Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Wave flight

 Andy Kozak (2R) writes:

May 31, 2024 - My most spectacular flight! 

The Skysight forecast was for strong NNW winds with high cloud bases. I had left my glider in the trailer overnight at Post Mills Airfield and was once again going to fly with Tim Chow (BU) and Greg Hanlon (JR). The morning sky showed lenticular clouds, indicating the presence of wave, although Skysight had not predicted wave. We prepared our oxygen systems. My pulse oximeter system can be preset to automatically provide oxygen once I am over 10,000 feet. All I then have to do is put on a nasal cannula. 

The goal for the day was Sugarloaf mountain. in Maine, 250 miles round trip. 

Here are Tim and Greg over Lake Fairlee. Post Mills is just to the left of the lake.

Photo by Andy Kozak

I topped off first and set off hoping to spend at least some of the day leading. This would not last long. After a climb over Piermont Mountain, I was a bit higher so I probed the leading edge of the cloud, hoping to connect to wave. Tim and Greg continued on course and I was suddenly off course and behind. 

For any sustained longer term flight, being able to thermal in consistent, steeply banked (45+ deg.) circles is critical. The NESA 1-34 is great for this with relatively good performance and a good trim control to reduce your workload. It helps to have a relaxed, light touch on the controls. 

Finding myself behind I was anything but relaxed and my thermaling showed. Greg reported good lift over Mount Lafayette but by the time I got there it may have been too late, or I was just not flying well. 

The thermal seemed broken up; there was noticeable strong drift over the 5,000 foot peaks, and I did not have a lot of room to work with. I was forced to penetrate out toward the northern entrance to Franconia notch. I flew through what seemed the worst extended sink and strongest turbulence I have experienced. 

Then, as if by magic it all changed. I turned the corner past Mount Lafayette and flew over of the north facing Lafayette ridge. A two place ship from the Franconia club was thermaling further to the east along the ridge. It was bright and sunny, with smooth air. After gaining some altitude on the ridge I headed for the clouds in the valley. I was somewhat low but within an easy glide of either Franconia, Mount Washington or Twin Mountain airfields. 

After gaining altitude over Cherry Mountain, the clouds provided mostly straight line flight with minimal circling toward Mount Washington. At 9,000 feet. I put on the nasal cannula. I passed just to the south of the summit. To my surprise there was no sink. Lift seemed to come in surges that threatened to pull me up into the clouds. I blundered about over the Carter range until Tim suggested I fly back toward Mount Washington and over the “Horn”. This is the sharp, uphill, left turn under my wingtip:

Photo by Andy Kozak

It used to be customary that drivers on the Mount Washington auto road sounded their horn at this turn. The road was narrower at that time. It is a well known location for wave lift. 

I found smooth, steady 2-3 knot lift. Not very strong for wave. Greg and Tim had topped out at 13,000 feet and headed NE toward Old Speck Mountain, but I was too low to follow and very content to continue climbing.

In this photo you can see Huntington Ravine as the prominent rock bowl in the lower left third of the frame and at the bottom you can see snow in Tuckerman ravine, a mecca for extreme skiing.

Photo by Andy Kozak

And here I am  at 16,500 feet next to a lenticular cloud:

Photo by Andy Kozak

At that point I noticed a much higher lenticular cloud had formed just to my south. I lost some altitude getting to it but there was good lift along its leading edge:

Photo by Andy Kozak

At 17,800 feet I headed away from the lift so as not to violate Class A airspace. It looked like the cloud and likely the lift, extended another 10,000 feet higher.

The flight back was smooth and fast. Once at cumulus cloud level, turbulence restarted and continued down to the ground. 

We never reached our goal but found something special. The White Mountains are beautiful viewed from the air as well as from the ground. Add cumulus and lenticular clouds and their associated shadows and the views on this flight were spectacular. The OLC link is here

Friday, May 17, 2024

A real outlanding

We had a Slacker Day on Monday.  Greg (JR), Tim (BU), and David (JD) flew away, and our new member Shawn got a couple of lessons in the 2-33.

The XC guys had great flights, but only one of them made it back home.  At the end of the day, Andy hooked up Tim's trailer while Greg quickly disassembled and stowed his glider.  Then Andy flew the towplane to Dean to fetch David, and Greg hit the road to go get Tim in Bradford.

Congratulations to everyone for the teamwork - and to Tim for making the first real outlanding of the year.

Photo by Tim Chow

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Town Meeting January 22

The future of the airport was discussed by the Thetford Selectboard for the first time last night.

It was listed on the agenda as an "update," so we didn't expect any public discussion or debates.  And we were not disappointed in that.

There were six Selectboard members and nine members of the public (mostly airport supporters) at the meeting, and there were about fifteen others tuning in on Zoom.

The update consisted of a report from the Selectboard that the bequest from our former owner was still being discussed, out of public view, between lawyers representing the town and the estate.  So, no definitive proposals exist yet.

Reading between the lines, it seems that the town has three options:
  1. Accept ownership of the airport and form a business plan to operate it.
  2. Accept ownership, and then transfer it to a private entity.
  3. Refuse ownership.
The Chair of the Selectboard expressed doubt that the Option 1 could be made to work (this is good news).  Then another member of the Selectboard said that Option 2 (which all parties seem to favor) is tricky, but possible.  He explained that there might have to be an appeal to the Probate Court to allow this.  Nobody mentioned Option 3.

The bottom line is that we are still at the very beginning of the discussion about the future of the airport.  We must continue to wait for the estate to be settled and for the lawyers to let us know what they think is possible.

The good news is that everyone in the room agreed that the continued operation of the airport is in the best interest of the town.  The Selectboard remarked about the level of interest shown by the community (both in person and online).  The Chair, noting the unusual turnout, thanked us for being there and took our picture to mark the occasion.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

This is not real

How many discrepancies can you spot?

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

All flights 2021


Weekend report April 30 - May 1

There was good flying on both days of the weekend, but Sunday was better.

We welcomed new member David Schafer on Saturday, and he got two lessons in the Blanik, the second of which lasted over an hour.  Dennis (DC) finally got in the air for his first flight of the season, and Greg (JR) and Evan (T8) flew together on a 400 km zigzag flight that took them to both the White Mountains and the Green Mountains.

Sunday was the day we have all been waiting for.  Excellent lift in blue conditions.  It was very good in the high ground, and Greg (JR), Dan (EA), David (JD), Rick (LEL), and Kari (2C) all made it up to Mount Washington.  Moshe (RU) explored central Vermont, with turns at Montpelier and Lebanon, where he was happy not to land.

When David got back from the mountains, he made several O&R excursions and finally landed after everyone else had gone home.

This was David's first serious cross country flight, with a credited distance of 312 km.  He flew for over 7 hours, which may be a duration record for a flight out of Post Mills.

Back in Post Mills, Pete D (3BA) and Paul (S1) made local flights, and Sonny made the mistake of flying his airplane on an outstanding soaring day.

Thanks to Don and Andy for towing, and to Darrek for improving the 1-26 trailer.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Ridge winds

 On April 25, the wind forecast for two days later looked like this:

Recognizing that it doesn't get better than this, Evan dropped everything, planned an out-and-return record flight, and spent the next day driving to Eagle Field in Pennsylvania.

On April 27, he took an auto-pulley tow at 07:30 and proceeded northeast to his start/finish point at Lock Haven.  From there he flew about 400 miles to his turnaround point at Gate City, Virginia.  He then flew back to Lock Haven to complete the task.  He landed back at Eagle Field, after 11 hours in the air.

His total OLC distance was 1436 km, which was the longest flight in the world on that day.  The flight should qualify as a new National O&R Distance record.

Congratulations, Evan!

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Opening Day

A lot happened on April 18, our first day of operations at Post Mills.

First of all, the weather was beautiful.

Andy and Don traveled up to Franklin County airport to pick up our freshly-painted towplane.  While they were gone, our new roller (donated by St. Johnsbury Academy = arranged by Andy L and Bob D) arrived on a really big boom truck.

At the end of the day we had two preseason checkrides and four current towpilots.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Region One Contest

Our friends at NESA have announced that they have applied for a sanction to organize the 2022 Region One contest at Springfield.

It will be in the Sports Class and "Bus" (2-seat trainer) classes, and the dates are July 2 - 9, 2022.

Check the contest webpage for more information.

All it takes to enter is a Silver Badge, and all it takes to become a volunteer is to volunteer.  It's a great learning experience if you haven't seen an official contest before.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Thursday, November 11, 2021