Extracts from S&G February 2010 to date
Congratulations to Alex Schmarsel on being sent solo and to Henry Ford on passing his Bronze written exam. Members had a great trip to Portmoak in October with some fantastic flying. Matt Wright did his usual trick of launching in the morning and not landing until it got dark. Our DG-505 spent a month in Talgarth with members attending for some very interesting flying due to the weather - one instructor claimed he had had his 'hairiest' aerotow in over 2,000 hours of flying! Unkind weather has given us time to strip out and renovate our glider workshop. Many thanks must go to Peter Smith who has organised this, and to the club members who have put in many hours of hard toil. Our old winch has now been sold to make way for a new Skylaunch.
Congratulations to Rowan Smith, who was sent solo in January. Also to James Hood who has passed his Bronze exam. Our AGM saw a good turnout with a packed clubroom. Peter Smith has taken over as chairman from Mike Fairclough, and Pete Harmer has eagerly taken on the duty of CFI from John Burrow. Amongst the many awards given this year were Paul Summers for the most improvement, Dave Reilly for the club ladder, Henry Ford for the best flight in a wooden glider and Peter Field for best performance in two-seater competitions. The Wily Old Bird trophy was awarded to retiring treasurer Peter Callaghan. A special award from club members and original caricature by Matt Wright was presented to Mike Fitzgerald in recognition of his achievement of 50 years' dedicated instructing with the club.
Easter Sunday saw Pete Startup, Simon Minson and John Pursey complete a 100km triangle, the first good cross-country day for a long time. An instructor training course held in February was very successful and, despite the snow, Matt Wright and Mark Courtney managed to climb to 8,000ft in wave. We are enjoying smooth launches with our 'borrowed' Skylaunch. Many members have been trained as winch drivers (thanks to Les Hill) and we have added rope splicing to our skills. We were sad to hear that Dr Gordon Peters, one of our founder members, had passed away in February.
The weather has taken a turn for the better and so have club members. Congratulations to Jonathan Stoneman and Mark Layton on their solos and to Rowan Smith and Ed Hirons for converting to single-seaters. Ernie Perrin and John Sillett have both become Assistant Instructors. Nick Harrison gained five-hour duration and Silver height during our trip to Portmoak. Kaye Alston has gained Silver height. Henry Ford got his 50km with a flight to The Park, Peter Smith gained both 50km and 100km and Daniel Johns gained his 100km during a cross-country week organised by Ron Johns. Our Bronze pilots are rapidly increasing with Paul Summers and Joao Leitao passing exams in May. An amazing start to the season!
Congratulations to David Stevenson on going solo. Rowan Smith has passed his Bronze paper and completed his first solo aerotow - all within his first year of gliding! Well done to Fred Marks for winning the
novice class in a recent inter-club competition. Many members enjoyed a trip to Long Mynd, where Paul Summers achieved his five-hours. Matt Wright and John Burrow have both been flying at La Motte Du Caire, with Jacques Noel and his team. We had a surprise visit from the 'Swift' Display Team who dropped in for breakfast en-route to RNAS Culdrose Air Day.
Congratulations to Roland Clarke, our newest Basic Instructor. He has been relishing his role with a good number of trial lessons. Well done to both Nigel Everett and Peter Stoker on their first solos. The weather has brought some mixed fortunes, but September saw some good cross-country flying, including Steve Westlake, Pete Startup, Mike Fairclough and Matt Wright. A fantastic party was enjoyed to say a fond farewell to 'H' (Hilary Evans) who has catered for us over many years, and provided an endless supply of tea and bacon butties. She was presented with many gifts including an original cartoon by Matt Wright, and honorary life membership of the club.
Congratulations to Dylan Davies and Will Bond, who both went solo within a few days of their 16th birthdays and, not to be outdone, Dylan's father, Wyn, was sent solo at the beginning of December. Andrew Mugleston and Lisa Humphries have both now achieved Assistant Instructor ratings. Well done to both.
Recent trips have seen us at Portmoak and an icy Talgarth, where some great ridge and wave flights were had, including Henry Ford's landing into a field newly spread with manure! The arrival of snow has not hampered us too much and a stalwart band has been braving the icy blasts with aerotows.
Congratulations to Heather Clarke (our first solo of 2011) and to lan Foster (re-soloed). January has given us some decent days - along with ice, wind and wave, as James Hood, Heather Clarke, Simon Leeson and Wyn Davies found out. A successful course week has been held for those wishing to start Full Cat training, with thanks to Simon Leeson and Mark Courtney for organising this. We have welcomed new members from Exeter University gliding club. The winter gave us time for maintenance and inspections and thanks go to Pete Startup, Andrew Logan and lan Mitchell and a band of helpers for their long hours in the workshop.
Congratulations to newly-solo David Clements. Dylan Davies, Wyn Davies and Will Bond have all converted to single-seaters and are enjoying the start of the season. Members are having a superb week at Portmoak, experiencing wave, most days to around 9-10,000 feet. Congratulations to Rowan Smith and Paul Summers for completing their 5-hours, Henry Ford for Silver height and James Hood a 50km, (fractionally missing his 5-hours with 4hrs 58mins on the logger).
Mike Fitzgerald has been presented with a framed diploma from the BGA in recognition of his services to gliding for over 50 years.
Preparations are well under way for our open weekend at the end of May.
Congratulations to Rhodri Davies (the third of the Davies clan to be sent solo at North Hill) and Peter Dugdale (a power convert), who have both soloed, and to Mike Sloggett on his Bl rating. Ron Johns organised a cross-country week, which was a great success. One weekend bought us the rare opportunity to aerotow to the coast for stunning soaring of the South Devon cliffs, entertaining golfers and coast path walkers from West Bay, Branscome, Beer and Sidmouth (see p38). Our open weekend was successful with 150 people experiencing their first ever glider flights over the two days.
Congratulations to Geoff Lawrence, sent solo in August, and Ray Rimes for completing his five-hours in July. Daniel Johns achieved a 300km Diamond flight to Candover Church and back and Andrew Logan gained Silver height in his K-6 on an excellent soaring day, which also saw a number of cross-country flights. Expeditions have included trips to Derbyshire's Camphill (very welcoming) and a number of members visited La Motte Du Caire for some adrenalin fixes. Thanks go to our younger members, who have been putting in 'extra time' working hard and even camping on the field in some foul weather.
There are no words to describe how shocked and sad we were to hear of Kaye's sudden death while holidaying with her husband Eric in their yacht off the Turkish coast last May.
At North Hill we all knew Kaye as a keen pilot, sharing an LS7 with Eric. We knew her as the mother of Claire and the twins, Alasdair and Daniel. We knew her as a warm, friendly person with a smile as broad as her Scottish accent. We also knew that she was somehow involved in medical matters at Torbay hospital, and that she and Eric also shared an interest in sailing.
It is such a pity that one frequently doesn't understand the full picture until such a sad occasion as this. In fact, Kaye was extremely well-respected in medical circles as a senior anaesthetist at Torbay hospital and, as befits somebody with such a warmth and closeness to the human condition, was also qualified in Clinical Hypnosis. Sailing? Yes, Kaye was equally keen and successful when getting wet. She was sailing when she first met Eric some years ago in Scotland, and they continued their passion for that sport as well as for gliding ever since, with numerous racing successes, and also holidaying on board.
And so it was that earlier in 2011, with Eric recently retired and Kaye about to do likewise in order that they could take more time enjoying their sports, their family, and each other's company, Kaye passed away in her sleep whilst on board their yacht off the coast of Turkey in May, .
Eric has told us that, just the day before she died, Kaye had told him that she had never been so happy as she was then.
Eric, the thoughts of all at North Hill are with you.
Christopher Heide, Devon & Somerset GC
New solos include Malcolm Vest, Tom Sides, Richard Farrer and Liam Vile (on his 16th birthday). Congratulations also to Dylan Davies, who completed his Bronze within a year of his first solo, and to Matt Wright, who has the full set of Diamonds. More than 50 members took the opportunity to visit Exeter airport ATC, which gave us a good insight into their operations. Rowan Smith arranged for Guy Westlake to offer aerobatic training and start Bonfire Night with glider aerobatics and pyrotechnics. Our greatly improved website is live with superb photos and videos.
After a carvery dinner in the clubhouse, decorated for Christmas by Cheryl, the AGM and presentation of trophies took place in early December. Just one first solo recently - David Thorpe in early January. The same day Steve Stevenson re-soloed after 17 years. Flying has continued, weather permitting, with fettling and lectures when it wasn't. Ian Mitchell decided he did not want to join us on the field in the cold January weather so went to Gariep Dam for fantastic soaring and South African sunshine. A number of our juniors have joined a K-6 syndicate and are enjoying a glider considerably older than they are!
Congratulations to Rowan Smith, James Hood and Matt Wright, who have completed Bl training. The weather has seen some early cross-country flights and Ron John's task week is eagerly awaited. Matt Wright was awarded the Philip Wills National Enterprise Trophy during this year's BGA conference. This magnificent trophy was in recognition of a flight soaring the cliffs of the South Coast (featured in a previous S&G) and included a presentation and film footage. We were saddened to hear of the passing of Joe Acreman recently. A good number of club members, both past and present, attended a memorial service for a very popular man, who will be much missed.
Congratulations to Max Bond (solo a few months after his 16th Birthday). We have now been granted BGA Junior accreditation. A good number attended Ron John's crosscountry task week with some excellent achievements, including Nick Harrison (Silver distance), Wyn Davies (Silver distance and five hours) with an out-and-return to The Park, and Tim Johns (Silver distance). Our recent open weekend was a great success with nearly 90 people flown, including a lady given a surprise for her 60th birthday.
"A legend." "Always readyto help." "One of the nicest blokes ever." These are some of the comments posted when the news of Joe's death reached us and they really do sum up the tremendous warmth of feeling that we all had for Joe.
He was born in October 1931 and named Ronald Henry Charles Acreman. Nan Acreman had her own views, however, and called him Joseph, so Joe he has been ever since to everyone who knew him.
Known as a quiet man, Joe didn't like being the centre of attention or throwing his weight around. But behind those bright blue eyes was a spirit of fun and adventure, which he never lost. He remained a motorcyclist and fan of motorbike and car racing throughout his life.
For over 40 years, Joe's greatest hobby was flying. In particular, he loved gliding. He joined both the Devon & Somerset and Mendip Gliding Clubs, taking his first solo flight in 1969. Later he helped the clubs by passing on his experience as an instructor and becoming chairman and tugmaster at Devon & Somerset for several years.
Clearly, he loved nearly every minute he spent with those clubs and they were lucky to have his dedication. Needless to say, between being tugmaster and instructor and his own solo flying, he ran up an enormous number of flying hours.
Joe had always been a little accident prone. During his National Service in the Air Force, he tripped when leaping out of the back of a moving truck and broke both his arms and one of his legs, but he bounced back more determined than ever. Interestingly, he spent more than 12 months of his two-year National Service in hospital and recuperation, which must be record of some sort.
Perhaps it is not surprising then that his flying days also came with a few bumps and bruises. When on a gliding trip to Lancashire, a tractor ran over him breaking various bones including both his pelvic bones and sockets. These were injuries that would have floored a man in his 20s, let alone one of 68. To suffer and recover from this once was remarkable, but to do it all again a few years later after a flying accident was just unbelievable. All his bones so carefully put back together were once more shattered. Joe astonished
medical science and all of us by applying all that determination a second time to bounce back yet again.
Later in life Joe suffered various ailments, but these couldn't keep him down. Nothing could make him sit still, unless a Grand Prix was on the television, but eventually even Joe could not put off the final launch to the flying club in the sky. Yes, Joe now has wings of his own and is no doubt making full use of them.
Chris Heide (DSGC) and Richard Acreman (Son)
We have battled on with our summer courses; Inter-club Leagues and air experience evenings and have a number of happy new pilots, keen to continue training. Many members have been made very welcome visiting other clubs during the summer, including Talgarth, Portmoak and Camp Hill. Some even gave up on the UK weather and headed to La Motte du Caire in various stages, feeding back excellent reports and stunning photos, causing Mark Courtney to threaten to jump in the River Tamar if the flying here did not improve.
A truly amazing summer of achievements! Congratulations for first solos to Ruth Comer, Mark Eatough, Mike Horwood, Ray Dodd, Andreas Kraemer and George Vojtisek. Rowan Smith has achieved his Gold distance and Diamond goal. Dylan Davies gained Silver duration and Liam Vile achieved Silver distance on his first cross-country flight from North Hill to the Park (with his first field landing very close by). It is good to see Mike Robinson and Ian King back in the cockpit and re-soloed after a lay off, and re-soloes from Ian Gawn, Chris Colville and Adrian Phillips, who have all joined the club this year.
The weather has played havoc, but we have had some good days in between the snow, wind and rain. Also some time for members to concentrate on their aerotowing skills when parts of the field were too boggy for the winch (under water). We have been enjoying an enthralling series of Saturday night talks from club members with incredibly varied pasts, including life in the diplomatic service and the BBC (Jonathan Stoneman), a career in the RAF - including flying Spitfires and Lightnings from Sir Christopher Colville, and flying Jets and Gannets in the Royal Navy with John Sillett. More talks are already organised for the next few months.
Congratulations to Mark Layton and Adrian Phillips on Silver heights, to Malcolm Vest for completing his Bronze exam, and to 'Texas Tom' (Sides) for getting Silver distance. Some great soaring days have been had, with Matt Wright and John Burrow soaring the North Devon cliffs (see p34) and CFI Pete Harmer and instructor Lisa Humphries soaring the South Devon cliffs the next day. Our series of winter talks has ended with a wonderful evening talk and presentation by Chris Colville on his involvement with the Red Arrows. Preparations are now well under way for our open weekend on 25/26 May.
Congratulations to Liam Vile (Silver) and Stuart Proctor, who completed his first 300km with an out-and-return from NH to Candover Church. Well done to Rowan Smith, who has completed his Ass Cat course, and Paul Summers and Clive Williams, who have completed their Bl training and acceptance checks. Preparations are under way for Competition Enterprise - returning for its 40th Anniversary - see website for details. We are very saddened to hear of the passing of Dick Wolff. A very much respected club member and instructor. He will be greatly missed.
What a fantastic summer of achievements. Congratulations to all, including our youngest solo, Peter Bennett (14). Also to Liam Vile who became the youngest (17) to gain a Gold distance and Diamond goal, and to Ollie Ogden Barker, Rick Andrews and Michael Fawcett (solo), Mark Eatough, Ruth Comer and Rick Andrews (Silver heights) and Ruth has her Bronze. And final Congrats to Mark Layton and Tom Sides (5-hours). Our winter talks have restarted with a fabulous insight into the Battle of Britain from Sir Chris Colville.
The weather forced us into many an "aerotow only" day, keeping the treasurer happy and hardier members current. Our December AGM saw no changes to the committee, but a chance to look back, dream of next summer and hand out trophies. New silverware included one commemorating the late Dick Wolff, going to winchmaster Les Hill; most landouts and shortest ladder trace to Liam Vile and Adrian Phillips. For the first time in years there was an award for an O/R to Lasham - to John Pursey. And we congratulated our members who'd amassed precious metals during the Portmoak expedition - two Silver, four Gold and a Diamond height.
During the wet winter, more DSGC members stayed in the air more often, and for longer than they might have expected, thanks to our reduced price aerotowing policy for days when use of the winch would cut up the muddy field. People were therefore at the launch point and ready to fly on several days that delivered more than the forecast promised - including spectacular wave and reassuring ridge lift. Congratulations to junior members Luke Knight (first solo at NHL), Matt Smolinski and Peter Bennett (conversion to K-6), to Tim Peters (first solo), chairman Lisa Humphries (election to BGA Exec Committee) and vice-chairman Andrew "Muggles" Mugleston on Gold height (at Omarama).
Spring sprang only sporadically; early May saw some club pundits commuting around the Club 100, practising for more epic flights. Club task week became task day (a satisfying one - with 2,500km covered, Mark Layton completing his Silver, and Wyn Davies his Diamond Goal). Despite a wet open weekend, we flew 70 launches, introducing dozens to the joys of our sport. DSGC courses remain popular, and the May one saw three of its six pilots solo/re-solo during the week. We've also worked with nearby Wellington School to introduce a group of students to gliding over a series of Saturdays in May - with six students getting a launch every week.
We lost long-time instructor Ernie Perrin in a tragic accident in June. The club got together for a farewell a month later. All summer we had people soaring in skies that looked rubbish, while others failed in skies that looked booming. Aston Key completed his Silver duration; Matts Smolinski and Williamson achieved Silver distance; and Chris Mew and Bran Searle have both soloed. Bran's first solo came towards the end of a DSGC course, showing the value of youth and consistent training. Liam Vile went to Nympsfield for Comp Enterprise 2014 and chose fields across Southern England for his crew to find.
Tim Gardner was born in Kuala Lumpa in 1918 and educated at Tonbridge. He pursued a profession in accountancy until the outbreak of war, during which period he served as a young naval officer. Tim spoke little of his wartime service, but it is understood that his ship,was torpedoed in the Mediterranean; he also survived similar experiences in other theatres, including the North Atlantic.
When peace came, Tim could not readily adjust to the idea of returning to life in the City and moved to Wales. Here he learnt the techniques and skills that enabled him to combine his love of outdoor life with his zest for hard work, to become a successful farmer.
Tim moved to Devon with his wife and, by then, large family, to farm on Exmoor and his interest in gliding and flair for soaring soon became apparent when he joined the Devon & Somerset GC.
Tim was a keen and active member of the club for many years, gaining his C badge at Dunkeswell in 1962; Diamond goal flying a club Skylark to Felwell in Norfolk in 1965; completing Gold C in 1975 and Diamond height in 1983. He was a keen cross-country pilot and the recipient of no less than 18 club trophies.
This enthusiasm was extended to encourage others by many running task weeks over the years. Those of us who were privileged to have known Tim will remember him as a committed, enthusiastic and intuitive instructor, adept in all aspects of the sport, but mostly as a modest, polite and charming man - a gentleman of the old school.
We are saddened by his passing.
Barbara Fairclough, Devon & Somerset GC
I first met Ernie about 20 years ago when he joined the Devon & Somerset Gliding Club. He was a helicopter pilot who had retired from professional flying to take up food retailing - unlike me, who had given up food retailing so I could spend more time gliding. I was involved in Ernie's early gliding training and was always impressed by his professionalism and eagerness to learn. I was humbled by the fact that I was an amateur pilot teaching a professional aviator to fly gliders. Ernie was always respectful of my knowledge of gliding and would never use his superior aviation knowledge to make it difficult to train him.
Ernie soon went solo and worked his way through all the training, becoming a basic instructor and later an Ass Cat instructor. He served on the committee as hon secretary for many years and was also the club safety officer, a position he executed with extreme professionalism. Ernie was a true gentleman, much admired and respected by all who knew him and flew with him.
Club members enjoyed many of Ernie's stories of his exploits with Bristows. The following recollection is one of our favourite ones.
Ernie was tasked to fly a director to London in a dinky little commuter helicopter, probably a Robinson, one of those little ones you get with a Kinder Egg!
On arriving at Heathrow, he was left to refuel the helicopter for the return journey. He was directed to a quiet corner of the airfield and told to await a fuel bowser.
Eventually a giant fuel tanker arrives and, towering over the helicopter, comes to halt. The equally large operator climbs down from his cabin, glances at Ernie, puts on a pair of heavy gloves and lifts the delivery pistol from its holder. Ernie has removed the cap from the fuel tank and steps back while the tanker driver places the pistol in the fuel tank. He glances at Ernie again and gives the pistol grip a very short squeeze. Ptttt.
This is the same tanker that would fuel a 747 for a transatlantic flight. The fuel flow is appropriately fast and this is sufficient to fill the tanks.
The pistol is withdrawn, Ernie steps forward to replace the filler cap, turns to the operator and enquires as to how much he should pay. "Push off you silly person," (or words to that effect) "I usually spill more than that!"
Ernie died as a result of a tragic accident. Our sympathies extend to his wife, son Dominic and family.
John Street, Devon & Somerset GC