Sunday, June 17, 2012

Two Sticks

As posted on rec.aviation.soaring

I'm really kicking myself for leaving my camera in my car...

Yesterday I didn't feel like rushing to finish a glider project, so I elected to do my club mates a favor and tow. Just playing my part in the "vast high wing conspiracy" (ask Gregg Ballou about that).

It was a beautiful soaring day. Late in the afternoon, I got word via radio relay that Paul had landed his LS-4 at Twin Mountain airport, which is just a few miles from Mount Washington. He requested an aeroretrieve. I've looked at this airport from as low as 1200 agl a couple times, never landed there. Now I get to go on someone else's nickel: perfect!

Paul had staged for takeoff on 27. Back at the runway threshold, the scene looked post apocalyptic: the paved runway is deteriorating badly, looks ancient. The wilderness comes right up to the runway from all over. The ground is densely covered with moss, lichens and... moose poop. Lots and lots of moose poop.

Looking around from where the glider was staged, there was no evidence of humanity other than us two pilots, two planes and an "obviously" 500 year old runway in the wilderness. It was a very weird sight. But what to do about those damned 500 year old runway lights? They're high (this is snow country) and not all that far apart!

"Paul, you need a stick." A little later "No! I've got it. Two sticks." One under each wing tip on the tip skid with a little bend in the wing to keep them put. This worked so well we could hardly believe it, but you really do need two people to set it up. Do it after you position the towplane with slack out. Piece of cake. Full throttle with brakes on, release brakes as soon as max rpm achieved. Paul held a little brake until the line went taught.

The better solution is a stick-on (suction cup, etc) wing wheel. I have one, but it was a hundred miles away from where I needed it. ...and it didn't really fit the image, anyway. The sight of that LS-4 with a couple of gnarly old branches propping up the wing tips in the wilderness was really something.

(Obviously: don't leave sticks anywhere an airplane can/will run over them.)

-Evan Ludeman / T8


    PMSC Member said...

Good story, Evan! I didn't realize that the retrieve was arranged by radio, not by telephone. I decided not to correct the Weekend Report in the previous post (because I am lazy).

Anonymous said...

Thanks for editing. I saw that it was needed, but I was too lazy to do it.