Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Weekend report May 24 - 26

Our long weekend started off rather slowly with a cool, cloudy Saturday. Paul and Sonny showed up to work on their gliders, and Evan made the long drive to Post Mills to tow. In the end, there was no flying. Dan and Greg made a fuel run, and Dennis spent the day getting more familiar with his glider and trailer. At the end of the day (just before we got the Ventus back into the trailer) we were soaked by a passing storm.

Sunday was a different story altogether. The day showed every indication of overdeveloping, with low fat cumulus clouds in all directions at ten o'clock in the morning. For reasons we don't understand, the air dried out, the clouds rose, and we got an outstanding soaring day with very little wind. The four horsemen (EA, JD, 2W, S1) galloped off together on a 260 km triangle with turnpoints at Lake Willoughby and Mount Washington. They flew the whole course as a team and arrived back home together at the end of the day. Moshe (RU) and Skip (JS) went their separate ways.

Back home, Sam accomplished his field checkout and then flew the 2-33 for an hour, reaching 8300 feet in the process. Henry took the 1-23 for a short flight and vowed to fix the variometer. Yay for that!

Moshe took this picture of the scene at the end of the day:

The only glider missing in this picture (besides the photographer's) is the Blanik. Dennis had a nice 2.5 hour flight, making a perfect landing at 6:15, thereby missing his chance to volunteer to help de-rig the other gliders.  Clever guy.

Evan, who had volunteered the night before to tow again, brought his glider just in case he wasn't needed. That didn't work out for him at all. He spent the whole day in the L-19 and didn't complain once. I like this club.

At one point during the day we met one of our neighbors. This guy came out of the woods by the creek, marched diagonally across the runway, and accosted Dennis. The neighbor, whose name is Andy, was not happy. Apparently he has been listening to airplane noise for 15 years and has decided he's had enough. He chose this weekend to tell us about it. Dennis has a lot of experience with public relations. He listened to Andy's complaint and politely asked him where his house was. Andy's reply was classic: "Ask your towpilot. He knows exactly where it is!" And stomped off.

Andy, if you're reading this, please get back in touch and tell us who you are and where you live. We promise to try to work out a solution with you.  We're sorry that nobody told you there was an airport here 15 years ago.

Once again, the weather changed dramatically overnight. Monday's leaden sky did not inspire any optimism. Nevertheless, Skip (JS) and Tim (PM) took off, struggled, and managed to connect with the elusive Post Mills Wave.  They made it to a respectable height (around 6000 feet) right over the field. It was fun to watch them flying together, standing still.

Henry and Andy Lawrence combined to fly the 1-23 four times, and they are now both volunteering to improve the instruments in that glider. Yay, again!

Our towpilot on Monday was Doug, who, like Evan, drives a long way to enable the rest of us to fly. Doug wants to get back into the 304. Let's help him do that.

Altogether, a good weekend with good weather, good flying, good stories, and good volunteerism.  The only thing NESA did better this weekend was dining. We'll do better in that category next weekend, I'm sure.

Thursday, May 22, 2014


Sometimes F.O.A.M.S. (fear of missing something) is good.

Well I am not much of a writer, and I am definitely not a blogger, but yesterday definitely had some moments worth sharing.  So here goes.

Epic days like last Sunday with great conditions and terrific flying for all can have two very different effects on me.  They can scratch the itch and momentarily satisfy the need to get out, allowing me to settle into work and the other crap I have to do, or they can get me psyched to seize the next opportunity to get after it ASAP. Seeing Evan's ridiculous flight on Sunday put me in the latter mode, so I began to look for the best slacking opportunity the week had to offer.  Tuesday and Wednesday had the most potential.  Alas the need to work, high forecast winds, and Sawyer's lacrosse game (which was awesome) forced me to pass on Tuesday.  That night, reading about the Lone Slacker and Tim's great flight, as well as the XC Skies forecast made F.O.A.M.S. kick in big time.  I knew 2W and EA were also very susceptible to this disorder so we rallied Rick for a Wednesday Slacker Day.

And so the day began.  The long drive from Sterling, Massachusetts and my need to work in the morning forced a lateish start, about 90 minutes after the sky looked great:  AAARRRRGGGGHHHH! Since you miss 100% of the shots you do not take, and even though we were late, we decided to declare a 500 km task (Post Mills to Jeffersonville, Vermont to Mt Equinox to Mt Mansfield to Post Mills).  A bold declaration for 2W in his second season flying and only his second ever XC flight. Again you miss 100% of the shots you do not take.

First launch was at 11:45 and we were all in the air by 12:15.  (Thanks, Rick.)  After a bit of trouble hooking up, we were able to team fly in nice conditions to the first turnpoint.  From there it was 169 km south to Equinox.  Overdevelopment forced us west into strong conditions, allowing long, fast glides (no comment Evan) to the south.  We rounded the second turnpoint and headed east to lennie-capped clouds hoping for some wave to make finishing the task easy.  No dice, so northward we went, thermaling in deteriorating conditions.

5:20 PM and 25 miles south of Mansfield with clouds coming fast from the west and home within gliding range.  What is the smart decision?  Of course, stay on task, round the TP under a crappy sky and try to race back southeast to the sunny area.  Shocking, but this is where the game changed.

The lift completely shut down, 100% shade on the ground and 6:20 PM.  Not looking good for the home team at this point.  We decided to take what we had and glide back to Montpelier airport.  On the way I found a scrap of texture, dug deep into my hang gliding days and remembered that you do not need lift to climb if you just will the glider higher; it had nothing to do with my landing flap setting and long wings.  At this point 2W and EA were on the ground at Montpelier, and after a torturously slow, inconsistent barely working climb, I gained the 1000 feet I needed to comfortably (sort of) make it back to Post Mills.  By now it was very shady, almost dark and the air was flat, so I was confident that the likelihood of big sink was low.  I landed at 7:15, for what I think is a Diamond distance flight.  I am sure some technicality will disqualify it, but who cares?

By this time EA had talked to Rick, and Rick and Henry had the trailers ready to go.  By the way, Henry flew 3J yesterday, congrats Henry. Rick and I went to retrieve EA and 2W and had a great (not) Chinese dinner in Barre on the way home.  We pulled into Post Mills at 11:30.

Days like that make me thankful I am a member of a club like the PMSC.  This is a great sport, but it takes help and support.  We have a special thing here.

Team flying rules!


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Lone Slacker rides again

Tim (PM) had a nice flight today, a day that featured both strong lift and strong wind. He rode the choppy thermals up to Franconia, then over to East Barre, where he decided he'd had enough turbulence for one day. He glided all the way home from there (44 km).

Monday, May 19, 2014

More photos from Sunday

Photos by Steve Siegler.  See Andy's panorama, too.

Weekend report May 17 - 18

After a dozen years or so, the Experimental Balloon Association springtime festival came back to Post Mills this weekend, and our club wasn't completely sure how to handle it.  The optimists predicted that we might be able to squeeze in a few flights on Sunday (after the event was officially over).  The pessimists, remembering the pandemonium of years past, were pessimistic.

The optimists were right! The balloonists and spectators were well-behaved, and, for the most part, the runway was kept clear of parades, sunbathers, and fire trucks Sunday afternoon.  Some say that this was attributable to the air traffic control services provided by Charlie Zue on Unicom (Thanks, Charlie!).  Others say that the fact that the revelers have aged 12 years since the last one had something to do with it.

The flying on Sunday was spectacular, with climbs above 8000 feet with pegged varios being reported.  So far, Greg (JD), Evan (T8), Sonny (LT), Skip (JS), and Dan (EA) have posted flights on OLC.  Evan, who wrote about the day (Thanks, Evan!), may claim yet another Vermont distance record.

Thanks to Andy for towing and to Bill Swartz for instructing on Sunday.

I like this club

An amazing number of things went haywire this week, any one of which could have grounded us.  In the end, we got it all working.  Even better, we did it all with volunteer labor.  Well done, especially Andy for getting our fuel situation figured out (and volunteering to tow on the best XC day so far this year) and Henry for working with Brian on the balloon fest.  Also my personal thanks to whomever got the golf cart fueled and running after I ran it out of gas near the South launch area (sorry!).

Conditions yesterday were spectacular, in case you didn't notice.  Well done, mother nature.

A scene on the way back from Goffstown, NH, sometime after 5pm...

Coda to a beautiful soaring day.  About 7:20pm.  Turn up the volume.  (Thanks Dan!)


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Slacker report - May 8

Moshe (RU) and the flock of slackers (Greg (JD), Dan (EA) and Tom (2W)) flew for the second day in a row.  Everyone found some wave which topped out at nearly 11,000'.  Here is Moshe's report:

The forecast was for light winds, dry air, thermals without cumulus, and patches of high clouds from the approaching warm front stalled by the remnant high pressure. In the morning the sky was blue but with lenticular clouds in several locations, including one large cloud that kept Post Mills in the shade until noon. We watched as the wisps of the cloud streamed towards the SE past the sun, but the leading edge on the NW kept reforming. We almost gave up on flying, but Andy arrived to tow and up we went, Greg, Dan, Tom and Moshe. Lift in the hills to the NW of PM was weak, and one of us needed a relight. Thanks for the tows Andy! The thermals were rather weak down low and much stronger higher up, sometimes changing from a broken +1 knot at 4000 to +10 knots at 7000 in the same thermal. There were also large patches of strong sink, especially east of the river. The pack scattered in all directions around Mt. Cube, with Greg finding wave to 10,000 while others sunk to below 4000 and clawed their way up again. The winds aloft were not clear and quite variable with altitude. The MPV ASOS reported 11 knots from the NE in mid-afternoon but from the NW an hour later. The wave clouds disappeared early and the sky was turning more and more milky. After falling into too many sinkholes Moshe gave up on the NH side and retreated back to Vermont where both the lift and the sink were tamer and the thermals reached 8000 feet even approaching 5pm. The others made it to Moosilauke and back. As Greg said, it's always better than it looks!


Friday, May 9, 2014

It's Spring!

(Best if you click through to youtube and view in HD) -T8

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Slacker report - May 7

Slacker season got off to a great start with Evan (T8) taking the first tow a 11:00.  Evan had big ambitions which didn't pan out but he still managed a 7 hour tour of Morrisville VT, Newport VT and Gorham NH for 591 OLC points (520 km).  This was the longest flight recorded for the day in the US and 3rd in the world.  If you count his drive to the airport and back he would have got 900 points.

Greg (JD), Dan (EA), Tim (PM) and our friend Tom (2W) from GBSC flew up to Old Spec Mountain in Maine like a giant flock of plastic birds (squawking the whole way).  Clouds and thermals were reliable up to 7,500'.  Moshe (RU) past the flock as it was on its way back to PM then found wave that the others missed at Mt. Madison and went up to 10,000'.  Mark (HG) had a little XC flight to Mount Moosilauke.  And Dennis flew 3J for a few hours (how was it Dennis?).

Thanks for towing Andy.  And thanks for the ground support Keith.

Here are some of Moshe's pictures:

Climbing in Weak Wave

Mt. Washington

Mt. Washington from 10,000'

Mt. Moosilauke


Weekend report - May 3-4

Saturday saw 7 flights with Evan towing (thanks Evan).  Greg (JD) and Tim (PM) managed a couple 3 hour flights without seeing the sun once.  Mark practiced going up and down.  And Andy (by riding shotgun) help Ben, Henry and Dennis get going for the season.  Sunday was a bust.