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26/04/2009

Permalink 18:58:34, by admin Email , 352 words   English (ZA)
Categories: aircraft, motor falke, circuits & landings

Weather StationYesterday was Sunday and a normal flying day at the club and for the first time in 2½ years I just didn't feel like going. Sad really, but I just couldn't see myself doing all that work and besides the weather was not looking so great. I have been working my tail off at the club for the last couple of years with no thanks and very little gratitude and yesterday I just needed a rest.

Today (a public holiday) with the help of some other members we fitted the airfield's new weather station, an initiative that I lobbied for at a recent AGM. This took most of the morning, from about 8am, and a few small modifications are still be required.

Once I was done, at about 12:30pm, we were treated to an extra low level beat-up by ZU-KIM. Without a doubt the lowest beat up that I have ever witnessed and I think it barely cleared the windsock. Was great fun to witness though.

L39 from behindThe wind was a very light easterly and there were some nice looking clouds not so far away so I hauled the Falke out of the hangar for a short spin. I found one or two areas of fairly okay lift, but nothing good enough to turn off the motor and I tried for about a half an hour. Sadly again, I almost nodded off to sleep and found that my concentration levels were not good and headed back. I planned a marginal glide from about 5km out for a straight in landing in 16 and was not surprised when I saw that I was not going to make it and needed to turn up the wick on the Limbach. Oh well.

My recent landings in the Falke have not been of the best as I have found myself getting a little lazy on the hold off with some resulting bounces and decided to get a bit of landing practice and performed two touch and goes and then the final full stop.

So that was some more hour building and landing practice, but not much else at 190.80ZAR.

19/04/2009

Permalink 19:52:05, by admin Email , 703 words   English (ZA)
Categories: twin astir, circuits & landings, single astir

A bit of an on-off day for me today and the weather was extra peculiar and pretty much inline with the weather forecast.

The day started off with a light south-westerly wind on the ground and therefore runway 26 was used. As the day progress the south-westerly increased slowly but at 12 pm it was still less than 5 kph. It was however what was happening higher up that made things more interesting. From about 12:30 pm the wind from about 500 feet up started to BLOW (I would guess at least 40 kph) and from a more southerly direction. This made for some very nasty wind gradient as the wind down low was still relatively light at about 10 kph. Towards 2 pm the wind speed on the ground started increasing rapidly to 30 kph gusting 40 kph.

So what about the flying?

At about eleven, and after only short circuit flights in the Twin, a member took the Single up and managed to stay up. After about 20 minutes of watching this me and another member jumped into the Twin with me up front (and flying) to join in and to try our luck.

And boy, can I say that I worked my @rse off for the next 20 minutes. The lift was extremely broken so one didn't actually thermal, but kind of flew in circles trying to find as many bumps as possible. It took me about 10 minutes to climb to 2500 feet, but we were being pushed by the wind into controlled airspace so I headed out looking for better lift up wind and found diddley squat. So it was a circuit for a very nice landing.

I was rather chuffed with myself as I managed (for 20 minutes) to do well in a plane that is heavier and a lot less manoeuvrable than the Single.

After this my day went downhill. A took the Single up at 1 pm to find bugger all lift and a very very nasty wind up there. Once again I was taken by surprise as to just how badly the Single penetrates into wind and thus I miss judged the circuit a bit, but still made the fence with a good 400 feet to spare. Opened the brakes full as I normally do (wind or no wind) and started heading down at about 140 kph (i.e. lots of extra speed for the wind gradient), never-the-less I still got a big fright when at about 100 feet the speed dropped VERY suddenly and it felt like the bottom fell out of the plane. I instinctively closed the brakes and tried to regain my composure before opening them again and landing after a small balloon. Not my best :(

Later that day we decided to pack up because the wind was getting to be a problem, 30 kph gusting 40 kph. I got permission for a hangar flight in the Single and was determined to regain some confidence after the previous landing. Got my best winch launch ever into the strong wind and managed 1600 feet. Flew into wind to burn off some height and watched the ground to see just how slow my ground speed was. Real Slow!

Again I got caught out a little with the circuit as the base leg seemed to have a headwind component when I was expecting more of a tailwind. Never-the-less, I pushed the nose down and made the fence with a good 300 feet, opened the brakes to half (normally I go full, but was worried about wind gradient) and got ready to land. Of course, it wasn't going to be that easy. There was some very nasty turbulence close to the ground, in fact, the worst that I have ever experience and with ½ brakes and 150 kph on the clock a strong gust suddenly lifted me up and a bit to the side. Now I was rattled all over again, lined up and flared, but I was carrying too much speed and perhaps a bit hasty and I bounced nice and high. Closed the brakes and tried again for another small bounce then the softest landing yet. Again I was a bit disappointed with my performance. Oh well, some good lessons learnt and I should get plenty of practice with wind before the end of the year. Cost 186.80ZAR.

12/04/2009

Permalink 16:42:00, by admin Email , 181 words   English (ZA)
Categories: solo, motor falke, circuits & landings

FAUH from 3000 feet.As today was part of the Easter Weekend long weekend no official flying was planned. I never-the-less took a drive to the airfield to again repair the loose tail-skid of the Single's, this time by applying a different and apparently better glue.

When I was done I decided to take the Falke for a quick spin as the weather forecast had predicted some light thermals from about 1pm. The wind was blowing a good 20 kph SW straight down runway 26 and the aircraft seemed to lift off almost immediately after applying full power.

Clouds not doing much.A flew around with engine on and when I got to about 2500 feet I found a few pieces of broken lift that I used (still with the engine on at about 30% power). Once under cloud base the lift was pretty strong, but very broken and no really useable.

By now the wind had west me quite far NW and under power I headed back then glided down for a nice landing. So not much in the way of soaring, but never-the-less some good hour building and experience at 265.20ZAR.

05/04/2009

Permalink 16:05:00, by admin Email , 636 words   English (ZA)
Categories: solo, thermaling & soaring, stalls, spins & steep turns, single astir

To say that the weather today was bazaar, extremely weird, unreadable and completely screwy would be a huge understatement. Those that know Uitenhage know that it is situated in a valley and even though the airfield is elevated about 150 feet above the town it still never-the-less regularly falls victim to the inversion that often plagues our flying, especially during really hot days. I think the theory is something like the sun heats up the valley and the hot air rises, but because Uitenhage is close to the coast the cold air from the sea blows over the valley and traps in the hot air.

Smoke filled airToday there was a very light Northerly blowing and again those that know Uitenhage know that a Northerly usually means hot berg winds, this along with the inversion and a bush fire that filled the valley with smoke really made for poor looking soaring weather. In the sun the temperature was 42ºC and visibility was very poor due to the smoke.

The Twin was only managing short circuits between numerous cable breaks that plagued us today. At about 1pm I decided that I had had enough of watching planes fly and helping to fix broken cables in the heat of the day and I took the Single for a winch launch on 08R (a runway we very seldom use).

About ¾ the way up the launch I flew through a stonking thermal that was strong enough to force me down into my seat and my heart skipped a beat, "Oh Yeah!" I released a few seconds later and made a complete U-turn to track down that lift. I soon found some weak lift and after centralising the thermal started to slowly climb away while the wind started to drift me slowly towards controlled airspace to the south. At about 2000 feet the lift improved significantly and I was bordering rather close to the TMA. At about 3000 feet I decided to head a little north west to give myself some room and was pleasantly surprise to find even a better thermal and climbed to 5500 feet in lift averaging 2.5 m/s in no time.

Lady SlipperOnce I was up there, there was lift everywhere and a found a lift band that must have been wave of sorts that ran parallel to the Rocklands Road and using it I headed off towards the Lady Slipper mountain maintaining 5000 feet.

Unfortunately for me the guys on the ground were bugging the hell out of me on the radio about them also wanting to fly and also wanting to pack up and go home blah blah. This at 1:30pm in the afternoon!!! About 2/3 the way to the Slipper and at 5000 feet (and easily within range of the Slipper and with sufficient height to get me back) I elected to make a U-turn and let the others fly. I pushed the nose down and flew back at 200 kph which is the fastest that I have ever flown before. I arrived back at 3000 feet and thus only lost 2000 feet which I though pretty impressive while flying into a light head wind.

With all that extra height to spare I practiced side slips, stalls and steep turns over and over until I joined a right-hand circuit for a very nice landing onto 08R. After this I handed over the plane to the next guy. The Twin was already back at the hangar and after a short circuit for the Single, the crew packed up at 2:30pm, just as the sky started to clear to blue and a few huge Cu's developed just to the South of the airfield where I had enjoyed myself. Talk about a waste of good flying weather!!!!! Come on okes!

Never-the-less, the long hot wait was very much worth the 40 minute flight in the Single at a cost of 114.00ZAR.

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