GLIDER CHRONICLES 2011 – June 25th : Vintage Beauties

The Saturday evening youth group had a real treat on this day because it was a Vintage Gliding Club memorial day for Chris Wills – a VGC founder. This meant that there were lots of stunningly beautiful old gliders about which, due to the inclement daytime weather, were flying later into the early evening.

A flypast had been organised so we had to hold operations later in the evening for this to happen, followed by an aerobatic gliding demonstration flight.

Due to the bad daytime weather I did not fly, but still got to the club early enough to get some pictures of the vintage aircraft. The first one I came across was an immaculate example of that old powered training and aerobatic biplane, the Tiger Moth. So my evening of picture taking started with these shots:

Rear shot showing the lovely curves of the tailplane.

An immaculately turned out G-EMSY.

It was also the perfect opportunity to try an HDR (High Dynamic Range) image – this being one where the camera takes 3 images at different exposures and combines them into one. It basically allows you to see the darker cockpit interior well, despite the bright ambient sunshine.

Tiger Moth cockpit showing the lovely old instruments.

Close shot of the wing of the Slingsby T-13 Petrel.

I then returned back to the club hangar and found one of my favourite looking gliders – the Slingsby T-13 Petrel. This shot shows the internal ribbing of the wing. This glider has neither flaps nor airbrakes so you need to get your side-slipping sorted out or else judge your approaches really well.

Explanation: Side-Slipping (or How To Turn Your Glider Into A Brick)
A number of older gliders either did not have airbrakes, like the Petrel, or had very weak ones. This is a problem when landing since you can fly on for a long way in a glider and may need a very long field indeed. Thus we are taught to perform what is called a side-slip.

Normally when you fly you try and harmonise the turning and banking of the glider. So if you bank to the right you also turn to the right with the rudder. Thus you are coordinating the controls. A side-slip involves purposely crossing the controls.

So in a side-slip if you bank to the right with the ailerons you use opposite rudder to the left. This then makes the aircraft turn its right side to the airstream and you go down slightly sideways – quickly! (See my Adverse Yaw Exercise in this post to get a feel for this attitude) This is very useful if you find you have too much height on approach. Needless to say you straighten the aircraft up before you actually land.

Great fun, as I usually say. However, there is a knack. The problem is that the instrument for measuring the airspeed – an Airspeed Indicator, or ASI – will give an accurate reading when the airflow is head on to the measuring tube, called a Pitot Tube. When you side-slip the airstream goes sideways across the tube and usually makes the ASI under read, meaning you cannot trust it. So you have to adjust the attitude of the glider by eye, keeping the view out the front correct so that you keep the airspeed constant, which you usually only find out when you stop the side-slip! Hence the training. We had a good session of that in my Solo to Bronze week.

The EoN Primary awaiting the intrepid pilot.

The other glider that I saw on the ground – well… I hesitate to call it a glider since it really does come down like a brick, even when flying normally – was the Primary trainer or SG38.

In the early days of gliding this would be used for initial training, when two seater training gliders were not available, and it would be towed behind a car – so I have been told. Nowadays you can get one of the slower tug aircraft to give you an aerotow to 3000-4000ft. Apparently it takes longer to go up on the aerotow than it does for the Primary to glide, or should I say fly-ish, down.

But imagine sitting on the front of it with almost nothing around you but thousands of feet of air. Definitely on my todo list.

I can hear some people questioning my sanity.

Please form an orderly queue – others got there first.

A set of beauties and a really lovely atmosphere.

After some of these initial ground photographs, it was over to the launch point to get ready for the evening, and to see some of the vintage gliders being launched. It was a lovely atmosphere with more of a sense of the slower tempo of yesteryear. Do you remember when people used to think that all this modern technology would give us more leisure time? Not sure what happened to that.

The right hand picture below is of a Slingsby T45 Swallow being launched. For those in the know I have left the 2 people in the front of the shot. The person chatting with his face to the camera is the great Derek Piggott, a past CFI at Lasham from 1953 to 1989.

The beautiful gull-wing Steinadler
waiting for a cable.

Slingsby T45 Swallow being launched
with Derek Piggott chatting in the foreground.

Vintage gliders being aerotowed ready for the flypast.

The daytime group winch launching gradually subsided, allowing the youth group to take over the evening launch point. Then later it was time to orchestrate the vintage glider memorial flypast.

This involved 4 tug aircraft launching 4 vintage gliders and performing an aerotowed flypast followed by the gliders releasing and landing in pairs. Vintage gliders tend to fly slower than their modern counterparts and thus have a very graceful bearing. I also admit to having a soft spot for the beautiful gull wing shapes.

The flypast was followed by an aerobatic glider display and then Gary flew the Primary to end the day of memorable and memorial vintage gliding fun.

Tug landing after the aerotowed flypast.

Super Cub Tug landing into the sunset.

The beautiful Petrel coming into land after the flypast.

The Steinadler catching the evening sun as it turns finals.

A perfectly executed loop.

Gary on approach in the Primary, subsequently heard to shout "I need a buggy!".

So after Gary and the Primary were retrieved the youngsters finished the last flying of the evening, put the gliders to bed in the hangar and retired to the clubhouse for logbook signing, eating and drinking before returning home.

Once again a fantastic, wonderful and beautiful evening that will be remembered by all for a long time to come.

See you soon…

The last light of the day, just before driving the launch point bus back to the hangar.

GLIDER CHRONICLES 2011 – June : More Competition Pictures

One of the youth flyers, Alex, has made available some photos which complement my earlier post. He flew with Colin and G (yep, just ‘G’) in the Duo Discus 775. They did really well with Alex doing half of the flying, ending by coming 3rd overall by the end of the Lasham Regionals week.

So here we are. First pic with me looking like a wally. My normal state when on the airfield:

Me taking a picture of Alex taking a picture of Me taking a picture of Alex taking...

Alex taking a picture of Me taking a picture of Alex taking a picture of Me taking...

Val and Sophie (I believe) in the K21 778.

Shot of gliders already airborne and thermalling, while Alex waits...

Thermalling with another glider.

This proves they at least got to Shoreham.

Sometimes you have to find the lift where you can. Didcot power station.

Final glide to Lasham. Main runway 09/27 is just visible centre of picture.

Final glide again, but note the speed: 110kts, 125mph.

Explanation : Final Glide
The simple idea of a glider competition is to get around a specific route, the Task, as quickly as possible. You have to fly your glider, which has an on board GPS logger, around the run turnpoints of the task. Once you have got to your last turnpoint you are ready for the Final Glide home. This all needs to be done as fast as possible and it is possible to compute what your speed should be.

It depends upon a number of factors:

* Performance of the glider.
* Wind speed and direction.
* Distance to destination airfield.
* Planned arrival height at destination airfield.

Glide ratio for the Duo Discus 775 is 46 to 1, and the K21 33 to 1. So if you plug all those numbers in, you get your best ‘speed to fly’. The trouble is that real world atmosphere is not that simple and you will encounter sink and lift on the way which will affect the calculation. And that is where you find the art of it all. How do you make sure you get back home as fast as possible, yet without having to land out in a field.

Gliding is a life’s study.

GLIDER CHRONICLES 2011 – June 4th : Strong Crosswind & Aerobatic Fun

Well, after all the action of the competition in the daytime the evening youth group turned out to be a quieter affair. In the end we had three instructors for the 8 or so “yoof”, but the conditions were windy and cross. Namely we had a strong 45degree crosswind which was curling over the trees on the approach on the north side of the main runway.

This meant that for most of the pupils, the instructors needed to do the take-offs and landings, which was not the greatest learning experience. However, it was a good introduction to just how much fun it can be battling the elements and still managing to do a great landing! The Falke motorglider was also flying and found it tricky enough that the pilot had to go-around and have another go at his landing.

Hats off to all the pilots if you ask me.

Explanation of Curl-Over
Curl-over is where the wind blows against an obstacle and on the downwind side curls around in what are called vortices. As the name implies these are twisting currents of air and are at least troublesome, and at worst, dangerous. It all depends upon exact conditions of windspeed and direction. As a recreational pilot you would not be flying if the wind was too strong anyway, so you should be able to handle them. Wake vortices from departing or arriving jets are another matter however and that will need an explanation in its own right at a later time. Go to the Lasham manual on coping with jet movements if you cannot wait!

Diagram (not to scale) of how a glider can get caught in the curlover from trees as it is landing.

A quieter Saturday evening launchpoint.

For those Cloud Appreciators among you, here is the effect you can get when a high flying aircraft disturbs the natural airflows. This is a graphic example of the effect of wake vortices. It is worth zooming into the picture and looking at it at full size to see the actual shapes of the vortices.

High flying aircraft leaves a vortex trail.

End of the Day and time for some Aerobatics
After the remaining K13 gliders had been flown back to the hangar…

Flying a K13 back to the hangar.

John and Val returned to the launchpoint to fly the remaining 2 aircraft back. Since the last glider was the K21 John took Callum and Helen up for a couple of aerobatic flights, always a highlight of the evening.

I also remember some banter about how wearing sunglasses that late in the evening was only for looking cool!

The last 2 flights of the day. A Grob102 and a K21. K21 off to do aerobatics.

Here is a shot of an earlier aerobatic glider, the Pilatus, off to practice some aeros in the “box” of sky reserved for such manoeuvres.

Pilatus aerobatic glider off for some loops.

Thats all for now, so until next time…

Happy flying!

GLIDER CHRONICLES 2011 – June 4th : Competition Saturday

Saturday was the penultimate day of the Lasham Regionals Competition and glider 775, one of the youth gliders, is currently standing at 3rd in the B class. 778 on the other hand is well down in last. However, fun has been had by all.

The schedule today was gruelling. Gliders were brought to the grid before the 10 o’clock briefing…

The glider grid assembled in the shimmering noonday heat,

And then had to wait…

One 778 pilot making the most of the wing area.

And wait…

Still waiting...

And wait…

Malcolm looks like he has done this before!

Until the pre-launched “sniffer” gliders announced thermals were starting so launching was to begin at 1:30. As you can see Sam in 778 was over the moon…

Sam is ready to roll.

So the tug planes were readied…

One of the more powerful Lasham tug planes. Recently refurbished.

And they were off…

At last we're rolling.

And away!

Airborne at last.

The task for the day? 103.6km total distance. Lasham to Illsley, just North of Newbury, then to Hurstbourne Tarrant, near Andover, eventually arriving back at Lasham to clean the bugs off the wing.

Time to clean the bugs off.

Meanwhile yours truly did not actually fly today since it was too windy but did find something to set his heart on. I know I am trying to get converted to the single seater Grob 102 glider, and that is a good next target..

One of the Lasham Grob 102s, affectionally know as Baby Grobs.

Although the cockpit is looking the worse for wear.

But my eyes alighted on one of the club Discus gliders, SH2, and now I am after getting checked out on that. Beautiful. We will have to see just how long it takes.

One of the lovely Schempp-Hirth Discus club gliders.

By the way “SH” stands for “Surrey & Hants”, one of the original clubs that were amalgamated to become the Lasham Gliding Society.

Next I have a report from the Saturday evening group which was tough flying due to the strength of the crosswind we had that day.

GLIDER CHRONICLES 2011 – May 31st : Competition Day

This week is competition week at Lasham. After a miserable weekend the sun came out on Tuesday to allow the competition to have its first day of flying. Although it was a sunny day the competitors were surprised by a hailstone shower coming across the airfield right in the middle of launching the gliders.

[Note that all pictures in this post are just the right eye of a stereo shot. Under each photo I will link to the left hand eye so that those who wish to do so, can mess around and make themselves a stereo shot. Be aware that this is a very photo intensive post, but then pics are always nice to have.]

Some pilots sheltering under a glider wing during the hailstorm. Notice the high fashion parachutistas! As well as the beanie hat brigade.

[Left eye shot here]

Although not taking part in the competition I did manage to fly that day which will be in a following post. However below are some pictures from the competition launch point taken when I took a break from normal club operations to go and help some of the Saturday evening youth flyers getting ready for the off. Dave, the organising instructor from the Saturday evenings, had arranged for two twin-seater gliders to be flown in the competition with a youth member.

The Yoof Gliders

So first up is glider number 775 flown by our beloved CFI (Chief Flying Instructor) Colin with Alex (nowadays cleared for solo) as his second-in-command. The glider is a Duo Discus.

Alex in the front with Colin the back waiting for the aerotow.

[Left eye shot here]

In the other glider, number 778, we had the intrepid and hard working yet eccentric Dave, with Sarah as his second-in-command. Sarah also is solo and has defected to the military for her flying training, intending to be a commercial pilot one day. The glider is an ASK21.

Dave in the front with Sarah looking cool in the back.

[Left eye shot here]

Task du Jour and how they did

The flying task set was to fly 272.8km (very important the “point eight” according to Sarah), from Lasham via Newbury and then up to Silverstone. The return journey required coming back to Lasham via Andover.

Colin and Alex managed to make it all the way round with Alex remarking on landing that his feet had been cold. Yes Alex, that happens when you’re flying near cloudbase! Unfortunately David and Sarah needed an extra launch or two and finished the day by landing out at Popham. They then got an aerotow from Popham that allowed them to fly back to Lasham.

From the smiles on Alex and Sarah’s faces you could tell that great fun was had by all.

More Photos

Colin, Alex, Sarah and Dave sheltering under wings until the rain and hail pass.

[Left eye shot here]

The competition grid in front of the youth gliders.

[Left eye shot here] The full grid of both the ‘A’ class and ‘B’ class contains about 60 gliders.

Sarah watches, Alex gets his cockpit ready and Colin relaxes!

[Left eye shot here] Of course it is so important to get that cushion just right. Although I do believe Alex was trying to work the ClearNav system.

Sarah and Alex doing tech setting up the GPS-based navigation system for the task.

[Left eye shot here] For the tech-heads among us the nav system is a ClearNav flight computer.