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Monday, July 2, 2012

Good weekend

I had the entire weekend available this weekend to fly and intended to take advantage of it.  Saturday was a bit windy and we were still under the influence of a really annoying inversion. Leah came out to the gliderport and helped me rig YYY and then left for Oklahoma City to go to a rowing regatta on Sunday. It turned out I was the only one at the club who even took a tow Saturday, I made one good climb to 4200 MSL while drifting rapidly downwind, found some lift running straight back into the wind, got a mile or two upwind, and landed after 45 minutes.  It was work! Flight here:

Sunday ended up being a completely different atmosphere, although I wasn't expecting it at first. I saw small puddles of water on the ramp at the gliderport when I arrived and was slightly depressed that there had been a light rain there the night before.  I knew there had been storms out in NW Kansas but didn't realize the precip went that far out.  I was expecting a repeat of Saturday, or maybe worse. We were all a little surprised that Cu started popping at about 12:30 and I was happy that my glider had been assembled and spent the night in the Hangar. I pulled out to the runway and was the first to take off. i'm glad I didn't wait any longer. I declared a triangle flight of just over 140 miles, this is a pretty typical route that our club members fly, from Harper to Pratt and back to Sunflower.

The wind was straight south at about 20 mph, a direct headwind for the 45 mile leg to Harper. However there were lots of thermals and lots of clouds and I was able to do extended runs while flying in lift, practically holding altitude and making progress on course. When I would find something really strong I would circle but otherwise I pressed on.

The sky started to dry out once I got to Harper and there were bigger areas of blue. I followed the clouds slightly north (and downwind) of the course line and without too much trouble made it to Pratt although it was frustrating having to go back into the wind to get the turnpoint.

From there the previous great sky of clouds had turned into occasional wisps way up high. It is tough finding the lift in this case because the source is somewhere way upwind and the cloud is downwind of where the thermal will be at your altitude. It is easy to miss the thermal altogether. I switched to survival mode and basically took any workable lift I could find. It was still working at Sunflower based on one pilots report of being at 9500 MSL. I had been as high as 9200 earlier. I kept creeping along. About 1/3 of the way back my rental PowerFLARM beeped and indicated a Mode C transponder within a mile and 100 feet vertical of me. I was circling at the time and quickly spotted a Cessna cruising at 5500. I made a call in the blind on 122.8 and got ahold of him. He saw me and seemed surprised to see a glider 35 miles from the gliderport. I told him I had already been to Harper and Pratt and was trying to make it home.

I got the last climb which turned into a pretty good one about 17 miles west of the airport. I took it as high as I could which left me with the computer saying I would have 1500 feet on arrival. I was comfortable with that as it gave me some margin in case I hit big sink. I bombed away on final glide and ended up diving at 70-80 mph the whole way just to get down, and finished at 1500 AGL. Success!

While I was scratching on that last leg the people at Sunflower were on the radio seeming a bit concerned that they were going to have to come get me. The towpilot did offer to come tow me home but then I pointed out that there were no airports between me and home and I was not going to backtrack to Pratt and give up. Another one of our pilots did land at Kingman and was towed home.

Here is the flight:

And a lousy cell phone picture after landing:

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