Publicity Potential & Growth
The Right Stough
The Day the Wind Quit
The Day the Wind Quit
Aircraft and Cows
Publicity Potential & Growth
I'm sharing this with the club generally to make a statement of fact. For a combination of reasons, soaring is now getting A LOT of publicity. Some of this is due to club members' work (e.g, Kellett's and Gogos' excellent pieces in the Winchester paper). Most of the publicity, however, is finding us and is due to circumstances quite outside our control (e.g. Donald Engen's death, TCA).
The club has grown rapidly so far this year. If the publicity is predictive of anything, our expansion is likely to continue.
I think this is a topic that would be worth our kicking around a
Some decisions and directions are going to be needed, involving three basic choices:
Each of these courses has ramifications in terms of our club activities, costs, and demands. The only certainty is that we cannot stand still-we seem to be sliding down path number 3.
Any more thoughts on this?
First, I called Bermuda High and spoke to Jayne Reid. I got a checklist in the mail and a curious admonition to "know airspace". I went to Bermuda High because I just could not get enough time with our really dedicated instructors here in the club. With the weather, my schedule and the fact the CFI's actually have personal lives, it seemed best to go to a commercial site to put some concentrated flying time in. I really wanted to get my certificate before Malcolm and I took delivery of our new AC4.
Anyway, I arrived at the Reid's really beautiful site at 1000 as instructed, met my instructor Jim and promptly waited on some lousy weather. In the meantime, Jim gave me a written test and an oral quiz. I did really well, he said, but "Let's talk about airspace -- " OK, that night at the hotel I studied airspace some more and was surprised at how much I did not have in memory. Next day, we prepared to fly. Passed by a line boy, said "Hi" and he grinned something like "You know your airspace, right?" I'm starting to get concerned now. Anyway, I do a preflight of the truly gorgeous ASK21 they have and I score my first point. I find a real discrepancy on the elevator bolt (safety pin not aligned). The examiner, Frank Reid, shows up with an allen wrench and a wry smile. (Great! I'm thinking-he knows I can do a preflight).
Jim and I take off, do a simulated PT3, and takeoff again. Broken ceiling at about 2500 AGL. I go through my maneuvers while maintaining cloud clearances. On one flight, Jayne in the tow plane waves me off at about 700 feet and promptly makes a fast descending turnto my right, toward the field. I hold heading straight ahead and gasp at the maneuver she is doing to get back to the field. Lesson learned: In a real wave off, the tow plane is taking the short path to the field -- Don't make a conditioned right turn on release -- see what the tow plane is going to do. I land behind her. Jim is happy now after a couple of days of flying with me and signs me off. Next day, will be the real thing.
As I checkout of the hotel at about 0900, I learn that the manager is used to pilots visiting Bermuda High. We talk a little and when she learns that I am taking my checkride, she wishes me luck and asks "Do you know your airspace?" This is not what I needed to hear. When I walked into the clubhouse, I half expected the Reid's pet parrot to squawk "Airspace, nawk nawk, Airspace".
The oral took about an hour and a half. I dazzled Frank with my cross country go-no go profile which beautifully incorporated the 2000 foot restriction over a National Game Refuge. Then we talked about airspace -- in detail, with charts, this one over that one, backwards and forwards ,why when and where. We talked about aerodynamics, medical factors, weather, and I don't remember what else. After the oral, Frank gave me some advice on cross country tricks and tips, using the performance stats of my AC4 to illustrate. Good stuff.
There were plenty of other questions, but finally he agreed to fly with me. First flight. A rope break simulated. I swear I have never nailed my airspeed better. That needle was stuck right on 60 knots and didn't vary one knot until I flared. "The Lord is with me.." I'm thinking. Next flight, the tow plane gives me a rudder waggle. I do my duty and avoid a sure bust. Airbrakes are locked, I'm OK. I spot some traffic while on tow, another glider, at our altitude at 3 o'clock inbound. Frank asks me to estimate his altitude. That was easy as he was right on the horizon. He turns and passes behind us. Release. Then it is maneuver time. Stalls, turns, MCA, slips, etc. We have the same kind of sky as the first day-broken at about 2500, so all the while I explain that I am altering a requested maneuver to avoid clouds. On the third flight, another wave off at 700 feet. This time the tow plane turns left away from the airport and sets up a normal pattern. I have to slow down and make a high approach to be sure the tow plane gets down and out of the way. My airspeed is not so well controlled this time, but acceptable. It must have been because the examiner kept putzing with the stick. I land. Silence. Long, dull, loud silence. We put the K away. More silence. It don't seem right to ask, so I just stand there and sweat. Finally, I get handed a bucket of water and rag, with "You know you hit every damn bug in the sky. Clean it up." A little more silence and then, "Hand me your student certificate and I'll go fill out the paperwork for another one".
All in all it was a great time and I learned a lot while there. If you
ever plan to go there, one word of advice: Know your airspace.
The weather was not the typical Hobbs weather we had expected. On each of the first four days, either rain on the field, or a huge sink hole over the field, interfered with opportunity to get away from the field or to get back. As it turned out, mostly the early starters got away and finished. However, as the contest continued into the 5th through the 8th day, the weather got better and tasks of up to 125 miles were completed. I won't rehash to daily events as you can read them, with daily photos, on the NSF web page: http://www.serve.com/126ASSN/99daily.html.
Mark Keene and Pat Tuckey, consistent winners in 1-26 competition, were expected to shoot it out for first place. Pat, incidentally, represented the USA in the recent PW-5 world championships in Poland last June. However, the weird weather caught Pat on on the ground on two occasions and Mark on one. Pat captured the President's Trophy (soon to become the Dudley Mattson Memorial Trophy) for the fastest overall speed of the contest, 55 mph.
Bob von Hellens, usually a high scorer, walked away with first place after the first two days. He would have had to totally blown one day in order to move out of first place. Mark took second place and Kevin Cullis, former Eastern Vice President, took third overall. These are all high caliber contenders in any gliders, but they choose to compete in the 1-26.
One of the great things about this meet were the finishing scores of the two first time participants. Jayne Reed finished seventh overall and took the Virginia Schweizer trophy in her first ever contest. She finished first on the final day on a 125 mile task with a speed of better than 46 mph. Jayne and husband Frank Reed run Bermuda High Soaring which is one of the few training facilities in the country that still uses 2-33s and 1-26s primarily for training. Jayne complains that she is a tow pilot, not a glider pilot. She obviously does pretty well at both.
Another first timer, Larry Neal, finished a respectable 5th overall, and carried home the David C. Johnson trophy for the best score for a first time competitor.
I finished at a satisfying sixth position considering the weird weather, and finally captured the "Old Goat" trophy for the highest scoring pilot over 60 years of age. About half of the pilots are over 60. The Old Goat is a treasure to hold, even for a year. The trophy carries a lot of history with it. In 1977 at Black Forest, one of the crew members found the white plastic model of a mountain goat in an antique store, and awarded it as a joke, to Marion Cruz, at that time the oldest pilot and godfather of the 1-26 Association. At that meet, it became the award for the best average scoring pilot over 60 years of age. It has been a cherished award ever since.
Three years ago at Midlothian Texas, it was presented to me at the awards banquet as I was the highest overall scoring pilot over 60. However, no sooner did I begin to tell the group what an honor it was, than Pat deNaples raised his hand to claim the trophy. Pat had flown as a team pilot and his average daily score for four days was better than mine for eight days. In the subsequent 1-26 Association Newsletter, the headline read, "Pat gets Bill's Goat."
It is remarkable that in a contest such as this, 1-26 pilots can turn in speeds of from 40 to 55 mph. It is also true that we land out a lot, but the 1-26 was made to land out and do it safely. It is a different soaring machine than the 40:1 ships but it is a far safer ship to learn to fly cross-country in, and to learn how to land out safely. It is also an excellent competition ship, thanks to the 1-26 Association. Given the support the organization gives to new and inexperienced pilots in cross country training, as well as the inherent safety of the machine, it continues to concern me that objective training facilities don't insist that all new pilots complete a couple of years in 1-26s before risking life and finances in $30K ships.
Both Jayne and Larry have said, as I have said many times, that they learned more about flying gliders cross country in ten days at the 1-26 Championships, than they would have ever learned in two or three years of week-end flying around the gliderport. For those of you who really want to learn cross-country flying, beg, borrow or steal* a 1-26 and come to Midlothian, Texas next year. The terrain is very landable, and the weather is usually outstanding in the summer, with the local 1-26 pilots doing diamond triangles with average speeds of 55 mph.-Bill Vickland *(Do not steal 081 until you've read our bumper sticker :"Honk... if you've never seen an UZI fired from a car window".-editor)
The Right Stough
It was a heart-warming experience to see non-towpilot club members take an active role in maintaining what John Lewis described as "the club's most valuable asset". Without it, we have only a collection of non-flying glider pilots. If all club members contributed effort of this kind, we would quickly see a more pristine target from the other end of the tow rope.
Thanks to both of you for your valuable contributions.
PS: Much more waxing and polishing is needed, so please don't fight
over the remaining work; there's enough for everyone.
"Wait, the sun has just made a hole in the sky!"
The Day the Wind Quit
The tow was pretty exciting! Stayed low at 80mph over to the end of the ridge, through some very squirrely stuff at the end and arrived at 2300 msl (level with Signal Knob). Bob throttled the Pawnee back to 1700 rpm (whatever that means) and we ran the ridge in tandem. Hmm... kinda working. Bob then proceeded to turn left over the reservoir a few hundred feet over the trees, I thought to myself "What if the rope breaks NOW?" It didn't and we climbed up to 3700' do I go or do I stay? I decided to give it a try and got off tow.
Heading down the ridge I slowly lost altitude to 3000' and was thinking "Oh oh, I have goofed" - or words to that effect, but no, the ridge was working and I remained at 2900' or so. Radioed back that it was working and proceeded on down past the tower for the jump to Short mountain. Some thermal reinforcement en-route but nothing workable. Meanwhile the visibility to the South was poor, low dense cloud and haze as the front moved closer, my plan was to reach Mt Jackson and return to FRR. The hop to Short mountain was made at 3100 feet and I lost 200 going over which was reassuring, so I proceeded down the ridge to Mt Jackson and got back to 3100'. OK, that was my goal, time to return home. Back along Short Mtn. and hopped over to the main ridge, chatted to Serge and he passed me going South at the hang glider tower, wished him luck and moved on.
My GPS showed 50mph ground speed and the sky to the North now looked murkey and very hostile. Altitude was now 2800 and I guessed (correctly) that the wind was gradually quitting, looking off to my left I was reassured by the number of long fields directly at the foot of the ridge, and proceeded on. 2500 feet, and I'm not even at the reservoir, things are not looking good, do I leave the ridge now (and land out), or continue on? Wait, the sun has just made a hole in the clouds, and I can see the reservoir bathed in light, I hear Jim Garrison in the ASK approaching on tow. OK, lets try the reservoir - damn, nothing, not a thing, back over to the ridge, now at 2300 msl, there is no way whatsoever to get back to FRR from here. The thought of a land out is imminent. One last chance, the rocks half a mile ahead have now been in sunlight for 5 minutes, they offer my last chance of salvation, I reach them at 2200' msl and I'm now level with the ridge on my right. I have one shot at this before I have to leave the ridge for the safety of the valley below. Someone radios, "How are you doing 081?" my short reply was "2200 feet, looking at rocks!"
I see the ASK release from tow, he seems very high above and to the North at Signal Knob. Just then I reach the rocks, and vario chatters and I feel the much hoped for thermal, wait 2 seconds, bank left away from the ridge. I have one chance to get this right. Pull up, slow down, turn tight, and in one turn I'm going up at 300 fpm. By the time Jim gets to me in the ASK I am at 3500' and climbing steadily in the bathing sunlight. The ridge falls away below me and I breath again, relieved and exhilarated. I watch Jim speed down to ridge level and disappear South in the remnants of the ridge lift, I keep on up until the thermal tops out at 5300' and I head directly over the ridge lines back to FRR. By the time I reach the field I look back and see that the sky has closed in behind me, the saving sunlight has gone and dark 'claggy' clouds are heading my way. I smile to myself-pleased to have dug myself out of potential land-out, the Deities of Soaring were smiling on me today.
Another short landing and I'm home safe, spotty rain begins as I tie 081 down and as operations are wound up for the day, conditions are now very calm. As I finish off, Serge calls in that he has landed out -- but that is another story that I am sure he will want to tell.
A wonderful flight (not all may agree though!)-Dave Brunner. "We let these guys fly airplanes?"
The Day the Wind Quit
Bob M., Dave B. and Glen B. kindly agree to retrieve Serge, starting a modestly humorous Keystone Kops routine while I am doing the bills. Bob's Jeep has a 2" ball, but the trailer needs a 1 and 7/8" ball. At least two 1 and 7/8" balls are found, but the 2" ball on the Jeep is frozen to the hitch and cannot be removed with wrenches, hammers, 2 foot extenders on the wrench handles, swearing or even WD-40. Glen bashes his hand attempting to remove ball. Repairs his hand with, what else, duct tape. Glen offers to use his hitch adapter (the little piece that fits in to the square hole in the hitch bolted to the Jeep) which already has a 1 and 7/8" ball attached. However, Bob loves his hitch adapter so much that it is locked on to the hitch. Unfortunately, Bob cannot find the key to the lock. Glen's car is briefly considered as a tow vehicle, but Glen says it won't pull away from a stop light very fast even without a trailer (apparently its OK once it is moving-leaving unspoken just how it actually does get moving). WD-40 is applied to the hitch lock on Bob's Jeep. Bob eventually finds the key and -oh my god- the lock comes off. Progress. The hitch adapter, however, has other ideas and will not come out of the square hole. Small and then big hammers are used and finally the hitch adapter is loose. Glen's hitch adapter does not fit easily into the hitch on the Jeep. WD-40 and hammers solve the problem again. Glen locks his keys in his car. (And we let these guys fly airplanes ??).
Dave Brunner tries a random key on his key chain and it opens Glen's car (gotta wonder what Dave actually does for a living). Dave and Glen shrug and stare at each other for a bit. Glen retrieves keys. Finally, Glen's hitch adapter is installed on the Jeep and the trailer is hooked up. Next-The Lights! Bob M. plugs the lights into the sockets on the Jeep and-they work correctly the first time. Real Progress. So at about 5 PM, the Jeep pulls out to retrieve Serge who is waiting somewhere South of New Market. After all the decidedly low tech hammering and swearing at the back of the Jeep to install the hitch, in the cabin it is all hi-tech where Bob is loading his USGS survey maps into his computer so they can find Serge using GPS coordinates (not sure if they actually had directions)?
I got the money from all of them and left for home.
And now you know the rest of the story!-editor
Aircraft and Cows
On this subject, a true story: I got my private license in a Cub in
Indiana in the 1960's. Off-field landings were common but not allowed for
students. A fellow student took the Cub to visit his girlfriend, landing at
her farm. While they were rolling in the hay, the cow attacked the cub,
eating several feet of doped fabric from starting just behind the wing. The
cow got really sick and I think died. The girl's father was really mad
(about something). The Cub was quickly repaired. The student was eventually
Additional activities include a catered barbecue dinner on Friday evening a banquet at a local restaurant on Saturday night, and a flight to Frederick, MD, to commemorate Richard duPont's flight in 1933, is planned for Sunday. We hope to have at least ten participants in that flight, including at least three Vintage sailplanes. There are some great trophies available for each category so each winner will have something to remember this great weekend by.
After all of the above, I would like to invite you and your family to come to the beautiful Shenandoah Valley and enjoy some of its magnificent soaring. So, if you possibly can, bring your sailplane and join in the fellowship of other pilots. You will not be sorry.
Hope to see you soon, -Bud Klaser DuPont Meet Coordinator for Shenandoah Valley Soaring (804) 964-9055 firstname.lastname@example.org
or E-mail to: email@example.com. Please make checks payable to Shenandoah Valley Soaring.
DuPont Regatta Banquet-
After dinner, Ken Hyde and Rick Young of The Wright Experience will talk about the replicas of the Wright gliders which were built in a shop near Young's restaurant and at Ken Hyde's facility north of Warrenton. Their story, which was told in the April/May 1998 issue of Air and Space/Smithsonian, sounds fascinating and I hope everyone will enjoy listening to them.
From the article "The Thrill of Invention" originally published in Air & Space/Smithsonian, April/May 1998: Young wants to rediscover the precise details of the Wrights' technology, and reproducing their gliders is a means to that end. "They had to translate their deepest insights and most important discoveries into the design and construction details of those amazing gliders," Young explains. "And there is no better way to acquire a genuine grasp of those essential lost details than to build and fly accurate replicas of the historic machines."
Rick Young began his quest in 1975, when he and his brother Bill built a reproduction of the 1900 glider and flew it in a NASA promotional film entitled Flying Machines. Five years later, Young began work on a reproduction of the 1902 Wright glider in his basement. Jay and her brother David were not yet teenagers when their father kited them aloft aboard that aircraft.
Over the next decade, Rick and his 1902 glider appeared in television commercials, on the Disney Channel, and as stars of the IMAX film On the Wing. The glider was exhibited at the Museum of Science in Richmond, Virginia, but was withdrawn and refurbished in 1994 for a role in The Wright Stuff, a film for PBS. That same year, Young forged an alliance with Ken Hyde, an airline pilot and nationally recognized restorer of historic aircraft. A Wright Model B (see "What Makes It Wright?" A&S June/July 1994) that Hyde's shop produced for the U.S. Army Aviation Museum at Fort Rucker, Alabama, also in 1994, is perhaps the finest reproduction of a powered Wright aircraft anywhere. (Editor's note: I have quite a few folded posters of the Wright 1902 Glider (29.6 x 19 inches) from the Air & Space article that was produced with Rick Young's directions. Members can email me if they want one and I can drop off at FRR hangar. Reggie has one if you wish to review.)