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.