Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wednesday Slackers

Having looked at the long-term forecast, Tim (PM) and Tony (7H) did the logical thing and took the day off to go flying. They joined up in loose formation and headed north. The formation proved to be too loose, however, and soon they were on their own. Tony turned around just short of Dean and found the conditions in the river valley not to his liking. After two heroic saves, including one over "Kevin's Field," he dribbled home. Only after hearing his story did I realize that neither of his trailers is at Post Mills. Brave or foolish, you decide. Tim stayed up longer, didn't go quite as far, and made a perfect spot landing. Both flights are on the OLC.

Later in the day, Mike showed up to fly 3J, but discovered during the preflight inspection that the seat back was missing. We tried cannibalizing the other 1-23, but it turned out that the parts are not interchangeable. The missing seat back remains a mystery.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

World Championships in Germany

The World Gliding Championships for the 15-meter, 18-meter, and Open Classes will take place August 2 - 16. If you want to follow along, the WGC website will have the official news and results. Of even greater interest, however, will be the US Team News Blog, which should have some pretty good daily reporting. The first report was published today. I have just now subscribed my newsreader to this feed, and I have added a link to the blog in the sidebar over there on the right.

At the end of the Championships, we'll take a survey to find out which PMSC member maintains the most interesting soaring blog on the internet.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Weekend Report July 26 - 27

The weather gods realized the mistake they made on Friday and resumed raining on us on Saturday. Actually, there was a fair amount of flyable weather between the showers. The conditions cycled between sunny and shady as the unstable air aloft generated giant clouds whose shadows always seemed to pass through our area. In between the dark periods, there was a small amount of lift.

Nathan and Olivia served as sniffers and reported nary a bump. In separate flights, Jon and Faraday took the opportunity to show off their smooth air flying skills. Tony took off seeking glory and wound up being beaten by a girl. Tom, after working all day on the 1-23 skid, tried a long tow toward a promising cloud on the outskirts of 3J's range. He couldn't make it stick. At the end of the day, the hotshots, Tim and Evan, tried it and were able to stay aloft for a little while. Sonny and Pete worked on projects. Skip spent the day polishing his trailer. It was a difficult day, but we got the most out of it. Thanks, Kevin, for instructing.

The best part of the day was the cookout at Peter and Petey's.

The Sunday weather was uniformly grey. At least it didn't rain. Determined to break the Sunday curse, we managed five flights, one of which featured Sam's first completely unassisted takeoff and tow. We were visited by Thomas' family and by John, Kathy, Ryan, and Elijah Gass. They wished us all a happy 20th birthday before they headed back to Maine.

Friday, July 25, 2008

What happens when it stops raining

A skid is replaced. A flight is made. Silent engine parts arrive. An aeroretrieve happens. Another flight is made. An inspection takes place. Andy leaves town by Champ.

A lot of activity for a weekday.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Trailer polishing

It's lots of fun. Just like whitewashing fences. If you ask nicely, Skip or Rick may let you try it some time.

Weekend Report July 19 - 20

Only two flights on Saturday and none on Sunday. On Saturday, the difference in ages between the two pilots who flew probably set a record. Sam D took his third lesson in the Blanik, and Tom H flew 3J. The lift was ragged to non-existent, and the quotidian thunderstorm put an early end to that day. Pete, Tom and Sonny assembled KX and rearranged trailers.

The Sunday weather was typical - rain all day. We haven't flown on a Sunday at Post Mills since May 25 (eight weekends ago!) We've had a lot better weather during the week this year, especially on Tuesdays.

Perhaps we should be going to church more often.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Weather to squander

How did we miss yesterday? I must have been out to lunch. Here is a report from GBSC.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Weekend Report July 12 - 13

The picnic weather continued through Saturday. Not quite hot enough to call it off and go jump in the lake, but almost. Cloudbase was low, barely 4000 feet, and the lift was spotty. The A-team (Skip, Evan, Tim) flew their fancy gliders locally, but nobody was brave enough to fly off into the murk. The rest of us (Jon, Tom, Andy, Andy) enjoyed lessons in the Blanik. It was nice having 4 towpilots on the field today. Come to think of it, it was nice just having a towplane. The installation of the new oil cooler was completed last night, thanks to you-know-who.

We were visited today by friends Rob and Christian Buck, in their Cessna 170. At the beginning of the day, we discovered that we had left the Blanik back seat cushions at Franconia last weekend. No problem. Rob and Christian flew there and retrieved them for us. We owe them! In the meantime, we flew the Blanik with the seat cushion from Tim's Champ in the back. It worked quite well, as long as you left the gear down.

We missed a chance for a cookout Saturday evening. Wait till next week!

On Sunday Tim, Skip, Tom, Thomas, and Kevin showed up, but there was no flying due to the drizzly weather. Tom patched and sanded the nose of the 2-33, Thomas and Skip worked on Blanik instruments, and Tim reinstalled the seat in his airplane.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Franconia photos

Skip has put his Franconia photos from Friday, Saturday, and Sunday on the web. My favorite is this one, taken from the back side of National Hill.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Collision of Bureaucracies

Here is an example of the FAI working dilligently to promote sport aviation around the world.
Dear FAI Members,

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List 2008 specifically prohibits the artificial delivery of oxygen, whereas the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) mandates the use of supplemental oxygen to counter the effects of hypoxia.

WADA agrees that the health and safety of our athletes is paramount and does not consider the transportation of oxygen in an aircraft to be an anti-doping rule violation.

FAI is therefore pleased to inform members that they may use supplemental oxygen in aircraft during FAI events. If you need any further information, please contact the undersigned.

With best regards,

Rob Hughes
General Projects Manager

Fédération Aéronautique Internationale
Avenue Mon-Repos 24

FAI - The World Air Sports Federation
Tel: +41 21 345 1070
Fax: +41 21 345 1077
Website :

It is also an example of the occasional brainless nonsense I have to deal with as your Alternate Delegate to the International Gliding Commission.

No flying today

In a race to get the L-19 ready for the weekend, Andy (and Andy) worked in the rain and into the twilight hours last night. (They are replacing the oil cooler. You may have noticed the towplane's above-average oil consumption at Franconia).

I just thought I'd point out that after a full week of hard work that enabled us to enjoy our superb encampment, Andy is back at it, volunteering his time to keep us flying. Much of what needs to be done around here happens behind the scenes, without recognition or fanfare.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Franconia Encampment July 3 - 7

You can tell how much we were looking forward to our Franconia encampment this year by the level of activity during the week leading up to the 4th of July weekend. Charlie and Rick dragged the 1-23 and the Silent to Franconia Tuesday morning. On Wednesday, Pete showed up at Post Mills to help pack up and work on trailers. Andy and Rich aerotowed the Blanik on Thursday afternoon, and Tim towed the golf cart. We were completely ready to fly on Friday morning, and a good thing, too. We had three perfect weather days, and we used them all.

Rick was the first to launch in the Silent, humbly accepting an aerotow from Bob D. John Good followed and the two had an interesting struggle together on the lower slopes of Cannon Mountain. Eventually the day heated up, and John was able to complete a grand tour of Northern New Hampshire and Vermont (Colebrook, Newport, Jay Peak, Mansfield, Moosilauke) in the Discus 2. Respectable XC performances were also turned in by T8, who visited Post Mills, and ZP, who wasn't carrying a flight recorder. Thomas also wasn't carrying a checklist to remind him to retract the undercarriage following release. I think that everyone who spotted him in the air that day mentioned it to him that evening.

Back home, local flights were enjoyed by Skip (JS), Andy (PM), Mike (PM), Paul (S1), and Tim (PM), all of whom had flight recorders. For some reason, none of the Blanik, 1-23, 1-35, or Silent pilots seemed to care about recording their flights. We made 23 flights in all.

The annual cookout-meeting at Arethusa started shortly after flying and lasted till the wee hours. The culinary volunteers, led by Judy, outdid themselves once again. The performance of her husband the grillmeister was slightly above average once again as well. There were 40 celebrants, including Herb Weiss and Jim David from the Franconia club.

Tony called a club meeting to order around 8pm. The only agenda item was the presentation of our annual awards. The Most Enthusiastic New Member of 2007 was Jason Cohen, whose parents were there to congratulate him. The Babs Nutt award, given for the highest altitude achieved in the previous year, went to Steve Voigt, who made it to 25574 feet on October 21.

And while the David Shapiro Trophy is not a club award, we were happy to present it to Evan Ludeman, the 2008 New England Gliding Champion. The trophy also makes a good mount for a 4th of July sparkler.

On Saturday, Paul, Evan, Tim, Skip, and Rich were able to prove where they went on a day that was consistently good. You can see Mount Washington in the photo on the left (click to enlarge). It is hard to complain about lift of 5 knots to 7300 feet. A few of us made the pylon turn around the MW Observatory, and Tony did it for the first time. We don't know where Thomas went, but from all accounts, he had his wheel retracted during the flight. Sonny proved that he has what it takes to get his Silver Duration leg by flying for 4 hours and 58 minutes in KX. Tom, Jason, and Pete had nice flights in 3J, with Tom demonstrating that you don't really need a 3000 foot tow at Franconia.

I wish I could say that we were just as careful on the ground as we were flying. We managed to poke a hole in the screen house with a wingtip, and we gave a scare to a FSA pilot by deciding to launch while their 2-33 was in the pattern.

The Saturday night cookout was an informal reprise of the night before. Mary emptied out her refrigerator, and leftovers were collected by all hands. The party was at Arethusa, of course, and someone calculated that Judy and Andy presided over about 80 meals during the course of the weekend.

There was a debate about whether to attend the fireworks at the Mount Washington Hotel, as tradition would dictate, or to roll down the hill to the newly-established and much more convenient display in downtown Franconia. In the end it turned out that the Hotel fireworks were not actually at the Hotel, and the Franconia show was at least as good. We may have established a new tradition.

Overall, Sunday's weather was excellent, but the soaring conditions were inconsistent. I saw 7 knots on the averager once, and Skip reported 10 (I think he was hypoxic at the time). There were also significant quiet periods, when you were happy to be climbing at all. Tim, Rich, Steve, and Evan all earned OLC points, but Rick did not. Jason soloed the Blanik (twice). The usual suspects flew 3J for a total of about 5 hours, which is a pretty good accomplishment in a shared glider. Thomas made a 4-hour XC flight, still without a flight recorder. It was nice to see Andy Lawrence getting back into flying shape on a 1.5 hour flight with John Good in the Blanik. It was also nice to say hello to a strangely familar looking fellow named Lane.

Tony tried to repeat his summiting of Mount Washington, but wound up landing at Twin Mountain airport. His aeroretrieve was so efficiently performed that he hardly missed any flying that day.

Flying lasted until fairly late, which meant that packing up required a lot of volunteer effort. Thanks to Charlie, Tim, and Andy Lawrence for doing the ground hauling, and to Rich and the other Andy for air hauling the Blanik back to Post Mills.

A pleasantly warm summer day, perfect for picnicking, but lousy for soaring. Our timing this year was perfect. We retrieved the last two trailers, and Thomas went out and bought a flight recorder, in plenty of time for next year's encampment.

We made 61 flights in 11 gliders. Our total time in the air must have been about 100 hours. The L-19 climbed something like 150000 feet hauling us up, with most of the tows provided by one guy (Thanks, Bob!) We were able to give rides to family members Elizabeth, Sam, Jeff, Renee, Zack, and Kelly. We had a first-solo-in-type, a first summiter, and enough OLC points to allow us to pass NESA in the standings. We renewed our relationship with FSA. The instructor got to fly (Thanks, Andy and John!) We had outstanding parties (Thanks, non-pilots!), and we were even considerate of the wildlife.

I can't wait till next year!

World Championships in Italy

The first of two World Gliding Championships scheduled for this summer is underway in Italy. We (the USA) have sent six pilots to compete, two in each of three classes (World, Standard, and Club). The US Team maintains an interesting news blog* for the folks back home. There is also an official contest website, where the results can be found. The contest will last through July 20. It is amusing to watch the launches on the webcam while having breakfast.

*It takes one to know one.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Online Contest update

We now have ten members participating in this year's OLC:
Andy, Evan, Mike, Paul, Rich, Rick, Skip, Steve, Tim, Tony
This isn't just a distributed contest. It is a good resource for saving and sharing flight logs, for flight comparisons, route planning, and viewing on satellite photos. There is a link to the club's OLC page in the sidebar.

We should strive to take a flight recorder on every flight.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Tim's new type

Congratulations to Tim for his first flight in PM today. His 2.6 hour flight makes him the ninth club member to participate in the Online Contest this year.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Weekend Report June 28 - 29

Another dud. A stormy Saturday and a drizzly Sunday.

Tim, Pete, Andy, Sonny, and John trailered a brace of 1-23s on Sunday.

Preparations are under way for the Franconia encampment. There has been some talk of soaring there in PM, but the weather doesn't look favorable.

Update: 3J is at Franconia.
Update: Blanik, L19, and golf cart have also arrived.

Here's hoping that we have as much fun as we did last year!