Dylan's Flying Page

Session 12

WHEN     : Tuesday 4th July 2000
WHAT     : ...But Weasels Don't Get Sucked Into Jet Engines
WHO      : 2 solo flights.
HOW LONG : 56 minutes in 2 flights

  Since the glider club was operating on the 4th, I thought it would be great to try and repeat Sunday's performance and make another long soaring flight! The flight up to the club in the C140 indicated that I may be in for success. In fact, I discovered that people had already been staying up.

  It was very busy. The staging area was full of gliders, so I passed the time by cleaning off the Grob's canopy. Eventually, I was number 1 for the towplane, and I took a tow to 2,000' AGL. After release, I flew over the field in the direction of a nice looking cloud that just had to have a good thermal underneath of it. I was right - I rode this one up to 4,000' AGL. At this point, I found I was hardly climbing. The thermal was getting pretty weak.

  Well, now I had lots of altitude, so I could go thermal hunting. However, as soon as I left the cloud, I hit strong sink so suddenly I nearly became intimate with the canopy! The vario pegged at 10 knots down, so I shoved the nose down to pick up 75 knots to penetrate this seeming crater in the sky. My flight profile had now turned from that of a graceful, soaring eagle to that of a plummeting weasel...

  I eventually found some dismally poor lift, after losing over 2,000 feet. I was now in the region of the IP for the pattern back to the glider port. The lift soon petered out, and further attempts to find lift were rewarded with 6 to 10 knots down in strong and turbulent sink. I was soon forced back to the glider club. About five other gliders landed within two minutes of my landing. Everyone else was encountering the strong sink.

  This would cut my time drastically. Even if I found lift, someone else had the glider soon, and now I would have to wait for another tow! One glider was in front of me, so I helped launch. I then got strapped in and waited for the towplane.

  The tow back up to 2,000 feet was extremely rough. I didn't have a very good feeling about my chances of staying up for the 25 or so minutes I had left before I had to return so the next person could take the Grob. However, the tow plane had me in some lift at release altitude, which was great! I released, and scratched around in this lift for a few minutes, but it soon petered out after I only gained 300 feet. I saw a nice looking cloud to the west and went for it. However, once again, I was in 6 to 10 knot down sink, and had to turn around before I even got to the cloud. It didn't look great either when I turned towards the glider club. At the rate I was going down, it looked like I would end up landing in a field about a mile away from the club!

  Fortunately, the Grob penetrated the heavy sink and I entered an area of calm air, neither sinking nor rising. I could return and land, even though it would be only a short flight. However - I found some lift! There was no cloud over it - it was just some lift in the middle of nowhere. Two hawks even joined me as I began to circle. I had to circle slow and tight to remain in the confines of the narrow column of rising air. It wasn't very strong, but I gained about 1,200 feet, and it kept me up until my time was up!

  Today was a bit of a learning experience. I'd never encountered sink that was so strong that it made the Grob perform like the Cessna 140 with the engine pulled to idle in a maximum effort forward slip!

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