May 31, 2008

One thermal wonder

Check out this sky!!

Jason and I went towing today. My plan was to tow him till he was sick of of towing/flying and then I would go cross country. His first tow he pinned off early into a thermal but couldn't hold onto it and groveled around in broken lift till he landed. I set him up and towed again. This tow the line broke. There are a few weak spots in the line do to the loose wrapping we did on the first tows and they are showing up now and again. I fixed the line and loaded him up and towed again. He released and found nothing but sink right to the ground. After loading him up a fourth time I noticed as we staged that he was missing his tip batten. After looking where he landed and along the road we called his day done.

I set up my wing and Jason tore down. Got my wing on the winch, and soon I was flying. I went through a couple small thermals to low to release into and then into some good sink. I was still going up but very slow. Then at 1500 I started to find some real rough air that knocked me around on tow. Then my vario started to sing wildly. Quick glance at my gps and I was going up at 1500 fpm. Time to release. Circled into a great thermal that took me to just over 9000'. I have dumb luck finding great thermals right off tow. But I have yet to find a second thermal. With Jason below on retrieve I went east. The sky looked awesome. I've never flown in such easy looking conditions. I was going to break my record xc easy. On glide I was hitting 800 feet down at times. I knew there would be a thermal in that somewhere...But I never found it. Landed 20 kilometers from where I released. I was a little disappointed but happy to have flown. Posted the flight HERE

May 23, 2008

Made the paper

Here's an article the local newspaper did on James and I. Click to read it. They got some facts wrong, I made it 30K, not 30K from goal. I think James made it 30K from goal though. Too bad about his GPS. Mabey they just mixed up the people. Oh well, it wasn't focusing on the accident. They said they wanted to do a shoot next time we go out flying. A little positive exposure would do some good.

May 21, 2008

Miles in May

Another Miles in May competition has come and gone. And I didn't take one picture. The weather was less than perfect the entire week, and finally with the long range looking bad and pouring rain today with a driving north wind we called it done. I was the weather guy and had to drive around town looking for open access to the net from unsuspecting homeowners. The Vulcan country club (used to have free access for us) is growing not to fond of our business I guess.

Practice Day
Rounded up my winch mates and got everyones stuff sorted out and got to test out the winch. Soon as I got to the tow road I noticed a liquid dripping under my winch. A rock had been kicked up by the trailer and poked a hole on the brake line. Off to town I went to get parts to fix it. the driver towed the rope in and never shut it off soon enough and broke the swivel from the push rod to the pressure needle. After a few head scratches and parts scrambling we fixed that too. I got a tow late in the day when the wind had switched to a light downwind and on our short road I got a tow to only 800'. I found nothing and didn't quite make it back to the launch. not a very good day but we got everyone ready for the comp.

Day one
Task: Vulcan to Vauxall, 100K or so. Driver showed up and I spent the day teaching him to tow. I knew I wasn't going to get off too early. While loading a pilot on the winch I heard screams and yells and looked up to see everyone running my way. Then I heard an awful sound of a glider hitting the ground. I knew what happened and I turned to see a glider folded up on the field. He had locked out on tow. I quickly unloaded the glider and drove up to deliver a first aid kit and help. The pilot was in very bad shape. Very quickly the fire trucks arrived and I retreated. Soon after that the ambulance came to take him away. I found out later that his injuries were extensive but nothing life threatening. He suffered two broken tibia, three fractured vertebra 10 broken ribs with a punctured lung, and a broken shoulder. A few of the guys bagged their wings soon after due to the bad ju ju and nerves.

I launched soon after and got a tow to 2000' I tracked back along the road for only a few hundred hards when I found a light thermal. It soon turned on to 600 fpm and I was soon at cloud base. I went on glide towards the goal and found very little to turn in all the way to the ground. I called my driver and packed up my wing. When I looked up I saw another glider on the ground a kilometer away. After a long hike I found it was Ralph. I felt goon knowing he only made it 1k more than me. Ross made goal. Most others were spread out along the course line.

Day two
Task: Vulcan to Bassano. The weather was crappy but there was forecast to be lift and south wind. I got the first tow but found no lift to speak of. Got a few wing overs and landed. After launching everyone else the cloud cover became overcast and I packed it in. Ross made it just short of goal.

Day three
Task: Vulcan to Bassano, again. Again the day was only forcast to open up for a small window of opportunity. Just when it was my turn to go, my driver radioed there was a problem. The line was missing. After an hour of searching we found it. An hour later it was back on the winch and raining. packed up and left.

Rain and gale force wind was the greeting for the morning of day four. The meet was over. the next four days looked the same. Turned out I got fourth place in the king posted class and seventh place overall. Pretty good for a not very good flight on one day. but lots of other didn't even get that. I was soooo looking forward to this comp but mother nature wasn't going to cooperate. Better luck next year.

May 10, 2008


Went out hang waiting today. We sat around watching the wind pick up all afternoon. I wasn't too worried about launch because there were lulls in the wind that were safe to launch in. It was the landing I was concerned with. It would lull down to 15 km for a minute then gust as high as 40 at times. After pondering it for a couple hours I made the realization that if I was at the ridge I would not hesitate to fly. And we land in top side rotor there. I set up and James followed. Jason played it safe and left his bagged. Launch and tow up was a non issue. Actually relatively smooth. At the end of the road I pinned off at 5000' and was soon turning in lift. It was a hurricane at altitude and 10 turns later I was at 6000 and right over launch. I was making it into the headwind but at 5km/h. I looked downwind and figured I could make the river easy from the height I had. But I chickened out and stayed put. Retrieve from that side of the river is a 45 minute drive and I didn't want to put anyone out. I watched James launch and tow past me. The drift was amazing and at 1000' over the ground I committed to landing. I took on a ton of speed and still was just barely moving in ground speed. A little rough from 50 feet to ground effect. Got the bar on the ground and waited out the gust till I could move. Like I figured it wasn't teh issue that I made it out to be in my head. I wasn't fond of the broken lift and major drift and gave up on towing again. It just wasn't that fun. James did the same. We packed up and went home. Lesson learned.

May 3, 2008

Airtime at last

Jason ready to go

With most of the bugs worked out of the winch it was now time to get some practice flying. Jason and I headed out to the local tow road expecting a great day of flying. I checked various weather reports and for the most part the wind was to be westerly but light. We set up on the east end of the road expecting some westerly wind but it never showed. It was light east until later when it turned north. The good thing about payout winching is the light wind makes no difference. I towed Jason up in a light down wind. He didn't do to well the day was still early. Not thinking he went and landed at the same end of the road where I towed him up again, downwind. Again he landed but this time on the west end of the road where I relit him again. A little over half way through the tow the line broke. I found my new pulley had overheated do to my slopy machine work causing it to rub. I had another pulley that was much truer that we put on for my turn.

Me getting ready, Notice the color coordination.

My first tow was down wind and so I did not get very high. The tow felt great, I'm still impressed. I passed through a good thermal but I was low and decided to hold out for better. There was nothing but 700 fpm down at the other end of the road and I was soon on the ground. I got back on at the other end of the road and went for tow number two. About half way up I went from 700 fpm to 1400 and decided to pin off. It wasn't a great thermal but I was going up. I climbed a slow climb till the clouds shut out my sun and soon after, my elevator. I headed for a sunny spot and was rewarded with a rodeo ride up. At 5000' it smoothed out to an even 300 up and I held onto it till 6600' I was 1000' below the clouds but getting a ways from home and I didn't want to head cross country. I boated around looking for more but the 700 fpm down finally got the better of me and I landed after an hour of airtime.

This is a neat picture Jason took while I was high, click for a bigger one
On final approach and fast