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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Progress and an Old Flight Report

I did find some 2" wide fabric tape semi-locally and finished the fabric on the rudder the other night. Now it is ready for the UV/Filler coat when I am set up and ready for that. I was very happy overall with how the fabric went on the rudder. I think the fuselage will be mainly a piece of cake to cover when we get to that point.

I'm starting to collect woodworking tools to get the necessary repairs done to the fuselage. Maybe I can get the wood removed before christmas break and then start gluing new pieces in place when I return.

In the meantime, here is the flight report from probably one of my favorite flights that I have had in the Cherokee. It also still stands as my longest distance flight, at 103 nautical miles. So here you are, a flight from way back in 2007:

The days are getting shorter, but with the crops coming out of the fields, and cool dry air moving in from the north, good soaring is still to be had. I was looking forward to flying on Thursday as I had the day off work and the conditions were looking favorable. The Boundary Layer depth was forecast to about 8000 feet with cloud base at 5-6000 above Sea Level. Overcast Development was also a possibility, which would cause some consternation later on.

I had to go to school in the morning, and I spent my last class of the morning watching the cumulus clouds starting to pop up. Cloudbase was in the 4000 above ground area and the lift looked strong. There were also large areas of overdevelopment out there too, so I knew I’d have to be careful. I got to the airport and got everything prepped. Matt Michael had volunteered to chase me, which was a relief, and he had brought me some of his cold weather gear. With a high of only 58 forecast on the surface, it was sure to be could up high, and my legs, feet, and hands would most definitely feel it. I got all dressed up in polar survival gear and pulled the glider down to the runway. Barograph was set, water was full, and everything was in order.

Roland Weiland was the towpilot for the day and came down to launch me. We took off and had pretty good climb rates, but it was awfully smooth. I was afraid that this was a sign of things to come, but finally we started to hit some bumps. As we got over the Towers dormitories at Iowa State, we hit a good bump. With the Variometer pegged at over 1000 feet per minute up, I figured we must be in good lift and got off at about 1800 feet above ground. I had been right and turned right into a nice 500 foot per minute thermal. I enjoyed a quick climb to just about 6000 feet, and departed the airport to the southeast, downwind.

I lost only 1000 feet over the next 5 miles or so, and caught another 500 foot per minute thermal and was blasted back up to over 6000 feet. It seemed like all I had to do was stay in the sun and I would be fine, so that’s what I did. I instructed Matt that I would start heading towards Newton, and he did a good job of staying under me.

I arrived at Newton at about the one hour mark. Overcast was still rampant to the East so I elected to work my way more to the South and head towards Pella. I got down to 3000 feet in this area so I spent some time climbing back up over the Newton Prison. This also helped me kill some time so the overcast could move out. I made it down to Pella in about 45 minutes from Newton, doing a pretty good job of staying high. There was some streeting action, and I took advantage of it as best as I could.

Evaluating the lift conditions led me to follow the Des Moines River southeast from Pella towards Oskaloosa. Here I found a good looking street although it had a lower cloudbase than I had previously seen, about 5700 above sea level. It was in the shade but from the looks of the cloud, it looked like the lift was very strong so I headed towards it. The lift was as advertised, with over 500 foot per minute registering on the variometer. Once reaching cloudbase, I nosed over and at one point was going 90 mph just to stay level. I shot off the end of the street to find myself with a lot of altitude but not a lot of options. I was out in the middle of a big shadow, so I had to turn to the side and run back into the sunlight. I got pretty low between Oskaloosa and Ottumwa. I was just barely local to the Oskaloosa airport, but didn’t want to head that way as it was in the shadow and would be a sure doomsday move. I stayed out in the sun by the river and found some lift with the help of my crew.

Matt had stayed caught up with me and had parked next to the road underneath me. He was right next to a nice pasture that would’ve made a great airport when he saw a flock of seagulls headed towards me. At first he thought I was marking the thermal for them, as I was barely climbing, but then they started circling between him and me, and climbing fast! With this info, I headed towards Matt and contacted some good lift that took me back up to over 6000 feet. I was right next to the Ottumwa airport by this point and was feeling good about my progress. 3 hours had passed since launch. I continued along the river, in the sun.

I continued down the river, staying around 5000 feet or above for a few more miles. I got to the town of Eldon, IA and was faced with a decision. Matt had reminded me of the Memphis, MO airport about 25 miles to the south of me. It seemed like I had caught up with the overdevelopment and that heading southeast was not going to work. There was a band of shadow to the south of me too, but sunlight on the other side, with a few cumulus clouds which held some promise. I saw a small town out ahead with a pasture or two on the west side that looked like a grass runway. I headed for that, figuring I would have a good place to land if I couldn’t connect. I was also really hoping to make it to Missouri, as it would be extra cool to make it to another state! As I went across the shadow, it was maybe 3 miles of steady sink, about 2-300 feet per minute down. It was looking grim but I was getting closer to the sun. Finally I got down below 3000 feet, then below 2500. I was not finding any lift, even in the sun. I had aimed for a pasture west of town, but then decided that one next to it was better, as it had better access. I gave up at a pretty high altitude, knowing that there was no lift to be had. I circled around the field a couple times, then flew my traffic pattern over the small town to read the water tower, and slipped the glider nicely into the freshly mowed hay field. While on final I noticed a couple in a pickup pulling out of a driveway looking at me and then I saw about 30 people standing in the driveway to the house I was landing next to.

It turns out that the farm belonged to an Amish family. They were super friendly and very curious. It seemed that gliders don’t land in Milton, IA every day! All the standard questions were asked, and the kids paid very close attention to everything going on. Matt showed up about 10 minutes after I touched down and we started slowly derigging while conversing with the locals. They went to find the local newspaper reporter but she was gone. Our new friends helped take the glider apart and get it on the trailer. The kids found the tail attach bolts that fell out of my pocket. It was quite possibly the perfect land out!

The statistics came out to 103 Nautical Miles straight line, or 190 kilometers. Duration was 3 hours 50 minutes and maximum altitude was 6,500 above Sea Level. Hopefully I will be able to claim silver altitude with this flight. The fall XC season has just begun!

Here is a picture I got of N373Y after Matt had arrived. I did get a nice front page article in the county newspaper that included a fairly accurate description of the flight based on what I sent the reporter.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Fabric Side 2

Today Leah and I finished putting fabric on Side 2 of the Rudder. It went on pretty easy and the first shrink was a piece of cake. A little practice helps a lot. I cut the fabric oversized then glued it in place and shrunk it. Then I went around with a scissors and trimmed the fabric to shape and ironed the edges down flat. Next step I need to run a tape down the trailing edge then start with the filler/UV treatment.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Fabric on Rudder

Today I had all my ducks in a row and started to put fabric on the rudder. First I thinned some of the EkoClean heavy duty cleaner into a spray bottle and wiped down the entire rudder. With a clean surface to work on I started to brush the glue onto the wood. Once the glue started to tack just a bit I put the fabric in place and started to work out as much of the slack as possible, using pressure on the fabric to stick it to the rudder. Then I painted more glue through the fabric, following with a blue shop paper towel to collect extra glue and apply pressure to give a good bond.

I used the iron at about 250 F to help around curves. One really nice thing about the EkoBond glue is that if it dries you can reactivate it with heat so you aren't in a race against the glue to get the fabric perfectly in place. Im sure this will come in even more handy when working on the fuselage and wing where I'm gluing much larger pieces of fabric in place.

With the fabric glued in place I headed to supper and then the Kansas Soaring Association meeting. Ended up giving a short presentation of my progress so far at the club meeting. I heated up the iron when I got home. I was happy to put my new infrared laser pointer thermometer to use in calibrating the Iron.

I ran the iron temps between 250 and 275 for the initial shrink. I still need to do a second shrink at 300. Stewart doesnt recommend going above that on a wood structure and I don't want to start breaking ribs so I think that will be OK. Here you can see what the fabric looked like before shrinking. You can see a fair amount of slack in the fabric although it really didn't seem that bad in person.

And here it is after shrink. Big difference! I still love the magic of watching the slack come out of the fabric. Hopefully I don't get tired of it anytime soon!

Steve Leonard was browsing through old Soaring Magazines and found the following Classified add from February of 1968:

CHEROKEE II (N373Y), custom built white with gold trim. Fully equipped, Crossfell vario, PZL airspeed, rate of climb, compass, altimeter, Ceconite cover. Mint condition. First offer above $2500. Ree, 7711 Ogontz Ave, Philledelphia, Pa. 19150.

It must not have sold at that time because the Ree's didn't sell the glider until the early 70's, after they did the first recover job on it. I'd love to find a picture of it to see what the paint job was like back then. Also amazing to note how little effect inflation has had on glider prices in the last 40 years!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Rudder Varnish

I applied the Stewart Systems Wood Sealant to the rudder tonight. I've been waiting to do this while I looked around town to find a DuPont M50 Viscosity cup so that I could properly thin the sealant.

I cleaned up the wood areas on the rudder and then brushed on a coat of the sealant. It went on very well. Usually I would have to go back over an area with the brush to get some bubbles out of the finish. I let that layer dry then lightly sanded with a 320 grit foam sanding block. Then I put another coat on the rudder, let it dry and sanded it. Piece o cake!

Next step is to start gluing fabric to the rudder. First I need to calibrate my iron and make sure I have my ducks in a row! Probably ought to get some plastic or something to lay down on the floor too...

I've made a few updates to the Cherokee II Roll Call thread, in the November archive. Both are thanks to a few Australian Cherokee II fliers, Ken Caldwell and James Friess, owners of VH-GLV and VH-GQV, respectively.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Leah's wedding present to me was one sheet of Cherokee II plans, framed. A very nice job of it too. Well tonight we finally got it hung on the wall in our living room. It looks great!

Didn't get a chance to work on prepping the rudder today, spent most of the day cleaning up the apartment. Had to get all of that sawdust out of the carpet from building workbenches :)

I saw the following Christmas poem posted on rec.aviation.soaring and just have to share it. I was in tears laughing the first time I read it:

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Balsa Dust

I was hoping to start prepping the rudder tonight. I needed to get a viscosity cup so that I could properly thin the Stewart Systems wood sealer but got started too late and Ace was closed. Lowe's does not carry them :(

So I decided I had to do SOMETHING tonight so I went out to the garage even though it was 20 degrees out. I took the clamps off of the new balsa and removed the other balsa pieces that I used as spacers. Only the balsa cap was stuck to the glider! The clamps and spacers all broke free with no problems so I got out the utility knife and 60 grit sandpaper and shaped the cap to the profile of the vertical stabilizer. Then used a little finer grit to smooth it out and round the corners. It looks really nice but I didn't have my camera so no pictures.

So I'll start on the rudder this weekend. Tomorrow Leah and I are going to KC for supper. I ordered some EkoClean from Stewarts today and my order from Aircraft Spruce from yesterday shipped. Ordered some plywood and spruce from them and a few other miscellaneous things. Of course after I ordered I thought of a bunch more things I should've gotten.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I managed to make some decent progress today. I posted this on RAS today but check these out. It is winter in the Northern Hemisphere which for me means its time to start flying in Flight Club! There are two versions. #1 is a 100 km downwind dash:

My personal best on this one is 97 time units I think.

And here is version 2, which is a Triangle flight and quite a bit of fun I think. Today I finished it in about 202 time units.

Today on the RC Groups forum, I noticed a piece of Stan Hall related info posted. This is a little info on the Hall Ibex, not the Cherokee II, but interesting non the less. Check it out:

OK on to Cherokee II stuff...

Today I started out taping around the rudder hinge brackets and hitting them with a wire brush to clean off any loose paint or dirt. That killed enough time for me to run out to Harry's and pick up some supplies for gluing the Balsa to the vertical stabilizer. He loaned me a couple handy 3 way C clamps for clamping down the piece and some goodies for mixing up a batch of West System epoxy.

Back home, I mixed up the epoxy and set the balsa piece in place. Hopefully it turns out OK. By that I mean hopefully the clamps aren't glued to the vertical stabilizer. That would not help the L/D :)

Finally I finished sanding the longerons. Only took a few minutes but now they are all smooth! Once the Rudder hinge brackets dried I brought the rudder back up to the apartment. Its supposed to get cold the next few days, so I've started watching my Stewart Systems DVDs and hope to start finishing the Rudder this week. By the way my stuff from Stewarts is here now.

I need to make an order with Aircraft Spruce and get ahold of Wag Aero about refurbing my seat belts. Going to buy an iron at the hobby shop, and who knows how much other stuff. I should have majority stock in Lowe's by the time this project is finished.

And once again I've made a few more updates to the Roll Call post. Al Clark sent me some pictures of N3034, which is an RM model on display at the Southwest Soaring Museum in Moriarty, NM. Turns out they are pictures I took at the SSA Convention in 2008! So they are up now.


Here is the new piece of balsa clamped onto the vertical. A few other pieces of balsa as spacers in there:

Here is the rudder all taped up and ready for paint on the hinge brackets

And here is the rudder with fresh paint on the rudder hinges. Looking good!