Cherokee II Sailplanes

This is the home for everything related to Cherokee II Sailplanes. Email me at if you have anything to add.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

First Flight of the Year

Sunday the soaring forecast looked acceptable, the wind was forecast to be high, and it was supposed to be better to the west with lighter winds. I originally had hoped to fly a closed course but after arriving at the airport and feeling the wind, Leah and I re-formulated our plan to go downwind. The towpilot thought I was crazy but gave me a tow anyway. Wind was probably about 20G25 knots. We rigged YYY easily, even though I haven't flown the glider since last July at the 13.5 Meter contest, it was like meeting an old friend again.

Takeoff roll was short. SeeYou says 4-5 seconds from start of roll to takeoff. Bob and I had both estimated where I would be airborne and we both guessed way too far. The souped up 175 towed fast, 9.2 knot average to 2000 AGL where I found some nibbles of lift. However I wasn't really able to get above release altitude and so Leah waited. After working a few thermals, I ran back over the airport to get a good start on my declared task, which was to, I believe, O'Neill Nebraska, just over Diamond Distance to the north. Yes, I believe in unashamed optimism. The Oudie said the wind was 27 knots from about 190 degrees. I found a weak thermal over the airport, got the start, and started rapidly drifting north, directly for Hutchinson. The towpilot was putting the towplane away and I had Mills Field, a local grass strip, easily in range. I still wasn't above release height but told Leah to head out anyway. The thermal finally improved and I climbed to about 4500 feet in it, spending the first 5 miles of the flight circling continuously. I contacted the Hutchinson Tower as I passed over their airspace and found another really good thermal over the Salt Mine parking lot which took me to 5500 feet, which still was not cloudbase. I was starting to think that this could end up being a good day! Directly downwind there wasn't any clouds very close, a more westerly track showed a few wisps but was also the Sand Hills State Park, an area NW of Hutch that isn't very landable. However there was another grass strip showing solidly green on the Oudie and after all I did have hopes of eventually working a bit to the west. Off we went.

Naturally, I could find nothing but sink and was soon low enough that the clouds weren't too helpful. Oh well on we go, towards Huey grass strip and hopefully to my save. A quick radio call to Leah "Struggling east of Nickerson" and I spot the runway. It didn't look particularly wide but the wingspan on the Cherokee is short so I was happy to have an out. I kept finding gusts of wind, getting tricked by sucker thermals, and everything else that happens to me when its windy. Oh well I pressed on towards some open fields to the west. Many of them were planted with winter wheat, which is only a few inches tall right now and would be landable. Some were open dirt though, which of course was preferable. I kept working anything I could find, but the thermals weren't agreeing with me and soon I was on downwind to a dirt patch. About that time I noticed a little standing water in the field and thought maybe that was part of my problem. It had been several sunny days since it rained in this area but apparently not long enough. I prepared for a wet landing but picked a line on the edge of the field that turned out to be very dry and solid. I called Leah, visited with a local who helped with directions, and sat in the glider and waited. Soon she arrived, we packed up, and I was a back at home in Wichita by 4:30 PM. I made it a whopping 18 miles and enjoyed my second landout of the year.

Last year I also made my first flight in the Cherokee for the year on April 21, and also landed out. Perhaps its a sign of good things to come :)

Here is my OLC trace:

Leah took this picture of me upon her arrival.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Where have you been?

I've gotten that question a few times this winter and I have no good excuse. I guess I've just been busy. I have been working on gliders just not Cherokee II stuff so haven't had a need to post anything. We are restoring a 2-22E in the garage, Matt is working on his SH-1 fuselage, and we've had the Cirrus in and out a few times too. I have been collecting some pictures for an eventual winter summary post so here it is.

First, I'm sad to report that William Ree, the surviving builder of YYY, passed away last summer. His wife Alice sent me a nice card with his obituary and a picture of his headstone. I was just about to mail out the annual report of YYY and my adventures in 2012 when I saw his name listed in the Final Glide section of Soaring. William flew the hump in WWII and he and his brother John went on to build YYY, then the first Cherokee RM (The R is for Ree), N10124, a Tern II which was lost in an unrecoverable spin, and then a Pioneer II. I believe that all of the gliders were built in the space above the shop they had in Philadelphia.

The scale model of 373Y that was built by Al Clark has been sold to John Mears. John added the YYY lettering to the glider in preparation for last years Huntsville Aerotow. I helped him out with the sizing and placement. Looks pretty good! And no, the pilot in the glider is not a scale representation of me. He is much older.

Dick Bean sent me some pictures of a Cherokee RM that he mostly built. At the time he sold it, it was ready to cover, and went to someone in Gresham, Oregon. He is unsure if it was ever completed.

You get a really good look at the internal fuselage and wing structure in these pictures. You can see that the RM uses the same two spar design by has a plywood shear web instead of spruce cross bracing between each rib bay. I believe the RM also has a solid leading edge glued onto squared off ribs and sanded to shape.

Josh Knerr saw this Cherokee fuselage (and maybe a wing too) sitting outside of an A&P school in Vacaville, CA. While the side of the Cherokee is large enough to make a billboard, I do not recommend it be used for this purpose. I have tried to contact some people at the school but never received a reply. If anyone out there might have more info about this glider, please let me know.

Robert Vogt sent me a really nice report on the history of N8079, or at least as much as he was familiar with, being one of the original builders. I'll get its entry updated.

Steve Leonard posted a few pictures of the Leonard Annebula on Facebook. I particularly enjoyed this one. "Waiting for the towplane. Towels can make good air scoops!" he says, a little Kansas wind helps too.

I wrote an article for our club newsletter about the theoretical performance of the Cherokee based on the measured polar vs. what i've actually acheived in flight. It was mildly interesting to see the results and you can read all about it here:

Finally, Chester Mumpower got ahold of me about selling a Cherokee II project that is hanging in his grandpas hangar. I don't know any details about it but can get you in touch with Chester. He is asking $2000 OBO. Here s a picture, I have a few others:

YYY is happily sitting in its trailer, I checked on it the other day. I don't have any big flying plans for it this spring, and I will probably focus my time early in the season on the Cirrus as I'm flying it at the Region 9 conetest in Moriarty in June. There is going to be a Vintage Rally in Moriarty over Labor Day and I plan to fly the Cherokee there.

My club is hosting a Low Performance Contest in July, limited to gliders with Standard Austria SH-1 performance and lower, and handicapped per normal SSA Sports Class Regional rules. I was hoping to fly YYY in that contest but it looks like I'm going to be the CD which will be equally rewarding.

Hopefully it won't be 6 months until my next update!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pictures from the Wichita Vintage Rally

A few weeks late but I've finally downloaded pictures that I have from the vintage rally. Of course I didn't actually take any. First up is a bunch from Lee Cowie:

 Leah & I with Kate the Std. Cirrus

YYY being assembled on Friday

Me launching in the NG-1 on Sunday

Hank Claybourn and Neal Pfeiffer with the Starting Line from the 1961 Nationals in Wichita. Hank's dad Marshall helped organize the contest and Neal's Ka-6br "14" in the background was flown in the contest by Fritz Sebek.
John Hardy's Ka-8, being flown by Chad Wille, I believe

Rafael Soldan's Salto

 Jim Short launching in the MG-23

John Wells launching in the Dart 17, it's first flight since the late 1980's

The following are courtesy of Matt Gonitzke:
 Kate on Friday

 Neal Pfeiffer's award winning Ka-2b

 Pete VonTresckow getting ready to take off in YYY

 YYY on tow

 The Dart 17 on tow

 NG-1 Landing

Glider yard sale. I see at least Steve Leonard's ASW-12, Neal's Ka-2b & Ka-6br, the WSA Ka-6cr, and Rafael's Salto

Finally, local ultralight pilot and fly-in traveler Brian Fitzgerald was at the rally on Saturday and got many pictures of the goings on. Here is the blog post he made about the day, Vintage Rally coverage starts about 2/3 down the page:

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sunday at the Wichita Vintage Rally

Well the rally ended today and as far as I could tell everyone who attended had a great time. The soaring weather today, once again, was not too fantastic but it didn't stop many of us from flying. First I must mention a few flights that I missed yesterday. One is that John Wells flew Richard Kirkland's 17 Meter Slingsby Dart. This was the first flight of this plane since the late 1980's and after some pretty extensive inspection work done to comply with the spar AD on this type. John used to be a part owner in this Dart and said that it flew just as wonderfully as the last time he flew it, nearly 30 years ago. Also, at least one flight was made yesterday by Neal Pfeiffer's Ka-2b which has been a regular flyer at the rally here, giving rides to vintage pilots.

Today we started out the morning with Matt, Cory, Pete, and I cutting down 3 dead birch trees in my yard. We arrived at the gliderport about Noon and concocted a plan. Matt & Cory were headed back to Iowa in the 150 so I planned to fly the NG-1 and Pete once again flew YYY. Other flights today included Dave Schuur and Jim Short in the MG-23, John McMasters in his Grob Std. Astir, Matt Gonitzke & Charles Pate in the WSA Ka-6CR, Neal Pfeiffer in his Ka-6BR, as well as flights made by the local Grob 103 and Neal's Ka-2b. Duration of over an hour was a pretty good flight, most were less I think.

The primary task as the afternoon wore on was de-rigging gliders. I had a handful with the Cirrus, NG-1, and Cherokee. I also helped Rafael get his Salto back in the trailer. We had a great time visiting with everyone who came up for the rally, we had a really strong out of town presence this year that was very nice. I'll be spending most of the week re-arranging trailers back to their rightful spots and generally recovering from the rally.

Leah and I are the new VSA T-Shirt mongers so if you're looking for new threads featuring your favorite vintage sailplane let me know. Nothing featuring the Cherokee II...yet.

I'll try to get some pictures from the rally up in the next few days.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Saturday at the Wichita Vintage Rally

Well we had another great day here in Wichita. A few new arrivals today as Scott Williams arrived from Oklahoma City, sans his SHK, Matt Michael & his friend Cory flew down from Iowa in Matt's 150, Rafael brought out his Salto with its nice new canopy and Steve Leonard arrived to display his ASW-12 which was quite the attraction to those ground-bound.

The morning started out with some presentations including Jim Short talking about the glider operations at Soaring 100, Matt Gonitzke showed some slides of his Std. Austria restoration, Neal Pfeiffer discussed operations at the gliderport and some specifics for us to avoid the airshow traffic down at McConnell Air Force Base today, and Harry Clayton finished up with a discussion about some repairs he's been working on.

Flying was slow to start with some high cirrus overhead not being too encouraging. Jim Short launched first in his new-to-him MG-23 and got a good flight in of over 2 hrs I'm sure. Chad Wille flew John Hardy's Ka-8, Matt Gonitzke flew the WSA Ka-6, I flew the Std. Cirrus, Pete VonTresckow flew my Cherokee II (YYY) and Matt Michael launched in my NG-1. Some fell out immediately and others had good soaring flights. I made it to 4500 MSL and got in just over an hour. Matt M and I had a lot of fun thermalling together. There were also flights made by the local clubs Grob and Lark and maybe a few others that I didn't notice.

Those of us who managed to stay up for a bit got a chance to see the airshow going on down at McConnell. I saw the Thunderbirds a few times doing their passes and otherwise a whole lot of smoke.

Harry & Sue organized the cookout tonight with some venison burgers supplied by Bob Holiday taken from the airport. Everyone had a great time and we enjoyed watching a bunch of old and new glider videos.

More tomorrow, hopefully Dr. Jack is wrong and we can get some better conditions.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday at the Wichita Vintage Rally

Well we had a great day today here in Wichita. Most gliders arrived yesterday and about 25-30 people attended the cookout we had here at the Condon house last night which was a lot of fun and a great way to open the Rally. This morning we awoke to 200 foot ceilings and fog but I pulled the Std. Cirrus out to the gliderport where Hank Claybourn helped me rig. Hank and I were planning to do his flight review in the morning, once the clouds lifted.

The main task for the day was rigging and by 3 PM we had the Cirrus and the Cherokee II assembled, Richard Kirlkland and John Wells had assembled the 17 meter Dart, Matt Gonitzke and Pete had gotten the WSA Ka-6CR from Sunflower and rigged it, Jim Short's new-to-him MG-23 was together and John Hardy had arrived and rigged his Ka-8. Hank and I finally launched shortly before 3 on his flight review. Cloud base was low but there was lift EVERYWHERE, especially on our second flight. We were running at 70 mph on NE/SW lines for about 4 miles each direction and not losing altitude. It was great fun! John Hardy launched in the Ka-8 to join us and Neal Pfeiffer flew his award-winning Ka-2b with a passenger, Dave Ochsner I think.

Right after Hank and I landed I started quickly getting YYY ready to launch about the time it started sprinkling, which literally washed John & Neal out of the sky. All the gliders got a nice bath too, at least all that were sitting outside. The rain lasted for about 30 minutes which was long enough for me to decide not to fly after all, and we managed to squeeze everything in the hangar. Dinner was a local mexican place and lots of fun was had by all.

There are a lot of people here just visiting, without gliders, which really reinforces the always strong social aspect to a vintage glider meet. Lee & Dave from Lawrenceville drove over with Jim Short, Chad Wille is down from Iowa, Mike Weatherford & Hank Claybourn & Jim Duea & Steve Hard are all visiting from Oklahoma. Mike passed his Commercial Glider checkride last night, congrats to him!

Last I looked the soaring forecast is looking good for tomorrow and we'll have a few more attendees and a few more gliders too. I'll try to get a report up in the evening, I'm sure there will be some attempts for those coveted VSA coins to report.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Picture of N72DG

Dean Gradwell sent along this awesome picture of N72DG turning final at Montague. He'll be hosting a vintage/classic rally there over 4th of July weekend next year and it should be a good time. Not sure if I'll be able to make it but hopefully I can take YYY. We'll have to see.

Plans are coming together nicely for the vintage rally here in Wichita. Matt & I have been working nightly on his Std. Austria and the wings should be painted and all the parts will be assembled in time to be on display for the rally. YYY will be there flying as well as the NG-1. We're also expecting a couple 1-26's and some other vintage and classic gliders. I'll be posting updates here!