Monday, May 25, 2015

Declared 750km Triangle

The end of the May Edmonton Soaring Club flying week benefitted from some very dry weather in Alberta.  Most of the week consisted of blue, sunny conditions.  Looking at XCSkies for the final weekend clouds were predicted and bases in excess of 12,000ft.  The weather pattern and dryness reminded me of Australia except the temperatures were about 20°C less.  Saturday, I was on the instructor schedule so I had to take a miss on long distance flying.  The conditions were spectacular and Bruce Friesen flew a 400km Canadian speed triangle record out of Chipman at 134km/h.  On a flight with one of my students I had a climb to 12,500ft at about 8 knots.
Sunday, Bruce and I both declared 750km triangles.  I usually like to get started by 11am but it felt very still at the airport until about 11:45am.  The conditions started very quickly, much like Saturday.  I got a launch just before 12:00pm and found a 5 knotter up to 8000ft.  I then crossed the start line over the field and found a 7.5 knot thermal up to 12,500ft.  Cloudbase was a little bit higher but we are restricted to 12,500ft by Class B airspace for about half the task area.  There was a long streak of cloud with virga dropping from it so I stayed just north of track on another developing cloudstreet.  I got a couple 10 knot thermals on the way and the run to the first turnpoint, Senlac, was pretty good at 112km/h.
After Senlac it got a bit more difficult.  Senlac was in the blue and the only clouds on route to my next turnpoint again had virga coming from it.  I decided to push underneath the virga.  The base was about 9000ft and I found a good path of weak lift that let me hold my altitude.  When I crossed the cloud I ended up under a very large dark cloud that looked to be building into a storm.  It was snowing and I soon felt small pellets of snow seep through the air vents.  As I got a bit lower it turned into rain.  I was getting a bit worried as I had not hit any lift for a while.  Not until I got to the very edge of the cloud I found a thermal.  At first I found 3 knots which I took to keep myself from getting too low then went a little more on course and found 5 knots.  After that it was similar to the first leg; back to strong lift up to 12,000ft.
Getting into my second turnpoint, Finnegan, took another deviation to get around some virga clouds.  Coming out of the turn the sky completely blued out on course.  I decided to head east to go around the hole and struggled a bit to find good lift.  It took a bit of scraping to get going but I eventually connected with some good cloud streets.  The good lift was becoming a bit harder to find compared to earlier in the flight.  It was 6pm by then and I still had 200km to go.  Bruce checked up on me over the radio to see how I was doing.  He had run into the virga clouds and abandoned task earlier.  I was optimistic but not 100% confident I could make it.  At the end of the cloudstreet, still over 100km away it completely blued out.  I was short of final glide by a couple thousand feet.  The air became very smooth so I slowed down quite a bit.  I saw one cloud in the distance almost on course that had some promise.  I was not sure if it would be there when I got to it though.  I then saw a couple little clouds form directly next to it.  When I arrived, I flew a course to test them all out.  The first couple did not work but the original one that I saw redeveloped and gave me 2 knots.  I took it to the top to ensure I had some buffer.  It was quite a relief to know I could make it home.  It was a long glide home and I called Chipman Ground to let them know I was coming.  After I crossed the finish line I started to head north to use up my extra height and lengthen my triangle a bit.  To my surprise after flying in still air for a while I found a weak thermal just north of the field.  I took a few turns in it.  I only went 8km past the field but it made the task just a little bit bigger. 
In OLC distance I flew 813km, the declared triangle was 750.2km and the free triangle was 777.1km.  All are personal bests for me.  Duration was 8 hours 8 minutes. I beat my Canadian free triangle distance records from last year and also beat the club 750km & 500km speed triangle records and declared triangle distance.  I had attempted a 750km task a number of times in Australia; the closest attempt being 725km on course.  Now I can set my sights on something else.  Perhaps an out & return or a long downwind dash.
OLC Link

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

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Jan 24 to Feb 5 - Waipukurau & Kawhatau

For the past two weeks the Wellington Gliding Club participated in two gliding camps which I was invited to join in.  The first was an air cadet camp in Waipukurau.  We towed two DG1000's up from Paraparaumu, one in a trailer and one behind a towplane piloted by me.  Waipukurau is to the north-east of the north island and is shielded from rain by the mountain ranges making the weather much warmer and drier. On the Monday however, it did rain and we were forced to start Tuesday instead.  From then on the weather cooperated and my four students managed to fly around 9 times each; not enough to solo but enough to give them a good grasp of the basics.  Immediately after the camp I headed up to Kawhatau.  Kawhatau is just north of Palmerston North on the Ruahine ranges.  The camp is hosted by the Manawatu Gliding Club and we stayed in one of the member's family's farm house.  Named 'Te One' it is made of ancient native timber.  The airstrip is on the side of a hill and the runway has a slight downslope making landing interesting at times.  The Manawatu members were short of instructors so I was used in the backseat of their Twin Astir on occasion.  The club also had a nice looking Ka6CR that I had my eye on.  Both of my parents owned a Ka6CR and I have been interested in flying one of them for a long time.  I first had a quick flight at the end of a day in it and was the only one who managed to soar.  The light wing loading helped me squeeze the last of the dying thermals from the mountain tops.  The next day I rigged it in the morning and was invited to join a group of pilots down to the south end of the Ruahine range, a turnpoint named Wharite.  The group I went with consisted of a DG-200, 2x ASW-20 and an ASW-15 so I was quickly left behind.  The cloudbase got lower as the ridge got lower and the lift was not working as well after I turned the turnpoint.  I got a bit nervous at one stage but then connected with the Umutoi ridge and was back up to a comfortable height.  The Manawatu club was happy to see their Ka6CR flying cross-country as it has not done so much recently.  The camp ended with lots of rain but I really enjoyed the experience and the camaraderie after the flying.
Ka6CR flight on OLC

Soaring in New Zealand