Monday, February 22, 2016

Breakfast at the Norwich Inn

Big turn out for Sunday's breakfast at the Norwich Inn.  Next week - Eaton's Sugar House.
photo by Keith

Monday, February 8, 2016

Wave Flight - February 6

Had another nice wave flight on Saturday.  I took a long tow to the primary but wasn't able to connect so I drop back to Little Ascutney.  From there I was able to thermal into the secondary.  Here is a picture from 8,500' over Little Ascutney looking toward Okemo:

This is the first flight this year where clouds did not obscure the primary around Killington.  This is the view from Plymouth looking toward Killington:

Climbing in the Killington wave to about 12,000':

I followed to the primary to Sugarbush where I climbed to 15,000':

This is the view from Sugarbush looking north.   There was more wave to follow but I was already shirking my tow pilot duties (sorry Walter) and I chickened out.  I turned around:

I got to Middlebury Ski Bowl but the primary hole was getting hazy and heading south with the lowering sun I couldn't tell where to fly to stay in the primary so I headed downwind into a secondary hole.  I got a little lost.  I knew I was 28 nm from VSF (15 nm from 2B9, 11 nm from LEB) and I could see I89 down through the hole but I couldn't tell if the secondary hole was going to lead me too far downwind (like to Sunapee).   I knew I could drop through the hole and land at 2B9 or LEB but I really wanted to get back to VSF.  So I tanked up with a little more altitude and carefully headed south.  At about 20 nm out I spotted the Mt. Ascutney ski runs and knew I was home free.  The hole led me straight back to the airport.  Its nice of the ski industry to create these giant land marks for us but I guess its time to get a moving map display.

- Tim

Learn to Race Race

 From Rick Roelke of GBSC:
Warning long story...

As you may or may not know, there is a serious effort to bring a Region One Contest back to New England.  The driving force behind this is our newest member and CFIG Chris Giacomo.  I have been lending peripheral support, and am sending out this email, and the following invite to describe what an enormous opportunity this is to have in our own back yard.  It will be supported and run by many of our own club members.  Roy will be the Contest Director, the location is Springfield VT wich is close and a very nice facility, located near the very landable Connecticut river valley.

I was privileged to attend the Mifflin Learn to Race Race in 2002, and it was hands down, the most successful, educational, enjoyable advanced flying "school" I have ever had the chance to attend.   To put this in perspective, I had been flying my 304 for two years before this contest.  I was not interested in contest flying, but a fellow member (Bill Hall) talked me into going.  He was flying his Ls-8 for about a year and saw that the Region 2 contest was reverse seaded (preferential entries for rank beginners) and set up as a learning experience.  Not only would there be training and tasks set to accommodate beginners, but also classes on the rain days from many soaring notables.  

Well, Bill twisted my arm, and actually 3 of us complete newbies headed down for the contest.  I had flown my silver and gold distance in NE and as luck would have it, had a crackin good day out of Sterling and flew my diamond distance just before I left for the contest, but there were many contestants there with only silver official distance.  

The contest staff, the "advisors" were all very patient, friendly, and incredibly helpful to get us tuned up on contest procedures.  The support of haveing a retrieve office in case of a land out was very comforting.  We (the three musketeers) were crewing for each other, but really the entire group was crewing for each other.   Every day there is a pilot meeting where you are briefed on the weather, the task and after the first day, a talk by the previous day's winner.  The structure of this meeting, and the relevance of the day winners talk (after all, you were flying the same task, and can learn how they did it better) provided daily encouragement that you could really do this thing.  

In that this was my first ever contest, there was no chance I was going to win, there was far too much I still had to learn.  But I think that is what keeps me in this sport, there is always more to learn.  This first contest setting was rich in learning opportunity.  No pressure to win, yet a great opportunity to compare your skills, and techniques against your peers as well as your mentors.  

I think 70% of contest pilots fly contests not to get on the podium, but to enjoy the comradery, the support, and organization that the contest structure provides.  In the end, I flew more than the 1100k total over five days, far more than I would have done at home.  Not only learned about contests, the amazingly efficient contest launch procedures, but much more about cross country flying in general.  

At the end of the contest, I was looking at the score sheet, and commented to Bill that I wondered how I placed compared to other pilots with zero contest experience, and he replied that he wondered how he compared to pilots with under 100hrs of experience!

The coming Region One contest is modeled after this learn to race race, with a few notable exceptions (that we hope are improvements).  One, the contest is split over two weekends, to make it easier to find the time.  Second it will have a strong two place showing.  This will allow new contest pilots to fly with experienced pilots.  We hope that new contest pilots will come and fly their own gliders, and still have the option to fly a day in a two place if there are interested.  There will also be a bus class (if we can field enough "buses" where ask 21 / pw6 / pooch / perhaps we might dust off the long tips for an L-23) and fly these gliders in a class by themselves, again with experienced pilots mentoring new pilots, both Jrs as well as older fledglings.

Lastly for those that have the time, tows will be available during the week for free flying / olc tasks.  But the real opportunity for advanced learning will be by entering the contest.  The organizers have really worked to keep the fees very reasonable, but because of this the breakeven for the fixed costs require a minimum number of pilots, if we can't achieve this number, then we will need to cancel.  So if you are up for a fantastic XC experience, please sign up soon.  Details to follow.


PS from the Editor: who was the last winner of the Region One contest?

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Wave Flight - February 4

Nice wave flight at VSF but I had taken my oxygen tank out to get it refilled. I reinstalled it and did a leak check but forgot to turn it back on before take-off. I got to 14,000' then dropped back to 12,000' for the rest of the flight. At 14,000' I was still climbing at 2-3 kts.

Up high the wind was very strong and out of the south. Flew north about 23 nm to Sharon When I turn around the computer said I had a 74 kt head wind back to VSF. I took a long time to get back.

Okemo Mountain's "largest vertical drop in VT" doesn't look so large from here.

Airspeed 70 kts, Groundspeed zero, 5.1 kts on the averager.

I followed the hole left of the 'L' in Lebanon to Sharon.  Could not access the primary because of the clouds.