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Avast, ye wind be too strong!

April 25, 2011 2 comments

An SZD Pirat.

An SZD Pirat.


… (continued)

Today (Monday) I did go back down to Schmoldov. As well as the Puchacz, we took an SZD Pirat out of the Hanger (We pronouce it in English as ‘peerat’ but in Germany say actually say ‘pirate’). I was pretty much just told to get in it and fly it. Fortunately, my own experience told me that while it was calm on the ground behind the trees, the wind would be very strong higher up and probably 90′ cross, so I did the necessary mental preparation. Sure enough, the winch launch left me downwind, despite a lot of lay-off and the flight consisted mostly of pointing into wind. The Pirat looks a bit like a K6 and feels like a K8 to sit in but turned out to have much better penetration. On this account, my unnecessarily cautious close approach left me using almost full airbrakes the whole way down.

The second flight was a student and instructor in the Puchacz after which the Winch driver called end of play. (The cables were still drifting well downwind after release and wearing against the edge of the cable guides). There was also quite a bit of high cloud cover in the morning, so the thermals would never have been brilliant if anything. So that was it, and at lunch time we all gave up and went home. I took an even more scenic route through some forest which was nice, but a little too long to want to do again. A slightly disappointing but pleasant and technically still successful day.

Wheels slipping? Just add a tub o' concrete.

Wheels slipping? Just add a tub o' concrete.

Cross wind and high cover.

Cross wind and high cover.

Categories: gliding

Aerial guided navigation.

April 25, 2011 Leave a comment
Flying at Schmoldov at last.

Flying at Schmoldov at last.

Greifswald in merky skies (contrast adjusted).

Greifswald in merky skies (contrast adjusted).

Last weekend I once again cycled down to Schmoldov airfield but this time joined up to the club properly and actually flew there. I flew with an instructor who tried to speak a little English but it was actually easier in the end for me to speak German. He was very quiet for the first 20 mins of the flight and said he was just enjoying the view (not that there was much, it was very merky). I decided to wander over to the south edge of Griefswald to take a photo. I will fly over the top of it later but I couldn’t see the airfield anymore so didn’t want to push out too much. Later on, I asked him to fly while I took some photos of the area and with some awkward German language we discussed and found a better route home for me on my bike, that involves less main road.

 

New route home over the main road.

New route home over the main road.

Up close and personal.

Up close and personal.

I flew with him for a second time, after which he said I should fly the Puchacz (the two-seater) by myself on the following weekend before flying their single seaters, not sure why.

This weekend, they flew all four days of Easter – from Friday through to Monday. I went down there first on Friday. I flew with an Instructor again and then flew the Puchacz twice by myself. So now I’ve at least flown solo in Germany. Yay!

 

If towing gliders with an oversized vehicle, use an undersized child.

If towing gliders with an oversized vehicle, use an undersized child.

Solo in a Puchacz in Germany.

Solo in a Puchacz in Germany.

The day was blue and the thermals very tight, so it was hard work but with some quick centering and a lot of bank I managed to stay up for over 40 mins on 0 – 2 knot climbs. This turned out to be the longest flight so, after being declared the champion of the day and having a beer, I cycled home. Trying get home before dark against the wind was hard work, so I was too tired to cycle back on Sat or Sun and used those days to get done all the annoying little jobs that you never get around to doing.

 

Action Shot.

Action Shot.

Videoing is harder while cycling than while flying.

Videoing is harder while cycling than while flying.

continued …

Categories: gliding

Finally flown.

April 10, 2011 1 comment

Yesterday, I finally flew a glider in Germany.

The airfield at Schmoldov was still too wet so instead, we took two of the club’s gliders (a Puchacz and a Janus) and one private one (a DG-1000) down to a place called Pasewalk, about 100km south.

Leaving Schmoldov.

Leaving Schmoldov.

 

Rigging the Puchacz at Pasewalk.

Rigging the Puchacz at Pasewalk.

We rigged the gliders and joined in with the Pasewalk club. Unfortunately, me and Damian didn’t get to fly until the very end of the day. It was a little annoying to be watching everyone else and hearing them on the radio enjoying good thermals and then to have nothing left when I flew, but at least I finally flew.

The first question from my instructor was ‘So, is this your first flight?’. Err, yea, I don’t think anyone had told him that I was already quite experienced. I think he was fairly new to instructing and it was probably a little unfair to both myself and to him, for us to fly together. But we did anyway.

My instructor in the front.

My instructor in the front.

I had to sit in the back, for a silly insurance reason (the stupid bureaucrats are convinced that the person in the front seat is necessarily in charge, when in truth it is usually the other way around). Also, he flew the launch and landing which was quite disappointing. It was completely blue and there was no vario or slip string in the back and no electric vario at all so it was quite hard work. Despite this I managed to find a weak thermal and convince the Puchacz to stay up for 22 minutes. I think the instructor was quite impressed that this was even possible, especially since I’ve not really flown from the back before and was flying entirely by feel for most of the time. For part of the time I got him to read out the vario for me :). It was a nice enough flight though and just good to finally fly.

Pasewalk town.

Pasewalk town.

Yet another shot of me in a glider.

Yet another shot of me in a glider.

 

3ft above the airfield boundary, with no brakes!!

3ft above the airfield boundary, with no brakes!!

I’ve now seen German gliding in action, and on the whole its much the same. The winch launches were all very nicely flown and the thermalling looked good from the ground, even with several gliders circling together. The circuit patterns are the rectangular type, rather than with our diagonal leg, but I can get used to that. My only major concern is with the approaches, which were shallow enough to make me uncomfortable. It works fine at that field, where there is a perfectly flat field behind the landing area to undershoot into, but it would probably be lethal in more exciting terrain.

 
 
 

Damian gets ready for his first flight.

Damian gets ready for his first flight.

Damian also got his first flight which I think he enjoyed. It’s always good to introduce someone new to our world. After that, we packed up the Janus and the DG-1000 turned up from a 5 hour, 200km jolly, down to the edge of Berlin and back. We had a few beers and headed back to Schmoldov and home. I think the beer helps my German too. It doesn’t make me any better of course, but just makes me care less about how I sound, so I try to say more.

 

The launch point from above.

The launch point from above.

Nice end to a good day :)

Nice end to a good day 🙂

All in all, a good day and hopefully next time, they might clear me to fly solo.

Categories: gliding

Still soggy

April 3, 2011 Leave a comment

Not a promising looking sky :(

Not a promising looking sky 😦

Last saturday and once again yesterday, I cycled to the local airfield. I knew immediately I looked out the window at the low cloud and general merkyness that we’d not be flying but figured I had nothing better to do on a Saturday so would do the 22mile/30km round trip cycle again anyway. It was pleasant enough though. I sat with the few club members that had turned up, had coffee and listed to a conversation that I think had something to do with a tree, a neighbor, and a ‘small problem’. I chatted to their equivalent of a CFI and spend a whole minute trying to ascertain the German word for field, as well as a complicated conversation to determine if they mind if I bring a group of my friends here who want to ‘try’ gliding (the trick there seemed to be the difference between the word ‘versuchen’ – to try as in ‘to attempt’ and the word ‘probieren’ – to try as in ‘to sample’). I’d normally not ask as gliding clubs usually love any interest from potential new people, but this seems to be a really small club.

The weekend before. Nice sky, soggy field :(

The weekend before. Nice sky, soggy field 😦

They have a Puchacz. I learned in these things!

They have a Puchacz. I learned in these things!

 
So, I have to hope that next weekend, I can finally getting back into the air, and spend the meantime reading about my brother’s club’s exploits ridge and wave soaring in Scotland.
 

Their tug.

Their tug.

Categories: gliding

Temporary no fly zone

March 13, 2011 3 comments

Who needs corners?

Who needs corners?

On friday night, we investigated a Greek restaurant. There were several of us this time including two Russians, one of which was learning English and seemed to be taking a hyperactive approach to trying, just talking as much as he could. So the night was interesting and I learned some bizarre things about Russian culture. For instance, apparently that ‘Sponge Bob Square Pants’ kids cartoon is very popular among the teenage/adult Emo culture there. Very weird. The food was very good and was served in large portions. It also consisted mostly of meat, so on Saturday two of us decided to go for a 20 mile cycle ride to burn some of it off and investigate the gliding club here.

 

Windy. Good for some people.

Windy. Good for some people.

It was, as ever, windy and going there was into wind so very hard work. The cycle paths disappear as soon as you leave the town. The roads are plenty wide enough to not inconvenience cars but lots of them still beep at you for riding on the road.

 

Can't fly? well fix something then.

Can't fly? well fix something then.

After about an hour and a half of struggling we arrived at Schmoldov, the little village and the airfield of the same name. We saw no planes as we approached so knew they weren’t flying but fortunately there were people there and the first we met was welding the gate hinges back on. It seems they spend the winter here repairing and fixing things, rather than flying. Unfortunately, they couldn’t find anyone who spoke English, but someone did show us around and Damien had to translate for me. Actually I understood quite a bit of what he was saying but this was more from knowing gliding and anticipating what he would be saying, than from understanding the German.

 
 
 

Fix the Bocian.

Fix the Bocian.

Yep, It's a gliding club.

Yep, It's a gliding club.

The summary is that they don’t start flying until maybe the start April because the field is too soggy. However, they suggested we go back in two weeks time as they may have started by then. They have both a winch and a tug and all the usual stuff I’ve come to know and love at just about any gliding club anywhere in the world. But to fly again, I’ll just have to wait a bit longer. 😦

Having had a good look around we headed home. The cycle back, now downwind, hardly involved peddling but gave us an average speed of 27kph, rather than the miserable 19kph on the way out. It was nice to get properly outside Greifswald and good to see the GC is alive and well, even if dormant for the moment.

PS: All the photos are on facebook, as usual:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2324426&l=c6bd18044a&id=61305529

Categories: gliding