DGS at the Interclub Competition Bannerdown 7/8th June 2014

After a very uncertain forecast during the week, on Thursday, Bannerdown made the call to hold the event. For this event Dartmoor had Matt Wiles (Novice class), Ged Nevisky (Intermediate Class), Mike Gadd (Novice class) and Rick Wiles and Ray Swinfield as crew.

Ged and myself made it to Keevil Friday evening, and after a delay due to trailer electrics on the tow vehicle, Ray, Matt and Rick arrived Sat PM. Since Ged and I were sharing the cirrus, we agreed that Ged would fly on Sunday, and I would fly Sat after the rain of Friday night has passed through.

My task was a 101km with 3 turnpoints, Keevil, Pewsey, Frome, Devizes, Keevil. After a slow start in the morning to rig and let the rain clear, I launched into a reasonable sky, at 1pm and after a slow scratchy climb out under a low base of about 2600 QNH (2400 QFE), made it to Pewsey (24km) without too much difficulty. Base had now risen to 3400QHN (3200QFE). The push into a 25kt wind to Frome was difficult and every time I got low and circled, I was heading back towards Pewsey, so after a few tries at this, I decided to head towards clouds further away along my into wind track. Alas however, I quickly lost too much height, and not having much to start with, I was now looking at landing options. The cloud I wanted didn’t really work so after a short battle with weak thermals, I headed to my land-out which was a small private airstrip with a windsock. This was to be my first out landing, so I chose carefully to put the glider down in the middle of the field away from the edges and long grass. To my surprise I stopped very quickly as the ground away from the narrow main grass strip that the light aircraft use, was soft and not as expected. However a safe landing to add to my log book at an airstrip called ‘Lydeway’

Retrieve by tractor
The next problem was that I soon found out that access was not good for trailers, so when Ged arrived we could not get the trailer into the airstrip (who would have thought that an airstrip would not have good access!). Next option was for Ged to take an aero-tow out of the field since tug retrieves were on offer from Keevil (I’m not endorsed for aerotow). However the tug pilot was not happy that he could get the motor Falke tug out of this 700m grass strip. So the only option left was to request help from the local light aircraft pilot, who I met when I landed, to get help from the local farmer to borrow a tractor to tow the trailer across the fields into the strip; De-rig the glider, then a tow back out to hook to the car to get back to Keevil for the (as it turned out very lively) social in the evening, put on by Bannerdown club.

Not exactly easy access
Sunday was Ged’s turn flying intermediate task of 177km, Keevil, Membury, Glastonbury, Keevil.
The sky looked promising, but the wind was always to be an issue today, and after making the first turnpoint at Membury, he like many was not able to push into the strong winds and ended up landing out. So day 2 was a second retrieve for the open cirrus.


Ged on aerotow
Membury services
Landing in a meadow
Our novice entry today was Matt Wiles in the club Pirat and there were high hopes that today could present an option for a silver 50KM which Matt is chasing. After 2 valiant attempts, Matt finally managed to connect with the tricky conditions that were materialising for the day, and get away only to find that his task GPS had not triggered a proper start. So rather than risk a false start, he returned to cross the start line to try again. However, this time the conditions put him on the ground once more – commiserations Matt, you did well to make the most of the conditions, better luck next time!

Matt and the Pirat
Matt ready to launch
And finally, Dartmoor having being short of a Pundit for Sunday, and Pilot Stewart Renfru (Ventus B) from The Park without a vacant slot, offered to fill the slot and fly for Dartmoor. He also struggled initially, getting a re-light at Keevil, and then making the first turnpont before ending up at Rivar Hill airstrip. A request for a launch from there put him back in the air, but again the conditions put him down again this time at Upavon airstrip. Thanks Stewart for offering to fly for us, however, to fall in line with the spirit of the ICL, scores can only be accepted from members of the competing club, so regrettably, we could not accept any points scored.

Finally on Sunday after the Cirrus was retrieved from a hay meadow, we all headed home after a full and fun weekend with Bannerdown Gliding at Keevil. Special thanks to Ray Swinfield for pulling the club Pirat and crewing for us. Hopefully next time he will get a chance to fly.

I will publish the scores when I have them.

Michael Gadd

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