Sunday, December 20, 2009

We're still fixing

This past weekend Andy, Andy and Tim began clearing out the hangar we'll be using to work on gliders this winter. They're optimistic about getting the heating system working soon, and then they'll be expecting a lot of volunteers to show up.

We're still flying

After a few mechanical missteps, we now have three airplanes on skis, ready to fly. Andy, Tim, and Rick are standing by for suitable flying weather and volunteer shoveler-pusher-passengers.


On the darkest day of the year, 39 of us slid down the Lumruss driveway to arrive at an island of warmth, light, and hospitality. We gathered for the perennially outstanding feast known as Julbord – Swedish for “I dream of July.”

And what a feast! While it is a cliché to assert once again that Judy outdid herself, and despite the logical certainty that at some point it becomes impossible to make that assertion, Judy outdid herself.

The meal featured sculpted delicacies ranging from spherical to orthogonal, with origami in between. We enjoyed melon balls, meatballs, poached potatoes, spiral cut ham, folded smoked salmon, herring, various cheeses and flat breads, all of which have exotic-sounding Swedish names that Hans can pronounce, but have been forgotten by this writer. I do remember that Hans pronounced the entire presentation flawlessly authentic.

Just when we thought we could eat no more, our indefatigable hostess unveiled a fancy tablefull of cakes, cheesecakes and coffees.

If you made the mistake of not attending, you have my condolences. The way I see it, the only acceptable excuse for missing the Lumruss Julbord is to be out flying somewhere in New Zealand.

Today our hemisphere turns back toward the sun. That thought goes a long way toward fending off cabin fever, but not as far as the sight of so many friends gathered to celebrate the season.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Wave at Post Mills

The best wave day of the year may have been last Sunday. Too bad the gliders were put away. Paul and I flew in my Champ and Andy in his. Paul and I went to 11,000’ between PM and Montpelier. At times the rate-of-climb indicator showed over 1600 fpm (with the engine throttled back to produce zero sink). We probably could have gone higher, we weren't even trying. Wave windows and some lenticulars marked the wave over many oscillations. The winds were not that strong so it probably would have been easy to transition to the next crest upwind in a high performance glider. The picture (Paul’s) above shows a wave window and the backside of a lenticular. You can see the rest of Paul’s pictures at:

Here is the Skew-T for the day (sorry about the units). Wind was due west at 28 kts (14 m/s) at 9,500’ (2908 m).


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Best glide

How calm would you be if you had to fly a 17:1 glider toward an unknown night?

Watch this presentation - from AOPA.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Matt gets his commercial glider rating

Everyone please congratulate Matt for passing his check ride today.

We had a nice day for it and Tim, Pete and Christopher all showed up to help and or just provide moral support, it all came off without a hitch.

That makes how many this year?


If Ida known

We're averaging just under 15 launches per day here at winch camp in Jefferson, South Carolina. We had 44 on Monday and none since then. Thanks a lot, Tropical Storm Ida. I guess I should have stayed up north.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Late season slacking

Today was not Kevin's day as a weatherman, and Tim is glad he installed a radio in PM.

Last night, Kevin predicted morning wave conditions for today. He and Tim showed up early and helped each other prepare 89 and PM for flight. Kevin went first and took a high tow into smooth (dead) air. As he slipped back beneath the clouds he called Tim on the ground and advised against the high tow. Tim took the advice and the two spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon in thermals. Cloudbase was around 4700 feet and the lift was sometimes as strong as 6 knots.

Tim took a gamble that didn't pan out and wound up landing back home. He was off again at 2pm for another hour's flying. Kevin flew the Blanik for over three hours, which is saying something, since the entire day, sunrise to sunset, was only 10 hours long.

Tim's flights are on the OLC. Kevin's is not, because the club electronics expert put the batteries in backwards.

Mount Washington Video

As I promised in my previous post, here are 2 very nice videos from the L-19 on our flight around the observatory.

Video credit: Bill Swartz.

Monday, November 2, 2009


Congratulations to Jason Cohen for getting his New Hampshire driver's license and his Private Pilot Certificate in the same season!

When Jason joined the club two seasons ago, he was determined to become a Private Pilot at the minimum allowable age, which is 16. Today he took Bill Stinson for a couple of rides in the Blanik, and when it was over, Bill couldn't think of any reason to do the third flight. Jason met his goal by six months.

I'm sure he'd be happy to give any of you a ride before the end of the season.

If you've never seen a picture of a determined 14-year-old, here's one:

His hair is a lot longer now.

All in a single season

Here's a picture of Christopher at the conclusion of his first flight in 3J. He had a nice 50 minute flight at the end of the day today.

That makes three new types in a single season. He wants to go for four. His next objective is the big one: the Schweizer 2-33.

Mount Washington Observatory

Bill and I had a fine ride around the top of Mt. Washington after towing Jason this past encampment and this shot proves what a spectacular day it was.

We took the scenic route back to Gorham airport, video to follow.

See full size image here.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Weekend Report October 31 - November 1

The forecasters' bad luck streak ended on Saturday. They told us we would have a warm south wind all day, followed by lowering skies and rain by sunset. Amazingly, they were right this time.

Andy spent the early afternoon fixing the towplane's flat tire and leaky brake while the rest of us sat around and watched. By the time we were ready to fly, the sky was overcast and the wind had picked up. After a great deal of discussion about the forecast, we stood down and dispersed to our homes to hand out Halloween candy.

Later in the evening we reconvened at Skip and Laurie's for a nice chili dinner. It wasn't completely clear who the party-goers were, due to some very clever costumes. All I can say is that the celebrity guests included Little Red Riding Hood, Indiana Jenkyn, the Cat in the Hat, and King Arthur himself.

Sunday's weather was spectacular. The post-frontal winds were not as strong as forecast, and we were able to find the wave at the beginning and the end of the day, with thermals in between. In the early wave, Kevin (6Q) got to 8500 feet and Tim (PM) made it to just over 9000 feet, before making a round trip to Montpelier. Andy and Bill (89) had a long flight in thermals, and Christopher and Jason also made some good climbs. Perhaps the most interesting flight was made by Bill (3J) at the end of the day. He was in the air for the return of wave conditions and was able to make the thermal-to-wave transition twice, eventually reaching 9300 feet.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Squeezing in a commercial

Congratulations to Bill Swartz for adding Commercial Glider privileges to his ATP certificate today!

The flight test took all day, due to the weather. The ceiling was lower than the top of Tug Mountain until about 2pm. It rose just enough to do four pattern tows and squeeze in all the maneuvers between release and landing.

Bill handled it well and managed to avoid landing out this time.

The ground crew, Christopher and Pete, stood around patiently all day and then leapt into action as soon as flying became possible. The examiner, Bill Stinson, said we should take pride in our club spirit. We do.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

Wave Camp report October 16

Rick Roelke continues his reports:
Thursday dawned overcast and fairly low. There were signs of decent weather north of Gorham, but it was out of reach. John Good and I went on a local scouting mission to see if we could find an emergency landing spot for the ridge northeast of Berlin. We finally found something, but it was not very pretty on close inspection. By the time we got back ~14:00 Walter S had launched his PW6 and was reporting an 8kt thermal over Mt Hayes. We were getting some spots of sun on the ground, and the atmosphere was particularly energetic and leaped at the first sign of insolation. Walter was practically giddy as we went from sunlit spot to sunlit spot always able to find reliable lift.

All I had to hear was 8kts and I rigged and launched. There was no wave to be found, but once again, the scenery was spectacular. The color was beginning to fade higher up on the hills. I however, took advantage of an overly optimistic low tow, and got to enjoy the last of the bright colors up close and personal. But the real scenery was at the tops of the mountains where even the fairly low peaks had a thorough frosting. On top of the Carters, it looked like a zillion flocked Christmas trees. Working thermals, I ventured over to the Pilot range (behind the Crescent range). To the north there was the sun. It looked pretty good for XC, but there were still the remnants of a high overcast that looked to be trouble. It was also getting late in the day and the thermals were now in the 2-3kt range, so I hung around the general area. I headed back up to Berlin to view our nasty road/field landing spot before heading in…

Today, Friday was forecast to be light to moderate east winds, with the hope of perhaps some wave from the Carter range, and some soaring on the east side of the Presidentials. No one was hurrying for an early start and I needed to get something in town. Coming back to the field at 9:30 I noticed a bank thermometer that was reporting 35degs, yipes…

I rigged and launched around 11:00. I towed up the center of the valley, looking for some sign of wave, but only found some bumpy air, no organized lift. John Good had launched first and was maintaining on the spur from Madison to Pine. Giving up on my wave search, I headed over to Madison still in tow. I arrived near the top of Madison in hopes that the ridge lift would work up there, but no dice. There was light ridge but not enough to maintain; however some decent thermals started to cook and we were able to climb to 5500 before long. I explored around the east side of the Presidentials, and found light ridge lift in the NE facing bowls. Again the view was amazing. At this altitude everything was covered in white ice. There were frozen waterfalls, and even some caves with ice stalagmites hanging from their roofs. While I could climb a little, I felt I needed to be a bit higher for the ridge to really work, so I went back to Madison for another
climb and then headed directly into the Great Gulf. I was now able to get as high as the west ridge along the Gulf. Every time I would get right into the back of the box canyon, I would climb another 50 or 100 ft. But try as I may, I could not get as high as the observatory. I was at eye level with a cog train, and it looked like they stopped to watch as I worked the ridge.
I continued around to Tuckerman and beyond, but again just enough lift to maintain, so I gave up my quest for the peak. A leisurely trip back, stopping to check for lift from the Carters, finally ridge soaring the back side of Mt Hayes, headed in. By late in the afternoon, it was downright pleasant on the ground, with the east winds remaining light enough to use runway 30 for most all of the launches…

Weekend outlook…

The weather outlook has improved for tomorrow (Sat). Looks as if it may be a repeat of today. Actually it is worthy of note that where we had winds of well over 100ks at altitude last weekend, the forecast for tomorrow morning does not have winds over 10kts anywhere below 25k. Not a wave day. But there is a good chance of thermals between 11:00 and 20:00 when it may start to cloud over.

Sunday still looks to be a washout. But if tomorrow pans out, we will have flown 8 of 10 days. Can’t complain about that….
Several PMSC members showed up today: Skip, Laurie, Pete, Sonny, Andy, and Tim all had good flights. Christopher and Rick had a late day tour of the summit of Mount Washington, all in remarkably still air. The spectacular scenery almost makes up for the lack of wave conditions.

The big spaghetti dinner is scheduled for tomorrow night (Saturday) at the "Gorham house."

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wave Camp Report October 15

Here's the RR writeup for today:
Yesterday ... while it did not have adequate clearing for high flights, did provide some spectacular cloudscapes while we flew around the valley locally. For the most part we had 7/8th cloud cover, with scattered snow showers. Mostly in the form of virga. Some hit the ground, but did not accumulate at all. This atmosphere provided luminous sunbeams back in an otherwise dark valley that never opened enough of a hole to venture into the primary. There were decent thermals under all this cloud, and all the west facing ridges were working well. The tops of the Carters were frosted in snow/ice from the day and night before, so it really gave that winter wonderland sparkle when hit by the daylight.

I was flying the Puchacz with my friend Terry Sweeney, and had a great time. Unfortunately I did not have a camera with me, as there were great opportunities for photos in this alternately grey and misty cloudscape. To see some gliders lit by the sun, against the background of virga and shadow was something I will never forget.

Today, we were hoping for a thermal day, but at the moment we are still stuck with excess moisture trapped by the Whites, perhaps it will clear later today.

The forecast outlook does not bode well for high flights. We will be in the influence of a strong coastal low that will put an end to soaring south of here, but we may remain in the “clear” up here, but the surface winds will turn to the east, while the upper level winds will be from the west. There is the slimmest possibility that if that transition is below ridge top, there could be some wave, but if it happens above the peaks, then our only hope for wave flying will be in east wind from the Carters…

At this point Sunday looks like it may be wet, but it is far too early to use that info to make your plans. Wish I had better news for the outlook, but at least if there is any chance of flight in New England, it will be up here…
In fact, the sky did open up late in the day and thermals appeared over the high ground. Andy Lawrence had the best flight of the day in 3J, reaching 5500 feet over Mt. Moriah. Tom, Paul, and Christopher had nice flights late in the day. Tony caught a chill and left for Florida.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What I Did at Camp – Weekend 1, Gorham 2009

Saturday was forecasted to be rainy in the morning, clearing in the afternoon and very windy. So I debated about whether to even drag the 304 up to Gorham. I finally decide to go and got there around 1. We waited for it to clear which finally happened around 3:30. I help Evan assemble PM for his introductory (diamond) flight to Gorham (see his post).

On Sunday I flew the towplane up with Jason in tow in the Blanik, and Andy following in his Champ (to take Jason home). Jason made a perfect landing in the 25-30 mph winds with everyone watching (and critiquing). Shortly after we arrived a rain shower came through and the 7-8 gliders that were up (including Evan in PM) quickly landed in 5-10 minutes. It was nice to see how smoothly the operation went on Gorham’s single runway.

It starts to clear in the afternoon and it’s my turn in PM. I take a 2K tow to Mt. Hayes. I would have towed a little higher but everyone else was getting off at 2K so I follow suit. I work up to 5K in the thermal/ ridge/wave lift. There is strong lift but its rough, inconsistent and confusing (at least to me). The big boys are following a cloud street to the Carter-Moriah range. Its an easy trip but it’s a ways downwind, it's still blowing really hard and I am not particularly confident I can work the turbulent lift. I choose to go up wind to Pine Mtn. I can hang out there at about 5K. I move on and ridge soar a spur off Mt. Madison. I am careful not to get too far into the box canyon produce by the spur off of Mt. Adams. The spur doesn’t produce much but a least it’s an easy downwind trip to the airport if I get low. I work upwind to the spur on Mt. Adams and get down below 4K. But then I get around to the front of Mt. Adams and it’s an elevator ride to 7K and cloud base over the Mt. Washington Observatory. There are small holes in the clouds in front of Mt. Washington and I can get up about 500 ft. higher than cloudbase in the holes, but then the holes close and I have to dive out. Later the clouds in front of the mountain dissipate some and I can freely climb above the clouds in the bow wave in front of Mt. Washington (John Good had a reference that used the term ‘bow wave’ to describe the wave found in front of the mountain, Andy and I had a great flight in the Blanik above the clouds in the Franconia bow wave this summer-glad to know what to call it). I slowly work the lift to 11K over the base of the cog railroad. Now I am relaxing at 11K, listening to the radio and wondering what to do next. The big boys are at 20K behind the Wildcat ski area in what I (erroneously) assume to be the secondary wave. It sounds like they can’t penetrate to the primary because of the high winds. The clouds have cleared and I can clearly see Wildcat. I then see a glider 3-4K below me over the observatory. As I watch he turns downwind towards Wildcat. So I figure I’ll follow him. I’m way higher than he is, and my ground speed is going to be about 150 kts, how can I not find the primary? I follow a mile or two behind him. Nothing but sink, he finally turns around when he hits route 16 but I don’t find any lift. I keep going until I pass the top of Wildcat. I think I must have somehow missed the lift. I turnaround and fight my way back to the horn in a stiff headwind with heavy sink. I get to the Horn at 6K and even push passed the Horn. Nothing but sink and now I am in the rotor and it's rough. I pull the plug on the flight and head to the airport through the rotor. It's very turbulent (up and down, more than 10 kts) all the way back to Pine Mtn. where I arrive at 3K and find the trusty thermal up wind of the mountain. I half-heartedly work the thermal and relax a bit. I have just lost 8K in 13 minutes (average climb –615 fpm). That should be a record. I think “I could climb in this thermal and start all over again”. But then I think “that was enough fun for one day” so I land.

I was confused about the descent phase of my flight until that evening when Lee Blair (from NESA) shows the flight log from his diamond climb to the gathering at Good’s Glider Guiders Guesthouse (GGGG). He climbed behind the Carter-Moriah range in what was assumed (by me) to be secondary wave. His track shows that at some point he tried to push forward towards the horn and lost 4K before heading back downwind. That’s the same place I lost all my altitude. So now it was clear. From the top of Mt. Washington to the wave behind Wildcat there was nothing but sink. The wave behind Wildcat WAS the primary. Now it made sense. The wavelength was stretched out because of the high winds. In hindsight if I had just flown downwind another 30 seconds I would have hit the lift!

Monday morning was clear and the winds were still forecast to be high but diminishing during the day. The big boys started launching around 10 with their 2K tows. I was in no particular hurry and waited until the bulk of the gliders had launched. Thomas gave me the best advice of the weekend and suggested a high tow directly into the primary (“why mess around at low altitudes for 2 hours”). The big boys were joking about how paying for a high tow is like paying for sex and that it makes you feel dirty. I took a high tow anyway. The friendly Pawnee pilot towed me to the primary, told me when to release and where to go. I release at 7K msl at the horn. I was relaxing in 2 kts of lift and climbed about 700 ft. But then the lift was gone. How could I have lost the wave? I search all around but can’t find it. I lose the 700 ft I had gained. I finally broaden the search and find 1 kt behind Mt. Madison. I very carefully stay in that spot. After 10-15 minutes I have gained 1000 ft and I can start to look around. I explore the area in the Great Gulf but there is no lift stronger than 2 kts. I join Doug (T4) who took a low tow an hour or two earlier and has transitioned from thermals into the wave. We take the slow elevator up to around 18K. I never see much more than 2 kts (average about 1.5) but the wind is strong. Indicated airspeed is around 60 kts (TAS about 80 kts) just to stay in one place. I look back at Doug who is a little behind me and I see a huge lenticular cloud forming below and behind him. He puts his nose down and races away. Now the cloud is just below and just behind me and I can see the moisture violently condensing to form the cloud. I push a little faster to make sure I stay ahead of the cloud. I little later I look up and there is another lenticular forming above and behind me. I am in between (and a little in front of) two layers of cloud which are probably only about 600 feet apart. The leading edges of the clouds are just boiling as the cloud forms. It was like the lower cloud was trying to grab the glider from the bottom and the upper one trying to grab it from the top, and the glider trying to race away at 95 mph (TAS). This could have been the stuff of a recurring nightmare but PM has performance in reserve and I know I can get out of there with a push of the stick. Instead I feel like I’m teasing the clouds, just staying out of their reach.

The clouds then retreat downwind to Rt.16 and the wave subsided. I’m down to 16K so I decide to take a foliage cruise and head over to Wildcat along the Carter-Moriah range over to Berlin, up to Mt. Starr King (in Jefferson) and back to airport. You can sure get around with 15K to burn.

18K absolute altitude and 11K climb are my personal best. Both in an easy flight. Sometimes it’s ok to pay for things.

See you next weekend at Wave Camp.


P.s. there are a lot of very experience and knowledgeable pilots at the wave camp. They are willing to advise and help for the asking. I did not intend the phrase ‘big boys’ to have any negative connotations. The ‘big boys’ play well with everyone.

Wave Camp report October 11 - 13

Here's Rick Roelke's report, covering the last three days:
Tuesday was a washout, or should I say whiteout, as I awoke to 2in of snow. Although I knew it was coming, I was still not really prepared to face it…

Monday was an interesting day. Finally free of the excessive low level moisture, we had flights just shy of 18,000ft. There were good thermals, with cloud base above 7k late in the day. The winds were diminishing all day, and hence the wave started pretty good, then shut down, started up again, and finally left without a trace late in the day. We had impressive lennies at 13-15k, and at that alitude, not to be completely without our moisture problems, it decked over for a while. On my flight, I was just getting over the top of the 15k layer, only to be chased down by this solid deck. It dissipated and returned a few times.

The change in velocity from the previous two days was interesting to observe. Most notably, contacting any of the wave systems from low was MUCH more difficult this day. With the extremely high winds the previous days, the long wavelength moved the Presidential primary wave nearly back to the Carters, so it was in easy reach from that range. The Crescent wave system was stronger and closer to Mt. Hayes, my personal favorite low tow spot. In stark comparison to my 1hr diamond, it took nearly 3hrs to come in contact with the Washington wave. It was located nearly at the Horn, a bit closer to Madison. Winds were often below 20 at those altitudes.

Although there were no diamonds this day, there were several very enjoyable flights. I think the high flight was 18k, with several others above 15. We had a new to wave/Washington pilot come down with ear to ear smiles after climbing above 10k over this magnificent carpet of color. John Good, took advantage of the thermals and had a notable flight up to the NW. All in all, a good time.

A quick recall of the previous two days…

Both days were windy. It was never really bad on the ground. Noticeably windy, but mostly right down the runway. The real wind was aloft, with nearly 100kt winds at diamond height (20k). This called for vigilant position holding. On a day with this kind of wind, a wrong turn can result in thousands of feet in loss trying to work back upwind. Diamond climbs both days, with Lee Blair completing his diamond badge with a flight from a nice low start, so he could claim his diamond below 20k. Doing that was important because the winds were much stronger the closer you got to 25k.

Both days we had low (below peaks) solid overcast that broke in the afternoon. There was a "sucker hole" (it lasted perhaps too long to really fit in this category) on Sunday that ended with not only solid cover, but rain on the field. This caused a bit of a mass landing that went quite well. This has been our biggest operational concern at Gorham. With only one runway, you have to be sure you leave room for other landing pilots. This one was handled well with some pilots going quite long and all clearing the runway quickly, even if they could not pull off on the roll due to the inhospitality of the distant end of the runway. A good time had again, but perhaps not by all, as the advanced conditions did keep some wise (with the potential to grow old) pilots waiting for conditions within their comfort zones.

More flyable days to come, although it looks like the last chance for stratospheric flights will be limited to tomorrow and perhaps the next day as east winds are forecast for the weekend. Before you are discouraged, we have had lots of very interesting wave flights in east winds here. They tend to be lower, but still fun and educational (and upwind of the airport)...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Wave Camp Report October 10


Several of us launched at about 4 pm to tackle obvious strong wave in very high wind aloft. I made a two hour flight in PM from a 2800 msl release on Pine Mtn to a top of just over 18K in the Mt Wash primary. Max wind somewhere around 90 knots. Max lift about 13 knots sustained. RR went the highest, to just a bit over 20K. Tomorrow morning looks very good for dawn patrol, we expect more cloud, perhaps overcast at midday and good soaring again in the later afternoon. Fall color is spectacular.


And here is Rick Roelke's report:

Blessed with wind, plagued with moisture…

That is the story of camp so far. We had a nearly ideal wind profile yesterday afternoon, and again this morning but we had just a bit much of it. I was able to pull off a diamond climb yesterday afternoon, in just under an hour from release (2k agl) to the top of the climb at 19,700, but, nearing 20,000 ft the wind was reported on my computer at 95kts. A bit breezy… it was not too bad on the ground, we just expected that at any moment a really big gust would roll down the runway but that never happened.

We had several folks who got to 18k but ran out of daylight before making it to diamond levels due to the late clearing…

This morning we woke to a high overcast, but a big blue hole behind Washington. But in no time the whole disappeared to be replaced by a lower ceiling and drizzle. But as I type this (10:00) I see signs of direct sunlight on the ground. It is forecast to clear, but at the same time, it is forecast for the 100kt winds to lower to 16k, so it may be tough to climb in that much wind. Tomorrow looks better for sun, but less so for wave. But perhaps what we really want is a little “less so”…

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Wave Camp Wx Links

Here are some useful weather links for Gorham. Please add your favorites:

Surface progs

More surface maps

BML Sounding

Richard Kellerman's tutorial on Skew Ts -- chiefly geared towards thermal soaring (anyone have a more wave oriented ref?)

View from Wildcat into the Ravines

View of Mt Wash from near Conway

Northeast US radar

Satellite view

Another satellite view

When weather looks better for web surfing than sky surfing, might as well check out the extra-terrestrial kind of weather, too.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

CFI care

Congratulations to Gregg Ballou for adding a glider rating to his Flight Instructor certificate!

Gregg also reports that he has been flying a Duo Discus, which reminds him very little of his old 1-26.

Gregg is the instructor of our most popular ground school class. We're hoping he'll be back to present it again this winter. We may have forgotten a lot of it, and we don't get much chance to practice, thankfully.

Don't hold your breath

Have you bought your pulse oximeter yet?

We've been playing with ours. Evan has the record for lowest oxygen saturation, at 84%, and I have been able to get mine up to 122 beats per minute. But these records will probably be broken by Mr. Anaerobic when he gets his.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Name that club member

Found this by accident while searching out information on Mt Washington. Gee, that profile looks familiar....

And now that I think I've learned how to embed video, check this one out... this I hope sets the tone for the encampment, even if it was made by a GBSC guy.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Number 100

This is the 100th PMSC News post this year. Feel free to congratulate the editor in the Comments.

It isn't about gliding.

This is shaping up to be a particularly beautiful foliage season. The colors are best appreciated from altitudes incompatible with glider flying.

The Post Mills airplane pilots are always looking for an excuse to go flying this time of year. For a couple of gallons of shared expenses, Andy, Tim, Rich, Rick, Evan, or Keith would be happy to show you the world in living color.

Let's see who can come back with the photo of this year's Reddest Tree in Vermont.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Weekend Report September 26 - 27

As we all know, the most critical vehicle on the airport is not a flying machine. It is the golf cart. Last week, just in time for Pete's flight test, its transmission failed, and we have been scrambling ever since.

Charlie Zue came to the rescue this weekend by lending us his evil garden tractor, Horcrux. If the tire chains on this demonic machine don't intimidate you, the snarling engine and noisome fumes soon will. It goes at only one speed, fast, and it doesn't waste any time with gentle accelerations. The only person to tame it was John Marshall, who consequently was stuck retrieving gliders all day Saturday.

We had nine flights on Saturday, three of which were guest rides. It is difficult not to be enthusiastic about soaring over Vermont on a beautiful fall day, but the three guests (Steve, Ken, Suzanne), seemed especially happy with their first flights, and all three expressed interest in our club. Thank you Tom, Nancy, and Pete for spreading the word about our sport to your friends.

Also on Saturday, Thomas flew ZP, Pete flew 3J, and Jason practiced no-spoilers approaches in 89. It was amusing to watch the spectators run for cover as the Blanik came in sideways.

An altogether pleasant flying day, at least when Horcrux wasn't running.

On Sunday it rained.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Name that club member

And why did he bring his beach towel to the Pilots Meeting?

Extra credit: name the other club member in the photo.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Additional rating

In addition to being certified to carry 250 passengers in a Boeing 767, Pete Dodd is now fully authorized to take you for a ride in a glider!

The exam took only two flights, and Tony served as ground crew. Later in the day, Tim and Pete celebrated by sharing a two-hour flight.

Congratulations, Pete!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Everyone on the planet gets to enjoy a 12-hour day today.

At 5:18 pm the sun crosses the equator and it officially becomes Wave Season.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Weekend Report September 19 - 20

Two gin-clear late summer days with spectacular scenery but no lift.

We had four flights on Saturday and seventeen on Sunday. We seem to be in heavy test prep mode, and it is gratifying to see members selflessly helping our four potential applicants get ready for their flight tests.

And congratulations to Tom for becoming the latest Blanik PIC.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thanks for showing up

Seventeen pilots from three clubs attended the "Introduction to Wave Soaring" ground school class last night.

Andy gets full credit for thinking it up and organizing it. The seventeenth pilot to show up was Andy, who thought it started at 7pm, which was about when we were wrapping up and heading to the pub.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Gorham 2009

Most of you know that we'll be going to Gorham, NH in October to experience some "wave soaring" in the Mount Washington valley. We use mountain waves to go high and to achieve our altitude and gain-of-altitude badges and records.

Here is some basic information. Details will be distributed on the normal email list.

The encampment is a joint effort of 4 clubs: PMSC, GBSC, FSA, and NESA. The dates are October 8 - 20, and we will be based at the Gorham, New Hampshire airport. GBSC is responsible for providing a towplane on the first weekend, and we are responsible for the second. If you can make it for only one weekend, plan to come on the second weekend (October 17 -18). Our club gliders will be there on the second weekend, but they could be there as early as the first weekend if demand warrants. Tows will be available all twelve days.

The master list of attendees is kept by Rick Roelke. Here is an outdated copy of that list. If you are planning to attend, or even thinking about it, you should send your information to Rick at The current list is published on the Mount Washington Soaring Association Yahoo group, which you should join. Do this by asking Rick to sign you up when you send him notice of your intent to attend. You should also have a look at the Mount Washington Soaring Association website.

We will have an "Introduction to Wave Soaring" ground school at 6pm on Thursday, September 17 at the Signal Aviation upstairs classroom at Lebanon Airport. It will be brief, and we will adjourn to the Brew Pub afterwards. The ground school session will cover wave soaring basics, Gorham procedures, and air traffic control procedures.

If you are new to wave soaring, you should read George Hazelrigg's synopsis in the July 2009 issue of Skylines. If you are planning to fly solo, you should also read John Good's briefing document on flying at Mount Washington.

Motel rooms at Gorham have always been cheap, and we have found that last minute arrangements work better than advance reservatons. We will talk about this at the ground school, and we will update you about motel prices on the normal email list. Here is the motel list from a couple of years ago.

Tows will be expensive - get used to it.

If you have questions, put them in the Comments so that others may benefit from the answers.

Weekend Report September 12 - 13

We were rained out on Saturday, and made nine short flights under overcast skies on Sunday.

In anticipation of a couple of upcoming flight tests, we did some formalized spot landing drills. Jason and Bill both demonstrated that it's a bit harder than it looks! They'll do better next week.

Evan towed and Doug took the opportunity to get current in gliders again.

Pete Dodd is back in the area for a couple of weeks and is enjoying getting back in practice in the 1-23.

We enyoyed meeting Glorie and Pete, who drove up from Canaan to check us out, and Glorie took a ride in the Blanik after standing around patiently for half the day.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Weekend Report September 4 - 6

Our Labor Day weekend featured fun flying, fine food, and familiar faces.

The conditions were suitable for local soaring and barely adequate for modest cross-country attempts. Sunday was slightly better than Saturday, with 2 knots to 5000 feet or so.

On Saturday we had 12 flights. Tony (7H) flew the farthest, beating Andy (PM) by only 1 kilometer. Skip (JS), Sonny, (KX), and Tim (PM) had local flights. It was nice to see John Marshall, who flew with Andy in the Blanik and appears not to have lost his touch, despite a summer-long layoff. Andy also gave a ride to our new friend David McGaw who used to fly a 2-22 back in the seventies. David and Carol joined us for the cookout Saturday night.

We had 11 flights on Sunday, and we all forgot to thank Bob for making the trip here, spending his day with us, and doing all of the towing. And here's a personal plaudit for Thomas, for doing the rides and instruction on Sunday, allowing this reporter to indulge in a bit of aerial weedwhacking.

On Sunday, the regulars (Tony (7H), Skip (JS), and Andy (PM)) were joined by Rick (S2), Evan (T8), Christopher (67)*, Andy Lawrence (3J), and Janet (89). Yes, Janet! She set her bicycle aside and took a nice hour long flight with Thomas. Has it really been six years? Welcome back!

While Tony and Evan were battling it out for first place, Andy made up for his 1 kilometer shortfall the day before, by beating Rick for second place, by the same margin.

Since it was a long weekend, we had another cookout Sunday evening. The following diners:
Andy, Andy, Andrew, Charlie, Christopher, Emma, Evan, Hans, Jane, Janet, Jill, Judy, Kevin, Mike, Nathan, Olivia, Rick, Sue, Thomas
enjoyed the leftovers from the previous day, along with the usual abundance of contributions. It is notable that the parents of public school pupils are beginning to get out a little bit more these days.

We got a late start on Labor Day due to the traditional blocking of the runway by cars, fire engines, and other strange vehicles. Monday's weather, if not soarable, was perfectly cromulent for landing practice, rides, and public relations. Following the parade, quite a few spectators showed up to watch us, and at least one took a ride.

Tim (PM, 89) can claim the distinction being the first club member to make two OLC flights on the same day, and Christopher (89) kept the Blanik in the air for as long as humanly possible.

Evan towed, Andy flew the Champ, and Rick blogged. The times, they are a'changing.

*First solo in the 2-33, and first OLC flight by the 2-33.


Congratulations to Evan on becoming the latest PMSC towpilot. If you need a midweek lunch hour tow, just give him a call; he's only 90 minutes away by car.

Motorhead at Rest

Friday, September 4, 2009

Flight analysis

We had a beautiful day today, and only Matt was smart enough to go flying. I decided to analyze his flight.

Here it is (click to enlarge)

He flew from Post Mills to Moran and back. His outbound leg is the zigzag path northeast of his return leg.

His altitude is encoded in the color - blue is high and red is low. Of course, you can see his altitude more directly in the barogram, at right. He reached 5800 feet twice, at 1550 and again at 1640 EDT. The elevation of the terrrain is also indicated. With the analysis program (SeeYou), you can inspect each fix and relate each point on the barogram with the corresponding point on the map.

The program also gives you statistics. You can see from the statistics page on the left that he flew for 1:51:16 and was credited with 59.2 kilometers, even though his total path through the sky amounted to 99.8 km. (OLC, which gives you credit for zigzags, gave him 72 km). He used 16 thermals and spent 40% of his time circling. His average climb rate for the flight was 1.6 knots.

What can we learn from all this? Did he zigzag too much? Did he spend too much time circling? Could he have climbed faster? Was he lucky to get home? The answers to all these questions are subject to judgment, but if you study these statistics over the course of a season, you can draw conclusions about your flying style, compare your performance to others, and watch your flying improve. You can also earn points for the club on OLC. It's fun!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Weekend Report August 29 - 30

Saturday was a complete washout. Thank you, Hurricane Danny.

The weather was much better on Sunday, and Tim may have found some wave lift in the Champ. Andy towed Bill and Skip to investigate, and they met with limited success.

Wave season has arrived. We have been invited to fly at Sugarbush in September, and we are trying to get a measure of interest in going there. Also, we are looking for volunteers to work on the gliders and trailers this week. The oxygen systems need to be installed, and the trailer lights need some work.

It would be nice to get all these chores accomplished before it gets cold. Only 38 days left before Gorham.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Caught on tape

There was great lift all around the local environs but I had some friends coming up for an intro ride. I'm sure I could have stayed up another hour or two. I didn't know that friends Gabe & Leah, with 10-month-old Adrian would be filming me. You can hear Adrian on the video.

You're not a pilot until you take that post-solo solo: in gliders August 8 & in power (C-172) yesterday from Lebanon.

Yesterday I was 'lost' - kept thinking I was supposed to be doing something, like technique. I also was watching Brian in a balloon drifting around WRJ and Hanover. I left him over the treetops up a hill north of Hanover.

I did manage to fly out of the pattern, south, over Bill's strategically located landout zone in Hartland near the dam:

Not many of us manage to get a video of their solo landing - and this was a surprise. Critiques are welcome - in fact encouraged, as in how else can I get better? I generally try to fly level over the ground as far as possible but seemed to snag some lift for a bit.

A little hard on the tail wheel it seems ~

Weekday Slacking

Soaring on weekdays has a couple of big advantages. The chance of getting good weather is 3 times better than if you just fly weekends, and you can usually keep the club glider all day (or as long as you can keep it up).

However, there is a difference in the way operations should be run on weekdays. On weekends there is a dedicate tow pilot and he/she is there to fulfill your towing desires. You want a tow at 12:00 no problem, 2:00 no problem, 4:30 no problem... On weekdays your tow pilot(s) also wants to soar and he may want to go on a long XC. If its a booming day the tow pilot may want to transform into a soaring pilot by noon or 1:00. So in consideration of your tow pilot(s) make sure you're ready to tow early, make sure everyone else is ready to tow early (team work is important because its a small team on weekdays) and take as early a tow as practical. Don't show up at 2:00 expecting a tow (you'd probably get one anyway). Don't let your tow pilot miss out on the next booming day!

Last year (I don't know if we did it this year) we had a day or two when we had 5-6 club members in the air and no one on the ground. That was super cool! I don't think any other club in the country (world?) does that!

Call in sick...give weekday slacking a try.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tuesday slacking

Kevin wanted to do some flight testing of a camera mount today, so he arranged for a tow last night. The weather started to look pretty good, and a Slacker Alert was issued.

Tony (7H), Skip (JS), Christopher (89), and Tom (3J) took tows from Tim, and then Tim and Christopher took a tow in the Blanik from Rick. Finally, the "Free-tow Bandito" (S2) launched at 3:30pm.

The conditions were so-so, but we had a good time. Tony flew the farthest, 83 km.

The only guy who didn't fly was Kevin, whose plans changed at the last minute.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Weekend Report August 22 - 23

Total loss.

Thanks a lot, Hurricane Bill.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Motorhead redux

A hearty thanks to a lot of people - is what is next.

I've been on the 'total immersion plan' of flight training I think, booking 5 power flights a week- hoping to get 3 with weather and other interferences.

Bill asked me a few weeks back if it messes me up at all in training flying both gliders and power simultaneously. I don't think so. For me, total focus and hope to finish before I get burned out. Several days of lousy weather where I could fly 3 times with Rick with 15 minutes in between is great for learning.

I was slated to accomplish both solos in the same week, but weather and other things delayed the second one ~ as did weather today for my 1st post solo - solo. That is the real solo when I go to airport with no CFI in sight.

It seems now I can rest, relax, fly a little less and send an exploratory team into that abyss they call my bank account to see what is next- or at least how often.

My plan and focus for now is to work toward Private Pilot SEL quickly with not too much fun-time power flying eating up my resources of time, money and energy. Since Private (Glider) is not likely in one season, getting Private (Airplane) will lessen the requirements for glider check ride and accomplish that flying goal I have had since age 12 in Montauk LI where a friend I worked for - a WWII P-38 pilot sketched out for me a landing pattern and how a wing creates lift.

So ~ with two goals done, rest for a short while and continue. Home study for written test, and continue with power and fun glider flying.

I started power in a Citabria in the Sonoma Valley in CA in 2000 - at Schellville airport on a 2700 ft runway, no centerline and vineyards all around. A field of exclusively tail draggers: old Ryans, C195, and an old DC3 in the weeds. Old timers of the greatest generation with long lost licenses (and medicals) still flying - happily - hand-propping their old Ryan as I puttered along in my 7ECA Citabria.

Fast forward to March 09 at Leb - 2 lessons with Kristin Rokos, my current CFI, where Dave, in the pilot lounge, suggested I fly gliders. He recommended Springfield - I knew Post Mills would be my home. From my 1st phone call with Andy and a weekend (before I joined) they threw me in the back of the Birddog - then later in the front of the Blanik with my 1st flight with Thomas - and then in a balloon the next morning with Brian and Steve, everyone has been terrific.

I am not an easy student - I don't think - so your challenges have been before you - so a huge thanks to Andy, Thomas, Rick (& Mary), Sonny, Tim, flying ridge with Evan at Franconia, Bill, Steve, Paul, Tony et al - and whomever I have forgotten for letting me chew your ears about flying and all else.

Anyway I can't think of a better way and place to start- taildragger, wine country with Bill and Annie ~ along to gliders (& power) New England countryside and two solos - same month. I didn't get my goal of solo in a taildragger- but close enough.

And - everyone always likes to do it, but rarely does - I have a video of my 1st solo - (actually the post solo- solo) on Sat Aug 8 landing the Blanik from the south after a 1 hour plus flight in all kinds of lift - soon to post on YouTube.

Everyone- thank you for being a great group of aviators and a great support for learning flying.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


We don't normally celebrate when a glider pilot becomes a power pilot here.

But it must be acknowledged that soloing a Cessna 172 seventeen days after soloing a glider is a fair accomplishment.

What's next, Christopher?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Fortune cookies to fly by

My collection, so far:

1. "It's better to be approximately right than precisely wrong." Yeah, especially when making decisions about final glides or checking for traffic. I'm tempted to glue that one to my panel.

2. "You constantly struggle for self-improvement." That does cover a lot of ground, er, sky.

3. Maybe having spent a bit of time working on 1 & 2.... "You will be fortunate in everything you put your hands to." I guess my feet will have to get by on skill and practice.

9/15/09 update
4. You can't make this stuff up: "Your courage is like a kite -- big wind raises it higher." Hey, as long as it's tempered by common sense. Bluefield WV here I come! Could come in handy at Mt Washington, too.

Tip: eat the cookies on the ground.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Tony's flight on Saturday was the 100th PMSC flight posted to OLC this year.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Weekend Report August 15 - 16

It is definitely summer. Hazy, hot, humid weather has been the norm for over a week now. Flying has become work... but there are still rewards available once you make the effort to get off the ground.

On Saturday we had some good flights. Steve (PM), Skip (JS), Evan (T8), Tony* (7H), and Christopher (89) all put flights on the OLC. Sonny (KX) flew over to Smarts Mountain and back and made his first OLC claim, finally. Cloudbase was around 5000 feet, with higher bases in the White Mountains.

On Sunday we were defeated by extreme temperatures and humidity. Only Nancy (3J) and Steve (PM) were brave enough to fly. It must have been cooler up there; Steve stayed up for 4 hours. That makes three days in a row for Steve. He's putting time on PM at a rate that's reminiscent of Evan two years ago. Tim showed up to tow, but wound up working on the ground all day while Evan took some flight instruction in the towplane. Thanks, Tim!

Flying is fun, but the smarter move was to spend the weekend at the beach, as Mary and Sherry demonstrated. They spent the day at Wells Beach in Maine. Mary traveled by Cub. Here's a track of your reporter getting lost in the haze on a trip to pick her up at the end of the day on Sunday.

*Omitted from the original post. Sorry, Tony!

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Another eventful day at Post Mills.

After a full day of flying, we gathered, as usual, for the Saturday cookout on the back porch. Also, as usual, there was a noticeable gender gap between the beer and burger contributors and those who provided interesting side dishes. The grill and the party were just getting warmed up, and Laurie was in the middle of explaining to the uninitiated how to construct a hummus-tomato-sprout wrap, when we heard a most disconcerting crunching sound from across the street.

Our friend Larry W had just suffered a control failure on takeoff in his MiniMax ultralight and crashed in the hayfield next to the taxiway. It was not a minor accident. Among the first responders, Laurie put her nursing skills to use and evaluated Larry's condition, comforted him, and kept well-meaning but unqualified volunteers from interfering until the ambulance arrived.

Larry headed off to Laurie's hospital with a couple of broken legs, and we all reconvened in a slightly more subdued mood to finish our cookout. When it was over, Laurie did the dishes.

All in a day's work, she said.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday ops

We had a good flying day today, but it was trickier than it looked. The thermals were well spaced and climb rates above 2 knots were rare.

Tim (PM) flew for 3.5 hours touring central Vermont between 4 and 6 thousand feet, then climbed suddenly to 7000 feet at the end of the day. Paul N (S1) got pretty close to Morrisville, looking for Moshe (KG). They spoke to each other, but never actually rendezvoused. Moshe flew for 4.2 hours and made it as far east as Cabot (he also had the longest flight of the day, beating Tim by 0.6 km). Paul reported a long quiet glide across a blue hole between Montpelier and home. Tony (7H) made an "extended local" flight, with turnpoints at East Corinth Hammock Shop and Bethel. Steve (89), Skip (JS), and Christopher (89) had local flights. Steve took a passenger from work, which earns him double slacker points. Christopher qualified for a C-badge by flying for just over an hour, on his third solo flight.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Weekend Report August 8 - 9

Saturday was an eventful day. Bill (3J) made the news with his routine field landing in Hartland. The newspaper story got some of the facts right and all of the nomenclature wrong, as usual.

The weather on Saturday was pretty good, with variable conditions and a light northerly breeze. We put flight recorders in six gliders (7H, 89, PM, S1, S2, T8), with Jason making his first OLC flight in the Blanik. Evan took the prize with a 320km trip to Mount Washington, Caledonia, and Lebanon. Zippy and Bill did not submit flight logs, and we have not heard if Moshe flew on Saturday.

Conditions to the south were weak, especially in the river valley. This is probably what got Bill. S2 made it to Springfield, but would not have made it out of there without the on-air help of friends Ira (A1) and Bob (JS1) from GBSC and NESA, respectively. Ira flew over Post Mills twice, but landed out on the way home to Sterling.

By all accounts, the beans, chicken, and band music (in that order) at the Post Mills church were enjoyed by all who attended.

On Sunday, the weather was barely good enough for some spot landing practice in the Blanik. Matt was able to log his 20th solo flight before the rain started.

Thanks to Doug and Bob for towing. Andy is on vacation, and his absence was noted.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Dealing with 911 dispatch

The unwanted attention lavished on a certain glider pilot by emergency response crews this weekend isn't a new phenomenon, but it does seem to be becoming more common, probably due to the ubiquity of cell phones. We may have set the record in terms of sheer cubic dollars wasted -- I don't think I've ever heard of a helicopter being scrambled to the site of an outlanding where no injuries occurred.

So I called the NH e911 office this afternoon and had a chat.

What they would like us to do in the event of a safe off field landing is to call 911, and in this order tell them you have a non-emergency situation, you have landed a glider in a field, you do not require assistance. Explain that the sight of your airplane in the field is probably going to result in some other 911 calls. Probably, you will still get visited by someone with a badge, but this is to be preferred to an all out e-team response called in by the well meaning but clueless observer that saw you "crash".

On a somewhat related note, should you ever have problems with a land owner, the thing to do is to call the county sheriff. The sheriff is preferred over the local police because he's likely to be better versed in the applicable law (which says among other things that an irate land owner cannot impound your airplane).

Alright, so next weekend: grab your logger *and* your cell phone... and maybe check the lights on your trailer... and go!


Friday, August 7, 2009

Grab a Logger and Go!

"One of these days" I will compile a list of "Evan's links" for weather forecasting. Really, I will. For the moment, suffice to say that tomorrow (Saturday) looks very promising in a XC sort of way that the weather simply hasn't for several weeks. Based on current forecast models, we are looking at light westerly or northwesterly winds, clear air, cu with bases of 5k agl and perhaps a bit higher if we are lucky. Overdevelopment is unlikely and little shear will exist in the convective layer. Also, the post frontal airmass here today just feels great.

My guess is that the day will support Silver distance readily and possibly 300K for higher performance ships.

Tonight would be a great time to sit down with your maps, lay out some courses, review badge & declaration requirements and make some plans. Tomorrow morning is too late: have your plan (or two or three) ready the night before! If you need suggestions on where to go, look at my OLC flight logs -- the routes I take are generally safe w.r.t. landing options, but note the complete absence of good fields between Post Mills and Knox Mtn. For Silver distance recommendations, see your favorite flight instructor.

Crewing: I'll reaffirm what I've said previously: if I am on the airport, I'm available to retrieve.

You can make life (a lot) easier for your ad hoc crew by creating a checklist covering important trailer hookup details and leaving it, your keys & vehicle registration in obvious places, along with plenty of gas in the tank.

See ya at the airport,

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Bean season

Saturday afternoon at the Post Mills church:

This is the annual town celebration of nothing in particular. It starts early and you have to stand in line a bit. Details (such as price and schedule) will be forthcoming. Watch this space.

Landouts, stragglers, and misguided aviators who choose flying over BBQ will be fed at the usual cookout.

Monday, August 3, 2009


Our letter of agreement that allows us to fly above 18000 feet at Mount Washington expired at the end of last year.

We asked for a renewal of the agreement last month, and last week we received the official reply from the FAA: our permission is renewed with an effective date of September 1, 2009 and an expiration date of December 31, 2008.

When informed of this discrepancy by telephone, the FAA told us to disregard the letter and to expect an amended letter to arrive in the mail. No apology. In fact, they sounded a bit annoyed.


The Greater Boston Soaring Club lost one of their Pawnees in a no-injury mishap last week. Apparently, it pitched onto its prop and then fell back down on the tail, damaging both. It will be out for the season, and this will affect GBSC's ability to send a towplane to Gorham in October.

We owe GBSC a lot of favors, and if we can help them out in any way, we will. (They already have our winch.)

July summary

Despite 25 days of below-normal temperatures and eight inches of rain, July was a pretty good month for us. We flew on 12 different days, from four sites. Seven gliders (3J, 7H, KG, PM, S1, S2, T8) flew 1544 kilometers, a total that includes 129km and 137km flights by Tony and Thomas that didn't make it onto the OLC.

We have lots of flight recorders now. Don't leave home without one.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


And congratulations to Christopher Ian for his first solo in the Blanik. He found a thermal off tow and stayed in the air long enough for the ground crew to locate a camera and fetch a pail of water. Here's a picture of Christopher about to realize that Emma has just dumped a bucket of water on his head.


Congratulations to Tim Chow, who completed his L-19 checkout and joined the towpilot ranks today. This is good news for the 304C pilots who have been waiting patiently for their glider to become available.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Weekend Report July 11 - 12

On Saturday we decided that the combination of Christopher's three short flights and a surprise visit from our curmudgeon-in-chief, Bill Kolb, justified a party. While the grill was warming up, Evan practiced takeoffs and landings in an outstandingly beautiful classic airplane, and the peanut gallery at the end of Runway 23 rated his performance. Despite somewhat gusty conditions, he scored well.

The cold front swept through Saturday night, and Sunday was a much nicer day. Tony, Bill, Thomas, Tim, Nancy, Jason, and Steve all had good soaring flights. Cloudbase was around 5000 feet at Post Mills, and over 7000 feet over Mount Washington, where Tony (7H) made his turn at about 1:40pm. That was when the shadows moved in and the lift quit. Tony glided all the way from the summit to a landing at Franconia.

Meanwhile, Thomas (ZP), having made it to Twin Mountain airport, was trying to sneak back to Post Mills under the overcast. He had barely enough altitude to make it home from Black Mountain, but decided not to chance it. While Tony was landing at Franconia, Thomas flopped onto the ground at Dean Memorial.

With two landouts, we needed two crews. In fact we had three. Doug took the towplane to Franconia to get Tony, and Christopher headed to Dean with Thomas's trailer. By sheer coincidence, Andy and Bill were out flying in a fairly nice old airplane and happened to spot both gliders on the ground. They landed at Franconia in time for Andy to run 7H's wing, and landed at Dean in time to help maneuver ZP into the trailer. Now that's service!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Two days of slacking

The Weekday Slackers had a simulated weekend of flying and enjoyed two consecutive days of decent weather.

On Thursday, after Tim's flight test, Matt, Sam, and Creighton took flights in the Blanik, and Matt's buddy Andrew took an introductory flight at the end of the day.

Our great expectations for Friday didn't pan out, but it was quite an enjoyable day nonetheless. The trick was to escape the river valley and stay in the good areas in western Vermont and in the high ground in New Hampshire. Evan (T8) had the longest flight, at 276 km, going to Morrisville, Dean, and Hanover. Paul (S1) made a similar flight, but didn't go quite as far north or south. Tony (7H) stayed in Vermont and racked up 157 km. Moshe (KG) flew about the same distance out of Morrisville. Rick (S2) attempted the crossing from Bailey to Moosilauke and wound up landing at Dean. Meanwhile, back at Post Mills, Steve struggled to get out of the river valley for two and a half hours, never getting high enough to make a dash for the cloud field. Matt (89), and the other Andy (3J) flew locally.

Eight flights on a Friday, not bad!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Pilot for hire

The next time you go flying with Tim Chow, ask him how much he charges before you get in the glider. As of today, he is a certificated Commercial Glider pilot, and he can now fly for hire.

Our examiner, Bill Stinson, traveled from Sugarbush to give Tim his flight test. Moral support was provided by Jason, Christopher, Matt, Bob, Sam, Mike, Creighton, and the recommending instructor/towpilot.

Bill spent about an hour confirming that Tim knew his stuff and then made three flights with him. The third flight was a simulated rope break at low altitude. Tim handled it like the professional pilot he now is, and the test was complete.

Congratulations, Tim, and here's some advice from one Commercial Pilot to another: don't give up your day job.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Franconia Encampment July 1 - 6

This year's 4th of July Franconia encampment was as hectic as ever. We had a great time, despite some wet weather.

I counted 42 participants, including spouses, parents, kids, and dogs. We brought eight gliders, ten trailers, six bicycles and one towplane to the Franconia airport. The expedition actually began on the previous Sunday when Andy and his crew put 3J on the trailer after flying at Post Mills.

In the early part of the week Rick, Mary, and Charlie transported PM, S2, the golf cart and the fuel tank.

We cancelled our original plan to aerotow the Blanik on Thursday, due to the uncertain forecast. Instead, Kevin and Matt wrestled the glider onto its trailer on Wednesday and Andy and Andrew delivered the L-19 that afternoon. Rick towed the trailer to Franconia and brought Andy and Andrew home.

Tim showed up with the 1-23 and we assembled it and the Blanik. A few of us checked into the Westwind and met the new owners. They have a new approach to keeping the bears out of the dumpster.

The Ludemans arrived at the Horse and Hound. I don't actually remember if anybody flew on Thursday. We don't have a logsheet for that day, so if you did fly, please let Sonny know. Judy and Andy organized a takeout Thai dinner, the first of three consecutive fine dining experiences at Arethusa.

The weather on Friday was pretty good, right up until the end of the day. The wind was southerly, so the ridge wasn't much help. The thermals were reliable in the sunny areas, but we were overrun by cloud shadows several times throughout the day. Andy towed and instructed, and several members got their introduction to mountain flying. There was only one landout. In the late afternoon the sky to the west turned very dark, and we rushed to get everything put away before the rains came. We were not very successful, and Paul got the wettest. We dried ourselves out and reconvened for a spaghetti dinner at the Lumruss compound. It rained for much of the night.

Saturday, the actual 4th of July, dawned drizzly and foggy, so we didn't rush out to the airport. A few of us, having failed to get into Polly's Pancake Parlor, had a leisurely breakfast at Wendle's Café in downtown Franconia. At the first sign of blue sky, we dashed to the airport and stood around, waiting for the ceiling to go up a bit.

Finally, Jason, Christopher, and Rick took off but were quickly flushed out of the sky by another rain shower. We stood down for a few hours until the sky cleared again. During the break, Skip, Sonny, Mike, Sue, Mary, Diane, Tony, Carol, Paul D, Ellie, and Maia all showed up to visit.

At the end of the day, we were able to squeeze in a couple of more flights before getting rained out again. Andy and Tim got on the ground just before the downpour:

After the landing, Andy decided to stay dry by remaining in the cockpit while the glider was towed back to its tiedown. I guess you can do that if you're the club President.

Fortunately, the rain stopped in time for the annual Saturday cookout. As usual, it was quite a feast, and this year it was almost entirely the work of one person, Judy. This was at her request, and her reasons are completely beyond this reporter.

This was the day we deserved. It started a bit late, but once the sky cleared, we were able to enjoy ridge, thermal, and wave conditions until late in the afternoon. It was the first day of the encampment that we didn't get wet. We made 17 flights, with Bob and Andy sharing the towing. Thomas (ZP), having recently received the Babs Nutt Award for the highest flight of 2008, put in his claim for this year's award by soaring to 10000 feet in a thermal wave. Paul (S1) and Evan (T8) racked up a bunch of miles on "local cross-country" flights that featured some nice cloudstreet runs. Christopher, Tim, Pete, and Jason chased each other on both the Cannon and Lafayette ridges, missing a bunch of great photo opportunities. We'll bring more cameras next year.

Paul, Skip, and Thomas trailered home Sunday evening, and Charlie fetched the golf cart back to Post Mills. Most of the rest also went home, despite the promising forecast for Monday. A few stragglers remained.

The stragglers were rewarded with some good thermal soaring on Monday, a day on which the ridge was dead again. Tony had the best flight, with 3.5 hours in PM. After landing, Tony hopped in the Blanik for an aerotow back to Post Mills, hitched a ride in a Champ back to Franconia to pick up his car and the 304, delivered the glider back here, and made it home in time for dinner. Charlie made yet another round trip to pick up the fuel tank.

On Tuesday, Tim and Rick retrieved the last two trailers, and that was it. Another Franconia adventure in the PMSC record books. Thanks to everyone for all the volunteer labor.