Sunday, February 25, 2007

Fabulous February Flying

Well, maybe "fabulous" is too strong a word, but we had pretty decent conditions all day yesterday. Two days post-frontal, very clear, about 10 degrees above trigger temperature. Lots of people had hour-long flights, and came down only because their time was up. Pretty amazing for February!

In the morning I took a visitor up for a flight in a Blanik. Fortunately this was not his first glider flight, so he was OK with all the turning and ups and downs and was looking forward to soaring. Unfortunately (due to scheduling) we took off at 11:37, before things really heated up. We found a bit of zero to 1 kt lift, enough to keep us up for just a few minutes beyond a simple glide. His friend went up about 15 minutes later and got an hour-long flight. He wanted to try his hand at flying (he flies R/C, and has been flying the Condor glider simulator for a while), so I let him. He found out pretty quickly that the real world is harder... after just a few seconds of straight flight he was ready to hand it back.

Then in the afternoon I took a flight in the PW5. Although I didn't take off until 15:37, lots of lift was being reported. I pulled the release at 2200' AGL (3700 MSL) in good lift... and immediately flew out of it. After wondering for a few minutes about the wisdom of this low release, I found a good thermal that had been reported in the same place all afternoon. It wasn't really strong, but did produce about 3 kt at times. I circled right up below a fellow club member in his Standard Cirrus. The thermal topped out at 5800 MSL. With no smog to speak of, and no visible inversion layer, the view was spectacular!

I wandered around for a while, then came back and tanked up in the same thermal, this time sharing it with a Krasnow. I was above him by a couple hundred feet. Circling at the same speed with another glider is fun. They stay in the same relative position, and the world goes around in circles below you. It's like there's an invisible rope or something linking the two aircraft. Unfortunately I did not bring my camera along this time. Eventually he headed northeast toward the "S" ridge, and I headed southwest and flew over the town of Winchester. I eventually sped up and did lazy circles just to get back down after an hour.

On downwind in the pattern, I hardly lost any altitude at all, so I ended up really high on the base leg. I needed a turning slip and then a forward slip for most of the final approach to lose altitude. My mainwheel touchdown was pretty gentle, but the nose wheel came down pretty firmly. Rollout was nice and straight, and I came to rest with my wings level. I think I need to learn more about "wheel" landings - how to keep the nose up after touchdown, and set it down gently, or how to touch down in a more level attitude. This probably comes from having learned in taildraggers (Blaniks) where you "hold off" by slowly pulling the stick back, letting the mainwheel and tailwheel touch down simultaneously. Comments welcomed! Always something more to learn!


  • First time I've allowed a passenger to take the controls
  • First time I've flown two models aof aircraft in the same day

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