Yesterday, Feb. 18th, we moved the Pawnee to the maintenance shop for it's annual inspection. You may get a call if you've indicated that you would like to help with the annual.
The ASK 21 was dis-assembled yesterday and the fuselage was loaded on the Sooner Trailer. This was accomplished by Pete Neil and Rick Lafford with Chuck Zabinski acting as a human fuselage stand. Pete and Rick did all the hard work of removing the control fitting safety wires and lifting the wings into the wing dolly. Pete Neil then trailered the fuselage to M&H near Harris Hill. The fuselage will now be fitted with a new canopy and refinished by M&H.
April and May flying can be both fantastic with great lift and sometimes grim and wet with no hope of soaring. However, when conditions are good in the spring it can be wonderful when you can stay up with essentially little effort. About three years ago, in early May, we flew on a weekday that looked good on the NAM BLIP maps. The BLIPS maps usually show that the lift will be better further south from Dansville, away form Lake Ontario. On this particular May day, the BLIPS said that lift would be good to the north of Dansville too. In fact, the lift was good everywhere in the area. It was a day that could have been a gold distance or diamond triangle day. However, I was lucky to get a tow, but a retrieve crew was not to be had on that particular day. Work was the priority for most of the club members that day and I was recently retired. So after being being towed to 2000 feet, I got off and immediately encountered an eight knot thermal. Up quickly to 6,000 feet, I started north and found I could fly north, stopping to thermal every 15 miles or so. As I went further north, the lift got better and I was able to crusie around at 8,000 to 9,000 feet. I hadn't been that far north and I wasn't that familiar with the landmarks. It took a little while to find where my house was and I was able to get some good photographs from about 8,000 feet. After cruising around a bit, it started to over develop a bit over my house. I was worried that I would get caught and have to land without the support of a crew. I nervously trurned back to the south for Dansville. The lift held and stayed strong on the way to the south. I ended up flying all the way to Lakeville (North end of Conesus Lake) from Leroy without turning. Then, with the lift still strong, I flew to Avoca and then back to Nunda. Most of the flying was between 7,000 to 9,000 feet. The downside of all that great lift was that it's cold up there. With the vent canopy vent closed and the internal vent close, it was still cold and the air that did come in was 5 degrees C or 41 degrees F. So after 3 hours, I had touble feeling my feet. I tried fanning the rudder to get my feet working and blood circulating. Relief was not to be and I had to burn off about 7,000 feet to get down and get some warmth. Not all days are so great, but when they do come along, you have to be ready to take advantage of them. If I had been better prepared, a gold distance or diamond triangle would have been very possible.
Right about this time of the year, April 19, 2007, I was flying on what was predicted to be a good day with lift to 5,000 feet on a blue thermal day. I had gone down to Hornell and was just kind of tooling around the area, just enjoying being back in the air after a long winter. The lift seemed to be getting better. I decided to head back to DSV from Hornell and I was near Caneseraga when I blundered into strong lift. Strong, 8 knots on the averager, thats strong for our area. Up I went and after passing 10,000 feet MSL, it occured to me that I could get a 3,000 meter gain (Gold Altitude). So I kept circling in that strong thermal and got to 11,600 feet MSL. Unfortunately, I needed another 913 feet for that Gold Altitude. Try as I might, I could not get that 913 feet, no matter what I did. And again, It was really cold up there and I really could not feel my feet anymore. So, I had fun burning off 11,000 feet of altitude to get down to pattern altitude. Getting out of the cockpit, I found it was difficult to walk as my feet were so cold, they didn't work right. However, the flight was worth the pain.
I have learned that you have to be ready to take advantage when the soaring conditions turn really good and that you really never can predict how good they will be. You just have to be ready. Now, where can I get a pair of thermal socks that aren't too bulky and won't make my feet sweat?