Friday, June 24, 2016

It isn't as easy as it looks

to catch this guy's wingtip every day.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Weekend Report - June 17-19

Rick is off to the Open Class Nationals in Nephi, UT so I am reporting this week.  Rick is crewing for Dick Butler and his Concordia.  The Concordia is probably the highest performance sailplane ever built.  Here's a picture I stole off the web.  They say its Rick but I'm not sure.

Friday was a spectacular day.  Andy towed 7 slackers and everyone had good flights except Evan (T8) who had a spectacular flight.  Evan flew a declared 600 km triangle for a NH state record and then add a few more km to score 860 OLC points.   Ok, Greg (JD)  had a spectacular flight too.  It was his personal best, 610 OLC points.  Dan (EA) and Tim (PM) had flights 500 and 400 km.  Dennis (DC) had a very nice flight to Lafayette.  Henry and Andy Lawrence had nice long, and high local flights.   Here is a picture from cloud base (8500') looking toward Lake Champlain (Sugarbush, Camels Hump and Mansfield are visible) at 6 pm.

At the end of the day I got in one more spectacular flight.  A beautiful evening flight in the Birddog to bring Dan home from Franconia.

Saturday was almost a repeat of Friday.  Evan (T8) put in 600 km, Greg (JD), Dan (EA) and Tom (2W) put in 400 km each, and Dennis (DC) went back to the Whites.  I heard rumors that Paul (S1) ended up at the Mt. Snow Airport and was retrieved by a scab tow plane from VSF but the flight log is mysteriously missing.  Dakai, Henry, Rick Sayles, Skip, Don and Willy took training flights or extended local flights.  Thanks for towing Doug, and Lane and Gregg for instructing.

On Sunday the pilots rested.  Dan (EA), Greg (JD), and Tom (2W) took leisurely flights up to Mt. Washington.   Dakai, Heather, and Matt flew locally.

After this weekend PMSC has 3 of the top 5 place on the OLC for Region 1.


Thursday, June 16, 2016

The new (old) Post Mills Airport

The tree removal work began on Saturday and since I wasn't able to make that day I don't know who showed up other than Dan, Greg and Don. I'm sure there were more.

On Sunday there were at least 15 people, many with chainsaws, all with grit in their teeth.

Hard to say but I'm sure many hundreds of trees came down and either went into the chipper, were chunked up and tossed over the bank or were saved for later use.

Evan feeding the chipper
This is the new view from the south end of runway 5. Note the west side is cleared and that the very large pine is felled.

Hard to see now that they're gone but many trees on the east side of 5 will not be reaching out to snag your wingtip anymore.

Runway 4, left side trees are now gone (this is a before/during photo). Also 2 by the halfway house. This will make the runway at least 15' wider, not that this area will be continuously mowed but it will be much safer.

I'm not naming names but some guys just sat around all day... not.

Personally I wasn't a bit tired at the end of this day of "light work", maybe some of the other guys were tired... but not me, nope.

More tree will be removed from the property south of the airport so eventually the approaches will be fantastic. There are many more trees that need to be removed but this was pretty much all we could handle. The rest need heavy equipment and or an Army of men with chainsaws.

Many many thanks to everyone who helped out, this was above and beyond in terms of effort. Special thanks to Dan and Greg for their expertise in tree cutting. Also many thanks to Brian for making this happen.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

T8 in a Field

Saturday, June 4, my ambition got the better of me and I landed in a field at North Umberland, NH shortly after 6pm, 59 air miles from Post Mills.

I was flying with Greg near Morrisville and I got suckered by some clouds to the Northeast and the six knot thermal I found there.  Concluding that the day still had some life, I set off for Burke.  Greg, sensibly, headed for Post Mills, it was after 5pm.  My plan was to get a climb at Burke under good looking clouds, hit the high ground on the far side of the Connecticut river valley (more good clouds), then glide to Twin Mountain and figure it out from there.  The wind was 310-ish at 12, I knew I could expect it to be stronger on the White Mountains, there would be ridge lift and a few isolated thermals on the high ground.  I'd get home.  It was going to be epic.  500K on a difficult day. Well, not quite.

Arriving at Burke, I flew under what were now tired looking clouds with  no lift to speak of.  The only decent prospects were to the North.  So North I went.  Unfortunately, those clouds didn't work much better, so after a brief climb, I took a hard look at the bear country to the East.  I could see bits & pieces of the CT river valley between mountains, it looked doable.  The flight computer agreed. There were some clouds on the near side of the CT valley I knew I could reach, but I was getting less hopeful about making it all work.  Clouds over the higher ground on the far side of the CT valley looked very good.  Those slopes were baking in late afternoon sun, but I didn't have the altitude to get there.

Contingency time!  I've still got an easy glide to West Burke and Caledonia Co airports, but I'll definitely be landing when I get there.  I know the CT river valley has numerous landable fields and heading that way at least offers a chance of continuing the flight.  Good enough.  Off we go... with only about 4500'.

The rest of the flight was simple enough.  I made the West side of the CT and the clouds there gave me a couple hundred feet.  Still not enough to get on the high ground across the valley.  It's time to re-order the priorities.  Time to stop soaring & start landing.  I'm well within range of the (abandoned?) airport at Groveton, condition unknown.  There aren't any clouds or any other reason to go that way (North) and the airport doesn't have any secondary landing option close by in case the airport for some reason proves unsuitable.  The valley in my immediate vicinity has a bunch of decent fields, including some really big, really flat corn fields (newly sprouted, very landable) and this absolute gem of a newly cut hay field.  It's airport sized and flat, no obvious obstacles, the approach will be over tall trees (just like home, er just like home used to be!), but no issues at all.  

Decision made, I fly across the valley in the rapidly fading hope of getting sucked up those Western facing slopes.  I'm too low with about 80% certainty, but no harm in exploring as long as I don't get carried away.  I press in next to the mountains and I can feel the air bubbling... it's still working up there alright, but I'm not going to connect -- at least without a little more time to explore -- and I am out of time. I'm right at my comfort limit for altitude and it's time to go.

Back to my field... I set up a high left base, turn final, clear the trees, pick a nice smooth spot.

Retrieve logistics are always a little anxiety inducing.  The actual tale is a little tedious. Here are some key words -- you can connect the dots: cell phone, low battery, poor service, text messaging, charger pack, Spot tracker, GPS gibberish (decimal degrees vs decimal minutes vs deg / min / sec), sunset time.

Retrieve arranged, I have some time to amuse myself, so I walk off the landing roll (70 paces), walk the access road (no issues), take some pictures, make friends with the farmer, his wife and kids.  I'm told this field is popular in Winter months with ski plane pilots, and I can see why.  The kids are eyeballing the cockpit and I don't have to be a mind reader to figure it out.  "Would you like to try on the cockpit for size?"

Future Glider Pilots
Lane and Anne played fetch and arrived just after sunset (it's a two hour drive) and we had just enough twilight to get everything in the box.  Afterward, we had a nice dinner in Lancaster.  It sure is nice having friends willing to drop what they are doing to pitch in and help with a retrieve (I'll promise not to make a habit of it)!


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Soaring King

There is a hospital on top of the ridge in Cumberland, Maryland, about 95 miles southwest of the home base of the Mifflin Soaring Association in central Pennsylvania.  About 45 miles northeast of Mifflin is the small town of Nisbet, just across the river from Williamsport.  A system of ridges connects the two. Last month, Dan MacMonagle declared that he would fly down to the hospital, then up to Nisbet, then back to the hospital, then home, for a total distance of 761 km. Then he did it!

In his five seasons as a sailplane pilot, Dan’s soaring achievements have qualified him for several legs of FAI Badges.

Because he’s lazy
 For some reason, he hasn’t made any pre-flight declarations or post-flight claims until this flight.

With the help of Jim David and Rick Roelke, Dan completed the necessary paperwork and submitted a sextuple claim to SSA, which might be a record in itself.

Last week, Dan got the word from SSA that this flight has earned him:
  • Silver/Gold Duration (5 hours)
  • Silver Distance (50 km)
  • Gold Distance (300 km)
  • Diamond Goal (300 km declared)
  • Diamond Distance (500 km)
  • FAI Diploma (750 km)
And, best of all, he gets to wear the PMSC “Soaring King” medallion on his T-shirt. Congratulations, Dan!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Unexpected Spring Wave

Dan (EA) had an unexpected wave adventure on Tuesday.  It was a sunny windy day and the thermals were not predicted to be too strong but he found a thermal off of tow and thermalled all the way to 8,000'.  From there he transitioned into wave just north of Lake Morey and went up to 14,000'.

He then hopped one wave length (5 nm) up wind to Vershire where he recorded his highest altitude, 15,000'.   Dan said there were cumulus clouds but they were widely dispersed and not much help marking the wave.  I am sure his Dell Streak with XC Soar helped him maintain position in the lift. 4 more hops (5 nm each) up wind and he was in the Sugarbush primary.  Dan was planning to surf the wave down to Killington but it slipped away.   He had to thermal his way back to Sugarbush then home to Post Mills and never connected with the wave again.

The Skew-T plot for the day shows a classic wind profile for wave but boundary layer (unstable air) goes much higher (8,000') than you would normally expect for a wave day. 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

First Land Out

Greg (JD)
and Dan (EA) landed out in Claremont yesterday.  In the 5 years that they have been flying sailplanes Dan has landed out a couple of times but Greg had never landed out before.  The infrequency of land outs is remarkable for both pilots but especially for Greg.  According to OLC in his 5 year career he has 115 XC flights covering 20,199 km (12,551 miles).  This is definitely a PMSC record and probably some sort of world record.  His long streak was finally brought down by bugs.

Bug collector

This might have something to do with Greg's incomplete flight yesterday:

Now we know what to get him for his birthday.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Weekend Report May 28 - 30 and then some

The longest stretch of flying we've ever had at Post Mills. Seven days in a row and still counting.

It went something like this:

Dennis (DC), Moshe (RU), Tony (N4), Greg (JD), and Dan (EA) showed up and had flights totaling 746 km. Tim gets extra credit for towing (but not flying) on a Slacker Day.

Tim and Don repaired a dribbly fuel drain valve on the towplane and decided to do a test flight.  Tim flew 24W, and Don flew 3J.

We had 19 flights, and Doug towed all of them, including an aeroretrieve from Dean (thanks Doug). Eric took a couple of rides in the Blanik, then made his first FAA-approved flight as Pilot in Command in the USA.  It seems strange to congratulate an accomplished glider pilot on his first solo, so we won't do that. Instead, we'll say Congratulations to Eric on smiling while complying!

(We really need to get an official PMSC hat.  That's probably the only way to keep Evan from advertising other clubs in our News.  Or maybe photoshop).

Tim (AT), Greg (JD), Dennis (DC), Dan (EA) and Moshe (RU) had cross-country flights. Tim and Greg declared an ambitious 500 km task, two round trips to Old Speck Mountain, which is way up north in Maine, 15 miles past Gorham. Greg actually made it, landing at Post Mills a little after 6:30 pm.  Tim fell to earth at Dean Memorial airport on his second trip north. Meanwhile, Dennis flew up to Mt. Moosilauke, and Dan took a crazy trip around Lake Winnepesaukee. Nobody does that in a glider. Moshe made it up to Franconia and took the long way back.

Back at Post Mills, Tony (N4) and Sonny (LT) flew locally, and to top the day off, new member Heather Benson and her family got their first glider flights.

This was an instructional day, much less hectic than Saturday. Dakai and Skip flew in the Blanik with Moshe, and Evan towed.  Dan and Greg took the opportunity to plan some much needed deforestation at the south end of the runway.

Sunday evening we enjoyed a pleasant cookout, with 20 attendees, and we didn't run out of anything. Thanks, contributors!

Despite a pessimistic email from our Director of Operations, Lane and Tim came out to the field, waited for the ceiling to lift, and then flew in the afternoon.

Dan (EA) continues to celebrate his retirement, and the rest of us wonder why he hasn't moved to Vermont. The day was a bit windy, and he waited till just before noon to take off.  His first climb was to 15000 feet in wave (probably a Post Mills local altitude record, not sure).  He found another climb in the Sugarbush primary and wandered down to Killington, where he fell out of the wave.  On his way back to Post Mills, he took a selfie to send to all his flying buddies who were stuck at work yesterday. Unfortunately, the photo is not suitable for a family-oriented newsletter.

Six slackers launched, and not all of them came back.  Tony (N4) landed at Dean. Greg (JD) and Dan (EA) fell to earth at Claremont. Tim (AT), Dennis (DC) and Jim (US) made it home. After an aeroretrieve, Tony joined Dennis for a roadtrip to Claremont to get Dan and Greg.

Thanks to Evan for most of the content of this report.