May 26, 2012 was a great day for soaring!
We arrived at the field at about lunchtime and I got my name on the list quickly, and proceeded to go shoot the crap with anybody that would. It is a lot of fun hanging around an airport, and anybody that is infected with the flying bug loves to BS with others that have the same affliction.
The sun was out, the breeze was not too strong, and the puffy clouds starting to build. A perfect day was brewing!
About 2:30 in the afternoon it was my turn to go, there were several volunteers including my wife to help me get into the glider, and within minutes they had my butt in and organized. We took off shortly thereafter, Bob Hagen in the back and me in the front. The turbulence was quite bad on tow so there were a few times that Bob saved the day as my arm strength was not quite up to the task of levelling the glider after some of the bumps. At 5200 feet we released from the tow.
“Which way should we go Bob?” I asked.
“You're doing the flying, pick a cloud,” came the reply.
We steered towards a cloud a mile or two over and got underneath it. The lift wasn't very good, but we tried hard, and circled and circled for about 10 min. We were just hanging on at 4100 feet, and I finally got tired of it and rolled the glider level to try one more cloud before we would have to turn back to the field. We entered a clear area where the sun was shining bright and all of the sudden, with a whump, the glider started climbing. I noticed by the variometer that we were going up at about 6 knots, a darn good climb. We rolled left and circled inside the rising air.
I milked that thermal as long as I could, and then when it died out we searched for another. We were now at about 7000 feet. Not long after we ran across the thermal under a dark cloud that had us climbing at about 9 knots. After a few circles we had climbed a couple of thousand feet.
“We can't pass up a thermal like this!” I say, noting we already had lots of height.“What's our limit here Bob?”
“9500 feet, that's it we are at our limit!” He replied.
We rolled level once again and headed towards the airfield. We were still at 9000 feet when we crossed the airfield, and it seemed that lift was available under every cloud now. Off to the north we spotted the other glider that was flying, he was at about 4000 feet and circling in a thermal. We followed and looked down at the other glider for a while, and then we heard a call over the radio.
“MJS, Chipman Ground, it has been an hour now,” came the call from the airport letting us know that one hour is up and we should think about getting the glider down so someone else could use it.
“Okay, hard as it is we will try to find a way to get down, MJS.” Bob replied with a chuckle.
I banked the glider hard left and put us into a tight spiral, what a blast it was to bank so steeply! Around and around we went burning off altitude, then I rolled it back to the right and spiralled that direction to burn off more height. In the end Bob had to pull the spoilers out so we can get rid of all of the extra altitude.
At 1000 feet we joined the circuit on the downwind leg, and Bob let me do all of the flying including the landing, what a great day!