Saturday, April 24, 2010

Happy Times Again

Last year was a mixed one for me. I have acquired a new glider and had a few happy moments flying it, but the amount of those moments was reduced greatly by my dad's illness and his passing and the stress impact that it had on my own health. With all that, i was REALLY looking forward to 2010.

The year started well with the New Year flight. Things got worse in February when my Mom found out she had cancer as well, which caused me to spend most of my spring away from home, arranging her surgery and staying with her till she recovered well enough to function independently. With all that plus work, i did not make it to club till April.

On a gloomy overcast day, I came to club just before 9am and was pleasantly surprised to be the second one there, first person being our chief tow pilot. That meant i had priority on any of the gliders and luckily the glider that i wanted, the only one that was capable of what i had in mind, was sitting front and center, so the two of us got it out in the sun so that i can do my daily inspection.
Things were going my way that far, but to fully implement my plan, i also needed a special instructor, one of the acro instructors. Normally, every club member needs to do a so-called "spring check out" in the beginning of the season before flying solo as well as spin check out that needs to be done once a year. I wanted to take it a step further and do an advanced spin flight to ensure that my learnt responses were still intact before getting in my own aerobatic glider later this spring. Luckily, an instructor was available as well and it did not take us long to get to the flight line and set up the glider in a position for takeoff.

My take off was not my best, i could not seem to keep the glider in position and used a lot of control inputs. I was thinking that i must have got very rusty to be flying so horrible when we flew out of the turbulence into a smooth air and i finally realized that it was not my flying, it was the turbulent layers of air lower to the ground. I made a mental note to add some speed to approach to compensate and went on with the tow.

We briefed about what i wanted to do on a way up, so as we released from tow, i started with a simple stall, then got to one turn spins to ensure i got the recovery inputs right. When we were on to some fun stuff, like multi-turn accelerated spins. I had not have that much fun in a long time and was really enjoying it. Alas, the minimum safe altitude came up too fast, so after a few steep turns we had to join downwind for a landing. Puchacz (the glider that we were flying) is an extremely responsive glider, with tons of elevator and rudder controls and huge spoilers and it is an absolute joy to fly. So much joy in fact that i decided to take my solo fly in it instead of single seater.

I got my turn again couple of hours later. Flying the take off i concentrated on just riding the bumps in the air and not over controlling. Tow to 4,000 took a bit and i had time to look around and notice the haze that seemed to be hanging over Hamilton - it certainly was not a stellar visibility day. It did not mater at all though, the feeling of being up in the air again was beyond words. I planned on doing more spinning, but having done a couple, i wanted to stretch time aloft, so i set the speed for minimum sink and for a few blissful minutes flew around the field while looking at the world below me and living in the moment.

I am looking forward to more of these moments... And in case you wondering, the flowers and blooms are from around my glider trailer.