All 6 entries tagged Gliding

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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


April 06, 2006

The Sky is Falling

A week of sitting indoors revising while the skys out my window have been glorious bright blue with just the right amount and type of little fluffy clouds has driven me nuts, but yesterday I gave in and went gliding again.

A few weeks ago we had our weeklong Easter Course, during which I was cleared for 'Check 1', which means that on nice days (like this week) I can fly without having to find an instructor to come with me on a check flight first. At about 14:00 I grabbed a free single-seat glider and pulled it onto the winch queue. It's quite daunting flying up the winch on your own without any practice for a few weeks. You have all of about 3.5 seconds to reaquaint yourself with this whole flying thing, the winch process and the particular aircraft you're flying before you're doing 70mph pointing 45' at the sky. So after a quick mental run through I had the cable attached and disappeared skyward.

I was hoping there would be lots of lift around (air going upwards) since everyone else was dissappearing for ages but all I could find for the first two flights was endless sink (air going down). This, in gliding, is what we call… crap, basically.

For the third go I decided to pull back on the winch a bit more, it makes it a little more difficult to deal with if something goes wrong but does help get a higher launch and sure enough I got up to about 1200'. I thought I'd wander off in the opposite direction and this time found a nice strong thermal. Circling in this for a while, occasionally losing it and finding it again got me up to 2300', a significant climb off the winch for a pilot like me.

After about 20 minutes I was getting rather thristy and hot and wandering down wind from the airfield a bit. I hadn't really prepared myself to stay up for an hour or so and figured it'd take me 10 mins to get down from this height so that'd make my 30 mins flight which I've been trying to get from the winch for a while. Unfortunately, wanding back got me into the hurrendous sink again and after a circuit a little on the low side, I was on the ground in about 3 minutes. So only 23 minutes, which is good for a winch, but not so good when you consider I'd got to 2300'.

Nevermind, there's always next time…


January 29, 2006

Quadbikes, Curry, Stratford and lots of flying.

Well that was an interesting weekend…

Saturday was a big gliding club day, we had arranged for a few graduated exec members to back for a day at the airfield and then we'd all go out for a curry in Leamington. We tied this in with the club by making an official trip aswell and then making the curry an official social. In the last couple of days a few of the graduates pulled out, only two people signed up for the day trip and no one expressed any interest in the social. So I went along saturday morning not feeling particularly hopeful for the day. One of the two members didn't turn up before we left so it turned out to just be the graduates, me and one extra.

By about lunchtime I was severly annoyed, the organisation at the airfield was for some reason particularly lacking. It took until about 5 hours after we arrived before the one new person got any flights and even then it was only two not very great winch flights. We had also booked the quad-biking centre, which runs from the bottom of the airfield but I was flying by the time the booked time came so didn't go and those who did go didn't get to fly because we'd packed up the flying by the time they finished. In the whole day the site managed 25 flights on a reasonble day (it wasn't great weather, but flyable) when we normally get through about 60.

Needless to say this left me a bit annoyed with The Soaring Centre. The thing is when I get annoyed I tend not to shout at people or anything, I just grumble and then inadvertently sort of make things happen. I was grumbling something about looking at other airfields, to see if they do any better and because there was a bloke there we were talking to who normally flies at Stratford upon Avon GC we decided we would take a look down there one day.

Saturday night we went to the social. Due to the people who pulled out Chris (one of the graduates) had brought along some of his mates to fill the quad-biking places and so we invited them to the social as well to make up the numbers as I wasn't expecting any of the members to turn up. As it happened we had 3 UWGC members turn up so we actually had 12 people at the curry place in the end. Us actual gliding people moved onto weatherspoons afterwards and had a few drinks and loads of random conversations. About 1:30 we left the pub and before we all disbanded we decided that since we were all around we could check out Stratford in the morning (sunday).

I woke up about 11:00 this morning and had in my own mind decided that visiting Stratford wouldn't be all that great an idea at midday. The others turned up at noon and everyone seemed to think that just popping down to see what facilities they had wouldn't be such a bad idea. So at about 13:00 we turned up at Stratford GC, explained who we were, that we normally fly at HusBos and just wanted to see how they did things. As it happens they were all very enthusiastic and three of the four of us all got to fly. Because it's a smaller club with only a winch engine and no planes for towing they run a much more efficient operation. I really liked the friendly small-club atmosphere there and their system and general organistion skills put the relative big buisness operation of The Soaring Centre to shame.

It was really interesting to fly at a different airfield and in a totally different type of glider and it was a really nice and interesting day. We could never totally switch the warwick club to use Stratford as they just don't have the avaliable facilities of Hus Bos and probably would struggle to cope with us in the first term when we take about 10 new people each week. It does however seem sensible to somehow have it as an option for small trips when the weather doesn't look so good, since it is practically right next door.

All in all a good weekend and a good bit of flying.


November 08, 2005

Rainstorms, virtual crashes and a great concert.

Well last weekend's gliding trip wasn't such a great success. I decided to take a trip on saturday rather than my usual sunday as the forecast didn't look very good for the latter. A whole two people signed up for the saturday trip and by friday the forecast for that looked awful aswell so I e-mailed the two members and asked if they really wanted to bother. Niether did and so the trip was cancelled. Of course, saturday's weather was actually quite good so I became annoyed and decided to ask Chris (another gliding club trip leader) if he wanted to make an unofficial trip on the sunday. So he stayed here on saturday night with the intention of us both actually getting to fly on sunday. We woke up at 07:40 in the middle of a storm so went back to sleep… and woke up at 12:00. Ooops. Even so, nothing much missed as the weather was still awful and so we didn't bother.

Instead we played around on a gliding simulator I've found. After he left I tried out some of those things I'd never dare todo in real life. There are some bizarre screenshots of my virtual antics here: http://gliding.oliford.co.uk/simulator.

The rest of the week has been much the same as usual except that, on monday night I went to see the Brass Band and Wind Orchestra's concert in the Arts Centre. Now, you must understand I have absolutely no musical ability myself and don't usually listen to such music but I was convinced (extremely easily mind you, I quite fancied something different) by Andy Ingles and Chris Jackson. I have to say it was excellent and well worth the minescule £3 to get in. I especially liked, I think it was: 'The Gael' by the brass band and the last pieces: 'Windows of the World' by the wind orchestra. It was also great to see Andy conducting. Since I know him mostly from lab last year which is never a place to bring out one's enthusiasm it was different to see him up there obviously enjoying himself (and without any tea!).

Also Gareth and Steph should be mentioned aswell, since I've know them from physics for a few years and didn't even realise they were in the orchestra.


October 26, 2005

Fun, Flying and Flour

Well, another week is halfway through and things are moving alongas usual. I am starting to make my application for a PhD at Imperial College that I hope todo with some sort of further involvement with JET. I'll post any further developments here.

I was intending also todo some work on the project on saturday but didnt have access to the data for the whole weekend so that killed that idea.

On sunday I went flying again. Took a group of four people and Chris Deeks brought along another 3 later on. We just managed to get them all a aerotow and a winch. I did some flying aswell, the two duty instructors who both know me tried to send me on my own straight away but I chickened out and asked for a check flight having not flown for two weeks. I had this and then went up on my own. Managed to find a little lift, though the best bit was inside a cloud and I couldn't follow it :(.

Also I talked to Tom Burton on the airfield who is trying to organise a competition between us, coventry and loughborough. The idea at the moment to todo something soon that will involve flour bombing targets on the airfield from the gliders. This sounds like excellent fun and I shall do some more videoing if/when it goes ahead.

On the subject of videos, the Soaring 2005 video is now complete and can be downloaded from http://gliding.oliford.co.uk/videos . This is a great video of everything we get up to on our week long gliding courses. It includes some aerobatics and spins.

Right, now I must go and do some project work.


October 20, 2005

Illness, Airfield and Lost

It's been a little while since last updated mainly because nothing particularly interesting has happerned.

At the begging of last week I was begining to think that I may have managed to avoid the 'freshers flu' (Why is it called this? Its not flu, its a cold usually and everyone gets it, not just freshers) thats been going around. Of course, I shouldn't have thought that because I then caught it. As usual I tend to get these things a little worse than everyone else and so was feeling generally very ill at the end of last week. I managed to get to all my lectures and then on sunday was feeling a tiny bit better so decided to take a group of people to the airfield anyway, just to get out of the flat and off campus.

It was a merky miserably day but we had a couple of people on the trip who seem keen to keep coming which is always nice to see. I didn't fly myself as with a cold I would have just made a complete mess of it. You can't really fly when ill as you don't have enough brain power, the altitude changes can mess with the pressures in your head if your nose is blocked and its rather difficult without your balance being completely right.

I have now finished watching the first series of Lost. I can say overall I liked the ending, it was suitably wierd although it would have been nice if it had at least answered some of the original questions before throwing some new ones at the poor viewer. Seeing the black rock was good, I really didn't expect that.

We now have a reasonable idea about how our 4th year project is going to go. It bascially involves looking at the data from a big particle accelerator (BaBar) and trying to find a signal that corresponds to a new particle.


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