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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.

Diamond Goal attempt #1

Well the flight on Wedensday went great.  I'll repost what I posted on rec.aviaiton.soaring which tells the tale pretty well:

I had a fun time skipping work yesterday.  Declared a 300 km out and
return and took off at ~ 1PM.  I made sure to get a valid start within
1 km of the start point on the opposite side of my course.  Lift was
not as good as forecast but I was soon finding 4-5 knots up and
climbing to around 8000 feet.

I did get a little up close and personal with an Air Tractor at 4000
feet.  I was surprised to see him up there but he saw me and went
around the thermal I was working.

There were several dust devils that helped mark the way across
Kansas.  Lift was strong and often really rough.  I occasionally got
brave enough to dive at a blistering 65-70 mph between thermals. I
rounded Hays about 4:30, making sure to spend enough time on the
opposite side of the airport to get a good trace over there, then
headed back.  Things were starting to weaken and a big bunch of the
sky had gone blue.  I knew my only hope was to beeline straight home
and figured I'd go as far as I could.  Keeping a positive mental
attitude helped a lot as it really looked doubtful that I'd get very

Flight home was characterized by long smooth glides followed by weak
smooth thermals.  I did get one good climb over a country airport
about halfway home.  That was my last of the 4 knot variety.  After
that it was 1-2 knots.  A couple of turky vultures marked a core for
me at one point which was most appreciated.  I had been using a bit of
mental math and figuring my glide at about 25:1 as I flew in smooth
evening air.  My last good climb had been at 6 PM. Usually I'm on the
ground by then.  I kept finding these really weak, smooth thermals
every 5 to 10 miles and was slowly closing the gap on the airport.  It
seemed like I might be able to actually make it. or at least there was
a chance.

I left the last thermal 15 or 20 miles out.  I was right on the edge
of a 25:1 glide to the airport.  Of course I had to go PAST the
airport to finish the goal flight so I knew I needed a few more bumps
to make it.  As I got lower I started to fly like Dick Wolters in The
Sunship Game. "field by field by field"  Well unfortunately this
tactic was going to require a change in tactic as all of the fields
along my course within about 4 miles of the airport were full of full
grown corn!  I started to turn a bit east to try to approach the
airport from the north but quickly realized that it was highly
doubtful I was going to make the runway, let alone get a finish for
the flight.

I was set up well as I was on an extended base leg to a private
airport.  I also had a few dirt fields around as options.  I didnt
find any more bumps so I committed to the runway and turned final.  Lo
and behold there is a Duster sitting next to the runway. Turns out my
friend Jerry had landed there as well, not having quite enough left to
get back home.  At least I'd have company.

All in all it was a great flight and I learned alot. Keep in mind that
I've never flown a real out and return beyond maybe 20 miles from home
and have flown a declared goal flight.

I should've started earlier. I screwed around for a while after
takeoff trying to find some great lift before I set out on course. Of
course I didn't want to land out immediately and waste the whole day.
However I could've used those extra minutes at the end of the day.  I
have a slow glider and have to take advantage of the entire day

Turns out this flight was my second longest distance and my longest
duration at a bit over 6.5 hours.  Not too shabby!  Here is the OLC

All I got were crummy cell phone pictures but here goes. 

Proof that I almost made it:

Here is the Cherokee and the Duster at Mills Field.  Nice end to a good day of flying.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Gone Flying

well it is looking like a good soaring day here in Kansas.  Somewhere around 10,000 foot thermals and no wind so I'm going to try a Diamond Goal out/return flight from Sunflower to Hays and back.  watch the SPOT and I'll post an update tonight when I get home:

Monday, August 9, 2010

Updates in the Cherokee World

There has been a lot of Cherokee II related stuff going on lately.  I've made a few small updates to the Roll Call including a new picture of the Leonard Annebula, N25001, as well as some info on N46840, which just popped up for sale on Barnstormers.  Turns out that 46840 is a motorglider! I had only known about the Flaglor Cheorkee motorglider which featured two engines mounted on either side of the fuselage.  46840 has a 30 HP KFM motor mounted above the fuselage, a la Monerai.

In more Cherokee II for sale news there is a Cherokee currently listed on Craigslist in Dahlonega, GA.  Here is the ad:  I know just a little about this glider but have been in contact with the seller.  Let me know if you'd like to know more.  I'd like to see this glider go to a good home with potential to eventually fly again.

In other news, I've started working with Aerosente on Cherokee II related things.  I'll be starting to blog over there as well.  Aerosente is run by Mike Smock and specializes in distributing scale model Remote Control sailplanes, including a 1/4 scale kit of the Cherokee II!  So I'll be putting up pictures and stories and any other info I think might be useful over there to help support builders of the scale models.  Mike is also hoping to eventually branch out to 1/3 and maybe even 1/2 scale kits which I think will be really cool!

On the full scale side of things I'm going to try to get a condition inspection completed on N4653T this week and do some more flights in it.  373Y is still waiting patiently in her trailer for our next opportunity to fly. The last two weekends of August are the next chance I'll have and I hope to take it to Ulysses again for Labor Day weekend.  Then I'll be prepping it for showing off at the VSA rally in Wichita on September 25 weekend.  There are a few dings and scrapes that I'd like to touch up.  I'm also going to try to start hooking up the electric brakes on the trailer this week.

Monday, August 2, 2010

A good struggle

On Saturday Leah was line crew at Sunflower and we got out to the airport early.  I did some trouble shooting on the GPS power cable and determined that the ground wire was not getting through to the connector.  So I chopped it off.  Steve came out with some spare connectors and hooked me up with a good power connector and also found me a new cable for the LCD display that wasn't so intermittent.  I plugged in the GPS and viola, no smoke!  So I finished taping up the Cherokee and pulled it out to the runway.

I was pretty much the first of the single seaters to launch I think.  The club trainers had been up on a few flights and the Ka-6 had perhaps been up for one flight but had fallen out.  I took off shortly after 2.  The forecasts seemed to indicate it would be a late starting day and they were right.  It has been incredibly humid here with dewpoints in the mid 70's. 

I released at 3500 ft into a weak thermal and climbed up to 5000.  I had in mind that I would try to run northwest (crosswind) and see how far I dared to go out and return.  Leah was willing to come get me if I landed out but wouldn't be able to leave Sunflower until she was done with line duty.  I didn't want to get too far from home mainly as a matter of convenience.  Well I ran about 6 or 7 miles northwest and found NOTHING.  Not only was there no lift but when I started to return to the airport I quickly discovered that I probably wasn't going to make it back.  Well I wasn't against landing out but landing out a mile or two from the home airport is a little embarassing.  There are plenty of open fields near the airport so I just kept trucking in that direction hoping I'd find something.  Thankfull I did manage to find a few little thermals.  Eventually I was back within a mile of the airport at about 1000 AGL where I caught a decend 2 knot thermal and went back up.

By this time several other gliders had launched and were thermalling around the airport. Included was one of my students in the 2-33, the Ka-6, an HP, Pik 20E, and a Mosquito.  We all did a bit of gaggling together around the airport and eventually I had climbed up to around 6000 feet.  Not too shabby I thought so I decided to head east this time.  I would be battling into a quartering headwind.  Dennis in the Mosquito also was thinking along the same lines and we divided K-96.  He worked to the south of the Highway and I generally stayed north of it.  I found a little lift north of Haven, the first town I came to, and was back up to around 6000. 

I kept heading east, crossing the Arkansas river and making sure my trajectory would keep me north of the Wichita Class C airspace.  My new goal was to fly to the Wichita Gliderport.  My grand plan was to land there and hangar the glider, then try to fly it back to Sunflower on Sunday.  Worst case, if I landed short, I would be more or less on the way home for Leah to pick me up.  So I kept heading east, aiming for the north edge of Valley Center.

The closer I got to Wichita the more airports started passing beneath me.  There are a lot of privately owned grass runways and airparks on the north and northwest sides of Wichita.  I had most of these in my GPS and some of them were marked on the map.  That coupled with the recent wheat harvest left me with plenty of options for places to land.  I kept struggling along in 1 - 2 knot lift.  Once I think i hit a thermal with several circles of fairly steady 3 knot lift. That was like riding an express elevator.  The lift actually reminded me a lot of Kowbell.  I was flying gingerly, conserving as much altitude as possible.  I don't think I ever pushed much higher than 60 mph.  It seemed like the workable thermals were about 5 miles apart which was a bit of a struggle considering the headwind and the low altitudes.  I once again spent a lot of time on this flight below 2000 AGL.

I did find one good thermal between Haven and Mount Hope that also contained a few red tail hawks.  It is always a joy to soar with the birds.  As I continued though things started to weaken and I found it a struggle to get much above 3500 feet.  I kept pressing on as much as possible but was definitely exploring every bit of lift that I encountered.  I was headed towards High Point airport but comparing my altimeter to the distance on my GPS i could tell it was going to be close.  There was another airport, Hidden Valley, just to the west of High Point.  was within 10 miles of both airports and couldn't see them.  Trees and buildings lined the sides of both airports and the runways were north/south and I was headed east at relatively low altitude.  However there was a few good fields directly north of Valley Center so I had good options.

Airport Ho!  I could see some hangars and houses at High Point.  But I was still 3 or more miles out and down to 1000 AGL.  I could tell immediately that I didn't have enough altitude to make the airport and manuever to the runway.  Plus the area right around the runway contained a lot of houses, trees, and other green stuff that didnt' look very landable.  The Hidden Valley airport was somewhere between me and High Point but I couldn't see it.  I had picked out a field just north of the football field in Valley Center and was ready to land there.  I didn't find a thermal so that is just what I did.

The approach was over some power lines which I made sure to clear by a large margin then a big slip intot he big field.  I stopped about in the middle of the field, maybe a quarter mile from the road.  One witness came out to make sure I was fine and then left. I tied down the glider and walked over to the road to scope out access. Leah was on her way.

I met some friends who were sitting on their porch and saw me fly overhead but missed the landing.  I guess they weren't expecting me to land in the field.  They gave me food, water, and beer and a nice shady place to sit and visit while Leah was coming.  I had visited with the land owner and worked out a way to get the trailer in and out of the field with no issues. 

We made quick work of de-rigging and took 373Y to the Wichita Gliderport where we tied down the trailer.  I ended up with 118 points on the OLC for the flight.  I was pretty satisfied with the flight considering the conditions of the day.  Not to mention I got home before sunset!

Here is the OLC trace:
Here is a really lousy cell phone picture of the Cherokee in its field. I've updated the map with this landing point, I think i'm up to 21 landouts in 373Y now!