Thursday, January 15, 2015

Free flight tests

One of the indications that our sport is in decline is the panicky removal of financial barriers for aspiring glider pilots.

It's a good news/bad news story.  The good news is that there are some opportunites for free flight tests out there.  The bad news is that these initiatives are necessary.

The first one is from Burt Compton from the Soaring Safety Foundation.  If you were around a dozen years ago, you will remember that we invited Burt to Post Mills to conduct one of SSF's Safety Seminars. That was fun; we should do it again.

Burt is well-known for his promotion of the sport of soaring.  He lives in Texas and is personally responsible for putting Marfa back on the map as a major US soaring site, after it had fallen into decline.  He runs a commercial operation, Marfa Gliders on the municipal airport north of town (not the Army Air Force base in the movie).

Anyway, Burt is offering free flight tests for any glider rating.  All you have to do is show up in Marfa.  He'll even put you up for free. Details here. Marfa is a truly wonderful place, for reasons ranging from aesthetic to supernatural, with gliding in the middle somewhere.

The other opportunity is a little closer to home.

Last year, the state of Vermont, at the request of CAP and other interested parties, sponsored a week long training clinic for Flight Instructor applicants.  It was a howling success.  It produced a handful of new CFIs, and the best part is that they want to do it again.

The details are still being worked out, but in a nutshell, if you are a Private or Commercial pilot who has passed all the required Knowledge Tests and show up for the late summer clinic (somewhere in Vermont, probably Springfield), you will receive all the ground and flight instruction you need and a flight test, all at no cost to you. You will then be a CFI, subject to all the privileges and abuse you have envied in others all these years.

You don't have the Knowledge Tests under your belt, you say? We've got that covered, too. There will be a PMSC-sponsored ground school to help get you through those tests.  Paul has sent out the announcement on the club email list.  Basically it says to contact Paul or Rick if you're interested.

Movie recommendations

It's winter, right? It's the season when we spend a lot of time indoors. Time to break out the DVD movies and watch the good ones again.

The best gliding movie ever made was The Sun Ship Game.  How many of these facts about the movie did you know:
  • It was made by a serious film maker.
  • It is not about the World Championships in Marfa.
  • It features the only known footage of a 2-32 in a gliding competition.
  • It starts out in Vermont.
  • It proves that people were once allowed on the roof of the building at Sugarbush.
  • Lebanon airport appears in a scene.
  • Smoking was cool in 1969.

It was such a good movie that parts of it are excerpted in the second best soaring movie ever made, A Fine Week of Soaring.  This one gets a thumbs up from the weird guy doing gliding movie reviews on YouTube. It takes place at Mifflin County Airport, in Pennsylvania, which some of us have visited.


Every self-respecting glider pilot should own both of these classic films. They are available for purchase here and here (other places as well). Under extraordinary circumstances, you might be allowed to borrow Rick's copies.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Wind map 3

Here is another wind map website.


Now there are three of these (links in the right column of the blog). Which one is your favorite?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Disassembly Day

Time to hibernate again.  See you in 2015!


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Number 600

A milestone was reached yesterday.  Dakai and Lane took to the air on the  600th (and likely final) flight of the 2014 PMSC season.  This is a club record for the number of flights in a year.

Andy, who is always ready with his camera to record historical occasions, took this action-packed photo of the pilot, the copilot, and the ground crew, just before the momentous flight occurred:


There is actually something interesting to note in the photo.  The glider was lined up for takeoff on Runway 5.  The late-afternoon (2:00 pm!) sun is shining directly down the runway, which happens only this time of year.  We had to use improvised launch signals, because Andy could not see the glider from the towplane!

Six hundred flights is a lot, for a small club.  Congratulations everybody!


Monday, November 10, 2014

Weekend report November 8 - 9


We're definitely winding down.  This weekend, two pilots showed up to fly and four pessimists showed up to take their gliders home for the season.

The pilots, Bill O and Dakai, flew the 2-33 eight times between them.  The weather was not very good either day, but that gave us more opportunity for ground school and other excuses to stand around and talk, and it allowed us to choose our takeoff times without any pressure.

It was fun to observe Bill getting used to the 2-33, which is new to him. It was Bill's last weekend at Post Mills, and we look forward to seeing him in the Spring.  And we're envious that he'll be spending the winter flying with NFSS.

The best flight of the weekend was turned in by Dakai and Lane, who stayed up 40 minutes, somehow, under a solid overcast.  They were out of sight the whole time, and we were just about to send up the posse when they showed up in the landing pattern.

We will put the club gliders away this coming weekend.  Next weekend is our last flying weekend, and we'll put the gliders away sometime after that.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Wave Day - NOT

I thought the forecast yesterday looked pretty good for wave:



After a high tow all I could find was "almost" zero sink:


I guess the boundary layer went a little too high (the red Z was more of an S).  I did manage to find a 6 kt climb at 2000' off the end of the runway. 

Thank you Rick for towing, crewing and downloading PM's flight recorder.

Tim

Monday, November 3, 2014

Solo slacker steals the candy on Halloween

On Friday, October 31, Halloween day was all treats, no tricks for sole slacker Lane. A rare light and local schedule Friday made available this terrific late season treat. Here's the story...

 My work schedule sent me to a jobsite in Pike, NH. While there, "skyballing" the morning weather began revealing an ever more interesting sky...long, streety cloud banks, both sharp-edged and convective looking, separated by "windows" of blue sky. As the morning wore on these conditions persisted to where I finally called Rick to enquire of his towing availability. "Come on over!" was the welcomed response.

Arriving at Post Mills, we were staged by 1 PM and ready to launch the 1-23. By then, things were looking somewhat less desirable with cloud growth producing more shading of the weakening October sun. After a lengthy discussion about where and how high (or even whether to delay the launch), the decision was made to go now. So off we went, intending to take a high tow up between two cloud banks north of West Fairlee. Climbing in this area, it quickly became evident that we were ascending into a box canyon of clouds. This was an exhilarating tow with highly banked turns to keep within the confines of the cloud corral. Upon release, I began exploring the edges only to find smooth 1 and 2 knots down. Two circuits brought me to where I could duck under the dark cloud bottoms...and that's where the fun began.

Under this menacingly dark gray cloud band, I discovered abundant lift of from 1 or 2 knots to as much as 7 knots!
There was a patch of sunny ground on the copper mine and as the flight developed, I began to associate this lift with any sunny ground, as wane as it might have looked. Up near cloud base, any section of the cloud that had a feature, such as concave bottom, or was extra dark or had a patch of swirly smoke underneath, usually meant strong lift. At cloud base, it often took thermaling at 80 mph to keep from being sucked up into the cloud!

After a while of this I was satisfied that I could leave the West Fairlee area and explore around a little. I headed south over Tug Mountain, mostly in light sink until at the south end I caught more rising air. A few turns in, I decided to light out for the east ridge where there was more abundant sunshine.


Arriving there at 3000AGL, I found choppy air that confirmed what I had learned earlier: any sunny ground was producing lift. I had several 2000 - 3000 foot climbs back up to the cloud bases at 5200 feet. In one thermal I caught up with 2 red tailed hawks and circled with them for a short while.

I decided to try crossing the Connecticut River over to the Orford , New Hampshire area where there was another patch of sunny ground. Arriving on the fringe of that area with 4000 AGL, I decided that prudence dictated turning back towards Vermont rather than pushing things looking for lift. A retrieve just would have put a damper on what was turning out to be a thrilling, unexpected late season gift. Back over the east ridge at 2000 AGL, I encountered the same results as before - light but workable lift that began to scratch me back up. I'm sure I could have regained cloud base again and really wanted to because I had a strong desire to explore an area of open sky to the south with some of the last sunshine bearing on the ground and a sharp edged cloud band on the far side of it.


But alas, by this time my bladder was threatening to explode and I was forced to terminate further exploration. 80 MPH back to the airport soon burned off excess altitude and saw me at pattern entry height. A long, smooth pattern ensued (at no time in the flight was it ever very turbulent nor did I find much by way of really sinky patches), followed by the best feather light touchdown of my season. I taxed up to the trailer area and to my surprise, was met there by Rick sitting in the golf cart. After a quick visit to the bushes I came back and gave Juliet a kiss on the nose and considered giving Rick one too. Flight time was 2 hours even.

My thanks to the sweetest glider I've ever flown, 3Juliet, and Rick Sheppe for being a friend, a tow pilot, available, and living across the street from the airport.

If this be the final flight of the season, it was a beaut!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Wave Camp Coordinator

From what I saw all the aircraft, equipment and fuel got up to Gorham and back with little drama.  We are a good team.  Thanks to everyone for their efforts and especially Dennis who took on the roll of Camp Coordinator.

Tim