Wednesday, August 20, 2014

It happened to US again

Greg (JD), Karl and Jim (US) went flying yesterday. Greg and Karl got home.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Where's Waldo?

How many people in this picture do you recognize? Click on the photo to enlarge it, or you can get the really big version.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Report from the West

After harassing Tony for not sending any pictures or accounts of his western adventures, we got this report about his flying in Bishop, California. (Thanks, Tony!)

The Air Sailing Club just went to Bishop, California, a small town about 200 miles south of Reno, for our annual encampment. Yosemite is 70 miles to the northwest and Death Valley some 100 miles to the southeast.  It's at the north end of the 10-mile wide Owens Valley.

The Bishop area has the strongest soaring conditions in northern Nevada.  High-end ships out of Minden often make the flight.  Air Sailing is farther to the north so only a few of our ships with sustainer engines fly down.

The White and Inyo Mountains on the east side of the valley generate tremendous lift when the wind is from the west.  Getting to the top is the challenge.  The peaks are 10,000 feet above the airport so it's prohibitive to take a tow all the way to the top.  Because of the valley alignment there are generally only light winds which parallel the valley early in the day. The sun doesn't begin to heat the west-facing slopes until around noon.  Light upslope winds that trigger thermals are usually absent as is ridge lift. So getting up requires staying extremely close to the lower cols and ridges using S-turns and Figure 8's at recommended speeds five knots or more above best L/D for safety.  This flight log exaggerates ground proximity but does give a sense of the drill.

You never know how much of a workout you'll encounter getting on top.  It can take 15 minutes one day and over an hour the next.  Once up you can generally rocket north/south on the Whites and pick your way along the lower Inyos to the south where the lift generally isn't as strong.  Closing speeds are high so pilots use "Procedure Alpha," a safety protocol on a frequency not used for other traffic, to report their positions relative to six prominent peaks including altitude and flight direction.

The Sierras on the west are far more jagged, foreboding, and beautiful than the Whites.  But the prevailing westerlies late in the day can generate huge sink and turbulence.  In 2007 Steve Fossett went down flying a Citabria about 45 miles northwest of Bishop apparently due, at least in part, to these conditions.

I flew to Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the lower U.S., the last day of the encampment. Couldn't get on top so had to fly just off the ridges 60 miles each way. There was enough 1 to 2.5 knot lift to offset the huge sink, but it was a workout in a narrow flight band all the way.  Obviously you always keep a bailout to the Owens Valley, which has a few airports and suitable fields, in range.

The soaring community is indeed small.  John Boyce, Evan Ludeman's brother-in-law, is an Air Sailing member.  He was at the field this weekend but did not make the Bishop trip this year.

Name That Sailplane

Name that sailplane, club member and airfield.  Hint: taken 2 weeks ago.

Name That Club Member

Hint: picture was taken last week.

Name That Airport

 Why does the sky always look like that AFTER a landout?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Porterfield from Montana to Post Mills

In case you missed it (like I did) here is Andy Gelston's account of flying his newly restored Porterfield back from Montana last fall.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

T8's Tip of the Week

It's July and those lovely lush, green fields you see down below you are too tall for safe landings.

If it's dark green and you can't see dirt between rows (and maybe even if you can) it's a bad bet.  If you can see the crop waving around in the wind, it's definitely a bad bet.

Cut hay stubble has a yellow tinge. Cut but not yet baled hay has a soft gray green color.  You can distinguish these colors from ten miles away.  Some sunglasses (e.g. "Sun Tigers") interfere with this.  Avoid them.

Absent obstructions (e.g hay bales), cut hay is often a good choice.  If the field won't break a mower, that's a good start.

More:  A great article on off field landings from Kai Gertsen.

Happy Landings!


PS: Here's how it goes in a cut cotton field in South Carolina.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Postcard from D.B. Crewper

Picture of Concordia on tow in Poland today from DB Crewper (AKA Dick Butler's Crew Person, AKA Rick).

Is that a TriPacer?