Monday, July 25, 2016

Brontosaurus vs forest

If you've never seen a forest being eaten, you should come out to the airport today.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Name That Club Member

Another Clue.  This photo was taken the same day.

The New Post Mills Airport

Rich sent in a couple of pictures of the runways after the tree work.

Franconia Encapment - Ridge, Thermal, Wave

The weather could not have been better for this year's 4th of July encampment.  We had hot days, cool nights and not a drop of rain.  Soaring wise we had strong ridge, thermal and wave lift all happening at the same time.  There was so much flying and other activities that I am sure I will miss a lot of highlights.  Please feel free to add the this report in the comment section.
Lane and Don on the Franconia Ridge

The weekend started off right with Lane and Don ferrying the Blanik from Post Mills.  Andy acted as tow pilot as he did for the entire weekend.  They release over Kinsman and Lane gave Don an introduction to ridge soaring in the 25 kt wind.  Don later put the knowledge he gained to solo 3J in the ridge lift for a couple of hours.  Next it was Tim's turn to take Ann for an introduction to sailplanes.  Ann is a hang gliding friend of our former hang gliding members but had never been in a sailplane.  They were able to ridge soar/thermal right off tow into wave only stopping at 14,000' for lack of oxygen.  Karl (PM), Evan (T8), Dan (EA), Tom (2W), Andy Lawrence (PM), Tony (in the Blanik with Tim) and maybe others, were able to connect with wave.  Evan (T8) flew over to the Mount Washington primary and reported he had 18 kts of wave lift at times.  He had to stop at 18,000' for class A airspace.  Tom (2W) had a really cool flight.  He was able to hop wave crests up wind towards the Green Mountains to Hardwick but was finally stopped by the undercast.

Evan at 18,000' on Saturday

The annual BBQ at the Kinsman lived up to its reputation as being fantastic.  Thank you Judy, Ann C. and Marsha for doing the heavy lifting and to Karl for grilling.

I was not at the airport Sunday but I heard Dan (EA), Tom (2W) and Evan (T8) all broke off climbs at 18,000' in the Mt. Washington primary.  Back at Franconia the ridge and thermals were also working well all day.  There were many good flights.

Evan at 18,000' on Sunday
Dan Mac at 18,000' in wave, upside-down, and wearing shorts - doesn't get much better.
Dan crossing Franconia Notch

That evening the club was invited to Phil's house on Sugar Hill for fireworks and more BBQ.  Phil puts on an amazing fireworks display.

The wind died down on Monday and so did the ridge, wave and thermal lift.  People stayed closer to the airport for a more relaxed day.
Tim and Michael rock polishing Mt. Lafayette

A friend of a friend took this picture of Evan over Mt. Washington

And while we were all in Franconia, Moshe (RU) was representing PMSC at the Region 1 Contest in Springfield Vt.  Please give us your impression of your first contest, Moshe.
Chris tells Moshe how to get to Starbucks - the girls are not impressed.

Friday, June 24, 2016

It isn't as easy as it looks

to catch this guy's wingtip every day.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Weekend Report - June 17-19

Rick is off to the Open Class Nationals in Nephi, UT so I am reporting this week.  Rick is crewing for Dick Butler and his Concordia.  The Concordia is probably the highest performance sailplane ever built.  Here's a picture I stole off the web.  They say its Rick but I'm not sure.

Friday was a spectacular day.  Andy towed 7 slackers and everyone had good flights except Evan (T8) who had a spectacular flight.  Evan flew a declared 600 km triangle for a NH state record and then add a few more km to score 860 OLC points.   Ok, Greg (JD)  had a spectacular flight too.  It was his personal best, 610 OLC points.  Dan (EA) and Tim (PM) had flights 500 and 400 km.  Dennis (DC) had a very nice flight to Lafayette.  Henry and Andy Lawrence had nice long, and high local flights.   Here is a picture from cloud base (8500') looking toward Lake Champlain (Sugarbush, Camels Hump and Mansfield are visible) at 6 pm.

At the end of the day I got in one more spectacular flight.  A beautiful evening flight in the Birddog to bring Dan home from Franconia.

Saturday was almost a repeat of Friday.  Evan (T8) put in 600 km, Greg (JD), Dan (EA) and Tom (2W) put in 400 km each, and Dennis (DC) went back to the Whites.  I heard rumors that Paul (S1) ended up at the Mt. Snow Airport and was retrieved by a scab tow plane from VSF but the flight log is mysteriously missing.  Dakai, Henry, Rick Sayles, Skip, Don and Willy took training flights or extended local flights.  Thanks for towing Doug, and Lane and Gregg for instructing.

On Sunday the pilots rested.  Dan (EA), Greg (JD), and Tom (2W) took leisurely flights up to Mt. Washington.   Dakai, Heather, and Matt flew locally.

After this weekend PMSC has 3 of the top 5 place on the OLC for Region 1.


Thursday, June 16, 2016

The new (old) Post Mills Airport

The tree removal work began on Saturday and since I wasn't able to make that day I don't know who showed up other than Dan, Greg and Don. I'm sure there were more.

On Sunday there were at least 15 people, many with chainsaws, all with grit in their teeth.

Hard to say but I'm sure many hundreds of trees came down and either went into the chipper, were chunked up and tossed over the bank or were saved for later use.

Evan feeding the chipper
This is the new view from the south end of runway 5. Note the west side is cleared and that the very large pine is felled.

Hard to see now that they're gone but many trees on the east side of 5 will not be reaching out to snag your wingtip anymore.

Runway 4, left side trees are now gone (this is a before/during photo). Also 2 by the halfway house. This will make the runway at least 15' wider, not that this area will be continuously mowed but it will be much safer.

I'm not naming names but some guys just sat around all day... not.

Personally I wasn't a bit tired at the end of this day of "light work", maybe some of the other guys were tired... but not me, nope.

More tree will be removed from the property south of the airport so eventually the approaches will be fantastic. There are many more trees that need to be removed but this was pretty much all we could handle. The rest need heavy equipment and or an Army of men with chainsaws.

Many many thanks to everyone who helped out, this was above and beyond in terms of effort. Special thanks to Dan and Greg for their expertise in tree cutting. Also many thanks to Brian for making this happen.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

T8 in a Field

Saturday, June 4, my ambition got the better of me and I landed in a field at North Umberland, NH shortly after 6pm, 59 air miles from Post Mills.

I was flying with Greg near Morrisville and I got suckered by some clouds to the Northeast and the six knot thermal I found there.  Concluding that the day still had some life, I set off for Burke.  Greg, sensibly, headed for Post Mills, it was after 5pm.  My plan was to get a climb at Burke under good looking clouds, hit the high ground on the far side of the Connecticut river valley (more good clouds), then glide to Twin Mountain and figure it out from there.  The wind was 310-ish at 12, I knew I could expect it to be stronger on the White Mountains, there would be ridge lift and a few isolated thermals on the high ground.  I'd get home.  It was going to be epic.  500K on a difficult day. Well, not quite.

Arriving at Burke, I flew under what were now tired looking clouds with  no lift to speak of.  The only decent prospects were to the North.  So North I went.  Unfortunately, those clouds didn't work much better, so after a brief climb, I took a hard look at the bear country to the East.  I could see bits & pieces of the CT river valley between mountains, it looked doable.  The flight computer agreed. There were some clouds on the near side of the CT valley I knew I could reach, but I was getting less hopeful about making it all work.  Clouds over the higher ground on the far side of the CT valley looked very good.  Those slopes were baking in late afternoon sun, but I didn't have the altitude to get there.

Contingency time!  I've still got an easy glide to West Burke and Caledonia Co airports, but I'll definitely be landing when I get there.  I know the CT river valley has numerous landable fields and heading that way at least offers a chance of continuing the flight.  Good enough.  Off we go... with only about 4500'.

The rest of the flight was simple enough.  I made the West side of the CT and the clouds there gave me a couple hundred feet.  Still not enough to get on the high ground across the valley.  It's time to re-order the priorities.  Time to stop soaring & start landing.  I'm well within range of the (abandoned?) airport at Groveton, condition unknown.  There aren't any clouds or any other reason to go that way (North) and the airport doesn't have any secondary landing option close by in case the airport for some reason proves unsuitable.  The valley in my immediate vicinity has a bunch of decent fields, including some really big, really flat corn fields (newly sprouted, very landable) and this absolute gem of a newly cut hay field.  It's airport sized and flat, no obvious obstacles, the approach will be over tall trees (just like home, er just like home used to be!), but no issues at all.  

Decision made, I fly across the valley in the rapidly fading hope of getting sucked up those Western facing slopes.  I'm too low with about 80% certainty, but no harm in exploring as long as I don't get carried away.  I press in next to the mountains and I can feel the air bubbling... it's still working up there alright, but I'm not going to connect -- at least without a little more time to explore -- and I am out of time. I'm right at my comfort limit for altitude and it's time to go.

Back to my field... I set up a high left base, turn final, clear the trees, pick a nice smooth spot.

Retrieve logistics are always a little anxiety inducing.  The actual tale is a little tedious. Here are some key words -- you can connect the dots: cell phone, low battery, poor service, text messaging, charger pack, Spot tracker, GPS gibberish (decimal degrees vs decimal minutes vs deg / min / sec), sunset time.

Retrieve arranged, I have some time to amuse myself, so I walk off the landing roll (70 paces), walk the access road (no issues), take some pictures, make friends with the farmer, his wife and kids.  I'm told this field is popular in Winter months with ski plane pilots, and I can see why.  The kids are eyeballing the cockpit and I don't have to be a mind reader to figure it out.  "Would you like to try on the cockpit for size?"

Future Glider Pilots
Lane and Anne played fetch and arrived just after sunset (it's a two hour drive) and we had just enough twilight to get everything in the box.  Afterward, we had a nice dinner in Lancaster.  It sure is nice having friends willing to drop what they are doing to pitch in and help with a retrieve (I'll promise not to make a habit of it)!