Saturday, August 23, 2008

A short flight and a bunch of work

Today I had a short flight in the PW5. Due to scheduling, I took off about noon, when the thermals were just starting to pop. On tow, all turbulence stopped at 4200' MSL, so I figured that was where the inversion layer sat at the time. Right after release, I turned back and found a thermal that went up to - yep - 4200'. Shortly thereafter I found some pretty hefty sink, and had to come back. I ended up with just a 20 minute flight.

The landing was weird. I had had some excess speed on downwind and base legs, but had it under control at 52 knots on final. I was on right track to my aiming point, and was down to maybe 20 or 30 feet AGL. Suddenly my airspeed dropped to the low 40's. I must have caught a tailwind gust or flown through a thermal or something - there had been some lift on downwind. I had to nose over to regain flying speed (and close spoilers), but there was not much air under me, so I had to quickly round out again. I touched down quite short of the landing zone, maybe 30 or 40 feet early.

Before taking off, we had a problem with the circuit breaker that powers the audio vario and its digital display. It kept shutting off. It worked OK during preflight checks, and worked fine later on the ground, so we think it was just too hot. The glider had sat in the sun for quite a while with the canopy cover off, and it was about 97F when we pushed out. Maybe the breaker is getting old and overly sensitive. We're going to make sure to cover the canopy to keep the cockpit cool when we have a long delay. I thought the Volkslogger was acting up. I wanted to test it once before using it at Tehachapi. As it turns out, I was misinterpreting the Volks display... I think it was working properly. But we also thought it was contributing to the breaker popping off, so we turned it off before flight, and I flew with my standalone GPS input.

Later, we disassembled the PW5 and a Blanik to transport them to Tehachapi for the Labor Day weekend campout. (The Grob 103 is already there - has been all summer.) We're planning to leave the PW5 there for another week, and I'll fly it in the Dust Devil Dash on 9/6. That's a straight-out contest. You can read about my effort in that contest last year here.

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