Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mid-week flying

For the first time I have managed to do some mid-week flying at the club. My club operates 7 days and the weather forecast looking good for Tuesday and Wednesday coincided with some leave. With only a handful out at the cub on the Tuesday, I got two check flights in (the second one 35 minutes with the instructor showing me some thermalling techniques), followed by a 57 minute solo flight with lots of thermalling.

I had a few gadgets with me that day - my FlywithCE logger (more on that in a later post I think) and an 808 mini keychain video camera (ditto - more on that in another post). The logger worked fine, but the 808 camera hadn't charged with its supplied USB connection.

I planned a 3,000 foot launch (cloudbase was about 3,000 or a bit more by that time) but the tuggie took me through a pearler of a thermal, so I bunged off early, at a bit over 2,000 and then connected with good thermals right up to cloud base.

There were a lot of clouds in streets and these provided reliable lift of 2-6 knots, but with buckets of sink in between the streets. I practiced my thermalling techniques and wandered about the sky just enjoying everything (my track in Google Earth is on the right). At one point, after about half an hour, I heard glider control asking the tower to call me to ask me my location and height. Tower's comment before making the call was "you might not want to hear the answer!". So I was pleased to report that I was at 3,400 feet two miles south and at that point I was climbing in strong lift.

It was a delightful day's flying, and I could get back to cloudbase seemingly at will. At one point, heading back towards the field,  I had to descend at 80 knots with full airbrakes out to get under a cloud that had a base below me. I also had to circle to throw away height to join the circuit.

The 57 minute duration was an added bonus - I have paid up for the Club's Bulk Flying Scheme - $420 up front means that all my flights are free up to an hour's duration, so all I had to pay were tow charges. Beauty!

The second day, the Wednesday, was forecast to be much better, until a thunderstorm in the afternoon, but the situation changed and the day was flat at the start - no-one could find any lift. I got some useful experience in helping to rig the Club's DG-303 and in my two short check flights with a perfectionist instructor I learned more about precision flying, and I finally managed a solo flight at about 3.00pm, with storm clouds brewing in the north.

I had my new Panasonic Lumix TZ10 camera with me and took a few snaps below, including flying in company with the DG, trying to make something of some scratchy lift. Maintained height for a while, but couldn't centre it - was in as much sink as lift every turn, no matter how I adjusted.

Looking at my logs in Google Earth and SeeYou from that day, I was pleased to see how nice my circuit looked, especially my nice square base legs.

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