4/27/08, Sunday (Revised 4/30/08)

The Delbert Returns

After what seems like an eternity of planning and attempts, the Delbert is now returned to RWSA at Osceola. Well. Actually, just 1/2 of the Delbert (read on).

Late this week (Thursday or Friday), I thought this weekend was a "wash" for flying. Around Tuesday or Wednesday, I had thought that Saturday might turn out to be a day for cross-country, but then the predictions for Saturday started looking bad, and Sunday didn't look much better. I didn't even think of heading to the airfield Saturday. The winds were predicted to be high, the temperature-dewpoint spread looked bad, and precipitation was predicted. I decided to head to the airfield Sunday, though. If the day was no good for flying, I could tinker on the 1-35. Besides, I needed to get out of Duluth!

Sunday, looking at the sky on the drive down from Duluth, it looked like it could be a good day. Arriving in at Osceola, the soaring forecast confirmed my hope. Lift was predicted up to 7,000' (see Ford), with the trigger temperature at 10am! I was also using a few new tools made available by the NWS (NOAA). In particular, the wind speed for the day was obtained from a Flight Path tool (haven't yet figured out how to use it for flight paths), I have been making use of a NOAA tool for determining frontal systems, and Declan Cannon at the NWS Office in Duluth pointed me to a NOAA tool for displaying and interpreting soundings (see the data for 4/27/08).

I hadn't confirmed a crew for the day (as conditions didn't look that hopeful), so I tried to reach Walt Johnson. He wasn't at home. At the RWSA hangar, Craig Cowell asked if I was feeling optimistic. It seemed he had seen the Ford forecast at 6am, which was not the real thing. Walt Johnson arrived shortly, and he was willing to crew!! With Craig & Walt helping me rig, I was ready to launch at noon. Jim Hard waived me ahead of him to launch-- he and Craig had just been up on a flight in a L-13, and the lift was working. I thanked him, and jumped in the 1-35, going over my preflight checklist.

Within 5 minutes of releasing from tow (with Bob Lee at the controls), I'd decided to head out on my task. I had had two thermals by that point, and they weren't all that strong, but they seemed steady. Besides, my first goal was New Richmond, and if things petered out by then, I could just land there. I got down to my flight low point just South of New Richmond-- about 2,400'. But almost immediately found a thermal, and got back up to 4,400'. A few thermals South of New Richmond, I was up to nearly 5,300'. I headed on to West of Baldwin (I'm trying not to overfly Balwdin-- while those parachutes look pretty ahead of you, I'd like to avoid them!), and then to Red Wing,

A few miles North of Red Wing, I was at about 5,200', and crossed the river at the East End of the Red Wing airport runway, proceeding South and West. There was a lovely big round topped cumulus cloud on the West side of the Mississippi. I was hopeful I could find lift there-- and I was right! Just across the river, I made it up to nearly 6,300'. That was my first cumulus cloud of the day. They had just started showing up-- it had been blue until that point.

I had planned for two possible tasks. My primary goal was to get to Stanton to retrieve the Delbert. However, if the day seemed strong enough, I wanted to first overfly Faribault to accomplish both the Triple Crown and the Delbert. Once across the river at Red Wing, I was convinced that the conditions were right to make both Faribault and Stanton, so I called down to Walt to tell him that I would be heading to Stanton. However, 25 or so miles out of Faribault, the visibility to the West started to reduce. I wondered if it was something to do with my new sunglasses! At 20 miles out Faribault, it was clear it wasn't my sunglasses. I could see the clouds 1000 feet or so below me ahead. Conditions looked like rain ahead, with low cloudbases. I altered my plans, and instead turned to Stanton. I was only a few miles South of Stanton. This turned out to be a fortunate choice. I called down to Stanton that I would land in about 20 minutes. They recommended an earlier landing as the weather was closing in fast. I landed in 5 minutes, burning off altitude with a slip-- I needed the practice. Scott Elhardt retrieved me with a cart. I pulled out my phone to call my crew chief, but that wasn't needed. Walt had stayed in radio contact with me the entire time, and rolled into Stanton just ahead of me-- in time to see me land. This was the first day of club flying at Stanton. They were very welcoming, and surprised to see us! Here are some pictures that Marilyn Meline took to provide evidence of the Delbert retrieval:

Phil Schmalz and Steve Adkins helped us derig. As we were derigging in the rain (and snow!), Scott went to the clubhouse and got the Delbert trophy. But he only gave us one of the two plaques for the trophy! Marilyn invited Walt & I, and a few others, to join her at her home, so we headed there after closing up shop with the glider trailer.

I'd like to take this opportunty to officially thank to Walt Johnson for his help this winter in replacing the electrical system in my ship, and putting in a new radio system. The new radio works great! Thanks Walt!

The flight was some 2 hours 53 minutes, with a launch at 12:07pm and a landing at 3:00pm, for a total of 95.6 OLC Classic miles (153.8 km), Here's the link to the OLC for the flight, and below is a rendering of the flight path in Google Earth: