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

Friday, May 28, 2010

Hitting the Road

Leah, Luke, and I are going to get out of work early today, load up the pickup, grab the trailer, and hit the road for Ulysses.  The forecast for tomorrow is indicating an excellent downwind day, with strong lift and cloudbases in the 10-13,000 ft range and better to the west.  South winds at 20 mph on average.  Hopefully it doesnt over develop too badly.  I'll try to post updates as I get time, will definitely post my flights to the OLC when i can get internet access.  I'll be flying (and driving) with the SPOT tracker, link here:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Weekend Preparations

Friday Leah and I will hit the road with 373Y, headed for Ulysses, KS for a long weekend of cross country soaring.  Only problem is that 373Y's trailer is still in need of repair so we've reverted to the backup plan of using 4653T's trailer.  Yesterday I managed to fit 4653T into our garage, which was no small achievement.  I now have 1073 and 4653T plus a couple workbenches, a whitewater canoe, and a fuselage truss in my one car garage.  Space is a bit tight.

Then I put 373Y's left wing in the trailer and pulled it out to the gliderport where it is tied down. Tonight Leah and I will work on getting the fuselage and right wing secured in the trailer and ready to hit the road.  Not to mention we've got plenty of packing to do and some work that needs to be done on the truck.

I ordered a new axle for 373Y's trailer and it should be here next week.  So once we return from Ulysses I will be working on the trailer to get it back in shape.  Should work out nicely that the first two weekends of June are booked for me so I won't be pressured to get the trailer done too quickly. 

I'll be sure to post updates and pictures from Ulysses as soon as I can.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A few more Marfa pictures and some progress

Dan Wrobel sent me his pictures and he got some good ones of the Cherokee.  Here is me right before takeoff on my 6 hr flight.

And here is a series showing my approach and landing after 6 hrs aloft.

And one of my new favorites.  I've always dreamed of having a flight worthy of being greeted after landing with a beer.  This was one of those times.

In other news I finished the touch up paint on 373Y's left wing today.  No pictures yet though, will try to get one in the next few days.  Luke and I also got 1073's wings hung on the wall of my garage so i have a lot more room to work now.  Tomorrow I am going to try to fly 4653T if the wind is agreeable.  Then we'll bring it back to town and put it in the garage and work on getting 373Y fit into Leah's trailer.

We'll be taking 373Y out to Ulysses, KS for Memorial Day weekend and hopefully some good cross country flying!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Gold Crewing

My crew for the Gold Distance flight was Shea Zuckerman and Summer Gajewski.  Shea was one of my students last year and got his Private Glider add on last Fall.  Summer is a current Student Pilot in the club and should be ready for a checkride in the next month or so.  Shea put together a very entertaining report of his first experience chasing a glider.  Enjoy.

In the far too recent past Summer and I had an adventure neither of us bargained for. Let me set the scene: Picture me driving a pickup with more miles on it than the wheel, hauling Tony Condon's trailer which is as long as a bus and shiny as a mirror, with Summer riding shotgun holding the map. Tony whipped off tow above, and Summer and I were off below. Reminded me of the movie 'Twister' where they get the weather info that sets the team off chasing a rogue tornado. Yes, Tony was a rogue tornado. What else could he be when he goes wherever our beloved invisible tornadoes rise.

We headed North towards nothing in particular. Summer guiding our one vehicle circus; hunting and pecking for roads that are solidly paved. Funny how towards the end we found out the map tells you which ones are paved and which aren't. Newbies. Tony and his vintage Cherokee effortlessly lifted to over 7K, and we effortlessly got lost. As he crept more east we attempted to follow on a road that was going directly on an intercept course. Summer was navigating with flair, I was one with the bus. All was well...until. Our path, without any warning, no signs, nothing, whipped right. (Tony, the brakes on your truck work fine, or at least they did then) . Our brilliant road wasn't getting us any closer to the eastbound sailplane suddenly. Turning around to remedy this error is an excersize in traffic management. You all know what I'm talking about. I might also add that this truck (and, incidentally, the invention of the wheel) both come equipped with no cruise control. I looked very much forward to getting off-track briefly so I could pull over and work out the kink in my gas foot. I am sure Summer looked forward to those brief breaks also so she could tell me to shut up about the dinosaur on wheels.

Fast forward to later when we were back to chasing Tony-Tornado. Both Summer and I thought at best we would be chasing for say, maybe 4 hours. Conditions were just too perfect, and we, after much in-cab banter, 2 fuel stops, unfortunately shaped Nutter-Butters, and nightfall, caught Tony chilling somewhere in Nebraska! That man and his wooden stick ship flew for over 180 miles out of Sunflower and for well over 6 hours! Unbelievable! We drove more than 300 miles through Kansas to reach him. All of us were astonished at the duration and distance of the flight. He was soaring for whatever distance, and ended up with a Gold Badge by accident. That's some skills!

Green with envy, we met him at the airport to trailer the ship in the dark. The weather was threatening rain, but we caught some luck and never saw any. Weary from travel, but excited about the journey, we drove the circus back to Wichita and arrived here at 3 in the morning, polishing off an adventure that began at 1 the previous afternoon.

Were Summer and I mad that WE weren't the ones flying? Absolutely. Would we have given up the opportunity to putz around, hone our tracking skills, and create a story? Absolutely not. It was a memorable day, both on the ground and in the sky.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Weekend Update

Well I got articles submitted for RC Soaring Digest and Bungee Cord early on Saturday morning.  RC  Soaring Digest is available at  To get Bungee Cord you need to join the Vintage Sailplane Association.  This can be done very easily at

I did work on 373Y's wing Saturday.  The filler was cured and ready for sanding by mid day so I sanded it down very carefully as to not distrub the surrounding fabric and paint.  Once I got it smoothed down I used some MEK around the hole to clean up the surrounding paint so that I had something to glue a patch to.  The patch ended up being a circular piece of fabric about the size of a half dollar.  I glued it in place and let that dry.  Later in the day I brushed a few cross coats of EkoFill on the patch.  So now it is ready for paint. I meant to do that last night but didn't get around to it.  Then it will be time to start working on the trailer.

I did work on a more space efficient way of storing N1073.  One wing is now mounted to the wall of my garage and I started working on the other one. It will be nice to have some room to work!

In other news, Dave Smith has started working on building a 1/3 scale Cherokee II.  Dave built a 1/4 scale Cherokee a few years back and his plans were developed into the Tom Martin 1/4 scale kit that is sold through Aerosente.  Dave is going to be blogging the build of the 1/3 scale Cherokee at I'll try to occasionally post updates here too.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

373Y Wing

Last night Leah and I switched out her left wing for my left wing in the garage.  Here is an out of focus picture of the puncture wound.
So last night I carefully cut the fabric out just around the holes.  It turned out to be an area about the size of a Quarter.  Then I mixed up some Super Fill and loaded the area up.  Today I'll sand it down, clean up the fabric around the spot, and glue in a small patch.  Perhaps later tonight once the glue has dried I'll brush in some EkoFill.  Then tomorrow I'll mix up some paint and finish the job.  Then it will be time to start working on my trailer!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

N4653T Patch done

Today after work I finished up the patch on 4653T's left wing.  I hit the new fabric with an iron to shrink it a tad and then brushed on about 3 cross coats of EkoFill primer.  Should be good enough to fly.  Not the prettiest with a grey splotch on the white wing but it will get us through this season and we plan to recover the glider next winter anyway.  In true form, here is an out of focus picture of the patch!  I'm hoping to get 373Y's wing into the garage tomorrow. Might do some work on organization as well. I've got some ideas on how to more compactly store 1073 and give myself more room to work.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Pictures and Patch

Here are a few more pictures of N373Y in Falls City, NE.  Taken shortly after landing.

Tonight I got to work on N4653T's left wing.  It suffered a bit of hangar rash and had a small hole out towards the tip on the top opf the wing.  Here's a really out of focus picture of the damage.

The wing was originally covered with nitrate and butyrate dope so I hit it with some MEK and cleaned the area down to the fabric. Here is an out of focus picture of the cleaned up wing:

I hit the area with the stewarts cleaner and rinsed with distilled water.  Let that dry and then busted out the EkoBond glue.  I cut a little piece of fabric out to cover the area and glued it in place.  It looks good and here is an out of focus picture of the patch glued in place.

I did take one picture that was in focus.  Here is what my garage looks like right now. Not a lot of room to work.  On the right is N1073, "Stinky", and then there is Leah's wing on the benches.

Tomorrow i'll brush some EkoFill primer over the patch and call it good probably.  Then we'll switch out this wing for the Left wing of 373Y for some filler work.  Hopefully by the middle of next week both gliders will be ready to fly and we can start working on my trailer.

Cherokee Updates

I got Leah's left wing into the garage and will start working on a patch for it tonight.  I'll be sure to take pictures and post a report here.

I've been working on some writing lately.  The weekly newspaper in Falls City, NE will have an article detailing my Gold Distance flight this week.  I'm also going to have articles about the recovering process on 373Y in the next editions of the Bungee Cord and the online magazine, RC Soaring Digest.  Additionally I think I'm going to try to work up a Gold Distance flight report for Soaring.

Dennis Barton just emailed me an update on N10124, the original Cherokee RM built by the Ree Brothers and Terry Miller.  It is in the process of being covered and is ready for UV blocker, then paint!  Looking good!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Cherokee Updates - more work to do

Well it has been a busy week for good reasons and bad.

Im still flying high after my Gold Distance flight last Sunday.  I've replayed it a million times mentally and on See You.  Thanks to everyone for the congratulatory emails and phone calls.  It was a great flight!  Steve and I have my paperwork almost ready to go and hope to send it out on Monday.

I heard from Jason Conaway that he is starting to restore N3300T, which was built by Ron Chitwood.  I'm looking forward to hearing about his progress and helping out in any way possible.  Hopefully he can at least give me regular updates that I can pass along or maybe make some posts himself.

I had a bad day on Tuesday.  While taking 373Y back to the Gliderport I hit some fresh loose rock on the gravel road and was driving too fast.  After about a quarter mile of the trailer swaying every way but straight and me trying my best to accelerate out of the situation, the left wheel of the trailer caught the ditch and the trailer tipped.  It stayed connected to the truck.  The glider is mainly OK, there are a few scratches on the wingtips (which stayed connected) and the fuselage stayed in place.  The only damage I could see was on the left wing.  The root cradles broke free and the left wing hit the rudder control horn which has scarred the plywood leading edge. 

So now I have more work to do.  The trailer fared well.  I am now an even bigger believer in Steel Frame trailers.  It has some scratches on the Aluminum Skin and some repairs to make where the front of the trailer dragged for a few feet down the road but the box itself is not too much worse for the wear. It protected my glider well.

The hitch is a real mess though.  Twisted up pretty good and I think it might be a good opportunity to just replace everything forward of the box.  The axle and suspension are going to need replaced but hey I wanted to put a rubber torsion style suspension on it anyway.

Long term plan is to build a couple of new trailers for both 373Y and 4653T. Maybe next year by this time I'll be ready to start that project.  In the meantime I've got lots of plans.  First is to bring 4653T's left wing into town.  It suffered a little hangar rash and needs a small patch done to it.  I'll be sure to post a report and pictures.  Then, 373Y's left wing gets switched into the garage and whatever needs done to it gets done.  And the rest of the glider gets a close inspection.  Then I'm going to see if 373Y will fit in 4653T's trailer.  Either way I'll start working on 373Y's trailer right after that.  The answer to the question will determine how quickly I work :)  I'm hoping to have at least one glider flyable for May 22nd weekend which is a Kansas Soaring Association club contest weekend and both gliders ready but not necessarily both trailers for Memorial Day Weekend when we plan to go out to Ulysses, KS for a long weekend of soaring.  I plan on doing whatever I need to do to 373Y's trailer to have it ready for the Kansas Kowbell Klassic straight distance contest on July 3rd.

N1073, now nicknamed "Stinky 73", is in my garage.  I need to get some pictures posted, sorry its taken so long.  I also need to get Neal and Harry in to take a look at it and give their opinion on its condition. I'm sure that Harry will tell me its just a matter of how much time someone wants to put into it. In his mind, anything is repairable.  Some truth in that I suppose.

I've been slowly making updates to the "Cherokee Roll Call" post from way back when. It is linked at the top of the page.  As I receive pictures or bits of information I try my best to add them.  The Soaring Magazine archive is continually being expanded and once I get some time I'll try to add info from the latest set of magazines that have been uploaded.  They haven't turned on searchability past 1977 yet so I'm still waiting on that.

I've got an article for the Bungee Cord, a newspaper article for the Falls City, NE paper, at least one club newsletter article, and possible an article for Soaring about my Gold Flight and/or my recover to work on so I've got plenty of writing to do, but will try to post updates here about anything new! 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Gold Pictures

Here are a few pictures of me and 373Y in Falls City after landing sunday.  These were taken by Karen and Tim, who saw me fly over and stopped out to visit.

I got the flight up on the OLC and it seems that I won the day in the US and got 2nd in the World!  Here is the link to the flight:

Monday, May 3, 2010


Here is a flight report that I put together for rec.aviaion.soaring and a few other aviation forums.  Enjoy!  I do have a few pictures I need to upload and will also be posting to the OLC tonight.

It was a good flight. I never thought it was going to happen. Yesterday was "one of those days" at the airport. We got out about 10:30 and put the glider together. A few friends showed up and we needed to put Leah's glider in its trailer to free up space in the hangar. So we got to started on that and it took about 5 times longer than any of expected or wanted. Finally finished it about 12:45 and the sky was already exploding and the glider still wasn't quite ready for flying. I had promised Leah some flights in the 2-33 before we went but she graciously realized that the lift was good and I should go fly, so she freed me from that obligation. I finally launched about 1:30.

experience shows that my glider is about a 30 mph glider when flying cross country. In order to fly the 300 km (186 miles) required for the gold badge I would have to fly something like 6 hours which I immediately assumed was going to be impossible. So I figured I'd just head downwind and try to fly further than I had ever flown before. Shea and Summer, two of my students, were crewing.

I initially flew straight north as my GPS was figuring the winds out of the south. Lift was good and I got off tow right in a 5-600 fpm thermal and climbed to about 8000 feet. Flew over Hutchinson and just ran north. Lift was good and sink wasn't too bad. I was averaging about 35 mph with a 5-10 mph tailwind.

I called Salina tower to make sure that the restricted area was cold. It was, which was good because I was headed right through it and didn't want to have to circumnavigate. I noticed the wind was shifting more out of the southwest so about the time I crossed I-70 just west of Salina I turned northeast. Shortly after this I hit my low point of 2900 MSL, which must've been around 1500 AGL. yikes! But I flew over a nice area of brown/black fields and caught a 600 fpm thermal back up to over 8000 feet. The next 4 thermals I caught were progressively higher, the next one I caught at about 4000 ft, then 5000, 6000 etc. Pretty soon I was booking from cloud to cloud, thermalling under about every 3rd one and generally averaging about 7000 feet. I was around 4 hours and starting to get cold, had passed 120 miles which was further than my previous best, and feeling pretty good.

I noticed that the clouds behind me were starting to die but it was pushing 6 PM and the sun was getting lower. There was still good looking clouds ahead of me so I kept cruising. I was watching the GPS and creeping towards the nebraska border. The idea of making another state really sounded good. At one point when I was about 15 or 20 miles south of the border i tuned in the weather at Beatrice and learned that the wind there was out of the NORTH and gusty. Interesting. Where I was the wind was out of the south and there was a line of rain between me and there. I also noticed a really killer looking street of clouds on the south edge of the rain. I put 2 and 2 together and figured that the opposing winds were converging along that line, so I decided to work my way towards it. However there was too much of a gap to make a straight run so I just stayed in the good clouds and eased my way over.

The last 40 or so miles were the fastest. I contacted the convergence area, initially with reduced sink but I was running at 50 mph and losing ~100 fpm. Altitude was still 7000 on average. I was down to about 6000 when I really got into the convergence. Turned parallel to the clouds the best I could figure and started climbing at 400 fpm while flying straight! I did this for about 10 or 15 miles I think and gained 1000 feet or so when I flew out of the lift. by this time I was up around 160 miles and gold distance was starting to seem like a possibility.

there wasn't a lot of lift indicators out ahead of my but I was a bit over a mile AGL and about 25 miles from my goal of 186 miles. my glider is 23:1 in calm air and it seemed to me that the sink had been not so bad or even "reduced sink" where i wasn't climbing but i wasn't sinking as much as i should've. I ran at about 50 mph for the final glide, slowing slightly if i would find a nibble of lift or something. Once I got to 175 miles and was still at 3 or 4000 AGL I figured that I had gold distance in the bag.

Turns out I was more or less headed right for Falls City, NE and they've got a nice airport there so I planned to land there if I could make it. I passed the 186 mile mark and let out a bit of a victory yell. Still at about 2500 feet at that point and 7 miles from the airport. The air was dead smooth, and actually had been quite smooth for the last several hours. A sort of magical condition that happens late in the day where the lift is still strong but the sink isn't to bad and the turbulence all softens up. Matt and I call it the "Magic Hour". In this case it was the "Magic 2 or 3 hours".

I arrived over the airport at about 1500 AGL and did a pattern and landed. Could've maybe stretched it to 200 miles but the convenience of landing at an airport after a flight where all goals had been met trumped the unknown of landing in a field. I had tried to alert my crew where I was going although one wrong turn and a fiasco at a gas station had left them far behind and out of radio range. Nice thing was I had good cell reception. They were about 50 miles behind when I landed, at 7:30ish, right around a 6 hour flight!

I now have more hours in my glider in the last 2 weeks than all of last year.

We got everything loaded up and were on the road shortly after 10 PM. Got to my apartment about 2:30 AM. I was in bed by 3:15 AM. One of my crew had to drive to hutchinson, she had school at 7. I think she got to bed about 4:30. ouch.

all in all it was a great flight, i couldn't have asked for much better. We'll download the trace tonight and do the paperwork for my Gold Distance claim. Now I just need to get a 3000 meter altitude gain to finish the Gold Badge. Also, I should be able to establish several state records that are so far unclaimed with this flight so I'm looking forward to that. There's also a fair chance that with my dogleg course and handicap I could win the day on the Online Contest which would be monumental I think. Most importantly, I think this will be a really competitive claim for the annual Wood Wings trophy for the longest flight by a wood glider in the state of Kansas.

Edit: Found an updated link for the newspaper article I wrote for the Falls City Journal about this flight. Enjoy:

Cherokee Gold!

Don't have time to do a full write up but just wanted to post notice that I flew Gold Distance yesterday. Made it 193 miles northeast of Sunflower Aerodrome in Kansas.  Landed at Falls City, Nebraska in the extreme SE corner of Nebraska.  More details to follow