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.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Traditionally, our club has two general meetings per year, one in January and one in July. Very little business is conducted at the July meeting, which is reserved for the presentation of club awards.

We have two formal awards. The first one is for the most enthusiastic new member. Several people joined the club at the beginning of this season, and all have been regular participants. One stands out however. This year's award goes to Paul Dixon, who has been an active pilot and volunteer, putting in several hours of work on the 2-33, helping others to fly, taking pictures and generally contributing to the fun we've been having so far this season. Thanks, Paul.

Our second award is in memory of Babs Nutt, former owner of the Post Mills airport and a charter member of PMSC. One of her many accomplishments was a World Altitude Record, and the Babs Nutt Award is given annually to the member who has flown the highest in the past year. This year the award goes to Thomas Scheidegger, for a flight to 20000 feet last fall. Congratulations, Thomas.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wave Basics

It's very easy to do a bad job of explaining mountain waves.

In the July 2009 issue of Skylines, George Hazelrigg makes the effort to do a good job. His hand-drawn sketch beats the daylights out of all the fancy illustrations you've seen published elsewhere.

I consider this article to be required reading for all wave-beginners, and a good review for the rest of us.

See you at Gorham in a hundred days.

Weekend Report June 27 - 28

The weather has turned summer-like. We seem to get some rain every day. In spite of this we had a good weekend of practice and training.

The highlights were the first test flight of the 2-33, Matt's Blanik solo, and Jason and Rich's refamiliarization flights in 3J.

Andy reports that the 2-33 flies well, and he attributes the improved roll rate and low stall speed to the new aileron seals. The glider still needs some minor work and has not yet been returned to service.

As a new Blanik pilot, Matt automatically becomes a member of the Weekday Slackers, effective as soon as someone teaches him the secret handshake.

We don't always recognize the effort it takes Bob and Doug to travel to Post Mills to tow. Thanks, guys.

Franconia is next!