I'm not superstitious, but this series of unfortunate events started the night of Friday the 13th.
- I thought I was going to have a passenger going for an intro flight on Saturday. That's fine, I like giving rides. He was on and off all evening. He wouldn't get to the gliderport until noon, which meant no smooth early ride, and possibly waiting in line for a towplane if we took off during prime time. It doesn't really make much difference, but it meant I needed to think about which plane to prep, what time to fly, whether anyone else would need the 2-seater, etc.
- I found that my PDA (an old HP iPAQ) had lost its memory. That's happened a few times before, usually due to failure to charge the battery in time. But this time the battery and charger were OK, so it's unexplained. Because I have changed computers since the last time this happened, I had to mess around a bit to get the programs and files installed, rather than running a simple restore. And then had to test the GPS to make sure it was working. This took well into the late hours of the evening.
- I got a text message that the passenger had decided not to go. The message was from 2:30 in the morning. So I'm wondering: what's up with that? Oh well, at least I'll get to fly the PW5, which is easier to prep and simpler to fly on what was looking to be a good thermal day.
- During the preflight inspection, an issue came up with the PW5. I won't go into it here, but it caused me some delay and concern as I had to walk around and search both ships and both trailers, and contact the most recent pilot to ask about it. His phone number had changed, but I contacted him by text message and later talked to him. More extra tasks and delay and distraction.
- I usually use my own O2 tank with the PW5's electronic system. Once before, and again today, I could not get the PW5's screw-on connector to seal right, which means O2 leaks out. Probably we need to replace the O-ring again. After trying for quite a while, I decided to use my own Oxymiser system, which means removing the PW5's box and tubing. That's pretty simple, but it does mean using a manual flow control instead having the automatic system come on at 10,000 feet.
- I started up my PDA/GPS and it got a good fix. Whew! Last time it didn't, and I didn't get a flight trace. But a few minutes later it popped up the screen demanding the license key (since I had reinstalled SeeYou Mobile last night). Fortunately I have that key in a text file on the device. Unfortunately cut-n-paste wouldn't work, so I had to write down and enter the key manually. Just another annoyance... in 90+ degree heat...
I nearly always take a break after the inspection and prep, have my light lunch, cool down, and then go fly. When I get back to the ship, there are always a few final items to take care of, because I don't like to put certain things into the cockpit because they get hot. When I was nearly ready, I found I needed to make yet another trip back to the "pilot's lounge". On the walk back to the plane I reviewed all the distractions and delays, and decided that they had not accumulated into anything that would keep me from flying. As I mentioned, I'm aware of cumulative distractions, but all these items had been resolved, so I put them out of my mind and focused for the flight. The CU's had been popping since 9:00 but were not overdeveloping, so it looked to be a good day. I took off at 12:45.
Stuff kept happening:
- During the tow, the red emergency canopy release handle fell off. Just fell off! I ignored it and focused on the tow, which is a critical part of the flight. I didn't need to be feeling around my feet looking for it while flying formation! Later in the flight, I found that it had nicely landed on the pedestal within easy reach, and it simply screwed back on.
- Once I started thermaling, I noticed that the "thermal analyzer" function of SeeYou was not activating. That made me wonder what other settings might not be set the way I wanted, but nothing else arose during the flight.
- I received a pulse oximeter for Christmas, but had only tried it once before in flight. This time I tried it again, but I could not see the display and put it away. Later on the ground I saw that it was not detecting my finger. I tried it later at home and it worked fine. Maybe I didn't put it on right, or maybe it got overheated? Another distraction...
All that aside, it turned out to be an outstanding day for soaring! I let off tow in lift and never lost it. Very quickly I got up to 10,000' MSL and never went below that altitude until it was time to come home. Most of the time I was above 11,000, and my max was 12,776.
|The CU's coming off the northern edge of the mountains were abundant, close enough to nearly form "cloud streets" at times.|
|The lift was turbulent, though, with lots of ups and downs. This flight trace is color-coded by vertical speed. It's really rare to see the lift and sink so interleaved.|