Friday, June 27, 2008


It's official, finally. Congratulations to Evan Ludeman for winning the Region One contest in the combined 15-meter and Standard Classes.

The 2008 New England gliding champion is a member of your club. Shake his hand the next time you see him!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Experience is what you get...

When you don't get exactly what you wanted.

John Boyce demonstrates the proper way to cultivate a corn field with a standard class glider, somewhere near Stockbridge.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Weekend Report June 21 - 22

We had a good day of flying on Saturday.

The weather was interesting. There was good lift above 4000 feet, but it was quite tricky getting up there. It suddenly ended when the rains came at 4pm. There is no solace in the realization that the rain showers are "widely scattered" when it's raining where you're standing (or flying).

Before the cooldown, Steve, Tim, Tom, Pete, Faraday, and Sonny had decent soaring flights. Faraday made her first sustained climb in the Blanik. She thought it was pretty cool that you can make a 1000 pound machine climb using just solar energy. Her instructor agreed.

After the rain, Jon took advantage of the really smooth air and made his first unassisted complete flight from takeoff to landing. Congratulations, Jon! At the very end of the day, Rich went looking for signs of reheating, and was able to stay up for a while in 3J.

A few of us got a chance to practice circling with other gliders as the Region One contest transients blew through our area. Their task that day reads like a tour of Vermont soaring sites: Sugarbush, Post Mills, Springfield, and back to Sugarbush. That last step (back to Sugarbush) was the tricky bit. Nobody made it, and three of them landed at Post Mills. We were good hosts.

On Sunday it rained all day.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

And the winner is...

We don't know.

The contest is over, but the results won't be known for another day or so. All 24 gliders landed out, three of them at Post Mills. One of them was Evan, who retrieved himself retrieved his trailer by hitching a ride back to Sugarbush in our towplane.

The flight logs from all 24 gliders must be processed before the scores can become official. Occasionally, as happened here, everyone lands out on the last day. Some people go home directly from wherever they landed, and the scorer usually winds up spending a couple of days tracking down the data he needs to do his job.

So we'll just have to be patient.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

T8 wins the day!

Congratulations to Evan for being the 15M Class winner on Day 1 of the Region One competition!*

The day was devalued, so he got only 589 points, instead of the usual 1000. The task for today was cancelled, so he gets to enjoy another 24 hours of being Number One. Here he is explaining how he did it to Tony.

His flight log is posted on the OLC.

*And congratulations to Steve Arndt for winning the Sports Class in a Silent.


Today is the first anniversary of PMSC News.

There have been 122 posts so far, with 84% of them authored by the same guy. The website has been visited 9025 times from 53 ISPs in 13 countries.

I'll probably keep doing it for a while longer.

Baling out, the story

This morning's contest update contains more information on RR's boating adventure. And thanks to the anonymous commenter who found this picture

in this newspaper article.

Oh frabjous day!

Sometimes you do catch a break. Two fortuitous events made today celebratable (three, counting RR's lucky escape).

The first was the removal of the flywheel hub from the Silent, after over a month of pulling and cursing. It finally yielded to a special tool shipped from the factory in Italy.

As you can see from these pictures (click to enlarge), the magnets and windings are toast, but the engine is basically OK. What a relief!

The second happy event occurred when Tony put his wings into his new enclosed trailer for the first time. Despite my gloomy predictions that major modifications would be required, the wings went right in and fell neatly in place in the existing fittings. The probability of this happening is approximately zero. Tony is optimistic about getting the fuselage fitted before the Franconia encampment. I have decided to be less pessimistic.

Not a bad day.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bailing out, the sequel

Pete, Steve, Tony, Andy, Doug, Jon, Faraday (yes, Faraday), Thomas, and Rick attended the second edition of Gregg's excellent ground school class on emergency parachuting. We met at 6pm at Lebanon Airport.

Like last time, we learned the basics (Look...Reach...Pull), as well as the benefits of good preparation and sensible decision-making after reaching the ground. There is a lot more to survival than simply putting on the chute every day. As before, Gregg pointed us toward some reading materials for further study.

Unlike the last time, we didn't adjourn to the brewpub after class (as far as I know; Andy and I were compelled to get back to Post Mills before sunset).

Contest Reports

The Region One contest ran from Monday June 16 through Saturday June 21.

The day before the contest began, Sunday, was the official practice day. On the practice day a task is set, but there is no official scoring and flying the task is optional. It gives the organizers and competitors a chance to work out the bugs in the system before the actual race begins. Our guy, T8, came in third on Sunday - too bad it didn't count! Our friend Errol Drew wrote the report to SSA. The practice day scoresheet shows who's at the contest, not much else.

On Monday western Vermont experienced the same sturm und drang we suffered on this side of the state. The first contest day was consequently scrubbed. Some gliders were able to fly between the rainy periods, but it was another day that didn't count.

Tuesday's task was a trip down to Rutland and back. The official results are on the SSA website, as is the writeup. It was another difficult day. I got an email from Rick Roelke (RR) saying that his final glide was spoiled by rain. Those of you who have flown at Sugarbush know that there is no place to land for about six miles south of the field. The only option for a glider too low to make it home is Blueberry Lake, and yes, that's the option Rick took.

After splashing down, the glider floated pretty well. Rick jumped out and swam to shore, towing the glider behind him. The nearest beach turned out to be on a small island, so his troubles weren't over yet. His crew returned with boats and inner tubes, and they floated and towed the glider to the real shore. The glider wasn't damaged, thankfully, and Rick stayed up all night drying his instruments in Dave Ellis's vacuum chamber.

The best flight of the day in the 15-meter class was turned in by our own T8.

On Wednesday, everybody was ready to fly early, but the day was called off due to overcast and lowering temperatures. Unexpectedly, it turned nice in the afternoon, giving RR an opportunity to make a test flight in a slightly damp sailplane.

Another no-contest day on Thursday. Tony took this photo just before they called it off.

Friday: scrubbed again. An epidemic of pandiculation breaks out at the Warren-Sugarbush airport.

Finally, on Saturday, the last scheduled day of the contest, the weather gods relent. The task includes Post Mills and Springfield. Three gliders land at Post Mills, and it turns out that nobody makes it all the way around. With 24 gliders in fields and at airports all over Vermont, the results will not be known for at least another day.

Don't let this happen to you - III

Monday, June 16, 2008

Annual inspections

Bill Alby finished the annual inspections on the club gliders on Saturday, and is nearly finished with the inspections of the private fleet as well. Thanks, Bill!

It was nice to see the PW-5 and the LS 4 assembled for their inspections. I wonder if they will actually make it into the air this season!

Our airport looked like a real gliderport this weekend, with the trailers all lined up in the assembly area for the first time this year.

A pair of half-weekends

We flew on June 7th and 14th, both Saturdays. The first one was a bit frustrating, with good looking cumulus clouds and light winds, but no lift to speak of. We made about eight flights, only one of which managed to stay up. It was so hot that we quit early, and our heat exhaustion lasted through Sunday, a day of maintenance projects, but no flying.

During the week, Tony flew a few times to practice his landings and test some new instruments in 7H, and Kevin and Nathan took a ride in the Blanik.

The 14th was notable in that Jon flew his first unassisted takeoff and tow. This is a major milestone. Can solo be that far away?

Sunday was cancelled early due to drizzly conditions. It cleared in the afternoon, so we may have missed an opportunity. It turned out to be good enough to fly a practice task at the Region One contest.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Need something to do? Come to a contest!

The Region 1 Soaring Contest is being held again this year after a three year hiatus... and a lot of us (okay, a few dozen of us...) are really happy about that. Details here.

Anyone with some time on their hands and interested in an insider's peek at competition soaring... and willing to help out by crewing for me and possibly others should contact me. The principal need is for drivers in the event of an off field landing (that will be someone else, surely not me). If it were me, you'd have to be able to drive a manual transmission, but since it won't be me, it'll likely be an automatic. But there's other stuff to do as well, it's amazing how many hands it can take to safely and efficiently move 30+ gliders around on one little airport safely and efficiently.

Attendance gets you dinner accompanied by guys who wear funny hats and unstylish sunglasses by day and tell improbable stories by night. The competition clinics by Doug Jacobs are also excellent and 90% of what is covered is germane to XC flying generally.

Dates are 6/15 - 6/21. If you are a maybe or can only make part of the week, that's fine, contact me (see member list for contact info) and we'll see what we can work out.


Four in a row

The weekday slackers strike again!

Tony, Tom, Mike and Steve showed up for our fourth weekday operation in a row. Eight flights today almost make up for the lost weekend. Steve scored some OLC points in PM, Tom (3J) celebrated the new tow rates by making four flights, and Mike and Tony disappeared for an hour or so in the Blanik and 7H, respectively. John, Gregg, and Ursula ran ropes and drove the golf cart all afternoon.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Airspeed calibration...

Although there was no flying on this wild Sunday afternoon, some of us started fine tuning our instruments in order to be ready to collect more OLC points. With the help of Rick's scientific setup, quite many feet of instrument tubing, and a little bit of water, we concluded that ZP's airspeed indicator reads 56kts for a dynamic pressure of about 2'' of water, and 96kts for a 6'' water column. It turns out that this is amazingly accurate. The theoretical values are 55.447 and 96.037kts for 2 and 6 inches of water!! ZP certainly won't need a new airspeed indicator....

Weekend Report May 31 - June 1

A wet and wild weekend. Saturday was wet and Sunday was wild. We didn't fly at all.