Saturday, June 23, 2012

Weekend report June 23 - 24

Before the weekend, everyone had a different prediction about when the cold front would go through Post Mills. Whoever guessed "Saturday morning" was right, unfortunately.

The day wasn't a total loss. Between thundershowers, we worked on the towplane (well, Andy and Karl did anyway) and the 1-23 (the rest of us). Sonny noticed a broken leaf spring in the 1-23 trailer, which we hope to fix before our Franconia encampment.

We were delighted to be visited by Carl, Laurie, and Matt Hausler, who turned up just in time for the deluge and stayed for the cookout. Col. Hausler reports that the opportunities for soaring in Macedonia are better than in Senegal, in case you were wondering.

The cookout drew 21 people, who brought food for twice that many. Perhaps having leftovers is a weather-related phenomenon.

Sunday was a terrific day for just about everyone. It wasn't straightforward to get started, even from a 3000 foot tow. It took Tim (PM) two tries to connect with the lift, but on his second flight he was able to log 108 km, starting at 4pm. Lane had the same trouble (twice) in the 2-33, but was finally able to stay up at the end of the day. Tom (TH) fell down, too, but was unfortunately not able to stick around for another go.

Everyone else got up and away. Here's an image of Greg (3J) struggling, stumbling, drifting, and finally climbing to 8300 feet.

Sonny (LT), Thomas (ZP), Skip (JS) and Evan (T8) took off early (before the golf cart croaked) and had the best flights. The first three made out-and-return flights to the White Mountains, with Thomas making two round trips. Evan took a tour of northern Vermont and New Hampshire and recorded the longest flight of the day, 348 km. Sonny tacked on a visit to his house in Royalton where he found a thermal that took him to 9000 feet.

At the worst possible moment, the golf cart died, causing a launch delay of at least an hour. The ever resourceful Christopher commandeered a doodlebug that shortened our downtime (thanks, Christopher!) Unfortunately, his resourcefulness contributed to his being unable to fly that day (sorry, Christopher. You're at the top of the priority list next time we fly.)

We had to shuffle gliders and pilots due to the delays on the ground. The local pilots were reluctant to land for fear of further ground handling bottlenecks (at least that's the excuse we used). Dennis and Steve shared a nice flight in the Blanik, and Dan (who officially joined) and Rick kept the 2-33 in the air for an hour and a half. Sam, who is getting close to solo, gave Tim a ride to 6500 feet.

Many volunteers worked hard to let us enjoy a full weekend of flying in only half a weekend's time. Special thanks go to Bob (driving to Post Mills and towing all day), Doug (driving, but not towing), Mary (cooking, organizing), Christopher (mowing, commandeering, fixing), and Lane (fixing).

We did a pretty good job of taking advantage of a beautiful soaring day, but there is still room for improvement. The easiest thing to do is to get out to the field earlier and be ready to launch as soon as the first cumulus appears.

Let's try to work on that.

And let's look for another golf cart.


Anonymous said...

And I missed flying this Sunday, being too far away...

Regarding the golf cart: I've been pushing for an electric one for years... There was a decent and not-distant deal on one recently on Craigslist:

I know, it's vulnerable to forgetting to recharge. Cest la vie. They've had an electric one at Morrisville for a couple of years now and it works for them. Should store the batteries indoors in the winter (and charge them every couple of months).

It is possible to reduce the need for charging somewhat by adding a solar panel on its roof (or as a roof). Since soaring days tend to be sunny, that'll help. Can fit about 200 watts worth, and solar panels now are down to $1/watt.

- Moshe

S2 said...

We would totally fail at keeping a golf cart battery charged and unfrozen.

Anonymous said...

Why fail? We charge up the glider batteries. One night without charge won't leave the cart batteries quite empty. A solar panel would help further. And a fully charged battery won't freeze either. And imagine: No more refueling the cart. No more finicky cold starts. No more fuel and oil leaks. No more clogged carburetors.

S2 said...

I guess you're right.

Anonymous said...

From a web page that tries to answer the "gas or electric" question:

"An electric cart will typically get around two hours of continuous motor run time before the batteries will need re-charging. This translates to anywhere between 18-25 miles ... [enough for a whole weekend, even if we cut that distance in half to account for towing gliders for part of the distance?]

... With electric carts your main [maintenance] concern lies within your batteries – make sure you check the water levels monthly (at least) and top-off as needed. The batteries are the life-blood of an electric car and with a replacement set costing well over $600 these days it’s not something you want to ignore. With proper maintenance of batteries and responsible charging habits you can expect to get 5-6 years ..."