Monday, February 8, 2016

Learn to Race Race

 From Rick Roelke of GBSC:
Warning long story...

As you may or may not know, there is a serious effort to bring a Region One Contest back to New England.  The driving force behind this is our newest member and CFIG Chris Giacomo.  I have been lending peripheral support, and am sending out this email, and the following invite to describe what an enormous opportunity this is to have in our own back yard.  It will be supported and run by many of our own club members.  Roy will be the Contest Director, the location is Springfield VT wich is close and a very nice facility, located near the very landable Connecticut river valley.

I was privileged to attend the Mifflin Learn to Race Race in 2002, and it was hands down, the most successful, educational, enjoyable advanced flying "school" I have ever had the chance to attend.   To put this in perspective, I had been flying my 304 for two years before this contest.  I was not interested in contest flying, but a fellow member (Bill Hall) talked me into going.  He was flying his Ls-8 for about a year and saw that the Region 2 contest was reverse seaded (preferential entries for rank beginners) and set up as a learning experience.  Not only would there be training and tasks set to accommodate beginners, but also classes on the rain days from many soaring notables.  

Well, Bill twisted my arm, and actually 3 of us complete newbies headed down for the contest.  I had flown my silver and gold distance in NE and as luck would have it, had a crackin good day out of Sterling and flew my diamond distance just before I left for the contest, but there were many contestants there with only silver official distance.  

The contest staff, the "advisors" were all very patient, friendly, and incredibly helpful to get us tuned up on contest procedures.  The support of haveing a retrieve office in case of a land out was very comforting.  We (the three musketeers) were crewing for each other, but really the entire group was crewing for each other.   Every day there is a pilot meeting where you are briefed on the weather, the task and after the first day, a talk by the previous day's winner.  The structure of this meeting, and the relevance of the day winners talk (after all, you were flying the same task, and can learn how they did it better) provided daily encouragement that you could really do this thing.  

In that this was my first ever contest, there was no chance I was going to win, there was far too much I still had to learn.  But I think that is what keeps me in this sport, there is always more to learn.  This first contest setting was rich in learning opportunity.  No pressure to win, yet a great opportunity to compare your skills, and techniques against your peers as well as your mentors.  

I think 70% of contest pilots fly contests not to get on the podium, but to enjoy the comradery, the support, and organization that the contest structure provides.  In the end, I flew more than the 1100k total over five days, far more than I would have done at home.  Not only learned about contests, the amazingly efficient contest launch procedures, but much more about cross country flying in general.  

At the end of the contest, I was looking at the score sheet, and commented to Bill that I wondered how I placed compared to other pilots with zero contest experience, and he replied that he wondered how he compared to pilots with under 100hrs of experience!

The coming Region One contest is modeled after this learn to race race, with a few notable exceptions (that we hope are improvements).  One, the contest is split over two weekends, to make it easier to find the time.  Second it will have a strong two place showing.  This will allow new contest pilots to fly with experienced pilots.  We hope that new contest pilots will come and fly their own gliders, and still have the option to fly a day in a two place if there are interested.  There will also be a bus class (if we can field enough "buses" where ask 21 / pw6 / pooch / perhaps we might dust off the long tips for an L-23) and fly these gliders in a class by themselves, again with experienced pilots mentoring new pilots, both Jrs as well as older fledglings.

Lastly for those that have the time, tows will be available during the week for free flying / olc tasks.  But the real opportunity for advanced learning will be by entering the contest.  The organizers have really worked to keep the fees very reasonable, but because of this the breakeven for the fixed costs require a minimum number of pilots, if we can't achieve this number, then we will need to cancel.  So if you are up for a fantastic XC experience, please sign up soon.  Details to follow.


Sunday, February 7, 2016

Wave Flight - February 4

Nice wave flight at VSF but I had taken my oxygen tank out to get it refilled. I reinstalled it and did a leak check but forgot to turn it back on before take-off. I got to 14,000' then dropped back to 12,000' for the rest of the flight. At 14,000' I was still climbing at 2-3 kts.

Up high the wind was very strong and out of the south. Flew north about 23 nm to Sharon When I turn around the computer said I had a 74 kt head wind back to VSF. I took a long time to get back.

Okemo Mountain's "largest vertical drop in VT" doesn't look so large from here.

Airspeed 70 kts, Groundspeed zero, 5.1 kts on the averager.

I followed the hole left of the 'L' in Lebanon to Sharon.  Could not access the primary because of the clouds.


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Wave Flight - January 14

Here are some pictures from my January 14th flight out of Springfield:

The highest I got that day was 12,000'.  I tried to go north but clouds over Plymouth VT blocked the way just like my last flight.  Here are the skew-T, satellite images, and HRRR model from that day:

Andy L. was flying his Champ out of Post Mills and reported:

Many wave clouds when I headed to the airport. Ended up climbing to 4k on the ridge between Warren and Stinson Lake, was heading north towards Dean and the lift seemed strong so I headed to the leading edge of the clouds and continued on to 8k. Got my ground speed down to 12.9 mph.

Note the "hole" popping out from cloud deck, I just had to fly through it.

 - Tim

Wave Flight - January 1

Here is the Skew-T and Satellite images for my January 1 flight out of Springfield. Note the bow wave (V-shaped) cloud formation around Mt. Washington.  I would have like to have gone further north but clouds near Plymouth VT blocked the way.  I stopped the climb at 18,000' but was still going up at about 1.5 kts.



Sunday, January 3, 2016

More winter flying

On Friday January 1 2016 Tim flew to 17,999' in AT and Walter towed.

On Saturday Tim towed Walter and me up in I1 but we couldn't make into the primary so ~8k was the best we could do.  The view was spectacular. 


Sunday, December 20, 2015

December Soaring

Who says we're done flying gliders this season?

Today Tim flew AT and Walter & I flew I1 around Mt. Ascutney for two hours until the lift gave out. 

Nice day for flying. 


Friday, November 27, 2015

Secret new site

It isn't official, I guess, since there is no trace of it on their website, but there is a new glider operation in Sanford, Maine.

You'd think if you added a 2-33, a towplane, three towpilots, and three flight instructors, to your FBO and flight school, you'd let the world know about it.  But no.

Speaking of add-ons, what do you call it when a guy with an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate with single/multi/instrument/land/sea airplane ratings adds a glider rating to his CFI?

An "upgrade," of course.  Congratulations to CFI-G John Gary!

John is the latest graduate of the SoarVT program (no, not that one). Thanks to the visionary leadership of our club President, PMSC has five new flight instructors, with two more "in the wings."

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Too many instructors

Just kidding.  There's no such thing.

We just received word that we have two more glider-rated CFIs.

Congratulations to Bill Swartz and Sue Tholen!

While it is true that these two already had flight instructor certificates, it is still quite an achievement to add the glider category.

And now PMSC can say that we have a satellite operation in Sanford.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

2015 Season Ends

The 2015 Soaring season ended on Sunday with JD flying off into the sunset.

 Greg (JD), Karl (PM) and Tim (AT) had nice wave flights to 10,000' in winds up to 50 kts.  Bill O (3BA), Don (3BA), and Dakai (67) finished the season off with local flights.  Thank you Andy for Towing.  And thank you Karl for the great photos.


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Some Pictures for Last Saturday

Here are some pictures Don took last Saturday.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015


The TV station from Manchester, New Hampshire sent a reporter to wave camp, and this was the result.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Weekend Report November 7 - 8

The second-to-last weekend of the season featured low temperatures, weak lift, and lots of wind.

Nevertheless, we accomplished some good lessons and got a good bit of crosswind practice.

On Saturday, Tim (AT) took a wave tow that didn't pan out, but he was able to stay up for a little while in the turbulent thermals down below cloudbase.  Don, Bill, and Dakai each had took pattern tows in order to enjoy the experience of landing in a 15 knot crosswind.

Sunday started out with an excess of wind, but it eventually died down and allowed us to make six flights before sunset. Karl and Henry refreshed their familiarity with the 1-23, and Dakai and Don took two more pattern tows.  On the last flight of the day, Don made his first glider solo in the Blanik (Congratulations, Don!)

Thanks, Evan for doing all the towing this weekend.