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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!