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

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Fleet update

First off I took some time to update the roll call post.  Some information has changed and I added a few more pictures that have come in in the last 6 months or so.  Check it out:

N98P, the first Cherokee II to fly, has recently been sold and is heading to its new home in Idaho next week.  I'm excited that it is going to a new home and am looking forward to seeing it get back in the air. 98P was built by Frank Kerns and was ready to fly before Stan Hall's own Cherokee, N63P.

While talking to the new owner he asked about the paint scheme. All the pictures I had ever seen of 98P from its first flights were black and white. However, longtime SSA member Bertha Ryan was mentioned in the article Stan wrote about his first flight in 98P.  She was flying her kit built 1-26 on the same day.  By the way Ross Briegleb was up that day in his BG-12.  Quite a day for homebuilt soaring!  Bertha had some old slides showing 98P and sent them to me.  The first two show Stan (in the hat) and others after the first flight of 98P.

The following slide from Bertha was taken after Stan finished his first 5 hour flight in his own Cherokee, N63P.  Very cool and thanks Bertha!

We did get some more work done on 53T on Sunday.  I worked with the plane for a while getting the new trailing edge trimmed down to shape. It is looking good now.  Bad news was that I managed to break a couple ribs in the process.  Good news is that one of them was the new big rib which will be easy to replace.  Not to mention it was a little oversized anyway.  Also the existing rib that broke was the worst offender as far as being twisted from the airbrake return spring and now it will be much easier to get a nice looking straight rib in that location :)  So now I know what will be waiting for me after the holidays.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Excellent Progress

Yesterday a 5 ft long piece of Spruce arrived on the front porch.  Perfect timing since today was going to be in the mid 50's. Not bad for December!  I got to work this afternoon, starting with finishing the cuts in the existing trailing edge.  Finishing the inboard side went alright and cutting the outboard side was a breeze. Here is the trailing edge pieces cut:

Then I cut the new piece of spruce to length and laid out the scarfs for it.  With a nice sharp blade on the plane it took very little time to get the scarfs cut for the new piece.  Helps when the piece is just clamped to the bench and not flopping around on the glider with ribs in the way.

Next I started thinking about ways to get the ribs straightened out.  I also knew I was going to need to get the ribs out of the way in order to glue in the new trailing edge.  I notched some 1x2's with the table saw to act as a sort of jig for the ribs to force them into a straight-ish orientation.  It actually worked out pretty well and I think when the time comes will work alright for getting things lined up.  I also removed the vertical stiffeners and cut the trailing edges of the existing ribs in order to get them to move out of the way for the trailing edge.  Here is the jigs in place:

With the ribs able to move now I had to go get some supplies for epoxying. Namely, dixie cups and paint brushes.  Then I clamped the aluminum angle firmly in place.  It worked as a nice guide in my attempt to keep the trailing edge square and straight.  Worked out a clamping scheme and mixed up the epoxy and put everything in its place.  Then for grins I glued in the remaining bits of the false ribs so I'll have plenty of clamps to remove in the morning.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Installing Ribs

Not a lot of work done on 53T lately but Matt and I did do some work this week on insulating the attic.  Only 2 or 3 rafter widths left on that job and hopefully we will do that tomorrow!  We did do some work on 53T today though.  I bought a piece of stiff aluminum angle at The Yard Store this morning and am using it to jig together the two ends of the trailing edge on either side of the piece that I cut out.  I started cutting the scarf on one side of that gap today.  Matt worked on getting the ribs ready to glue in place with some last minute touch up.  We ran a taught line to establish where we wanted the leading edge and made sure that we had a 1.5 mm gap between the rib for the skin.

We finished up the afternoon by mixing up epoxy and gluing and clamping the 6 false ribs to the forward spar.  I have some more work to do around the airbrake before I'm ready to epoxy the real rib in place.  We will also need to glue 4 of the false ribs to the rear spar.  However our monthly glider club meeting interfered which was quite interesting.  It featured the designer of the Belite Ultralight,  He spoke at length about the recent feature of his plane on Mythbusters and the design of the craft. Very cool.

I also made it out to Harry's shop this afternoon and picked up a 4 foot square piece of 1.5 mm plywood which will be used for the new skin.  Slowly but surely I can see this repair coming to an end!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

More Sawdust

Work on 53T continues...We filled up the propane tank last night so we're back in business.  Tonight I finished cutting out and getting a rough fit on the big rib so now all the ribs that were removed from the right wing have new replacements.  They look good and the next step is to get them epoxied in place.

While I've been doing this rib work i've been eyeing the trailing edge behind the airbrake.  There is some twisting going on as a result of oversized return springs used on the airbrake.  This torqued the middle rib that runs through the airbrake area.  Of course we replaced the right hand rib.  The left hand rib in the airbrake area was also twisted. Guilt by association I suppose.  Anyway I figured if I could cut out the trailing edge in that section I could have a chance at getting the ribs sorta straight again and back in place.  So, now 3 feet of trailing edge on the right wing are missing.

Looks like it's time to make another order from Aircraft Spruce...

Cherokee II Pictures from the San Diego Air & Space Museum

I was just googling around and ran across these, which I've never seen before.  According to the pictures it was built by Duke Stallings, I'm not sure if it was ever completed. I don't recall seeing a canopy quite like that before.  Will have to do some research...Pictures start here:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cutting Ribs

I haven't made many updates in the last few weeks because we haven't been getting much work done on 53T.  Some winter prep work around the house and in the garage has been my focus.  Specifically i've nearly finished the last bits of insulating that needed done on the walls of the garage.  We'll need to finish the last few pieces of sheetrock on the ceiling so I can finish insulating the season. 

I have had a few chances to cut out a few new ribs for the right wing.  I have two false ribs and the one big main rib remaining to be cut.  Then of course we'll need new skin and filler to get everything smoothed out.  I'm starting to contemplate replacing a section of the trailing edge to attempt to take care of some ribs that are warped.We'll see...

Monday, October 31, 2011


Last week I did manage to get to the garage a few nights. Matt came over to help and he cleaned the balsa facing off the left airbrake and removed both airbrakes.  The hinges have some pretty decent corrosion on them.  I kept working on the ribs on the right wing.  New plywood arrived and the new rib shapes are traced out and ready to cut. I also received a package with a full set of ribs as well as metal fittings from Richard Beck. Thanks Richard!  I used the rib in that package to make a template for a new rib to replace the one true rib that I removed on the right wing.  So this week the goal is to make some sawdust and start putting parts back in the glider.

Yesterday we got 3Y out for the last day of scheduled operations at the club.  This was the first time I have flown 3Y at Sunflower since my first flight in it this spring in May, when Summer and I landed out.  Needless to say we have been on the road a lot with the glider this season. I added up the logbook and I think I had just over 50 hours in it this season. Not bad!  Lift yesterday was weak and broken up, we had two flights, first one about an hour and the second one right at half an hour. Here are the traces:

Leah and I received some sad news on Saturday.  Bud Brown, builder of 4653T, passed away on Friday.  Awful news as I was very hopeful to get to meet him one day and show him 53T once we're finished with it.  Here is Bud's obituary:

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Destruction complete, I think

Tonight I worked a bit to remove the broken rib.  First, however, I was able to get a good look down the leading edge of the right wing thanks to the false ribs being removed.  there was a bunch of mouse nest leftovers outboard of the hole I cut so I spent some time with the shop vac cleaning the wing out.  Managed to remove everything I could see.  I also was able to get a good luck at the adjacent rib bays and determined that I didn't need to remove any more skin which is great!

The last thing I did tonight was remove the main rib that I broke while removing skin.  It didn't cause too much trouble.  For now at least this is the last phase of destruction in this section of the wing.  There is a chance I might end up re-working the trailing edge but that won't come until the rib repairs are complete.  Here is a photo:


Harry stopped by to inspect the damage last night.  He thought most of the ribs were probably OK and could be saved with some doublers.  I had already removed the blantantly broken false ribs as those will be pretty easy to replace with new.  Matt G came over to help and hit the not broken ribs with the sander to clean them up so we could see what we were dealing with.  Both false ribs that weren't broken showed some pretty major cracking into the plys that was more than just the surface, so it was a pretty easy decision to remove them.

The main rib next to the airbrake box is also broken so it will probably get removed and replaced. I've ordered some plywood to cut new ribs.  Here are some pictures of tonights destruction:

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Opening Right Wing

 I started off tonight with the intention of squaring up the hole that I cut in 3T's right wing so that a new piece of plywood could be scarfed in to replace it.  While doing that I looked towards the tip inside the leading edge and noticed that the next false rib was blatantly broken.  So the hole went from this:

to this:

Not too bad I thought. However after looking at that rib, and noticing that the false rib next to it was also broken, I realized the easiest way to fix them would be just a complete replacement.  The break was on the top back near the spar, not to mention the leading edges of all the ribs are in questionable shape thanks to the mouse damage.  I also found some more mouse nest material in the new rib bay that I opened up and vacuumed some more out of the next bay towards the tip.  So, I decided to remove the skin in the newly opened bay back to the second spar on top so the false ribs can be replaced.

Next I started careful work with the chisel to square up the aft edge of the original cutout.  I noticed that one false rib was cracked which I wasn't particularly excited about.  Then I managed to damage the real rib which forms the tip-side border of the airbrake box.  That was it.  The rest of the skin was coming off so I had full access to all the ribs in this area.

And thats where I stopped for the night. 

Jacob was over earlier and we got the rudder cables finished and also he worked on sanding down the filler work we had done the other night. For the woodwork, next thing I suppose is to evaluate what to do with each rib in this area.  Most of them are going to need some form of repair or replacement.  Then I'll have to order some plywood and go to town.  All the ribs on the Cherokee II are sawn from 1/4" marine plywood. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Last night I started cutting out the soft wood in the right wing leading edge.  There was a mouse in there at some point. No nest but some shreds of foam, a few acorns, and other leftovers. I kept cutting until I was back to clean wood and couldn't feel or see significant damage in the past the next rib.

Bud Brown added 2 false ribs between each actual rib to help hold the profile. It seems to have worked well.  The plywood skin is 1.5mm and there were places where there was at least another .5 mm of filler.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


On Sunday Jacob came over to help and we started off working on finishing up the rudder cables.  Well either I used up all my thimbles and sleeves or they were lost in the great re-organization which allowed the wings to go on 53T. There weren't very many left anyway so I've ordered a bunch more for the rudder, aileron, and airbrake cables.

Instead we mixed up some super fill and got to work.  There was an area on the leading edge of the center section that needed smoothed out after the fabric pulled up some previous filler over the balsa leading edge.  There were also some areas around the canopy that needed touched up and of course the intersection of the center section and fuselage.  Jacob worked on that while I kept picking away at some stubborn fabric on the leading edge of the right wing.  Along the way I found a short section of soft wood that will need to be replaced.  It is 1.5 mm plywood and the leading edge on the Cherokee is non-structural so I don't think it will be too much trouble.  Will be interesting to get a look inside the leading edge which has been closed up for the last nearly 50 years.

Friday, October 14, 2011

53T assembled

for the first time since about a year ago the wings are on 53T.  No its not finished, we just put the wings on so that we can make the cables for the aileron and airbrake systems.  I am just loving that it fits in the garage with room to spare!

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Back when I bought 373Y I was told that Matt had a pile of pictures of the glider from when it was built back in 1964 by the Ree brothers.  Well when we started looking around for them they were nowhere to be found and eventually we decided they were just plain lost and hoped that someday they would turn up.  After a while I flat out forgot that they had ever existed.  well yesterday I got a text from Matt and lo and behold its a picture of a pile of pictures of my glider!  Woohoo what was lost is found!  So as soon as Matt can get me the pictures I'll be sure to scan them all and put them up here. Here is the picture Matt sent me:

Friday, October 7, 2011

53T Control System

Well with cooler weather and now the VSA Rally behind us I've been trying to get out in the garage at least a little every night to make progress on 53T.  All of the pulleys in the glider have been replaced with new, and last night Leah and I started fabricating new control cables.  In addition, night before last I took the stick out and cleaned it up.  The stick is mounted on a short tube that runs through a couple of hardwood blocks.  At some point in time someone thought it was necessary to lube all the moving parts on this glider, and used some sort of black goo to do so.  I'm sure that it probably helped for a while but over time this lubricant picked up a lot of dust and dirt and just turned into a thick gunk.  The area where the stick passed through the hardwood blocks was no exception and there was a LOT of friction in the left/right motion.  A little time with a towel and some fine sandpaper and everything is moving a little easier.  There is still some friction but it is much better.

Last night we made new cables for the aileron drive in the fuselage. These cables run from the side of the stick around a pulley and then back beside the seat into the fuselage, around another pulley and up to the aileron bellcrank that is mounted on the back of the rear spar.  A turnbuckle is added into each cable assembly at the bellcrank attachment to allow for adjusting tension in the system.  Of course the turnbuckles were loaded with more black goo lubricant as well so we spent some time cleaning them up and sanding off some light surface corrosion.  Then with the turnbuckles in place and the control cables attached to the stick we got a good rough guess of where we needed to place our thimble at the cable/turnbuckle interface.  A little bit of struggling with the nicopress and voila a shiny new cable at just the right length.  The left side went so well that we finished up the right side and now have a closed loop in the fuselage again.  Of course I was out of the proper bolts so had to make a quick order to Aircraft Spruce last night.  Once they arrive We can finish the aileron drive completely.  In the meantime we'll move on to the other cables in the fuselage and then on to the wings.  That will be fun as I plan to rig the glider entirely inside the garage.  It will required some organizing and re-arranging of course but I can't wait to see it.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

XC Adventures in 3Y

[Here is Pete's report from his flight in 3Y on Friday]
At this year's Wichita VSA Rally, Tony was kind enough to let me borrow his beloved Cherokee II 373Y again. I got to fly it last year, but the weather wasn't great so it was a short flight. The weather looked pretty good on Friday with lift to 5000' AGL, but also no clouds forecast. Since neither Tony nor I had managed to get our VSA silver coins we thought it might be possible to go on a 50km XC flight with the forecast conditions.

The WSA Ka-6 was available that day (Matt Colcasure Must have had to work :-)) so Tony decided to team fly with him in the Ka-6 and me in the Cherokee II. I took a tow to 2000' agl, and I found a good thermal almost immediately all the way up to 6000' MSL. Once up to altitude I met up with Tony, and we set off on course.

Team flying was really cool. I could see that the Ka-6 had a few less Ds than me as I tended to drop a bunch faster than Tony. True to forecast we kept finding decent lift out in the blue as we headed east towards El Dorado. At times I was struggling to get back up to altitude, but Tony managed to hang around and waited for my slow self to get back up to a decent altitude to continue onward.

I had Tony's Oudie in YYY so I was navigating and once we made 51km I signalled that we had made our goal over a feedlot just east of Rosalia, KS. As we turned back west I was starting to get lower and was on the lookout for a Thermal to get me back home. I had already picked out a nice looking plowed field next to a hay field with a bunch of round bales in case I wouldn't connect with the next thermal when Tony radioed me that he had found something right in that spot. Unfortunately I was getting rather low, when I saw that the hay field actually had a nice mowed runway running right through it. I was trying to make it to the thermal marked by Tony, but I just didn't feel comfortable so I pulled the plug at about 600' AGL, and went to land in the nice grass strip right below.

Tony got to watch me make a nice off field landing in his pride and joy (I was just glad not to do anything stupid :-)), and proceeded to get a nice thermal that almost got him back home. I radioed back to him that I was down safe and sound, at which point I realized that I had no idea on how I would get back out of there.

Well I just landed out in a borrowed glider, now what? Thankfully the better half of "Team Condon" was already on the way to the gliderport, so Tony relayed Leah's cell phone number to me. I felt a little embarrassed to have to call Leah to arrange for the retrieve, but she assured me that it would be ok. Leah made it out to the little strip about 45 minutes later, and we managed to derig 3Y without too much difficulty, and got home in time for dinner.

Turns out Tony made it back taking only one more thermal to get home. I caught a little grief from the rest of the pilots for making Leah pull my butt out of a field. Again special thanks go out to Tony for letting me have so much fun in 373Y, and especially Leah for showing up and pulling me out of that field in Rosalia, KS.

As it turns out I had both made my silver distance (51km) as well as silver altitude on this flight.

VSA Report

Well we all had a really good time at the VSA Rally.  Gliders in attendance included Lee and Mary Cowie's beautiful Grunau Baby II, freshly restored, and Dave and Betty Schuur's Ka-6E.  Locals included 373Y and my NG-1, WSA's Ka6-CR, Neal's Ka6-BR, Jerry Boone's Zuni, and Bob Holiday's Duster. The Grob, Lark, and 2-33 at the gliderport also made regular flights.  John Wells and Richard Kirkland had their 17 meter Dart on display and of course there was lots of oogling over Neal's Ka2b which is nearly complete. He was working steadily over the weekend getting the cockpits put back together on it.

Pete arrived on Thursday night and I took Friday off work so that we could fly.  He had flown 373Y last year at the rally and I intended to get him back in the Cherokee this year since he airlined down instead of pulling his Ka6-CR. We rigged 3Y and the clubs Ka6 which would be my bird for the day.  We both launched into really great conditions for the end of September. I was often seeing 3-4 knot average thermals up to around 4000-4500 AGL.  I radioed Pete and suggested that we run east to try to get 50km away and then return for our VSA silver coins.  He wasn't going to argue and we headed out. It was a fun flight and we made the 50km. I made it back but Pete landed out. He has written up his flight and I'll post it right after this one.

Here is me taking off in the Ka6 (photo from Lee Cowie):

Saturday I headed to the gliderport early to get the NG-1 rigged before the morning seminar. Big thanks goes out to Caleb Teel from Tulsa, OK who helped me wash all the dust off the glider. He was visiting with his dad Randy and it was great to finally meet them. I talked about flying 3Y in the Region 10 contest during the seminar.  After the talks we ate lunch and then rigged 3Y in record time.  Matt Michael arrived in his Flybaby and Neal offered him the Ka6-BR so the three of us all launched.  Unfortunately Pete and I found the lift weaker and spottier than Friday and only managed about an hour each.  I did have fun flying with Matt in the Ka6 though and he got some air to air pictures of the NG-1 which looked pretty good. Saturday night was the cookout at the gliderport and there was a ton of people there. We had a blast eating good food and visiting.  We finished the evening with a run to Bob Holiday's place for homemade ice cream. Yum!

Sunday my main goal of the day was to get Matt up in the NG-1.  Pete gave me permission to fly 3Y so Matt and I launched.  We both had 2 hour flights.  We had a great time gaggling together and of course Matt blew me away in straight glides.  I did a small triangle to Augusta Airport, Stearman Field, and back to the gliderport.  When I returned I joined up with Matt again for a few turns but then we both were getting low so landed.  It was a great end to a great weekend of friends and soaring!

Many more pictures from Sunday here:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

VSA Prep and 53T Update

The VSA Rally in Wichita is coming up at the end of the month and of course there are a few things I'd like to get done on 3Y before the date.  I ordered a quart of Daytona White from Stewarts to do some touchup painting.  There are several spots on the glider where I made small patches and only have the gray Ekofill showing and I'd like to try to get the glider all one color for the rally.  So hopefully late this week I'll be setting things up for shooting paint.

I'll also probably have the NG-1 out there too and it can use some TLC in a few places after a season of trips in and out of the trailer.

Third, Leah and I will be giving a talk about flying in the contest with YYY, so I need to get prepared for that.

On the subject of 53T I have actually managed to get some work done on it lately.  Nothing too monumental but I've spent a few evening replacing the control cable pulleys.  Right now the only thing left in the fuselage is the aileron cables and the airbrake.  In the wings I need to get the bellcranks for the ailerons cleaned up and reinstalled and replace the airbrake pulleys.  So hopefully sometime in the near future I truly will be ready to replace the cables!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ulysses Report

Leah and I once again spent the Labor Day weekend in Ulysses with 3Y.  We had a good time even though the soaring was a bit sub-par. 

Saturday was looking the most promising but still challenging.  The challenge lie in the fact that a cold front moved through at about 8 AM.  Soaring to the south of the front was forecast to be very good but behind the front not so great.  Winds were 20 mph on average when I launched for the downwind dash.  My idea was to fight it out in any scrap of lift I could find and keep drifting downwind, eventually get to the good stuff further south and then go like the dickens.  I was even brave enough to declare Plains, TX as my goal, 314 miles.  Leah had the truck all ready to go.  I took a high tow to take advantage of the 1000 meter allowed altitude loss for the flight and to increase my chances of finding workable lift in the windy conditions.  I ended up covering a whopping 26 miles in only 36 minutes from takeoff to landing in a dust field northwest of Hugoton, KS.  I should say, a blowing dust field.  Leah wrapped a bandana around her face cowboy-style to avoid eating dirt while we were derigging.  Three dove hunters stopped by after seeing my fly over and then seeing the trailer and were very helpful derigging.  Apparently the dove weren't flying in the wind either.

Sunday I was less than inspired by the forecast as the lift was forecast to about 3000 AGL but still with 15-20 mph winds.  I wasn't looking forward to a repeat of Saturday and with the wind it would be a real struggle to fly locally.  So I helped Steve get ready for his first flight in the FJ-1, a mostly 301 Libelle modified to landing flaps only.  It was fun getting him launched and after watching him soar away and then Bruce do the same in the Grob we decided we might as well rig.  By the time the glider was together we decided that Leah was going to fly so she took off for her first flight in 3Y in a few months.  It was better than the last flight, her only complaint was a bit of a rough landing.  The conditions were not exactly in her court though with a decent wind, about a 10 knot crosswind component, and plenty of thermal activity to keep her busy on tow.

Monday Leah did two more flights in 3Y around noon and reported some zero sink.  Her landings were much better with more moderate wind conditions to deal with.  I got my parachute and launched about 1:30 and was able to climb up to 4500 AGL.  I circled with Steve (FJ-1), Jeff (Apis), and Ed (PIK-20) which was fun.  The Cherokee seemed to climb right with the FJ-1.  I was curious as I had once circled with a 201 Libelle that also climbed right with me.  Of course as expected Steve walked away from me in cruise.  I did follow him south for about 7 miles but that was as far as I dared.  I wanted to make it back!  The rest of the flight was nice and relaxing staying by the airport and just having fun playing in the thermals.  I landed about 3:30 in order to get derigged and on the road home.  Bruce and us hit the road about 5 PM and we were home right around 10.

All in all a good fun weekend was had by all.  ONce we get pictures from Leah's camera i'll try to get them posted.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Day 5, Region 10

Today's task was a "Banquet Task".  2:30 from Llano up to San Saba (15 miles), FLF Gliderport (25 miles), and Mason (20 miles).  Minimum distance was a mere 76 miles so even I would have to actually go inside the circles.

Yesterday Frank (TA) and I had a discussion about why I always start right away.  I perfectly understand the strategy of waiting to start late as the day develops to its best but I also know that if I run into trouble in the Cherokee I'm going to need time to dig out.  Once again today I was the first one out the gate, perhaps 500 feet below max start height for the downwind run to San Saba.  That leg was pretty easy with high groundspeeds and only one or two thermals.  Clouds were already forming on course and I was waiting to see a coherent group of clouds connecting to the east side of Lake Buchanan before I turned.  I wanted to avoid any possible weak area to the downwind of the lake.

Once I decided to turn east I managed to connect with a great group of short cloudstreets running straight into the wind.  My strategy, per the last few days, was to do no circling unless I was below 6000 feet.  I managed to run straight into the wind for nearly 25 miles on streets all while staying high!  SeeYou says the average L/D for this portion was in the 140's!  Thanks to this monumental run my groundspeed was still in the 45 or 46 range.  Now I just had to decide when to turn back west towards Llano.  I did some mental calculations and figured that when I had about 50 minutes left I would turn.  Running west I tried to cheat a little south to minimize the headwind on the final leg back to Llano.  Visions of my Day 2 landout were still haunting me so I wanted to do everything I could to avoid that again.

The run west was awesome.  I found a 5 knot thermal right over the middle of the lake and then just southwest of Llano caught an 8 knot thermal to my best of the day, about 9500 feet.  Now that I was seriously local to Llano I decided to keep it that way.  I ran out to the Mason circle and continued until I was 15 miles out with 15 miles remaining.  I was about 10:1 to make it back to Llano but I knew that my speed would be fantastic even if I came in a bit under time.  So I turned back.

The final glide back to Llano was mostly at about 80 mph indicated just to get down and I still finished at something like 3000 AGL.  Oh well.  The Oudie showed my average task speed at 50 mph although my scored speed was a bit slower due to being about 4 minutes under time.  I didn't care, this was certainly a career best flight.  Fantastic speed, never got low, and everything just worked awesome.

YYY and I ended up winning the day and moved up to 3rd overall.  I was amazed and very pleased to make the podium.  All the other pilots made it back today, all with smiles on their face.  It was definitely a fantastic day of soaring for everyone.  The awards banquet was a great time.  Bob Holiday and I were proud to present the James LeSueur Memorial Trophy on behalf of the Kansas Soaring Association to the Region 10 Champ, Frank Paynter (TA).  Great job Frank!

My flight from today:

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Day 4, Region 10

The task for Day 4 was a 3:30 MAT.  Mandatory turnpoints were Eagle Rock Ranch for the first and the West Start point for a steering turn at the end.  It was up to us to fill in the gaps.  Frank Paynter (TA) gave a quick how-to talk after the pilots meeting to help the rest of us rookies understand what to do.  His main suggestion was to get at least half your miles early then find a small triangle to finish up your time.

I set up a plan to go back southeast to Sunrise Beach and then do a triangle from Sunrise to Spicewood to Moursund and back to Sunrise.  At that point, depending on how much time was left i could go back to Spicewood again for more distance or head back downwind-ish to Llano for the finish.

The run to Eagle Rock was very easy.  I had a lot of fun gaggling with Frank in his Ventus and Dave Coggins in his Nimbus near the north edge of the start cylinder.  We were wrapped up tight and climbing well together.  We got to nearly 8000, the maximum start height, when the gate opened, so I left.  With the tailwind component heading out there I was able to make 26:1 average and only took one thermal on the way.  I found a great thermal over the airport there and it was nice to tank back up on altitude before running back towards Llano.

I had to keep a sharp eye out as I was now head to head with the rest of the field who started after me.  There was a good sized gaggle about 1/3 of the way to Llano that I took a few turns in before continuing on.  I didn't get low-ish again until I was to Llano town and caught a thermal off a construction site, the same place where I had released from tow and climbed out. At one point we heard Keith Miller (AJ) call that he was landing out near the Flying D Ranch which was a bummer.  He made it into the field alright but getting his trailer out of the field was, and still is, another story.  I was able to make pretty good progress flying straight and dolphining.  My general plan was to fly straight until below 6000 then take 4 knots unless I was below 5.  I wanted to make sure to stay up high today and overall it worked well.  I averaged 23:1 and 28% circling on the leg to Sunrise Beach, quite good considering it was into a quartering headwind.

After making Sunrise I diverted south a bit to stay upwind of the lake.  Spicewood is along more or less the same course line that I had been on.  I found a good thermal near the powerplant and was able to get back up high and back into cruising mode.  For the short leg I was 26:1 and 29% circling and gained 1000 feet.  During this leg I spotted a brush fire starting near the Herbert airport, and reported it, and heard that Mike Brooks (XL5) was getting ready to land out at Moursund Ranch.  Well I didn't hear from Mike for a few minutes so I called him back and it turned out he had caught a thermal and was digging out.  I turned Spicewood and headed for Moursund.

Another short leg into a quartering headwind but no big problems.  Mike and I circled together for a few turns near the mid-point in a pretty good thermal, 5 knots average, and continued on our way.  I got to Moursund slightly low but found a Vulture assisted thermal near the airport and started climbing as I drifted back towards Sunrise Beach.  The leg from Spicewood to Moursund was once again 26:1 but only 14% circling.  Of course I lost 2000 feet in the process too.

The run downwind to Sunrise again was very easy with the tailwind helping.  I started tanking up on altitude.  The run around the triangle had been in the clouds but it was blue back to Llano.  I was nearly 50% circling for the 14 mile leg but still had good speed and a 29:1 glide thanks to the tailwind.  Once over Sunrise it was decision time.  Total Blue towards Llano and I had 50 minutes left.

Visions of my Day 2 landout were starting to replay again.  On that day i had extended further downwind to avoid coming in undertime and ended up landing out.  Today I decided that coming in under time was not the end of the world and I knew my speed would still be a competitive 40-ish mph if I finished early. Additionally, running back to Spicewood to pick up another turnpoint would add more time than I wanted.  I was pretty worried about the day shutting down early.  I had not been able to get above 7000 under the clouds and didn't expect to do any better in the blue.  So I decided to just head for Llano and if I came in under time oh well.

I picked up the Llano airport as a final turnpoint and crossed over it at about 4000 feet.  I had assumed correctly that the lift was soft in the blue.  I took two thermals on the way to Llano and only averaged 2.8 knots.  Now the only thing left was a 4 mile run out to the last turnpoint and straight back to the landing.  I managed to find some weak lift on the way out there and maintained a respectable altitude, was still about 10:1 to make it back when I turned and the last few miles I had enough reserve altitude to push the speed up to 70 and (finally!) finish at 1000 feet.

I did finish about 15 minutes under time but I was happy with the flight.  Initially I, like many others, were pretty worried about the MAT since it adds another element of decision making on course.  Thanks to Frank's discussion before hand though I felt like I did a pretty good job.

Today is the final day of the contest and I've had a great time so far.  I'm looking forward to a good final flight and the banquet tonight!

The flight:

Friday, August 19, 2011

One more picture

I managed to get the picture from my landout on Day 2 off the phone. 

Region 10 Pictures

Can't sleep, too excited about todays flight.  Here are some pictures from the week so far.

Telling Glen about the Day 3 win:

Leah and Glen spent Day 3 visiting Enchanted Rock, a 500 ft tall piece of solid Granite:

Glen points out the only cloud in the sky, Day 3:

Attracting a crowd, Pre-Practice Day:

Turning Final:

Staying cool on the grid:


On Tow:

Dollar Store umbrellas are no match for powerful Texas thermal gusts:

Dean and I in the pasture on Day 2:

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Day 3, Region 10

Todays task was another 3:30 TAT.  Turnpoints were Brady (25 miles), Lampasas (25 miles), Harris Ranch (25 miles) and Mason (15 miles).  We got our turn at the back of the grid today which was nice.  More time to relax before launch and less time churning around in the start cylinder before the gate opened.  Gary Carter (HK) stopped by to visit the contest on his way home from Uvalde and we had a nice chat with him before it was time to load up.

I ended up climbing out the top of the start cylinder near the north edge just after 2 PM and headed downwind towards the Brady circle in totally blue skies.  In fact the entire task area was blue except for the back of the first circle.  No way I was going that far anyway.  However I was able to find good lift in the blue and one big thermal and few smaller ones later I was over the Deep Creek airport and turning east.

My plan was to fly due east to the Lampasas circle and then due South to the Harris Ranch circle.  Thought being that the wind was supposedly south east so I would quarter the headwind on both legs that way.  Well it turns out that the wind was more southerly.  The flight to the Lampasas circle was pretty straight forward with one low point near San Saba.  It was actually the same area where I got low yesterday and once again I was able to climb out in a strong thermal and continue on.  Once I entered the circle I turned southeast and headed for the edge of the cu field setting up east of Buchanan Lake.

Strategy was to get to the third circle near Marble Falls to maximize the slighty northwest and downwind run to the last circle.  However I wanted to avoid a repeat of yesterday where I was undertime and forced to go deep into the last circle and have to fight back into the wind to get home.  I figured if I had an hour or less left when I got to Marble Falls that would be about right.

Working south I got to the low point for the day northeast of Buchanan Lake, down to 3000 feet but was saved by a flock of Vultures who led me to a series of good climbs that ended up getting me to nearly 8000.  From there I managed the holy grail of saves by running a street for about 15 miles between 7 and 8000, never turning.  Not a bad run for the Cherokee.  Once off the end of the street it was only a few more miles to Marble Falls just as the timer went down through an hour.  I turned downwind towards Mason which would take me right past Llano.  My last low point was down around 3000 again over the Kingsland airport where I found a 5 knot average (8 for a while) climb to 9600, my high point for the day.  The glide that started with the street and ended at Kingsland was 27.4 miles at and L/D of 37.  About half of those miles were directly into the wind.

Now quite high I went into conservation mode.  I had been here before and did not want to get low because I knew I had to make that 15 miles back to Llano.  I aimed for the clouds ahead near the Llano airport and let the tailwind help my glide, keeping the speed below 65 mph mostly.  Just south of Llano I found a good thermal and circled with Stefan Murry (U1) for a bit to boost me back up to 9000.  Stefan had gotten low on the way to the Harris Ranch circle, bailed towards Llano in case he needed to land, and was digging back out to make it around the course.

I aimed for the extreme east edge of the Mason circle.  Time was working out that I was not worried about being under.  And even if it hadn't, I was absolutely not going more than a tenth of a mile into the last circle, time be damned.  I had one more climb as I tried my best to keep Llano within a 10:1 glide.  I was pretending I was in a 2-33.  Landing out was not an option.  I nicked the circle and turned back.  15 miles out at 7500 I needed 13:1 to make it.  Not bad but I had seen worse yesterday.  The first 5 miles were like Deja Vu with some massive sink.  But I started to notice that the indicated airspeed and groundspeed were not much different, the headwind wasn't as bad as I had feared, and I didn't need to be flying so fast.  About that time I hit a patch of lift in which I made a few turns just to be on the safe side.  Now I was 10:1 to make Llano and feeling pretty good about it.  I could see my pasture from yesterday way down there.  I pushed up to 70 and, of course, was flying in lift and couldn't come down.  Ok, up to 80.  Now I was at least descending.  The speed stayed above 70 and usually near 80 for the rest of the 10 mile run.  I could barely make the glider descend and hit the finish at 90 mph and 2000 AGL.  So much for getting the finish lower but at least I finished!  From the finish 1 mile out i continued at about 80 with the airbrakes out and arrived over the field at 1500 ft.  I kept burning off the speed into the pattern and made a nice landing.  What a flight!

Scores worked out that not only did I finish, but won the day!  Holy cow!  YYY and I managed to beat contest junkie Frank Paynter (TA) by 14 points.  I offered a glider trade to Frank after he mentioned that all I need to do to win the day is finish, but he declined.  Two more days to go in the contest.  Hopefully two more finishes for YYY and I can move up the score sheet a bit.  So far the weather has been great, even when it has been blue.  With 5 days of flying including the practice we have had 1 landout (me) and 1 relight (today).  Not too bad.

My flight from today:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Day 2, Region 10

Today we once again had a TAT with a 3:30 minimum.  Turnpoints were Hamilton (30 miles) to the north, then back south to Moursund (25 miles) then west to Mason (20 miles) and a short run east to Llano.  I appreciated the task as the north/south of the first two legs was more or less crosswind, then a downwind run to the last cylinder with only a short headwind run at the end.

I once again started first.  Frank Paynter said this morning in his winning speech that the best strategy is to start out the upwind side of the cylinder at max height.  Well I was 500 below max height but right on the east side of the cylinder.  Not bad, I thought.  The run up to the Hamilton Cylinder was not too bad although the cu field was sort of forming as I flew along so I didn't have a lot of clouds.  As a result I was fairly low for most of the run but always able to find a good thermal when I needed it.  One nice side effect of this low-ish run was the wind was more southerly down low so my speed was good.

As if I had really planned this out I got a great climb just into the Hamilton cylinder and was now up high were the wind was more cross.  If only I could stay up here, I thought, I could keep the speed up back to the south.  So, I pretty much did!  I did get low once near Burnet but found a great core, once again marked by vultures, and then continued towards Marble Falls.  I went into the Moursund cylinder a little ways as I wanted to maximize my time spend on that downwind run to make my speed really unbeatable.  As I went into the turnpoint I was averaging around 42 mph raw, 64 handicapped. 

Turning downwind was a blast.  Every cloud was working and I mostly just pulled up in the lift.  I did stop for a booming thermal straight south of Llano that took me to 9900 feet.  For a while the averager was showing 9 knots!!  One problem with this great speed, though was that I entered the last cylinder with 30 minutes remaining but was only 11 miles from Llano.  No worries, I would just run about another 10 miles in, get good and high again as I had many times that day and have a straight glide back to Llano.

Well I made it the next 10 miles in the cylinder but the climb never came.  Oh well there were still plenty of clouds so I would just start working my back.  It became obvious right away that I was now going to be way over time but I wasn't sweating it.  For the last 3 days I have many times been low and flown right into a 5 knot thermal.  Well it seemed that the 5 knot thermals were done for the day.  Occasionally I would find 3 knots but sometimes 2 was all I could do.  I kept trending lower and lower, taking a short climb then gliding a few miles.  I was slowly closing the gap on the airport but the trend was not in the right direction.  I started to hear a lot of other pilots on the radio calling their finishes. 

The last 4 miles into the airport are pretty rough and I was over a nice looking pasture at about 2000 AGL.  Off over the trees I went, hoping for something up.  I got about a mile or so and still nothing.  My only option for landing was the pasture behind me.  The few fields west of town were out of range to the south and the one other pasture I had seen from a distance was full of cows.  So back around I went.  As I turned west I see TA, Frank Paynter, heading in for his finish.  The PowerFlarm tells me he is 600 feet above me.  Right after he calls his 4 miles I tell him I'm likely landing out.  No lucky saves here, I am on downwind.  Frank calls back asking me to confirm landing out and by then I am on base leg.

The pasture was nice enough with a few power lines that were easily avoidable and some slope but the Cherokee and I came to a complete stop no worse for the wear. I made a quick call to Frank and whoever was listening that we were OK and then started gathering info for the retrieve desk.  That process went very smoothly and Leah and Dean showed up after not too long of a wait.  I found the only pasture in Texas that isn't padlocked shut.  No gate into the driveway and the gate into pasture from the house was open!  We were out of there in about a half an hour and made it to supper with the group from Houston.  Lots of fun!

Frank once again won the day, handily whipping the rest of the field.  I guess all those contests flown this year have paid off.  Too bad he didn't stick with his first day landout tradition...:)

All in all I was very happy with my flight.  I flew right around 160 miles and besides not finishing it was statistically fantastic.  My circling percentage on task was 31%, as low as I can recall in the Cherokee.  Even with the struggling for the last hour trying to work into the wind my average speed on task was 40 mph.  Up until turning back into the wind I was averaging 45.  Not bad for an old wooden glider!

That is all from me tonight.  Back in the ring for another round tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Day 1, Region 10

Today's task was another Turn Area Task, this time with 4 cylinders.  The course would take us generally over the same area as we flew yesterday in the practice day.  By the way, I was very pleased to learn this morning that the old Cherokee II and I won the practice day!  Our handicapped speed worked out to somewhere in the 63 mph range, second and third were in the 61 mph range.  Yay us! BUT, it was only a practice day and from what I could tell a lot of tough competition showed up on Monday while we were out flying. 

The weather call was for similar as yesterday. 6-7 knot lift up to around 8 or 9000 feet.  However there was a lower chance for cumulus today.  I for one was hoping that part of the forecast was wrong.  Gridding and Launch seemed to go smoothly.  I was happy that Leah and I were able to be where we needed to be when we needed to be and everything was ready to roll when the time came. 

That reminds me, there is a new high tech addition to my instrument panel.  Thanks to Frank Paynter (TA) for delivering it from Uvalde, I'm renting a PowerFlarm unit for the contest.  I built a shelf into the glider before we came down here and we got it mounted today.  It seemed to work well although I was only in one gaggle with Frank in the start cylinder, I was able to see him in real life and on the Flarm.  I'm not sure if any others here are equipped, there are more than a few who came up here from Uvalde so hopefully I'll have the chance to see more people as the week goes on. 

I was 5th to launch today and managed to release in a good thermal and work my way up to a respectable height in the start cylinder.  I worked with a few gaggles and generally got a feel for the day.  As the fleet launched it was noted there were no clouds anywhere, and the CD did a roll call to change the task from a 4 hour minimum to 3.5 hrs.  Fine with me.  My plan was to just barely nick each cylinder, try to pick a course that minimized my time spent working into the wind, and get home over time. The gate opened and I started immediately.

The run west/northwest to the first cylinder was pretty easy even in the blue.  A few climbs and I was there at an average of over 40 mph.  Not bad!  Then the turn south was BRUTAL.  I got low enough a few times to have to take any lift I could find and the speed just tanked.  I think the average was something like 25 mph.  I was very happy to finally make it to the second cylinder as it appeared it had clouds in it!  I had finally made it to cloud-land although the clouds were way above me and pretty thin, and cycling fast.  Oh well better than nothing.  After the second cylinder I turned more or less into the wind but was able to find a blue street that I ran for nearly 10 miles with no net loss in altitude. Not bad!  A few more thermals and I was to the third cylinder and finally able to do away with a headwind component for good. 

By this time I was down to about an hour remaining.  It was going to be about 25 miles to the last cylinder and another 15 or so to Llano.  I got really low for one last time right at the cylinder but then caught a few good climbs and rocketed up to my high point for the day, 8500 MSL.  From there it was one more thermal to get to the last cylinder but by the time i got there I was back down around 3000 feet (1500-2000 AGL) and needed to get back up before I could head for Llano.  I found a 2 knot thermal over a landable looking pasture and figured I would take whatever I could find if it was the difference between landing out and finishing.  It did improve, with the help of a few birds showing me the core, and I soon was 1000 feet over glide to Llano. Right where I wanted to be.  I set out but soon encountered some strong sink and even with the 15 knot push was making less than 20:1 over the ground.  Oudie was telling me I needed 20:1 to make it so I started looking for another thermal.  Found a decent one and bumped up another 500 feet and headed out again, by this time I was about 10 miles out and starting to get over some rough ground that leads up to the Llano airport.

Of course, like yesterday, that rough ground was a fantastic thermal generator.  I already knew I was going to come in slightly under time and wasn't too concerned with that.  A few minutes would hurt my speed slightly but what was done was done and I was happy to get a good finish.  I did want to try to improve on my 2000 ft finish though from the practice day.  Well when I got down to 2000 AGL about 3 or 4 miles out from the airport i found nothing but lift!  I was running the Cherokee up to 80 mph at times and still not coming down!  Good grief, I ended up finishing at 1700 today.  Oh well.

SeeYou says my distance was 132.4 miles which should work out to somewhere around 37 mph.  I'm pretty satisfied with that considering the struggle I had today.  We'll see in the morning how it compares.  Here is the flight:

Monday, August 15, 2011

Practice Day, Region 10

Today task for Sports Class was a TAT with turnpoints at Menard (30 miles), Kerrville (30 miles), and Burnet (20 miles).  We started launching about 1 PM and tasks opened at 2.  I started pretty quickly and managed to climb to nearly the max start height of 7000 before leaving the cylinder.

The run towards Menard was epic. I would fly straight in almost any lift as long as I was above 6000 and then if I got lower than that would take a 5 knot thermal back up to over 7 again.  There was a nice tailwind and I was making awesome speed.  I got to the edge of the Menard cylinder in just over 30 minutes, averaging around 60 mph!  There was a decent tailwind component pushing me that way and I just couldn't miss the lift.

Clouds seemed to be pretty honest all day and after a few I was able to work out some theories on which side of the clouds had lift etc. that seemed to hold most of the day.  I pressed into the Menard cylinder about 10 miles before turning more directly into the wind towards Kerrville.  I wanted to minimize the time spent fighting the headwind so I decided I would just nick the Kerrville cylinder and head for Burnet.   That is basically what I did, and in typical fashion got extremely low along the run into the wind.  There seemed to be some sort-of streets running to the southeast but nothing strong enough or organized enough to allow me to stay up high.  I had many trips down to around 4 or 5000 feet before finding a good thermal.  Almost always I was able to find a good one.  Sometimes I would start off in desperation with a 2 or 3 knotter but almost every time I would spot a few birds (Vultures I think), shift towards them, and find a good 5-6 knot core, sometimes stronger, especially up higher.  The highest updraft strength was definitely between 6 and 8000 feet. I had a few that were averaging 7 knots through that range!

After turning Northeast from the Kerrville cylinder I was feeling better about getting better groundspeeds and L/D's but was still pretty low as a result of the upwind run.  I got down to 3000 feet at one point, I think at that time I was around 1500 AGL, but thankfully turned right into a nice strong thermal that got me back up to over 8000.  From that point on I did better at staying higher.  I got down to 4500 a few times but always managed to climb back up and keep on trucking.

South of Llano on my way to the Burnet cylinder I caught a great thermal, right at 5 PM, which took me to my high point of the day, 9000 feet.  At this point I had an hour left for the task and was only a few miles from the edge of the cylinder so I knew I would need to go into it a fair ways.  This is my first time flying this sort of task but I've ready a lot about it and knew that usually the goal is to make it back at minimum time.  I was able to stay around 6 - 7000 feet pretty well on the way into the cylinder and figured I could probably have a pretty steady glide back to Llano for about 20 miles.  As the Cherokee seems to be pretty happy at 60 mph I figured when the miles equaled the minutes I would be ready to turn.  I think I was right around 20 miles east of Llano when I turned.  I was slightly below a comfortable glide home and had to cross Buchanan Lake on the way.  I wasn't particularly worried about that as there didn't seem to be a blue hole over the lake so I figured it wasn't a massive sink hole at least.  I glided across it in smooth air and caught a nice little 3 knot thermal on the west edge of it.  I had managed to gain a little on the time by then and needed another thousand feet or so at least to have a comfortable glide.  Between the lake and Llano there aren't a lot of fields or private runways so I'd rather be high than low.  Not to mention it would be really embarrassing to get that far and land out.  So i took a few turns and gained some altitude.  By then I was 11:1 to make it back so I figured I had it made comfortably and sure enough I ended up coming in over the airport with plenty of altitude to spare.  I think I was 1500 feet above the minimum finish height of 500 AGL. Oh well something to work on tomorrow I guess.

All in all I was very pleased with the flight.  Making it back was awesome and finishing the task right on time was even better.  I entered the finish cylinder about 2 seconds after the timer ran out! 

Here is the OLC trace, last I checked it was good for 1st in the US and 4th in the world.  Helps to fly on a Monday...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Pre-Practice at Llano

Today was the unofficial practice day here.  We got rigged early before it got too hot and I launched right around 1 PM.  I had it in mind to run down to Fredericksburg and then maybe somewhere else with a 3 hour time.  I managed to find a decent thermal off tow and started to head south immediately.  Wind was light out of the south/southeast.  For the first 1/2 to 2/3 of the trip to Fredericksburg I was topping out around 5000 or 5500 MSL.  Ground rises from 1100 at Llano to around 2000.  I did get down to 1000 AGL over a private paved strip and then caught a great thermal cloudbase about 7500.  From there I made it to Fred and back out about 10 miles before I needed to climb again.  It was only a few more good thermals to make it back to Llano. 

Forecast was for the lift to die down in this area by 4 PM so I wanted to be back in the area before then.  I got back just over the 2 hr mark, didn't find a great thermal near the airport and decided I might as well just land.  It was a good flight, I was pretty happy with my speed and it was nice to get a look at the area out to the south.

Landout options definitely aren't as great as Kansas or Iowa but I was pretty happy with how many options there are.  Of course the acres and acres of trees and hills aren't too comforting but I was able to find enough pastures, fields, and private runways to never be too concerned. 

Tomorrow is the official practice day and the contest starts on Tuesday.  More pilots were arriving today and I suspect more will show up tomorrow morning from Uvalde. 

OLC trace:

Internet is too slow for pictures.  Supposed to be hotter tomorrow and steady over 100 with light south winds the rest of the week, good news!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hit the Road

Well I'm on track to leave tomorrow morning.  Last night I stayed up late and did some final work on the glider.  I removed the skid as it was getting worn down from too much operating on concrete.  Jerry stopped by and is going to weld some more strap to it.  While I was down there I found a couple very small cuts in the fabric from the last off airport landing in Dalhart.  Drat! so out came the MEK, Ekobond, and fabric.  Didn't take too long to get it patched up, I'll brush a little EkoFill on it tonight and we'll be good to go.

Next I fabricated a small shelf that will stick out from the left canopy rail in front of the instrument panel.  This will hold a rental PowerFLARM unit that I'm planning on getting for the contest. It should arrive from Uvalde on Sunday I think. I'm looking forward to flying with this and at least a few others at the contest will also be equipped.

I did a little more Super-Fil work on the wingtip skids and then got to work on the big task for the night, painting contest numbers.

Any good paint job is 99% prep and 1% painting and this was no different.  I spend most of the time getting other things in the garage covered up. I had already done all the masking and papering around the lettering that I needed to do.  Then i read the directions on the paint 20 times and got to work.  I still ended up thinning it too much!  I was supposed to thin to 20-22 seconds but mine was more like 15.  i added more paint and hardener but it had no effect at all.  I was really surprised as I actually put less water in than called out on the directions.  Finally I decided that I would just go with what I had and be very careful to avoid runs.

Everything went very smoothly and worked just the way it was supposed to. I was relieved.  I haven't painted anything since we finished covering 3Y and was pretty nervous about screwing something up.  By 11 PM or so though all the paint was on and I just had to wait for it to cure. 

This morning I peeled off the tape and stencils and the end result was pretty good.  Not razor sharp lines but i'm happy with the job.

Tonight I pack everything up for an early departure on Saturday.  Next report will be from Llano!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Prep for Llano

While I haven't flown 373Y since Dalhart I have made my best attempt to start prepping for the Region 10 contest in Llano.  The contest runs from the 16th-20th.  In the meantime the main thing to do to the glider is to apply contest numbers!  I have decided to use "YYY" for 3Y.  Leah's 4653T will be "TTT".  We already have a "3T" in our club.  Tonight I will get stencils ordered so hopefully i can shoot paint next week.  That is, assuming I can find a bit of time with cool enough air to shoot paint.

Other work also includes touch up painting all over the glider.  There is a lot of scratch and dent sort of damage to the glider. trailer rash i suppose you could call it. Basically proof that it has actually been flown since I finished recovering it.  I have made several small patches in various locations that are currently just gray with Eko Fill that need some paint.  Tonight I will do a few more small fabric patches and work on building up the wingtip skids.  I also need to replace the tailwheel as it took a beating on the concrete at Dalhart. Finally I need to make sure there is enough thickness in the skid left to handle a week worth of operating off concrete.

Of course the trailer could use some more rivets but all in all it is as ready as it is going to be.  I'm looking forward to the week of flying with friends.  The weather in this part of the country has been fantastic for soaring this year and hopefully it will stay that way for the next two weeks.

In Cherokee news, Gary Flandro has finished his work on 8722E!  It looks great!  Gary says once the weather is agreeable it will fly. I can't wait to hear the report.  He also intends to bring it to the VSA Rally in Wichita where there should be at least 3 Cherokee's on display and hopefully all three flying, if 53T is ready.

Here is a great picture of 22E. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Dalhart pictures, VSA Award, Kowbell

 Sorry its been a while since I updated.  I finally got the pictures off the camera from Dalhart.  Here are some:

Gliders loaded in the hangar:

 Rod checking the oil on the Pawnee. we suggested he needed a cape.

3Y rigged next to Joe Brack's LS-4:
Bob and I on the ramp at Goodland after my downwind dash.

In other news, at our club cookout last weekend Neal Pfieffer made a small presentation.  Turns out that the VSA awarded Leah and I with a Restoration Award for our work on recovering 373Y.  The award itself is a glass bird filled with sand and is very pretty.  It was a bummer that we weren't able to make it to Lawrenceville to receive it there but it now has a prominent place on our mantle.  The next time I get 3Y out of the trailer I'll be sure to affix the plaque in a prominent place.  Thanks guys!

If you're into astrology you know that last night was the first full moon after the summer solstice and if you're into soaring and especially a KSA member that means that the following Saturday (today) is Kowbell.  So yes I'll be headed to Sunflower shortly to get ready for the annual free distance contest, now in its 49th year.  This year I'll be flying the NG-1 since I figure its extra 10 L/D points will be quite helpful in the all out non handicapped distance contest.  The weather is looking quite promising and I think it will be a good day with some good distances flown.  I'll have the SPOT tracker running:

No real progress on 53T lately.  It's been really difficult to find time to work on it between prepping for Dalhart and Kowbell and not to mention about 6 days out of 7 the last month have been over 100. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Last day at Dalhart

Well after the downwind dash to Goodland we had a bit of an adventure.  The fuel pump went out on my pickup, conveniently dying sometime after Bob shut the truck down on the ramp in front of the glider.  We diagnosed the problem by about 8:30 PM and grabbed supper and a hotel for the night.  Thursday morning we ran to the parts store and got a pump.  John and the folks at Butterfly Aviation in Goodland were really great, giving us some room in a hangar to work in the shade and loaning us various tools to make the job easier.  By mid afternoon we had dropped the fuel tank, replaced the pump, and replaced the tank.  Hooked everything up and turned the key on, the pump worked!  Not only that but the engine started and ran like a champ.  We got back to Dalhart about 10:30 PM.

Of course we had missed a great day of soaring.  The guys back here had put on some good miles, most around 250-300 km OLC distance, gotten to altitudes up around 13-14000 ft and generally had a lot of fun.  Jack had also gotten his Silver Altitude and Distance in the Grob 102 with a flight to Stratford and eventual landing at Dumas.

I needed to make up for the missed day on Friday so declared a flight of Dalhart-Stratford, TX-Boise City, OK-Clayton, NM-Dalhart.  The wind was forecast due south so this would give me a quartering tailwind on the way to Stratford and Boise City and quartering headwind on the way back during the best part of the day.

The flight was great, it started off slow but I climbed up over the airport and set out to the northeast.  There was a weird street of cumulus-looking cirrus and i ended up gliding in the shadow of that for a while and naturally got fairly low about 2/3 the way to Stratford.  But I got back in the sun and dug out.  Then closer to Stratford I was able to get up to a respectable altitude and made the turnpoint.

The lift was strong enough and from Stratford on plentiful enough that I was able to pick and choose my thermal, rejecting weak lift, trying to keep the speed up, and generally doing all that stuff that usually only works in the textbooks.  The clouds started forming about 10-20 miles past Stratford, I reached them after my first really great thermal that took me to nearly 12,500 ft.  With the clouds marking lift I was cruising nicely and having a good time, never getting too much below 9000 until I was past Boise City and to Clayton.  Up to Clayton I think my average groundspeed was somewhere around 45 mph, not too shabby!

At Clayton I got semi-low getting to the turnpoint, down around 8500, but over the airport I found a great core that shot me back up to over 12,500 at 5 knots.  By now it was about 5:30.  I called ahead to Jack who was soaring around Dalhart and he reported good lift to 10,000 feet there.  I knew the day was going to die eventually and there were still a few clouds out on course to Dalhart so I pressed on wanting to get home as fast as possible.  The clouds ended about 10 miles past Clayton and things started to look pretty grim.

For one thing the quartering headwind I had been expecting wasn't really quartering.  It was mostly direct on the nose at about 15 mph.  Then I heard Jack saying he thought he would be landing soon!  What!??! I thought there was great lift!  Well it seemed things were dying in Dalhart.  I was still about 30 miles out.  Jack was going for his 5 hrs duration flight and found a little something though.  By the time I was 20 miles out from Dalhart I thought I was going to have to land.  In fact I radioed Jack and let him know it was highly likely and then I caught a great late day core at about 1500 ft AGL.  I was able to climb back to 10,000 feet on this thermal and with an adjustment on course found another small thermal that took me to 10,500.  Now I was feeling better.  I still didn't have a glide to Dalhart with that headwind but I was going to get a lot closer and was optimistic I could find something else.  But then I just glided dead ahead in smooth air.  Hmmm nothing cooking here, hopefully better down low.  Well there wasn't much down low except seemingly stronger winds.  I was now in survival mode trying to take any lift I could find that would improve my position to the airport.  I needed at least 2 knots really to gain against the wind.

As I got closer I wasn't liking the landing options directly between me and the airport.  mostly crop circles which are usually OK but the corners that I could see were wild grass with some sage brush and god knows what else.  I followed the highway towards town and had fields picked out as I went.  Another thermal was not to be so I finally committed to one of the fields and made a nice landing.

A few phone calls and Bob and Phil were on their way with the trailer.  We loaded the glider in record time and got some supper.  It was a great flight with a great retrieve.  Total distance should be 153 miles.  The task was 161 and I was 8 miles from the airport when I landed. Here is the trace:

I had a ton of fun and some really good flights here this week and can't say enough for the Boulder guys for putting it together.  Also Ingram's Flying Service here in Dalhart were great hosts, giving us the run of the FBO when we needed the space, arranging the big hangar for us so we could stay assembled each night, and generally helping out whenever it was needed.  I'll drive back to Wichita today, supposed to be fantastic soaring in Kansas today of course.  With any luck I'll get some flying in the NG-1 Sunday and Monday, then back to work Tuesday.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Downwind Dash

Not a lot of time to type tonight but I had a good downwind dash today in 3Y.  Bob Whelan chased.  Ended up with about 240 miles to the airport at Goodland, KS in 5 hrs 20 minutes.  It was a lot of fun with plenty of highs and lows like any good soaring flight.  Looks like so far I am 2nd place in the US and 5th in the world with just over 600 points.  More to come.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Soaring XC

Alright!  Today the lift was much improved here in Dalhart and 3Y and I set out cross country.  The declared task was Dalhart to Dumas, TX to Clayton, NM and back to Dalhart which was basically cross wind and about 150 miles.

We launched at 2 PM.  Seems late but it essentially solar noon and we are at the western edge of the central time zone.  I found some lift off tow and climbed up near the airport and then headed out.  The entire flight to Dumas was pretty standard.  I never got particularly low, it seemed like there was lots of lift.  I was optimistic for the flight back . It was rough though!  Winds were out of the south southwest at about 20 knots and the thermals were getting torn up a bit.  By the time I got to Dumas I was hot and uncomfortable and borderline nauseous.  Thankfully after making the turnpoint I found a good smooth thermal and got some altitude and cooled off.

Unfortunatel the air was not the same on the way back.  Instead of consistent thermals there was a long smooth glide to 4900 feet MSL.  Ground is about 4000 down here!  Amazingly I hooked a thermal and had it perfectly centered up to just over 9000 feet.  Feeling better now that I had altitude, did not have to land, and figured from this height I would be able to make the next thermal, I pressed on towards Clayton.  Well it was like Deja Vu all over again, another long smooth glide.  Again at 4900 feet I felt a little lift, turned into it and...couldn't get it centered.  I fought for quite a while near the Miller airport while scratching weak lift and drifting downwind until finally giving up and landing there.

The good news is I was only perhaps 5 or 8 miles from Dalhart!  I called back to the airport and the towpilot came over with the Pawnee to get me.  I had the crop-duster pilot at Miller hold my wing for me.  With the wind today a wing run wasn't really necessary.  We towed back over to Dalhart and I released near the airport.  My goal for the rest of the afternoon was to have an enjoyable local flight.  The rest of the guys were out flying XC and at least one had already landed out. I figured if any more reported in I could land and go retrieve.  Meanwhile the Ventus also landed at Miller so I sent the towpilot over to get him.

I caught a nice thermal over the airport and climbed to my best for the day, 10,200!  Nice!  After that I delayed the descent a few times but the day was starting to die.  I landed after 1:20 aloft the second time around.  The first flight was about 2:40.  not too shabby.

Here are the traces.