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In This issue...

A Curmudgeon's Perspective--

Sobering footnote to the proceeding message...

Meet the Members

(Dick Otis)

(Bill Bentley)


Cross Country 101

My first Outlanding...

True Confessions

Doesn't fly much but still gets around

Log This...

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June, 1999

A Curmudgeon's Perspective--
You close the door, buckle up, turn the key. You are thinking "Gotta remember the dry cleaning". Or maybe, "That rattle is getting worse." You are not thinking, "I am driving a metal and plastic Vehicle of Death!"

-- But changing things, safety experts say, is not just a matter of brushing up on parallel parking and the protocol of four-way stop signs. A national mind-set must be retooled.

-- "We have to quit talking so much about our rights and start talking about our responsibilities"

-- We look at the whole way society views the licensing and accountability system, and it doesn't necessarily promote safe driving."

-- What people need is practice in disaster, she says. They need to go into a deliberate skid, as she has her students do, learn what it feels like and how to get out of it

-- . Without that knowledge - without a little fear - nothing will change."
-Article on Auto Safety, Washington Post Magazine, December 13, 1998 page 12:

You close the canopy, buckle up, run the checklist. You are thinking "Gotta remember the soaring forecast". Or maybe, "That rattle is getting worse." You are not thinking, "I am flying a metal and plastic Vehicle of Death!"

-- But changing things, safety experts say, is not just a matter of brushing up on spot landings and the protocol of right-of-way. A national mind-set must be retooled.

-- "We have to quit talking so much about our rights and start talking about our responsibilities"

-- We look at the whole way society views the licensing and accountability system, and it doesn't necessarily promote safe soaring."

-- What people need is practice in disaster, [he] says. They need to go into a deliberate skid, as [he] has her students do, learn what it feels like and how to get out of it

-- . Without that knowledge - without a little fear - nothing will change."

Occasionally, you hear anecdotes, stories, and comments about instruction and safety that tend to make an argument that ANY error by a student pilot (and, like Joe Parrish says, we are ALL be student pilots!) is evidence of his/her unfitness to fly. Yet, the most valuable learning experiences we all have are those in which we make errors!! To be good pilots, we really do need "practice in disaster" - that is, we need the experience of approaching dangerous situations in tiny and controlled steps, but with enough leeway to actually see and feel the results of our error to the maximum extent possible without actually doing harm. If we never, ever get into "dangerous" situations, we never, ever develop any real ability whatsoever to survive them!! The trick is to get the experience without the harm, to recognize the significance of the disaster, and learn how to get out of it!

And this learning must be a lifelong commitment, not just something for "beginning" pilots. Assuming that once a pilot has a (Bronze Badge) (Private Pilot License) (Flight Instructor rating) he/she is now "safe" is an assumption that can kill you. That's another good reason for the Biennial Flight Review. Every two years, you get a chance to tell your instructor where you'd like to be challenged by pushing into an area of flight that is "practice in disaster". (Remember, a BFR is not a test! Make them work for you!) Finally, a rant on responsibility. No one - not the FAA, not the Club, not the instructor - can shoulder the responsibility that you have to exercise in the cockpit. And while a smart pilot follows the rules, a wise one understands them.

At your next BFR, or field check, or periodic solo revalidation, take the opportunity to stretch your skills with an instructor and get some "practice in disaster".
-Jim Kellett

Sobering footnote to the proceeding message...
On Saturday, May 1 at approximately 13:30 EST a mid-air collision occurred between a tow plane and a 2-place glider, in the vicinity of Philadelphia Glider Council (PGC) in Hilltown, PA. The tow pilot and both occupants of the glider were killed.

The tow plane was on departure from runway 09 with a PW-5 in tow. At an altitude of approximately 1500 ft. AGL, the Cessna L-19 tow plane and a Grob103, with an in instructor and another licensed pilot on board, collided.

The pilot of the PW-5 on tow released seconds before the collision and landed safely at PGC.

The tow pilot was Joe Agostini of Upper Darby, PA. The two pilots aboard the glider were Jerry Goff, of Doylestown, PA and Frank McKeirnan of Philadelphia.

The accident is currently under investigation by the FAA and the NTSB.

The PGC "family" is stunned and saddened by this tragedy. We would request that speculative discussion about this event be avoided out of respect for the families of those involved. As further factual details are available they will be posted.
-Bob Lacovara-PGC

Change in Weekday Operations Policy It's clear that we need more staff on weekdays to keep the operation safe and effective. It's also true that, even with the recent availability of a couple of new weekday towpilots, we continue to have a major shortage in that department which is making it impossible to fully schedule two weekdays a week. Therefore, SCHEDULED operating days are (reluctantly) changed to Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday effective June 3 through July 29, and September 2 through November 18. Only Saturday and Sunday scheduled operations effective July 31 through August 29. All other days will be organized on an "ad hoc" basis. The Rosterfuhrer will revise the posted formally scheduled days to reflect this change, and operations will require a ROSTERED instructor, towpilot, and Duty Officer.

This does not mean that we can't fly on other days of the week. All it takes for operations to be conducted on ANY weekday is a towpilot, and Duty Officer, and, if instruction is involved, an instructor of course. Jim Kellett will continue to be the "Weekday Coordinating Weenie" for the season, EXCEPT for the period August 6-29; at any other time, Jim will post a note to the Weekday Warriors on the availability of ANY weekday when a towpilot is available. (Note: If a qualified volunteer becomes available to take over the instruction/coordination role in August, operations may be continued during that month.)

Reminders: On any weekday operation when an instructor is present, the priority for equipment use will be (a) pre-solo student pilots (b) post-solo student pilots (c) checkrides or BFRs) (d) member recreational flying and (e) Temp member flying. Tows for private owner-members SHOULD be available at all times during weekday operations. When possible, pre-solo students will be scheduled for intensive training, limited to two such students on any given day! Post-solo student pilots may NOT exercise their solo privileges unless a Club instructor is on the field.
-Jim Kellett

Meet the Members
Dick Otis-
My dad, Gordon, is a 10,000 hour (retired) Naval Aviator. My first awareness of airplanes was in 1953, give or take a year, when we lived in Key West Florida. Dad flew Grumman P-4Ms and P-5Ms seaplanes during "the war". Several tours in and about the Naval Air Station, Patuxent River, MD kept me around airplanes through my youth. My first ride was from dad on my 8th birthday (second grade) in a Cessna 172 at Glenview, IL. From then until I got my own license, I always got an airplane ride on my birthday. When I was 15, my dad offered to pay for and teach me to fly, in exchange for not drinking until I was 21. What a deal! (I still don't drink much). Both my brother, Terry, and I took lessons and got our licenses in 1966. There is extensive debate as to who got their license first (OK, so it was Terry) but I have a license number that is one less that his!

Commercial land & sea, Instrument, and CFI-A and followed during my college years in Richmond, Indiana. Most of my time was accumulated at the local grass strip a the yellow J-3 65hp Cub. At $3 hour, it seemed like a great deal. However, to put things in perspective, gas was 25 cents and college tuition was $2500 (room, board, tuition).

After school, facing the Draft, I signed up for Navy flight school. Due to less that perfect vision (20/25 at the time) I ended up in the Naval Flight Officer (NFO) curriculum. NFO's get to due everything the pilot does, except control the aircraft (at least, that's what the Navy thinks!). There followed about six years and 2000 hours of flying the P-3 Orion, an Antisubmarine Warfare patrol plane, derived from the commercial Lockheed Electra. I left active duty in 1977, but remain in the Navy Reserves.

My flying continued in various clubs and FBO's, both instructing and flying for business. In 1985 I bought my first aircraft N47223, a Cessna 152, which was destroyed three months later on the ground in Manassas, VA by a tornado (along with about 100 other aircraft). My second aircraft N68221, a Cessna 152 Sparrow Hawk (125HP, cruise prop) replaced it shortly thereafter. I am her second owner. I leased 221 for several years, but in 1997 I gave up on rental aircraft and just fly her for my own pleasure.

My son, Bryan, will be 15 in July. He is working on his soaring license (as am I!) prior to learning to fly N68221.
-Dick Otis

William (Bill) Bentley-
joined Skyline Soaring Club for the beginning of operations at FRR in the Spring of 1999, assuming duties of a tow pilot and flight instructor. Four prior years were spent instructing at Bay Soaring in Woodbine and Ridgely, MD.

The years of 1965 to 1994 were spent with Pan Am and Delta Airlines trying to keep the yaw string straight, so the little old lady in the last row of seats didn't end up wearing her dinner.

By contrast, the years of 1963 to 1965 were spent designing clever ways to kill people from the sky at N.O.T.S. China Lake, CA. Part of the time, at least, was spent living up to the navy motto "My job is so secret that I don't even know what I am doing".

Before working for the Navy, Cal Poly (a state college) was home while taking a lot of physics classes on the GI bill to finish up a BS degree.

To avoid being drafted during the Korean War, volunteering for Navy Aviation Cadet training provided mud free sleeping conditions for five years while viewing a lot of oceans (and seas) from above.

After seeing Pan Am's aircraft wherever we flew, it was inevitable that Pan Am would be the first choice if an opportunity ever arose.

High School and Junior College were completed in Oxnard and Ventura, CA respectively. Elementary School was divided between North-West NJ, and Central CA. This all began in Auburn, NY in January of 1934.
-Bill Bentley

The general rule is that members' cars should be parked in the grassy space between the paved ramp and the fuel tank.

Exceptions: 1. Operation staff (DO, ADO, Towpilot, INstructor) can park INSIDE the Club's hangars when the Club's equipment is out. Keys MUST be left in the cars! NO EXCEPTIONS! (If you don't want to leave the keys, don't park in the hangar!!) 2. Owners can drive out to the hangars to load/unload, hookup, etc. AND IF there is space in the owners' hangar, they can leave their car there. 3. A FEW (like five or six) cars may be parked CLOSE TO THE WALL on the west side of the hangar, if a member is planning a cross country or has some other valid requirement to be near the hangar (not just avoiding the exercise).

ABSOLUTELY UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES EVER EVER EVER LEAVE A CAR PARKED IN FRONT OF ANY HANGAR! Finding an unattended car in such a position will put the member's membership at risk! This is an absolute non-starter!
- Jim Kellett

Cross Country 101
Well, the time had come -- XC course done, perfect weather and I was supposed to be DO -- but wait, here comes a knight on a white charger (OK, brown Porsche)-Jim Garrison had come to do my duty in lieu of the duty I would have done for him a couple of weeks back, but which Richard had done instead -- confused.. yep, me too-but Jim turned up and I think I now owe Richard a DO duty. Anyway, it wasn't really my day for 081 either, so I now owe Bill a day as well -- boy I used up my markers big time today!

I had initially prepared to do this on the previous day, but weather conditions were not really right, well, I didn't think they were anyway. I still had all the things I had prepared the day before, and after talking to Jim Garrison decided to give it a go. (I felt a bit guilty that it was not my day for 081 and that I couldn't get in touch with Bill to see if it was OK.)

So the decision was made, today I was going to cut the apron strings -- 081 (and me) were going to the cows. I had decided to fly the ridge to the Massanutten ski resort and then to just go on, if I reached Weyers Cave great, if I didn't that was ok too. But the object was to complete a Silver Distance and land out somewhere -- anywhere, it didn't really matter. The original purpose of the Silver Distance was in the preparation of a pilot for landing out and to encourage cross country activities, but more recently (I don't know when) the rules were changed to allow pilots to return to their home base.

So, the first part of the morning was spent getting a checklist organized:


  • Organize a retrieve crew: Shane + Hummer-a formidable combination!
  • Retrieve Crew Equipment: Landout Box for 081, Large Scale Topo Map, Check the trailer: tires, wiring etc., Control Locks (forgot this first time-had to call back and remind crew)
  • Phone Numbers: Bob & Shane's Cell-phones, FBO and Skyline.
  • Stuff to take in the glider: Food, water, map, camera, GPS, money, license and log book.
  • Relief System. Bill W. asked me if I wanted one of his 'Extra Large' external catheters-I declined!
  • Barograph: Install new barogram, get OO to initial & seal. WIND barograph! Install in glider.
  • Paperwork: Since this was a silver "out there somewhere"-no declaration.
  • Pre-Flight: Check barograph is on! Usual Pre-Flight

Mid day (11:50am) take off for a tow to Signal Knob at 3700' msl, released and notched-90mph down for 200 feet and a gentle pull up gave me a minimal loss, and I was on my own now. I had never flown the ridge by myself before, so I began by getting some altitude and estimating what the wind was doing. Hmmm -- seems to be working, combination of thermal and ridge lift was keeping me at 4000' msl and so I moved on down the ridge at best L/D (48mph) with a ground track speed of 60-65mph (GPS). My first challenge was going to be the hop across to the next ridge-rather an anticlimax, had 4000' of altitude and lost 500' in the transition. Some figures of eight on the other side and I'm back up to 4000' Down to Mt Jackson and the hop back to the main ridge, lost 700' this time but soon recovered the altitude as I head towards Gogo's Gap.

By now I was beginning to feel quite at home and in familiar territory, there to my right was New Market and I grinned to myself as I looked over to the airport and thought of the times I had flown out from there. By now I'm about 3700' msl and over Rt. 211, hopeful that the rocks on the other side will give me a bit more lift and sure enough they do. I look at my watch and I'm surprised to see I've been in the air for only 45 minutes or so, seemed longer! Pressing on down the ridge using a combination of ridge and thermal lift I reach one of the two "high points" in the flight. Those of you who know the ridge well will know what I'm talking about! The point in the ridge just before the ski area where it dips and there are then two large dome like mountains in front of you, and your altitude is less than the top of the mountain you are heading towards! I recalled vividly being on a ridge with Jim Garrison last year and he said "Watch this Dave, it's really cool", as we hurtled the ASK toward the mountain. Well, I pressed on and thought of the words in the Eric Clapton song "Running on Faith". And once again, as with Jim, the ridge lift picked me up. I can only describe the feeling as having a giant hand that lifts you up as you get closer and closer, until you are some 300' above the peak-I said a big "Thank You", and Jim, its not just cool, "Its Way Kool!"

So I reach the ski area at about 1:15pm and looked at my options, I have thermal and ridge activity where I am and could fly up and down the ridge to get my 5 hours, but that wasn't really the objective. If I did that and then landed out, the retrieve crew wouldn't hear from me until early evening. The objective was to get Silver and land out, I had done the first part as its about 35 miles from signal knob to the ski area, so its time to venture forth. As Shakespeare said "If its to be done, it best be done quickly!"- so I looked out over the valley, blue sky, few cues I wasn't hopeful of finding lift but, nevertheless, I set off South. 4000' of altitude (2800agl) would give me about 10 minutes to find some lift or to start looking for a field ready for the land-out.

Well I set off for the nearest whisp of developing cloud and found absolutely nothing, went on a fishing expedition and found no lift, nothing, nada, zip, zilch. OK, no panic, no sweat-I had already picked a field with an alternate if there was a problem. WWSS: Wires-none, Wind-light Westerly, Surface-Light brown, freshly tilled (and planted with corn as it turns out), Slope rolling a bit. Field faced East/West and was uphill into the wind with some low trees at the Eastern end, total length about 800 feet, slightly rolling I judged. As I performed a crosswind I committed to it and turned downwind, short base and flew about 40' above the trees at 40mph, the field sloped up more than I had at first imagined but not too much, flare.. touchdown, stop. I breathed a big sigh of relief got out of the plane-it was so quiet. I looked around and it turned out that I was about 100 yards from the farmhouse, pity no-one lived there!

Anyway, I paced out my landing as I walked back to the track, 45 feet from touchdown to stop, 200 feet from tree-line to finish point! I had done it, my first off field landing, not quite textbook, but I was overjoyed! Everything we had done in class, all we had talked about came together, just as it should do. I took a moment to enjoy it all before searching for signs of life.

Now, I just need to find someone with a phone! As with any landout, I knew that relationships with the locals would be important! Well, this was no exception, I walked about half a mile to the nearest house where I received a great welcome, the folks there said it was the most exciting thing to have happened in an age!

Phoned Shane with GPS coordinates and instructions as to how to get there, then called back to ask him to bring the control locks! The Lam's came to the field and got in touch with the land owner's dad who came to look at his son's field and declared everything just fine. They even brought their sprightly mum (Naomi) who frightened the hell of me by insisting that she could help push 081 down to the track! Karen later returned with a video camera, and her husband with some tools so that I could start getting 081's recalcitrant spar bolts out! Other locals turned up to see what was going on too! Had an interesting conversation with a Dairyman about artificial insemination. More information than I need to know!

Shane and Bill turn up with the Hummer and we retrieve 081 in about 20 minutes, say our thank-you's and away we go. The drive back takes a little over an hour and we eventually have 081 back together and on her tie down by 7pm. Time for a drink and a meal for the retrieve crew (sadly Bill had to take a rain check) and some good ol' hanger flying at the Mill with Shane, Bob, Richard and Glen. Measured the distance on the map to be 42 miles, more than enough for my Silver.

Eventually got home just before midnight. As I said before-soaring is a solo activity that requires a great support team, thanks to all at Skyline for making it happen again.

Oh, I called it Cross Country 101 for a good reason... It was my 101st flight!
-Dave Brunner

My first Outlanding...
Spencer Annear-
My first outlanding happened after I had flown about 15 miles upwind of the gliderport (Lexington, Va.) only to get shot down while a mile downwind of it. I had a choice of landing upwind (less than 10 knots wind) over a line of 50' trees or landing downwind over a low (10') telephone line. I chose downwind to have a low approach and to stop near the start of a return tow (what looked like flat valley land turned out to be a rolling hillside). When the Cub came to get me the pilot approached for an upwind landing, over the trees. As he neared the trees I suddenly heard the engine go to full power and the Cub was about 30' off the ground, behind the trees. There was a downwash so he barely made it over the trees. Had I tried the upwind approach in the sailplane I would have gone through the tree line.

Linn Buell-
For what it's worth, I remember a bit of trivia from Tom Knauff a number of years ago. He said that if you can SEE the slope of a possible landing site, then the slope is too much. I don't know why I remember that particular piece of advice, but I think about it every time I venture out. In my outlanding experience, twice the fields had very high grass, hard to tell until it's too late, and once the selected field was a bit short. That time I was flying a (borrowed) 1-26, so a short field wasn't a big issue. Spencer Annear-Do you remember reading, a long time ago, about a competition pilot who was doing spring practice (he would not fly competition unless he had flown 1500 practice cross-country miles first that spring) when he got low and needed to land. He chose a beautiful field with somewhat tall grass in a valley so he set up an approach pattern. As his touchdown became a splashdown he discovered that his "grassy field" was a grassy sewage lagoon. If I remember correctly, the pilot was George Moffat who had several national championships under his belt at the time. Off field landings can be interesting for the most experienced pilots.

True Confessions
As you may know a landing light jumped up and bit me as I turned off 27. No excuses and I'm sorry to any Sprite pilots I have inconvenienced. I have committed, with Jim's help, to get it as good as new as soon as possible.

Apart from that it was a good day. Unless anyone tells me different I'm going to stay on the centre line when I land on the runway. I figure the skid is easier to repair than a dent in the leading edge?
-Gary Shepherd

Bob Michael-I can assure you that I have had many discussions with Reggie concerning the issue of the runway lights. It was promised several weeks ago that they would be made removable. In the interim we have been laying several of them over on the ground without disconnecting the electrical connection -- and setting an orange cone next to it as a marker. I really would not care to hit a cone either.

Wet grass (preventing a grass landing) complicates this, but as long as a grass landing is possible it certainly saves time and runway conflicts. Keep in mind that the grass is also a good option for runway 9-just remember to turn your base properly -- be making a decision by the time you reach mid-field on downwind if you plan on an early base turn in order to get to the grass area.

I still strongly favor the idea of staying on the center line during roll out-again taking into account the principle of "situation awareness" -- and remember that in wind (especially during a downwind launch abort landing) you will loose rudder effectiveness about half way through your roll out, and have difficulty maintaining positive directional control. Jim Kellett-Kevin and Bob are working diligently on the issue of the runway lights. It's just a matter of time before they get "properly" moved, so club members should continue their vigilance until then.

Also keep in mind if you actually LAND in the grass (vrs turning off the paved runway), there still is a serious obstruction to the sod area at midfield! It's marked by red flags. Plus, you only have about 1400' of grass, so LANDING on the grass headed east is an option that shouldn't be chosen except in an emergency. (Rolling off the pavement of runway 09 onto the grass is NOT an emergency.)

Shane Neitzey, AIG-This is my "Instructors Point of View" on the Sprite incident. While any pilot is capable of making the same mistake, novice pilots are far more likely. I believe the problem stems from the "idea" that the skid must be saved. Please keep in mind that the steel skid plate attached to the factory skid is an after market idea. This steel skid is a sacrificial piece of metal designed to be worn away. So, when landing, do not consider the steel skid plate a factor. Concentrate on maneuvering the aircraft and don't worry about the skid.

Doesn't fly much but still gets around
My wife and I found a very nice glider port on a recent trip to Northern Italy. We were driving north of Milan when we spotted several gliders overhead. Shortly thereafter we located the airport on the north side of Lake Varese. They have about 20 gliders and 4 towplanes there. They have a nice clubhouse with restaurant and swimming pool. They fly any day the weather is good Spring through Fall. If you have the chance to visit Milan definitely check this place out!
-Ken Zugel

Log This...

  • Since it appears that nice "Glass" 2 place sailplanes, within our budget, are not for sale. And, the last hanger has been rented. I would like to propose purchasing a L-23 Super Blanik. The all metal construction can handle out door tie down conditions. I have allot of experience in the older L-13 with no regrets. used ones are priced around $28,000.-Shane Nietzey
  • New Member Information:
    e-mail (personal) <slrouse@msn.com> e-mail (work) <stephen.rouse@ha.osd.mil> (use either one)
  • Glenn Baumgartner <gwbaumgartner@tasc.com>
  • Editor's note: We gonna get along with Ole Glenn just fine! He took a bunch of us for rides in his neat Thorpe with that thingy that rotates like the Road Runner's legs on the front.
  • Martin Mayfield (No e-mail)
  • Terrell R. Otis E-mail: <otistr@erols.com> Terry is Dick's brother and soon will qualify as a towpilot. Boy is he welcome!
  • Adam Greer writes: I have moved back to VA (from Cherry Point where he flew Harriers)and can't wait to get out to FRR. I am staying busy with United and just started flying King Airs with the Marine Reserve at Andrews. I hope to join the club as a member once I get settled. Adam Greer 5020 Wheatstone Drive Fairfax VA, 22032 (703) 239-9449
  • I am listed on the CassAviation Insurance as an Instructor. If anyone wants a checkout to fly Reggie's C-152. He will require $5.00 per hour for Insurance / Administrative fee for Dual flights. The basic rental cost is $47 per hour. I propose we handle this the same way we do with club A/C-members are not charged for Flight Inst., Checkouts, etc. One exception is that we will need to schedule in advance to ensure availability. Keep in mind also that Richard and Terry Otis also have a C-152. Though not available for rental, it might also be a good means of collecting turn point photos, or just getting some "power time". Richard is also a power CFI.
    -Bob Michael
  • These notes, actually part of a longer analysis on how the Club might be proactive in developing a better working relationship with the other members of the GA community that share FRR, struck me as being particularly prescient to a recent dialog thread among the Club members' e-mail list! The observations are as timely now as they were in December, maybe moreso!

    And to put a finer point on it, the Board of Directors shortly thereafter identified to the FBO (Reggie) the specific individuals in the Club who were authorized to "speak for the Club" on various topics. They were/are:

    A suggestion: Members who observe, recognize, or perceive a "problem" involving other members of the GA community, should promptly and candidly bring that issue to the attention of a member of the Board, and/or directly to the individual who has agreed to be the lightning rod for various aspects of Club life (see above) rather than the members' mailing list. Not only would that help the Club's actions to be more effective, but it'd cut down on the risk of wayward e-mail (amazing how this stuff gets sent where you'd never suspect!!) CREATING a major problem that could have been quickly resolved by appropriate action.
    -Jim Kellett

  • And just in from our correspondent in the field: Gary Shepherd flys for his "B" badge and Mike Cordova, declaring a Silver duration flight, flys for Silver duration and altitude as well as Gold duration and altitude. Congratulations to Mike and Gary.