Thursday, September 30, 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

Wave Season Has Started

Actually it started a couple of weeks ago. I have been watching the weather using Kevin’s article as a guideline. It seems to work pretty well. When the skew-T predicts wave there is usually signs of it in the clouds. Up until this weekend I wasn’t able to fly on promising wave days. On Saturday the skew-T looked good. Here is the skew-T for Saturday (historical info is available at this NASA site).

There were cloud streets and wave like clouds at 5-6K just like you would expect from the skew-T. Andy took the towplane up for a warm up and reported moderate turbulence (rotor). Bill (3J) and Tom (TH) went up first to scout things out and found usable lift to 5.5K under the clouds. Since they were sticking I took the next tow.

Off tow I was able to fly around at 5.5-6K with Tom and Bill in rough thermal/rotor lift. If I got to cloud base I would try to slide out into the clear air next to the clouds but could not contact any wave lift (in hindsight I was probably looking on the wrong side of the clouds).

After flying around Post Mills for about an hour and unsuccessfully trying to find wave lift I headed out on a cloud street going southwest. The street was working great and for the most part I could fly without circling. But if there was a clearing in the clouds I would circle up and look for wave lift. Nothing really felt like wave. The clouds seem to be honest. The darkest clouds had strong lift.

As you approach Killington Peak the terrain goes up and the fields disappear. The clouds still looked good and there was this clearing ahead so I felt pretty confident as I headed toward the peak.

This clearing turns out to be (I looked it up the next day) Plymouth VT and the Calvin Coolidge Homestead. As I approach the Green Mountains the clouds don’t seem to be working anymore. I can’t find any lift. I feel like I am kind of stuck because this is the only clearing for 5-10 miles so I don’t dare leave to go back to lower ground. As I sink lower I move closer to the clearing. Finally I fly over a steep ridge ½ mile west of the clearing and find some lift. It is strong lift but it is turbulent. I am now down to 3200’ msl which is only 1000’ over the ridge and 1500’ over the clearing. I try circling but get blown to the west and out of the lift. After struggling for what seems like a long time I figure out that if I “ridge soar” the little ridge by doing figure eight’s I can get a pretty steady climb. I stay in that same spot and finally get some altitude. As I get up to about 4,200’ I notice I am in the sunlight and there is a pretty well defined wave window right above me. The lift is consistent and getting stronger. I stay in that same spot and climb up through the window and after an hour I top at 14K (I am glad I put the oxygen tank in last week). The wave window is small and there is solid overcast west to NY, but there are larger windows to the east and I know I can get to them if my window closes.

The glide computer says I will arrive back at Post Mills at 9,600’ agl so I head for home. I can hop over the bands of clouds to stay over the wave windows but I don’t seem to be picking up much lift. I arrive at Post Mills still at 11K so I guess there must have been some. Its time to burn up some altitude and get below the clouds so I push up the speed and head towards Black Mountain. Going downwind the data logger trace shows a ground speed of 338 km/hr (210 mph!).

Sonny, Andy, Alexander and Kevin help me put the glider away when I land. Thanks!

The flight log is available here (thanks Rick):

And thank you Cal Coolidge for clearing that spot.


P.S. All day I couldn’t figure out exactly which way the wind was blowing. I should have realized that wave clouds and wave windows line up parallel to the mountain that produce them and not necessarily perpendicular to the wind. If the wind hits the mountain at a 30-degree angle the clouds will be at a 30-degree angle to the wind.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

New Castle results

After five straight days of flying, the Region 4 contest has ended. John Good (X) was the winner in the Standard Class. Evan Ludeman (T8) took fourth in the 15 Meter Class.

Congratulations to both, and we look forward to seeing them at Wave Camp in a couple of weeks. I'm sure they'll have stories to tell.

Friday, September 24, 2010

T8 and X at New Castle

Once again, Evan and John are tearing up the skies in southern Virginia at the Region 4 contest.

They have had excellent weather so far, and Evan has been posting his flights every day. John, who thinks OLC is just a fad that will go away soon, is winning in the Standard Class, with two days to go.

You can read all about the contest on the SSA website, and if we're lucky, Evan will write about it again when he gets home.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


El Presidente finally gets to go soaring, shows everyone how a landing is supposed to be done, photo to prove it.

T8 over the CT river

Photo taken from PM on 8/28/10.

Weekend report September 11 - 12

Another one-day weekend.

Saturday was clear with 6000 foot cloudbases. The clouds dried up early, but the lift continued right up till sunset.

On Saturday Andy took an "early" flight in PM, and landed early by choice (something to do with fatherly duties). His flight was long enough to beat Tom (TH) by less than a kilometer on the OLC. It's a good thing he didn't know it at the time.

Mike (PM), Rich (3J) and Christopher (3J) all flew locally. Paul K and Rick had a nice long flight in the 2-33, but they spoiled Bill's plan to take a guest up for a ride. Someone suggested that a radio would have been useful in that situation.

The best flight of the day was a tossup between Evan's long distance flight (T8) and Sonny's long duration flight (KX). You decide.

The Saturday cookout was cooked outside, but we moved indoors for dining purposes. It's getting to be that time of year.

Sunday was cool and overcast. Nobody showed up!

Technology convergence

Recently, NASA awarded research contracts to six industry groups, challenging them to come up with an efficient "airliner of the future."

Here is Boeing's entry:

I think that the people at Boeing must all be glider pilots.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


We are having a great season so far!

2-33: 117 flights 42:02 hours
Blanik: 134 flights 73:33 hours
1-23: 51 flights 54:28 hours
304C: 35 flights 63:03 hours

Total for Club Gliders: 337 flights 233:06 hours

Total number of Tows: 434


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Weekend report September 4 - 6

The three day weekend was a bit of a dud. The weather was pleasant on Saturday, but strong northeast winds from the passing hurricane kept us on the ground.

On Sunday, the wind blew from the opposite direction and we were able to do a little flying in the 2-33. Chris R and his instructor appreciated the Doug's effort to come tow for us.

Tom (TH) had a nice flight on Monday and picked the right moment to land - just before the Labor Day parade overflowed onto the runway. Christopher got the 1-23 out, but decided not to add to the pandemonium and dragged it back to its tiedown.

In other weekend news, all the gliding countries in the world grounded the Blanik L13.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Avoiding depression

One way to avoid a tropical depression is to go flying before it arrives.

On Thursday, Tim (PM) and Tom (TH) took one look at the forecast and decided to go flying before it was too late. It was a very hot day (95°F) with weak lift to 4300 feet.

Thermal centering was complicated by wind shear, but Tim was able to figure it out:

After they landed, we tied down all the trailers. Here's the forecast for the start of the weekend:

Now that's depressing.