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Permalink 20:06:30, by admin, 540 words   English (ZA)
Categories: solo, ASW 20

Another day in the sun, but with a difference.

The holding point of runway 08 had lots of shiny white gliders. Looked very nice. Looked very glider like and professional. Only two problems though: The soaring weather was sheeeet (again) and there were almost more planes than crew to get them airborne. If the soaring weather had been good there would have been a problem as half the planes would have needed to stay on the ground.

We also had another new ASW20 take to the skies. Not the first time at Uitenhage, but the first time for it's owner!

The F'sI took a winch launch in my 20. It was up, then down. A whole 5 minutes. I still need to get used to this retractable wheel thing as on downwind I realised that I had never raised the main wheel after the launch and while doing a few turns to find lift I must have lost a bit of performance.

Later that day the easterly picked up and the windsock blew rather limpy in the direct of the ridge. The previous two flights reported that the ridge was not working, but as the rest of the sky looked sad, I thought that I would give it a go. A bit of a crappy winch launch (I'm starting to develop a phobia here as the last launch of the day always seems to be a stuff up). At about 250 feet the power slowly started to disapear, but I kept on pulling lightly just to give me enough for a circuit (if needed). At 500 feet I waggled the wings to signal to the winch driver for more power and it almost instantaneously arrived. I climbed nicely to about 900 feet until things started getting very fast and at 150kph there is really no point in even trying to signal to slow down so I just pushed the nose down to keep the wings on and the speed climbed to about 160kph when I pushed down the nose even more and released followed by a serious pull up to convert all that speed into height. In the end I managed 1100 feet off the launch.

Twin and FNext followed a very interesting and challenging 20 minutes on the ridge. In flap 4 (thermal setting), with the gear up (this time) and doing about 85kph I worked very hard at maximing the very weak lift available on the ridge. At one point I was down to 650ft and just as I was about to head for home I found a nice bubble and worked my way up to 1050 ft. It was hard work, but fun and I learnt quite a bit about the 20. The controls are super light and she's very responsive, even on the aerolons at flaps 4. Still hate the trim though. I love to trim a plane out when thermalling, but with this trim I'm either giving forward or back pressure on the stick to keep the attitude right. I prefer back pressure as it's safer. If you require forward pressure and you aren't concentrating or may relax the pressure and the nose will slowly come up and you could end of stalling or spinning. Not a good idea when flying only metres from rock. Cost = two winch launches : 80.00ZAR.


Permalink 14:29:00, by admin, 120 words   English (ZA)
Categories: solo, motor falke, cross-country

Today was a public holiday which meant I could spend some time at home sorting out stuff that one never normally gets to as work is always in the way.

Indian OceanIt was also however quite a special day as this was the first time I have had a chance to excercise my pax rating on the motor Falke. The victim, my wife. I took her up for a short 40 minute flip in the Falke. It was late afternoon and there were a few bumps about but I didn't want to explorer them too much in fear of inducing motion sickness.

We returned for one of my softest landings on 16L. Really nice being able to share one's flying! (Cost: 208.90ZAR).


Permalink 20:34:00, by admin, 758 words   English (ZA)
Categories: solo, circuits & landings, ASW 20

Another day with the new aerie.

Some very unusual morning mist over UitenhageWe spent the morning weighing and doing the weight and balance checks followed by a good hour's labour polishing.
Almost all the upper surfaces have nasty swirl marks where at some stage someone obvioulsy washed the plane with a rag containing some grit or fine sand.

The thermal weather looked very poor and there was a light northerly blowing which is seldom good for Uitenhage.
At about 1pm I took a winch launch and flew straight into some weak and broken lift. The launch was terrible and I only managed to get 850ft, due mainly to me pushing the nose down, but more on this later.

I pretty soon got a feeling for the plane and the vario and very slowly tried to make use of the availablelift. It took me for ever to get from 850ft to 1500ft (about 8 minutes) with the averager showing +0.1m/s. Once at 1500ft I decided to push off for the northern face of the ridge where guys had previously reported some weak lift. Unfortunatley for me I found sweet zip and reached the far end of the northern ridge at about 900ft. From there the airfield looked very far away but I made it back comfortably to land on 34.

During this launch and the last two launches the previous weekend I picked up a horrible vibration during the launch which no one could really explain to me. Intially it was said that as I was launching at 100kph and pulling I was most likely riding the edge of the stall so during this launch I pushed the nose a lot flatter but still got the vibration until about halfway up. Anyway, to cut a long story short, the vibration ended up being the main wheel that was still rotating after launch and a quick pull on the wheel brake would sort it out.

Much later in the day it looked like the ridge might start working and I got ready for the final launch of the day.

And this was the beginning of yet another chain of events. A few years back I posted an article on a wheels up that I had while flying with an instructor while I was still under training and idientified several links in the chain of events that lead to the event.

Today another chain was well and trully constructed, but fortunatley the final link was lost.

So are are the pieces:

1. The winch driver needed a break to relieve himself.
2. I was a little frustrated with this (he tends to need a crap at the most inconventent times).
3. Another member offered to drive the winch.
4. Although this member has tons of experience, he last drove the winch at least 2-3 years ago.
5. The ground controller for the day had left.
6. Another very experience member took his place.
7. The replacement ground controller, as with the new winch driver, was not current at that duty.
8. I of course was flying a new plane that I was not fully familiar with.
9. And oh yes, I was taking off with a very light tailwind.

So what happened?

Links in a chainI took the launch and for the first few seconds the speed built up very nicely and I rotated and started to climb. At about 50 feet the power decreased significantly, but not suddenly, which left me wondering for a few split seconds whether to release or not. I did. Next, and not unexpectidily as this has happended to me twice before, I end up flying next to the snaking snake. Not a pleasant position to be in as it can either smack a hole in the canopy or wing or even worse snag itself around the plane or a control surface which could result in me crashing. Due to the presence of the snake I needed to keep flying rather far down the runway until I felt that it was safe to land ahead. The problem was that the light downwind pushed up my ground speed a bit and I started to run out of runway and it's surprisingly difficult to land a plane that is floating a few feet above the runway as your normal approach angle is way out. In the end I banged it down a bit hard.

The the moral of the story. When you see those links in the chain start forming, stop right then and ask yourself are you doing the right thing. The cost for the day was fortunatelty two winch launches at 80.00ZAR and a good lesson learnt.


Permalink 20:45:00, by admin, 512 words   English (ZA)
Categories: solo, circuits & landings, thermaling & soaring, ASW 20

Rather an exciting weekend for me (*understatement of the year*).

Collecting GNTOn Saturday we drove through to Bloemfontein to collect our new toy, an ASW 20F, that I purchased a share in along with two other guys. We drove for 12 hours flat to collect the plane and to have her ready to fly today.

So Sunday morning, early, we rig her and haul her out to runway 26 for a winch launch. The more experienced partner took the 20 for it's first flight and 5 minutes later, as there was no lift, he returned.

Rigging GNTSo now it's my turn. First off the 20 is a new ship for me in that I have never flown one before, this plus all the extra levers in the cockpit, like the flap lever and retractable landing gear lever added to the complexity of the task at hand. I got a good briefing on how to use the flaps and some general flying and landing tips. I also sat for a good hour in the cockpit mentally going through landings and take offs and also pushing and pulling all the appropriate levers and controls. When I felt that I was ready we hooked her up and off I went to land safely 5 minutes later.

GNT's first FAUH landing

So how was it?

Damn nice! (*understatement of the year number 2*).

Here are my initial reactions, when compared to the club's Single Astir.

  • First thing I noticed, during the launch, was that it was really quiet inside the cockpit with minimal whistling wind noise.
  • Next off, when signalling too fast using the rudder requires some aerelon input is required as the plane tends to yo-yo from side to side.
  • One also does not feel the tension releasing through the yellow release knob when releasing from the winch cable.
  • The landing gear is hideously difficult to retract, i.e. the final bit where the gear doors are locked closed.
  • The controls are very nice a light and require very little input and are responsive.
  • The seating position is great and forward visibility excellent.
  • The trim knob is horrible as it needs to be unscrewed to unlock it, then moved, then screwed to lock it again.
  • The landing was a little more tricky in that due to the flexible wings, when you flare the fuselage actually climbs a little while the wings stay behind and this creates a floating (almost ballooning) sensation when landing.
  • The air brakes are not as efficient as the Singles, I would say about 85% as efficient.

Soaring GNT on the ridgeI took another launch and then later in the day another launch when the ridge was working very weakly. It was awesome as I could spend a little time getting used to the plane and brought the speed right back to 80kph with flaps at 4 (thermal flaps). I could feel every little bit of lift and took very little lift to get her to climb. Never-the-less my altitude was slowly dropping and after about 15 minutes I headed back to land.

So a super successfully weekend, a new plane plus getting to fly it. Cost of three winch launches 120.00ZAR.

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