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Real post for today. - Tina Marie's Ramblings
Red hair and black leather, my favorite colour scheme...
Real post for today.
I'm starting to grok soaring.

My first flight in a glider was 2.2 hours in a DG-505. I enjoyed flying on tow, but the rest of the flight, quite honestly, I could have done without. After the first 15 minutes, I was exhausted, vaguely seasick (and I know now it was probably because the pilot wasn't flying coordinated), hot, and I just wanted to be on the ground.

I came out of that flight with a burning desire to fly on tow, and a desire never to set foot in a glider again. So I joined the club, took just enough glider lessons to get my tow endorsement, climbed in the towplane, and never looked back.

In order to keep my tow endorsement current, every year I need to either perform 3 "simulated glider tows" with an instructor, or do 3 solo flights in a glider. All the club towplanes are single-seaters, so I had to renew this every year with Michael in the Tripacer, and it was getting to be a hassle. So last spring, I figured I'd solo in a glider, so I could keep my endorsement current on my own.

After trying out a few gliders, I settled into a Grob 103. I soloed in a few flights, made 2 of my required 3 solo trips, and still didn't really have any desire to fly gliders.

Then I did my 3rd solo - it was a great day, and 100 hours in towplanes had taught me to find thermals. I got off tow at 3000 ft, scratched around for a while, then found lift and climbed. I went up and down between 2500 and 4500 ft for the rest of an hour, until I got a radio call telling me that the next student was waiting, and would I please return the glider?

I had to admit that had been somewhat cool, so the next weekend I did another solo flight - another hour, this one from 2000, and I was at 5200ft when I got that same radio call. At this point, I'd have to admit that soaring seemed like an okay way to spend an afternoon, and I started getting serious about getting the license. I finished the required solo flights, transitioned into the Blanik L-23 (the Grob really wasn't supposed to be lifting both me and an instructor), and got my signoff last weekend to take the checkride on May 1st.

This past weekend, I took our Blanik L-23 up for some pre-checkride practice. It's much lower performance and harder to soar then the Grob, but I managed half an hour off my first tow and 41 minutes on my second, when once again I got the call to bring back the ship.

Anyway, on the first flight, I was puttering around at 1300 ft, right next to the field, in this little patch of zero sink. Every once in a while I'd hit a bit of lift and go up 50 ft, and every once in a while I'd blunder out of it and lose 50 ft. I couldn't go look for anything better, because I was too low to leave the vicinity of the field, but I hated to land while I could still stay up.

So I circled a few more times, then this thought popped into my head: "You can't spend your life in zero sink". And I realized that, truly, that was the way I run my life - sometimes I find lift, sometimes I get stuck in sink - but I never just sit there and circle and stay at one altitude.

I turned, entered the traffic pattern, landed, and got another tow.

Current Mood: lazy lazy

2 comments or Leave a comment
acelightning From: acelightning Date: April 20th, 2004 03:56 am (UTC) (Link)
even though i've never managed to actually get any kind of flying license, i've always wanted to try my hand with all sorts of aircraft. by the time i was in my late teens, i'd managed several different types of small planes and an old Air Force B-24 simulator, but i hadn't gotten around to jets, helicopters, or any kind of unpowered flight.

i have a first cousin who is half a year younger than i am. we both spent our summers at the extended family's "summer cottage" on a small lake in central New Hampshire. we'd wind up doing stuff together simply because there was no one else our age around. by the time of this story, though, she and i were both in college. i was in a no-name college on Long Island, but she was going to Wellesley! this time, she'd brought four of her friends from Wellesley to the cottage for a week, and they were all going to go horseback riding for the day. i have never learned how to ride a horse, and never wanted to. they were so sorry for the poor dork who couldn't come with them, and would have to spend the day with the old folks!

my father and i went into town, just for something to do, and on the way i noticed several gliders in the air over the mountains. we went into the local drugstore (soda fountain, general store, gossip central, etc.) and asked about it. "there's some kind of glider meet or something going on down at the airstrip behind the motel," we were told. this was a private strip belonging to the motel. we went there, and sure enough, there was a glider meet going on. they had two tow planes, and people were competing for altitude, time, and distance records for the day. other glider pilots were taking people for rides - for a fee, of course. well, i had no money, but it was fun to stand around and watch, and talk to people.

then i struck up a conversation with an old guy with a German accent. he wasn't competing in the meet; he was just taking advantage of the availability of the tow planes. when we'd chatted a bit, he seemed pleased with my meager aviation background (the Civil Air Patrol, mostly), and... he offered to take me up!

so he strapped me in, explained a few things to me, and then we were being towed into the air. and then we were flying by ourselves. it felt... very different. not at all like what i'd expected. the rush of air was surprisingly loud. he caught an updraft and flew around for a while, explaining as we went along. then he asked me if i wanted to take the stick! of course, i did. again, it felt very different from powered flight. i tried a few cautious maneuvers, and he corrected me on my most flagrant errors, and i just kind of flew around for a few minutes. eventually, of course, he took the stick back and flew us back to the airstrip and landed. my father was waiting for me, grinning from ear to ear - probably matching my own grin ;-)

so we went back to the cottage, and after a while my cousin and the other girls came back, all twittering about their equestrian adventures. finally, when they wound down a bit, my cousin remembered her manners enough to ask, "and what did you do today?" i smiled sweetly and said, "oh, i flew a glider..."

the looks on their faces were priceless ;-)

alioth1 From: alioth1 Date: April 20th, 2004 12:44 pm (UTC) (Link)


If Mike ever gets around to fixing his Ka-8, try and get to fly it.

It stalls at 28 knots. You can easily soar with hawks in a Ka-8. (Or seagulls if you live where I do).
2 comments or Leave a comment