Monday, August 4, 2014

Flying the Hi-start Woodie Sailplane Again

My RC sailplane flying lately has been more electric than off a hi-start and more sailplanes with ailerons. Recently someone was talking about how some people enjoy the traditional non-electric sailplanes that launch from a hi-start or winch more.  I find if the time available is short to fly or a smaller field is used the electric is a nice option. Being able to apply power and get back from way downwind has probably saved me from a long walk or a crash more than once also.

Yesterday I had the time and the light breeze provided good conditions to fly my polyhedral wood sailplane the Gentle Lady.  As I started to launch from hi-start it became apparent there was a crosswind on the tiny field I was flying from. Constantly the hi-start would drift over a chain link fence and I would have to pull the string back over the fence.  My launches were not very high and the thermal lift seemed to be rather elusive.  I timed all the flights and I was scratching to get 3 minutes.  After over an hour of flying 4 ½ minutes was the best I could do.

Gentle Lady Poly Wood Sailplane

Radian Pro Electric with Ailerons

On the longest flight so far I let the glider get really far downwind on the other side of the fence. It appeared it was getting slightly stronger lift but the glider was circling near two trees and a house. I decided to try to fly back knowing that there was not enough altitude to get back so I landed and did the walk of shame.  It got me thinking of the really high performance winch launched gliders and how being able to range out would be an advantage. Then no doubt there would still be times the glider would be too low far out.  Having no backup option does provide additional risk and challenge which can add to the fun for some people.

Flying Over the Fence

The Long Walk of Shame

Good Landing for so Far Away

With my sailplane back I noticed some turkey vultures circling in lift off the field. I never was going to get out that far with the Gentle Lady. The wind and my luck changed with the next launch straight down the field and found useable lift off the launch. Slowly the circles worked back until my glider was over a factory building and a parking lot. By now my batteries had been on for two hours without a full charge. Once it seemed like the rudder response was sluggish but I think that is what flying a poly glider is like.  I made the decision to fly back over the grass because I sure didn’t want to crash over blacktop. Out of the lift and the glider landed at 5 ½ minutes. When I went to pull up the hi-start stake the ground was so hard I had to wiggle it loose with a hammer, crashing over grass would not have been good either.

That Ground Was Hard

That evening I returned again to almost calm conditions, no lift to be found but I practiced flying super smooth.

Bill Kuhl

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