A Hayfield at Frederic, WI

Saturday, 5/29/10

It was a lazy day. I headed down to the airfield somewhat later than usual, leaving my home in Duluth at around 7am. I didn't have definite flying plans (e.g., I didn't have a crew), and Steve Kennedy had just acquired his own glider-- I wanted to see Steve fly his new ship for the first time. I lazily arrived at the airport, and checked the soaring forecast, which looked reasonable. Looking in at the Red Wing Soaring Association (RWSA) clubhouse, a few people were there, and just after I arrived, Steve rolled in with his new ship in trailer behind him. After helping Steve rig, I decided I would fly and dragged my own ship over from the hangar, and rigged. I kept joking with various people, insinuating that they should crew for me, but no takers, even when joking. (They probably know it's best to not even joke with me about the possibility of crewing!). A potential new club member (Taylor Holmes) was at the field, and also got to see Steve's new ship.

Steve and I pulled out to the flight line together at around 1pm, and we got a Blanik flight into the air with Taylor and Paul Campobasso. Then, taking plenty of pictures, we got Steve into the air.

Paul was down from his flight by then, and helped pull me out to the flight line. I continued my joking about crewing, but this time Paul played along. And didn't even sound too put off when I said that I might go to Duluth (we had a South wind). That started to change my attitude about the day. With Al Grayson towing, I got into the air around 1:40pm, pulled off tow at 2,000' AGL because I was in a thermal, and started realize it was a possible cross country day. Paul had told me he had found some good lift-- about 5 knots up. I didn't have a task planned, but decided to fly West for a while, and ended up about 10 miles West. Heading North from there, I made for Rush City, and then went on to Pine City. I then headed for Grantsburg. There is a distance crossing the river at Grantsburg that is well-treed, so I wanted to have enough altitude to fly over that. I kept about 4,500'-5,000' MSL, even getting a nice thermal over the main treed area just before Grantsburg.

I kept pushing on to Siren, and from there started to head back Osceola, WI (OEO).

I made it about 15 miles South from Siren, with slow progress (about a 20 mph headwind) before starting to loose my altitude. This was near Luck, WI. Scratching for about 20 minutes, I had a field picked out but drifted about 5 miles North in that time, so getting down lower, I picked another field. Setting up on downwind for a landing to the South, into the wind, I was a little lower than I had intended turning base and final. My base and final turns were more shallow than usual. The field turned out to be about 1 1/2 feet of alfalfa (or just "hay" as I was informed). At about 20 mph, in the last part of the rollout, some alfalfa caught my wing and turned me around 180 degrees in a slow speed ground loop.

Getting out of my ship, I called back to RWSA to talk to Paul Campobasso. It turned out he was about to get into the air, and so I called back 10 minutes later. Calling back, I gave Bill Schuessler the latitude and longitude: N 45° 38.15 W 92° 30.03 and asked him to tell Paul that Steve Kennedy knew how to program my car GPS with these coordinates. Paul called back a little later, telling me that he and Taylor were on their way get me. Paul took my reliance on his flight-line offer of crewing all in hand!! I had thought in the flight of proceeding up to Duluth, but it seemed that that would be pushing his graciousness too far!

Heading from my ship to the nearest farm house, I met Ronda. She and her husband Roger owned some of the land near my landing location, but another farmer owned the property I had set my glider down on. Ronda offered to drive me over to the home of the owner, and we talked to him on the phone -- he was out working a field. He was just glad no one had been injured in the landing and kindly allowed me to drive out onto the hay field with the glider trailer and car to retrieve the glider. Ronda then took me back to their house, as it was nearest to my landing location and fed me supper with her family. Paul called around that time and I told him I was having dinner. I'd have to buy my crew a really nice dinner to make up for the fact that I was eating before them! With Ronda and her family heading out to do some evening fishing, I stayed with the farm dogs to wait for Paul and Taylor.

While at the end of the road, waiting for the crew to arrive, one of the farm dogs "treed" a racoon up a power pole. A little after that I moved a few hundred yards away, to bring the dog away, to give the racoon a chance to climb down.

Paul called up shortly after that saying he was near. However, the road names he was seeing seemed quite far from where I was. I gave him the road address of the farm, and entering that into the car GPS, the car GPS estimated 50 minutes driving time! Ooops! It turns out they had entered the coordinates into the car GPS as:

N 45.38.15 W 92.30.03

I tried this coordinate format with the two decimal points in Google Earth, and it complains it cannot understand the coordinate format. Dropping the second decimal point and using N 45.3815 W 92.3003 is a location about 20 miles ENE of Osceola:

This corresponds to about the distances driven by Paul and Taylor, so I'm assuming the Tom Tom car GPS just dropped the second decimal point of the input coordinates (It's really good this wasn't a location 100 miles away!!). I am going to have make sure I have a backup navigation procedure with crew -- that they know the general location where I have landed to try to alleviate this kind of mis-coordinate entry issue. Also, I could be more clear on the coordinate entry procedure for the GPS.

Paul and Taylor arrived around 8pm and we drove out to the glider. The farm dogs ran alongside the car and trailer, and after we stopped I first went to the gear I carry in the car to get some dog bicuits for them. I was sad when I couldn't find them -- the moving car was fun, but the stopped car was no fun. They had went back to the farm house and I didn't see them again. We quickly derigged the glider, and got back on the road, stopping in St. Croix falls to treat Paul and Taylor to a well deserved meal. Thanks Paul and Taylor!!! And welcome to RWSA, Taylor!

This was my first off-field landing of the season. The distance flown was 110 miles (176.96 km; OLC Classic) at an average speed of 29.9 mph (48.13 km/h), with a duration of 3 hours 45 minutes. Here is a link to the OLC. And a link to more pictures.