First flights of 2007

2 May 2007

C. G. Prince

This past weekend (April 28th & and 29th), I had my first flights in my Schweizer 1-35 for this soaring season. I had planned to stick around the airfield, and get my flying legs back in my own ship-- in no small part because I had only had the 1-35 for part of last season, amounting to a total of 23 flights. Well, plans being things that change, my flights didn't turn out quite that way. On Saturday (the 28th), I had a quick up and down flight in relatively high wind conditions. The day hadn't developed enough yet for me to stay up. My second flight was better. I quickly got up near 9,000 feet MSL (our field elevation is some 903 feet MSL). My attitude about sticking around the airfield quickly deteriorated -- it seemed a pitty to not go somewhere. In tourist mode, I pointed the ship to the West and headed roughly in the direction of Forest Lake. I'd not seen Forest Lake from the air for a while (since we left Benson's airfield), and so off I went. I was easily maintaining cloud-base altitude by the time Forest Lake was in view, so I dialed in Cambridge, MN on my new Colibri flight logger, and kept going. At Cambridge, the day was still looking good, and I was still relatively high, so I dialed Hinckley, MN into my logger. Leaving Hinckley, heading back South towards Osceola, I didn't find workable lift. Looking to the East I saw an airfield. However, I was relatively low, and a nearby farmers field looked more like a sure thing (Wander, "Safer Soaring"). I forgot to take pictures, but thanks to Google Earth, the farmers field is here:

After doing a box around the field looking for uneven terrain and wires, I did a South downwind and a left-hand pattern to land to the North. Full flaps (80 degrees) in my 1-35 and a good amount of airpseed brought me in with a steep rate of descent just over the tree tops, with a touch-down about 1/3 the way into the field. I rolled to a stop near where the GPS coordinates are marked on the image above. I counted some 81 paces from the end point of my roll out to the start of my touch down (though Tyler said he saw in the field that I bounced just before settling down!). Several friendly locals, and a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) official expressed concern that I had been hurt in the "crash." The DNR official said it well when he realized I had only made an "unscheduled stop." Michael Hoover (grinning with his 10,100' MSL altitude from that day) and Tyler Hastings kindly came out with my truck and trailer to the field (even though I hadn't made earlier arrangements with them!), and we quickly derigged, and headed back to OEO. My thanks go to Walter Johnson for working with me over the winter on improvements to the trailer. This was the first field-usage of the trailer with modifications, and all worked well! OLC link

On Sunday (the 29th), the day did not look promising. The trigger temperature was predicted to occur at 3pm. I leisurely rigged my glider, and headed out to the flight line, launching around 1:30pm. As luck had it, lift had just started, and I managed to stay in the air with relative ease. Jim Hard and Pete Kroll launched in the L-13 shortly after me, and we stayed in touch on the radio, sharing the occasional thermal. I again decided that the day was good enough to go "somewhere", so I conservatively headed up to Taylors Falls. I needed to be back at work on Monday, so I thought it best not to get too far away from the airfield. At Taylors Falls, I decided Amery, WI would be a nice second stop, so headed there. To my chagrin, the wind had picked up considerably (around 25 mph), and of course, Amery was directly downwind of Osceola. The day was not over yet though. I started my journey back to the Osceola, literally 4 steps forward 2 steps back. Each time I would thermal, I would drift back considerably with the wind. For a while, I was having serious thoughts about landing at Amery. An aerotow back to Osceola from Amery would not be out of the question. I managed, however, to get enough lift and to penetrate sufficiently into the wind to make it back to Osceola at 2,000 feet MSL. Lots of room to spare for a landing. It had been a fun weekend! OLC link