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:

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 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!