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Sunday, April 22, 2012

First Flight of 2012

Yesterday I took YYY to the Wichita Gliderport for our first flight of the year and to see how the work I had done this spring had turned out.  I launched shortly after 1 PM when it seemed like the thermals would be good enough to stay up.  I found a weak climb to 4000 feet after release and called Wichita Approach.  They could see the transponder just fine so I told them I would be flying around the east side of town all afternoon.  I worked real close to the gliderport for the first hour as I had trouble getting up to 4000 most of the time and the climbs were really weak.  Finally I found a decent climb, about 2.5 knots, and set out on the task I had set up, a triangle from the Gliderport to Butler Airport to Jacob Frye's house, and back.  There are lots of airports in this part of Kansas so I just airport hopped as I headed southeast, stopping to climb pretty much whenever I found something steadily going up.  I wasn't very picky as I usually wasn't all that high.  This wasn't the kind of day where I felt I could afford to skip a thermal.

I passed the Augusta airport as I climbed to 5000 feet.  The conditions had been steadily improving and I had glide with lots of margin to Butler and had lots of confidence in the task.  I turned Butler and headed for Jacob's house.  On the way was Sills Air Park which was my out for the moment.  As I glided on I wasn't finding anything.  I made a 90 degree turn for Sills and lo and behold there was a flock of seagulls right in front of me circling!  I joined their thermal which they shortly left and climbed away.  Now I had glide to Jacob's house at least.  The problem was the day had been trending downward since I made the turnpoint and if I didn't find something good making it back to the Gliderport was going to be doubtful.  There were lots of open dirt fields and tree lines and other good thermal generators on the way so I was hopeful.  Unfortunately none of them produced and I arrived at Jacob's house ready to enter the pattern.

The approach was a hard slip over the trees. The field was nice although there was fairly tall corn stubble greeting me.  I made a nice tail low landing between the rows. We rolled 43 paces from touchdown to stop and I managed to avoid any damage related to the corn stubble doing things like tearing through the fabric.  Jacob wasn't home but his mom was soon there and I had a good time visiting with her while waiting for Leah to come get me.

OLC link:

There is a bug in the encoder that I need to work out and a few other instrument related bugs that turned up but overall I was very happy with the glider and glad to get back to flying it.  The new control seals on the ailerons made a world of difference in the roll rate.  I was very pleased with the handling.

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