April 14 – 15: Promising Saturday but nothing on Sunday

The forecasts for Saturday were good and flying started at 9 am – truly a record.  There were many students determined to fly with Cathy, Glenn and Dave. Keith got his solo in the ASK 21 ( congrats!! ) and got a few more flights in.  But strong winds shut down club glider operations at 1 pm.  However private ships kept flying till 3: 30 pm, struggling to find lift, and challenged by the winds on landing.  It was a good day to practice crosswind landings and keep the gliders from weathervaning into the wind.  In all, 25 flights – pretty good!

Sunday was a bust – overcast and wet.

April 11: Great impromptu day for soaring and “near wave”

There was excitement on Monday when Paul, Glenn, Bill and others looked at the weather forecast.  Glenn had the benefit of the super duper GOES II satellite pictures. Bill and Michael C-W offered to tow. However when we arrived at the field on Wed morning the sky was overcast, contrary to the forecasts, Bill K. was having second thoughts about assembling the Discus, and everyone was wondering if the weather gods were playing a trick on us. Michael had a couple of routine check rides with Paul and they reported some lift over the ski hill.
By 1:30 pm the cloud cover had drifted south and revealed blue skies, wave clouds and some cloud streets.  Nirmal released in strong lift in M2 and found he and Paul could keep going.  They were spiraling up in 8-10 knots lift, with steep turns to stay centered.  They climbed to almost 7000 ft near Thurmont ( carefully avoiding P-40).

 

Andreas got the word and decided to assemble his glider, and launch. He found good lift of about 4 to 5 knots under the wave band (rotor cloud) which had developed and decided to try to do some distance.  He went North following the wave band and almost reached Carlisle, staying between 5.000 and 7.000 ft altitude.  He played around at the upwind edge of the wave band but could not make it into the real wave.  He then followed the same wave band back south and landed after 2 hours 15 minutes of flight.

Meanwhile Paul went up again, this time with Dave soon after Andreas’s launch. By now, the bars were stretched as far as their eyes could see in every direction. They surfed under the leading edge of one bar and located some gentle areas of lift and began a slow climb up eventually to 9K. They think they actually contacted the wave lift at about 7K but could not go above 9.2K because their bar and the bar behind them filled in.

Everyone came down happy after a great day in the air with a mix of everything in the area going up at some point or another. “Just a stunningly beautiful day to be alive and in the air!” said Paul.

April 7 – 8: Started blah, ended good

Saturday was an unremarkable day, or as they say, a training day.  It was overcast and no one wanted to get their private ships assembled.  There were 10 flights in all on M1, all with pilots who wanted to get trained or checked out on the ASK 21. Operations ended by 3 pm.

Sunday was better. According to Andreas the OD, it was a sunny but somewhat chilly day out on the flight line, with the wind blowing at about 10 to 15 knots. It was another good training day with 15 flights on our K21s, and 2 in private ships. Dave M had the longest flight with almost 2.5 hours in his Libelle and came back a happy man.

Noteworthy was the incredibly strong lift with sometimes 10 ft/sec between 5 and 6 PM.  It was hard to come down, even with full dive brakes.

 

Mar 31 – April 1 – A lot of pilots with cabin fever and high hopes

Who would have thought so many people wanted to fly over the Easter Weekend.  But our members and some intro rides showed up on Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday was busy.  The skies were blue and there were a  few lennies in the sky.  It was chilly in the morning, but temps peaked at 50 F. Many private gliders came out of their trailers, as well as the club 2 seat trainers the new ASK 21s. They looked spiffy with the new competition letters M1 and M2.  Their radio calls said Mike One and Mike Two, but who would fault someone for calling out MASA One or MASA Two instead?

There was optimism, Tom had his oxygen hooked up and he dressed for cold conditions. 

We had 27 flights, and at one point there were 2 tow planes trying to clear the backlogged flight line.  We could have had more flights but we were restricted to the hard surface runway because of the soggy condition of the grass runways.

  Danny and Tom were a statistical tie for the longest flights of 3 hours.  There were good thermals and many gliders reached 6,800 ft.  Landings were a bit of challenge with a strong tail wind and quartering gusts.  Pilots struggled for rudder and aileron control as their ships slowed down on the runway and weathervaned into wind before coming to a stop.  Many were humbled, some of us muttered about conditions, and  a few spent time clearing mud from their wheels when they strayed off the runway.  But in the end everyone was happy.

 

Sunday April 1 was not that busy.  Maybe because it was Easter Sunday, but more likely because it was not a good soaring day.  However we had a bunch of training flights and a few introductory rides.

March was a good flying month!

 

March 24 – 25: Could have been better but we still flew

After 13 inches of snow during the week, everything was white.  You could not make out the taxiways and the runway. But the warming caused the snow to melt and by the weekend the paved surfaces ( taxiway and 33C ) were clear but there was still 4-5 inches of snow on the grass.  No glider flew on Saturday.

On Sunday the thaw continued so the decision was made to fly.  9 training flights on the ASK 21s and one private flight.  The day was called at 3 pm. Thanks go to the flight line crew who had to trudge to mud and snow to move the equipment around.

 

March 17-18 – First official weekend of soaring was a success

We had 30 plus flights this this first weekend of the official flying season.  Saturday was mostly a training day with broken wave.  Sunday was huge.  Cathy found wave in LBL just a couple of miles away and went up to 11,000 ft.  She loved it so much that she remained up till after 6 pm.  But when you come down that late, where is all the help you need to disassemble the glider? We figured something out.

There were many training flights including spin training with Willie.  First Willie and Paul went up for spin training, but got distracted because they found wave.  Then Jeff and Willie for some real spins, stomach churning to watch from the ground, but Jeff landed with a smile on his face.

Many privates went up Danny in P6, Dave in the Libelle, Ricardo, Nirmal,  Bill  – and they stayed up.  Tom Jones and Grif had a great flight in the Janus. Clear skies with a lot of good lift made Sunday a gorgeous soaring day!!

March 16 – The pre-season opener was a blast, Dave and Mike stayed in the wave

Two very brave ( some would say crazy) pilots decided to try and catch some wave from our airfield on Friday, the day before the official start of M-AS’s flying season.  They flew 400 km (250 miles) in 6 hours.  Mike’s report and pictures:

Bob towed us at 0930 (thanks, Bob). 

Note – no other humans around – unassisted TO

We delayed the launch for about an hour to watch the weather and let snow showers pass (a quarter inch of snow fell and painted the runway white at 0700, and melted by take off).  Winds on take off were high but just within club limits.  Wave looked good early but even with our 5500′ tow we couldn’t connect near Fairfield so dove down on the High Rock Ridge, and headed down to I-70 looking for a good wave entry point.  The thermals were torn up, which delayed our climb into wave for about 2 hours.  Finally, connecting with wave near Hagerstown, we spent over an hour cruising down and back up the valley, and then penetrated upwind and flew the full Tuscarora Ridge, first up to Thompsontown, and then down to Lockings.  Finally, we thermalled off the ridge near McConnellsburg to about 5000′  and crossed the valley to come back home.

 Over Tuscarora Ridge

Climbing though 10K

Panorama from the back seat

Summary:  Dave and I are really pleased with how the K21 performed on the ridge and in the wave.  The upwind penetration performance is good (we made several upwind wave jumps, and the Honey Grove ridge transition without trouble)… not like a modern racing glider, but certainly good enough for long wave and ridge flights.   And after 6 hours in the cockpit, was very comfortable, too.   I look forward to more long cross country flights in our K21s, and Dave is tuned-up for the Nationals contest at Mifflin in May.

Triumphant return. Dave is to be complimented on his fashion sense – function over form.  He assures he did not get the orange overalls from a prison, but from a “outdoor store”.  Makes him easier to spot during a land out.  Dave added:

It was very cold at altitude.  I asked Mike to fly when I couldn’t keep my feet on the metal rudder pedals any longer for fear of frostbite.

Now that is dedication!  Thank you for inspiring us and taking us along for the ride.

March 10 – 11: The excitement builds – spring is almost here and it was a great weekend for flying

After the Annual Safety meeting, members headed out to the airfield.  Danny assembled P6 and went crazy in the skies.  He was relaying thermal and lift reports to everyone who who would listen, as he sailed around  the environs. The weather was a bit sporty at times, but quite manageable. Meanwhile on the ground, students continued with their training, and flights in the ASK 21s.  Yet other members pulled out their gliders to inspect them, clean them and lube them.  Thanks to Bill and Mike for towing.

On Sunday the ASK 21 students were out again, as well as pilots who just wanted to soar!  The conditions were perfect, not too cold, with the thermals getting stronger in the afternoon over the ski hill and the Fairfield quarry and school track.  There were  cloud streets at 4000 ft for the ride to Gettysburg and beyond. Peter was up for an hour in one of the ASK 21s, Nirmal and Bill assembled JF and cruised around the skies, clearing off the winter rust.  Thanks to Kent for towing.

No animals were scared in operations this weekend.  But some visitors who had stopped by out of curiosity were thrilled when they got rides.

All the gliders are ready for the official start of the flying season on March 17 – they are inspected, annualled and washed, thanks to all the godfathers and club members who showed to help this weekend.

March 4 – As wild as they come, with a few horses for good measure

Many members showed up at the field in the hopes of good lift.  The field was wet and soggy in places – not the best for landing in the grass.  And the wind was whipping around in all directions.  Many chickened out and one chose to fly RC instead.  3 flights in all and they called it a day.

Some neighhhbourly horses stopped by for some hay and after watching the towplane retreated to the the camper area until their owners came by to take them home.