Thursday, July 29, 2010

First in the world

In a manner similar to the Olympics, the organizers of the World Gliding Championships go out of their way to be fair to all participating nations. There is a tradition (copied from the Olympics) of doing everything in alphabetical order. This means that we're usually at the back of the parade, in the back of the briefing hangar, in the faraway tiedowns and parking spaces, somewhere between Ukraine and Venezuela.

This year is different. For some reason, the Hungarian organizers have decided to call us "America," and now we're at the head of the line for everything!

Here's a picture of our luxury team office, in a prime location, next door to Brazil:

And here's a picture of our guys explaining to our friends from Argentina why they can't be first this year:

They probably also had to explain why it's OK to call US "America," but not them.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Sorry to report that a couple of days ago (that gusty day that made most of us glad to be on the ground), the Stemme S-10VT based at Morrisville swerved off the runway and bashed into Moshe's glider at its tiedown.

It could have been worse. Preliminary reports indicate that Moshe will need a new canopy and turtledeck. Damage to the Stemme is unknown.

Tough luck, Moshe. At least now you have an excuse to come to Post Mills to fly.

The Montpelier Blue Hole

"'Twas not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church-door, but 'twas enough" to drag the Silent all the way from 7000 feet over the granite quarry to the ground at MPV. It seemed like a good plan at the time.

Tim was much smarter and circumnavigated the dead zone for a 216 km flight, stepping around the accursed sink, visiting Randolph, Sugarbush, Camel's Hump, Stowe, Cabot, and Lyme.

Men at some times are masters of their fates.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Name that Citizen Club Member

WGCs are confusing

Every two years, a pair of World Gliding Championships take place. (If this sounds confusing, don't worry about it. It will change soon).

This is one of the years in which the two contests are happening.

The first one, called the "31st World Gliding Championships," was held in Slovakia, and it has just ended. The entry list included 106 pilots from 23 countries. The competition classes were Standard, Club, and World, and the winners were the pilots from Poland, Germany, and France, respectively. We (USA) sent two pilots to compete in each of the three classes, and our best results were 8th in the Club Class and 5th in the World Class. You can read all about our team's experiences in the US Soaring Team blog.

The second one is also called the "31st World Gliding Championships," and it will start tomorrow in Hungary (144 pilots, 33 countries). This time the classes are Open, 18 Meter, and 15 Meter. Once again, we are sending two pilots in each class, and they are writing their news in a blog, which is once again called the US Soaring Team blog, not to be confused with the other one, above.

Next year, there won't be any WGCs. The year after that, there will be two, and they will both be called the "32nd World Gliding Championships."

Clear as mud, huh?

Monday, July 19, 2010

A news reporter that gets it...

...halfway 'round the world.

Part 1

Part 2 may be found on the menu below the video window (it's obvious which one -- look for the girl in the front seat of a Grob).

Part 2 shows a JS1 wing under static test breaking the test fixture(!) at some ridiculous load. the amount of flex is absolutely alarming.


the 100:1 shot

Yesterday turned out to be a mostly local soaring day. The cu would start to build and I would head off with XC ambitions... and the clouds would fall apart literally right before my eyes. So with nothing better to do, I decided to fly "local XC" and work on minimizing my circling time.

You do this by making use of linear sources of lift -- cloud streets, ridges and wave being the most common around here. Since this is something I've been meaning to work on -- my usual style is to cruise too fast, get too low, then have to spend too much time getting back up again -- I have my cockpit PDA set up to track the percentage of time I spend in circling flight. I looked down and noted it said something in the mid 30s -- typical for me and easy to improve upon. So I began working the cloud streets a little harder and concentrating on efficiency. Sure enough, the number in the box starts to drop.

Here's the flight log.

Late in the day (through the magic of "SeeYou" I can tell you it was 3:49) I noticed it was looking really nice towards the White mountains. Kinda late for this... but what the heck. From Exit 14, I made a Mr. Efficiency Glide all the way to Twin Mountain. SeeYou shows this as 42.3 miles at an average ground speed of 81 mph and an achieved glide ratio of -- get this -- 540:1. Along the way, I climbed the ridge at Moosilauke and worked the ridge/thermal lines along the Franconia ridge. I had 15 - 20 mph wind at my back for good measure.

In racing, we talk of "going fast by going slow", and this is about as good as it ever gets.

Coming back up the ridge into the wind, I worked around the corner at Lafayette and wondered if there might be wave in the notch. I worked smoother than normal ridge/thermal lift up to cloud base and it felt pretty wavy, but there was higher cloud all over and the wave wasn't well organized enough to either make a proper window or allow me to climb. But there seemed to be something there. So I headed towards home via Moosilauke and -- with a bit of trepidation -- decided that I'd try it across the wilderness well South of the Franconia ridge line. That worked okay, though I wouldn't try it in a lower performance glider. I made about 35:1 from Lafayette to Moosilauke, which is pretty good considering the absence of clouds and a substantial headwind component. I think I picked up a little wave back there at times.

SeeYou considers my ridge/wave climb at Lafayette to be "straight flight", so credits me with a 26.9 mile glide at 326:1, pretty good considering that headwind! Thermaling up at Moosilauke, Mr. Efficiency flew to Lake Morey where Mr. Speed says "I got it", and that last glide was only good for 29:1.

The end result was 23% circling for the whole flight and an average achieved glide ratio of 96... and a remarkably enjoyable flight for a day that started with low expectations. Next time, we go for 100:1.


PS: Thanks for towing, Tim!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Weekend report July 17 - 18

On Saturday, Doug and Matt combined to fly 15 tows. Matt got a chance to fly a glider, but Doug didn't. On Saturday, Tim flew 16 tows without relief and without getting a chance to fly a glider.

Our sport depends on our towpilots. The next chance you get to thank one, please do so.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Moron WCAX news

An off-field landing at Sugarbush yesterday made the Channel 3 news. The word "CRASH" is a prominent feature of the video.

I'm afraid it's hopeless. The general public will never learn about our sport. Ever.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Seen at the Airport

Yesterday at the airport I thought I saw Brian using gasoline to kill the weeds around his Dinosaur.

On closer examination I realized it was Mary "Sparky" Wilson. Mary, what were the Campfire Girl Marshmallows for?


Monday, July 12, 2010

Saturday, July 10, 2010

PMSC Accounts for 40% of All "Add-On" Ratings in the US

The FAA says in 2009 there are 29,131 domestic glider pilots. They give the above statistics (reported by SSA) for new glider pilot ratings and classify them by "glider only" or "add-on" ratings. It shows the total glider "add-on" ratings as 10 for 2009. In 2009 PMSC had the following add-ons: Pete, Matt, Bill and Tim. PMSC and Rick Sheppe accounted for 40% (4/10) of all "add-on" ratings in the USA for 2009! Congratulations Rick!


SSA cited table 17 and 18 here.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Usage Statistics Through June

Here are the totals for the club ships so far this season:

Total tows -168

L-13 63 flts 33:55 hrs
2-33 36 flts 12:33 hrs
304 11 flts 20:43 hrs
1-23 13 flts 11:57 hrs

total for club gliders 123 flts 79:08 hours


Runway Incursions

I'm not an expert on the topic, but I bet I have more experience with runway incursions than most. I'm up to five now. Two while flying gliders, three while flying single engine airplanes. All have been in the form of a blocked runway while I've been on final. Four of the five required evasive action on my part. I have been blocked by un-announced, very low opening parachute jumpers, a car, a car towing a glider and departing light planes (twice).

The point of this message is: if it can happen to me five times, it can happen to you too! Keep your eyes and your options open!


Franconia Encampment Winner

I am declaring myself the winner of the Franconia Encampment because nobody had more fun than I did.

My fun started on Friday when I took the first tow out of Franconia behind the FSA’s new Birddog before our towplane even arrived (thanks to our reciprocal tow agreement). I enjoyed a 4 hour flight to Mt. Washington where I was joined by Evan (T8). The only thing more fun than going to Mt. Washington was making it back. (Andy-sorry if I hogged the 304 but if you want to fly you should really get to the field earlier).

On Saturday I had a great 2.5 hour rock polishing flight on the Franconia and Lafayette ranges in PM.

Sunday started out great when I took my daughter Christina on her first glider flight. She declared it was “awesome” even before we were off tow. We flew above Cannon and Kinsman to 6K. I found out she likes sustained 2G turns, weightlessness and screaming along the ridge at 100 mph. It WAS awesome!

Christina gave her stamp of approval on gliders and so Lynne took her first glider flight with Andy in the back seat. Andy gave Lynne the perfect introduction to soaring and she even liked it (although she is not quite ready to sign up for the family membership). This was the most fun I had for a flight where I didn’t even leave the ground.

After Lynne got back Alexander and I took the Blanik for a late afternoon flight. We flew the Franconia ridge for about an hour then made the transition to the Lafayette range where Pete joined us in 3J. It was great flying with Pete, and to see Alexander skillfully squeezing the last few feet of altitude out of the ridge lift. We tried to connect with a wave that developed but couldn’t – but even that was fun.

When not flying the pool, the fireworks and the conversation were all great.

Thanks to everyone who work so hard to prepare and move the equipment need to make the encampment work. Thanks to the tow pilots. And thanks Judy for keeping us fed.

Did any one else have any fun this weekend? (put it in the comments)


p.s. I plan on winning at Gorham too.

Saturday report from Franconia 2010

Not a fantastic day for soaring but both the Canon-Kingston and Lafayette ridges were work reasonably well and we did around 30 tows as the FSA L-19 had some tailwheel

Lake Fairlee lakefest this Saturday

See their post at

Posted by Andy in behalf of Paul Kram

Friday, July 2, 2010

Friday report from Franconia 2010

The first day of our Franconia encampment was a complete success. The day started by towing the Blanik piloted by Kevin and Olivia, tow plane flown by Andy but things went wrong when Kevin "sneaked" off tow half way to Franconia causing me enough concern to go back to Dean to look for them. THEY WILL PAY!

Tim, Evan, Thomas, Pete and Tom all had great flights today followed by a late dinner due to incompetent staff at the local pizza joint and we're all geared up for flying tomorrow.

Meantime Rick is wishes he were here and not in rainy Hobbs NM.