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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.

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