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Monday, June 28, 2010

Update and In Flight Pictures

Well Jerry and I (mostly Jerry) put a couple days work in on the trailer last week and it is ready for the road.  A new hitch is welded in place and the new Flexride axle is welded and bolted in.  The trailer pulls nicely and I'm going to work this week on setting up the brakes.  I also have some more metal work to do on the trailer to avoid having a bit of a draft as the front frame is not quite as straight as it used to be and the aluminum plate across the front of the trailer suffered from some buckling in the tip over.  But it's looking like the trailer will be ready for Kowbell.

This week Mon-Thurs I'll spend making sure the glider is ready to go for the weekend and doing any work I can to improve the trailer.  I need to assess any trailer rash suffered while 373Y was riding in 4653T's trailer and make repairs/do touch up as needed.  The only thing I really know of is a small patch needed on the left aileron and some scratches on the vertical stabilizer.

Chris Uhl sent me an email last week with a link to some pictures he took while we were in Marfa.  He got some really great air to air shots of the Cherokee.  He and Matt Michael were flying Burt's L-23 Blanik and got some nice shots of me in 373Y as well as Burt in his Open Cirrus.  Here is my favorite.

That is burt on the left in the Cirrus.  These pictures were taken on the day of my 6 hr flight.  Another nice shot of 373Y:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Trailer work

Tonight begins work on the trailer.  Back in May, after my Gold Distance flight, I had an accident with the trailer.  It ended up on its side in the middle of the gravel road leading to the gliderport.  Thankfully the Cherokee was pretty much OK.  A few scrapes in the paint and one puncture wound that was easily repaired.

In the mean time I started another thread on RAS about trailer brakes and finally settled on a new axle for my old trailer.  It is getting a Flexride with electric brakes.  The axle has arrived.  I've been struggling with finding a good place to do the work.  I think I've finally decided to just try to limp the trailer out to Hutchinson so we can work at Jerry's house where all of his tools, welder, etc etc are located instead of trying to cobble together the tools at a remote location.  So tonight I'm going to do my best to get a new (non twisted) hitch bolted to the trailer and do the slow drive to Hutchinson.  Then Jerry and I can spend the next few days after work fixing up the tongue/hitch and putting on the new axle.

Saturday July 3rd is the annual Kansas Kowbell Klassic Kontest.  Kowbell was started in 1962 as a way to encourage KSA members to fly cross country.  The inaugural winner was Marshall Claybourn.  Rules to the contest were published in the May 1963 Soaring Magazine and remain the same:

1) Any soaring pilot and sailplane may enter.

2) Only one flight per pilot will be eligible for konsideration, and the flight must be made on the date selected for the Kowbell Klassic.

3) The winner each year will be the pilot who makes the longest flight, as measured on US Koast and Geodetic sectional charts, from the release point to his first point of landing, as verified on a standard SSA Landing Form. In kase of any dispute on measurement of the distance, said dispute will be steeled by Indian “rasslin,” (Texas Rules).

4) The release altitude will be no higher than 2000 feet above the contest site.

5) The release point will be vertically above the contest site.

6) The Annual Klassic will be held each year on the first Saturday after the first full moon that falls on or after the summer solstice (i.e., the first point of the sign of Kancer)

7) Normal adverse soaring weather, i.e., rain, overcast sky, lack of thermal, etc shall not constitue a valid reason for postponement of the Kowbell Klassic. If the weather is unsafe for glider flight, then the next Saturday during which unsafe weather is not present shall be the date of the Kowbell Klassic.

8) A suitable trophy has been fabricated by Mickey Jensen and Marshall Claybourn, and the aforementioned trophy shall be placed in the possession of the Officers of the Kansas Soaring Association who will be charged with its annual presentation, in accordance with these rules.

9) Any person who wins the Kowbell Klassic thrice in succession shall become the permanent owner of the trophy and a replacement will be provided by the original source.

A picture of the coveted prize:

This is obviously my kind of flying.  Straight out pure distance is quickly becoming as vintage as our old gliders.  While many of the other guys in our club use this date as an annual excuse to fly free distance I spend all season practicing for the big day :)

Last year I flew about 80 miles for the contest and landed just west of Greensburg, KS.  The winner for the day, in a Ventus, flew 238 miles to Goodland, KS.  Neal Pfieffer had a good showing in his Ka-6E with a second place flight of somewhere around 140 miles.

This year I'm obviously hoping to do better.  We'll just have to see what the weather brings.  So with my trailer getting back on the road I'll probably spend next week making sure the glider is ready to go.  Also once my trailer is finished my glider can go back in it and then Leah's glider will go back in its trailer.  That will free up some much needed space in our garage so we can start working on a cedar strip canoe project. 

The latest Bungee Cord, which should be arriving about now, has a nice article from Den Barton about his progress on N10124, the original Cherokee RM, built by the Ree Brothers and Terry Miller.  Looks like the bird is almost ready for paint and Den is hoping for a mid-year completion date.  Can't wait to see it fly!

Don't get the Bungee Cord?  Join the VSA to start receiving this fine quarterly newsletter.  Not only will VSA membership get you the magazine but you'll also be tapped into the brain trust of vintage soaring in the USA.  Plus when you fly at VSA rallies you can work on silver badge legs to earn the VSA Silver Coins.  Each features three "vintage" Pterodactyls instead of the more common three Gulls.  I want a few of those suckers!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Front Page News

Yesterday in the mail I got two copies of the Falls City Journal.  Turns out the article I submitted was on the front page!  Scott, the editor, waited a few weeks to publish it until he had room on the front. It turned out really great I think with a couple of good pictures.  The article can be read here:


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Gold Crewing Pt 2

Here is Summer's take on chasing me across Kansas last month.  Stolen from our club newsletter:


Ok, You wanted a story? Here ya go, the story of a overly extended day of chasing Tony's GOLD distance. Feel free to forward to who ever you like.

Well Sunday started out like any other FANTASTIC looking glider day, with students on the ground and instructors (and licensed glider pilots) in the sky. (no hard feelings of course, just a bit of green eyed envy) That is, until Tony asked Shea and me if we would like to experience some good old fashioned glider chasing, so him and I figured "what the hay?" we are always wanting to see ALL of the ins and outs of gliding. So equipped with fabulous KANSAS (and for some reason TX) road maps, a radio to Tony, and a half dead pick-up truck hauling and overly long trailer we set out. Now, let me say neither of us expected it to be a short day, what with the magnificent fluffy cumulus leering over head, and the experience of Tony, but NEVER did we predict that we would be arriving in NEBRASKA at 12AM. However, I must say it was a lovely day, and I personally have no regrets, about agreeing to be on the chasing crew.

I also must say that thanks to my mad navigating skills, we only got turned around about once or twice. We did, however, have a TON of fun stopping at an old ghetto, small town gas station where Shea proceeded to break the prepay gas device on the pump which put us about 20 mins behind Tony about half way through the day. (Don't let Shea tell you any different, he broke it)

Another fun point was when we were getting closer to the north eastern end of Kansas. We were making good time and were picking up Tony on his transponder (radio thing) again...until we hit Limestone road...which both Shea and myself now believe to be the cursed road among chasers. To start out with, when we started to drive down it I began looking for my usual identifying roads to make sure that we were going to right direction, but then the fact that there were pretty much NO intersecting roads for the next 5 miles really helped out.

Then when there WERE intersecting roads they were no where to be found on the map. So eventually we drove through a town that I personally had no idea what the name of it was, because I don't think it was even listed on the map. It was so tiny (and creepy) that we thought it must be deserted, because most of the houses looked run down and there were no people or cars anywhere.

Well as it turned out the Town we passed through wasn't deserted, because we eventually saw some people working on a boat, where when we drove passed them the promptly started to wave happily at us (we actually got waved at a lot when passing though smaller towns, kinda nice, but kinda weird too).

So, we eventually pulled ourselves away from the evil powers of that cursed Limestone road, and found our way up to Falls City, Nebraska. And believe me, I was really happy that Tony had decided to stop there not only because we were just a LITTLE bit tired, but also because thats where the maps that we had stopped as well.

In the end our times were roughly: we left Falls City around 12AM, got back to Wichita around 3AM where Tony lent me his car to drive back to the glider port where my car was parked, and then after I had exchanged Tony's car for my own, I drove back to Hutch and went to sleep around 4:30ish AM. Then I got back up at 6:30AM (and literally drank five cups of extra dark coffee(or as my mother likes to call it "motor oil")) and went to my 7AM ZERO HOUR at the high school. YAY!

I will say though that the entire trip was a BLAST. Good people+GREAT Soaring+A funny clunky old truck= Good Times.


Jerry and I are hoping to get started on 373Y's trailer next week.  The axle has arrived.  Otherwise I'm going to be out of town the next few weekends so I don't anticipate flying it anytime soon.  Perhaps the last weekend in June but definitely the first weekend in July for the Kansas Kowbell Klassic free distance contest.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Ulysses Pictures

Here are a bunch of pictures that Leah took while we were at Ulysses. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Ulysses report

Leah and I and 373Y arrived at Ulysses on Friday night and set up camp.  The weather was looking promising for Saturday.  Up early as Ed was out working a few fields at sunrise in the Air Tractor so we put the glider together and started preparing.  I was all ready to go by about 10 AM but was starting to wonder about the weather.  Wind was strong out of the south, gusting in the mid 20's.  I took a tow at 1 PM and promptly fell out.  rats.  Bob launched in his Pik motorglider and was able to connect with some lift so I launched again at 2 PM.

I had decided that with the wind my best plan of attack would be to go downwind.  Leah and Luke were ready to go in the truck and I managed to connect with some weak lift off tow.  about 2 knots up was as good as it was going to get.  However I was drifting at 30 mph while I circled!  I was able to climb up to about 6000 feet. Not very high considering the airport was at 3000 but I was now 5 miles downwind of the airport and figured I was going whether I wanted to or not so I called Leah on the radio and headed north.

It didnt take long for me to lose all the altitude I had gained and I was back down to 4500 feet on the south edge of an area of sand hills in western KS that are really unlandable.  I knew I wasn't flying over them so I started to work crosswind along the edge of the area and found a good thermal and back up I went to around 7000 feet this time.  Now I was at Lakin and headed sort of towards Scott City.

Ominously, the area of cumulus clouds I was flying under was coming to an end near Scott City.  I caught a thermal near the airport there and climbed to 8500 feet.  I was feeling good as my altitude was gradually increasing and I was making great time, about 50 mph or better on average.  I was starting to think that I could really put some major mileage on the glider today.

After I got out from under the cu though, I noticed the air was definitely smoother.  I flew along at more or less best glide speed, letting the 30 mph wind boost my glide ratio to what felt like infinity.  I did feel a few burbles and wind gusts but no good thermals until I was back down to 4500 feet. This was starting to feel familiar.  I started to circle and worked as hard as I could but lost the thermal after only a ~500 ft altitude gain.  Rats.  Well nothing to do but keep trucking so I kept heading towards Oakley.  They had an airport on the east side of town that looked possible but a bit on the shallow side to make.  There was also approximately 10 million acres of wide open dirt fields to land in in the area so I headed for fields that looked like possible thermal generators.  Sometimes airports suck you in and I wanted to avoid that.  Unfortunately nothing was to be found and eventually i just did a 180 and landed in a field just southwest of town. 

Many locals stopped out to check on me and a the local police and county sheriff.  Thankfully they got there soon enough that I was able to have them cancel the EMS and Fire Dept, assuring them that an airplane had not crashed.  Luke and Leah were about 40 miles out and the OK function on my SPOT tracker along with the most excellent DeLorme state maps had them headed directly for me.  Here is how they found me, chillin in the shade eating a snack.

And here is another picture of me out standing in a field.

Saturday we woke up at 5:30 AM to 45 mph winds buffeting the trailer and flapping the tent.  Needless to say we didnt have much hope for flying.  Eventually I did fly, but not the Cherokee.  Rafael and I went up for an hour and 15 minutes of struggling in weak lift in the Grob 103. It was fun!

Sunday the forecast wasn't too promising but I decided I came here to fly so we rigged.  We also packed up the truck and I was figuring if I got up and it was looking good I would just head towards Wichita.  I took a tow at 1:30 after Bob had landed in the motorglider and reported weak lift to 6000 feet.  I found a little lift off tow and climbed at 1-2 knots over the airport.  There was cu forming a few miles south of town so I started working upwind.  Once i got under the cu the lift was a little better and occasionally i would find a 4 knot core but had trouble staying in it for more than a one or two turns.  Maybe they were just stick thermals.

I continued to work upwind to the next cloud although it was difficult.  The clouds were cycling so fast that one second they would be there and the next second they were gone. Literally.  Instant evaporation of cumulus.  But I managed to work the area for an hour and a half.  Some high cirrus started to filter out the sun and I returned to the airport area and cirlced with Keith who was up in his PW-5.  We started to head out to the southwest although I was only at 5000 ft.  Then I hit some 10 knots SINK and beat feet back for the airport and landed.  Ended up with an hour and a half which I was happy with.  We loaded the glider up and hit the road, following Rafael and Luke back to Wichita.  Keith was still up in the air when we left, magically soaring under solid Cirrus overcast.  He was hopeful to get a 2 hr flight in to finish his Bronze Badge requirement.

A picture Leah took before launch on Sunday.

OLC traces are here:


Leah took about 400 pictures so I'm going to try to put up a picasa album in the next few days and will link to it when its done.