Saturday, September 26, 2020

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

New Private Pilot

After spending the whole summer flying around in the 1-26, David Lysy brushed up on his two-seater skills and took his flight test, finally.

DPE Jim Morzillo traveled from Saratoga yesterday, Evan towed, Tim, Don, and Pete crewed, and at the end of the day, PMSC gained a newly certificated Private Pilot!

Congratulations, David!

Photo by Don Graber

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Isaias Wave

Hurricane Isaias blew through Tuesday and left enough wind on Thursday to generate wave behind Mt. Washington, I wanted to try a flight to Mt. Washington.  After a late start (2:15) because VW was extracting money from the tow pilot to fix his car, I started thermaling northwards.  Thermals were consistent but cloud base was only 5,500-6,000' which is on the low side of my comfort level for a trip to W (Mt. Washington).  I took my time and arrived at W around 4:00.  Ridge lift was good on the Presidentials and I ridge soared the face contemplating my next move.  There were no clouds between the summit of W and the Carters to indicate wave or any other kind of lift.   I wasn't sure I wanted to commit to being down wind of and lower than the Presidentials if I couldn't find wave this late in the day.  But I came this far...  I jumped the ridge into Huntington Ravine.  In less about 90 seconds I felt the first indication of lift at 5,900'.  A quick 180 to point into the wind and I was in zero sink and then climbing at 1 kt.  I was surprised how close the wave was to the summit.  1 kt soon turned into 2 kts then 3 kts by the time I got to 10,000' I was climbing at 8 kts.

Huntington Ravine climbing at 1 kt.

View of Carters - no wave clouds

10,000' climbing at 7.8 kts

After 45 minutes I was just shy of 18,000' and climbing at 1.5 kts.  It was almost 5:00 so it was time to head home.  I dialed Post Mills into the Oudie and was happy to see that even with a 35 kt headwind I had Post Mills with 6,000' to spare - my kind of final glide!

17,500' - Start of final glide

After flying carefully to Franconia to make sure the Oudie wasn't lying to me,  I finished the final glide into PM at 95-100 kts and still arrived with 4,000' to spare.

It was a great flight in thermal, ridge and wave lift and I made it home for dinner.  Thank you Rick for towing and crewing.

Image preview

Thursday, July 23, 2020


Source (p26)

No circling needed

Here is Evan's account of his July 18 flight, grabbed from the PMSC Forum without his permission:

I took a swing at a 300 km O&R yesterday, Start/Finish at Dartmouth Skiway, turning at Elephant Mountain, which is up in the Mahoosic range. The advantage of this course is that it runs about as straight along the high ground as you can find in our area. The tricky bit is that you really need to be high at the far end. Berlin airport is a useful bailout, but if you can't keep that in range, the other options are generally east of the high ground, in the coastal plain, and if you have to divert, you have a reasonably high likelihood of getting stuck, then subjecting one of your buds to an O&R of a different sort. IIRC it was about 3:20 each way to Thomas airport in Roxbury (2016 or 2017. Thanks Tim).

It was clear pretty much immediately that this wasn't going to be the day. But I thought I'd take a stab at it and see how it went. I had to hang around until nearly 2pm to let the day heat up to make it even semi feasible.

Here's the first glide

The stats are fun, especially the 108:1 glide ratio (I got some orographic help at Moosilauke and Kinsman).

Here are the stats up to the point I abandoned the attempt due to 6000 foot bases nearing Old Speck. I'd already decided I wasn't going past Old Speck unless I had 6500 minimum... and except in really perfect conditions it's hard to see how I could be fast beyond Old Speck unless I had closer to 7500.

If I took the time to fiddle the settings in SeeYou, that "0.01s" thermal would go away, making it three glides with average distance 42.2 km. The reason for all the left turns is that I habitually start my turns upwind when on a cross wind leg. 67mph was a pretty good speed for Saturday, but it was clear it wasn't going to last. I'll try again some other day. Here's the whole flight.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Breaking up the band

Thanks to everyone's least favorite microorganism, we've been forced to divide our efforts between Post Mills, Franconia, and Sterling recently.  It was more fun when we could all fly together.

On Monday, Evan (T8) made a great flight out of Franconia, shuttling back and forth between Moosilauke and Berlin, making a couple of wave climbs along the way.  It was too windy to fly at Post Mills.

Then yesterday, in winds that were only slightly more reasonable, a couple of big counterclockwise flights out of Post Mills were made by Tim (BU) and Greg (JD)

Finally, today, Dan (EA) and Evan (T8) took off at Sterling and flew west and north for 420 and 352 kilometers, respectively.

We're thinking about getting the band back together.

Friday, June 5, 2020

I guess I'll have to buy the White Album again

There's news from FAA for those of us seeking pilot certificates or additional ratings.

The FAA branch responsible for testing has just published an outline of updates and near-term changes in the Knowledge and Practical Tests and associated publications:

We learn from this handy reference that:
  • There will be new Knowledge Test questions.
  • There is a new way to schedule Knowledge Tests.
  • There is a new source of practice tests.
  • there are (or soon will be) new versions of

    • Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge
    • Aviation Instructor Handbook
    • Risk Management Handbook
    • Airplane Flying Handbook

  • There are no more "students."  We're all "learners" now.
  • There are no more "cockpits."  Now the proper term is "flight deck."
  • If you ain't got an FTN, you ain't nobody.
As for the practical side of things, you may recall that FAA plans to replace the Practical Test Standards (PTS) with the more modern Airman Certification Standards (ACS), one category at a time.  So far they have done this for airplanes and drones.  Next on the priority list are helicopters and balloons.  Gliders aren't even mentioned, so for now at least, we have the PTS.

PMSC Learners who are about to buy an FAA publication, make sure you get the latest edition!

I bought my first aviation handbook in 1965, and I still have it.

I suppose it's time to get the update.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

T8 goes for a thousand

Congratulations to Evan on a spectacular 1015 km flight on Sunday down at Mifflin!

His first leg took him down to Snowy Mountain on the Virginia/West Virginia border, 280 km from home.  Then he turned around and flew to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, 360 km.  Then back down to the Pennsylvania/Maryland border.  He made his final turn at 4:45pm, 145 km from home.

The flight took a little over 7 hours, and you can see from the barogram that he didn't waste too much time in thermals.

According to OLC, this was the second longest flight in the world on May 31, 2020.

COVID update III

Flight instruction is back!

Be sure to read the updated operational rules.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

August weather

The Wednesday afternoon slackers showed their respect for our chief towpilot and were ready to go right on time at noon.  Andy towed everybody and went back home to finish his workday.  Other than a brief pause when we thought we had lost the towrope (false alarm), Andy made nine tows without shutting down.

It was indeed the best weather of the week, as Tim predicted.  However, it wasn't all that straightforward.  And it was hot and humid. There were clouds over the mountains, with a westerly wind aloft.  Some of the clouds got out of hand, causing rainshowers and blowoff.  The wind down low was from the south, which put us square in the middle of weak valley conditions, with the cloudfields to the east and west, just out of reach.

The trick was to leave town early, and Greg (JD), Tom (2W) and Tim (BU) did just that.  They made it to the clouds on the Vermont side and followed them all the way to Island Pond, returning via the clouds on the New Hampshire side.  You could not have done any better than that.

Evan (T8) and Rick (LEL) struggled to get away, with Evan making at least three desperate returns to Post Mills before climbing back up.  At least he didn't land.  Rick needed a relight.  They both headed for home when the lightning started.

The day ended early with a ten mile diameter shadow due to blowoff.  Luckily everyone saw it coming and we made long smooth glides into the darkness to land by about 1600.  Evan managed to stay up the longest of all.  After that the sun came back out.  Typical.

Keith (BA), Dennis (DC), and David (505) were all trapped at Post Mills by the big shadow.  Dennis set a record for circling, and David got his first flight of the season in the 1-26.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Weekend report May 22 - 25

PMSC finally got underway at Post Mills this weekend, thanks to all the work on the towplane performed by our chief towpilot and chief mechanic.  It's never obvious how much work the two Andys do in order to keep us flying.  It's a lot.

We did a pretty good job of observing our amended COVID operational rules.

Under our new (hopefully temporary) rules, every day is a Slacker Day.  This isn't great for our primary students, but it makes it easier for our instructors and towpilots to fly on the weekends.  Don't let them tell you that they aren't enjoying this.

Another consequence is that our first weekend of the season was also our first 4-day weekend.

The conditions were blue with light west winds.  The day started with thermals to 5000 feet, rising to 7000 feet by late afternoon.  Evan, Tim, Dennis, and Eric flew out of Post Mills, and Rick launched at Franconia.  Tim and Evan flew nice round trips to the White Mountains.  Eric did that as well, but was a bit more ambitious.  He wound up landing at Claremont after rounding his final turnpoint at Springfield.  Rick also landed out, conveniently, at Post Mills.

Dennis was the hero of the day, driving down to Claremont to pick up NT, bringing Eric back to Post Mills, then turning around again and driving home (not that far from Claremont).  He walked into his house at about midnight - and was back in Post Mills the next morning.

Technically, Saturday can be called Assembly Day, since the 2-33 and 1-26 went together, thanks to the efforts of David, Peter, Karl, Andy, Don, and Karl's buddy Dave from Florida. That leaves the Blanik, which suffers from lack of pilots so far this season.

The weather was strange.  It wasn't blue, but it might as well have been.  High bands of stratus and a few altocu didn't help at all.  Thermals were sparse and difficult to center, but with patience, they could be worked up to 6000 feet.  The wind was southeasterly, which was disorienting.

All flights were local.  Kari probably had the longest flight, with Evan and Peter not far behind.  Dennis had a short one, and Rick couldn't even stay up.  David flew the 2-33 twice and is back on track to get his license early this year.

The day dawned clear, but a thin overcast moved in just before launch time and hung around for the rest of the day.  From the appearance of the sky, you wouldn't have thought there was any lift at all.

But this is May.  The airmass is so good that it doesn't take all that much sunshine to get things going.  Tim (BU), Peter (505), and Greg (JD) all had local flights.  Peter's total time in the 1-26 this season is 5 hours already.  He got to 4800 feet and was the last to land.

Nobody flew.  But before you deny that this was a 4-day weekend, thank Tim for standing by to be the towpilot all day Monday.  The overcast was solid, and the slackers gave up early, as they always do.

There are 12 trailers on the field now (including HK, which just arrived from Florida).