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

Quiz

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…

RR

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.

Weather

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.

WBD: OK.
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.

RR

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...

RR

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

Punt

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:
A BROAD AREA OF LOW PRESSURE STRETCHING FROM THE EASTERN GREAT LAKES INTO THE MID ATLANTIC STATES...WILL STRENGTHEN AND CONSOLIDATE OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS...AS SUPPORT IN THE MIDDLE AND UPPER LAYERS OF THE ATMOSPHERE GETS BETTER ORGANIZED TO OUR WEST. CONSEQUENTLY WE WON'T BE SEEING ANY GREAT IMPROVEMENT IN THE WEATHER UNTIL THE WEEKEND IS ALMOST OVER.

A CONTINUED ONSHORE FLOW WILL PERSIST ACROSS ACROSS MAINE AND NEW HAMPSHIRE TONIGHT AND THURSDAY AND KEEP LOTS OF CLOUDS OVER THE AREA...WITH COOLER THAN NORMAL DAYTIME TEMPERATURES. MORE DRIZZLE AND FOG WILL DEVELOP TONIGHT.

BY LATE ON THURSDAY...LOW PRESSURE WILL BE TAKING SHAPE JUST OFF SOUTHERN NEW ENGLAND...AND MOVE NORTH AND EAST THROUGH NEW ENGLAND...TO BE NEAR MAINE'S ROOFTOP BY LATE FRIDAY. A STEADY RAIN WILL BREAK OUT THURSDAY NIGHT...AND CONTINUE INTO FRIDAY....AND SOME OF THIS RAIN WILL BE HEAVY. AS THIS STORM LIFTS TO THE NORTH LATE FRIDAY...HEAVIER RAIN WILL MOVE AWAY WITH IT....BUT COLDER AIR BEING DRAWN IN FROM THE WEST COULD CREATE A LITTLE OF THE WHITE STUFF ACROSS THE MOUNTAINS. LOW PRESSURE IN THE THE MIDDLE AND UPPER PORTIONS OF THE ATMOSPHERE WILL LINGER INTO SUNDAY...AND THAT'LL HELP TO KEEP THINGS COOL AND GENERALLY CLOUDY AND SHOWERY UP OVER THE MOUNTAINS...BUT THE FARTHER SOUTH ONE PROGRESSES...THE BETTER THE CHANCES ARE ONE MIGHT SEE A LITTLE SUN...ESPECIALLY SUNDAY. DRIER AIR FINALLY MOVES IN FROM THE WEST TO BRING BETTER WEATHER TO START OFF THE NEW WEEK.
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.

RR

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

SSA

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.