I was a Live Exhibit at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum Dulles Annex, Udvar-Hazy Center,
March 25, 2006

Monday, November 12, 2007

Highland Aerosports, November 11, 2007


Two Minutes of Tidbits of My 28 Minute Flight

The Highland Crew had announced Sunday the 11th as the last day of their season. Winds were forecast as 5-10 N, not great but adequate. Several of us headed over to the Eastern Shore to finish the season with them. Off-season traffic was great. I arrived after just shy of a 90 minute drive from Alexandria. Dave the Amazing pulled in right behind me. Christian already had his rigid assembled and was lounging under the wing. Carlos had not yet pulled his glider off the rack. Viktor arrived, and John M. There were a couple of H2 students flying, who I did not recognize. Skies were broad blue, with high altitude cirrus and no cumulus in view.

Sunny and Adam had a steady stream of tandems all day, keeping Zack busy in the tug. Bob, Barb, and Bruce were all handling ground crew duties.

I launched just after 2:00, with a relatively smooth tow. We did find a bit of lift, and Zack tried to leave me in a thermal. I missed working that first one, but found another at 2K that I was able to work for a while to come close to maintaining. Next thermal I worked was over the woods and swamp, staying at around 1600'. WHile I was in that one, John M. came in above me and worked it up to 3K+. I eventually lost that one, and landed for a 25 minute flight. Just a tiny bit late on flare, so it was my custom "flare to the knees" landing.

I never even unhooked, and was being pulled skyward again shortly before 3:00. This time the tow was totally smooth and uneventful - not a good sign for lift. SUre enough, the vario never made a sound this time. I was able to slow the descent a bit, so my sled lasted about 8 minutes. This time I nailed my landing. Sweet.

Fine day, and nice to help the park finish up. Even got home at a most reasonable time.

Now - time to bundle up for winter mountain flying.

Pulpit, Sunday November 4

I arrived at the Pulpit about 11:00 to see several trucks and gliders already in place. Surprisingly, Bacil was not yet set up. Larry B. was on hand for his first ever Pulpit day.

Winds ramped up a bit more than expected, with a solid high altitude overcast. Early launches were Larry, Bacil, and Hugh. They all stayed up and got major high, even under the grey ceiling. They also ventured far out over the valley, past the golf course, at ~2K over launch.

Mike L launched next, but worked a nit far from the ridge, and sledded out. I decided to wait a bit, since Mike had not stayed up. Eventually Dan T. and I suited up. Dan got on the new ramp, and the winds went to just over 20. He waited for them to go back down. Bit of a wait. Eventually he backed off, when Carlos noticed his U2 corner bracket did not have the pip pin fully seated. While he fixed his glider, I launched from the old ramp. I did wait for reports of winds at 16 gusting to 20. They had been higher. Many thanks to Shawn R. for crewing me and giving regular wind speed readings from the ramp.

I found easy lift along the ridge, and got up to about 450 over. Never able to reach the Top 3 (early launches) who were boating about way above me.

I worked out in front a bit, but eventually slowly sank out and headed to land. Bacil landed just before me, confirming wind direction. I had a nice approach, landing on the (now cleared) ball diamond area amongst the corn stubble. Missed the flare timing, so bellied in on the wheels. Darn!

Total flight time 30 minutes, max altitude 450' above launch, Good strong launch, safe but not pretty landing. Overall, a fine day.

High praise to Shawn and Matt for doing Observer duty. Shawn got Rich B. into the air, and Matt threw visiting H2 JJ from NY into the sky.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Blue Sky October 21

On Sunday, October 21st I headed down to see Steve Wendt at Blue Sky. He had my UltraSport ready, with its newly installed king post. The forecast as for 5 S to SW, but when I arrived, the winds were notably stronger. The crowd was light, with Peter K, John C, Craig, Tom, Bob, and Billie. It was the first time I had seen Billie there in a couple of years. We were all truck towing.
I got in five flights, all with pin off heights between 950' and 1150' AGL. The flights were pretty much sleds, even though there was some small lift in the field. I was able to add a minute or three to several of the flights. This meant that I was able to stay off the ground long enough for Steve to get the line reeled in and the truck back to the start line. It is just so annoying to beat him back to the launch point.
On one flight, while I was still on the tow line, a hawk flew right in front of me, only about 6 feet away. Pretty neat!
When I had been at Blue Sky on the 6th, Steve gave me some landing advice, saying I should work on being more upright before the flare. This time I concentrated on getting upright, and nailed all five landings. Thanks, Steve!