June 16, 2006

My first mini–cross–country

Well it's been a good 3 weeks since my last exam and I'm now completely back into relaxed student mode. After working almost solidly from 10 to 10 every day for three weeks it was a little bit of shock to suddenly have nothing to do.

The solution to my bordem has mostly been to go flying every single Wednesday and Sunday, especially now that the weather is so nice. I had a few good flights and some bad ones by myself but last sunday the weather was a little worse so I couldn't fly on my own without being checked by an instructor first. Since I'd then have to waste £8 on a check flight first and as I wasn't actually feeling too great I decided not to bother. However, at the end of the day I did take a flight and managed to grab a chance at flying the £80k 'Duo Discus', the club's most fancy glider they use as a two–seater cross country trainer.

We had a really crap launch (trainee winch driver I think) so almost immeadiately got into circuit ready to land again. At about 600' the instructor turned off circuit into a thermal and managed to climb up to about 1700'. It was actually quite nice to be able to just sit there and look out the window for a little while but then I took control and continued the climb up to about 2500'.

With plenty of height, plenty of time and a very shiny glider I decided to see how far I could get. We wandered out a few miles to the motorway and came back, did some more thermalling and headed down a nice street of clouds the sky had provided for us. Somehow, even at 17:00 there was enough lift under it for us to get all the way down to Daventry (about 10 miles away) and back and only lose a few hundred feet.

Back at the airfield again we were still quite high so I took the opportunity to see how it handles and throw it around at 100knts (about 110 mph). It's nice to just mess around and have some fun with the planes sometimes, especially when they cost £80k! Then the instructor took over again, did a 130mph pass on the clubhouse (though at about 400', since it's been banned todo it any lower and he didn't want to get in trouble) and landed. So we got back an hour and 11 minutes after we left, by which time everyone had packed up and gone home or into the clubhouse, including the bloke who we had asked to go and wait for us in the retrieve buggy a few minutes after we left, oops.

The whole flight was only about 35miles which isn't a lot by gliding standards but it was my first taste of a cross–country flight since it was the first time I've ever flown out of visual range of the airfield. Also, there's something really nice about flying in the late evening as it's cooling off. It's so calm and peacefull up there. After a few weeks of just doing very intense short flights by myself, trying deperately to stay up it was nice to remember how soaring is supposed to be.

Unfortunately, I don't have a fancy GPS recorder but the rough route is here: http://files.oliford.co.uk/duo-flight-11-06-06.jpg

- 3 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. hrf

    Do those reservoirs and the large expanse of tarmac which is the M1/M45 give much lift?

    18 Jun 2006, 22:08

  2. Rick

    Well done, what's next?

    19 Jun 2006, 15:44

  3. The reservoirs don't produce lift as they absorb heat. Tarmac, being thin and mostly black, aborbs radiation well and emits it as heat easily so yes, the motorways do produce thermals in the mid–day sun. At 17:00 in the evening there isn't much sun though so its not so clear.

    20 Jun 2006, 00:55

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