The Winter of our Discontent
Open House April 3
From Our Remote Correspondent
The Winter of Our Discontent
But it is coming, the warm winds, the thermals, April 15th. (Dam! February makes me default to cold, unfeeling metaphors.) Real time soaring will be with us before you know it.
Not by choice but by necessity, this is going to be a rather slim newsletter. However this is but a lull before a large mass of information must be dissimulated to the membership. In every area of operations we face new procedures. Some of which haven't been worked out at this time. As one member wisely put it: "It'd be nice to have a clear fully understood group of rules BEFORE we start coming out en masse and fumbling about." Amen!
Bob Michael will be coming at us soon with new procedures from patterns to ground ops. Jim Kellett will be leading many sermons on these new commandments. Spencer Annear will have our towing methodology dispensed to all the towpilots. Bill Vickland will have a half-new and more powerful Pawnee purring in action and his plastic surgery on Ms Daisy will awe us all. Kevin Fleet has the facilities arranged to our needs and ground handling methods mostly worked out. Ralph Vawter will insure a cadre of well-informed Duty Officers to lead us in all the new considerations of operations at an entirely different airfield. John Lewis is exploring new members. The relentless quest by the Big Bee, Tony Bigbee will insure no date is left unnamed. And finally, the Club's "Ready Kilowat" Dave Brunner is making sure all battery ops fire up when needed. Incidently, our new tow vehicle is really something...to see Brunner chugging along on it will make grown men cry or wish for our old red "whatever" back-time stands still.
Obviously these guys have not been working in a vacuum. They've had a lot of help from a lot of dedicated members that will go unmentioned here for fear of leaving someone out and incurring another knot on the editor's head.
Because the flying season will be on us a lot faster than these
newsletters will, pay careful attention to your email as it remains the
fastest way to reach the majority of club members with this vital new
information. Don't have email? Tell you what I'm going to do, Bunky. I have
a Macintosh Centris 650 (500mb hard drive, 64mb ram) Apple 13" color
monitor and a SupraFax Modem 28,000 bps. It ain't going to set any speed
records but would make a good machine to get someone online. (Stop
laughing, Brunner!) Free to a good home...or even a bad one.
Open House April 3
There are some really interesting airplanes (and their owners/pilots) at Front Royal, so come on down to meet them and help share your own soaring experiences with them. Afterwards, you can test the Front Royal's culinary competition with New Market!!
Depending on the response to our offer for rides for these guests,
there might not be too much instruction given (or other member use of our
two place machines) that day, since we'd like to give priority to rides
for our new neighbors. And, who knows, maybe pick up a new member or
I could also tell he had flown this very flight before because the pilot approached him and, calling him by name, said, "Keith, we're in Sacramento for almost an hour. Would you like to get off and stretch your legs?" Keith replied, "No thanks, but maybe my dog would like to stretch his legs."
Picture this. All the people in the gate area came to a complete standstill when they looked up and saw the pilot walk off the plane with the Seeing Eye dog! The pilot was even wearing sunglasses.
People scattered. They not only tried to change planes, they also were
trying to change airlines!
From our remote correspondent ...
YES, We ARE having a wonderful time...
Lots of good seminars, good discussions about things and plenty of good ways to spend money (on soaring stuff of course). Karl Striedieck had a fascinating discussion on falconry, including a computer simulation on Dynamic Soaring-as demonstrated by the Condor lots of interesting "in flight" pictures of the real masters of the sky.
We also had a very good seminar on fixing dings in fiberglass Kellett's ding turned out very well, we all had two or three cracks and/or dings to repair with filler and gel-coat.
Bill Vickland had an appropriate comment that cross-country flying should only be done in ships of 30:1 (L/D) or greater we've had some fun with that "statement" (he was quoted out of context.-editor)
Members observed to be present
Pondering my first SAA Convention or all the news that
First came Dave Nadler's sessions on understanding (and maybe fixing) your Vario, it was OK but aimed at the person with the super-duper, super expensive rigs. The advice was basically that that Bill had given me earlier about securing plumbing, vacuum testing and so on. He skipped over the stuff that would have been valuable like the differences in transducer technology and so forth. Basically, if it was over 5 years old throw it away, its obsolete.
The next session was a presentation by Tom Knauff all I can say is the guy is a real pro, he had fascinating footage from the re-make of the "Thomas Crown Affair" as well as the original movie. At one stage the producers were willing to saw the wings of a Duo Discus in half in order to get the ground shots they wanted, and Knauff said they were willing to do it but for the fact that they couldn't get a new set of wings in time! Wait for the movie!!! (Hmm now if they offered us $40k they could saw the wings of 081 in half any day!!!!!)
The evening was followed by a great meal with most of the Skyliner's at the convention there-that remindsme Jim, I owe you for 1/2 a bottle of wine ) hic Note: I wouldn't like to get into an imbibing competition with that guy! Back to the Motel for a good nights sleep.
Next day began bright and early with the 1-26 breakfast, followed by Tilo Holinghouse on the design philosophies of Schempp-Hirth. One lasting memory will be of the Ventus pilot who got the landing a little wrong-he landed at 90 degrees to the runway, sliced off a wing, went through a fence and into the side of a parked Mercedes (I guess if you are going to get it wrong, get it wrong with STYLE). Guess what, he walked away and although the plane was totalled, the canopy only cracked and the pilot was protected by the "cell". Totalling a Ventus-that is a shame.
Chuck O'Mahony had some great tips on how to shoot a glider pilot, I thought I had to own at least a Glock, but he said a Nikon would do, and no, I didn't need to subscribe to Guns and Ammo or Trailer Weekly. I just needed a Polarizing Filter and some good slide film. Great presentation with some glorious pictures.
Dick Johnson gave a great presentation on sailplane test results and the way in which they measure flow and drag on wings. Bernd Scheffel showed off a new device called THEMI, which will basically get you into the core of a thermal by using a precise GPS, altimeter and a built in 32-bit microprocessor. The math is pretty straightforward and I have no doubts that it works, the display is simple and uses just 2 leds to tell you whether to turn, turn steeper or fly straight ahead. Hmm $850.
I also went to the Team USA presentation nuff said. Other highlights of the day were video presentations on the
Gossamer Albatross-the human powered plane that crossed the English Channel, and a video tracing an 1000km flight up the Appalachian Mountain range.
In the evening was a hands on practical workshop on repairing gel-coat. I must say that now I would feel happy at tackling small jobs provided I had the right materials and tools. This was a well attended session with 40 or 50 people all handling Bondo, Gel-Coat, Peroxide, Razor Blades, Gas Cylinders. We all got out in one piece-8:30pm, time for a meal and to crash.
Saturday-I spent the morning buying books and drooling over all the toys on display. The first session I went to was a great presentation on why we don't build sailplanes in the US. The "sweet spot" for glider purchases is around $32k and for that people would want a 40:1 equipped glass ship, for example a s/h LS4 (I think Joe thought the presenter was talking to him). Joe took more notes and I'm sure he can relay the stats better than me I hate stats.
Next came a presentation on Quetzalcoatlus Northroppi (QN) a pterosaur with a 36' wingspan and a glide ratio of 30:1, dammit, that's better than my 1-26!!! Still at least the 1-26 is not 65 million years old, well.. maybe The bones of this thing had to be seen to be believed! Interesting fact about the bones 1/16-1/8 wall thickness with internal braces that could relocate as the creature's body mass altered with diet. Later there was a video presentation on Paul MacCready's flying version, that man has achieved so much in the world of aviation.
Lunch time I got to see a bald eagle up close and personal (well 10 feet away) this on only had one wing, the other had been shot off some 16 years ago, well the great thing about this was that Osceola was taken up by his handler in a hang glider! The video footage was wonderful as the Eagle became airborne with a man ironic.
George Moffet gave a somewhat personal reflection on "Soaring as an Idea" followed by Michael Bird (a Brit with the pseudonym Platypus) who was side-splitting hilarious. I won't even try to recall his sense of humor-you had to have been there, as Jim K. said "Funnier than a rubber crutch".
One last drool over the gliders and the formal banquet and my first SSA convention was done. It was good to have a complete table and then some at the convention-food was OK (rubber chicken) and the speeches bearable, the company wonderful.
Journey back with Bob was fun, he got to play with his new GPS toys and software and his "cricket" (a matchbox sized audio-vario)-after about 200 miles of this thing chirping away as we went up and down the hills I was ready to throw it out of the window! I must admit it was amazing that it could detect the change in air pressure as we went up an incline. You could make it really sing by opening the car window and letting the air pressure drop.
So, what are my reflections? As somebody who makes use of technology every day in my work and sometimes play, I have a pang of regret that more and more technology is finding its way into the cockpit. I'm not envious of the guys who can put in $2000 instrument units or $3000 WinPilot packages in to help calculate their final glides. Technology can make gliding safer, the advent of GPS is undoubtedly good for the sport, but do we need moving maps? Should we rely on Motorola 32 Bit processors to tell us how to center a thermal? I am not a luddite, but I saw a bumper sticker that said "Gliding: Flight, Pure and Simple" that is what attracted me and what challenges me still. How far are we willing to let technology take over? Many of the sessions were aimed at the serious competition pilot, I felt there could have been more for the "average" club pilot. Basically guys, size does matter! The size of your wallet dictates the size of your wings and how long you can keep it up, and I'm not going to explore this analogy any further!
For those of you not there, I hope this gave you a sense of what it
was like, for those of you there fill in any gaps-I was told it was one of
the best SSA Conventions ever and I certainly enjoyed it.
Return of a L A D Y !
Below is a list of people who have expressed interest to me in the wave camp. If you feel I've left you off the list, please contact me.
Role Notes- Brunner: Will be there Ellis ? Fleet Ferry Kohudic Towing, Ferrying Parrish Return ferry? Vickland Will be there Zugel Ferry would like to participate.-Tony Bigbee firstname.lastname@example.org