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

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.

1 comment:

  1. Did you know you can create short urls with AdFly and get money for every click on your short urls.