Sunday, February 01, 2009

BFR via Winch Launch

It's biennial Flight Review time! I tried to arrange to do it in January but due to a last-minute mixup with an instructor, it didn't work out. Then last week was almost winch launching and weird scheduling... The requirement for the Flight Review is either an hour of flight time or three launches to pattern altitude. So we decided that three winch launches would do the trick! Since I was last up last week and didn't get to launch, the group let me go first today and graciously let me get in three flights. (After that I did "Line Boss" again for everyone else's flights.)

Flight 1: I'd forgotten just how fast the winch accelerates the glider. Zero to about 55 mph in about 3 seconds. That really gets your attention! Nice, smooth rotation into the 45-degree climb. It took me a little while to get the hang of the speed adjustment, but once I got in the groove it was very stable at 50 knots indicated airspeed (on my front indicator, 55 knots on the back one). The cable back-released at 1,000' AGL.

Flight 2: The startup acceleration didn't catch me by surprise this time. Another smooth climb to 1,000' AGL. I didn't time it, but it really only takes about 30 seconds at that speed and angle. I tell people that have been to Disney's California Adventure that it's much like the California Screamin' roller coaster, with its quick acceleration into a 45-degree climb - but 10 times as high! There was absolutely no wind, or we probably would have gone higher faster.

Flight 3: This time I could really detect the round-over at the top of the climb and released at 1,100' AGL. That was high enough to do a few turns before entering the pattern for landing (since the instructor wants to see more than just up-and-down). No lift of course; these flights were from about 8:20 to 9:00 a.m.

My instructor was well pleased with my launches, flights, and landings, so that took care of my BFR flights and the club's annual checkride requirement. And at $15 per launch, this was much less expensive than three aerotows! Our club pres was rather pleased that we're already demonstrating the value of winch launching.

We spent some ground time later on going over my missed questions from Friday's Commercial written test. That, along with some reading and q-and-a, covered the ground training requirement for the BFR.

I spent much of the rest of the day pushing gliders in and out, and wing running for club members and other pilots. It turned out to be a quite soarable day, with the temperature up in the low 80's.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Sigh. I'm envious, though maybe almost as much of your 80 degrees as the 3 winch launches. In frigid Minnesota, soaring season is a couple months away yet.

A local commercial operator has acquired a winch last year, so I may have to give it a go. If nothing else, it would be good practice for PTT ( premature termination of tow, thx Tom Knauff ) awareness.