Friday, November 24, 2006

Passenger flight

Friends were in town for Thanksgiving, and one wanted to go for a flight. So we headed out today. Since it was a Friday, there were very few people at the gliderport... just one other from my club. We took off in a Blanik L13 at 10:40. We intentionally went early to have smooth air, since this was Mark's first time in any small aircraft. I've learned from taking other passengers that it's best to take it really easy - no thermaling, 'cuz the circling can make people airsick if they're not used to it. And it certainly was smooth. Not even a hint of lift until we were back down to about 1200' AGL, and then it wasn't even zero sink, not enough to sustain us.

Mark had a great time, looking around at the mountains and lakes and taking pictures. We took a 4000' tow since we knew there would be no lift. It was pretty hazy at ground level, but clear above about 2500' AGL. No other gliders aloft, no birds... a couple of power planes well below us. Mark was fine with the flying and turning, so I circled once or twice just as we were at the Initial Point, no more than about 35 degrees of bank. Later he said that was his favorite part! So he probably would have been fine with thermaling, but you never know.

I flew from the rear seat, which I have not done for quite a while. In the Blanik, it's really quite easy to fly from there - the visibility is great. And this particular ship flies really nice. It just came out of annual, and it's really smooth. (I noticed I was a little high on early tow, fighting to keep down with the towplane. Trimming farther forward took care of that problem.) Later, I flew hands-off for a while, and it stayed perfectly on pitch and stayed wings-level for probably 15-20 seconds. We ended up with a 24-minute flight, a little less than I expected. I focused on my landing, since I've had a few rough ones lately. I spotted my aiming point better, kept my speed up through the flare, and had a very smooth two-point touchdown and short rollout. Very nice!

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