Be Weary of Summer Soaring Forecasts

7/11/09

Today was another so-so day. Or, I should say, another mediocre soaring day. It was beautiful in the farmer's field!

With Walt Johnson crewing, and Roger Lee towing, I got into the air and my first thermal was strong-- about 5 kts. The day was blue, and my initial climb was only to 4,000' MSL. However, the soaring forecasts for the day looked good (see the 10am, 1pm, and 4pm xcskies forecasts), so I headed out on my task.

Walt and I had decided that if the winds aloft were less than 20 mph, I'd attempt a closed-course flight. In that first thermal, the winds measured by my Colibri were 16 mph, so I headed out East to my first turn point. It turns out that that first thermal was my best one of the flight. I got 2-3 knts otherwise, and not too many of those. I got low about 15 miles past Amery, and landed in a barley-alfalfa field (the farmer, Dale, told me what was in the field when I met him).

Just before landing, I had gotten an upswing on my vario and decided to take a couple of turns. I had had my gear down before that in preparation for the field landing, but when I got the upswing on my vario, I retracted my gear. Unfortunately, when the thermal didn't work, and I entered my pattern for landing, I forgot to put my gear back down. This was my 2nd gear up landing. Both have been this season! There was sufficient greenery in the field such that I think I didn't do any damage to the aircraft paint. Shall look more closely when I rig next time.

I landed to the North. The wind was out of the NW. There was some good wind shear near the ground, but I had enough airspeed to deal with it. Once "rolled" to a stop in the field (not much a "roll" with the gear up!), I called Walt (there was cell phone reception!), took my landing pictures, and headed to the nearest house.

It turns out that the people in that house didn't own the field, but they had two very nice dogs. I keep meeting dogs that I like in fields!

After meeting the dogs, the homeowners rolled up in their truck and told me that the field owner was Dale, who was out working in the field adjacent to the one I landed in, with a manure spreader. That was my first experience with a manure spreader, which of course, added to the aroma of the landing! Dale, the field owner and farmer was a very pleasant individual, and we spent some time chatting waiting for Walt to arrive, which was in pretty short order.

In the field, derigging the ship with Walt, it was easy to just stand there and not be upset that the flight hadn't gone longer. The temperature and weather, for being earth-bound, were excellent! One of the fortunes of flying cross-country in gliders is that I get to experience the countryside! It's good to change your goals when faced with a serious reason to do so!

I think it's "August" weather now. The soaring forecasts don't seem to be worth much!!

The flight distance was 37.82 miles (60.86 km; OLC Classic) at an average ground speed of 42.21 mph (67.94 km/h). The landing location was about 5 miles NW of Cub Acre's (the Hoover's field). The coordinates of the landing field were: N 45° 13' 31"; W 92° 04' 38". Cub Acre's lat/long is: N 45° 10.746; W 91° 59.405 (we drove there after derigging because neither Walt nor I had visited the Hoover's field before). Here's the link to the OLC flight trace. Here's a link for more pictures.

Note to self: When I'm getting low, and I put my gear down, I need to leave it down, even if I attempt one last thermal. This way, I'll be less likely to land gear up!