Thursday, December 13, 2007

Blown out

It seemed like everything was conspiring to prevent me from getting in a flight last weekend. I had planned to give a friend a ride on Sunday. But the weather is always iffy this time of year, and a series of cold fronts have been moving through. Saturday was rainy (and I was busy anyway). Sometimes the day after a storm is good soaring weather, but this day still had substantial wind in the forecast, so I waved the friend off and decided to go out myself and see if it was flyable. Hemet is often a calm place when there's wind all around... and the thermal forecast looked usable. Really cold air aloft!

Due to other morning commitments, I arrived at the field about 12:30. A few people were flying, a pilot reported some wave lift earlier in the day... so I decided to go ahead. Delay #1 came in the form of rainwater in the PW5's spoiler boxes. I'd never paid much attention to it before, but we checked and found at least an inch. Tipping the glider onto each wing drains the water out of holes, but it takes a while. It collects in the horizontal stabilizer, too. So, to you other PW5 guys in the club: plan on about 15-20 minutes of extra prep time after a rain!

Delay #2 came in the form of an unfavorable wind direction. This is the first time I have ever seen the tow operation reverse directions at HMT. Should be no big deal, right? Except that now the starting end of the runway is a LONG way from the tiedowns. So I need the help of club members to push out (I can push the PW5 myself to the close end of the runway.)

Delay #3 came in the form of more complicated operations using the reversed runway. I won't go into details, but it involves more work to keep the runway clear for landings and for tow plane operations, and fewer good landing options.

There were other little things along the way, minor equipment issues. I finally was lined up on the runway, next in line for takeoff at about 3:30, a little late in the day especially in winter. But as I always tell people, I'd rather take a sled ride than stay on the ground - gotta stay current and proficient! And the view of the freshly snowed mountains promised to be spectacular.

And then the wind picked up! For several minutes it was at least 15-20 knots, and was shifting direction about 30 degrees. The PW5 really does not do well with much crosswind, and it seemed to me this could be the start of and end-of-day wind increase. If I took off, and then the wind got stronger while I was up... well, as I mentioned, the landing options are a bit more restricted when operating the other way on this airport. So I cancelled and pushed off.

Maybe next weekend. Between the iffy weather and the extra stuff that occupies weekends during the holiday season, it may be another couple of weeks.

1 comment:

smithcorp said...

G'day Roger - that's a bummer. Your comments about water in the spoiler boxes on the PW5 reminded me of an incident that happened at the gliding club I trained at in NZ, a couple of weeks before I was there.

A private owner had taped over the brakes on his glider, to prevent water getting into the boxes. When he was on downwind, he realised he couldn't deploy his brakes, tried making a no-brakes landing, messed up the sideslip and ground-looped.

Multiple failures of drills and checklists allowed this guy to get airborne with his brakes taped over! Obviously no proper DI and no proper cockpit checks (and whoever ran his wing should have ensured his checks were done).

Weather here in Sydney has been woeful, so I have been unable to fly since getting back from NZ - I'm climbing the walls!

cheers, smith