Saturday, September 16, 2006


Our club ran an internal contest today. Each flight competes for duration, distance, altitude gain, timing, and spot landing. To keep it fun for all, students can participate because they can fly with an instructor. This was my first time.

Soaring conditions were not forecast to be great. So the timed goal was a 30-minute flight: whoever comes closest to 30 minutes, from start of takeoff roll to first touchdown, wins. Since a "sled ride" from 3000' takes about 17 minutes, some soaring would be necessary. The spot landing involves stopping coming as close as possible to a cone (measured from the nose of the plane) without going past.

Some people found decent lift and got altitude gains of 2000 and 2700 feet. I never got above my release altitude. No one went very far from the airport, so the distance part will not be so hot.

My flight was 28 minutes and 30 seconds. At least two people were even closer. My landing was 7 feet from the cone and again, at least two were better. Lots of people rolled past the target.

The timed flight was interesting, since I had not tried to do that before. I estimated how long the pattern and landing would take, worked backward to what time I needed to enter the pattern, then arranged to bleed off altitude so I entered the pattern at the right time and the right altitude. Not too hard. But I overestimated how long the pattern would take. I guessed 4 minutes, and it was more like 2.5.

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