Club news 1960s

Extracts from S&G February 1960 to December 1969


February 1960

Nineteen fifty-nine has proved a very successful year for us.

We have doubled our number of launches to 3,000 and have set a target of 5,000 for 1960. Seven members gained their C's against only one in 1958 and we have increased our membership to 60.


Peter Berriman obtained his B.G.A. Instructors Category in June whilst at Lasham, and also managed to get to 14,000ft. in a Skylark on the same day. Unfortunately the barograph did not register, so he could not claim the height gain.

The Swallow has been kept very busy since' its arrival and the syndicate are generously allowing the more experienced club members to fly it. Everyone is very impressed with its performance and it is the only aircraft in which we can get out to our westerly ridge. To date no one has been able to soar the ridge for any length of time, as only when a very strong wind is blowing can one soar at a safe height. A bungy has just been acquired and we intend to use it on the Blackdown Hills where there is about six miles of soarable hill, in a N.W. wind. Given the right conditions our first five- hour legs should be possible from here.

So far, we have done no cross-country flying from Dunkeswell, but with the Swallow and its trailer now available many members will have their first chance for cross countries. Recently, selected pilots have been encouraged to do simulated held landings in a corner of the airfield and much confidence and experience has been gained.

Also the B.G.A. Travelling Circus is visiting us late in January with an Eagle. Aerotowing will be available and as many members as possible will be given aerotows, cloud or blind flying and other advanced instruction. In the evening talks covering all aspects of cross-country flying and advanced soaring will be given together with accompanying slides. We feel the idea of the "circus" is a very good one and all members should gain benefit from the visit, especially the aspiring Silver C pilots.

We have already arranged six courses for the coming summer and intend to run more if instructors can be found. Our membership has increased during 1959 but with our recent advertising and press reports we hope that 1960 will be a record year for new membership.


August 1960

During the last two or three months Sam Tolman, our C.F.I., and John Fielden have not only taken on an exceptionally heavy training programme for ab-intios but they have found time to concentrate on would-be passenger carriers. We now have our T-21 back after an unfortunate mishap, thanks to a speedy repair and overhaul by Warren Storey and excellent work by John Fielden in dashing up and down to Thruxton. Thanks are also due to the Lasham Gliding Centre for the loan of their T-21 trailer.

In June we were very pleased to welcome to our Club as a member one of the original gliding pundits, John S. Fox.  He will doubtless be remembered by the pre-war gliding fraternity, especially at Dunstable, where he learned to fly in 1934. John is already showing that he has lost none of his old skill as a pilot and after 20 years on the ground we wish him many more years of happy soaring.

Whit Monday proved an exceptionally good soaring day. Several good flights were recorded, including one to 8,700 ft. in the now open T-21 by John Fielden accompanied by our local "Bobby", Dave Hambley. They could have gone higher but the latter's hair started standing on end -with ice (not fright!).


October 1960

Although we have had indifferent weather conditions for the last two months, several members have gained their B and C certificates. John Fielden has again been very active, besides running successful Course Weeks. He just missed his Gold C height in the Swallow getting away from a shaky 500 ft. to 9,400 ft.

Another opportunity was missed by our Secretary, Brian Knowlman, when, faithful to his instructor’s briefing to practise upwind soaring, he failed to see all frantic ground signals telling him to attempt his first cross country in improved conditions and lifted cloudbase.

Another Tutor has been added to our fleet, making a total of five aircraft all duly inscribed with appropriate names. We now have Popsy and Wopsy (Tutors), Rudolph (T-21), Nellie (T-31) and Jane (Swallow). A syndicate Skylark 3f is on order for the winter.

The Club's chief anxiety is still the proposed new road crossing the 'drome. We have been asked to put £4,000 towards the cost of an alternative route, incorporating the perimeter track.


December 1960

The season over, we have totted up our certificates gained.  Twelve B's and nine C's, which is reasonably good progress. Reg Chubb and John Fielden completed the furthest cross-country flights, the former to Crewkerne, narrowly missing his Silver C distance, and the latter to Salisbury.

Membership continues to increase rapidly.

Audrey Kelsey, a flying member with a C certificate, has very kindly donated a Trophy to be awarded annually to the pilot who flies from "home" to Exeter in the fastest time in a Tutor; two members have already descended upon Exeter airport, trying to land inconspicuously in remote corners of the drome. John Pomeroy at present holds the record with a time of just under an hour.

An "honourable mention'' must go to John Hancock for building a compact open trailer, then travelling 400 odd miles with same to collect our new spoiler-fitted Tutor from Northampton.

Our hard-working C.F.I. Sam Tolman must hold the all-time record for C.F.I.'s. He hasn't missed a single week-end's flying since the Club started over three years ago!

We are greatly indebted to him.


April 1961

On Sunday, 12th February, most of our faithful "bad weather" members were rewarded by a whole day's good flying. Cloud base varied from 700 ft. to 1,500 ft.

For 1961 flying, a syndicate Kite II should be operational at the beginning of March, and the Club has now full ownership of the Swallow. These' together with a syndicate Skylark and five other aircraft will, we hope, keep members airborne throughout the year.

A more spacious Club Room is a possibility in the near future, the Ladies Committee consider this an urgent problem and are quietly persuading the Management Committee to achieve this end as soon as Air Ministry will allow.


June 1961

At the Annual General Meeting it was agreed that the Club's name be changed to the Devon and Somerset G.C. which is, we feel, more appropriate.

John Pomeroy was presented with the Kelsey Trophy for the fastest flight to Exeter Airport in a Tutor and Reg Chubb with the President's Trophy for having made the greatest progress in 1960. Reg did the club's first Silver C 5-hour leg on the cliffs near Sidmouth, before low cloud forced him to land on the shingle beach. When the weather is suitable, we hope more 5-hour legs will be done on the cliffs.

The Club fleet now consists of a T-21, T-31, two Tutors and a Swallow, together with a syndicate Kite and a Skylark 3. Already this year we have been able to make much greater use of our two ridges and have managed to contact waves over the airfield, in both Westerly and Southerly winds.

Eight courses have been arranged and are fully booked for the coming season. Old hands in the gliding movement will be amused to learn that on our first course starting on 29th May, under Sam Tolman's instruction, we have booked a Mrs. A. Welch, Mr. B. Masters and Mr. Bums!!


December 1961

By the end of September we had already reached our target of 5,000 launches for 1961 and weather permitting should achieve 6,000 launches and 650 hours by the year's end.

This year has produced six Silver C legs by members. Tony Lapham completed his Silver C with a climb to 6,000 ft., after many tries! Dave Minson gained height and distance in a flight to Alresford just short of Lasham.

Reg Chubb did his distance to Clevedon near Bristol, and John Hancock his into Dorset. John Fielden declared an out-and-return to Lasham and after arriving at Lasham in 2 hours was very unlucky to land at Chard, just 12 miles short of Dunkeswell, and a Gold C plus!

John Fielden has, during the last few months, been organising 6 a.m. starts on Sunday mornings for ab-initio pupils, taking advantage of the prevailing calm conditions.  By limiting the number of persons to about six, a sensible number of launches per person can be given and our number of solos has risen considerably.

Thanks to the efforts of Hugh Stringer and some of our ladies the Club caravan is now in operation at the end of the runway, offering comfort and refreshment for all. It should do a roaring trade during the winter months.


February 1962

Saturday, 2nd December, proved to be quite a good soaring day, with two half-hour flights being made.   One to 1,500 ft. and the other to 2,000 ft. in really strong lift!

We now have 88 members who can fly solo and after careful consideration it has been decided to limit membership.

A Kite 1 has recently arrived at the Club to join an Olympia and Skylark 3 which are syndicate owned. Plus the Club's T-21, T-31, Swallow and two Tutors, this makes eight gliders now flying from Dunkeswell.

All being well, with the assistance of a full time instructor we hope to run many more courses during 1962 and if we can make the necessary arrangements we would like to run a Regional Competition at Dunkeswell later in 1962.


April 1962

The year has started well here in the West Country, with three thermic days in the first two weeks of February. On two of these days we were visiting a promising site on Haldon, just S.W. of Exeter, and on the first occasion some thermal and hill soaring was possible.

The second trip was interesting and the Swallow reached 5,000 ft. over Torquay and was able to fly upwind to Exeter.

We are looking into the possibility of using the Haldon site in addition to Dunkeswell, with the added attraction of wave flying in the lee of Dartmoor!

For the first time we are employing an instructor to run our Summer Courses, and we wish him every success. Throughout the summer certain weeks are being reserved for Club flying, so we hope more Club members will be able to do mid-week flying.

A Regional Competition is to be held at Dunkeswell from 28th July to 6th August inclusive. Launching will all be by aerotow, and we hope to be able to accept up to 30 entries. Already preparations are in hand, and B.G.A. will be publishing full details in this magazine.


June 1962

At the Annual General Meeting held in Taunton on 2nd April, a most important proposition was put forward and accepted by the meeting. It was a three-year development plan for the Club, starting in 1962 with the purchase of a second Swallow. In the Spring of 1963 a new T-49, and in 1964 possibly a second-hand Skylark 3. It also involves scrapping our Ford V-8 tow cars and replacing them with Austin Princesses, one of which is already giving good service. A financial sub-committee has been formed to look after the money which will be required to finance the plan. Also at the meeting, Dave Minson received the President's Trophy and John Groves the Kelsey Trophy for their progress during the last year.

In 1961 we trebled our hours flown and did 800 cross-country miles; this year our aim is to double both these and see more completed Silver C's.

All clubs should have received full details and entry forms for the Regional Competitions to be held at Dunkeswell from 28th July-6th August by the time this report is in print.


October 1962

The South-Western Gliding Competitions were held at Dunkeswell "despite the weather", and flying was possible on six of the ten days.

Most people seemed to enjoy themselves especially those who reached Swanton Morley, 350 km., the longest goal race set in this country, so we are told. A 500 km. race from Dunkeswell seems a definite possibility on a similar day! (Competition results elsewhere in this issue.) [Not yet received. - ED.]

John Hancock and Pete Neathereote recently completed their 5 hour legs and Peter Hill and Tim Gardener their Silver C distances.

Pete Neathercote's 5 hours was a real achievement as he had only just converted from power to gliders and had done no previous hill soaring.

We are at present experimenting with Pulley Launching, using the Clayton Pulleys attached to a jeep. Using one tow car, we can double our launch rate and with two cars going we need more gliders!

Our aim is to have permanent pulley points at the ends of our two main runways and when we change runways all we do is move the pulley gear and bolt in the new position. Many people tried pulley launching for the first time at our Competitions and seemed quite impressed.

The launch starts like an auto one and develops into a winch type. Visitors are welcome to call in and see pulley launching in operation.

The Capstan was kept busy during Comp. week. All our instructors and many club members flew it and were impressed by its handling qualities and exceptional visibility.


February 1963

1962 has been a year of achievement for the Club. We have flown for 1,162 hours, nearly double the 1961figure also 341 hours have been done by private owners, plus 416 hours during the Competition. Launches from the site were 8,100 against 6,000 last year and Club gliders have covered 425 cross-country miles. Private owners did 860 miles and 6,872 miles were flown during the Competition. Twenty-two C certificates have been attained, together with 14 Silver C legs, one Gold and one Diamond leg. With aero-towing being more readily available more wave flights have been possible, and earlier in the year 11,000 feet was reached by John Fielden. A second Swallow has been added to the Club fleet and an Eagle has just been collected from Scotland for a recently-formed syndicate.

The Club is running two Task Weeks during 1963, the aims of which are to give pilots of intermediate experience, training and exercises in cross-country flying, field landings and competition procedure. The minimum requirements will be C certificate, a glider (T.P.I.£2,500), trailer and suitable towing vehicle, plus one crew member and preferably a second pilot. Maximum number of gliders will be 12. Each day there will be comprehensive briefing before flying and de-briefing on pilots return. Launching will be by auto-pulley at 5s.per launch and entry fee per glider £5.

We again have a full-time B.G.A. Instructor to run the 1963 Courses, which were such a success last year. Also the Committee have agreed to purchase a second-hand Skylark 3, which will relieve the load on the Swallows and should be a great incentive to further pilots' experience and ambitions.


August 1963

After the sub-arctic weather of January and February which isolated Dunkeswell for weeks, members returned with much energy, and somehow, regardless of trade or profession, became engaged and absorbed in a campaign of renovation on our recently acquired spacious Club buildings. This important and desirable operation resulted in a transformation providing mod. cons and starred recommendation, in keeping with our efforts on the flying side to make Dunkeswell an attractive centre of gliding in the South-west.

Our A.G.M. was well supported members giving confidence to a Committee confronted with the well-known problem, tenure of site.

Between periods of bad weather we have gone all out to improve on our excellent flying record of 1962; to this end and to cope with a steady influx of new members we run early morning and when possible, evening training courses, thus giving solo members more opportunities for launches and soaring in the middle of the day.

With aero-tow facilities and the use of our car-cum-pulley system of launching we are now able to reach several ridges and waves which appear at all heights and with almost any direction of wind. Many of these areas of lift were previously beyond our means, so we expect much exploration and interesting results in the future.

We are now well into the busy landing-out season, our retrieving crews are becoming expert at handling huge trailers in narrow lanes and appeasing sometimes huge farmers in corn fields

Our two Swallows are becoming over-worked as more and more people are converted to this type of aircraft and we look forward to the arrival of a more advanced type. A syndicate Eagle purchased at the end of 1962 has been of assistance to the Club and enabled many Tutor and Swallow pilots to experience higher performance flying.

Well-booked weekly courses started in April and will continue until October with occasional breaks for Club weeks and our annual Open Competition

S. G. T.

October 1963

On Friday, 21st June Peter Berriman achieved his 300 km. Diamond Goal Flight in a flight to Tuddenham. Peter really deserves his Diamond, which was carried out in very difficult weather, spending some time on the ridge at Dunstable.

The next day, after an all night retrieve, John Hancock set off for the same goal, but this time the lure of Dunstable proved too strong and he landed in good company. John Fielden and Alistair Shovelton did another alt night retrieve and John took off on Sunday morning to visit Dunstable's "At Home", duly arriving about 2 p.m.

The London Club kindly presented him with a picture card featuring their latest high performance "Britannia" type glider. Skylark 200 did 500 miles in three days!

dunkseswell control tower
Splendid work by club members has transformed the control tower into a club house of which we can be proud, telephone, electric light, etc., and most important of all, a bar! We now all approach winter flying with pleasure, knowing we can thaw out in comfort.

Plans being completed and preliminary work carried out, we will shortly have a hangar to house some of our fleet, together with a home for the Tiger Moth tug on the site.

A Skylark has been bought, bringing our total to 11 aircraft :- T-21, T-31, Kite, two Tutors, two Swallows, two Skylarks, Olympia and Eagle.


February 1964

Wally Wallington visited us recently and gave us a series of lectures on Meteorology which were greatly appreciated. We now know how it rains but not how to stop it! Now that our Tiger Moth tug is permanently based here it will no doubt lead to some interesting wave flights and Swallow pilots can now look forward to flying the Skylark.

dunkeswell _hangar
The hangar was built in a very short time, the many improvisations being a source of amazement. One wishes the Ministry of Aviation possessed some of the gusto of gliding clubs and we might even thermal in their hot air (better not, it's a control zone). The Club has been cliff soaring at Branscombe which is along the coast from Sidmouth. Bungy launches with our Swallow gave some variety of flying to our members.

We have had one film show and plan some more as we have a licensed bar and can hangar fly in comfort. Over many consecutive week-ends when weather clamped flying many members still visit the clubhouse, makes one think a Link Trainer for gliders would be an idea for English weather. Reciprocal Membership has been arranged with the Cornish Club at Perranporth which will prove more than attractive in the summer.

N. P. H.

June 1964

Our record for 1963 show achieved 6,419 launches, not equalling 1962, but our competition cross-country mileage totalled a creditable 3,841 miles.

With the rapid expansion of our club and increasing membership we have engaged Fred Breeze from Perranporth as full time Course Instructor and Ground Engineer, so we will be really self-contained now.

new winch
As all our launches are by a new winch we have employed John Dalton full time to drive this splendid machine, his wife will now organise our catering, so easing the work of the "few”. A vote of thanks to Mary Fielden, who has fed thermal hungry pilots for some time past with great gusto.

Our A.G.M. was held recently and very well attended, important topics such as purchase of our airfield were discussed. We look forward to the delivery of a new T-49 Capstan, which will greatly assist more advanced instruction. Our Tiger continues to be very busy with aero-tows and with the advent of the T-49 will be quite an asset.


February - March 1965

Winter flying continues at Dunkeswell with even more popularity. No doubt our "cosy" Capstan contributes to this. In November Reg Chubb had an excellent flight of over two hours in his new Olympia 460 which just seems to float on nothing. John Fielden also had an hour and a half flight but had to land eventually, his Skylark 3 having no landing lights!

Our Tiger Moth is even busier with aero-tows and also gives members the chance to go on "met" flights in search of wave soaring conditions, "on top" around 5,000 ft. in brilliant sunshine in an open cockpit is well worth the trip. We hope to add a Skylark 4 to the Club fleet in anticipation of another '64 type summer.

We are disposing of the T-31 Tutor type gliders in favour of the Capstan to Swallow programme. Our Club continues to improve the control tower as its clubhouse where all week-end meals are available to visitors. We would extend a hearty welcome to other clubs to visit us by air or car.

N. P. H.

October - November 1965

Dunkeswell airfield, which has been used since the early days of the club, has recently been sold. Since we have been unable to negotiate a lease on the runways; a new site has been purchased at North Hill, about 11/2 miles west of Dunkeswell. The new field is 108 acres, with excellent thermal and hill-soaring possibilities.

Our Chairman, Sam Tolman, has resigned and Dave Clayton (vice-chairman) has stepped into the breach at this very difficult time. Our thanks to Sam for all the hard work he has put into the club during his term of office.

Our courses this year have been fully booked and, in spite of the weather, most have had their full quota of launches. The morning and evening courses for club members at weekends have been extremely well attended this year, we sometimes wonder if our instructors ever sleep!

The arrival of a new Skylark 4 has slightly eased the queue for the two club Swallows at the weekends. Our Tiger has been at Exeter, having a C. of A., but is now back home, resplendent in red and blue.

There is a lot of hard work to be done at North Hill before we move in next spring, but with security of tenure we have very much to look forward to in the years to come.

S. N.

June - July 1966

Last year we said that we were negotiating for our own airfield at North Hill and we are now pleased to announce that we have acquired the site and hope to tow the winch over there as soon as the ground has dried out. The new field will be ideal for hill soaring and commands a fabulous view over East Devon. Of course, it will take time to establish ourselves, but, as our own landlords, we hope to provide better amenities for our members and guests.

Courses this year will be run at Dunkeswell and commence on 18th April. Our very popular task weeks will be held at Dunkeswell on 23rd July and 27th August. Our T-49 and two Swallows will be available for courses this season and will be kept at Dunkeswell.

Congratulations to two of our club members, Tim Gardner and Rowland Trott who both flew to Feltwell on the same day to achieve their Diamond goals. Tim was flying the club's Skylark and Rowland flew John Fielden's Skylark.

H. C. W.

February – March 1967

The A.G.M. of the Club was held in the Church Hall, Hemyock on Saturday, 10th December. Some sixty members attended and were welcomed by the President who then presented the trophy for the best flying progress during the year to Ted Hayter. One honorary Life Member was elected unanimously for his valuable services to the Club. Various officers and members (not forgetting the ladies) were thanked for their hard work during the period of transition from Dunkeswell Airfield to the new site at North Hill, about which the members were later given financial details.

The Club endorsed the action taken by the Management Committee relating to the move and will now face the task of building a hangar, clubhouse and approach road. Flying from North Hill commenced about a month ago and the site offers exciting prospects for both ridge and thermal soaring, not to mention magnificent views from a place acknowledged to be a natural beauty spot.

Our new Chairman for this venture will be Francis Bustard and C. F. I. Owen Corsbie. Fred Breeze remains at Dunkeswell and is starting a training concern there of his own in which we wish him good luck. Courses will be held at North Hill this summer and applications should be addressed to the Course Secretary as advertised in SAILPLANE & GLIDING. Visitors will be very welcome.

A. E. R. H.

April – May 1967

Your scribe having just returned from five weeks in Barbados (wonderful soaring weather but no gliders!), the following notes have kindly been supplied by our new Chairman.

The annual dinner and dance on 17th December was again held at the Victoria Hotel, Sidmouth, 60 members and friends being present.

A smaller but equally enjoyable gathering met at the Carlton Hotel at Honiton on the previous Saturday when we were regaled with roast game and cheered by lashings of very good wine kindly provided by our genial President, Mr. T. R. N. Whyte. The evening was so much enjoyed that it was resolved to repeat it from time to time as a club activity.

We have been flying from our new site at North Hill, Broadhembury, since the beginning of November and we are very well pleased with the move. There are snags, of course. The entrance gateway has become a quagmire in the recent rains, and cars and trailers tend to get stuck and have to be rescued by tractor. Also, at the present we have no clubhouse or hangar but plans have been submitted and we hope to start building very shortly. The steel for the framework is already in our possession and being assembled. It came from four obsolete electricity pylons which one of our members bought for the club and which we dismantled ourselves. We nearly had a classic accident in the course of this. One of our members had his safety harness attached to the cross:member he was in "the process of unbolting!

Incidentally, when the plans for the hangar were submitted, the Planning Officer pointed out that the roof was an aerofoil and that in a strong wind it was liable to become airborne. We therefore agreed to fit spoilers. We did not want a soarable hangar.

To hardy gliding types the initial drawbacks of the new site are nothing compared with the magnificent soaring possibilities. Even in light winds soaring is possible with the wind direction any- thing from south to north-west and this covers most days of the year. Several members had over an hour's soaring in quite light winds on New Year's Day. In fact, our launch rate has decreased alarmingly as we tend to run out of gliders to launch.

The financial stringency resulting from the move has left us with a somewhat depleted fleet consisting of a T-49, two Swallows and a Tutor, but we have a number of P.O.G's and more syndicates are contemplated. Our Tiger Moth has a new engine. We hope this one will be less prone to shed inessentials, like magnetos, than the old one.

We are planning to hold our usual training course this year as well as two task weeks; will those interested please apply to Mrs. J. Hancock, 2 St. Peter's Close, Broadway, Ilminster.

We look forward to lots of fun and plenty of hard work in the coming season.

A. E. R. H

June – July 1967

Since last writing, the week-ends have not been too kind in the matter of weather, but one member managed 84 minutes on the South Ridge in February and it is noticeable that "circuit" times have increased from an average of four to five minutes to some- thing like ten.

Initially it was intended to move permanently all but the Tiger and one Swallow to North Hill from Dunkeswell, but it was felt wiser, during the worst of the winter at least, to take advantage of our tenancy of the Dunkeswell hangar and workshop facilities for protection of equipment. This seems an interim period of commuter flights until at least a part of the hangar at North Hill is built. Plans are complete and materials available, so that by the time these notes are in print the workshop and store, together with some hangar space, should be in use.

Quite a lot of thought has been given to club flying training and arrangements have been made for organised pre-solo courses mornings and evenings on Saturdays and Sundays.

A pre-solo course the week before Easter produced three first solos and one club member got in his Silver C duration. This course was largely due to the efforts of Gerry Leat, who has also put in a great deal of work in rigging up a telephone system between launch and winch points. He gets understandably "fierce" when these lines are not used in the approved manner. Small transistorised speaker points have since been added by our electronics expert, John Fielden.


August – September 1967

We have had our first visitor - a yellow Skylark from Booker – and it is surprising how this lessened the feeling of isolation which sometimes creeps over us out here in the wilds.

Achievements for this period comprise C certificates for Chris Slade and Ken Jenkins, Bronze for Arthur Clapp and at last Brian Weare has managed to break out of the magic circle bounded by Merryfield on one side and the Rampisham masts on the other. Having reached Cerne Abbas, this, subject to confirmation, completes his Silver C. He got his five hours in the Eagle – rather like driving a bus in a car rally! Although Pete Stanley shot off to Andover one sunny day, he omitted to carry that small but vital barograph. Mike Dixon also got his five hours and Mike Fairclough height and distance for Silver C.

The ground crews, if they will forgive the term, have been busy on activities ranging from cesspits to winch gears and it really takes dedication to forego this wonderful soaring weather and stick to the earthy jobs. Not a little credit goes to the Welsh Wizard of lorries and hardcore - Jim Watkins.

The Nationals produced a 20th place for John Fielden of which the club is proud and a little excitement in the matter of his house burning down during the competitions - if you can't set the place alight one way . . .!!

One old friend and ex-club member, Reg Chubb, dropped in on 10th June from Tarrant Rushton in his beautiful Dart 17R. The tenth Commandment was, I am afraid, well and truly broken. The caravanserai has grown amazingly since last writing and the vast improvement in the weather has enhanced the attractions of our new site way beyond our expectations; come and see for yourselves.

A. E. R. H.

October – November 1967

Your correspondent has been flat on his back for the past five weeks having learned the hard way that trying to soar with brakes unlocked is a mugs game, so that these notes have been culled largely from telephone rather than personal observations.

We suffered a state of mishap about the end of June both to private and club aircraft. Ted Hayter, having reached Ivybridge and landed successfully for his Silver C distance,' was aghast when he returned from telephoning to find that a pony had walked up one wing of the Olympia. The Fauvette came to grief on a very slow launch and the Capstan tried conclusions (unsuccessfully) with a heap of concrete. My efforts with the Swallow also left it a bit bedraggled! Notwithstanding all this, the club's activities have not been too curtailed. Their drains for the main building have now been completed and passed inspection and the site for the hangar/workshop bulldozed. The builder's hut is being used as a temporary clubhouse. An introduction to gliding was afforded the "41 Club" of Crewkerne on 12th July and the Bridport Round Table on 18th July.

Eric Shore, our Treasurer, flew to Compton Abbas on 22nd July without a barograph so he did the same flight on the 23rd with one to qualify for a Silver C distance. He also managed to stooge around before landing to accomplish the duration leg. Frank Bell also flew for five hours on 23rd July and to Middle Wallop on 4th August.

The club task week, 29th July to 5th August, produced only two good flying days at the end, but these were well used. Mike Harper having declared Feltwell for Diamond gold had the bad luck to land only two miles short. He did, however, get his Gold distance from this flight.

In all these more advanced awards we mustn't forget the initial certificates which are equally important in a well-balanced club, so that Bill Mills' C certificate is recorded with pleasure.

A. E. R. H.

December 1967 – January 1968

Firstly, apologies to Bill Nill for getting him recorded as Mill, and to Alastair Milne for not reporting his 77.5 kilometres Silver ride to Bere Regis. Apparently his office colleagues are highly suspicious of Alastair's stories unless they see them in print in SAILPLANE & GLIDING.

Now that the fine frenzy of certificate and competition flying has abated, attention has been concentrated on properly organised training courses on Saturdays and Sundays. We are well blessed with both Junior and Categorised Instructors and hope to convert some of the former into the latter after a visit by John Everitt.

A great improvement resulted from the re-instatement of the proper gearbox and drums in the winch. This allows faster cable retrieves and doubles the launch rate with two cables instead of the temporary arrangements with small drums and single wire. It is pleasing to note the healthy regard for safety rules when operating two cables. The extra minute taken to "clear" the pegged-down cable with the winch driver is well worth the trouble and ensures not getting one's wires crossed. The Capstan is now back in service as good as new.

On Saturday, 30th September, the club held a Bar-b-q and the roasting sheep turning on its spit all afternoon was quite something. I was assured it was not the one on which Ken Jenkins landed, but was acquired legitimately. We tried to enlist the services of Michael Bentine in a "dratting" session during the evening, but he was engaged elsewhere and we had only Mrs. Bentine's letter on the dangers of "nurdling" to assist us.

Finally, a sincere thank you to Mrs. G. Tregonning, better known as Gerry whose excellent catering efforts are much appreciated.


February – March 1968

November is never expected to produce anything spectacular in the way of thermals and we had to be con-tent with exploiting the west ridge when this was possible, and circuit bashing when it was not. "It's an ill wind which blows no good" and the site developers could proceed with their worthy tasks without looking longingly over their shoulders at beautiful streets of cu.

Recent articles in SAILPLANE & GLIDING have had a marked effect on the "cost consciousness" of members and this was evident at the Annual General Meeting held at Hemyock on 4th December. This was attended by some 56 members, 36 of whom went on to a repast of duck and venison at the Carlton in Honiton. The meeting produced some cogent argument regarding summer courses, tug maintenance costs, purchase of new aircraft and the statistics which would make our decisions produce schemes which were viable. Our hard - worked Treasurer, Eric Shore, proved by his answers that he is as capable in performing financial aerobatics as those of the more conventional kind.

Changes in officers and committee consisted of Mike Dixon, who took over during the year from Owen Corsbie as CFI, and the recognition of Brian Weare as an ex-officio member of the committee in his capacity as Technical Officer. The President's Shield for best progress during the year was awarded to Chris Slade, and Terry Brown was awarded the Kelsey Plate for best cross-country during the year.

After a great deal of delay owing to negotiations, digging machinery gremlins and weather, it really looks as though concreting will start on the site for hangar and workshop. Of the many stalwarts who have plodded on manfully with this task it would not be out of place to mention John Hancock, Dave Bindon and Bill Nill.


April – May 1968

Our annual Dinner and Dance was supported by about 45 members and a good time was had by all. About that time, our technical officer, Brian Weare, was presented with a son. But such is devotion to duty that he still had the presence of mind, as he dashed off to the hospital, to shout to the riggers of our newly modded Dart—"You can't fly that till I've reweighed it."


June – July 1968

On returning from the sunny West Indies at the end of February and encountering a temperature drop of 50°F the first news from the club grapevine was the sad information that Berenice Wykes, one of our very few lady fliers had come to grief on her first solo. The vertebrae which she fractured and the glider she flew were identical with the ones which your scribe fractured and flew last July. Berry, although a little "plastered", is progressing well and we all wish her a speedy and complete recovery.

The prevailing wind in the last six weeks or so has been either just west or :east of north and we have been a bit frustrated at North Hill when provoking gusts from the west have tempted us to change ends (the north-westerly giving as a better launch) only to find the easterly as strong as ever when all is ready for the first launch from the new position.

Gerry Leat ran a successful course during the second week in March which, despite indifferent weather conditions, produced some C's and a Bronze. Quite a few members have also been to courses at Lasham on subjects varying from Instructors to Aircraft Inspectors. The potential, both technical and flying, is therefore building up to satisfy future requirements. A "ladder" scheme has been introduced whereby points are allocated for notable flights. John Fielden, our erstwhile National Champion, is hoping to give a display of glider aerobatics at the Devon County Show at Exeter on 16th, 17th and 18th May in the Dart 15, accompanied by a team demonstration of rigging and derigging.

The club has now legally acquired Wheelbarrow Lane, which will eventually become the main access.

August – September 1968

THE soaring season always triggers off new and more sophisticated sailplanes and it looks as though the club Ka-6E which arrived on site the week before Whitsun will be followed by at least two more syndicate-owned craft of this type.

An interesting test was carried out by two of our senior pilots who flew the new Ka-6E and the Olympia 463 respectively almost in formation on a "scratchy" afternoon for nearly an hour in order to compare performance. If you want to know the answer, come and visit us at North Hill, as more and more friends are doing. We are getting to be quite a staging post on the Gold and Diamond road to the west.

Some colleagues from Southdown brought their Ka-13 and spent a week with us in May and rumour has it that they wish to repeat the performance, which we take as a compliment. For our part, we enjoyed their company.

Work on the hangar and workshop proceeds albeit slowly and Ted Hayter and Chris Slade spent most of the Whitsun holiday erecting what must be the tallest windsock pole in the country.

The Tiger Moth is back on duty after a major overhaul, so that we are now all set for the busiest period of the year. Social activities have also been well maintained by supper parties at the Carlton in Honiton and a soiree at Mike and Barbara Fairclough’s house.


October – November 1968

Regular week-end training courses for club members are now in full swing in addition to the weekly courses run by volunteer club instructors. These, together with evening passenger flying, have kept both pilots and equipment fully occupied.

The first club Task Week commenced on 1st July, and as the wind and weather varied from hail, thunder and intense heat to a cracking day on the Wednesday, the task setter's job was no sinecure. Ron Hunt emerged with a Silver C distance having flown the Swallow all over the S.W. quadrant eventually to reach Milton Abbas in the cool of the evening. With the aid of radio, John Hancock and Roland Trott made some professional and speedy retrieves from their various excursions in the Dart.

Mid-July produced a number of first solos. Peter Cooper completed his Bronze C and Vivienne Fitzgerald soared the Ka-6 for over 5 hours to claim her duration on 27th July.

The persistent northerly winds blew in a few old friends from Compton Abbas and Tarrant Rushton, amongst whom were Joe and his son Terry Linee flying Dart and Olympia 463 respectively, the rest of the family being en route for the retrieve.

Practice parachute jumps from neighbouring Dunkeswell for the Air Days at Yeovilton, Exeter and Plymouth provided us with an interesting spectacle in addition to the magnificent views of Exmoor and Dartmoor to the west

A. E. R. H.

December1968 – January 1969

It seems strange, reading through club notes in the last issue, that our summer weather should invoke such varying adjectives depending apparently in which part of the country one happens to be located. This was also evidenced by the move from Lasham to Compton Abbas in the course of the Regionals which may prove to be a worthwhile precedent.

We cannot complain about our corner of the island, as this season has produced some good soaring albeit local rather than cross-country. Two Silver distance legs can, however, be recorded for Pete Stanley and Arthur Clapp respectively. Barbara Fairclough upheld the honour of the fair sex by really assiduous practice following her first solo. One member, who shall be nameless, whilst endeavouring to climb to Gold height and taking two and a half hours and 5,000 ft. in the Ka-6E was a bit chagrined to find that in the meantime the two-seater had nipped up to 9,000 ft. and back in half an hour!

A great deal of work has been put in both on club trailers, to make them weatherproof for the coming winter, and on those which will house two additional syndicate Ka-6E's now being "retrieved" from Germany. On a fine day the line-up of aircraft is now quite impressive and attracts many visitors to the site. The control bubble, a picture of which appeared in an earlier edition of S. & G., is also an attraction besides being eminently practical.

At last the fruits of the labouring builders are becoming manifest in the visible form of rafters and purlins for the workshop and hangar, and negotiations are in progress for the acquisition of the clubhouse. The technical arguments on the relative merits of different types of flooring vie even with the mathematics of handicapping!


February – March 1969

This is the time of the year when club notes contain more gen on the past years working than exciting stories of flying exploits. Our first part year a North Hill showed a substantial loss of over £1,000 in the Club’s finances and it says much for the Committee and members that by dint of careful management and hard work, the year ended 30th September, 1968 came up with a surplus of over £800. Considering the heavy capital commitments and the fact that this was accomplished with an addition of one aircraft to our fleet, we now have to be careful not to pat ourselves too hard on the back and induce autorotation from which it would be difficult to recover!

The eastern entrance to the site, known as Wheelbarrow Lane, has been purchased, the workshops and hangar are more than half erected and a Pratten 48 ft. by 24 ft. clubhouse acquired. In spite of indifferent weather our launch rate per annum increased last year to nearly 6,200 and this with a very low accident record, which is perhaps the most important feature. The vital factor is, of course, the Club morale which appears to have flourished in the face of adversity, albeit the flourishing has at times been fraught.

Our Club Secretary-cum-tow-pilot,Geoff Tregonning, has found it necessary to resign his office and we shall miss him sorely. He has performed immaculately during two and a half of the most difficult years the Club has known.


April – May 1969

This must surely be a record winter for rainfall and no one would have been surprised to find the pundits prognosticating pontoons instead of skids as better aids for operating in liquid mud. For those of us who perform from grass sites quite a bit of experience of flying in heavy footwear has been experienced, not to mention the mud which has been transferred from soggy drogues to handling surfaces of our erstwhile spotless fuselages. Subsequent snow and frozen ground have made things more manageable.

Since we now have two syndicate Ka-6E's in addition to the club model great care by the log-keepers is needed in identifying take-offs and landings and it will apparently be necessary soon to insist on individual decoration to assist this process. The Capstan has continued its valiant role of trainer throughout the winter and there have been no weeks when flying has not taken place either on Thursday or at the week-end.

The main item of news concerns the new clubhouse, on which a great deal of work has been done under the auspices of the two Browns, Pat and Terry, augmented by some of the labour force prevented by weather conditions from working on the hangar and workshops. Not that the latter have not progressed it is now possible to park the tractor and towing vehicles under cover and hang up drogue parachutes to dry.

Social evenings in Honiton have been a great success, largely due to organisation by Chris Slade, thus proving that his manual labours on the site are matched by an equally competent administrative ability. The club management committee is fully employed not only with site improvement projects, but also the necessary, decisions regarding summer courses, aircraft and vehicles, flying and safety procedures and finances.


June – July 1969

Our winter plans for an additional winch have been realised, Peter Warren's efforts in this direction having produced a diesel two-drum winch which, after reconditioning, should prove a useful addition to the existing winch and tug.

Plans are also afoot regarding the acquisition of a second two-seater, as the demand for dual flying is at the moment greater than that for club solo, most of the Swallow pilots having graduated to syndicate machines. The latest syndicate obtained a Skylark 4 and "wrote-off" a car in towing it to North Hill, through the trailer snaking and breaking the tow hitch at 30mph. Fortunately the crew sustained only bruises and were more than relieved that this accident – which completely destroyed the car - had not damaged the aircraft. This highlights the importance of weight distribution and correct balance in long trailers.

Courses for June, July and August are almost fully booked, two of the weeks being occupied by our old friends from the University of Exeter and the Devon Youth Associations. This year we shall also welcome a contingent from the Taunton Technical College. Two Task Weeks have been organised for weeks commencing 9th June and 25th August and crews from other clubs wishing to participate should contact John Hancock 2 St. Peter's Close, Horton, Ilminster, Somerset. Exploration of the wave conditions, which arises when the wind is ENE, is progressing and this, together with ridge and thermal soaring, is offered to visitors, who will be most welcome.


August – September 1969

Flying over the Easter weekend involved coping with a very strong NE airstream which, whilst it inhibited to a certain extent thermal and ridge soaring, certainly provided scope for exploring the wave which develops in these conditions. On the Saturday afternoon Tim Gardener was able to remain at 6,000ft for some hours over Collumpton, but found difficulty in exploring the wave fully owing to the wind velocity, which, at this height, he estimated to be well over 40 knots

Whitsuntide was disappointing, with heavy rain and low cloud, which finally curtailed the activities of even the circuit bashers, although their enthusiasm apparently undampable. Colin Weeks has now gone solo and Ken Bunyon has completed his Bronze C. A great deal of work has been put in on the new clubhouse and workshops and, on a mid-week visit to North Hill, your scribe found three guests from the Essex Club laying bricks to the manner born.

The Club participated in the RAF Air Display at Exeter on the 28th June we are looking forward to a visit from Ann Welch with the BGA K-14 motor glider in August.

We have heard with deep regret of the collapse and subsequent death of Howard Randall, who obtained his Bronze C over Whitsun. He was a very popular and respected member and our most sincere sympathies are extended to his wife and two young children.


October – November 1969

Fine weather is always a bonus to those sites which are fortunate enough to enjoy particularly good scenery, and North Hill has attracted many summer visitors who came primarily to a beauty spot and found the gliding to be an added interest. Courses have been fully booked and thoroughly enjoyed, and thanks are due to those instructors who voluntarily gave up their holiday time for this purpose. Two of our erstwhile CFIs are in the news in this issue, Owen Corsbie having obtained his Gold C distance by flying to Winthorpe Airfield in Lincolnshire and John Fielden having obtained a free pint of bitter which was thrust into the cockpit of the Ka-6E as soon as he landed - perforce he says at Yeovilton one stinking, to use his own adjective, hot evening. Owen's 306 km. journey, which took 7 hrs 15 mins, was a particularly good effort as the wind was SE making the first part of the trip, as far as Bristol, a real scrape. Three of our junior instructors have now obtained PPLs and joined the Tiger drivers. This seems to have fired the enthusiasm of at least one ex-Spitfire pilot, who now hopes to do the same


December 1969 – January 1970

As the tints of autumn replace the greens of the season, the urge behind our feverish summer activity also mellows into a more leisurely appraisal of soaring, a sort of reduction from 'eight up' to 'zero sink', so to speak.

The CFI has been fairly busy checking out our junior instructors of whom we now have some half-a-dozen or so. With the same number of senior instructors we count ourselves fortunate.

Certificates gained since last reporting include Steve Taylor's Bronze C and John Lord's Silver height. The latter was attained on the Wednesday of the late August task week when, after Monday and Tuesday had clamped. John Fielden in his capacity of tug pilot discovered a wave which appeared to lie from the west of the site to Glastonbury. Three pilots used this to reach Compton Abbas and gained 7,000 ft. in places.

Last but not least, the 'achievement diary' kept in the clubhouse, records the birth of a son to Mike and Barbara Fairclough on the 21st September and we are delighted to congratulate them on this noteworthy event. The Club would like to take this opportunity to wish all colleagues a Happy Christmas.

A. E. R. H.