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

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.