Sunday, May 31, 2009

Go Yankees!

At the Mifflin contest, Friday was a ridge day with late takeoffs. PMSC did pretty well: Evan (T8) won the day, and John (X) was tied for second. In fact, all of the top five that day were from PMSC and GBSC. Not a bad showing for the boys from New England. The task allowed competitors to pick their own turnpoints, and everyone stuck to the ridges. Evan's winning speed was 94 mph!

Here is the scoresheet for the day.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

T8 and X at Mifflin

The PMSC race team is at it again.

In the tradition of naming contests strangely, the contest currently underway in Reedsville, Pennsylvania is called "Mifflin," and two of our members are entered. (The contest is named after the airport, which is named after the county).

After two days of flying, Evan (T8) and John (X) are in 6th and 9th places, John having suffered a landout on the first day.  The gigantic glob of foul weather affecting the entire eastern half of the country is threatening to spoil the race.

The SSA website has the official results and scores.

Weekend Report May 23 - 25

There are several candidates for the highlight of the weekend. The contenders are the first glider solo by Bill Swartz, the first glider flight of the season by Andy Lumley, and the Saturday cookout. There are other runners-up as well.

On Saturday we had another of those grey training days - a lot of takeoff and landing drills and not much soaring. Bob D showed up early to tow, and we completed Tim's preparation for his flight test. 

Along the way, Bill took the Blanik up by himself. He made a nice flight and reported that it was surprisingly easy without all the distractions coming from the back seat. (Click to enlarge the photo by Paul D., who has challenged Pete for the position of club photograper. More of Paul's photos here.)

The Saturday evening cookout was popular and featured a surplus of food and drink. Thanks to everyone who contributed. The under-12 set was well represented by Jane, Ellenor, Ella, Christina, Ellie, Olivia, Andrew, Nathan,  Gretta, and Maia.

PMSC - The Next Generation

The best and worst weather of the weekend both occurred on Sunday. It rained in the morning and stayed overcast until around 2pm. When the sun came out, Skip (JS), Thomas (ZP) and Andy (PM) were ready. This was Andy's first solo glider flight since last October, and we can't even remember the one before that. If you think that being Club President, Chief Tuggie, Chief Mechanic, Chief Information Officer, and Family Guy leaves plenty of time for flying, think again. We should all look for opportunities to help Andy go flying.

The last day of the weekend, Monday, was difficult.  We assembled early and stood around for a couple of hours waiting for the crosswind to abate.  Finally, Tom (Blanik), Skip (JS), Thomas (ZP), Doug (3J), Steve (3J), and Tim (Blanik) went flying.  The lift was good, but it was a struggle not to get blown away.

Some of the survivors of the Saturday cookout returned on Monday and were joined by a few who weren't able to make it on Saturday.  The leftovers were augmented and dispatched.  There were fewer kids this time.  It was a school night.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Weekend Report May 16 - 17

Ten flights on Saturday and four flights on Sunday.

Some weekend reports are better than others.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Weekday Slackers strike again

It wasn't too difficult to see the good weather coming last Sunday. A well-defined cold front was forecast to pass through in the evening, and we could see from the map that it would be followed by high pressure and light winds.

However, it was difficult to pick the right day.

Kevin predicted that Wednesday, May 13, would be the day. A Slacker Alert went out Sunday evening. The second-guessers chimed in with alternative days. A few of us were convinced that Wednesday would be too late for the peak conditions and made plans to fly on Tuesday. But in the end, Kevin was absolutely right, and Wednesday turned out to be the best day we've seen around here in seven years.

The participants, in order of takeoff, were Evan (T8), Tony (7H), Tim (PM), Paul (S1), Kevin (6Q), Skip (JS), and Rick (S2), slackers all.

(Paul's flight log was glitchy and couldn't be analyzed properly. We have asked OLC to analyze it manually. Here's an image of his flight; click to enlarge. Update: it's OK now.)

We were assisted by a pair of transient airplane pilots who arrived in a Cessna 182 as we were assembling. They were visiting Post Mills after reading about us in the AOPA article.

The first takeoff occurred at 1130. Just before closing the canopy, Evan commented, correctly, that we should have been launching an hour earlier.

What a day! The best thermals averaged an honest 7 knots, and everyone reported seeing 10 knots on the averager at least once. The clouds were reliable, and their bases were in the vicinity of 10000 feet. The last climb of the day was 5 knots to 6500 feet, at nearly 6pm.

The seven of us flew a total of 1826 km. Evan went the farthest at 529 km and can claim his Diamond Distance. Tim flew 316 km, visited the summit of Mount Washington, and earned his Silver Distance on the way back. Skip flew his first hundred miler, and Kevin (who outclimbed us all) completed a 100 km speed triangle. The day ended with everyone back home in the trailers and free beer for the towpilot.

If you see Thomas, ask him how his cello lesson went that day.

(The doubters who flew on Tuesday also had good flights: KG and S2).

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Weekend Report May 9 - 10

In light of the windy and overcast weather for most of the day, the availability of only one trainer, and the plethora of students, we decided to go into "fire drill" mode on Saturday. This entailed ground school on landing patterns, one thousand foot tows, and tag team instructing. We managed sixteen short flights, and a lot of landing practice.

We had a few simulated emergencies, and one actual incident, an aborted takeoff. Tim practiced no-spoilers landings in preparation for his flight test, and David learned what it was like to walk all the way back from the far end of the runway. The new guys, Bill, Matt, and Paul, had at least two flights each, and all are well on their way to soloing.

At the end of the day, the sun came out and Bill and Matt made a couple of soaring flights, discovering cloudbase at around 4000 feet.

Andy, Paul, and other volunteers I can't name made progress on the sorely missed 2-33, which will be back in the air soon, I hope!

We quit flying in plenty of time to admire the squall that brought hail to Hanover, and heavy rain to Post Mills.

The post-frontal cookout was well attended, with major contributions by Judy, Pete, Petey, and Tony/Carol. Carol told stories about her amazing 56 day odyssey that ended just last Thursday in Florida.

Sunday was cold and windy, and most of us chose to observe Mother's Day over flying.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Electric audio vario/averager for sale

You DO have an audio vario in your sailplane, don't you?

If you don't, here's a cheap solution: Cambridge CAV II, dual range, dual damping rate, audio and 20sec. averager all in one 80mm (std "large" instrument opening) instrument with low 12V power draw. No issues, looks as new, switches, etc. all perfect. $200. Same capability as spiffy new Borgelt B400 at 1/3 price.


The choice of champions, still

In the UK, the competition ID "S1" belongs to Sarah Kelman, the current Women's World Champion. Sarah is an airline pilot and an enthusiastic ambassador for our sport.

In this BBC Radio interview, she says she has "some quite high-tech instruments" in her ASW-28. Judging from this picture, she's talking about an LNAV.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

PMSC Winch

Our long-neglected winch is on indefinite loan to our friends at GBSC. A cult of winch fans has formed in that club, led by Ken Flaton.

Ken and Dave Zlotek fetched the winch about a week ago and took it to Massachusetts, where they quickly got it running again:

They are taking this project one step at a time, but they have big plans, not just to return the winch to service, but also to improve it. They may ask us for help, and we should be ready to pitch in. Interested members are invited to join the GBSC Discussion Group.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Under the overcast

Thanks to Kevin, who was watching the weather, Paul (S1), Tim (PM), Kevin (6Q) and Rick (S2) were able to take advantage of a weird soaring day yesterday.

The day started out as forecast, with lots of sunshine and some early morning cumulus clouds. However, the moisture that was scheduled for today moved in early, and by the time we were ready to take off, the sky was completely obscured by a thin overcast. Nevertheless, we pressed on and launched all four gliders in the mid-afternoon.

The conditions were surprisingly good. Tim flew the farthest (we think), 129 km. Rick was second (we think), with 100 km. Kevin's flight recorder failed, so we aren't sure how he did (and we don't believe any of his stories). Paul is still trying to figure out how to download his flight recorder, so he may have made the best flight of all. The results will be on the OLC.

Whatever the final results, we sure had a good time.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Weekend Report May 2 - 3

Something very unusual has happened this year.

Typically, we get three or four new members joining the club throughout the soaring season. This year, we met five enthusiastic new pilots on Day 1.  And yes, they are all already pilots.

Matt Benard, Paul Dixon, and Bill Swartz have joined the club, and Christopher Ian and Chris Hollis have taken introductory lessons and are in the middle of making up their minds.  They are all nice people, and the club is lucky to have this level of interest so early in the season.

Saturday was cold.  We started the reassembly of the 2-33, working until we froze, essentially. Matt and Paul pitched right in, but had to leave before flying started late in the day.  The sun came out, finally, and Thomas was able to do some instruction in the Blanik just before sunset.

Sunday also started late, but we were able to get all the new guys in the air for a nice introduction to soaring.  Pete and Tim began their flight test prep.  The best altitude achieved was 7100 feet.

As the sun got low, the temperature dropped again.  The cookout took place indoors.

At the beginning of the season, there is a lot of demand for instruction. With only one 2-seater available so far, we really need to get organized.  We all have to cooperate on the ground to minimize turnaround time, and we need to start showing up early, even on crummy weather days.

See you next Saturday at 10am.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Nice pattern

On Tony's last flight of the winter season (yesterday), he landed out at a small airfield. He rolled to a stop and was reaching for his cell phone to call his crew when he spotted a glider on final approach to the same grass strip. You guessed it - they were crewing for each other.

Tony reports that 7H is in the trailer, ready for the drive back to New Hampshire.  You can see from his Florida flight log that he had a good winter.

Summer flying in Vermont and Winter flying  in central Florida. Now that's a nice pattern.