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

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wings open

Today was relatively warm so Leah and I got back to work.  The knifes came out and the fabric started flying.  All in all the wings look good.  Bud Brown used a solid trailing edge about 2" wide which is showing minimal warping.  I don't think its enough for me to bother trying to get it any straighter.  He also obviously spent a lot of time with (probably) epoxy filler on the leading edges and sanding to get them very smooth. 

We did find a good size mouse nest in the left wing but it didn't appear there was much damage associated with it.  This wasn't completely surprising as we had found some evidence of mice during the condition inspection last summer.  But the good news is these wings won't require much more than some sanding and a little wood sealant before they are ready to cover again!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

News from Oz

Ken Caldwell emailed me the other day bringing to my attention that there is Cherokee news to report from down under.  The Australian Vintage Times newsletter reports that Cherokee VH-GLV has been purchased by Peter Raphael who is working to get it re-registered and airworthy again.  I'll update GLV's roll call post with more info from the article but I was impressed to see that it has over 1300 hrs on it.  This very well could be the highest time Cherokee II in the world.


Ken also sent some pictures from the 1966/67 Australian Nationals in which -GLV competed.  I'll put the story from the competition on the roll call post.  Thanks Ken!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Fabric off 53T's Fuselage

Tonight Leah and I spent a little time in the garage (a balmy 44 deg F inside) and got pretty much all the fabric off the fuselage.  All in all it looks to be in good shape.  There is one stand off between the truss and the lower stringer that needs reglued to the truss.  Also there are a few stringers that suffered a little damage when we got a little to carried away tearing off fabric.  Should be no problem repairing that.  The only other thing I noticed is that the epoxy filler that was originally used to fillet the intersection between the wing and fuselage managed to turn to a pretty weak powder over the years.  Pulling the fabric off managed to pull up some of that so I see a little Super Fil in our future.

Oh one other thing, I managed to bust off the tailwheel spring and the support and backing block.  It appeared that there was no drain hole back there in the tail and based on the look of things it had gotten some water in there.  So we'll have to rebuild that and come up with a new tailwheel setup.  I didn't really like the other one anyway.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

First cut on 53T

Well last night Leah got out the knife and cut out the N numbers on 53T.  We stopped by the frame store and will be getting them framed.  One for our wall and the other will go to the builder, Bud Brown.  We also did this on 373Y with William Ree.  Unfortunately we were busy last night getting ready for the Thanksgiving holiday so we didnt have time to get much more destructive.  However the wood that I could see in the tail looked like it was in great shape which is always really encouraging.  Probably next week we'll take the rest of the fabric off the fuselage at least.

Monday, November 22, 2010

4653T in the garage

Leah and I got a lot of work done this weekend. On Saturday we started with 2 11" wide and ~20 ft long planks of cedar and by 10 PM we had 1300 feet of 1/4" thick 1" wide cedar strips with nice bead and cove edges.  Sunday we spent a few hours cleaning out the garage and generally making some more room.  Leah's whitewater canoe was lifted up to the rafters and we unloaded a few loads of garbage.  I built a simple shelf along one wall for the cedar and then we moved 4653T inside.  We also removed the gliders rudder so that the door will shut!  Then it was back out to Harry's with the trailer to get the cedar.  Hopefully tonight we can at least make a few cuts on the glider and get a look inside before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Paint Scheme

Leah and I started discussing paint schemes for 53T yesterday. She took a look through my list of Cherokees and decided she liked a two tone scheme.  I found a copy of Martin Simon's 3 view on and started playing around with different colors.  Our current favorite is this Forest Green/Ivory combo with the two tone fuselage and opposite colors on the wings. 

Leah's flight report

Leah posted this on the WSPA forum.

First Flight- Monday November 15, 2010

For insurance reasons I have had to wait until I have my certificate before being able to fly Triple Tango. Not only was Monday's flight my first flight in a single seater but it was also my first solo flight in a glider besides the SGS 2-33. As fall is finally starting to catch up with Kansas I wanted to squeeze in a flight with my glider before the end of the season. She has mostly been sitting in the hangar gathering dust. Tony has flown her a few times along with our friend Pete at the Wichita Vintage Sailplane Association Rally and Tony's former student Luke, but mostly she has been patiently been waiting for me to be ready to begin our partnership.

I was hoping to get my first flight with her in on Sunday but Tony and I arrived back in Wichita from Kansas City a little later than we had planned. We did get in some incipient spin training in the Cessna 150 as Triple Tango has a tendancy of dropping her left wing when stalled. Cherokee II's in general have a reputation for spins so it was really important that I got some extra training besides what spin entries we could coax out of the 2-33. Future plans include my getting some more training in a Lark sailplane with a friend who is an aerobatic pilot (and future CFIG student of Tonys....I get to be his guinea pig).

On Monday I was able to line-up a tow pilot and Tony agreed to run my wing. First we had to empty out all the other gliders out of the hangar as Triple Tango was WAAAYYY in the back. After the extrication we got to work dusting her off so she would look good in front of the cameras :) I then performed a pre-flight and positive control check of Triple Tango. Tony performed my ground check out by introducing me to the cockpit controls. He then lifted up the tail to show me what attitude to expect from the glider upon landing. He positioned the glider with the tail on the ground, and with the nose on the ground as well. We then had to figure out the best place to position my ballast. I was too tall with it in the configuration I use in the 2-33 with ballast (could not close the canopy). At 5'4" I never thought that I would be considered to be tall! The problem was solved by spreading out the weights and by removing the cushion under my "seat". While I felt a bit like the Princess and the Pea I was able to get full control movement, and the canopy shut!

I was fairly nervous. Ultimately after enjoying myself sitting in Triple Tango on the ground Tony asked if I was ready. Truly the answer was that I was as ready as I'll ever be. I felt like I had under gone all the preparations that I needed too and that I would not be completely ready until after the towplane started up with me in the glider. Tony stressed that I was going to lift off sooner than I would in the 2-33. He warned me that the pitch in Cherokee II's is more sensitive and that once I initially ballooned up I needed to level off there instead of trying to drop back down and risk PIO. Sure enough I popped up right away (even Tony was surprised) but I am proud to say that I managed to follow directions and leveled off without PIOing (is that a term?).

Next I was surprised at how smoothly it flew on tow. The conditions were calm and there were not any thermals working, but it did not really require much pressure from me on the stick to keep it in position. In fact it was a bit unnerving to just calmly sit there with the feeling that I should be doing more but I managed to just let the glider fly and did not over control too much ;) Tony told me to take a 3,000 ft tow and even with our 4:30 arrival at the gliderport, I knew that the maturing daylight was only going to allow me this one flight. Typically I take either 1,000 ft pattern tows or 2,000 ft tows so I felt really far up @ 3,000 ft. I released (which was interesting in and of itself as the release has very little movement compared to the yellow knob in the 2-33) and made a smooth turn to the right.

Through out most of the flight I had to remind myself to relax. I was on my best piloting behavior and trying to do such a good job that I kept unconsciously tensing up. I just had to remind myself that I can fly gliders and that Triple Tango was just another glider. I worked on dutch rolls to get a feel for how she coordinated. Next I did some medium banked turns. Then while I still had the altitude I knew that I had to do some stalls. I am not a huge fan of practicing stalls in general. I know that it is an important thing to do, but there is just something in my nature that cringes inside every time I start to pitch up into a stall. My body is screaming that the nose is too high up but my brain has to reassure myself that I am aware of this and that it is intentional and then continue to pitch up. This time this feeling was intensified by the knowledge that I also had to be prepared for a wing to drop and to react to that. I did two stalls in a row. I did not stare at the airspeed indicator the entire time but the last time I looked before the stall, the needle was dropping under 30 mph. Sure enough as expected my left wing dropped once I reached the stall point. As soon as I felt/saw the wing drop I relaxed my back pressure and kicked in opposite rudder. I did not really give the wing the opportunity to develop any where near as sharp as in the C-150 but still I am proud of my reflexes.

After stalls I made a conscious effort to slow my descent rate by slowing my airspeed down. While I was expecting that the quieter travel through the air (Tony had me open both air vents so I would have some noise) compared with the 2-33 I was flying closer to 60 mph so I dropped it down to 45 mph as after all I did not stall until below 30 mph. I then did some slower flight maneuvering. After this I figured I needed to practice slips. Stan Hall is known to have said that if he had to opportunity to design the Cherokee II over again he would have extended the air brakes out another rib. The air brakes are not very effective, Tony says they mostly just change the sound, so most landings are reliant on slips.

This is where I made the first error of my flight (that I remember of course). While practicing slips, I focused more on the direction that my nose was pointing along with my track over the ground and not enough on my rate of descent while in the slip. This error was made apparent when I set myself up to land. I have a history of coming in a bit high and so landing a bit on the fast side. I set up the perfect pattern for either myself in the 2-33 for a no spoiler landing with wind....or myself in the 2-33 for a no wind, spoiler landing. Unfortunately neither of those conditions was the Cherokee II with no wind and weak spoilers. I realized that I was high when I turned to final and I just kept floating. I usually try to be around tree height when I pass over the road at the North end of the runway, and I was way above that. The only thing I could do was just to keep my slip in. When I transitioned from the slip to the flair I majorly ballooned upwards as the runway was rushing by underneath of me and I knew that I just had to keep burning off energy. In fact I was a little bummed that I hit tail wheel first (I was trying to land low energy/keep the flair) as this was something that Tony and I went over. Once on the ground I opened to full airbrakes (which I should have done sooner) to engage the wheel brake and let the glider drop to the nose skid. All told I had maybe 100 or so feet (Ok Tony says I had a few hundred feet left but to me it felt like I only had 2 ft left so 100 ft is the compromise) left of the runway before it went into the weeds.

While I was a little frustrated about my poor landing (I was just verifying how long it was) I tried not to let that deter me too much from the rest of my flight which was fantastic! I could see the lights on over town which was pretty and the quiet solitude that I was up there with just myself and Triple Tango. This feeling was more pronounced than when I have flown the 2-33 solo. I did see 2 airplanes, one of which was a jet, a bit closer to me than I prefer (of course there would be traffic on my first Cherokee II flight) which made me more alert but there was plenty of room between us. Overall I walked away from the flight with a sense of what I need to work on once spring arrives. I plan on taking Triple Tango out to the 7,000 ft long Sunflower Gliderport and see many pattern tows to work on landings in my future :) This of course will only take place once Triple Tango has had her winter make-over completed. After recovering Tony's N373Y last winter, it is now N4653T's turn to have her 1964 original fabric replaced. I am hoping to have her ready for flight by mid April when we will continue to get to know each other.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Leah flies N4653T

We've had 4653T for over a year now and really haven't done much flying with it.  I have done a few high tows in it and Luke did his one flight in it but other than that it has been doing a lot of sitting and waiting.  It has mainly been waiting for Leah to get her private certificate since the insurance company required a private pilot to fly the glider.  Well on Saturday she passed her test so yesterday we got out of work early and headed to the Wichita Gliderport.  Long story short Leah got one good flight in before sunset and landed with a smile!  I'll try to get her to write up a report of the flight soon.

Now that she has flown it, 53T will go back in the trailer tonight and sometime this week we will probably start cutting fabric off it for its recover this winter.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Gold Badge approved!

My name just popped up on the SSA's website today. My Gold Altitude made it through and hopefully soon I'll be receiving Gold Badge #2599.  Yippee!  Now on to Diamonds...

Monday, October 18, 2010

End of the Season?

I had 373Y out at Sunflower on Saturday to make our attempt at the "Last Man Down" contest this weekend.  Lift was weak but I did manage a 500 ft gain after release and then delayed settling back down long enough to get a 40 minute flight in.  I wasn't last to land however but so be it.  My former student Summer was very happy that she was able to stay higher than me in the club Ka6.  She also took off before me and landed after me.  Good job Summer!  I remember when I first outclimbed my instructor, it was (and still is) a great feeling.

Here is 373Y on the ramp at Sunflower.  Steve Leonard standing by noting takeoff and landing times for the contest.

This very well could be the end of our thermal season here in Kansas although i hope to perhaps take a trip or two to Talihina, OK this winter for some ridge soaring.

Winter projects are shaping up as follows for us:

1) Complete our cedar strip canoe
2) Recover 4653T
3) Touch up work on 373Y

Generally in that order, too.  Leah is nearly ready for her Private Glider checkride and we hope to get her a flight or two in 4653T before it goes under the knife.

373Y has a fair amount of battle scars from a good season of soaring. I think I have about 46 hours on her this year. Scratches here and there mainly from trailer rash.  Also I've noticed some bubbling on the leading edges. Consulting with Doug Stewart seems to indicate the technique I used to attach the fabric probably shrunk and partially sealed the fabric and didn't allow the glue to completely penetrate through, causing air bubbles to form.  good news is some time with some glue in a syringe should take care of them.

I received the following pictures from Jeff Stringer.  This is 871Z, built by Bill Miller and owned at the time by Len McClain, founding member of the VSA.  Len added the Cherokee nose art to 871Z.  Pictures appear to be from Harris Hill, I suspect during a VSA Rally.

That is the same nose art as 8722E.  871Z also had a clear finish on the wings at this time, which you can see in these photos.

In other excellent Cherokee news, 10124 has flown!  10124 is the original Cherokee RM, built by Terry Miller and the Ree Brothers.  The Ree's also built my 373Y.  Den Barton, Bungee Cord editor, has been working for the last year or so restoring 10124.  New fabric and paint and a sport canopy has been added.  I'm still waiting for a detailed account of Den's flight(s) and will post if I hear anything.  It looks GREAT!

 In RM related news, Matt Colclasure is working away on 1073.  Now 1073 isn't an RM but Matt is facing having to rebuild the wing so is interested in the idea of maybe making it into an RM.  He did manage to get ahold of Terry Miller but Terry has no plans sets for the conversion.  He did give Matt as much info about it as he could remember however.  If anyone out there has a set of RM plans please let me know!

Monday, October 11, 2010


It's been a few weeks so I figured I'd post an update.  I haven't flown 373Y since the Vintage rally. I did think about flying on Sunday but the weather had other ideas. I got as far as pulling the fuselage out of the trailer, getting the battery and GPS loaded up, along with cushions and parachute, and then watched the high cirrus build thicker and thicker.  Back in the trailer it went. Later in the afternoon it started raining.

The last I heard from Den Barton N10124, the original Cherokee RM, is very close to being ready to fly.  A few weeks ago I talked to him about weight and balance. I can't wait to hear about the first flight and get some pictures of the bird completely assembled.  The pictures that I've received so far and shared here look absolutely gorgeous.

Gary Flandro is working away on N8722E.  The trailing edges had gotten warped thanks to years of shrinking fabric doing their work.  Pretty common issue on an old wood glider so he is putting in new trailing edges that will be a bit stronger. 

Matt Colclasure has been working like mad on N1073, aka "Stinky".  After some inspection it was pretty obvious that all of the glue joints on the fuselage were suspect at best.  While most of us would've had a bonfire at that point Matt carefully deconstructed the fuselage and is now working on regluing all the joints with new gussets.  It appears that originally the bird had Resorcinol glue but after years of languishing either the glue had gone bad or the wood around the joint had gone bad.  Either way Matt is cleaning up all the joints, making new gussets, and re-gluing using West epoxy.  From what I hear so far he has one of the fuselage sides put back together and is making gussets for the other side, then He'll have to tie the two sides together and continue to build back up the stringers and everything.  I'm going to try to get up there to see him sometime and get some pictures of his progress.  It looks like the wings are going to need the same attention.  Matt is currently pondering the idea of rebuilding the old wings or just building a new set from scratch.  He's particularly interested (and so am I) in learning more about the Cherokee RM wing.  If anyone out there has any information on where a set of plans might be for the RM wing please let me know at

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A few more pictures

Lee Cowie sent me these.  That's Summer Gajewski running my wing. She just got her private glider and started flying the club Ka-6.

Monday, September 27, 2010

More VSA pictures

Jim Short's 1-21 and Dave Schuur's Ka-6E

Scott William's SHK. What a gorgeous glider!

My Cherokee, Leah's Cherokee, and Neal Pfeiffer's Ka-6E. The Morelli is hiding behind my Cherokee.

Morelli starting to be derigged Sunday

On Saturday after the rain we flew some free flight models. Here Robert Pfeiffer launches a model while I watch. In the background Steve Leonard is about to launch his towline model.  We had a ton of fun flying these models until sunset.

Flying on Saturday was decent early but an approaching cold front shut things down by mid afternoon with solid overcast skies. I did a couple of orientation flights in the 2-33 and then launched in 373Y. By the time I launched it was pretty much solid overcast but I did manage to finda  few nibbles of lift. I gaggled briefly with Lee in the ASK-18 and Jim in the 1-21.  Should've stayed with them as I set out to find something else but they stuck with it and climbed up.  I landed and by then it was time to start loading glider in the hangars as rain was coming. 

Sunday was low overcast in the morning so we spent the morning getting the visiting gliders loaded in trailers and saying goodbyes.  I did end up giving an intro flight in the 2-33 in the afternoon which lasted an hour.  Bob Holliday had a good flight in his Duster and Matt C got out the club Ka-6Cr and managed a 2 hour flight.  Both of those guys were pretty cold when they landed!

I got Pete off to the airport and then Matt and I put 373Y in the trailer.  It was a great weekend!

Friday, September 24, 2010

VSA Friday

We all had  a blast today. Not much soaring going on but it seems that most everyone got a flight or two in.  Spent the morning assembling gliders and slow but steady tows through the afternoon.  Here is what is on the field as best as I can remember

Ka6CR - Neal Pfeiffer
Ka6E - Neal Pfeiffer
Ka6E - Dave Schuur
Ka6CR - Wichita Soaring Association
ASK-18 - Lee and Mary Cowie
2 Cherokee II's - Tony Condon
Morelli - Morelli gang from Lawrenceville, IL
Duster - Bob Holliday
Std. Cirrus - Harry Clayton
Schweizer 1-21 - Jim Short
SHK - Scott from Norman, OK

I think thats about it for now. Hopefully a few more will show up tomorrow.

I got a 25 minute flight in 373Y with a 200 foot gain.  Pete VonTresckow came down from Madison and we were hoping to get him up in 4653T.  Unfortunately he does not fit so instead he flew 373Y!  Had  a great flight, also about 25 minutes. I'll have to get him to post a report when he gets a chance.

Here are a few pictures.

Jim's 1-21 and Neal's Ka6Cr

1-21, Ka6CR, and Cherokee II

Vintage Pilots

373Y after a nice day of flying

Thursday, September 23, 2010

VSA Rally this weekend

Well the annual VSA rally starts today here in Wichita. Supposed to blow like hell and rain all afternoon though so I doubt I'll miss much.  Pete is showing up tonight from Madison and tomorrow I'll probably send him up in 4653T.  I'll be flying 373Y and likely giving a talk summarizing the 2010 season on Saturday morning.  Not looking like a lot of soaring to be had but certainly plenty of fun.  I'll be sure to report back here and post pictures when i get them.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Portales, NM pictures

Here is where I stopped rolling:

Sunset as we derig:

Gilbert and I. Gilbert was a great help in helping me find a way into the field, getting Leah the right directions, and derigging.

Gold Altitude

Here is the flight report that I typed up for a few other forums.  I still need to get pictures off the camera, hopefully tonight.  The flight ended up being good for 7th place in the US on OLC and so far it is the highest scoring flight flown from Littlefield this year!


Typically several members of my glider club spend Labor Day weekend soaring in Ulysses, KS. However our host out there had some family issues come up and had to cancel on us. Oh well at first the forecast was looking crazy windy anyway so I didn't worry about it too much. Of course then as the weekend approached the forecast in western kansas turned to great soaring conditions.

I've been itching to get my Gold Altitude done which is a 3000 meter altitude gain from a low point in flight. Well with 14 or 15000 foot thermals forecast in western KS it was looking like that could actually be a possibility so I started trying to figure out how to get a tow.

I ended up looking south for the answer and called up my friend Mike in the Caprock Soaring Club in Littlefield, TX. This was on Friday morning. He said come on down I could get a tow whenever I wanted and have a place to stay. Well Leah said she would come along so Friday after work we got busy getting ready. Thankfully the glider stuff is always more or less ready to go. The big challenge in prep for this trip was the truck.

I had replaced the axle on the trailer with a really nice flexride with electric brakes, but I hadn't hooked up the brakes yet. I started to realize that I would feel really dumb if I ended up having more trailer problems that could've been prevented by having the brakes so in prep for the trip to Ulysses I ordered a controller and got the stuff I needed. Of course when Ulysses fell apart I lost my motivation to do the work. So with a new plan Leah and I went out to Sunflower Gliderport on Friday night and wired up the brakes. I also had to switch the truck and trailer from flat 4 to a 7 plug trailer wiring. Surprisingly i managed to get all the wiring right and the brakes and trailer lights all worked on the first try.

Saturday morning was pretty relaxing. I had breakfast with the CAF, Leah went rowing, then we finished packing and hit the road. Decided to take the interstate which was a bad idea. Ol' Blue was only able to manage about 60-65 mph and passing semis really played havoc on trailer stability. Oh well, lesson learned. We arrived at Mike's house in Plainview, TX at sunset after a 9 hr pull.

Sunday foreast was still looking good and I decided to try a triangle flight from Littlefield, TX to Hereford, TX to Portales, NM and back to Littlefield. This was long enough to qualify for the 300km Diamond Goal flight.

I took off at the first sign of lift about 12:30. Release from tow and flew through the start zone but wasn't finding much lift. I got pretty low and was entering the pattern when I found a weak thermal and started to climb away. I managed to keep inching upward but the lift was nothing like Mike had promised. All he had talked about was big West Texas thermals. This was more like the weak torn up thermals that I was used to working in Iowa and Kansas! I thought 'why did I drive 600 miles to fly in Kansas thermals????'

Well I wasn't getting very high but the lift seemed consistent just low so I started heading out to the north towards Hereford. I almost had to land about a half dozen times in the first two hours. It was hot and turbulent. I was sweating alot and the thermals when I could find them required about a 60 degree bank to stay centered. I was starting to get nauseous which I believe is the first time I've felt that way when flying alone in a glider. By now I was near Dimmitt. Mike had launched behind me in his Discus and climbed to 9000 over Littlefield and raced north to catch up with me. Well he must've raced a bit too fast because he got low over the Dimmitt airport, got sucked in by the "airport vortex" and had to land.

Right before he landed I hit my first smooth thermal of the day just south of Dimmitt and climbed to 9000 feet. Finally! I was starting to feel a lot better, the air was cooler. I set off for Hereford. I was going to be turning straight into a 20 mph wind after Hereford so I wanted to get there with a lot of altitude. Some cumulus clouds had been forming up that way so I had high hopes for good lift in the area. I was rewarded with a strong smooth thermal that carried me to 14,300 feet. A new altitude personal best for me and the highest my glider has ever flown. All right! I caught the turnpoint at Hereford and turned SW.

The wind was rough and sink was strong. I had to dive at 70 or 75 mph to make any progress into the wind. I needed to minimize time circling and do my best to just keep trucking. I set 10,000 feet as my deck and decided to dive down there unless i hit absolutely great lift. Below 10,000 and I would be a little less picky. This strategy seemed to work but progress was still slow. After about an hour and a half I was halfway to Portales and getting low near Bovina. There is a massive cattle feed lot there which seem to usually be good thermal producers and this one delivered. I had been down to about 1500 AGL at that point and determined to take that thermal as high as it would go, which turned out to be 15,000 MSL, the high point for the day. Of course I drifted backward about 7 miles while doing this. I started diving off the altitude again and creeped towards Portales. Around Texico and Clovis, NM I started to get low again but managed to get back up to around 11 or 12,000 and kept trucking for Portales.

Of course started to get low again near the city of Portales and the airport is another 5 miles southwest of town. I hunted around the brown fields in the area, looked for circling birds, corn leaves, dust devils or anything i could find. There were plenty of dust devils but of course they were all way out of range from my altitude. Down to 1500 feet again and it was past 6 PM. I could see a Dust Devil south of town that looked like an F1 tornado. There is lift out there! But not where I was and I ended up landing in a cut hay field NW of town.

Total flight time was just shy of 6 hours. My altitude gain was 10,700 feet or so which is more than enough to qualify for Gold Altitude and complete my Gold Badge. I was quick to call Matt Michael and Adam Kite as we have all had a sort of competition on who could get Gold First. Matt needs altitude and Adam needs distance.

Leah headed out to get me and with a little help from the locals I was found and we got into the field and got the glider out at right around sunset. I noticed that the taillights weren't working on the trailer and lo and behold the fuse had blown. So i replaced the fuse. about a half mile down the road it blew again. lights were flickering as we went over bumps in the road before it blew. I suspected a bad ground in the trailer but couldn't get it figured out after a lot of trouble shooting and trying different things so we stayed the night in Portales.

Monday morning woke up at sunrise and headed back to Plainview to get our stuff from Mike and then set out for Wichita. Avoided the interstate this time and had a much nicer drive. Lost a few rivets on the trailer but it held together with some help from some Cleco's. Need to remember to take my cordless drill and a rivet squeezer on the next road trip.

Monday, September 6, 2010


Just a short note tonight.  Full report will come tomorrow.

Leah and I pulled 373Y to Littlefield, TX on Saturday.  Sunday we flew with the Caprock Soaring Club.  I made it 2/3 around an FAI 300km triangle, landed out in Portales, NM.  I also managed to climb to about 15,000 feet MSL which is the highest 373Y and I have ever been and was good enough for Gold Altitude, to complete my Gold Badge.

OLC trace:

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fleet update and weekend plans

Some exciting news in the Cherokee world in the last few weeks, at least to me!  First there was a Cherokee listed for sale on craigslist a few weeks ago in Dahlonega, GA.  Turns out this was N8722E.  Here are some pictures from the ad for it. 

N8722E has quite a history including being involved in 2 accidents in the late 60's/early 70's.  In fact I didn't even know the glider was still out there as the last NTSB report showed it as destroyed.  However it was rebuilt in the 80's and passed around a bit.  Now it is owned by Gary Flandro and he is working on giving it a good inspection and going over before he gets it back in the air.  It'll be great to see another Cherokee II flying!  I"ll be sure to update 8722E's entry on the roll call post.

N1073, aka Stinky, has been living in my garage for the last 6 months or so.  This glider was rescued from a hangar in Maryland.  It needs a bit of work as the glue joints for the stringers on the fuselage all need redone.  As a result pretty much all of the glue joints in the glider deserve attention.  I have visited with a few people about this project but it isn't a project for the faint of heart, plus distance is an issue.  Good news though, one of the newer pilots in my club is going to take it on.  Matt is an A&P mechanic and has become quite a fanatic soaring pilot this summer, flying the clubs Ka-6CR often and finishing up his Silver Badge just last weekend.  I'm going to be taking 1073 up to Matt's place on Monday.  Hopefully I'll have some regular updates on it to post here.

N10124 is still under restoration in Dennis Barton's shop.  It is getting closer and closer to flying!  This is the Cherokee RM that was built by the Ree Brothers (and Terry Miller) after they finished building N373Y.  Dennis sent me these pictures of 10124 a few weeks ago. Looking good! Perhaps 373Y and 10124 can be reunited at IVSM 2012 on the Hill.

I've been steadily making updates to the Cherokee Roll Call posting as I search through the SSA's online archive for tidbits of information.  A few pictures have been added as well as tidbits of info including ownership changes and badge claims.  Aerosente readers: Once I have the info updated I will do a mass post on the Aerosente blog.

In local news, N4653T is still assembled at the Wichita Gliderport and will likely remain that way for the near future.  It will be flying for the Vintage Sailplane Association rally over the September 25th weekend.  If you are interested in attending let me know and I'll get you in contact with the organizers.  It should prove to be a fun event.  Last year we had a good lineup of vintage and classic gliders in attendance.

N373Y is quietly waiting in its trailer for our next adventure.  For Labor Day weekend Leah and I will be taking it out to Ulysses, KS again for a long weekend of good soaring.  Summer, new glider pilot and recently checked out in the Ka6, will probably be attending with us too.  I'm hopeful for strong fall soaring weather and the possibility to make a Gold altitude climb and perhaps an assault at Diamond Goal or Distance. Or Both!  No matter, we'll be spending the week getting ready for the trip.  I finally got a brake controller so I will have to spend some time wiring that into the truck and trailer.  Otherwise its mainly a matter of getting orgainzed, loading turnpoints into the GPS, and making sure I don't forget anything. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Last weekend

Well I was hoping for some good soaring Saturday.  The forecast was so so but since I was the scheduled towpilot on Sunday I knew that I had to go for broke on Sunday.  I launched first and couldn't find anything!  I worked a few small areas of lift but never got back above release altitude and landed.  Rats!

Well the glider was assembled so I figured I'd try again. If I found any lift I was going to head out. I had gotten brave and declared a 300 km triangle for a Diamond Goal attempt.  Hey you can't win if you don't try, right??  Of course by now it was after 1 PM and the early start I had hoped for was a dream.  Well I started to set out to the southwest, hoping to find some lift over the dirt fields.  I found a little here and there but it was difficult to work and weak.  I kept an eye on my distance from Sunflower, trying to stay within glide just in case I needed to return home.  I didn't find a lot of lift the first few miles and tried to work some weak stuff as I hadn't had a lot of altitude when I left and was getting lower.  Pretty soon returning to the airport was starting to get questionable so I continued on a little more, feeling committed.  In retrospect I should've just kept going, perhaps something good would've happened. 

Instead, I decided to see if I could make it back to the airport.  There were several dirt fields north of me and I thought if I could catch a thermal off one of them I could at least stay local or perhaps try to set out on course.  I couldn't find a darn thing and was soon low enough to need to be picking fields.  So I picked out a cut wheat field and stayed in a good position to land there. Alas, no more lift to be found although a red tail hawk tortured me by thermalling below me.  He must've been about 50 feet above the ground as I passed over him and found nothing.

The landing was fine.  I had to clear a treeline and powerlines then slipped into the field.  The landing was nose high to avoid the wheat stalks from ripping through the fabric on the nose.  It seemed to work as nothing got ripped.  Then the fun began.

I had forgotten my cell phone. Damn.  The house next to the field was empty. Rats.  I had sent Leah a "i've landed out and I'm OK message" on the SPOT which turned out to sort of be a mistake.  We had developed a special procedure for this flight that obviously needs a little refinement.  When I was still optimistic about the forecast I had mentioned that if it was looking too impossible to make it back from the triangle I would just continue downwind to the west.  To alert her that she would need to start heading west with the trailer I would send her a message on my SPOT.  What I meant was I would send a custom message that said something about Diamond Goal.  So as soon as I sent the land out message I knew that there would likely be confusion at the airport as to what I was doing.  I started to envision me sitting in a field waiting for the trailer while it was headed to western KS trying to find me.  It wasn't pretty.

So, I left the SPOT tracker on in track mode.  That way if anyone could get to the web they'd see that I had in fact landed out.  Then I started walking.  Where? To the airport!  I had landed only 3 miles west of the field.  I figured at the worst I would get to the airport and be able to call Leah back before she got too far away.

Meanwhile, the PW-5 had flown over and seen me in the field.  He radioed back that the Ka-6 landed out!  Confusion reigned at the airport.  Leah still hadn't gotten the message on her phone about me landing out.  No one was sure if the Ka-6 trailer was ready to go.  No one was exactly sure where the Ka-6 was at.  No one was looking forward to having to go get the Ka-6.  Then, the Ka-6 landed at the airport.  How did he get back? didn't he land out?  more confusion.  who landed out?  By now Leah had gotten the message I think but I'm not sure she had learned about the Ka-6 landing out.  She wasn't sure if I had landed or not and wanted to make sure of my location before she headed out.  Good thinking.  Well we don't have wifi at the airport and the smart phones can't run the SPOT tracking site.  No one had a laptop that could be synced up with a phone.  Well a few phone calls to people with the internet and a little time searching around and Leah learned I was in a field 3 miles west of the airport.  She started walking to the truck to head out.  That was when I piped up and asked where she was going.  I had just finished the 4.5ish mile walk.

The rest of the retrieve was uneventful.

Here is the OLC trace for the day:

Here is a cell phone picture of the landing spot.  Nice field.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Luke's report on N4653T

Here is Luke's report on his flight in N4653T:

All my glider flying thus far has been in the Schweizer 2-33, with one flight in the Grob G103 Acro with Bob Holiday. My flight in Leah's Cherokee II, 4653T, gave me my first glimpse into single-seat flying.

Tony gave me a quick rundown on the airplane and let me sit in the cockpit while he lifted the tail to demonstrate various pitch attitudes. He explained that most pilots tend to over-control in pitch on their first takeoff in a single seater...and while I had this in mind the whole time, I still managed to bobble a little bit on takeoff but recovered quickly.

I was expecting to need some forward pressure on tow...but was pleasantly surprised that the Cherokee tracked behind the towplane nicely with very little control input. Part of the reason for that is because it was around 8:00 and most of the wind and thermals had subsided for the day.

Everything seems to happen much quicker in the Cherokee than the 2-33, and speed correction is no exception. Several times I'd be in a bank, look down, and see the airspeed indicator pushing 70. You can really tell when you speed up in the 2-33 because it gets a lot louder. Not so in the Cherokee.

I tried a few stalls, some straight ahead and some in bank. As Tony had warned me, there is a lot less incipient stall indication in the Cherokee. Once you feel the buffet, you are fully stalled, and the left wing tends to drop. Easily recoverable though. I did get a secondary stall on my first try however, I got the impression it takes a little longer for the Cherokee to regain flying speed than the 2-33. Either that or I've never had the 2-33 stalled as completely as I did in the Cherokee.

I also tried a few slips at altitude. It took me a few tries to get comfortable with the recovery, smoothly rolling out of the bank and rudder input without too many oscillations. On that note, I felt like I was okay at keeping the Cherokee coordinated while rolling into turns, but rolling out was a different story. Possibly because it doesn't require as much opposite rudder to roll out as the 2-33, but it's something I would have to fine-tune on further flights.

The approach and landing was pretty straightforward. I had watched Tony come in really high on his previous flight, and not wanting to test my newly-acquired Cherokee-slipping skills in front of everybody, I made sure to widen out the approach a bit. The airplane is definitely happy in the air and did not want to come back down! The airbrakes don't do much, but I was expecting that too, per Tony's instruction. Landing attitude felt very much the same as the 2-33, but with no tailwheel on the Cherokee the touchdown and rollout seemed much louder.

Tony is as sly as a used car salesman...letting me fly the Cherokee like that. Next thing I know, I'll be buying my own!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Thursday, August 12, 2010

N4653T Flying

Luke, Rafael, and I assembled 4653T today after work.  I took the first launch in it, trying a few fewer cushions last time to give me a little better comfort.  It was better but I still have to cram in to fit.  I took a 2500' tow and piad close attention to control forces required and the general handling qualities so I could give Luke a good description of what to expect.

My approach was a bit on the high side and it took a nice big slip to get down in a reasonable distance.  Luke got a few pictures of my approach:

Next was Luke's turn.  He just passed his Commercial Glider checkride a few weeks ago and has mainly flown the 2-33.  He only had a slight PIO on initial takeoff which smoothed out immediately as he towed to 4000 feet.  I'm going to try to get him to write up a report of his impressions during the flight and will post it here when I get it.  He learned from my approach and made a nice approach and landing.  Here are some shots:

I think I should call that the "Cherokee Grin".  Luke seemed to have a really good time and I was glad to get him up in a single seater before he headed back to his final semester at school.