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 wc09@roelke.org. 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.