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Monday, May 30, 2011

Windy de-rigging

Well Leah and I are home now. I had an interesting flight yesterday.  The wind was supposed to pick up in the afternoon and along with that the lift was supposed to get really good, like up into the mid teens.  I took the first launch about 1 PM.  I had waited for the wind to get over 20 mph.  I couldn't find much, struggled in a few torn up thermals and had to land just as Bruce was launching in the Grob.  I took the next tow figuring things were heating up and would be better and was rewarded.  Bruce had found some lift too and I caught a good thermal southwest of the airport and worked it up to 10,400 feet!  I was feeling good, radioed Leah in the truck, and headed north.

I had some concerns that I was going to out run the weather to the north.  The NAM forecast had showed a definite northern edge in west central Kansas while either the RUC or GFS, maybe both, had shown the good stuff extending further north.  I knew there was no way I was going to be able to hold position upwind of the airport with the powerful winds aloft so figured my only option was to go downwind anyway. 

As I turned north I took a look at the Oudie.  Indicated airspeed of approx 65 mph gave a groundspeed of 105-110 mph.  While doing a little dolphining I was able to get the achieved glide angle over the ground up in the 40-50:1 range.  This was awesome!  Any hope Leah had of keeping up with me quickly vanished as I sailed past Lakin and headed for Leoti.  I wasn't finding a lot of good lift as I pressed on but occasionally would take a few turns in something and gain a few hundred or maybe a thousand feet.  I figured I had quickly outrun the good stuff and would have to take what I could get and maintain as long as possible.  I inched lower and lower as I passed Leoti.  Not even the huge stockyard north of town was able to kick off a powerful enough thermal to boost me back up.  I could sure smell the cattle though!

Eventually it was time to land, after an hour and a half in the air.  The approach was short and steep into a dirt field with corn stalks left over from last year.  I tied the glider down, hit the OK button on the SPOT, and was able to get a faint cell signal to get a call in to Leah.  After about an hour she had found me and we started to de-rig. In between the landing and her showing up, the front had passed.  I noted it by an approximate 5-10 minute lull in the wind.  It dropped from probably 20 or 25 mph down to 5 or 10.  Then it came back. Except when it came back it was more like 30 or 35 with gusts higher and dust devils everywhere!  We were not looking forward to having to take the glider apart in this weather. 

We did manage to get 3Y back in the trailer with no additional damage beyond the scratches, bumps, and scrapes that it already had. That was a relief.  I think we both ate at least a tablespoon of west kansas dust during the process. 

The report from the other guys at Ulysses was that after Steve launched in the Nimbus after me the wind went from strong to stupid strong.  They saw gusts of 55 mph on Ed's weather station.  At that point Ed was having issues taxiing the Call Air and no one else was really interested in flying anyway.  Steve managed to push upwind to Guymon, OK and caught a thermal over Hugoton, KS to 17,700 feet! wow!  Bruce also managed to do well in the Grob, sealing his Silver Altitude with a climb to 14,000 and perhaps getting Gold Altitude as well. 

Leah and I were all packed up and came straight back to Wichita from the field.  The wind was supposed to be 40-50 mph all day today out there and we didn't feel like pulling the trailer in that.  It was bad enough in the wind last night.

Total distance for my flight was right at 80 miles.  Here is the OLC trace.  Unfortunately the Oudie battery died so it did not record the entire flight.

Here are a few lousy cell phone pictures from the weekend, we didn't have the fancy camera with us this time.

Landout on Saturday, this was a former wheat field:

Tied down on Sunday

View from the cockpit on Sunday:

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