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In This issue...

Technology Triumphs Again

Board Meeting

Surf's up...

The Flight

New Book by Bob Wander

Aloha, Rob Shallenberger

The Third Annual Petersburg Wave Camp...

Maintenance Report

Roster Changes

Address Book Changes

First Annual Guano [Removal] Award

Safety Video

Back Issues:
2002 20012000199919981997NovemberOctoberSeptemberAugustJulyJuneAprilMarchJanuary1996

March, 1997

Technology Triumphs... Again

If you haven't already had the pleasure, check out the club's great new web site at www.ssl.umd.edu/skyline. Building on the hard work of Piet Barber's original pages, David Weaver and Richard Freytag (with Joe Parrish guiding) have given us one heck of an functional & educational tool. Lisa Sergent's Roster page allows us to quickly upgrade duty allotments, there's a wonderful animated Weather page and the whole thing just sings...like Pavarotti...loud and clear!

Board Meeting

The Board met March 1 at New Market. They approved the purchase of a Delcolm 720 radio and tasked Bill Vickland with implementing the new radio and power source as well as consulting with Jim McCulley regarding a charging system.

Several changes to member status were approved. Changes in member definitions will be written into the Operations Manual by Joe Parrish and distributed at the next meeting for final review and approval. The general purpose of the revisions was described in a proposal by Jim Kellett, modified by discussions from the Board.

The Airport Status Committee will meet March 29 in Front Royal. The Board discussed many items from a Tow Rope Reel, a new Maintenance Manual, Tow Operations, Debt Restructure, and the challenges of of using email effectively in the conduct of club business as well as other relative subjects. A more thorough accounting of new directions will be discussed in President Rees' column in the next Skylines

Surf's up...

December's weather does not usually warm a glider pilot's heart. However, for those of us lucky enough to live downwind of a mountain range (and out of the snow belts), the late winter months offer the prospects of wave soaring. In my opinion, wave is one of the special treats of soaring. In an attempt to stimulate some interest for the Winter season, I offer the following account of my first real wave flight. It was made 8-9 years ago in the SGS 1-23 "Bluebird" (which graced the cover of a Spring, 1996 issue of Soaring) from Warrenton Soaring Center (sadly now defunct) about 25 miles SW of Dulles International Airport (IAD). While I have since made many other wave flights that reached higher altitude and covered much more territory, this flight is memorable because of the spectacular cloud formations and all the lessons I learned Also, perhaps like one's first love, one's first wave flight is not easily forgotten.

The Flight-

As often as possible, I watch the Weather Channel on Thursday and Friday night to get a general idea of the weekend's soaring possibilities. Normally December's forecast is not especially cheerful, but the forecast for Saturday, December 5 held unusual promise. An area of low pressure over Pennsylvania and a high in Georgia dominated the East Coast's weather map and were predicted to create a strong Northwest flow of air over the entire state of Virginia. Wave? Perhaps! Judging by the trees in my backyard, dawn arrived without much wind and I made little effort to get out of bed early. About 9:00 AM the trees were much more animated, so headed off to Warrenton Soaring Center about 60 miles North of my home in Charlottesville, Virginia.

There is a high point on the way out of Charlottesville that offers a 20-30 mile panorama of the Blue Ridge Mountains. That Saturday the scene was spectacular-excellent visibility and lenticular clouds lined up in rows downwind of the mountains for many miles. About 30 miles farther North, the lenticulars improved and as usual, I began to wish that I had gotten an earlier start. Naturally, this thought was subliminally transferred to my right foot and it was not very long before I was traveling along at a bit over the legal L/D, a bad move as the State Police were all over the road. However, I knew the day would turn out well when other motorists attracted all their attention. Upon arrival, I found that our SGS 1-23 was in use so I busied myself helping another pilot get ready to fly the 1-26. Soon Rich Matsko reappeared with the 1-23 and the first report on the wave. Large cloud decks marking the topof the rotor were beginning to cover much of the sky. However, Rich reported that the wave was piercing the clouds, accounting for the large rectangular holes running parallel to the mountains. Lift was weak below the holes but increased to 500-600 feet/minute in the area between the clouds. Rich beamed as he told of leaving strong lift at 11,000 feet to come home.

While we were gesticulating at the sky, the 1-26 took off into more than a little crosswind (like 20-25 kts). Interesting. During the wait for the next tow, I gathered up all my gear and started to get "fitted" into the sailplane. A cockpit that is normally a little crowded in a tee shirt and shorts becomes a real problem when dressed in pants that don't quite fit over my long underware, a ski parka, a WW-II oxygen mask complete with a 1 inch diameter hose long enough to get tangled in the harness and, of course, a ski hat that does not quite fit under the canopy. Naturally, my sunglasses don't fit too well over the oxygen mask (which doesn't quite fit either) and if I choose to exhale with any enthusiasm, the glasses fog from the leaks around the mask. However, soon the oxygen mask is tight enough, the system is tested, and I am "ready". My appearance causes a good deal of mirth among the line crew who say that I look like a WW-II fighter pilot. I feel a lot more like Dumbo, but smile and nod my oxygen hose in acknowledgement. The takeoff roll is normal except for the large crosswind and the turbulence is not too bad on the climb to 4000 feet AGL about 5 miles West of the field (about 20 miles downwind of the Mountains). I release when the vario is pinned at 1000 feet/minute up and sit back to enjoy the ride. The ride turns out to be pretty short as the only lift I find is a bit of rotor at 2000 feet ASL a bit West of the field. Twenty-five minutes after takeoff I am back on the ground with a total altitude gain of 0 feet! At least I got some experience with the shear and turbulence in the pattern.

After a short consultation with Rich Matsko about where the wave actually is, I get in position for a second try. I arrange to be towed to the front edge of one of the holes in the cloud deck and soon we are back at 4000 feet AGL a bit North the city of Warrenton. After release, about 200 feet/minute up appears on the vario and I explore a fairly large area of lift around the front of the closest hole. Soon I have gained about 1000 feet and I become aware that the holes are nowhere as "blue" as they appeared from the ground. The holes contain some wispy, scruffy little clouds that shift about between the solid walls of cloud caused by the rotor. Visibility deteriorates a little and at about 6000 feet ASL, I remind myself that I am not an IFR pilot, pull the spoilers and retreat below the cloud deck. I take a few breaths of oxygen and note that I have rejoined the lower world at about 4000 feet ASL about 1 mile Downwind of the Soaring Center. The wind is strong and very intent on blowing me farther Southeast, so I point the nose down and head West for the area of lift near the blue hole. As I sink to 3400 feet ASL, the lift reappears and I fly back to the edge of the hole. The lift increases to 300-400 feet/minute and soon I am back to 5000 feet ASL with a nice notch on my barograph trace (This isn't the method recommended in books, but a 2000 foot drop is easy to find on the trace). The Soaring Center's ASK-21 appears to my right and we porpoise above and below each other for a few minutes. Deciding to attack the hole again, I carefully note every possible visual reference before flying near each little puff of cloud and soon realize that there is always something visible to give a reliable attitude reference. I relax somewhat and quickly climb to about 7000 feet ASL. The scruffy little clouds are suddenly gone and I am surrounded by walls of brilliant white covered by an azure blue sky. Lift increases to 400-500 feet/minute as I climb to 8000 feet and break into an incredible world of pure white clouds and deep blue sky. While the scene is beautiful, I havene ver been above the clouds in a glider before and suddenly have a very strong feeling of having ventured somewhere that I did not belong. The feeling is intensified when I survey the plateau of clouds caused by the rotor. What if the hole below me closes ?? About this time the variometer really begins to sing as it indicates 700-800 feet/minute climb. Still very cautious about the "hole", I watch 9000 feet go by on the altimeter, decide that 10,000 feet ASL is a nice round number and pull the spoilers as soon as 10,000 feet is reached. I set up an 80 kt decent with full spoilers and drop through the hole with ease.

I return to the darker world below the rotor cloud and I am pleased to note that the cloud deck has lifted to 5500-6000 ASL. Even better, the hole has gotten bigger and I can now see a patch of sun on the ground about 6 miles West of my position and another about 6 miles East. The air is drying out and the wave seems to be setting up with a period of about 6 miles. The second trip into the hole (and Back) has quelled a few demons and I begin to appreciate the experience. I wiggle my toes a few times to be sure they are still there, take careful bearings on ground features around the edges of the hole and head back into the lift without much hesitation. The plan is to stop the ascent if two of my four reference points become obscured. Soon I am back above the rotor cloud at about 7500 feet ASL. I relax a bit and begin to appreciate the beauty all around me. As the sun breaks over the cloud behind my left shoulder, it illuminates all of the variations in the surface of the one in front of me. The wind is carving groves in the surface making it appear like wind blown snow in the high mountains. Below me, the sun illuminates what is left of the scud and causes little rainbows around the clouds at certain angles to my position. As I gain height, the rainbows change and provide a kaleidoscope effect for about 2000 feet of the climb. Fine ice crystals are being driven from some of the clouds by the wind and they are illuminated by the sun as if they were under a strobe light. Fascinating and beautiful. The lift is strong and smooth as ever as the altimeter passes through 10,000 feet. I am happy to note that the hole is still getting bigger and my landmarks remain clearly visible. I relax even more and begin to hold the oxygen mask to my face with my left hand to be sure that I am receiving the flow that the blinker indicates.

As 13,000 and then 14,000 feet appear on the altimeter, the world is spread out below me as if I was suspended above a huge lumpy white carpet. Off to my right, two large lenticular clouds are suspended well above the cloud deck like sirens beckoning one to venture somewhere Northwest of Dulles Airport. Surprisingly, no lennies are visible in other quadrants. Manassas, Virginia looks very small down below my right wing and the scud in the hole clears completely allowing a good view of the ground directly below me. As I near 15,000 feet, the rate of climb slows and a check of the thermometer shows that the outside temperature is hovering near -5 F. My feet are not appreciating the view quite as much as my brain so I begin to wiggle them as much as possible. Well below me, a twin engined commuter plane passes across the hole under the cloud deck and I laugh quietly at the thought of the incredible power of the atmosphere that its passengers (and possibly its pilots) are missing. No one in the commuter plane is likely to be very happy as they get bumped against their seat belts. The observation of the commuter traffic so far below me injects a note of reality onto the scene and I realize that I could be 10,000 feet above him. This thought re-kindles apprehension that the hole could still close and although there are many other holes visible from 15,000 feet, I do not want to enter a hole in the cloud deck over unfamiliar territory. Therefore, after a final look around, I open the spoilers and set up another 80 kt decent, easily dropping through the hole about 10 minutes later.

My relaxed state is short lived as I try to close the spoilers and find that my left arm is not up to the job. The SGS 1-23's spoilers are not easy to close at high speeds (a safety feature) but this time it is a bit much. I slow to about 50 kts and manage to ease them closed. Seems that the lubricant has gotten a bit hard during the time that I was gawking about at 15,000 feet. Got to remember to bring the WD-40 to the Petersburg, West Virginia wave camp !! With the spoilers finally closed, I cruise over to the field at 70 kts and arrive home about 5000 feet ASL and burn off the excess altitude by flying around the West end of the field at 70-80 kts. Soon I drop to 1500 feet ASL and fly a short, fast pattern landing about 2 hours after takeoff. The barograph trace is good, showing a low point of 3200 feet ASL and a high point of 14,700 feet ASL, a total gain of 11,500 feet. All in all, a memorable and instructive flight. -Jim Garrison ASW-19B - "Alpha Echo" jcg8w@virginia.edu

New Book by Bob Wander - Badge Soaring: The Bronze Badge... Made Easy!

Badge Soaring: The Bronze Badge . . . Made Easy! Book Nine in the Gliding...Made Easy series. Everything you need to know to earn the Bronze Soaring Badge. Includes comprehensive, 101-question practice examination to prepare you for the Bronze Badge Written Examination. Unique checklist makes recordkeeping a snap. Nothing else like it in print. $9.95 Available in the U.S. from: Soaring Books & Supplies (800) 660-0238 and fromSSA Merchandise Department, (505) 392-1177-Posted by Bob Wander, soarbooks@aol.com

Aloha, Rob Shallenberger

No I haven't fallen off the face of the earth, but I'm about to. It's all been tentative to this point, but now its firm....I'm heading off to Midway Atoll. It's a far cry from the Beltway, but just a perfect opportunity for this "wildlife nut" to get back into some field work. Management of the Atoll has transferred from the Navy to the Fish and Wildlife Service as a national wildlife refuge. We've already begun to invite "ecotourists" to visit the atoll to enjoy the gooney birds and other wildlife. Others are attracted by the deep sea fishing and diving opportunities. I'll be the refuge manager at Midway, although my wife is already referring to me as the "mayor." The job shift will give us a chance to move back to the Islands (she was born on the Big Island), where we will almost certainly retire.

I have only a few reasons why I regret leaving DC, but the soaring (and towing) is at the top of the list. Its been great fun getting to know all of you and chase thermals in the ASK. The thermal I shared with Kellett, an eagle and a gaggle of turkey vultures was surely the highlight. I'll probably be back in town from time to time and will try to fit in a trip to Newmarket when I can. For the time being, I'm up to my eyeballs packing, wrapping up my present job and preparing for the next. I leave town on the 19th of March.

If I don't make it out to the field before then, this note will have to do for an "aloha." Perhaps we can poke some holes in the sky together at Dillingham Field on Oahu. We're trying to set up a satellite modem for email on Midway, but for now only surface mail will do :

Midway Atoll NWR,
P.O. Box 4,
Midway Island,
FPO, AP 96516

The Third Annual Petersburg Wave Camp...

The third annual Petersburg Wave Camp... was held on February 15-23, 1997 at the Grant County Airport. This year, we co-sponsored the camp with the Mid-Atlantic Soaring Association (M-ASA) and the Shenandoah Valley Soaring Club (SVSC), as well as advertising the camp on the Internet and by word-of-mouth. This advertising led to participation by three pilots from the Illini Glider Club, who brought a freshly restored 1-26 all the way from Champaign, IL. We had a total of 24 participants and made approximately 60 tows.

Jim Kellett, Bill Vickland, and John Ayers cooperated to ferry the Pawnee out to W99 on Feb. 13, in advance of a storm that dumped several inches of snow in the Washington, DC area. Fortunately, the snow was quickly cleared, allowing Fred Winter to trailer the ASK-21 to Petersburg on Feb. 14, and Kevin Fleet trailered the 1-36 out the following day. Tim James, Lisa Sergent, Fred Daams, Al Dresner, and Gary Rubus (with wife Karen and daughter Lindsay) also reported in. (Lisa was sporting an enormous rock on her ring finger; apparently Tim has recognized the value of a two-pilot family. Congratulations Tim and Lisa!) After reports of extensive flooding in 1996, I was somewhat concerned about the condition of the airport. Those concerns were unwarranted as we found the field and buildings to be in excellent condition; Jean has done a magnificent job of pulling the airport back into shape. We were lucky to find a few vacant hangar slots to house the Pawnee and the 1-36. The first weekend was devoted mostly to field checkout flights, but Jim Kellett, Gary Rubus, Kevin Fleet, and Fred Daams all had good flights in thermals and rotor. Tim James got his first taste of wave in a flight to 7000 MSL with Fred Daams in the Lark. Jay Dickhoff delivered the M-ASA oxygen system and his DG-202, co-owned with fellow wave camp participants Tom Jones and Bob Ball.

After the first weekend, folks started to drift away and the weather became frustratingly benign. We looked for northwest winds of greater than 25 knots at the top of the ridge, but the winds were either southwesterly, too light, or both for most of the week. Our friends from Illinois, Mattia Filiaci, Phil Martin, and Roberto Barreiro were thrilled just to fly in terrain with some vertical component. M-ASA member Ebe Hassl also brought his ASW-19 out; clearly, the memories of his wild tow from last year had faded.

As the weekend approached, wave conditions started to improve. Spencer Annear came out to tow on Friday. It was an unusual day, with wave setting up in southwesterly winds. We had a couple of flights in wave, with Tom Jones reaching 11,000 MSL in his DG-202. We also had a low release (300 AGL) in turbulence, and decided to call it a day. The winds on Saturday, Feb. 22 were northwesterly and at a sufficient speed to induce wave, but a broken-overcast cloud deck at 6500 MSL limited our ability to contact the wave. Fred Daams and Jim Garrison made a wise decision to not climb through a small hole in the overcast, although they did sense that wave was working above the cloud deck. Shane Neitzey made it out just in time to get the requisite three flights in for his BFR.

Sunday the 23rd turned out to be the best day. We had several nice flights in wave, rotor, and thermal. Notable among these are Jim Garrison's 3+ hour flight in his ASW-19, Tom Jones' flight to 14,500 MSL in his DG-202, Fred Winter's flight to 13,000 MSL over the power plant, Fred Daams' shorter and lower flight in his Lark-culminating in an outlanding in an almost-too-short field, and Jim Kellett's downwind dash to New Market from 14,500 MSL over Petersburg, losing only 3,500 feet on the way! (Some folks will do anything to avoid disassembling their glider. Bob and Tracy Collier were left behind as crew.) When we finally left at 4PM, Bob Ball was climbing through 12,000 MSL in his DG-202. It was nice to end the camp on such a positive note.

I am pleased to report that we had an excellent safety record this year. We had one gear up landing--in the grass, with essentially no damage done to the glider. The circumstances serve as an excellent case study of pilot distraction. The pilot completed his pre-landing checklist (which included lowering the gear) and entered the pattern. In order to extend his pattern to accommodate another aircraft on the runway, he cleaned up the glider (raising the gear, resetting the flaps to cruise setting, etc.), and then completed the landing and short "rollout". He said that he went through the pre-landing checklist after resuming his pattern, but that he really just said the words without doing the actions. A valuable lesson was learned with little damage, except for the pilot's pride.

Each year's wave camp brings different conditions, but one constant is that good pilot judgment is essential to safety. The decision to not fly can be a difficult one, particularly when badge legs are beckoning.I was very impressed with one pilot who decided not to launch when "things just didn't feel right". Most safety-related issues were resolved with a simple word to the pilot; occasionally the entire group was convened for an impromptu safety briefing. The emphasis was on prevention rather than cure.

We are contemplating moving the wave camp to a more opportune time of year It is thought that March may offer more consistent wind direction and velocity (not to mention generally warmer temperatures). I plan to review climactic data for the past few years to determine the optimal time of year. Stay tuned for further reports.-Joe Parrish

Maintenance Report

At Petersburg, Gary Rubus noticed that fuel was spraying from the left fuel tank filler pipe. On tow, Kevin could actually see the fuel spray. Both tanks showed evidence of fuel stains beginning at the filler cap and extending down and inboard. We were losing about two gallons per flying hour.

I removed the tank cover and determined that leakage was in fact occurring from the filler pipe, but not at the cap. The tank has a filler tube welded to the tank structure, but has an additional piece of tubing that is riveted into the tank tube and receives the cap. The latter is the section of tubing that the cap locks onto. Fuel was obviously being sucked out of the tank thru the minimal clearance between the two sections of 2 inch tubing. They had previously been sealed with what looked like gasket cement, but which had deteriorated.

I cleaned the contact points with lacquer thinner and MEK and attempted to seal the two sections again using a gasolene tank repair compound. In order to get it down into the small gap between the filler tube and cap receiver, I mixed some of the leak repair compound with MEK to create a slurry, and then treated the joint on both tanks with the slurry. After that dried, I treated the joints with the leak repair compound.

I am hopeful, but I am not sure, that the seal will work. I am asking all tow pilots to be aware of the problem, to watch for any sign of leakage. either in the form of the spray coming out of the tank area, or the stain that sweeps down to the trailing edge of the wing. Glider pilots should also look for the spray on tow which is more visible to them that to the tow pilot. Any evidence of leakage should be reported immediately, and the tanks should not be filled at the end of the day on either Saturday or Sunday. If this fix does not work we have the option of either welding the filler tube pieces together, or removing the rivets and inserting some kind of sealing compound. Both will require near empty tanks. In either case, I should be advised whether or not leakage is detected.

- Bill Vickland

Roster Changes

A few small changes to the duty roster -Vawter is now scheduled as DO for March 15th, and Popp is scheduled for the 16th. Dave Weaver will be the ADO on 2 March and Richard Freytag will be the ADO on 23 March. (These changes already incorporated into the on-line roster).

Address Book Changes

Malcolm J. Gardner's new email address is: gardner@tigr.org.-Work Phone: (301)-838-3519. Also, Curtis Phillips can be reached by email at cphillip@vt.edu. Drop him a note. He's probably stir-crazy in Blacksburg.

First Annual Guano [Removal] Award

This year's award goes to Tim James and Lisa Sergent (listed in alphabetical order) for action above and beyond.

Safety Video

The safety video is at the field on the left of the top shelf of the brown supply cabinet in the Pawnee hangar. Viewing equipment is available in the office. If you missed the Safety Meeting, please be sure to review the film before you fly the first time.