Club news 2000s

Extracts from S&G February 2000 to December 2009

February - March 2000

The AGM in December was well attended. After several years as chairman, Joe Acreman has decided to step down to concentrate on keeping the club equipment in working order, which he has tirelessly been doing anyway.

Our thanks to him. His place has been (eagerly?) filled by Chris Heide whose election manifesto promised ever-improving weather throughout his term in office.

The new CFI, Malcolm Chant, appointed Robin Willis-Fleming as Safety Officer, arranged Simon Minson as his temporary deputy and after an exhausting half-hour handing out buff envelopes immediately left for a fortnight's holiday on the QEII.

The new hangar is now protecting the club fleet from the ravages of winter. Rumours of a planned blockade by private owners to prevent the instantly-available club fleet from monopolising the launch line remain unconfirmed. The private sector has acquired a brand new ASW 27 and an ASH-25b. The latter, at 89ft wingspan, will probably form a secondary blockade at the launch point should the hangar defences be breached.

Now all we need is for the new chairman to deliver.

Phil Morrison

April - May 2000

Each winter we learn a little more about wave soaring possibilities around our site. Whilst not in the big league, it appears to abound around North Hill, apparently emanating from Exmoor, the Quantock hills,

the cliffs at Branscombe and Lyme Regis and, of course, Dartmoor. Whilst we wait for the spring, experienced members have amused themselves exploring these new frontiers; lesser mortals have been brushing up on their theory and rules in preparation for their Bronze exams; and the more astute have been planning an early expedition to Cerdanya in Spain! We enjoyed the dinner organised by Dave Brummit and attended a series of lectures on R/T techniques where we learned that we shouldn't start each call with: "123 - 'ow you'm doin' me 'andsom!".

Phil Morrison

June - July 2000

John Burrow and Pete Stapleton have become Basic Instructors, Peters Callaghan and Palm have Bronze Badges. There have been expeditions to Cerdanya and Portmoak, where Godfrey King gained Silver duration. You can see where the ridge is from his logger trace! At times some of us find it hard to keep pace with new technology at North Hill: a "Rectangular" control centre replacing the venerable Bubble, a trendy quad bike on trial and of course the ASH zipping up and down the peninsula with a wingtip in each sea breeze front! Yet we remain a friendly club with a good fleet and offer free daily membership to any visitor from a BGA club. Why not pay us a visit and explore into Cornwall? We are holding an open day on June 4. Just watch out for the DZ around Dunkeswell if you come by air.

Phil Morrison

August - September 2000

SEVERAL members, including Kay Alston and William Pope, have resoloed; Steve BushelI and Steve Westlake have Bronze; John Burrow and Phil Morrison are Assistant Instructors and Peter Stapleton is a Tuggie. On June 18, while much of the country sweltered in the blue, 15 or more North Hill pilots enjoyed gentle wave soaring to 8-10,000ft across the width of Devon and Somerset. One pilot reported zero sink and small pockets of lift four miles upwind of the coast into Lyme Bay! A new view of wave soaring. Next flight Deauville O/R?

Phil Morrison

October - November 2000

Suddenly, it was summer! A completed Silver for Steve Westlake, Cross-Country Endorsement for Anthony Leech, Gold distance and Diamond goals for Barbara Fairclough and Phil Morrison, and Diamond goal for Don Connolly the day after being presented with a new logger by his wife (was she trying to tell him something?). John Bugbee nearly makes it Gold – again (if only he hadn't stopped to admire the view so often). We had an excellent weekend for the Inter-Club, and, one week, cloudbases of more than 4,500ft! And then it was over: hot humid weather came in and we settled back to draw on the inexhaustible supply of optimism we glider pilots are born with. If I half-close my eyes, and fold the weather fax so, I can just see the cold front swooping down across the West Country...

Phil Morrison

December 2000 - January 2001

John Bugbee has his Diamond goal; it was probably impractical to admire the view through the drizzle. The club does not usually fly on a Friday so Claire Alston had to wait till the day after her 16th birthday to go solo.

Steve Bushell has Cross-Country Endorsement, Peter Startup Gold height, and Peter Stapleton is an Assistant Instructor. One young member returned from the juniors with a broken leg (playing football), the other high praise from a senior pilot for his efforts in a dual flight. The committee is considering buying an adjacent field and a new (to us) winch. We are looking forward to the return of "Enterprise" in July.

Phil Morrison


February - March 2001

THE DECEMBER AGM was held in the new hangar, not an entirely successful exercise - when it rained you couldn't hea— thing! The downpour did serve to jog the Chairman's memory and he apologised for his rash election promise of fine weather for the 2000 season.  Dave Reilley Simon Minson, John Pursey, Clare Alston and our CFI Malcolm Chant were worthy recipients of club trophies. Members recorded more kilometres than in 1999, with five gaining Diamond goals. There was a presentation to Norman Jones, retiring membership secretary, for his services. Flying? What flying? Luckily our hilltop site sheds water very efficiently, allowing us to grab what we can in these inclement times. Even wave eludes us, unless it plans to return as a tidal one!

Phil Morrison

April - May 2001

A COUPLE of epic wave flights (after long aerotows) to climb in easterly Dartmoor wave, the club DG-505 actually made it back to North Hill, finding lift right across Dartmoor! Otherwise wind, rain, sleet, flu ... all too depressing for words.

Phil Morrison

June - July 2001

FOR THE last couple of Club News reports I have been feeling a little like Eeyore... and then there was foot-and-mouth. With sheep grazing the airfield and in the interest of maintaining good relationships with the farming community the committee decided to close the club for the time being. We have had much local goodwill; the members have managed to arrange for a limited amount of flying to continue thanks to the help of Dunkeswell airfield, Heron GC at Yeovilton, Perranporth and other West Country Clubs. By the time you read this we hope to have a clear idea of the way back to normality. In the meantime, as Dunkeswell is only one mile from our club, I am taking bets on who will be the first person to land (out) at North Hill. A little like boarding the Marie Celeste, I suspect.

Phil Morrison

August - September 2001

AFTER negotiations with the local community our North Hill site has been re-opened for flying activities. We are still within the cross-country exclusion zone and it seems likely that Enterprise will have to be cancelled this year, a great disappointment to many. DSGC committee and members would like to thank all the local clubs, Perranporth, Heron GC and Dunkeswell airfield, for their hospitality and support during the ban. With our cross-country activities curtailed the weather naturally has produced some absolutely stunning cross-country-able days, ho hum; the final twist of the knife, we hope. Good news, however, Paul Carpenter has successfully completed his BI rating and Peter Palm, our resident commercial pilot, has achieved his five hours and Silver height. The club has come through the black days of the winter as keen as ever and in some ways the past few months have helped us to appreciate North Hill the more. We look forward to some fine flying and a return to normality - whatever that is.

Phil Morrison

October - November 2001

CONTINUING restrictions drove many members elsewhere in search of cross-country flying. Dave Reilly finally elected to record a Diamond distance in Spain and now has all three Diamonds. Meanwhile at home Mark Courtney has become a Basic instructor. Otherwise life at North Hill has been quiet, and whilst we are not exactly looking forward to Christmas yet there is an atmosphere of postponed ambitions. We need a few weekends of cracking weather to break the lethargy.

Phil Morrison

December 2001 – January 2002

MEMBERS went on wave expeditions to Portmoak, the Long Mynd and Lleweni Park. Many excellent flights, most notable being John Pursey's Diamond height in his SF-27a at Lleweni, in some pretty boisterous weather, by all accounts. I guess members will remember 2001 as the season that never was, but now is the time to take every good day as it comes and look forward to a cracking start to 2002.

Phil Morrison

February - March 2002

WITH the AGM under our belt, and talk of a new glider, there is a new air of optimism at North Hill. Although reduced in number there were a number of worthy recipients for club trophies, namely Bronya Shales from Exeter university for best improvement, Dave Reilley for his Diamond goal (in Spain), John Pursey for best flight in a wooden glider and his Diamond height, John Burrow received the shield for the best flight in a club two-seater, being foolish enough to believe me when I managed to persuade the L-Nav that we could get back with "loads of height” from the far side of Dartmoor. Mike Fairclough has been responsible for improvements to the disabled access to the clubhouse and the fitting of a hand-operated rudder facility to the K-21. This has enabled our treasurer Don Jones to obtain a considerable reduction in the local rates. In addition, Don, assisted by John “Bogsbee" (in a complete change of role), were responsible for a comprehensive kitchen refit. Flying has been looking up, too, we have had days with almost the entire club fleet calling off wave climbs at 5,000ft to avoid the nearby Airway and can even report the first field landing of the season when an enthusiastic pilot took the search to its limits. We are looking forward to hosting the re-scheduled Competition Enterprise in July and days of glorious sun. In fact the only down side is the sheep are back; and Gladys isn't among them!

Phil Morrison

April - May 2002

THE sun is heading for the northern hemisphere, we have a new K-21 on order, the tug is back after a very lengthy and expensive cure for major corrosion problems and... positive thinking, June will see the best Competition Enterprise ever! Gliders are being fettled and more pilots than ever seem to be heading for Spain, virtually guaranteeing the rest of us some superb flying. Roll on summer!

Phil Morrison

June - July 2002

ONE of the problems of writing these entries is that you have to do it almost immediately the previous issue appears in the clubhouse. Consequently, if we at least attempt to appear up to date we have to be a little bit of a mystic at times. When I said the tug was back, I meant I hoped the tug would be back! Well it wasn't and I got a lot of stick, and then it was - briefly. Now I hope it will be back by the time you read this. OK? The season has started with encouraging easterlies and good wave flights: Peter Stapleton took a winch launch at Brentor and raised their club record to 15,500ft. Ron Johns and CFI Malcolm Chant flew the ASH to Roadford Reservoir and back, stopping to enjoy the easterly wave at Dartmoor on the way. They are also the North Hill entry in the overseas nationals in Spain. Pressure, what pressure? We have had club expeditions to Wales, the Mynd and Portmoak, meanwhile Steve Westlake has been doing the rounds encouraging members to participate in the Inter-club League; let's hope we can make a showing this year.

Phil Morrison

August - September 2002

AFTER an encouraging start the good old British weather wins again! Despite this, memorable flights include Simon Minson passing 400km in a brave attempt at 500 and Peter Startup gaining 300km but just missing out on the Diamond goal, landing at Dunkeswell a couple of kilometres short. The saga of our tug continues. I believe a saga is a long winter's tale told by Norsemen to their grandchildren, though by now this will probably need a PG rating to protect their delicate ears! Tows have been available thanks to the lease of a tug from Nympsfield and the kind auspices of Mike and Barbara Fairclough. After a flash start, our brave boys in the Overseas Nationals seemed to fade somewhat; amassing penalty points for, among other things, daring to have a few glasses of wine and a decent meal before handing in their flight log! We look forward to Enterprise, when such activities are positively encouraged.

Phil Morrison

December 2002 – January 2003

A successful Enterprise was due, as ever, to hard work by Sandy Harrup and her team. There was interesting flying amongst the capricious sea breezes of the West Country, not to mention tales of renowned hospitality, as reported by an obviously smitten junior! The season has had its darker moments, however, with a serious accident very nearly resulting in the death of two members. We wish them a speedy complete recovery. Nevertheless, summer ended with a flourish; Silver distances for Ernie Perrin, Godfrey King and Clare Alston. Clare also managed five hrs and 18 seconds later! John Pursey made a late charge but was unable to topple Simon Minson from the top of the club ladder. Simon Leeson coerced almost the entire club into a successful Open Day: more than 120 trial lessons and several new members. Mark Courtney has his assistant rating. We look forward to a new K-21 in the spring. Early autumn has seen more out-and-return wave flights to the west of Dartmoor, and cliff soaring on the south coast between Beer and Budleigh Salterton. The names just make you want to try it, don't they?

Phil Morrison

February - March 2003

AT the AGM, held in the recently-decorated club room the major mover of this refurbishment, lan Anderson was rewarded by the membership by being elected chairman; glider pilots are a merciless lot! Retiring chairman Chris Heide had his pleas for mercy dismissed in a similar manner, after rash pre-election meteorological promises had come to naught. As a final insult, after all his efforts on behalf of the club over the last few years, he was awarded the Wily Old Bird Trophy! Other award winners included Simon Minson (Club Ladder), John Pursey (height gain and best flight in wooden glider), Ron Johns (longest two-seater flight with Graham Lobb, and best competition result, with Malcolm Chant), and Clare Alston (best improver). John Bugbee is congratulated on completing his Diamond Badge with a 500km flight from Fuentemilanos in Spain and Paul Carpenter on his Assistant Instructor rating. The club is in good shape largely due to the hard work of several members and eagerly awaits the new season, with the promise of a new K-21 in the late spring.

Phil Morrison

August - September 2003

THE season has had a faltering start in the West Country. This has tended to lead to a more pioneering approach to cross-country flights, several departing North Hill with little chance of return. Exceptionally, a foray westward reached Redruth radio mast, some 150km into dragon country, and returned! Excursions to the east, towards the wimpy up-country cloudbases, are more normal. There has been a club expedition to Talgarth, which proved an eye-opener for some members - and we think we get rain in Devon! Also, encouraged by Steve "The Boss" Westlake (the singing pilot), members have made a determined effort to compete in the local Inter-Club League. That is, if you can consider a desperate single-figure flight into a sodden field for a meagre point as determination. On the home front; congratulations are due to Eric Alston on completing his Basic Instructor rating and Roland Clarke for achieving two hours of continuous soaring whilst keeping the whole country informed by radio!

Phil Morrison

October - November 2003

THE start of the season has seen a number of new privately-owned gliders at the club, including a Discus, Cirrus and a second ASH 25 - this time with an engine. The K-21 addition to our club fleet is expected. Congratulations are in order for Mike Orme and Laura Taylor on going solo and also for Daniel Johns (son of ex-CFI and regional examiner Ron) consequently you can imagine the ear'ole bashing the young lad has had to endure! Meanwhile, his calmer (karma?) instructor, Chris Wool, is busy preparing for a Full Cat course. CFI Malcolm Chant is looking to retire after having served the club enthusiastically for the last three years.

Phil Morrison

December 2003 – January 2004

DESPITE operating only on weekends, Wednesdays and Thursdays (unless there is an event on), we achieved a number of adventurous soaring flights this season, such as John Pursey's flight from North Hill to soar the cliffs on the north coast of Devon. The club's new K-21 has arrived; thanks to Robin Willis-Fleming who collected it. Rex Grayling, who has been unable to fly recently due to ill health, kindly lent his K-6 to the club through the summer. Roland Clarke has his Silver distance. Claire Alston was top maid in her first ever competition, the junior Nationals. With Malcolm Chant standing down as CFI the fickle finger is pointing at Chris Wool as his replacement. Much of the north side of the airfield, has been ploughed up, levelled, harrowed, rolled and re-seeded and should be usable by next spring.

Phil Morrison

April - May 2004

The part of the field that was levelled and re-seeded is progressing well and should become usable again once it has been rolled. Meanwhile winter gliding has proceeded with excellent days in the mild weather. Gliders with engines seem to be proliferating with the addition of a Ventus Turbo and ASW 26E in surprising quarters. Meanwhile those of us not so blessed finish our domestic tasks to amass Brownie points and await the spring thermals with eager anticipation.

Phil Morrison

June - July 2004

The committee has recently instigated a club newsletter considerably easing my task at least twice a year. We are continuing to expand our fleet of gliders with another refurbished Junior, which should have been collected from Poland by the time you read this. The club has also acquired Joe Watt's K-6CR as a stopgap single-seater for those who enjoy the delights of this classic glider. Sadly, Joe died in March whilst holidaying in Spain, and the club will miss his cheerful "bullying" at the launch point. The club is making a concerted effort to improve launch rates and there is a refreshing abundance of initiatives to improve the club's facilities and performance. Not the least is an attempt to revive the early morning and evening ab initio training. Not directly connected, but good news nevertheless, Hal Newbury succeeded in his ambition to go solo on his 16th birthday. In addition a number of instructors led by Robin Willis-Fleming ran a very successful course week for Exeter University students, with Laura Taylor re-soloing and Nick Taylor soloing in the K-21 and Junior. The next target for field levelling is the aerotow strip at the western end of the field. The club plans another Open Day on August 22.

Phil Morrison

August - September 2004

That weekend! With the best of the weather in the west, to judge by the stream of gliders coming toward us as we headed east, we had our best cross-country day on record. Saturday: 2,400km including two Diamonds, goal for Roger Mathews and distance for Phil Morrison, apparently the first time this has been done from the home club. Sunday; 5,300km including four Diamonds, goal for Pete Startup and Mark Gatehouse and another two Diamond distances for Malcolm Chant and Simon Minson. The weekend also saw Steve Clark achieve his Silver distance flying to Brentor plus 600km and 550km two-seater flights from Ron Johns in the ASH, for another club record. We like this global warming!

Phil Morrison

December 2004 – January 2005

Despite an awful weather forecast, our open day was a roaring success due to the enthusiastic efforts of Simon Leeson and his team. The official list cites 42 members as helpers! The day generated £2,700 in flying fees and perhaps more importantly is showing signs of having generated new members. Due for congratulation are Steve Westlake for obtaining assistant instructor rating just too late for the last edition. Also to Alasdair Alston and Andrew Mugglestone for going solo plus Hal Newbury and Richard Brown for achieving their Bronze certificate. The new (to us) Junior arrived in time for most of the season and our thanks to the Polish glider works at Jezow for a superb job of refurbishment. There are moves afoot to position our DG-505 at Fuentemilanos for several weeks next year, allowing members to sample some early season soaring in Spain at reasonable cost. Watch this space!

Phil Morrison

February - March 2005

The club has recently purchased a third Junior to add to the fleet and deferred the decision to sell the K-13.  Consequently the club fleet currently comprises a K-13, two K-21s, a DG-505, three Juniors and a K-6. At the AGM in December former chairman Dave Minson was elected as Vice President. Prizewinners included Pete Startup (Club Ladder), Ron Johns and Malcolm Chant (for their 600km flight from North Hill), Richard Brown (best progress) and the "coveted" (depending on your taste in ornamental wildfowl) Wily Old Bird went to Hal Newbury for his incredible skill in handling instructors! The committee is in the process of preparing a five and 10-year plan which it intends to present to the membership in the near future. It was suggested that members might like to open the club more than the customary weekend, Wednesdays and Thursdays when conditions look suitable.

Phil Morrison

October - November 2005

As the previous years' open day proved very successful Simon Leeson organized an open weekend this August. With lots of help from club members both on the weekend and at pre-event publicity in local towns, the event proved a huge success, raising funds for the club and encouraging several new members. A number of these are being enticed from the Met Office, as it has recently relocated to Exeter - the hope being that we can influence the weather favourably. It doesn't look too encouraging though: when a group turned up for an evening, it started to rain! We continue to have a good group of youngsters from the university and locally, a number of whom hope to fly in the club's DG-505 at the junior Nationals. Congratulations to Hal Newbury on Silver distance and briefly leading the club ladder.

Phil Morrison

April - May 2006

Winter was not all bad. Some beautiful crisp blue days with reasonable wave if you knew where to look! Many members used the time to better their qualifications - Bronze goes to Paul Little, and Daniel Johns, with Sandy Harrup completing all her flight tests but needing to revalidate her duration flights. First solos for Mo Rahman, Graham Barden and Harry Berry, well done everyone. Simon Leeson and I have managed to blag our full ratings and several very keen young members are on course for their BI ratings. Exeter airport plan to extend their airspace so we are currently negotiating to limit its effect on gliding. Exciting times ahead with a big push on cross-country training promised from our pundits, including a course run by Ron Johns.

Mark Courtney

Obituary - Norman Jones

Many who have attended courses at North Hill will remember Norman Jones (1918-2006), who served the club for over three decades as, inter alia, Course Secretary and Membership Secretary, both of whose offices he applied himself to conscientiously, quietly and always with good humour. Norman was a true club stalwart: always ready to lend a hand to his fellows and be involved in all ground tasks, even to his very last days he would be out at the launch point or driving the winch in all weathers when younger members sought refuge in the clubhouse. He was a good audience, ever appreciative of a joke or quip, and a good listener with a strong sense of fairness. We shall remember him for his friendship and kindness - we shall miss his chuckle.

Barbara Fairclough

June - July 2006

Some really good soaring days have already been had with winds back to a more sensible west/north-west!  Our V8 winch will hopefully soon be fitted with a "fly by wire" system making the ample power more controllable by the less able or not so current winch driver. This with the possible introduction of the new plastic woven rope, and a demonstration from Skylaunch of the retrieve system means that this year could see a big leap forward in the way we launch. Our DG-505 is likely to be used more this summer as the requirement to fly it has been reviewed. Our ground equipment is all up to scratch thanks as usual to the members who work tirelessly to keep it that way, sometimes to the detriment of their own flying: that has got to change. Several instructors seem keen to take a K-21 to other clubs to let our members to build experience; sites include Halesland, Brentor, and Talgarth. Thanks to Brentor for the way that we were welcomed at recent visits and a special thanks for arranging the wave!

Mark Courtney

August - September 2006

May was greeted with enthusiasm - unfortunately the weather had other ideas. The first summer course was somewhat dampened and followed by a further week of dismal weather on Ron Johns' cross-country course. The course itself was very well attended, and by all accounts enjoyed by all. On one day most people raced off on a 130km task, but nobody returned! Things weren't all gloomy though - after many years of coming to our club to visit on holiday courses, Robin Street has finally gone solo - congratulations. Another notable event was Godfrey King's Silver height claim, which completed his Silver badge, made sweeter by the fact that Godfrey started out on his quest some 56 years earlier. When questioned about his next goal the youthful 77-year-old said that he would like to get his eyebrows shaved.

Mark Courtney

December 2006 – January 2007

Congratulations to John Pursey on gaining his Diamond distance at the beginning of August in conditions that were far from ideal. Two of our university members; Nick Bennet and Richard Brown, competed in the junior Nationals for the first time and enjoyed themselves. We held another successful open weekend in August, organised by Trevor Russell and Simon Leeson, with a lot of flights and the addition of several new members. The start of the new university year brings another cohort of students keen to try out this sport as well as the "old hands" including their captain, Celia Butler. We are now in the final stages of testing Supacat's computerised control unit for one of our winches and look forward to perfect launches-

Kaye Alston

Obituary - Eric Shore MBE

It was a long goodbye to Eric Hudson Lithgow Shore, who died at the age of 90 on January 12, 2006, after a protracted illness. He had given great service to the club for 25 years as treasurer when, with the utmost integrity, he steered us through lean and difficult times following the purchase of our site at North Hill, through the course of the club's development and subsequent achievement of the considerable assets enjoyed by members today. In later years Eric became the club's President; an office he embraced with his characteristic dignity and modesty. Eric enjoyed a varied and sometimes challenging flying career: he was a fine press-on cross-country pilot and loved alpine soaring in France and Austria. On one occasion he found himself low in a Tyrolean valley, with nowhere to land. He confided in God that if he climbed safely away he would never fly again. He did - and was up and away again the next day! He was a competent and enthusiastic tug pilot, serving the club well in this capacity for many years also. Eric's wartime flying career was abruptly curtailed when, unluckily, on his return from an intruder task the engine of his Spitfire blew over the French coast. He force landed on the beach and was subsequently incarcerated for the duration. However, his time and evident talent for forgery were not wasted, as he usefully engaged in the task of preparing passports and papers to assist the escape of many fellow PoWs from Stalag Luft Ill; later to be known as the Trojan Horse Escape as depicted in the film "The Great Escape". For this work he was later awarded the MBE. Fortunately these skills ceased to be utilised when, in post-war civilian life, he became a bank manager! Eric will be remembered fondly by many members and is sorely missed by those privileged to have known him well, not only for his sense of humour and amusing wit but also for his kindness. He was admired and respected by all. Our condolences go to his family.

Barbara Fairclough and Tim Gardner

April – May 2007

Congratulations to Andrew Muggleston, who has now qualified as a Basic Instructor. Peter Harmer has joined our elite group of tug pilots. Our club web site has now been fully revamped thanks to the hard work of Simon Leeson and four out of our five summer courses are already fully booked. At our AGM and prizegiving, Peter Startup won the trophy for the Club Ladder and John Pursey two trophies: one for the longest cross-country flight and one for the first Diamond distance. Richard Barden was awarded the shield for best progress and finally Nick Hine our "Wily Old Bird" Trophy for always managing to get where the action is, be it Portmoak, Junior Nationals or Denbigh!

Kaye Alston

June - July 2007

Chris Wool has stepped down and handed the arduous position of CFI to John Burrows. The club thanks Chris for the past three years. Congratulations to Matt Wright, who is normally found in the cockpit of a 747, for progressing to a higher level by going solo in a K-21. Our thanks go to the keen volunteers who spent a day levelling out our field. In March, Mike Groves demonstrated a Supacat winch, which he had just converted to a Skylaunch winch with a Wilde engine. The winch, now known as the Wildcat, certainly impressed most members who drove or were launched by it. Dave Minson, a former instructor. Chairman and now President of the club, celebrated his 80th birthday in April. His contribution to the club over many years was acknowledged by presenting him with life membership.

Kaye Alston

August - September 2007

Congratulations to Chris Aldridge, who has gone solo and had five good solo flights that day, and Tim Johns had three good first solo flights, two of them being longer than an hour. The club welcomed Pete Stratten and Patrick Naegeli in May making an official visit on behalf of the BGA. They said that they liked our site, our weather, and the attractive Devon countryside. In the evening Pete gave an informative talk about the workings of the BGA and the progress with European harmonisation. We have our excellent new launch point vehicle, designed and built by Mike Robinson with a lot of innovative detail and officially "opened" by Patrick Naegeli. Congratulations to our club team who are in first position with narrow lead of one point after the first round of our Inter-Club League, which was held at Upavon.

Kaye Alston

October - November 2007

This has been a very good month for North Hill The week of July 30, which was John Street's course, had some good days so that John Sillett completed his Silver distance, Nick Redfern completed his Silver (getting all of the parts in one flight) Lisa Humphry got Silver height and then Silver distance the next week and Roly Clarke did a 300km Diamond flight. Prior to that week Graham Barden managed his five hours in a K-6. Matt Wright flew to the Park and back, which is 100km, on August 11. We hope his logger was working so he can claim it. Our DG-505 - a recent acquisition - has been on display in Taunton town centre to enthuse those at the weekly market about gliding. This was organised by Guy Adams.

Kaye Alston

Club Focus

Following a meeting in Taunton of a small band of enthusiasts in December 1952 the Taunton Vale Gliding Club was formed, but it wasn't until 1957 that a site could be found at the former US Navy wartime airbase at Dunkeswell Aerodrome, for a rent of £30 per annum. A secondhand Slingsby T-31 glider - "Old Faithful" - was purchased, together with a surplus US Ford V8 Pilot, which was used for autotow launching. By 1962 the old control tower was in use as a clubhouse and the club was thriving. The fleet included a Slingsby T-21, a T-49 Capstan and a Slingsby Swallow. Launching was serviced by a Clayton (now Supacat) winch and later a Tiger Moth for aerotowing. The club later hosted its first Regional Championship, with many notable competitors, including Ann and Dennis Burns, 'Doc' Slater, Sir Peter Scott and Philip Wills. By this time drawing members from far and wide, it was renamed The Devon & Somerset GC.

In the mid 1960s the then Air Ministry decided to dispose of the airfield and the club found itself in a perilous situation. However, good fortune came its way when 108 acres of land at North Hill, just to the west of Dunkeswell, came up for sale. This land - known then as "the pig field" - has south and west facing ridges, which on occasion had been soared from Dunkeswell. Through the dedication of a corps of members, funds were raised, by members' covenants, loans and the sale of life memberships, supplemented by an appreciable bank loan. The purchase became possible and the club began moving operations.

With now only two gliders, a winch, the Tiger Moth and a small wooden hut for use as a clubhouse, members rallied to construct a hanger with a framework of steel made from old electricity pylons, which they previously dismantled. During work in progress, gliders were trailed to and fro using the steep and winding back lanes from Dunkeswell via Sheldon! On September 19, 1970 the club official opened at its new venue.

Today, DSGC has a modern fleet of gliders, ground equipment and a Piper Pawnee tug. During the 1990s the fleet has seen a gradual transition to glass - two K-21s and two Juniors. In the late 1990s the arrival of a new DG-505 gave pilots of all abilities a superb range of gliders to fly. It was two years' hard graft by a small group of committee members, led by Simon Leeson, that won Lottery Sports Council funding and also provided us with a new hangar.

Launching is by winch, using one of two Supacat winches, and aerotow with our Piper Pawnee. Two motorgliders are based at North Hill and both are available for ab initio and advanced training. The site offers a wide range of opportunities for glider pilots of all levels with thermal, ridge and occasional wave, despite our proximity to the north and south coasts of Devon and Somerset.

The club has a very active association with Exeter University, which provides a regular influx of enthusiastic young members, many of whom go on to fly in the Junior Nationals. Young membership is encouraged through our junior membership scheme. During the summer, trial lesson evenings and week-long holiday courses are open to all and provide training from ab initio to advanced levels.

2007 has seen the arrival of our new launch point vehicle, which is a tribute to its designer and creator Mike Robinson. We were delighted to offer BGA Chairman Patrick Naegeli the opportunity to officially "launch" it on a recent visit to the club with Pete Stratten, the BGA's Chief Executive.

Visitors will find a warm welcome with a fully furnished clubhouse, where a full range of hot and cold food and drinks is available on club operating days. The lecture room is currently undergoing a revamp and will be ready for the winter lecture series.

If you fly, then the view of the Devon countryside from the Blackdown Hills is stunning.

Simon Leeson

- early history by Mike & Barbara Fairclough

December 2007 – January 2008

John Street must have some pact with the weatherman, since once again his course had glorious weather. Dehane Cownley commutes from Majorca to fly at North Hill and after several years went solo on this September course. Gill Morrison and Daniel Johns both gained Gold height on a visit to Portmoak, and John Sillett got his five hours at the Long Mynd. Congratulations also to Simon Minson, who has completed his BGA Basic Instructor Coach rating. Once again we held an open weekend in August. The weather was not kind, but there was some flying, we did gain some new members and so the venture was deemed successful. It was a poor summer for the South West Inter-club League with meetings cancelled because of poor weather; eventually we were a close second overall.

Kaye Alston

February - March 2008

Congratulations to Paul Summers, who has gone solo. Nick Hine celebrated his 40th birthday with a charity parachute jump from 15,000ft at Dunkerswell, our local power flying airfield and in the process raised £1,000 for Cheshire Homes. At our AGM Pete Startup won the trophy for the club ladder, Pete and Jill Harmer the trophy for the best flight in a two-seater glider and Roland Clarke the Wily Old Bird trophy for his Diamond goal flight. Mike Robinson, who keeps club equipment running, and this year designed and built our impressive new launch control vehicle, was presented with a special plate depicting the launch vehicle surrounded by gliders in various attitudes with Mike piloting them all.

Kaye Alston

June - July 2008

The weather was fairly good for flying last winter on the whole, with wave, thermal and ridge soaring possible. In April, Ron Johns flew to Lasham and almost got back, landing near Crewkerne. Easter was cold and we did have the terrible storms, of course, before that when one of our famous beech trees succumbed, so we only have two now to consider when we think of our possible "eventualities". Despite the rain we have had, the field has remained dry this year. A lot of work was done last year levelling and filling in holes and a task force was due to be doing further work, starting the second half of April. The usual gang is currently at Portmoak and we await their reports. Our Exeter University members are having their own course at North Hill and we are pleased to say that all of our summer courses are already fully booked. We are having a webcam fitted to the hanger; this will allow a 180-degree view of the airfield, which will be useful. Competition Enterprise will be held at North Hill starting July 5th. The organiser is Sandy Harrup. We look forward to your entries.

Kaye Alston

August - September 2008

Several members of the club enjoyed a successful trip to Portmoak in April. Three privately-owned gliders went up as well as two club gliders, the junior and the DG-505 and each on average were flown for nearly 12 hours. Clive Williams and Lisa Humphries achieved their five hours and this means that Lisa has now completed her Silver badge, well done. Richard Barden got his Silver height and Matt Wright gained his Gold height. Congratulations to both. The 2009 trip is already organised! We have had interest and visits from two of our local papers: the reporters have written very favourable pieces and the video made by one of them is currently on our website www.dsgc co uk. In May Gerard Maguire went solo, as did Peter Smith during a summer course week in June, congratulations

Kaye Alston

October - November 2008

July saw the return of Competition Enterprise to North Hill, it's undoubted home, having started here 35 years ago in 1974. Attracting 32 gliders and 100 pilots, Competition Enterprise lived up to its name; five flying days were flown in conditions that would not normally have seen any cross-country flying. Our club's pilots did well, with Ron Johns exchanging first place with and eventually beaten into second place by Lindsay McLane from YGC. Mark Courtenay and Simon Leeson came third flying our club's DG-505 and Martin Woolner also from DSGC flying in his first competition came fourth. Ron Johns also won the John Cadman trophy for demonstrating "exceptional enterprise". Congratulations go to our new solo pilots Henry Ford, Ray Rimes and James Hood. James was not able to go solo on his 16th birthday due to poor weather conditions but took the first available opportunity fly solo, when he had to cope with an unexpected shower. Also Arthur Wood and Wendy Willis-Fleming have re-soloed. Paul Little has completed his Silver distance with a flight to the Park.

Kaye Alston

December 2008 – January 2009

Congratulations to Cheryl Smith and lan Hunt who have both soloed. We had a very successful open weekend in August taking over £4,000 and hopefully gaining a few more members. We have installed new metal doors to our original hangar. We are fortunate in having our honorary architect in the club, Peter Smith, who designed, supervised and installed (with the help of several other volunteers) these substantial doors.

Kaye Alston

April - May 2009

Despite misting and icy canopies, the first flight of the year went to Simon Leeson and Andrew Logan. However, we have had some great ridge and wave days. Congratulations to Joao Leitao, who went solo in October. Well done to all those who received awards at our AGM, including best two-seater flight to Simon Leeson and Henry Ford. Best height gain to Matt Wright, longest cross-country to Dave Reilly best progress to Peter Smith, best performance in a BGA competition to Peter Field and best flight in a wooden glider to Richard Barden. The Wily Old Bird trophy was awarded to Mike Fitzgerald. Andrew Mugleston has been welcomed on to the committee, Preparations are now under way for our trip to Portmoak and thanks go to all who are helping to organise this. One of our K-21s has just been sent to Poland to be re-coated, so we are looking forward to seeing it back all spruced up with a new lease of life.

Cheryl Smith

June – July 2009

Congratulations to King Air pilot Joe (Maverick) Drury who was sent solo by John Street. Both Joe and I have converted to single-seater Juniors. I was delighted to thermal to 5,000ft on my first flight. Dave Reilly achieved the first 300km of the year from here in April and Simon Minson, John Burrow and Ron and Daniel Johns went cross-country to Shaftesbury on the same day. Roy Boddy had the first field landing after a great wave flight. The club welcomed a group from Kestrel GC over Easter. Preparations are under way for our open weekend in May and about 20 members planned a trip up to Portmoak for a week's flying after Easter.

Cheryl Smith

August - September 2009

Congratulations to Edd Hirons, sent solo during the university course, and Pete Smith for completing his five-hours at Portmoak. Seven pilots gained Silver heights during Easter weekend: well done to Paul Summers, Peter Smith, Paul Little, (me) and three visitors from Kestrel GC. We held a media day in April, flying various members of the press and local dignitaries. We had lots of publicity in local papers and an article on ITV's Westcountry Tonight. The weather held beautifully for a hugely successful open weekend in May, flying around 200 people. The club is now very busy with inter-club league, weekly courses and air experience evenings. For (almost) daily news and results, visit our blog on the DSGC website.

Cheryl Smith

October - November 2009

Congratulations to Clive Williams who has now gained his Silver and experienced his first field landing following a 50km cross-country trip to The Park. Also to James Hood who has now gained his Silver height. We are delighted to welcome John Sillett to the team of instructors after completing his basic instructor training. He has already become an invaluable member of the team with our trial lesson evenings. Our course weeks have been very successful, despite the weather! With new and existing club members. Many club members have been enjoying trips away, including a week at Long Mynd and Nympsfield, with great soaring and cross-country tasks.

Cheryl Smith

December 2009 – January 2010

Many congratulations to Lisa Humphries, who is now our newest basic instructor having passed her training and check flights with flying colours. Henry Ford and James Hood have both completed their first solo aerotows. Henry also now has his five-hour duration. Joe Drury has gained both Silver height and distance, including his first field landing. A happy band enjoyed showing off the DG505 at an open day at Dillington House, generating a good deal of interest. Roly Clarke had a muddy adventure in the woods after losing the tail 'chute of his Kestrel just off the ridge and was very relieved to find it in the bracken with a team of helpful members! Some club members are currently on a trip to Portmoak, and we are looking forward to an expedition to Talgarth in October.

Cheryl Smith