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Thursday, August 12, 2010

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.

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