GLIDER CHRONICLES 2011 – September 28th : Big Wings & Blue Skies

Just a small post for the Glider Chronicles today. The weather recently has not been good during the weekends but wonderful during the week. Enough of wistful gazing out of the office window already! It was time to stop being conscientious and take a day off from the work week as sunny skies and a high pressure had been forecast. I used the first sunny day since I know that high pressures can lead to lowering inversions.

Explanation: Inversion
Normally as you go higher into the atmosphere the temperature decreases at about 2°C per 1000ft. As the name implies an Inversion occurs when at a certain height the temperature increases for a while as you go up. As thermals rely on warm air rising through the surrounding cooler air, when they hit the height of the Inversion they usually stop rising, unless they are strong enough to punch through. Inversions happen frequently during high pressure weather because the air in a high pressure system is descending which also traps dust in the lower air. Thus in the photographs below you can quite clearly see the line in the sky at the Inversion height.

What this means for the glider pilot on the street is that it clamps down the lift and you cannot go higher than the height of this temperature inversion. This week the inversion was at about 1500ft, quite low. Just about the height you could get from the winch launch.

I had planned to do some more single seater flying in these conditions but an early conversation with an instructor convinced me that converting to fly the high performance twin seater DG1000 would be a fun thing to do for the day, and give me a more tangible goal. Of course the fact that he said it was a good spinning aircraft had nothing to do with my decision! He is also one of the main aerobatic instructors – a skill I would like to work on next year since I think it important to know the limits of the technology you are using.

DG1000 front view showing large undercarriage strut.

DG1000 waiting for aerotow

Once the glider was checked and taken out to the launchpoint, next was to get the ballast weights sorted out. With our combined weight the DG1000 needed all of its tail weights fitted, something that I had not used in other gliders. But they all had to be taken out later when I went solo.

Since we were planning to do some spinning and as this glider could lose a lot of height in a spin we took an aerotow to 4000ft. Of course I did my usual trick with big wing gliders of not using enough rudder as I had done with the Duo Discus. [All thanks to Adverse Yaw explained here.]

As you can see from the aerial photos below, the inversion was quite visible as a line separating the clear upper air from the mucky lower air. A few cumulus clouds can be seen just at the inversion top where the thermals were strong enough to push through. The cloud will then form as the air temperature in that area reaches the dewpoint.

Hazy conditions southbound on aerotow.

Cumulus visible to west just above the inversion.
The black dot is a Chinook helicopter from Odiham.

Looking north to Lasham, showing those lovely big wings and winglet.

[For the Lashamites among us – in the right-hand photo (if you look hard enough) you can see the old airfield dispersal pans being dug up on the south-east side of the airfield (just ahead of the wingtip). Work is also being done in the north-east corner.]

So what was my impression of the aircraft? Like the Duo Discus she flies beautifully once you get used to the rudder coordination and thanks to those big wings can keep on flying for ages with a glide ratio up in the forties. To date I had been rather intimidated to take it flying, but no more! I am now cleared to fly it off the aerotow and just need another check for winch launching with it. The spins were also great fun but she did come down fast and it was easy to lose 500-600ft by doing a one-turn spin.

Another notable point about this glider is making sure the undercarriage is down and locked before landing. I had heard a number of horror stories about it collapsing on landing because the lever was not far enough forward and was not properly locked. I found it needed some force to lower the undercarriage but it was ok if you made sure you had the reach. You really really did need to make sure the lever was forward, in its detente, and locked against the canopy wall. I have seen some people land with the undercarriage up and it needs about 10 people to go out to it and lift under the wings so the wheel can be put down!

For once the day’s flying included an instruction flight so I have some log book comments by the instructor:

Conditions: Light southerly wind. Inversion at 1500ft.
Instructor Notes:
DG1000 checkout. Spin avoidance and recovery OK. Aerotows OK. Have another winch launch cable break before solo 776 on winch. OK for solo on aerotow.
Personal Notes:
4000ft dual aerotow. Cable break winch launch. 2500ft solo aerotow.

Front cockpit binnacle of the DG-1000.

The photo on the right shows the cockpit panel.

The gauges from top to bottom, left to right are:
ASI – Airspeed Indicator.
ClearNav – Nav computer with control buttons on the joystick.
Vario 1

Next row:
Turn and Slip indicator.
Altimeter – A small one! You have to crane your neck to look around the joystick.

Next row:
G-meter – For aerobatics.
Vario 2 – Cannot have enough variometers.

Next row:
Temperature gauge – Presumably more useful in Scotland wave flights where it can get 30°C below zero.
Radio – The usual type found in the Lasham gliders.

DG-1000 776 by the hangar ready to be de-rigged to do some wave flying in Scotland.
Behind are Discus SH3 on the left and the Falke SF-25C motorglider on the right.
You can see the transparent cover in the tail for the ballast weights.

Athough this was primarily a twin seater day, I did also fly the Baby Grob SH7 later which proved to be hard work although I managed some 38mins from a winch launch – good for the conditions. It consisted mainly of scrabbling around from 1000ft up to 1500ft, then losing 500ft flying back upwind and starting to scrabble again. I wont say too much about an earlier winch launch before that which resulted in a slightly low circuit. Not my best!

However it was still a lovely day out and I do really like the DG-1000. I shall not feel too intimidated to get it out flying next time.

As I usually say:
             Love those big wings!

Till next time…

GLIDER CHRONICLES 2011 – September 16th : Close Encounters of the Bird Kind

There are some times when I wonder if I will ever feel “grown-up”. The flying on this Friday provoked such a reaction, for during the 92 minute flight I was to come close enough to a buzzard or two that it left me speechless – which I made up for with childish glee during the rest of the afternoon by telling every other club member I met about it!

Luckily I was able to get a few photos of our feathered friends.

The Decision
The background to the day was as follows: During the week there had been two great flying days which I could not attend due to work commitments, and I knew that the weekend weather was not looking good. I turned up on Thursday evening hoping to at least hangar fly one of the gliders, but alas, I was too late and they were too busy to fit me in. On returning home I reasoned that since I had finished some work on Thursday ready for the weekend, I could afford to take the Friday off for flying, although it was only expected to be a marginally good day. Well – it made sense to me. So I set the alarm for an early rise in order to be there for the ballot of the single seater gliders at 8am.

The morning arrived with the bleeping of the alarm. Is it just me or are early morning decision processes tricky? I thought that as you got older it should be easier to get up early! Outside it was overcast and I almost decided to give up flying and go to work anyway, thus saving my holiday for later in the year. However in the end I did go to Lasham, though I could not get myself up early enough for the 8am ballot. Lazy, lazy, lazy. I know. But as it turned out it was not to be a problem.

Early morning skies showing the extensive top cover.


So up and prepped; NOTAMs checked; weather checked; and it was off to the club. Only one other person was there to grab a single seater so my early morning “lazy” decision was vindicated. After a “proper” breakfast and the morning briefing it was out to the hangar.

Explanation: NOTAMs
A NOTAM is a “NOTice to AirMen” and is essential reading for any pilot planning a flight. It is administered by NATS and is part of their Aeronautical Information Service, or AIS.

As of today, 18-Sep-2011, the definition of a NOTAM on this site reads as follows:
“Notices to Airmen (NOTAM) cover short duration or temporary changes or short notice permanent changes. They contain information concerning the establishment, condition or change in any aeronautical facility, service, procedure or hazard, the timely knowledge of which is essential to personnel concerned with flight operations.”

Don’t you just love those long sentences? But they are important long sentences and many a pilot has to get used to such language to get through the inevitable paperwork and exams related to flying.

The above items might, for instance, cover operations such as The Red Arrows, or any other flying display; Parachuting; Balloon flying; or even filming where the film crew don’t want little aircraft buzzing around ruining their period costume drama! It does happen.

Discus or Grob? And a Man with a Plan
When deciding which single seater to fly, I had made another “lazy” decision to take SH7, the baby Grob, since I knew it would be rigged. As it turned out it was buried at the back of the hangar so I decided to rig one of the “Modern Beauties“, Discus SH3 as I expected this would be less of a chore to get ready for flying. There were 6 other gliders in front of SH7 in the hangar and a definite dearth of helpers.

The conditions were not looking good as a lot of high cloud was present from the night before. It was going to be a case of waiting for it to disperse, which thankfully it duly began to do during the morning as you can see from the early photos.

The early reports from the initial K13 training flights were that no lift was around, so I decided to take an exploratory winch launch to see what the conditions were like. I expected this to be a short flight that would also get me “rolling” for the day. The plan was then to take an aerotow.

Ahh. Plans, plans, plans – they rarely survive contact with reality.

Getting SH3 rigged

View into SH3's trailer

SH3 rigged, cleaned and ready to go out to the launch point

Up and Away – but only just
By the time I had the Discus rigged, cleaned, over to the launch point, and sorted myself out – it was 12:15 and the conditions were just starting to get going. There was a medium strength southerly crosswind and we were launching on runway 09 towards the east.

I queued up, got strapped in and waited for a cable. The winch launch was unremarkable, though only a 1300ft launch height – I am still not getting good launch heights with the single seaters. However it was enough for some minutes of bimbling around and I decided to go upwind to the south of the airfield. This was to cause a few problems later but did result in finding some lift.

I flew around and did not manage to pick anything up until eventually I saw another glider coming in below me to join the circuit from the south-east and I decided to follow it in. I was pretty high as I began my circuit, and as part of the pre-landing checks put the undercarriage down.

All was going fine and I was expecting, as planned, to take an aerotow next. But then at around 700ft on the downwind leg I got the most amazing kick up the pants as I hit a 4up thermal. I am afraid I could not resist it since (a) I knew I had enough height and (b) knew there was no-one else in the circuit. After just one turn I knew I had a good one and put the undercarriage back in its box.

So all was going well and I climbed up to 1000ft but the next problem as alluded to earlier was that I was now drifting close to the launch area. I could also see that they were getting ready to launch a glider so I had to leave my beloved 4up thermal and go further south, upwind and away from the launch area. The waiting glider below was now being launched, but I had lost the “biggie” and was only getting weak 2up thermals, though enough to keep me at my height.

Thermalling on the south side of the airfield. The launch point is on the left hidden by the glider


At last another good thermal came along and I took it, beginning the inevitable drift back over the launch point as I circled. This time, however, I could see that they were not ready to launch so I called up and asked if I could overfly the launch point. Luckily this was allowed and I happily continued thermalling from the south of the airfield to the north without disturbing their operations, gradually climbing from 900ft up to 1500ft.

Being on the north of the airfield allowed me to check a bit of theory about thermal formation. I had heard that one should look for places where you would get differential heating. I reckoned I could see one where there was a wood on the south side of a brown stubble field. I was hoping that the air just on the north of the wood would be sheltered from the wind, allowing a big enough bubble of warm air to form which would later get detached due to the windy conditions.

Enlargement from previous photo of the view north. The red rectangle shows the wood and field described in the text where I found a thermal.


I was absolutely open-mouthed when I found this actually worked! It was not the best thermal of the day, but the theory did seem to work. Fantastic! With this thermal I managed to get to about 1800ft, at which height the lift seemed to “top out”. This was to be a consistent feature of the day’s lift.

It was shortly after this that I had my first encounter with a pair of buzzards.

Words fail to put over the feeling when encountering these wonderful fliers. I am not so deluded to think that I am anywhere near as good as they, nor can I claim a close kinship – the best I can say is that I felt linked to them in some small way. Yes – the word is “Participated”. I participated in their world and felt awe at the effortless connection they have with the aerial habitat. I also felt very lucky that I was able to fly with them for the small time I did.

Of course due to my higher speed, I could only fly around the outside of their circles, and as you would expect it was almost a guarantee that wherever they were – there was rising air. I was gratified to see that they were not at all bothered by my presence, being quite happy to pass within 50 metres of the glider, although I was careful to make sure I kept far enough away so that neither they nor myself would be disturbed.

By now I was back on the south side of the airfield where the air was moving in decidedly strange ways, definitely not in nice circular thermic bubbles. I decided to try and sort of “wind-surf” by flying to and fro rather than staying in circles. This seemed to work for a while but “needs more research”. It was at this time that I came upon another buzzard and managed to get some photos which I hope you agree are pretty amazing. Apologies for the angles since they were definitely “action” shots with one hand flying the aircraft and one hand on the camera.

Circling near a buzzard

Emulation is the sincerest form of flattery


The time was now around 2pm and I was getting quite tired as it was proving to be a tussle to stay airborne. I flew around to the west of the airfield as I could see ground movement of the launch point as the operation moved onto runway 23. This coincided with hitting some really strong sinking air going down at 600ft per minute just as I was on the downwind leg of the circuit. I almost thought I would have to turn in early and land crosswind but luckily came out of the sink and found some lift and carried on to return to a normal landing.

I opened the canopy and just stayed in the glider resting and contemplating my experience while I waited for the retrieve buggy. I had just completed a 92 minute flight, I believe one of the longest of the day, and had managed to fly with the birds. Definitely one of those “self-actualising” experiences as Maslow would say.

A day for the birds. Photo of a red kite taken later from the ground near the threshold of runway 23.

Bird of a different kind, but still beautiful.
SH3 waiting to be put back in the trailer.

Late afternoon sun.


And so it was time to go home and Reflect upon the day’s experiences. I hope you enjoyed my Rambling here and that I did not Rumble too much!

Until the next time…

GLIDER CHRONICLES 2011 – September 3rd : An Evening down on the Farm Strip

Thanks to the good organisation of one of our instructors – Farmer Dave – we recently had a rare chance to fly from a nearby field at a neighbouring farm. So a group of 25 or so of us, arrived literally “out of the blue”, and descended on a quiet field in the Hampshire countryside.

The actors in this particular play were:

Mr “Full Cat” Instructor
Farmer Dave. None of it would have happened without his untiring efforts.

The Tug
The recently refurbished Lasham Piper Pawnee crop duster tug aircraft G-TOWS, in its bright yellow livery.

G-TOWS Piper Pawnee Lasham Tug

The Tug Pilot
The amazingly highly experienced airline pilot Andy who was to demonstrate some phenomenal flying skills throughout the evening.

The Gliders
Two of the faithful Lasham ASK13’s. There was a reason we only took two as will soon become clear.

Some of the Lasham K13s parked up on a windy day.

The Instructors:
The normal crew of Saturday night youth instructors who were going to put the trainee pilots through their paces at a farm strip. A new experience for some of the instructors, so this was not your normal set of lessons.

The Trainees
About 20 or so young and old flyers champing at the bit to get flying in a small field.

Some of the crew.

Let me explain a little background here: Lasham is a wonderful airfield and a great place to fly, but it has just one problem when it comes to small field landing practice, it is BIG. The main runway is a mile long and so when we train for field landings we have to imagine we only have half or third of the airfield available. This is not the same as actually… errr… only having half or third of the size of field to land in for real!

Now normally it is only the youngsters who fly on the Saturday evenings, but such was the occasion that a number of adults who help out and are also trainee pilots, like yours truly, wanted to have a crack at practising a REAL field landing. Though to get us all a flight we would really need to get a move on – but I am getting ahead of myself.

As ever with these Chronicles, I like to start with the peace and calm before the day’s activities…

In the Calm of the Day
First off, since I was to be the Launch Point Controller for the evening, I wanted to go down to the strip and check it out, as well as timing how long it would take to drive there. This was to be of crucial importance since the 2 gliders were to be launched from Lasham and flown down to the strip fairly close together and some of us would have to turn up at the airfield BEFORE the first one landed in order to tow it out of the way before the second glider landed.

I did mention space was tight didn’t I? This meant we could only have one aircraft on the runway area at a time and would have to weave the 2 gliders and the tug around each other so they didn’t clash. This is why we could only take two gliders. Three would have been too many and would have held up proceedings.

As you can see Dave had put a special high tech farming blue plastic bag where he had mown out the taxiway for towing the gliders back from the landing point.

High tech farm style taxiway marker. My car is down at the launchpoint area in the distance.

Meeting at Lasham Clubhouse
After having sized up the field and got my head around how the evening’s proceedings were likely to unfold, it was back to the clubhouse to wait for everyone to turn up. By 5pm all were gathered and we had a quick briefing and decided which young pilots would fly the gliders over to the field. They were to be aerotow launched by some of us from Lasham who would come over later.

As soon as the decision was made I had 2 spare parachutes packed into my car and grabbed 4 passengers and we drove off to the farm strip toute de suite, pronto not to say immediatemente. As mentioned above, time was of the essence as we had to be there in order to tow the first glider arrival out of the way.

Fred towing back a glider to the launch area.

Arriving at the Farm Strip
It was just as well we didn’t hang about since as soon as had we parked up and got ourselves organised, the first K13 was starting its circuit. Thats the great thing with aircraft, they can go in a straight line!

So off I went with my car to the blue taxiway marker and got ready to tow it out of the way. It was Farmer Dave along with Ella. Because of the faster-than-walking-pace idle speed of my car (indeed of most cars) they had to trot back with the glider, despite me slipping the clutch.

Luckily just after that, Fred the Man with the Land Rover, turned up and as “The Controller” I volunteered him for glider retrieve duty. Another one of those unsung heroes.

Soon afterwards Andy arrived with the Pawnee and landed DOWNWIND. For those that don’t know, downwind landings are tricky because they take up so much more distance. They can increase the landing run by over half the length of an into wind landing. During the evening the amazing Andy was to do all of his landings downwind, a strategy that (a) saved time and (b) saved fuel since he didn’t have to land into wind and then backtrack down the runway towards the next waiting glider. Another factor was that all the aerotows were to only 1500ft, lower than the normal 2000-2500ft you would expect. Again this was to save on fuel and meant we managed to get 20 launches done without refuelling the Pawnee.

Fast Turnaround
If you were on the ball you would have noticed that I said I had packed 2 spare parachutes in the car. While the first landing glider was retrieved the NEXT pair to fly, instructor and trainee, donned these parachutes so that when the retrieved glider was back at the launch point, they could get straight in. The rest of the crew would then push the glider back to the launch position while they went through their pre-takeoff checks from the cockpit! Normally you would have time and space on the airfield at Lasham to do this in peace, but we had neither of those commodities. Needless to say we had to try and be calm about it so that the checks were done properly and were not rushed.

So within 5 minutes of having landed, we were able to launch the first glider from the strip before the second glider had landed. Wow! I could see this was going to be a busy evening, what with:

– Immediate retrieves of the landing gliders.
– Downwind tug landings.
– Parachutes ready for the next flyers.
– Pre-takeoff checks while being pushed back to the launch position.
– plus seamlessly slotting in the launching and landing aircraft.

And so it was, but also fantastic fun. I did not manage to get any action shots since I was running around like the proverbial Blue A**ed Fly arranging who was to fly next and then controlling the launches from the radio. However thanks to Jon, one of the instructors, most of the following shots should help give you some idea of the action packed evening.

Pawnee firing up for the next tow. Yours truly running up to attach the glider.

Alex "On Tow" with one of those flying grins.

The Pawnee waiting for the next launch while...

Farmer Dave gives some pre-launch advice to Joe and Tom.

Yours truly on finals to land in the field - hopefully.

We had many spectators during the evening who must of wondered what hit them with all the activity. I mean – how often do 20-30 people turn up with 3 aircraft for 2 hours – fly around the sky a bit – and then disappear into the dusk? Some of the locals even had a barbecue party up on the hill overlooking the field to watch the action from a safe distance.

So, once again, a fun filled evening, a great experience for young and old-ish alike, and that wonderful “Ahh” feeling at the end of the day.

What a great way to spend an evening in the fresh air and the beautiful English Hampshire countryside. THANKS FARMER DAVE.

The evening sun sets over the field after the last flight has left.

GLIDER CHRONICLES 2011 – August 13th: Modern Beauties – Part 2

So – The story so far. I had just completed the Duo Discus check flight with Chris, my instructor and it was still the morning (just), so the next thing to do was to get one of the Discus single seaters rigged and for that I needed to get hold of someone knowledgeable in such things.

Discus SH3 sitting in its trailer

Let me explain: The three club Discus gliders are kept in trailers rather than in the hangar ready to go. This means that if you want to fly one you have to enlist the help of at least one other soul and put it together – a process called rigging. Luckily the Discus is really easy to rig. Usually on a good soaring day there are a few people who want to fly the single seaters so they all help each other.

However, this was not a good soaring day and could I find someone to brief me in the requisite art? The phrases “hens teeth” and “gold dust” come to mind. Most of the instructors I talked to used to own one but had not rigged one for many years now and were too rusty. In the end I was pointed at the famous Merv, a well known character and fount of knowledge at Lasham who also got his mate, Dave, a current Discus owner, to help out.

Merv is very knowledgeable, an instructor, and possesses a particularly laconic temperament. This coupled with my own psyche resulted in me apologising a lot of the time for disturbing him. My apology rate abruptly increased when I found I had left my diligently purchased BGA wing sealing tape at home and had to borrow some of Dave’s. The guilt rate went up even further when Dave used his car to tow the rigged Discus out to the launch point because yours truly has no towbar on his car! Yeah. I was feeling fairly small by this time, but Dave was great and helped me out in getting ready. Merv was also helping out and doing his instructorly duty briefing me about the flying as well as being ready to observe my performance.

After some final recommendations from Merv to watch out for PIO (Pilot Induced Oscillation) on take-off due to the sensitive elevator I got myself strapped into the cockpit. The radio seemed to have a dodgy connection, but once I jiggled with the panel and its knobs it came good. If it did stop working it was not going to be an issue since this was only going to be a local flight to get the hang of the glider, and given the prevailing conditions it was going to be a short one. I normally carry a spare radio if the conditions are good so that I can either use it as a spare should the main one fail, or sometimes it can be useful to listen to two frequencies at once.

While waiting for the aerotow I was feeling fairly nervous, so just sat in the glider while I waited and calmed myself down and managed to relax. The tug pilot was told I was a Discus virgin (actually the phrase used is: “First time on type”) so knew to treat me gently!

I went through the pre take-off checks and was hooked on. During the take-off run, the elevator sensitivity was noticeable and I did have a couple of PIOs but got it under control fairly quickly. After that it was another lovely flight, albeit under rather overcast skies.

The glider handled very well and I landed back near the trailer where Dave was waiting with his car to take the glider back and help me derig it and pack it back into the trailer.

Shot of SH4 showing the Discus wing shape.

So many thanks again to Merv and Dave for helping me out with becoming current on the Discus.
I am looking forward to many hours of great soaring in these “Modern Beauties”.

GLIDER CHRONICLES 2011 – June 30th : In the Calm of the Evening

A short posting here about an unexpected end to a normal working Thursday. My Sony HX100 camera was new and gleaming and just waiting to be taken out for a spin! So I popped down to the flying club to see what shots I could get and – in all seriousness, honest – do some test shots with different settings.

The unexpected occurred because as soon as I got to the launch point, one of the K21 gliders was free and I was asked if I wanted to fly it. I initially demurred, saying that I had not “got my head into it” since I had not prepared myself mentally for flying. I have now realised that I usually plan my flying at least 24 hours ahead and so mentally rehearse the prospective activity. However this time it took me about 20 minutes to get my brain up to speed and realise that – Yes! – I would love to go flying, even for a couple of short circuits.

The next unexpected thing that occurred is that a fellow club member offered to take some shots and he created some beautiful ones that I have now had printed and framed. I don’t know his name but he obviously knew what he was doing – so many thanks to you, mystery photographer – whoever you are.

Shots from the evening follow with some of me for a change – so get yourselves ready since I am not very photogenic.

This first shot was me playing around with the camera at high zoom (30x) and pleased with the result. If you zoom in you should be able to see the detail of how the cable attaches to the glider. A shot that was helped a lot by the camera’s image stabilisation.

Distance shot of K13 on launch. You can see detail of how cable attaches. Bottom right is the folded parachute.

In this next shot you can see the “retrieve truck” with the two cables attached behind. If you zoom in and look carefully you can see where the cables are crossing the small runway behind the truck.

Retrieve truck pulling back the 2 cables from the winch.

Explanation : Retrieve Truck.
The Winch has 2 large cable drums each with at least one mile of steel cable so they are heavy and have to spin down slowly. After both cables have been used to launch the gliders the Retrieve Truck goes back to the Winch and the driver hooks both cables onto either side at the rear where there are special attachments. It then slowly pulls away and drags the cables back to the launch point – all in second gear – at no more than 25 to 30mph.

During the journey back to the launch point there must be no gear changes or sudden speed changes because the cable drums can overrun and cause a birds nest at the winch. Big direction changes are also out otherwise the cables can cross each other. Other folk need to give the truck a wide berth to make sure that nothing gets in its way, since it is the winch that controls the braking, again to stop the drums overrunning.

The truck driver has to slowly reduce speed as they get to the launch point which signals to the winch driver that they are about to stop – then s/he can just drop the clutch, letting the winch pull the truck to a stop. S/he should then keep the brakes off until the cable has pulled the truck back even further, thus releasing the tension. That way the person detaching the cables from the truck doesn’t risk getting hurt by any “ping back” of the cable as it is released from the truck.

The next set of 4 photographs were taken by the “mystery photographer” and you can see the difference. I particularly like the second one. It is notable that I have not done any colour processing or cropping of it. I have just reduced the resolution for the web.

As is usual at this time of day, the evening air was very smooth and calm, which fostered a quiet and reflective mood. Though no lift was present, it was still memorable because of this graceful peace which gave me a sense of completeness about the flying. A definite breathing out after the hiatus of the workaday.

Ken looking bored on the wing while waiting for me to launch. Notice the lensing of the trees in the rear canopy.
Time for me to have a new haircut!

Lovely shot taken by a fellow unknown club member. I am gently bringing the glider into the full climb.

Second shot of me further up the winch launch into the full climb.

Almost full airbrake coming into land.

Later in the evening we had this following example of an old motor glider from the 60s. Basically a single seat Slingsby T31 with a VW 1600cc engine on the front. Cheap flying.

Slingsby T31 Motor Tutor.

And then later in the evening there was a beautiful sunset. A lovely ending to a workday evening filled with pleasant surprises.

Evenin’ All…

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 : 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.