulations to all the winners. - J&P  

Sunday 20th November

Today was a slightly warmer day than yesterday, but still noticeably cold. Sadly, once again very few members with a very short flying list by 9:30am. After last night’s torrential rainstorm, kit was slowly unpacked allowing the field to drain enough.  Flying began just after 10:30am with Matt Williamson in 611 taking an aerotow to 2000ft. Conditions once again were very smooth with little or no wind throughout the day. Very strange for mid-winter!

As the day progressed more and more instructors started to appear. This left more instructors than students and at one point we had 9 instructors and only 3 students to fly.  Evidently the instructors were bored so a game of “rate your landing” was played.
K21 landing (Will Stainer)
Towards the afternoon it was reported there may be some lift coming off the NW ridge. Timing was everything and those who were lucky to catch it were rewarded to a few more minutes extra in the air. With the weather closing in cloud base began to lower to around 2,000ft. This did not stop us though and several more training flights and aerotows were flown in-between the gaps.
Above the clouds in the Pawnee (James Hood)
At the end of the day and after a few check flights Karen King was sent off solo. Congratulations Karen for soloing again after so many years.
Karen solo again after 16 years (Mark Courtney)
By 3:30pm everybody had flown and kit was packed away. Once again many thanks to all who made it possible. Overall a pretty good flying day for late November with a total of 23 flights. - Will Stainer

Saturday 19th November

The day started off icy cold with the previous day's snow shower frozen to the field. Clearly most members had either seen the weather forecast or did not want to venture out into the cold. 
Frozen snow melt (Oscar Leeson)
By 9:30 and with a very bare flying list, a handful of members walked the gliders over to the NE corner to begin flying. Check flights post and pre-solo training seemed to be the main agenda for the day, although there were a few Junior flights including a father and son aerotow with Oscar Leeson piloting the Junior and his dad Simon flying the tug. Conditions in the air were benign although there was some noticeable sink on the NW ridge. At around 1pm flying was stopped for lunch. With the weather deteriorating rapidly 2 quick flights were squeezed in after lunch before a decision was made to pack up due to rain
A total of 18 flights today. Thanks to all who made it possible. - Will Stainer

Thursday 17th November

The windy showery forecast was timed just about right, but there was hope to squeeze in some flying first thing. 
When the first two launches struggled to keep the speed down and there were two broken weak links, in a mixture of rough rotor type wave there was a short consultation between Pete and Peter before repacking the hangar. The promised rain belt turned up as forecast at lunchtime, but was followed by a series of rapid troughlines.  So after more debate on the proposed AGM motions we called it a day. - J&P