Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Longest Flight

After a long winter of not flying I wanted to work on my short field landings in the glider. As I drove over to the field the night before and looked at the shimmering lakes in the middle of runways, I was not very optimistic that the field would be flyable the next day.

But the next morning brought a few hard core soaring pilots, Cu was building up and after through investigation a small piece of runway was deemed to be dry enough to take off and land, but not both at the same time. After the experienced guys were off I asked if I could fly the single seater. “Only if you do not come back right away” was the answer. It was just what I needed.

I dug the Junior out of the hangar, did a pre-flight inspection and asked for a 3,000ft tow. My flight almost ended up right there as I ended up in some serious sink and could not find any lift as I drifted back towards the field. Getting low enough to start the circuit, I turned to where I thought I felt a bump on the tow and instantly hit a good thermal. So good, I gained 3,000 ft in a really short time.

The day got immensely better after that. It seemed that I hit massive thermals anywhere I went. The highest altitude in MSL that I got to was 8,500 ft. As I looked out and down from that height, everything looked different. Depending on where I was at the time, I could see Hamilton, Brantford or Kitchener airports and they seemed deceptively close. I caught myself thinking that I probably never flew the power planes at that height and to be able to get there in a glider was a wonderful sensation.

With the ability to get very high, I ventured further away from the club than I’d normally do, but I stayed upwind and within gliding distance as I realized that the fields would be extremely wet and landing out was not a good option.

Going out and back and out in the other directions again, I lost the track of time for quite a while. But after 3 hrs, the effects on sitting on bare fiberglass with a thin layer of fabric made an impact on my posterior as it became more and more uncomfortable. At that time, I turned back to the club with the intention to land, but hit another good thermal on my way back and got delayed for another 30 mins. Eventually, the discomfort exceeded the joy of flying and I had to land. It was not the world’s smoothest landing, but it was short and right where it had to be. And I got to practice a lot of landings in the next few weekends as the weather was not soarable.

The total flight for that time was 3 hrs 30 mins.

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