More Big Plans
I hadn't really been thinking about flying on Sunday. I had physically recovered from the last flight on Wednesday (6/1/11), but financially, I need a certain spacing between flights. But oh well, there will be time for that in August and Winter ;). Steve Kennedy acted as my motivator on this flight. Steve and I were talking and he make a comment to the effect: Why didn't I just come down and fly without a crew and, if I ended up landing off-field, get back to the airfield the way the other pilots did when they landed off-field-- at the kindness of other people at the airfield that day. So, I put out an email request to some other private glider pilots/owners at RWSA (my apologies to Tim Traynor, I forgot you!) and hooked in Don DePree also. The three of us-- Steve, Don, and myself would act as mutual crew for each other. Hopefully not all of us would land off-field and the one(s) making it back could act as crew for the others.
There was a bit of low-lying fog on the way down from Duluth, but otherwise it was a blue day. Early in the day, it looked a little hazy aloft too, and aloft later in the day it was indeed hazy above a few thousand feet. The soaring forecast looked OK. I've flown cross country flights on days like this. NOAA predicted a blue day, without any cu, which was against my feeling of things. It just seemed too humid to have a lack of cumulus clouds.
Al Grayson did some test flights in the tow plane, and I pulled out to the flight line at about 11:30am, and got the first tow of the day despite the fact that Al was thinking that the air was pretty still. There were some cu's starting to pop, and even as I towed up I could see more of them forming. Also, on tow, I could feel some good bumps. I was able to stay up in this, and as I found out later, the others (Don and Steve) launched shortly after me. I was the sniffer and the sniffing went well.
I had BIG plans (are you surprised?). My largest closed course flight so far has been over 300 miles, and so I set my sights on 350 miles. With a forecasted SE wind, I decided that one way to fly with a tailwind as the first leg of a flight was to make a large circumnavigation around the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul. I made turnpoints for my GPS/logger of a large six-sided figure around the Twin Cities. Within 15 minutes or so of my flight I abandoned this plan. It only took me a couple of thermals to decide I would head out on a task, but I was only getting up to about 4000' MSL, and at the time I set out, there were very few cu's off to the West. I decided to put my bets in following the energy instead. I headed North, where there were plenty of cu at the time-- around Noon.
Initially heading towards Grantsburg (to the North), I got about 2/3 the way there before diverging to the NNE, still following the cu's. Shell Lake, to the East, became my next goal because, again, there were cu's out that way. I made it to within a few miles of the Shell Lake airport, and headed South next, thinking Boyceville might be good. This was on the Eastern edge of the cu's at that time. Memory serving, at about the time that Amery and Osceola were due West of my course, the cu's had generally started to dry up. I was also finding myself sleepy in the air. This was the hottest temperature day of the soaring season so far, and I was on a more-or-less meandering course with little to really stress my skills. While the soaring was not fat and easy, it wasn't really difficult so far either. PLUS, in a pattern that is becoming all too common for me, I had not gotten enough sleep the night before. I had only gotten about three hours of sleep the night before. (THAT has to change!!!). So, I decided to head back to OEO.
My first goal in this path was to get to Amery, and that was more or less straight-forward. At Amery though, I was considering putting the ship on the ground. However, I found a good thermal to the West of the airport, and climbed with about four soaring birds, some of them entering the thermal after me. If you look closely at the following three pictures, you can see some of them--
After that thermal, I had final glide made from Amery to OEO, but still took a few turns in thermals en route back to my home field. I did a few fun things at OEO before landing (e.g., some slipping turns), and made a big pattern and landed the ship.
Darryll took some photos of Tom Binger and I landing:
It was surprising not to see more RWSA (Red Wing Soaring Association) club members out. It was not a bad little soaring day, with of course its own personality.
I could hear Jim Hard in the air while I was aloft. He made it to Litchfield, MN (OLC Link).
After I landed, I heard from Dick Beggs or Darryll (not sure which) that Don had landed at Rush City. I was excited by this-- a retrieve of someone other than myself! I called up Don and told him I'd derig and put my ship back in the box, then come to get him. I derigged with Darryll's help. Steve landed at about this time, and we decided to wait so Steve could also come to Rush City and join in on the retrieve fun! I would drive my car, Steve would drive Don's with his trailer, and I wouldn't have return to OEO (Rush City was not quite 1/2 way to my home in Duluth). Eventually we made it out to the Rush City airport, about four hours after Don called. This was a pretty long delay, but hey, crew are doing a favor for the pilot, right???!!! Don had placed his glider in a very good place for derigging. We had a nice dinner afterwards at the Pub'n Grub in Rush City.
I had been over Rush City a few times before, but had never been into the town. I had flown over the town on my first cross country flight in a glider.
There was little wind today. Aloft, my Colibri indicated below 10 mph wind throughout my flight.
Here's the OLC link for the flight. Here's a link to a few more pictures. The flight was some four hours soaring duration, and was 119 miles (191.5 km, OLC), flown at 29.6 mph (47.6 km/h).
Get down to near Osceola the night before and get a better sleep! AND/OR get your sleeping habits in better control over this summer. Safety and sleep go hand in hand.