Monday, May 4, 2015

Lower Performance Sailplanes Higher Fun for Me

This past weekend I had the opportunity to fly with a few other RC sailplane pilots and it was great. Most of my flying is done alone which is fun but I sure enjoy the time I can enjoy the hobby with other people that are equally enthused.  This wasn’t a contest situation so there was plenty of time to observe the other gliders flying and talk with the pilots, although the contests we have are rather low key. I was flying my rather heavy DLG glider but managed to find good lift a couple of times but it was normally at the downwind edge of the field as the glider flies over power lines, buildings and roads.  Unfortunately I had to leave rather early and the wind came up in the afternoon.

Wayne's Raven

On Sunday the forecast looked favorable for slope soaring but the wind remained rather light most of the time. I returned to the same field but found myself flying alone.  This time I had the Gentle Lady sailplane and launched using a small hi-start designed more for hand launch size gliders.  To me I find more enjoyment in working the thermals from a lower level. Often I need to make many launches before finding lift strong enough to climb in very well but I figure it is good exercise stretching out and retrieving the hi-start.

After many launches I could tell that I had finally launched right into a thermal as the hi-start was really stretching out vertically.  The glider slowly climbed to a good altitude downwind but by now was probably over a road. When the tail was getting small I decided to head upwind, with a lower performance glider this can be challenging also. With so much altitude I was able to reach the other end of the field but lost a good amount of altitude and then couldn’t find another thermal, at just under 5 minutes I was forced to land.

On my next launches I tried to find lift farther upwind but just wasn’t finding it.  After several launches I worked a thermal that was downwind in the danger zone. Before the glider got too far downwind I was going to bring it back.  The penetration of an un-ballasted Gentle Lady isn’t the best and the breeze had come up a little. I was careful to stay to one side of the power lines but all of a sudden I realized my glider was behind a tree, not in front of it. Boom, the awful sound you hear when your sailplane flies into a solid object. 

Luckily the glider wasn’t real high and wasn’t wedged real well in the branches. There were some dead branches under the tree and I threw one upward but missed.  About this time a gust of wind dislodged the sailplane and it came down but I fumbled trying to catch it. The damage was minor, just a crack in the nose, it could have been easily repaired at the field.  A benefit was now I could see my battery was not pushed all the way forward and I could probably remove  that big hunk of clay on the nose for balance.

Bill Kuhl

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