Friday, August 2, 2013

Cowley Gliding Camp

The Cowley Gliding Camp, held annually, is the biggest event on the Western Canadian gliding calendar.  Cowley is famous for its wave and mountain flying.  I managed to join the first half of the camp with Edmonton Soaring Club's ASW-15.
On Friday, I drove down to Chipman to derig the glider and repack the bearings on the trailer.  A few club members were around to help including Arel who was coming to fly at the camp as well.  I left Saturday morning and arrived in Cowley in the evening.  There was no flying going on at the time with most people just arriving.  The sky looked quite good however.
Sunday was the first flying day.  The morning was overcast and not looking particularly promising for a good soaring day but the sky quickly opened up and cu started to form.  I had a quick site check in the morning in the Cu Nim ASK-21 then got the ASW-15 rigged for a flight.  I started flying in the Porcupine Hills in weak conditions.  There was a storm cloud growing over the valley but I heard Struan Vaughan in his DG-400 reporting wave by Centre Peak on the Livingstone Range.  I went over to investigate but did not find anything right away.  I eventually connected with the pressure wave on the side of the storm and got above the clouds to 10,500ft.  I started heading east along the front edge of the cloud and was having a good run but then heard over the radio everyone landing back at Cowley.  I talked to Bruce Friesen who was just landing and he recommended landing soon if I wanted to make it back to the airfield but also offered to pick me up if I outlanded.  I was tempted to keep going as the street was working quite well and looked like it went for a long way but decided to go home to avoid getting rained on in some field.  Soon after I landed back at Cowley it started to rain and I got lots of help from the Cowley group to get the glider away before conditions got worse.  Sunday Flight on OLC
Monday rained most of the day but it cleared up for a few hours and we rigged the Cu Nim DG-1000 and a few site checks and student flights were completed.  Tuesday was the next flying day for me.  In the morning Arel had a flight in the ASW-15.  When he landed I was debating having a flight as reports from those in the air were of weak conditions and low cloudbase.  I then saw Bruce Friesen come in to land and was even more convinced of not going.  Bruce however was going again and talked me into to going as well.  The thermals were reasonably strong to 7500ft but that is only 3500ft above Cowley and with the terrain around not quite enough for most of us to go x-country.  I had an enjoyable local flight checking out the local landmarks.  Tuesday Flight on OLC
We all expected Wednesday to be the best day of the camp.  I had the glider rigged and on the flight line early.  Cu started to pop just before 11am but we were concerned it looked ragged.  I was the sacrificial lamb and launched first at 11:30am into the Porcupine Hills.  It took a bit of searching but I eventually found a solid 3 knot thermal to 8000ft.  There were some nice looking clouds over the Livingstone Range and even better looking ones behind it.  I flew close to best L/D speed over the valley to make sure I had enough height to connect with the clouds next to the ranges.  The valley was completely blue and the air completely still until I hit the foothills.  With a bit of searching I made it to 9000ft and saw much higher clouds on the other side of the range.  I pushed to the other side and quickly made it up to 11,500ft.  There was nice cloudstreets heading west.  There is an airport called Sparwood in the Elk Valley which was a good safety if I could not connect at some point.
I had been looking at Tim Woods' flights on the OLC where he pushed into the Columbia Valley up to Invermere and beyond.  After making it to Elk Valley, I pushed on a bit further.  The clouds were spreading out a bit past Elk Valley and although I could have easily made it to the Columbia, I decided to stay a bit closer to Cowley to ensure I could make it home at the end of the day.  I headed east for a bit and then started flying up and down Elk Valley.  There is a lot of mining in the area and at one point I was breathing in some of the mining dust in a thermal.  By then I had made 5 of the 6 legs the OLC would score me for.  I decided to head back towards Cowley.  Crossing the Livingstone Range, back into the valley, the cloudbase went down to 9500ft.  I flew to the other side of Pincher Creek and then headed back to Cowley.  On the way back I realized I had not closed my triangle and flew back to where the towplane had dropped me before landing.  Wednesday Flight on OLC
Cowley is a great spot to fly and there were a great bunch of people on the ground organizing.  In particular I would like to thank Phil Stade for putting everything together.  I look forward to going back again and maybe pushing into the Columbia Valley or completing my third diamond with a good wave flight.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

First Flights in the ASW-15

Over the Canada Day weekend, I made it out to the Edmonton Soaring Club for a couple days of soaring.  Both days were weak with low cloudbases.  I did not fly very far but had a chance to try out the ASW-15 and figure out its handling characteristics.  As I had heard, the all-flying tail is quite sensitive.  Other than that the handling was straight forward with pretty good low speed aileron authority and enough rudder.  I am looking forward to flying it more.  June 30 flight  July 1 flight

Edmonton Soaring Club

Thursday, May 30, 2013

PW-5 Fying in Edmonton

After a long winter the Edmonton Soaring Club has started up and on Sunday, I managed to get down and do some flying.  I did my two annual check flights and then looked for a single seater to fly.  The PW-5 was sitting in the hangar and after giving it a good wash and ensuring the paperwork was complete I took off at 6:15pm.  It took me awhile to connect but once I did it was very enjoyable.  I had to accustom myself to the thermalling technique that it requires. The last time I had flown a PW-5 was in New Zealand but only ridge flying; the last thermalling flight was 2007 in Ontario.  The PW-5 has a small rudder so it can be difficult to roll into a thermal.  If a normal coordinated turn is used, the nose will turn only very slowly.  I found that using full rudder and keeping the ailerons neutral (to avoid aileron drag pulling the nose the other way) was the most effective way to initiate the turn.  A little bit of opposite aileron helped as well but not too much otherwise it got too unstable.  After staying pretty close in I landed just past 8pm as the day was starting to end.  Sunday OLC
Monday was forecasting thunderstorms with 60% probability but this is normal for a good soaring day in Edmonton.  I had not prepared for a cross-country flight and was scrambling in the morning to make a 5V power supply for my GPS.  I took off at noon, just after Bruce Friesen.  I did not find good lift right away and started from the airport below 3000ft AGL.  I then found my 5V power supply was not only not charging my GPS but discharging it quickly.  I unplugged it and kept the screen off for most of the day when I did not require it.  After that, I ran into a 5 knot thermal and had a great run east.  I had to stop short of the turnpoint I was planning because a large storm cell was heading northeastward toward me.  I did a bit of scrambling to the southwest and eventually headed north.  As I reached Two Hills I noticed the cell had been following me and there were no clouds behind me anymore.  After pushing a bit more to the north I decided to head home to make sure I got back before the weather crapped out.  My GPS was also very low on batteries.  Bruce kept flying for a couple more hours so there was definitely more soaring to be had.  300km is the longest flight I have done in a lower performance glider like the PW-5.  I had always wanted to do one in a SZD Junior at SOSA but never completed it.  Monday OLC