By Wally Adasczik
This year, the League of Silent Flight (LSF) hosted Cross Country (XC) at Monroe Central High School in Parker City, Indiana. The high school has areas that accommodate either a southwest or northwest launch for winch-powered airplanes. Pilots were not competing for total distance this year, but rather to complete an aspect of the LSF task program.
Ed Dumas, from Tennessee, started the madness on July 12 with some short hops around the school early in the morning, eventually landing back in the school yard. Conditions eventually improved enough to get off of the school grounds, and Ed logged 2.4 miles down the north course. The conditions were not great on Wednesday, but the forecast for Thursday and Friday looked very favorable. Ed eventually packed it in and off to dinner we went.
Thursday, July 13, turned out to be a GREAT flying day! The winds were coming out of the northwest at 2-3 mph! After putting around the schoolyard for a few hours, Ed eventually caught a thermal at about 150 meters at the end of the school driveway! A low save for sure to start the trek down the course. I looked at the clock at it was about 1 p.m. Normally, we just sit in the back of the pickup truck dealing with the uncomfortable plastic floor. Bean bags were added over time, but this year, we decided to try lawn chairs up against the tailgate! Why we did not do this 20 years ago is beyond me. It was so very comfortable!
The flight was a constant “don’t give up the squares,” meaning try and keep the turns flat and the speed constant. This year, Ed flew with a variometer that provided vertical speed and altitude information. What a life saver; it definitely makes guessing what the sailplane is doing much easier. Eventually, Ed climbed out to 800 meters and down the course we went. The sailplane would get low, and we would stop, find a thermal, and go back to 800 meters. The conditions were so good that most of the time we could never see the tail of the sailplane! A few times on the course, after passing through a tunnel of trees, we both could not believe how high we were flying! Speeds reached about 30 mph, according to the pickup driver. About 45 minutes later, we reached the turn point at 6.5 miles and Ed was down to 200 meters…oh boy…this is never good, and so many pilots have gotten to the end and landed. On the other hand, Ed is patient. He worked a thermal back up to about 300 meters, and we were off again heading northbound. The flight back was a “gimme,” in my opinion. The thermals were strong, and we made good progress back up the course. I saw that we were about a kilometer from the school and Ed should have just flown to the landing, but I made him stop and get back to 700 meters! Nothing better than having a bit of safety altitude, I say.
On July 14, we got a call from Dave Smith (Kentucky) wanting to know if we were still flying XC! He wanted to try and complete his 2K cross country task. Ed and I looked at each other after having a great time the day before and were all in. Dave showed up, put his HUGE Bird of Time together, and started the process of finding a thermal to get out of the school yard. This was the first time that the winch was set up facing Southeast. The winds were swirling a bit and this direction seemed favorable. Dave had not flown the Super Bird that much and, low and behold, found himself so low that he got caught in one of the few trees on the school grounds. The winds came up and blew him out of the tree but broke his horizontal stabilizer off. Ed and I came to the rescue with some superglue, Kevlar, carbon fiber, tape, but no chewing gum, and put the stabilizer back on. It was much stronger after the fix and super stiff. After the fix, the test launch told us we had a viable bird.
Well, the conditions eventually improved and down the south course we went. The time was about 12:30 in the afternoon. We literally slogged down the course at 2 mph! The Super BOT had almost no penetration, but Dave found a super thermal, skyed out to 400 meters, pushed the stick forward, and we got almost 6 mph! We hit the turn point 2 km down the road an hour later! We pushed past the turn a smidge to catch a boomer thermal, and back up the course we went. How high did we go? By eyeball, we were high enough to know that the wings were so small! Dave got back to the school yard at 3:15 p.m.—2 km never came easy, but he had done it!
To top it off, when sitting down and completing Dave’s Blue Sheet for winch, I was scratching my head wondering what was wrong with his entries. It had dawned on me, Dave, and Ed that he had just completed his Level 4 Blue Sheet! WIN! I logged onto the LSF website with my cell phone and awarded him Level 4 on the spot!
CONGRATULATIONS to Ed Dumas and Dave Smith for completing their individual LSF tasks!