Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Best of winter

Just in from XC skiing at about 1400' in the hills above East Corinth. With the afternoon sun hitting a south slope I watched a group of 5 buzzards (may have been crows or ravens....I couldn't be sure) core a thermal and climb until they were specs in the sky.
Best skiing in years and a reminder of what spring will bring. Life is good!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Has it been only 104 years?

Today is the anniversary of the day the Wright brothers spoiled their best glider by putting an engine on it.

Only 120 days till our season starts.

Friday, December 7, 2007


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Monday, November 26, 2007

Still summer

The end of flying season does not mean the end of flying news. Friend-of-the-club Roy B, whom many of you have met, sends this report from his annual soaring safari to South Africa. It's pretty interesting, and Roy promises to send updates.

Updated 12/06/07 - Roy is having internet problems, so here is his news (and watch this space for further updates):
Well - I have had to suspend the Google Docs reports since I do not have enough quality Internet access here to manage those files and photographs. So - below you will just find text and links to some photos that you can open at your end. Let me know if you can’t get to the photos. If you didn't see the first reports they are still available here. Once I get back to decent service I will put all of this there.
Day 4 Report
Nobody expected much of today because of all of the rain yesterday. There were 2 alternate tasks set - a 300km for the 15m and newer pilots and a 518km "boomerang" or chevron shaped, 4 leg Assigned Speed Task for 18m and Open. The short legs of the task went up to a turn point called Dealsville, down past the diamond mine at Koffiefontein ( there is a photo at the web address above) to a town called Luckhof, then a long 200 km leg into the wind to a turnpont north of Dealsville - then home. The day started great - but went to blue thermals midway on the second leg and the entire last 40km in and out of the northern turn point was in the blue. Still there was decent lift in the blue and I only got low once on the last leg coming home. I went around the course at 65.4 mph and was pleased with that. I had an advantage in starting last which gave me a few "markers" along the way. I am getting used to the FLARM - and at least once it spotted a glider entering my thermal before I saw him. Saturday night is the "changing of the guard" with people leaving and new faces arriving. Interestingly, there were 2 couples flying 4 gliders today. We really don’t see enough women pilots in this sport I think. Here is a link to a grid photo of today.
Day 5 Report
Not a whole lot to report except I got sick from eating some local food last night that didn’t agree with me. Woke up at Midnight afraid I was gonna die. By 2 am I was afraid I wasn’t gonna die . . . Sunday was a marginal flying day so I decided to take it easy and get some rest and by 24 hours I was back to being fine. For today’s photo I offer one of the container that was custom fitted and shipped 6 gliders down here from the UK - In the photo there are still 2 gliders inside.
Day 6 Report
I am feeling back to 100% from my food misadventure and today’s task is a 330 km Out and Return to a city called Christiana up north that I have been to before. It turned out to be a very difficult day and only two gliders (Ed Downham flying one of them) made the task - and those 2 contacted weak wave that helped them get in and out. I struggled getting away, made slow headway (as did everybody) and finally decided to turn at the last turnpoint closest to Christiana in my database (27 km short of Christiana) and still had difficulty getting home. I never contacted wave - just its adverse effect on the thermals I was trying to use. Everybody else abandoned the course much earlier. OLC scored my flight at 318 km by adding in a little leg that I started on - before returning for my second start.
At supper Downham made an interesting observation: He noted that in the "fleet" today were 4 motorglider or sustainer equipped gliders and all bailed out of the task early. The only 3 gliders that "went for it" were the pure gliders. Go figure . . .
The South African government sets the price for gasoline at all stations. Price increases are announced in advance. There is a "scheduled" 40 ct. per liter price increase (equals about 15 cents per US gallon) going into effect tomorrow - so all the gas stations are jammed tonight. Prices here are quite low compared to home. My guest house ( very nice and includes a huge breakfast) is 310 R per night (figure 7R = 1 US Dollar). A nice steak dinner with wine costs about 110R .
Today’s photo is of himself standing in front of the shade screen we use here to protect the gliders from the sun. The dust is cleaned off the gliders each morning but these screens are all that protect the gliders that are not in the hangar.. These frames are secured to the ground with cable and turnbuckles that are removed to get the gliders in and out. Behind me in the photo is the big ASH-25 that I hope to fly tomorrow.
Update 12/07/07:
Day 7 Report
Darwin Awards - South Africa Style: One of the glider pilots here is also an accomplished Scuba diver and he uses this trip for both sports. He tells us that the newest tourist activity in Cape Town involves "experiencing" the great white sharks that are indigenous to South African south coast waters. It seems that for a thousand Rands or so they will give you a basic check out in Scuba equipment and take you out into shark infested waters and lower you into the water in a cage. The only thing in the cage besides you is a porous bag of bloody fish chum - which acts like a large dinner bell for the great whites and sends them into a feeding frenzy of attacking the cage. I didn’t think to ask if they lend out wet suits or if you had to bring your own. You wouldn’t want to use mine after one of those great whites came after me - cage or not. We are all thinking we should root for the sharks.
I made a friend down here named Dieter Belz who is a retired Dutch airline pilot and who helps Dick Bradley out with field checkouts as needed in the 2 place ASH-25. Dieter and I both have Piper Cubs (his is home in Denmark) and we have been talking all week about a long dual cross country flight in the big 24 meter ASH. Dieter and I have a combined 85 years gliding experience and we have been ragging the other pilots all week about how we were going to show them all how to do it. And - the other guys have been ragging Dick Bradley all week about how Roy and Dieter are going to land the ASH out in East Bungawanga - or someplace like that. Dick is very protective of the big beautiful ASH. Amazingly, this was the first time I have ever seen Bradley worried about anything and before Dieter and I launched he gave me a stern look and instructed, "Bring this bloody glider back here!" I told Dieter about it and he said that Bradley gave him the same speech. We toyed with the idea of announcing on radio that we were landing out in the Tribal Lands - but figured that would get Dieter fired and me banished. So - after a nice 4 hour flight done very conservatively due to rain showers in the area we returned to the field with the ASH. Bradley seemed relieved..
Today’s photo is of a rain shower taken from the ASH. This one later exploded into a full blown thunderstorm.
Day 8 Report
All week we have been dealing with a strange condition where the wind direction above 9000' MSL (4500' AGL) shifts 90 degrees from northerly to westerly. It’s very strange and you can see a ground fire (stubble burns) smoke moving one direction and the cloud shadows moving a different direction. This has 3 effects on cross country flying: 1) It makes the upper layer of the height band turbulent as anything, 2) It makes trying to locate themals from clouds generally useless, and 3) It breaks up all but the strongest thermals. It also makes a long XC flight very tiring.
Anyway, today’s task was a 528 km polygon with a long 330 km out and return to the city of Blomhof way to the north then south to a turnpoint with the mundane name of "Hill 5305" (I have no idea where that name came from). Nobody actually finished the task (there was one landout) but I made the turn at Blomhof and then modified the task into the area that seemed better. I flew 420 km at and average speed of 65.4 mph, and I was pretty tired afterwards.
A few words on South Africa sports and food:
Rugby & Soccer: Take the Red Sox winning the World Series, the Patriots going undefeated and winning the Super Bowl, the Bruins winning the Stanley Cup, and the Pope himself performing at the half time shows for all - and you will begin to understand a little how South Africans feel about their Springboks - the Rugby World Champion Springboks that is. Rugby and Soccer are the only two sports that matter here (and in that order). Somebody once said that "Soccer is a sport played by gentlemen and watched by hooligans - while Rugby is a sport played by hooligans and watched by gentlemen." It says something about this complex country that these are the two most beloved pastimes. How could you not love a sport where guys put duct tape around their heads so their ears don’t get ripped off? I had to search the internet 15 minutes to find out if the Patriots beat the Eagles. But six newspapers had front page stories that Jake White was retiring as Springbok coach. You would have thought Bill Belichik and Terry Francona died in the same car crash.

Braai and Biltong: These people have brought the backyard barbeque to a high art form known nowhere else. Called a "Braai" (rhymes with "pry" or "cry") it consists of all sorts of seasoned meat (and sausage called boerewors) over a smoky fire. Incredible! Then - they perfected beef and Ostrich (and who know what else) jerky into a national food staple called Biltong which is delicious and available everywhere and the subject of endless debate over which region has the best biltong. There are whole sections of food market devoted to Braai and entire stores for nothing except Biltong. It’s like Atkins Diet Heaven here. Not a carb in sight.
Update 12/08/07:
Day 9 Report
Today started out raining but by midmorning showed signs of clearing so we had a choice of small tasks, fun local flying or taking a rest day. I did a little work on the Nimbus (flat rear tire) and took a launch at 3:30 pm. By 4 pm it had clouded over again but I dumped the water and flew the Nimbus another 1.5 hours using the dark areas in the overcast and the Nimbus' incredibly low sink rate. I didn't "do anything" or really "go anywhere" - I just had a relaxing fun flight.
We had an incident today with a pretty hard ground loop on takeoff with a Discus. At this density altitude the towplanes are a little slow to get going and the pilot hooked some high grass and spun the ship around. Both pilot and ship are OK.
Some old friends arrived today including Reb Rebbeck who helps Dick with the operation and Anders Andreson - the outstanding Dutch competition pilot. Anders is expecting delivery this month of the first production JS1 "Revelation" 18m racing glider which is made here in South Africa. This new production machine is a subject of much pride down here.
Today's photo is for the "teckies" among us and is of the panel of a Ventus 2 down here that is available for rent. I have flown many gliders that cost less than the instrument panel on this glider!
Update 12/09/07:
Day 10 Report
Wow, what a day. We started out with rain in the morning at the guest house and I was pretty certain that we wouldn’t fly. But before it was over it would become one of the most memorable flights that I have had in 3 years of flying in South Africa. The met report for the day was mixed with a hope that it would be a little better to the south and a task was set into that area with initial turnpoints at Westpoint (the point where we clear the controlled airspace around Bloemfontein) then the big diamond mine at Koffiefontain (see photo in the earlier reports). There was a third turnpoint to the east - then back to Westpoint and home - for a planned task of 311 km.
I started out near the rear of the grid ( in this photo my glider is "Hotel Sierra") and the cloudbase off tow was only 4000' agl. Still the run up to Westpoint is over farm fields that are both very landable and good thermal producers. I got to Westpoint OK and turned South torward the Diamond mine and saw conditions improving and cloudbases coming up.
Toward "Koffie" conditions really began to improve and I was able to follow clear energy lines that allowed me to fly the Nimbus (ballasted at about 70%) without stopping to circle much at all. Two pilots ahead decided to abandon the task and follow the energy lines and streets to a much farther turnpoint called Kraankui about 110 KM past the diamond mine. This seemed like a good idea to me and the 3 of us blasted down to that turnpoint with the Nimbus just humming along straight ahead at about 100 mph and slowing up for the occasional 8 kt "bumps" that brought me right up to altitude with bases now at 6500 - 7000'. I hit the new turnpoint easily and on the return leg ( in a northeast direction) saw that the clouds were beginning to organize into cumulonimbus (CB) bands with a large band to the east with rain and lightining and a smaller band to my west that was darkening but without rain. This was not really a problem because everything was lined up with my course line, the lift was good on the west side of the huge "streets", and the only emerging problem was that far to the west a huge thunderstorm was developing over Kimberly with blowoff that was shading out the sunlight to the west of the bands of CBs that I was following. This was something I have seen before and it told me that I needed to keep moving before the entire course ahead of me was in shade from the blowoff.
Back past the diamond mine at about 80 km from Westpoint things were still going well but it became necessary for me to cross the CB "band" on my west side to stay in the sunlight course. This was the dark band to my left that was not raining (yet). The sunlight area was shrinking but I was still high and fast and not worried about running out of lift before Westpoint and the turn for home. All I had to do was cross under that band and "step over" one street to the west. I picked the darkest part of the huge vertical cloud band (hey - the lift is best in the dark parts - right?) . . . . And then suddenly the sky fell in! Literally.
I was about halfway across the darkest part of the cloudbase at about 10.3 msl when the cloud simply collapsed on top of me with more instantaneous rain than I have ever experienced in the air before. The water came down in a torrent, actually gushing into the front vent and spraying the inside of the canopy and top of the panel the front. All the varios pegged on down and I had no option except to shove the stick forward and head toward the sunlight. The barogram trace in the logger showed that I lost 3500' in a little less than 3 minutes - with several moments of recorded 12kts down.
I came out of the mess at 2000' agl over unlandable terrain and was forced to use 500' to get toward some cultivated fields suitable for outlanding (In South Africa we don’t use green or uncultivated fields except in extreme emergency - as they contain 3 foot high anthills or are pocked with Meerkat holes - either of which will clean off your landing gear before you see them). Fortunately, before reaching the cultivated fields I contacted a good thermal and was able to climb back up to 11k. However - in the time it took to do that the blowoff from the Kimberly thunderstorm had completely covered the entire area back to Westpoint and home and I was still 60km from Westp0int and 100 km from home. The entire way home was now in the shade and was going to stay that way.
I knew that there would be a short period of time that the warm surface would continue to produce thermals but that they would be weak and hard to find. I throttled way back to 80 mph in the Nimbus, dumped the inner water tanks to get ready to climb weak lift, and reached Westpoint 1300' below glide for home. As I headed out into the agricultural area that marks the last 40 km I slowed to 70, dumped the outer tanks and went into the same "float" mode I had been playing with the night before (see Day 9 report). I also moved my course toward the paved roads (In South Africa it is very important to know where the paved roads are and to land out near one. The difference between 50 km of paved vs. unpaved road is the difference between a 2 hour retrieve and a 8 hour retrieve here). Fortunately, my course line was also following the progression of the shade so the fields below me stayed uniformly warm. As I moved into the area after Westpoint over a cultivated field I found a 1.3 kt thermal that brought me up to 500' over safe final glide . I brought the glider home to a landing at 5:30. Of the other 2 pilots who made the long course one (Ed Downham) landed ahead of me and the other (Mike Clarke) was behind. Of the gliders who did the shorter "assigned" course there was one landout.
I was pretty happy with the flight and the ability to fly the last 100km with no sunlight at all. The most important factor was shifting gears and going into "survival mode" while still high and far away. At 6000' agl and 100km from home it is almost maddening to fly so sloooow - but that’s what got me home. The flight was 453 km (283 mi.) in 4.5 hours. This worked out to 100 kph or about 63 mph. But I really don’t care about the speed - just happy to get back!
Tomorrow will be my last day here flying.
Update 12/10/07:
Day 11 and Final Report
Well the flying portion of this trip has come to an end. The last day was rainy and cloudy in the morning and did not clear until mid afternoon. No task was set and I used some of the spare time to "clear the post" ( an expression those who have had military service will recognize) by settling up with Bradley, settling with the pub on the field (meals and beer) and buying gas for the rental car, etc. After the adventure with the downpour yesterday, Hotel Sierra needed to be completely re-taped so I decided to take a short local flight in an LS-7 that had gone unused this week. But the change from a fully ballasted Nimbus 3 to an unballasted LS-7 was more than my dumb brain could handle and I popped off tow too early and was back on the ground in a few minutes. But I am not disappointed - I was really happy with the Day 10 flight and with the whole trip.
This year has been different from earlier years. We did not see (except for occasionally) the classic South African summer soaring conditions with really high cloud bases and monster thermals. It was still better than anything I saw in New England this year and way better than the Albert Lea MN Nationals that got rained out. Out of 11 days we lost only one to weather ( I lost another to food sickness), and of the 6 days that I really tried to go somewhere my flight distances were 358 km, 518 km, 318 km, 240 km, 420 km and 453 km. On each of those days other pilots went farther than I did. Like my earlier trips I learned a lot down here. It is a real privilege to fly with and learn from pilots like Ed Downham, Dick Bradley and Anders Anderson- all of whom have been champions in their own countries. Each of the marginal days had an impromptu seminar for the new pilots that was extremely valuable.
Today’s photo is simply one of a launch behind the C182 towplane on a day that started out rainy and ended up nice. The weather changes so quickly here. Also - I love to explore around old airport hangars and so I took a few photos of archeological "finds" in the hangar at New Tempe. Included is a big beautiful double drum winch - not used in years - that I’d love to own. There are several photos in this set and you may find them interesting.
There is a gliding club at New Tempe - but it has had no activity in the past few years. It owns a winch, 2 K-7s, a K-6 and a Grob Astir. None of them fly at all. It’s really sad. Dick Bradley rents their facility from them to operate, but there seems to be nobody local from the club that flies except for the 2 motorgliders (privately owned) in the photos.
Well - this is my last report. I am writing this from a hotel in Cape Town where I will relax for another day and then start the long journey back home. I do have most of my electronic flight logs on a memory stick and I will be happy to share them with anybody who wants them when I get home.
Thanks for all of the kind words and support for these reports. I’ll be seeing you all at the Christmas Party and at the airport.
Thanks Roy, and don't let the PMSC gang know where that party is.

A new editor for Soaring Magazine

SSA is looking for a new editor for Soaring Magazine. Here is the advertisement for the job, as it originally appeared in SSA e-News. How many logic, formatting, and punctuation errors can you find in the ad? The ad refers to this job description, not a Pulitzer-worthy document itself. I guess we really do need an editor.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Name that club member

One indication of a good encampment is when it makes the news. But who is that guy?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Summertime event

I was looking at another group's website in NH and thought we should plan a bbq like this with the flour bomb contest. It could be open to the community and people could pay for rides and a chance to throw a "bomb". Of course we'd need some power pilots to volunteer their planes, but there could also be a Soaring Rides part of the day too.

It would raise money for the club, perhaps get new members, and be super fun. I will help organize it if we have enough pilots wanting to provide rides-I can't do that part of the schedule. Feedback welcomed.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Disassembly day question

Why does it take six guys to put a Blanik on a trailer...

and only one to take apart a 2-33?

Comments invited.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Saturday is disassembly day

Sorry Kids, but it is once again time to put the toys back in the toybox for the winter. 10:30 Sat. Nov. 17. Try to be on time so we can get everything away promptly and avoid freezing to death. If we need to reschedule due to weather you'll see it here.
C-ya then,

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Weekend Report November 10 - 11

A pair of crystal clear late fall days.

On Saturday there were weak thermals up to about 4500 feet. It was cold, and the ground crew retired to the clubhouse with Skip still in the air. No one really knows when he landed.

The visibility on Sunday was nearly infinite. We made ten sightseeing flights and a few managed to stay up. Kevin and Tom H entertained the spectators by making low saves directly over the airfield. We flew right up to sunset, which made for some interesting challenges with the afternoon sun shining directly down the runway. Here are some pictures:

And yes, that is Jason in 3J, making a late afternoon landing. Congratulations, Jason, on a new type for your logbook.

Sunday November 11th 2007

Yep, we're flying today and very likely to be the last flying day of the season so get off the couch and head to the field.

Monday, November 5, 2007


Looks like a big wave day today. I can't take advantage but someone should. I might be available for retrieves.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

MWSA website

The Mount Washington Soaring Association has a new website. It isn't much yet, but it gets better every day. If you have something to contribute, email Rick or Rick. My favorite part is the countdown timer. I've been watching it all afternoon.

Weekend Report November 3 - 4

At the crack of dawn Saturday Andy L, Andy G, and Peter B drove out of Post Mills with almost everything they needed to install the new cylinder on the towplane at Gorham. When they got there, they realized that the wrist pin was in Andy's car, back at Post Mills. A quick phone call to Tim C resulted in Tim dropping whatever it was he was doing, racing to the airport, breaking into Andy's car, grabbing the wrist pin and flying it to Gorham - proving that Champs are useful sometimes after all. At the end of the day, the two Andys were able to fly home triumphantly in the L-19. Peter B made the drive back alone. The three traveling mechanics get full volunteer credit, and Tim gets hero points.

On Sunday, the diehards showed up: Tom H, Pete D, Jason, Steve, Thomas. Andy was the tuggie. We assembled 3J and made a total of seven flights, three of which were soaring flights. Peter B made it to cloudbase at 6000 feet, and Pete D flew for about an hour. Not bad for a cold November day!

After flying, Jason and I took a ride to look for Cub fans. We found one in East Corinth.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween present

Andy reports that the newly-repaired (not sure if it's the same one) cylinder is in his possession, and that there is a plan to install it on Saturday.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday update

1. Wave camp follow up
Thomas and Steve will claim their altitude Diamonds, and Steve will get a 1-lennie pin. According to the SSA records, only 1842 people have received this award (note that #1729 came way before #1782). Sonny made a Gold climb, but his flight recorder installation wasn't very good, and he can't make the claim for technical reasons. Next year we'll have a barograph or flight recorder installed on every flight.

2. Towplane
The L-19 is still languishing at Gorham. Andy will notify us when we receive news on the replacement cylinder. Peter B has volunteered to drive the mechanic shuttle (Thanks, Peter).

3. This weekend's flight activities
Motorgliders and power planes only. If you're looking for something to do, you could uninstall the oxygen systems from the the three gliders that went to wave camp.

4. Club photographer
Most of the photos on this blog were taken by Pete D, and I have not done a good job of giving him credit. I have no plan to change this.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Congratulations to Tom H on his first flight in 3J.

Here's the quiz: what's wrong in this photo? Put your guess in the Comments section.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

RR Report

Rick Roelke sent this report to the MWSA mailing list today:
Talk about ending on a "high" note, we could not have had a better day to finish off camp.

High man for the day, and the entire encampment was Jim David, topping out at the limit of our airspace at 28k!!! The fact that the lift had improved, and he was still climbing at a solid 2 kts begs the question of just how high could we have gone that day.

Yours truly flew just shy of 400k (horizontally) after a quick diamond climb (40min). Later in the day I saw 12kts of lift down low, and it was pretty much a 5kt climb near 18k.

There were many diamonds, a few lennies, and much gold. It was a bit windy 60+kts at altitude. We were commenting early during the encampment that we had not seen a really high day with clear weather, well this one was truly clear. In the morning we had a well developed cap cloud, just to add some scenery to the dawn launches. Later in the day it was completely clear and it hit 75 deg on the ground. Last year at the same time we were dealing with snow.

Very special thanks goes to Roy Bourgeois who flew up the GBSC Pawnee on Saturday to arrive for Saturday tows, then with reports of 80kts on the summit, bravely started towing at first light on Sunday. He towed all day then returned home late Sunday via Post Mills to drop off the PMSC Blanik. Yeoman service indeed.

BTW the reason for the Pawnee coming up was to cover for the Post Mills Birddog that was out of service for mechanical problems. So additional thanks to the GBSC board who approved the "rescue" effort, and willingly donated the equipment. Members of GBSC, PMSC, and FSA all benefited from the efforts…

All in all, it was a great encampment. Somewhat time skewed by a batch of bad weather during the scheduled weekday operations, but with some flexibility Post Mills swapped weekends and it provided a great extension to camp.

Till next year…


Rick correctly points out that our success on the final two days was made posssible by some creative thinking on the part of the GBSC Board of Directors and some heroic volunteering on the part of one of their towpilots. We definitely owe them.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Saving the best for last - October 21

The last day of wave camp was, by far, the best. Sonny and I thought we were the earliest risers as we met for pre-dawn coffee in Gorham. The sky was clear, Venus was high above the eastern horizon, and it was windy on the ground. The wind report from the summit was 280 at 80 knots! A bit breezy even for glider pilots. We were happy to learn that the winds were forecast to diminish to a mere 50 knots by noon.

At the field we were met by several enthusiastic members, including Thomas, who had left home at 0430 in order to join our dawn patrol. We dragged our feet a little, discussing the concept of "too much wind for wave," but eventually Tom C and I took off and headed for the Crescent wave at 0800. That flight turned out to be an hour long technical lesson. We made several transitions among ridge, rotor, and wave lift, but we did not reach a braggable altitude, alas.

Tows were made to the secondary (near Mount Carter) for the rest of the day. The wave was stretched out to an unusal wavelength, due to the high wind speed, and there was a lot of rotor to make the tows interesting. The following altitudes were achieved by PMSC members:

Thomas 22500
Bob D 20000
Pete D 22000
Sonny 19800
Steve 25500
Jason 19700
Tom H 20200

Jim David of GBSC got the highest, 28000 feet - the limit of our air traffic control clearance. He was still climbing at that height!

Everyone was impressed at how easy it is to move backwards in the wave, Steve most of all. While Steve was enjoying the view in PM, he blew all the way into Maine. Imagine his surprise when he realized that he would not be able to make it home 25 miles from 17000 feet. He landed at the Bethel airport.

In addition to showing Jason how to fly the wave, Andy skipped some flying opportunities and removed the bad cylinder from our towplane (click photo to enlarge):

Note that the cooling fins on the cylinder head are not parallel to the fins on the cylinder base. The junction between the two failed. Also note that latex gloves do not keep the grease off your forearm.

Because it was the last day, and the GBSC towplane had to get home, we started packing up in the early afternoon. All of our equipment, save the poor L19, made it back to Post Mills. (Steve was retrieved by a sleep deprived Thomas). Andy and Jason had the last tow in the Blanik, hitching a ride to Post Mills on the towplane's trip back to Sterling, Massachusetts.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Gorham Late Report October 20

Against all odds, we flew today at Gorham. Roy Bourgeois showed up in the GBSC towplane, all the way from Sterling, Massachussetts. He made eight tows (Thanks, Roy). The conditions were tricky. There was decent wave lift all day, but the clouds kept closing in on us. The best flights of the day were made by Jason (15000 feet) and Pete D, who spent over an hour in ridge lift on Mount Hayes. In the meantime, Andy removed the offending cylinder from our towplane and had enough time to take his first 2007 flight in PM.

After flying, we convened at the Lumruss suite at the Mt. Madison Motel for stories, pretzels, and fruit-flavored beer. The motel has extended us the same low rate that Tony negotiated two days ago. We then headed to an old fashioned two-club dinner at Crabby Jack's, all arranged by Judy (Thanks, Judy).

We are planning a dawn patrol tomorrow.

Gorham Early Report October 20

The GBSC towplane will arrive at Gorham at noon today.


The weather has gone from bad to weird to good. Yesterday's high temperature of the day occurred at midnight last night. Today will be overcast at first, clearing midday, and clear all day Sunday. The forecast summit winds are westerly at 50 knots.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Gorham Late Report October 18

A cylinder in the towplane has failed. The #6 cylinder head has partially separated from its base. We will try to borrow a towplane for our weekend, which at this point, looks like only half a weekend due to weather. Sunday might be a good wave day. Stay tuned for weather/towplane updates.

Gorham Early Report October 18

The towplane developed a vibration on the first tow today, so we have cancelled flying for the day while we figure out what's wrong. Andy is on his way with tools and expertise. We will work on getting a backup towplane, just in case.

In the meantime, the results of the golf cart slalom races were:

John G 1:05
Jason 1:08
Sonny 1:09
Rick 1:09

There is some dispute as to whether John hit a cone on his winning run.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Smooth Talker

As predicted, the supply of motel rooms in Gorham far exceeds the demand. It's a buyer's market. After flying on Tuesday, Tony and Carol sought motel advice from the more experienced club members. Carol was wise to ignore the advice from the bachelor-types whose only criterion was minimum cost. After some discussion, it was decided that if we joined forces, we might be able to negotiate a good price for a block of three rooms at the Mt. Madison Motel, which is actually a decent place to stay. The advertised rate for a non-smoking room with a queen-size bed was $109. We nominated Tony to do the talking with the Woman Behind the Desk. It went something like this:
TM: Good evening. I wonder if you could help me. I'm traveling with two other people, and I would appreciate it if you could quote us a rate on a block of three rooms.

WBD: We have some rooms available, yes.

TM: Yes, I thought so. I believe that we are all members of AAA and AARP. And one of us is Swiss, and you know how particular the Swiss are. We were hoping that he in particular would be impressed with the quality and economy of your motel. Do you think you could give us your best price?

WBD: Have you stayed here before?

TM: Well, we are part of a group of glider pilots, some of whom have stayed here before. We would be happy to recommend this motel to our other flying friends who will be here later this week.

WBD: Our normal rates are...

TM: Did I mention that we want three rooms? And I'm sure you'll understand that we're not really interested in your normal rates. I'm sure you can give us your best rate. Have you ever been up in a glider?

WBD: Are you trying to sweet-talk me?

TM: Well, I would, but my wife is out in the car...

WBD: (blushes) Umm... how much would you like to pay?

TM: Well, I noticed that the advertised rate across the street is 48 dollars.

WBD: I noticed that too.

TM: What would you say to $40 each, for three rooms?

WBD: That wouldn't include the tax...

TM: No, no, of course not.

I love Gorham in October.

Gorham Report October 17

Another day of weak wave. Tony, John G, Tom H, Thomas, and three GBSC friends took tows to the primary and were able to hang out at just over 8000 feet. Tom H celebrated his recent birthday by flying the 1-23 for the first time.

Tows will be available tomorrow, starting mid-morning. There will be cloudiness, but it is hard to tell if there will be wave windows. The winds will be westerly, but weak. I'm guessing that it will be a lot like today.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Gorham Report October 16

After five days of solid overcast punctuated by wave windows, it was nice to have the opposite today: mostly sunny with a few clouds on the mountaintops. The wave was working today, but the wind was a bit too far northerly to produce the classic conditions for which Mount Washington is famous. In fact, Mount Washington itself seemed to break up the waves produced by Mount Madison and Mount Adams.

The two clubs had about ten flights today in weak conditions. Todd Smith took the prize again today with a flight to 15200 feet (after a 1000 foot tow!) The rest of us were happy to reach 10000 . Pete D took a long flight late in the day in 3J, reaching 11000 feet and landing just before sunset.

The GBSC towplane leaves tomorrow, but we will provide tows on all good-weather days from now through Sunday. The forecast for tomorrow is for clear skies, but not much wind.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Gorham Late Report October 15

We had only six flights today, beginning very late in the afternoon. Even though the wave was present all day, it was far too wet to go up. Finally, a couple of hours before sunset, the wave window appeared and it seemed to be staying open. Steve and Pete had good flights, but I don't have their stories - I left the field before they landed. Todd Smith from the Nutmeg club hit it just right and climbed to 21000 feet to claim his diamond.

The forecast for tomorrow (Tuesday) seems pretty good, and tows will be available starting early. Wednesday through Friday will be pleasantly dry, but the winds may be light. Our weekend has promise, with winds picking up from the southwest. However, they are talking about more moisture.

Why is it so hard to get dry air and wind simultaneously?

Gorham Early Report October 15

I like it when RR does all the work for me:
Today (Sunday) was as predicted, mostly cloudy, with strong wave, that was not fully utilizable due to the cloud cover. Much to our surprise (we had be sitting around watching passing showers, and low ceilings) we found out that Post Mills was towing over their Blanik. Sure nuf, the Birddog and Blanik in tow, showed up sneaking out of a shower. Safely down, they put together their beautiful 1-23 (for those that know this aircraft, that is not a misprint, it finally has a great new coat of paint).

4 pilots flew today, in some spectacular cloudscapes, but no one could really stay above the undercast very long as the holes would come and go. I ventured up and into the primary, to be greeted with a solid 8kts of glass elevator lift, but pulled the plug at 12k or so as there was nothing out in front of me but solid cloud cover for as far as I could see up wind. Too bad for the moisture, otherwise it would have been diamonds galore.

Looks like more of the same tomorrow, with good winds, but bad clouds. We have high hopes for Tuesday, when the clouds finally leave.

GBSC will try to get their stuff back this week, but PMSC will have tow equipment up this weekend.


Now it's Monday. Steve, John G, Pete D, Tom H, and Rick are here representing Post Mills. Steve brought the golf cart. We are waiting for the clouds to part and talking about how much better it will tomorrow.

Weekend Report October 13 - 14

As usual, the actual weather was in serious contradiction to the forecast. In this instance the weather was better than the gloom and doom we were told to expect. On Saturday, gliders flew both at Post Mills and at Gorham. At home base, Tony and Steve took wave tows - Tony connected and got to 8700 feet over the Connecticut river. Steve just missed and had a long glide back to earth.

Here is Rick Roelke's Saturday report from Gorham:
Today was indeed partly cloudy. As folks arrived from Franconia, reports had it solid overcast until just before you got to Gorham where it was mostly clear. The wave was here today, with flight over 14k, but not a diamond day (in a way that is a good thing, as we could not enter the airspace today). Late in the day we had a high overcast and more moisture came in. With the moisture came amazing lennies, pics to come.

Tomorrow's outlook:

Still a good sounding, but looks much wetter. We are in the clear now, seeing stars, but the forecast sounding is still calling for that to turn to low clouds and fog. I do expect the wave to be strong enough to punch a hole in the cloud cover, but the ceiling may be too low for it to be usable...


On Sunday, Andy towed Steve and Jason in the Blanik to Gorham, with a weather-dictated stop at North Haverhill on the way. Rick trailered PM to Gorham and brought the pilots home. Meanwhile, four flights were made at Gorham (see next news entry).

Friday, October 12, 2007


Wave Camp has been postponed for exactly one week. Our dates are now October 15 - 21, ending next Sunday.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Wave Camp III

From the NWS (as of last night). Read it and weep:


Here's hoping they're completely wrong.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Traveling wave

Here's an interesting excerpt from Steve's flight on Sunday. The wind was NNW, and he took a high tow, looking for wave. The excerpt begins at A. The flight path is colored according to the variometer reading (blue is down and orange is up). After a left turn in sink, he runs into lift while headed south (downwind). At point B he turns around and makes a series of S-turns back into the wind, climbing all the way in smooth air. It quits at C, so he does another reversal and flies precisely back the way he came. This time, there's no lift. He climbed 500 feet in smooth air, but when he returned to the same spot, the lift wasn't there.

There were no thermals that day, and it was too smooth to be rotor lift. I think that this is an example of a "traveling wave," a ripple in the atmosphere that isn't stationary.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Gorham Report October 6 - 8

Here is Rick Roelke's weekend report from Gorham:
Saturday was a great intro to the area day, not much in the way of wave lift, but completely benign conditions for familiarity flights. Many newcomers took high tows to understand the "look" of the valley and the path back to the airport. You can't see the airport from the summit as it lies behind a hill, so it is great that we had conditions where it was easy to get back, and plenty of time to check it out. We got all pilots in the air, except for one, because we lost the afternoon to rain. But all in all, it was exactly the opening day I (secretly) hope for.

Sunday was the perfect intro to wave day. Well, perhaps not perfect as the best into wind direction is more southerly so the trip out of the valley is not as much into the wind as we had, but the lower winds were fairly light so the northerly component was not a problem. Winds on the summit were about 30kts from 320, winds at 14k were 50kts in the same direction…

We had a solid overcast at 8:00 but by 9:00 it was clearing, that left clouds marking the wave down low, and the Madison primary was still a little spooky with lots of cloud in the valley. I was the first off, as the official wind dummy (old hang gliding term) to see if we could get up in wave from the crescent range. I got off with a 2.5k tow and started working the wave rotor upwind of the airport. I suckered SW into doing the same thing, but we were unable to climb much above 4k. by the 3rd tow, the valley looked fine, and the rest of the tows were directly into the primary where most everyone contacted wave easily and were climbing at 3-5 kts down "low" and tapering to weak climbs as they got above 10k. The lift was centered behind Mt Madison, ahead of or over the "horn". After much time and several failed attempts, I was finally able to climb high enough to cross the valley from the carter range and climb in rotor to contact the wave. After getting above 10k, I investigated the wave down wind of the carters, the climb was better there, and further investigation revealed that downwind of Wildcat was the hot spot of the day. Doug Smith was the high man, with the patience to stick it out to just short of 18k.

I investigated further first looking toward Franconia but did not find much, so after another climb headed NE up to Maine. I went out with Vit, and we were able to find wave for quite a stretch but nothing we could very effectively climb in (just 2 kts max sustained). I continued up to 30 miles NE of Gorham, but turned back at about 10k to head home. There were no clouds marking lift on my course, so it was unknown if it could have climbed high enough to return from saddleback/sugarloaf and I did not want a long retrieve at the end of the day. I landed after about 7hrs of flying, at very comfortable altitudes (temperatures) and perfectly smooth air…

No diamonds, but some gold climbs, and for sure, a good time had by all…

We accomplished some good PR by taking a local selectman up in the birddog for some great photo ops of gliders against fantastic fall color. He will write an article for the Berlin paper.

Currently we have left Gorham as the forecast for today was flat calm (still would have been a pretty thermal day though) the Wx is not looking great this week, but perhaps that will change.


Wave Camp II

Pete D departed Post Mills for Gorham with the 1-23 today.

The weather has not been good at Mount Washington so far. The highest altitude achieved was 18000 feet on Sunday (10/07/07). Since then, the area has been pretty much socked in, with light winds. Tow operations have been suspended until Thursday. Have you made your motel reservations yet?

Monday, October 8, 2007

Weekend Report October 6 - 8

On Friday, Skip and Rick worked on oxygen installations. I think we're ready for wave camp next week.

Saturday and Sunday were both good flying days, even without much lift. The fall colors alone made the effort worthwhile. On Saturday Pete D hitched a ride in the towplane and took these photos of Skip and Sonny.

And on Sunday, Skip took this one of Tom and Bozo:

Monday was theoretically a flying day, but the weather was terrible. Jason, Peter B, and Rick put the 1-23 and the golf cart on their trailers. It's time to get serious about finding volunteers to tow everything to Gorham.

Bozo the towpilot

Have you ever had one of those days? The first flight on Sunday was delayed a bit because the towpilot was late to arrive. When he finally showed up, he was in a hurry to launch PM, who had been waiting patiently at the south end of the runway. Cockpit checks completed, rope stretched out, rudder waggled, off they go. But wait! There's a golf cart crossing the runway up ahead, with 3J in tow. Maybe the towpilot should have looked down the runway before adding power, you think? Chop the power, release the glider - everyone rolls to a stop, avoiding a near miss (or worse) but adding further delay.

To add insult to injury, when the same glider was on final approach, the towplane started to taxi down the runway in the opposite direction until the towpilot woke up, saw the glider, and veered out of the way. Same bozo in the towplane.

Steve handled both incidents with aplomb. Sorry, Steve.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Friday update

Tows will be available today (until the Silent takes off).

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


I just got home from the SSA Board of Directors meeting in Elmira. I wrote a 1-page report on the meeting and published it on the Region One website.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Mid weekend update

Was quite windy in Post Mills on Saturday and most folks decided to stay on the ground but Tom Hopper wanted to fly the Blanik and needed me to go with him so Keith was summoned to tow and we had a wonderful flight following cloud streets to the north.

We are flying on Sunday, see you there.


Monday, September 24, 2007

News from afar

I don't have a weekend report this week. I've been traveling, and I don't know what happened at Post Mills.

I do have a story, however. I am at the Bermuda High Soaring School near Lancaster, South Carolina. It's a gliders-only operation owned by friends Frank and Jayne Reid. Two days ago, a PW-5 took off with one aileron disconnected. The glider pilot figured out what was wrong after it was too late to release and land straight ahead. Since the glider was controllable on tow, the pilot decided to hang on for some altitude and time to think. After discussing the situation by radio with the tow pilot, the two of them decided to make an approach to a landing while still on tow. They descended at low power setting and full spoilers on a long final approach, and three feet above the ground, the glider released and made a normal landing.

Afterwards, all observers and commenters agreed that it was the right thing to do (to stay on tow). The general consensus is that a stable situation is better than an unpredictable situation.

I wonder what would have been the outcome if this had happened at Post Mills. We don't have radios (not all gliders here have radios, either - they were lucky). Should there be a tow signal for this situation? It seems that this mishap would be more common than a release failure, for which we do have a signal. Definitely something to think about. Comments invited.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Name that club member

Some club members show up at the field less often than others. I wonder how many of our currently active members recognize this guy.

Friday update

Sunday looks like a better flying day than Saturday. This is fortunate, since more members will show up on Sunday at 10am to help pack up for Wave Camp.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Weekend update, 9/15 & 16

Saturday was rain all morning and the sky cleared at about 1:30 right behind the cold front but really too late to get things started and was pretty windy anyway.

Sunday was a great day for the Tunbridge Worlds Fair so I didn't arrive to tow till about 2:30 and then Tom, Skip, Pete and Steve all had 4 hour flights to round off a perfect day.

Skip took this photo:

Friday, September 14, 2007

Friday update

This blog's track record for calling the weekend weather has been poor. This weekend's weather looks iffy at best. Let's hope I'm wrong again.

Tony had a nice 2-hour flight yesterday in PM.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Weekend Report September 8 - 9

The cold front slowed down, giving us a full day of flying on Saturday, and a washout on Sunday (both unexpected).

Andy took a day off on Saturday: Keith towed and Rick instructed. There was some lift in the middle of the afternoon, but the day's emphasis was on takeoff and landing practice. At the instructor's urging, we practiced getting the skid off the ground early on takeoff, and holding it off until the end of the ground run on landing. This resulted in some longer rollouts and some gentler treatment of the Schweizer gliders. Tom H, Peter B, and Jason all demonstrated these techniques in the 2-33. In the meantime, Skip practiced touchdowns in PM, and Pete D flew 3J. As if to illustrate the need for gentler treatment of the gliders, Sonny showed up late in the day to take measurements for new skids for both 1-23s.

After we cancelled the cookout Saturday morning, Petey and Mary conspired to put on a party at Petey and Peter's anyway. Those of us who were hanging around the airport late in the day were willing to change our evening plans to attend yet another PMSC dining event.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Friday update

Saturday will start out warm and hazy and end up stormy. Sounds like a good day for lessons, if we get started early enough. The Saturday morning phone message will include information about the cookout. Sunday will be a good soaring day if it isn't too windy.

Wave Camp I

Here is some basic information about the upcoming Wave Camp at Gorham, New Hampshire:


There will be flying at Gorham from October 6 through October 14. The first weekend (October 6-8) will be organized by GBSC. The second weekend (October 13-14) will be organized by us. If you can make it on only one weekend, pick the second one.

Colonial Fort Inn (603) 466-2732
Gorham Motor Inn (603) 466-3381 *
Moose Brook Motel (603) 466-5400
Mt Madison Motel (603) 466-3622
Northern Peaks Motel (603) 466-2288 *
Royalty Inn (603) 466-3312
Top Notch Motor Inn (603) 466-5496
Tourist Village Motel (603) 466-3312
The Libby House B&B (603) 466-2271
Town & Country Motor Inn (603) 466-3315

* walking distance to airport

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Weekend Report September 1 - 3

It was a great weekend with clear weather all three days. On Saturday, Doug towed all day and good solo flights were made by Tony, Pete, Skip, and Kevin. The student pilots were Tom C, Jason, and new member Faraday. On Faraday's flight, Jason hooked up the rope and John M ran the wing, making it the first all-teenager launch of the season. When it was Jason's turn, he made a 2000 foot climb, the first real thermal climb of his career.

On Sunday, the conditions were a little weaker. Mike, Jason, and Kevin started the day by digging post holes in the back yard for a new fence for North. By the end of the day, nearly everyone was involved in the fence project. Flights were made by Tony, Pete, Tom H, Gregg, Rich and Sonny (who seems pleased with his new variometer). Gregg and Kevin served as instructors for Jason and Faraday while Rick worked on the fence. At one point, all the gliders were in the air, and we took the opportunity to mow the tiedowns. Andy towed all day. At the after-flying party, we watched a slide show of Pete's photographs. Some pictures were truly excellent, and we hope to publish them in the club's web photo archive soon. By the way, we are really getting the hang of this cookout thing. We had 21 participants, and there was food left over.

On Monday, the sky was still blue, but the thermals were even weaker. Peter B started the day with a 1-hour lesson in the 2-33, but the thermals eluded everyone else. Valiant tries were made by Steve, Skip, Doug, Tony, and Rich, with Bob D towing. After a few pattern tows, Jason made his first solo flight. Here's his picture perfect final approach:

And here is what happened next:

The guy with the bucket is Creighton. Too bad you can't see his evil grin in this photo. Laurie took the pictures. After he dried off, Jason made another solo flight (for a total of five flights for the day) and managed to stay up for about 4o minutes. Congratulations, Jason!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

New Member

Welcome to PMSC, Faraday Borg! Faraday had a couple of flights with us a year ago, and now she has officially joined the club. She has been interested in gliding for a large fraction of her entire life. Faraday is 14 years old.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Friday update

Good weather is forecast for the long weekend. No one has reserved any of the gliders for cross-country as of dinnertime Friday.

Tony had a nice local flight last week, earning about 80 OLC points.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Man of many accomplishments

The latest entry in Tony's long list of accomplishments this summer is his first flight in PM. He did everything right, with the exception of finding lift. Maybe tomorrow he'll stay up.

Weekend Report August 25 - 26

Two days separated by a severe thunderstorm. The prefrontal weather on Saturday was hot and hazy. Even standing around waiting for a tow was diffiult. The students (Eugene, Jason, Peter B) get full credit for showing up and dragging the reluctant instructor out. The thunderstorm that night knocked down trees and took out the electrical power in Post Mills. Fortunately, there was no aircraft damage. We had our first candlelight cookout of the season.

Sunday was cooler and overcast all day. Peter B made his first unassisted flight in the 2-33.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Friday update

The forecast for tomorrow isn't promising. Hot and humid with a good chance of storms at the end of the day. Flight instruction will be available, but it may turn out to be a day better suited for swimming in the lake. Bring your kayak. BYO cookout at Rick's following whatever turns out to be the day's activity.

A cold front (probably a noisy one) will go through Saturday night, and Sunday's weather will be good. As a matter of fact, the forecast for the first half of the week indicates some good flying possibilities. Tows will be available.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Weekend Report August 17 - 19

The weekday slackers struck again. Tony and Rick took off for parts unknown on Friday. The 1-23 and Silent chased clouds downwind to Franconia without too much trouble, but getting home was a different story. Tony got low on the way to Mt. Moosilauke and wound up landing at Dean. Rick didn't make it either, having to resort to the iron thermal for the last mile back to Post Mills. While awaiting his aeroretrieve, Tony spent some time with Everett Rowley, one of the Dean airport commissioners. Everett is 89 and had some good stories about flying Ford Trimotors. When it came time to leave, our new friend volunteered to run Tony's wing. He did a great job on his artificial knees, wingtip in one hand, cane in the other. With an attitude like that, he'll probably outlive us all. Tony's flight is published here.

I'm not sure what happened at Post Mills on Saturday. Not much, I think. I was at Lebanon for Airport Awareness Day. Other club members in attendance were Sonny, Gregg, Jason, and Charlie Z.

We had about a dozen flights on Sunday. In addition to Tony's flight test (see previous post), flights were logged by Skip, Rich, Mike, Thomas, and Jason. Peter Betts helped out all day, but did not get a chance to fly. We need more towpilots!

Private Pilot

The roster of student pilots was diminished by one yesterday. Tony Moehrke passed his flight test, adding the glider rating to his Private Pilot certificate. Our FAA examiner, Bill Stinson, showed up at around 10am, talked things over for about an hour, then accompanied Tony for three flights in the Blanik. The result was a new ticket (not really a surprise), and an ovation from club members on the field. Tony celebrated by taking family members for rides for the rest of the day.

Not to detract from Tony's accomplishment, but the best part of the day for me was the deer-in-the-headlights moment when Bill turned to Sonny and told him that he was next.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Thursday update

We expect the towplane to be returned to service today. It might be a good idea to call to see if we're flying on Saturday, just in case.

We will have at least one glider on display Saturday morning as part of the open house event at Lebanon Airport. Contact Sonny if you want to participate.

The ground school class, originally planned for Sunday morning, has been called off due to a scheduling conflict. Click here to discuss rescheduling.

Looks good both days, with possible overdevelopment in the afternoons. It will be cooler than average.

Website updates

The PMSC members only website has been updated to include a link to this blog as well as a few other minor updates.

Note that all members are encouraged to update information on the web by collecting and revising those documents and then sending to me, and I will do the actual upload.

Thanks and feedback is welcome.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Carb update

I've been consuming too many.

The L-19 carb has been reinstalled, all the assorted fittings that we could find in the dark reattached. It just needs a looking over and the cowls installed. A big thanks to Bob, Rick, and Andy for flying information and the carb back and forth between Post Mills and Montpelier. Also thanks to those who sacrificed domestic credits on Sunday to hang around and take apart the L-19. And thanks to Andy, Ryan, Andrew and Andy for helping put it back together.

Radio Ground School - Postponed

Due to scheduling conflicts, the ground school class originally scheduled for this weekend has been postponed until further notice.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Weekend Report August 11 - 12

It was a good news/bad news weekend.

We had a good flying day on Saturday with useable lift to 4400 feet. Tony had a long flight in 3J, but his flight recorder failed (battery disconnected). At the end of the day he made two more flights in the Blanik in preparation for his flight test. Skip flew PM. Pete and Thomas seemed to enjoy standing around all day.

During the preflight inspection of the towplane Sunday morning, Bob D noticed fuel dripping out of the carburetor. Flying was cancelled. The carburetor is now in the shop in Montpelier, and we are hoping for a quick repair. Stay tuned.

And back to some good news: we have a new member. Jason Cohen joined the club as our newest Youth Member, just in time to witness the grounding of the towplane. Welcome, Jason!

Sunday, August 12, 2007


If your name is not on this list:
Alex, Amy, Andrew, Andy, Andy, Bob, Carol, Christina, Deb, Debbie, Ella, Emma, Hans, Jane, Janet, Jenny, Jill, Judy, Karl, Kevin, Lynne, Marsha, Mary, Mike, Nathan, Olivia, Paul, Pete, Peter, Peter, Petey, Rich, Rick, Sue, Sue, Thomas, Tim, Tom, Tony

you missed the PMSC culinary event of the season. Last night, Judy and Andy put on an after-flying party that surpassed all others and could not have been more enjoyable. The weather was perfect for outdoor dining. Lobsters, steaks and corn-on-the-cob were served (served!) to appreciative diners seated at tables in the front yard. Contributed casseroles, salads, beverages and desserts were to be found indoors. Conversation was lively with topics ranging from flying to fashion.

The evening was topped off with the blueberry pie competition. At first there was some controversy over what constituted a "pie," but that was quickly set aside, and entries were accepted from Marsha, Mary, Rick, Debbie, the Dodds, Andy G, and North the Dog. A further complication arose when the judges realized that it was not physically possible to sample all the pies after that sumptuous dinner. In the end, everyone was declared a winner. There were no protests.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Airport Awareness Day

A week from today, Saturday August 18, is Airport Awareness Day at the Lebanon, NH airport. The Silent will be on static display. If you are interested in bringing more gliders, or in helping out in any way, contact Sonny.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Friday update

It looks like good soaring conditions for both days this weekend, with the difference between Saturday and Sunday too close to call. Pilots interested in XC attempts should contact Rick today.

Saturday evening's cookout will be the annual Lumruss lobster feast. If you are planning to come, and have not yet notified Judy, email her today. Side dishes and soft drinks will be provided, otherwise it's BYOB and BYO$. If you happen to have a fresh-baked blueberry pie in your kitchen, be sure to enter it in the contest.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

ACE Camp

The 2-33 is at Middlebury, Vermont for a couple of days. On Thursday, it will be used (along with the New England Soaring Association 2-33) to give introductory rides to 35 kids aged 11-14, as a part of this year's ACE Camp. Our glider will be home Thursday night.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Weekend Report August 4 - 5

As seems to be the pattern this year, we had two completely different weather days this weekend. Also, as usual, I got the forecast wrong.

Saturday was a low-turnout day due to the hot weather and instructor shortage. Knowing that it would be a slow day, Doug traveled to Post Mills anyway and made two tows. Pete and Skip were the beneficiaries, with flights of a few hours each. It was hot. The smarter members of the club went kayaking on Lake Fairlee instead of flying.

The weather was cooler and the conditions were weaker on Sunday. Skip and Pete came back for more, but found that it was a struggle to stay in the air. On Tom Cooch's fifth flight ever, he made an unassisted climb of about a thousand feet . Doug towed again, and this time he got a chance to fly the 1-23 at the end of the day. Evan accumulated 134 km in one of those "long local" flights in PM.

There was no cookout this weekend. Perhaps we were saving our socializing for the annual Postflight Lobster and Clam Bake in Lyme on Saturday, August 11. New this year: a blueberry pie bake-off, to be judged by a select committee of glider pilots. I'm not sure if there will be a pie eating contest, but if there is one, count me in. Stay tuned for details.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Friday update

The weather for the weekend will be flyable both days, with Sunday looking a little better than Saturday. Due to an unlucky combination of vacations, work, and injuries, we will not have an instructor for Saturday.

Solo flying only on Saturday, August 4.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Weekday slackers

Tony and Rick had a couple of 4-hour flights on Tuesday, July 31.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Weekend Report July 28 - 29

We didn't fly on Saturday, due to low ceilings and intermittent rain. Pete and Sonny worked on the 1-23 trailer lights and the Blanik.

I don't have any idea why the weather was good on Sunday. The forecast was completely wrong, and I fell for it. While I was making other plans for the day, the weather skeptics showed up and made about a dozen flights. Bob and Nancy split the towing duties, and Gregg and I instructed. Tony had to give up a save-in-progress to get me back on the ground to meet an afternoon obligation. Sorry, Tony.

I don't have too much else to report, since I really wasn't part of the operation yesterday. It was nice to see it run smoothly from afar.

SAFETY REMINDER: When you take an instrument out for servicing, don't forget to leave the remaining instruments hooked up properly for flight. Ask Sonny for details.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Weekend Report July 20 - 21

What a difference a day makes!

Outstanding sky full of cumulus, lots of optimism, but no lift. We had 12 flights, but no one stayed up. We stood down for an hour in the middle of the day for a funeral. I have no explanation for the lack of thermals. It was such a strange day that we didn't even have a cookout.

An absolutely frabjous day. 11 flights. You had to look for sink to get back down. PM flew three times, with Mike reaching 7500 feet at 5pm. Tony and I easily flew to Chelsea and back in the Blanik, and after numerous attempts, including one yesterday, Skip finally made his Silver Distance flight to Franconia:

Pete flew formation with a 1-26, a 2-33 and a hawk. Keith towed all day, aeroretrieved Skip, and then he and Sherry hosted an unplanned cookout just down the road. The operation ran safely, efficiently, and fairly under the leadership of the DO tag team of Tony and Pete. It was the kind of day you dream about all winter.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Weekend Report July 14 - 15

We had a pretty good half-weekend.

Please introduce yourself to our latest new member, Tom Cooch. Tom was recruited by Tom Hopper. We now have 3 Thomases to keep straight, in addition to the four members who could plausibly be called "Petey."

The 2-33 was the busiest glider on the field, just like the old days. Soaring conditions were good at the beginning and the end of the afternoon, with a lull in the middle. During the lull, we were visited by two friends from Sugarbush, Bob Messner and Buddy Duncan in a Ventus and a Discus. After demonstrating how to do off-field landings and saying hello, they took off and disappeared. The best flight of the day was in the Blanik: Nancy and her sister Sue showed the guys how it's done.

Another good one, with twelve adults, two young adults, five kids and two dogs. Thanks to all who provided food and beverage. Christina Chow got both the "best dressed" and "most improved frisbee tosser" awards.

Rained out.

In light of the recent surge in the number of student pilots, we have decided to reinstitute the Duty Officer position. The DO is the person on the ground who is in charge of operations. We have gotten away without a formal DO for a long while, but we can no longer expect the towpilot or instructor to keep track of what is happening on the ground. On Saturday, Tom Hopper volunteered to be the DO, and he did a great job. Everyone else learned how tiring the job can be. Tom wore out before he got a chance to fly. Thanks, Tom.

There will be a Board of Directors Meeting in the back yard of King Arthur Flour in Norwich at 6pm on Monday 07/16/07.

If you want to know who will be towing and instructing on a given weekend, go to: http://www.my.calendars.net/towpilots

Towpilots and instructors: PLEASE keep the calendar up to date. It really helps weekend planning to know who is available.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Weekend Report July 6 - 8

Was anyone else glad that we didn't have this weather last weekend?

Gordon and Nancy retrieved the last glider from Franconia, and Rick brought the towplane home.

We had a flurry of activity, but not much flying. An impressive group of volunteers showed up to reassemble the Blanik and 1-23. Unfortunately they didn't get started in time to fly before the rain hit. It was interesting to watch the gliders being assembled from the air. Pat and Eugene had instructional flights in the 2-33 until we got rained out at about 3pm.

It was another one of those "unrelated to flying" cookouts: of the attendees (Kevin, Jill, Olivia, Nathan, Peter, Petey, Creighton, Lisa, Rick, Mary, Mike, Keith, Sherry), only one had been in the air that day. The conversation was consequently interesting. The food was excellent, overabundant, and highlighted by an outstanding collection of cheeses provided by Creighton.

Pretty good show at Post Pond in Lyme. Nathan fell asleep. Suggestions to strap him down to the roof of the car for the drive home were met with disapproving looks from Jill.

Totally washed out. Pete Dodd spent the afternoon working on the 1-23 trailer lights...in the rain. He's nuts.

1. Trailer Expertise
For all the obvious reasons, we do not attempt to assemble or disassemble any club glider without at least one "expert" present. It is a club rule that no XC flights will be authorized without at least one expert in the crew. At Franconia, it became clear that we need more experts on Blanik trailering (I can name only 4 off the top of my head; two of them are usually busy towing). All members, and especially Blanik pilots, should make an effort to learn how to lead a trailering operation. Gregg thinks we should have a trailering ground school day -- no flying, just assembly/disassembly. He may be right. The problem is less acute for the 1-23, and non-existent for the 304.

2. Duration Flights
Twice this year, we've experienced this strange situation: a pilot takes off with permission from the D.O. to stay up for longer than the normal 1-hour limit. A means of communication for summoning the glider is established. Someone else shows up wanting the glider, but never learns that the glider is subject to being recalled and never expresses his wish to fly the glider. The glider stays up all day, and the second pilot is frustrated, for no good reason. Sometimes communications between two people standing next to each other on the ground is more difficult than communications between the glider and the ground. If you want to fly, speak up!

3. Use of radios
The Franonia encampment benefited from the use of radios. It is time to revisit our radio policy, which is controversial. What isn't controversial is that not many members know how to use them properly. Please give the BOD your opinion on spending money on radios, and stand by for an announcement of a ground school class on their proper use.

4. Dues and Tow Fees
Sonny sent statements to everyone last week. As a result, overdue dues have begun to trickle in. To everyone who has kept their account balance in the black: thank you. The club's survival depends on three things: volunteerism, money, and weather. I can complain about all three, but I can nag you about only two of them.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Weekend Report June 29 - July 4

A six-day weekend. Probably a record for us.

Nancy drove the 304 to Franconia. Thanks, Nancy!

The work crew consisted of Gregg, Tony, Creighton, Skip, Nancy, and Kevin. We put two gliders and a golf cart on trailers and collected all of our stuff from the garage. Creighton drove the golf cart to Franconia (on its trailer, that is). Kevin and Gregg get extra volunteer credit for providing labor and childcare simultaneously.

Nancy and Skip showed up early to fly gliders from Post Mills to Franconia. Tony, Gregg, and Rick constituted the crackerjack crew. Despite the good forecast, conditions were tricky, with widely spaced thermals that were difficult to work down low. Both of our intrepid pilots took two tows, and both were unable to get away from Post Mills.

After officially calling it off, Nancy's crew Tony gave it a shot, taking off in the Blanik at around 3pm. Tony made it halfway, landing at Dean Memorial. All three pilots used excellent judgment in their respective attempts.

Saturday was the worst day of the season for Evan and Paul. They showed up on Sunday, having missed the best soaring day I have seen in several years. The ridge was working all day, and thermals were strong before 10am. Andy aerotowed the Blanik the rest of the way to Franconia, and when he arrived, he learned that Champ the dog was missing back home. Judy alerted the neighbors before heading to Franconia with all the fixin's for a major cookout. Back at Franconia, Steve knocked off his Silver Duration (5 hours), landing a little after 3pm. We probably could have done two back-to-back 5 hour flights on this unbelievable day. Our towplane made 20 tows (thanks, Bob!). In what has become an annual Fourth of July tradition, the Franconia towplane broke down, and we towed a few of their gliders while they were fixing it. We had to force ourselves to stop flying at around 6:30pm in order to attend two (count 'em, two) cookouts.

With only a couple of days notice, we found out that we were invited by the Franconia Soaring Association to an after-flying cookout on the field. Of course, this conflicted with our annual party at the Westwind Cottages. With zeal I haven't seen since my fraternity days, a few partygoers were able to race back and forth between the two events. We have noted that we will make a better effort toward coordinating social activities with FSA next year.

Our annual feast at Arethusa was better than ever (Bravo, Judy!). We kept business to a minimum, and the only low point was when Andy made a tasteless announcement regarding the defacement of a noble airplane. He gave the distinct impression that he condoned the behavior of a grafitti artist, who was never named. The only fireworks we saw this year were the sparklers wielded by Jane, Ella, and Andrew. We had done so much flying and partying that we didn't feel the need for a trip to the Mount Washington Hotel this time around.

The best part of Sunday was the news that Champ the dog was found. He had followed some hikers on the Appalachian Trail and wound up at a lodge on Mount Moosilauke. The hikers kept him overnight and then escorted him back to civilization. Judy and the kids went to fetch him, and he spent the rest of the encampment with us at Franconia. Our weather was mostly yucky, with low ceilings, occasional rain, and partly obscured ridge tops. We managed three flights, but most of us (including Champ the dog) took it easy. Much shopping was accomplished this day.

This was a work day for many of us, and our numbers were noticeably reduced. The Lumruss contingent went home, remembering to take Champ the dog with them, but forgetting to take Nanook the stuffed dog (who has since been retrieved from Westwind management). We had two periods of good weather, with rain showers and naps in between. We were visited by Sugarbush friends Dave and Barbara Ellis during the interlude. Dave did not have a good excuse for not bringing a glider. During the second half of the day, Skip made his best flight so far in the 1-23. Gregg served as instructor of the day. Gregg also managed to get a good flight in the 1-26, proving that you can indeed instruct and have fun on the same day (just kidding). Paul (LS-4) and Creighton (1-23) both landed out on local flights. Herb Weiss, who is not even a member of our club, went on BOTH retrieves (Thanks Herb!). Paul's crew went out to dinner on the way home. It was uncharacteristically quiet around the cottages Monday evening.

Very good weather, but not as spectacular as Saturday. We made 15 flights. Gregg instructed again, but didn't quite leave enough time to fly his 1-26 (Thanks, Gregg!). Pete got his Franconia field check and flew the 1-23 a couple of times. Creighton and Paul both landed out again. At least this time Paul was on a cross-country flight. He flew to Twin Mountain, Morrisville, Post Mills, and wound up landing at Dean Memorial. One more thermal and he would have made it back. Creighton, on the other hand, was on a local flight - this time in the Blanik. After whatever it was went wrong, he made a picture perfect landing in a beautiful field in Lisbon, New Hampshire. The retrieve was straightforward after the crew was fortified by an all-expense-paid raid on the Brick Store in Bath (Thanks, Creighton!). Paul came home in style, with an aero-retrieve (Thanks, Nancy!) A bunch of tired, happy, brain-dead glider pilots celebrated their accomplishments with a late night impromptu dinner at Erebus (Thanks, Mary and Marsha!).

This was the last scheduled flying day of the encampment. In view of our previous successes and the forecast (overcast, south wind), we decided to pack up a few hours ahead of schedule. Actually, it was a plot on my part to get rid of everybody so I could go flying in the Silent. As of this writing (Wednesday evening), only the L-19, Blanik (on its trailer), and Silent are left at Franconia.

This year's Franconia encampment was probably the best ever. We made 55 tows (including retrieves and ferry flights). I wish I knew how many hours we flew. Paul had 8, Steve 7, and Evan had about 12 in PM. We kindled some new enthusiasm for mountain flying (Tom, Pat, Pete), cross-country flying (Nancy, Skip, Tony), and crewing (all of us). We were also delighted to see the reactivation of Paul and Petey as flying members, and it was especially great to see Sonny flying and not working so hard helping others to fly.

I can't think of much to complain about with regard to this year's Franconia adventure. If you weren't able to make it, my condolences!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Weekend Report June 23 - 24

All the gliders have passed their annual inspections. Thanks to all who helped on Saturday morning.

Saturday was tricky. There was too much wind for instruction, almost too much for flying. It was gratifying to see several members realistically assess their abilities in the face of a 10 knot crosswind. We had just 3 flights. On one of them, Paul Natkiel returned to active flying status with a 2 hour battle with the wind in the Blanik.

The cookout, lightly attended due to the discouraging flying conditions, was fun nevertheless. Food and drink were provided by Nancy, Mary, Marsha, and Sue Marsha. Topics of conversation included why men are so bad at providing food, and included an interesting review of a magazine article. I miss the days when all we talked about was flying :)

An interesting day. Weak, widely-spaced, but high thermals, exactly as forecast by Pete Dodd and Tony, our newest weather gurus. Evan had a couple of hours in PM, and Pete finally got to fly the 1-23 he's been restoring. We had plenty of tow pilots and instructors, so I went flying myself. Thanks, others, for the "CFI Care."

1. We seem to be losing sight of our objective of operating efficiently. Let's make a bigger effort to think ahead to the next tow, keep the golf cart moving, parking gliders in takeoff order, etc. We had a big delay on Sunday when the golf cart ran out of fuel.

2. The log sheet is very difficult to read. I know it's hard to fill out a form on a high-speed golf cart, but have some pity on the club secretary and treasurer, who have to make sense of what happened. If you make a mistake, cross out the entire row and start over in a new row. Also, let's start identifying the gliders by the competition ID (the big numbers on the tail), whenever possible. This will avoid ambiguities.

3. If you haven't already done so, please let Andy know what days you will be attending the Franconia encampment, and whether you will be there for the party on Saturday night. It is not too late to participate in this survey. An accurate roster of attendees really helps planning.

In case you haven't heard, we will be flying at the Franconia, New Hampshire airport from June 30 through July 4. No flying at Post Mills on those days.

Several members have volunteered to move gliders and equipment to Franconia for next weekend. Stay tuned for assignments. The long term weather forecast for Friday looks good. The Blanik and both 1-23s could soar there. This is encouraged. If you're not an XC pilot, volunteer to crew for someone. If your car has a trailer hitch, do not depart for Franconia with an empty hitch. Check with Gregg, Andy, or me for the current trailer-dragging plan.

Contact Rick if you have any questions about any of this.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Weekend Report June 16 - 17

It was a pretty quiet week in Post Mills, my home town...

We had a decent weekend of flying, not great. We had 11 flights on Saturday, with Tony sharpening his skills in preparation for his flight test and Tom beginning his transition to the Blanik. A few people showed up and didn't fly. I'm not sure if this was due to the weather or to missed opportunities. Members (especially students) are reminded that we could be starting much earlier. It is easy to get three lessons in a day if you show up early. On Sunday, we flew as much as weather would allow, which was just 4 flights. Sonny had a nice flight in the second-most-beautiful 1-23 in Post Mills.

The cookout featured a motorglider in the backyard undergoing repairs, good food, and rain. Gregg gets credit for buying the beer. Somebody else's turn next time.

The 1-23 ailerons are sealed and the electrical system is installed (see #4, below). Radio and oxygen are next. Also, it could use some sound baffling/blocking in the rear fuselage. The Blanik has been waxed and it now sports some high-tech wingtip skids. Thanks to Tom and Pete for volunteering beyond the call of duty.

The club uses only one battery type and one battery connector. All gliders, present and future, use the standard battery. All privately owned gliders use the club standard battery, with one exception. Paul Natkiel's LS-4 uses a different battery (long and skinny). Do not attempt to use Paul's battery in any club glider! Let's all put pressure on Paul to convert his batteries to the club standard connector.

Several gliders will undergo their annual inspections on Saturday, June 23. This will take most of the day, and we are looking for volunteers to help lift wings, move trailers, etc. Show up early, please.

Volunteers are needed to fly, tow, or drag gliders to Franconia. for the so-called 4th of July weekend. Soaring of club gliders from here to there is encouraged. Cubs and Champs are available for pilot retrieves. Contact Andy or me about this if you are interested.