Sunday, January 23, 2022

Session #25


Date: June 3, 2021

Cummulative flights to date: 37

Site: Dog Mtn

Conditions: 9-15mph WSW – W, high 70’s with obvious thermal cycles

Harness configuration: full loaded glider (parachute, hammock)

Assistance: launch attempt 1 was solo. Lauch attempt 2 assist on right wing. Final launch attempt assist on both wings.

Launch: grnd cntrl had me having to really stay on it to maintain control.

Number of Flights: 1

Landing: failed landing, broke left strut, bent right lower leading edge bracket and both upper trailing edge brackets.

Narrative: This felt like a day in July. Thermic conditions both at launch and LZ. Cycles were regular and switchy starting out SW around noon and turned west around 3:30 but still thermal cycles. Wind was not predictable and my first solo attempt had to be aborted because I could not maintain control. The next attempt with assist on my right wing was a complete blow over when I lost it and the right wing went up and over. The final attempt I made had assist on each wing. I caught a decent lull and punched off. I immediately started angling off to the left and tried to straighten it out by swinging my body weight right while attempting to get into the cage. A close view of the video footage shows the left rudder deployed (unconciously) that resulted in the severe left roll. Besides trying to correct this by swinging my body weight I also believe I applied right rudder which just wasn’t enough to counteract the left rudder. I must have finally let the left rudder control go back to neutral as the rest of the flight was normal relative to neutral tracking. Had some trouble getting into the cage even with the step. I decided against locking the hammock and rode out the flight by my armpits which was definitely tiring and distracting. I did one clockwise 360 over the SW end of the LZ and then proceeded to enter a right hand pattern. The entire flight I had a tendency to maintain an airspeed of about 25 to 30 as read off the Hall meter I have mounted on the front root strut. There was enough turbulence I had trouble controlling airspeed as I rounded onto final and had a fairly short final leg which didn’t help get the airspeed dialed in. I was flying too fast and moving through the gradient at probably 25 ft up at maybe 20-30 mph. Then I continued making adjustments using my feet and dropping a leg, then both and using my hands on the control tubes to keep the airspeed up (not sure what was going through my head at that point) and basically flew it right into the ground at probably 20mph. Broke the left root strut, bent the right root LE bracket and probably more.

                                            Launch attempt #2

                                            Launch attempt #3

Take Aways:

  • Use 3 stakes to tie down this glider whenever there is even a slight chance of it blowing over. I think I was very lucky at Dog Mtn the last time I flew there when I hurt my back. Never tied it down but remember thinking about it maybe blowing over as I waited for it to die down that evening.

  • If you’re needing help controlling the glider on the ramp, don’t fly, it’s too strong for your current skill level.

  • Really need to focus on both rudder controls to avoid unintentional deployment. This has occurred in the past and I have evidently not yet got this down. Might help to deploy both controls together since there is a stop at neutral on both so if I am trying to correct a roll to the left (as was the case here) I should rotate both controls clockwise (right roll) which will cause the left rudder to hit the neutral stop position.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Session #24

 Date: August 5, 2020

Cummulative flights to date: 34

Site: Cape Kiwanda

Vertical to LZ: 70ft

Conditions: thermally active air switching from west to north and gusty

Harness configuration: bare glider with lifters

Assistance: none

Launch Time: 12:00 noon

Video/Photos: 9 photos, 1 video (taken by Maxim Kazitov, Seattle PG pilot)

Purpose of Flight: Test flight after re-building the right wing joiner gusset and replacing that hang tube. Also removed the rudder adjust blocks and added turnbuckles attaching directly to the rudder horns.

Narrative: Had all I could do to get the glider to the top after carrying it in my make-shift cart from the parking lot. The cart worked really well. Started climbing by maybe 11:45 and noticed right away the breeze was shifting A LOT on the first half of the climb almost like rotors some from the east. It took a lot of energy to keep the glider in control. It got a bit better once I got 2/3 up but was still not very stable in direction going from due west to due north. The wind speed varied much more than usual and would gust up then die. I attempted a launch and did not hold the nose down mushing then wing over to the left just off launch. Nocked off the sand, unhooked and straightened the glider and hooked in again. Another gust caught me and spun me so I had to unhook again to straighten the wing. Hooked back in and then climbed back up a couple yards to the top trying to hold the wings level while I waited for a NW direction. Got a launch a couple minutes later that felt OK I guess although all I really recall was how easy it was to step onto the cage using the stirrup. Got bumped around much more than normal on the way down and had to stay on it to keep my airspeed right and direction right. Had my hands full all the way to the beach. I made it quite a way past my set up and felt like I parachuted in from maybe 5 ft. after getting what felt like a beach thermal at about 10ft up on approach. Took maybe one step and nothing touched so a good landing overall. I really think this was a poor day full of turbulence in the form of beach thermals. I really noticed this on the hike back to the car. Cool air followed by really warm, moist air, quite a contrast. So no wonder I was having trouble. I was so beat when I got down there was no way I had enough energy left to go again plus I had no idea if the wind would pick up so I packed up and left. I think I left about 2:30.

Take aways: Need to remember to think of launch as though you are throwing it off the hill and at the last second you jump on. I got into trouble today attempting to make the glider pull me off the ground by my armpits which simply stalls the glider unless you have achieved sufficient airspeed which I clearly had not. Running it off while maintaining pressure forward on the twist grips until the glider leaves the hill (my feet can no longer reach the ground) and then leaping onto the cage has been my technique that has worked well for all my past flights. I have never had it want to nose in on launch although it is possible (see the original training film on YouTube).

This sequence of photos starts at the bottom and works up to the top photo showing me getting close to touchdown.

I include a video at the end of this post.

The air was NOT smooth!
In the cage and flying
Kicking up into the cage
Poised to launch from the main "top"
Resting at the first "top"
Two thirds up and fighting turbulent air
Climbing to launch (I'm definitely getting too old for this!)

Video of the entire flight although difficult to really see the landing.

My makeshift ER dolly used to get to the dune.  The beach is closed this year to all motor vehicles (COVID19) so I had to make this just to get to the bottom of the dune.  About a quarter mile walk.

Friday, August 7, 2020

Session #23


Date: July 23, 2019

Cummulative flights to date: 33

Site: Dog Mtn

Vertical to LZ: 1500 ft

Conditions: 10-12 W thermal cycles Sunny and 75+

Harness configuration: shoulder lifters only + chest chute

Glider:  DER

Assistance: none

Launch: launched about 6PM

The flights: 1

Video/Photos: none

Landing: Hard landing, the joiner gusset deformed but all rivets intact.

Narrative: Had to pay attention at launch. I was there solo and had to horse it around to maintain control during a cycle or two. Got a good light cycle straigth in and punched off. Felt easy as usual, heading straight out. Used step to easily get onto the leading edge. After a few seconds went ahead and deployed the latch on the hammock. Had to pull it under me to tighten it up. Found myself a bit high but decided to stop messing with it at that point and just fly. Flew with left foot propped inside the cage near the gusset to get my trim speed to 25 and used my other leg to modulate from there. I made several passes in the lift but was very cautious and soon fell below launch. My main manuevers were 180’s. No 360’s. As I approached the landing area I spent time searching for my wind streamer which took away from my concentration on landing. Someone had stolen it so after realizing this it was time to position for landing but I was on the east side of the LZ near the tree line. I flew downwind from there and then turned on a partial base leg trying to determine when to go for final. Because of the lower wing totally obscuring my view I could not see the LZ and therefore when I did turn onto base it was immediately apparent I was too high. I followed the same procedure of my last flight here in May and attempted to deploy both rudders and dive. I did not seem to get the great descent rate I got in May and only seemed to gain a lot of speed. I had forgotten to unlatch the hammock and since I was already on final, leaned forward and unlatched it by hand. Came in rather fast and did not get a good flare. Hurt my back lifting the trailer toogue earlier and then finished it off lifting my glider to carry it off the field which made for a very painful hike up to the car. Got to the car around 8:30.

Take aways: Dog LZ potential is very large. Should really go walk the field to assure myself of alternatives should I ever come in too high again. At this point I would say that diving down with both rudders deployed should be done by practice at altitude until I have a really good feel for what I can do. I also need to start thinking about judging when to turn on final by looking at how high I am and not relying on looking at the LZ target (which will always be under my wing and not visible from the cage). Either that or watching my altimeter for the correct altitude to turn onto final but this will also depend on headwind. This will take some trials to get right.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Session #22

Date: June 24, 2019
Cummulative flights to date: 31

Site: Cape Kiwanda

Vertical to LZ: 70 ft

Conditions: 18-20+ NNW and gusty at about 2/3 way up. Sunny and 70+
Harness configuration: shoulder lifters only
Assistance: none
Launch: launched about 2PM

The flights: 1

Video/Photos: none

Landing: Did not get into the cage. Wind on the beach was around 10-12 so no flare. One to two step landing.

Narrative: Spent what I’m guessing was about 45 minutes climbing up to the first top and encountering what felt like 18-20+ where I really had to stay on it to maintain control. I decided going up further was risky. I lost control on a gust and ended up with the right wing pinned to the sand. I had to unhook from my shoulder lifters to avoid ending up attached if the wing blew over. I was able to reconnect in a lull. I started slowly decending to the front ridge. When I reached it I didn’t feel like I’d have enough altitude to get into the cage and make the right turn right off launch. I slowly started inching further up. At about 2/3 to the top I launched in a N cycle so as to minimize how much of a turn I’d need to make. Made 2 attempts to get into the cage which failed (I had not felt it necessary to move the step all the way down which was a mistake). Had bled off airspeed in these attempts and had to move forward to pick up speed as I initiated my right turn. Had to make several directional corrections on the way to the beach but came in lined up well and made a smooth landing.

Take aways: Kiwanda can be gusty. One can lose control if not right on it all the time in strong conditions. Once a wing is down (tip on the ground) it is nearly impossible to lift it back up. The rudder will not do it ( I deployed full left rudder while pinned on the right and got no reaction).

Post-flight note:
The main purpose for this trip was to practice flares in what I’d hoped would be very light conditions. I was unable to accomplish this because of the strong wind. I noticed no adverse flight characteristics after my hard nose in at Dog which was the previous flight.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Session #21

Date: May 10, 2019
Cummulative flights to date: 30

Site: Dog Mtn

Vertical to LZ: 1500 ft

Conditions: 7:00PM launch, 5-8 NNW (not consistent) 70F
Harness configuration: shoulder lifters, chest chute and step.
Assistance: none
Launch: Launched from North side

The flights: 1

Video/Photos: Two videos from other pilots from the LZ of my base, final and crash

Landing: After diving down with some rudder brake I popped up then dropped down and did not flare or slow down. Hit the nose hard then right wing last.

Narrative: The launch felt very controlled. Felt I could have soared but noticed fairly soon into the flight I was hanging by my arm pits and was getting tired. I did not feel comfortable engaging the hammock so just toughed it out. Tried to adjust my position to achieve a slower airspeed but couldn’t really get below 25 on my Dwyer. Noticed later that Brian’s position in those old videos had his feet inside the cage leading edge, not stuck out over the leading edge. I think I did one 360 and then started to set up my approach. I deliberately set up high so as not to run out of altitude like last fall. As soon as I realized I was going to overshoot at about 300 ft I shifted forward adding rudder brake to descend. I dropped at about what felt like 3:1 and over corrected at about 6ft popping back up to maybe 15 ft and then gliding right into the ground with no flare.

Take aways: I believe what happened was that my reflex reverted to my Rogallo technique and I held pressure on the twist grips (well forward of cg) and just pushed forward thinking I needed to push out. The glider responded as predicted by continuing it’s ground skim with a slight descent which caused me to nose in since I did not attempt to run it on (going too fast anyway). Throwing my legs forward in anticipation of the impending crash just exaggerated the problem. It is apparent I need to learn how to flare before attempting landings in no wind.

Post-flight note:
I noticed no detectable change to the wing joiner alignment when I set up the next day and the negative wire attach tension seemed unchanged as well. The only thing I could see was the right wing joiner top gusset was bent a bit more than before. Set it up again on Monday to create the ballistic chute template and had the same observations about potential damage. Bottom line is I plan to fly it as is especially since I need to learn how to flare and stop in calm conditions, if I am smart I will do this at the beach site where the ground is a bit less hard.

Session #20

Date: April 12, 2019
Cummulative flights to date: 29

Site: Cape Kiwanda

Vertical to LZ: 80 ft

Conditions: 2:00PM launch, 5-8 W-NW (not consistent) 60F
Harness configuration: shoulder lifters and step.
Assistance: none
Launch: Launched from about ¾ point. OK, but felt challenged to keep up with what felt like changes in direction that made keeping the wings level difficult. Maybe two steps max as I was very near the lip and it is steep this year. Waited for a lull where things straightened out. This is not really a slope launch because it is so steep. I only get a step or two in before being lifted off the ground.

The flights: 1

Video/Photos: None

Landing: Found myself headed right for a big log and made the mistake of fixating on it. I was able to slow down and glide over it but it was close. I made a point of slowing down but did not really execute a flare. There was at least a 5-6mph breeze right on the beach so it should have been a one step landing. I believe what I’m doing is tensing up too much as I approach the ground and reacting by holding pressure on the twist grips (far forward of neutral CG) thus keeping the ship from flaring. Probably a habit from landing my Rogallo where pushing out is how I execute a flare.

Narrative: This was the trial flight after re-rigging after last fall’s hard landing where I tweaked the airframe. I didn’t notice any adversed flight characteristics. Made a conscious move to relax the twist grips to neutral right after getting up into the cage. I was very hesitant about making the right turn and ended up doing it late and then not enough and landed at least 10 yards toward the water from my set up. Right after launch I found myself too far forward and diving so moved back a bit and then stepped up onto the leading edge which was just as easy as the Dog launch last fall. I still find this site a challenge in that right after launch you have to execute a turn to line up parallel to the beach while trimming your speed and stepping into the glider. At Dog Mtn, you can take your time and only need to concentrate on keeping the wings level after launch since it is wide open air in front. Only after getting stable do I need to then think about stepping up onto the leading edge.

Take aways: I neglected to change bolt lengths for the quick connect positions where I re-rigged with the thick custom bushings so could not insert the safety pins and had to remove a washer to make enough room. Forgot to zip the gap cover closed and flew it with no nose cone either. I was not able to tell any difference in the way it flew without the gap cover.The wing joiners are still quite far off of coming together parallel (I think I tried to jerk-bend them when I did the re-rig and had no luck)

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Session #19

Date: Sept 23, 2018
Cummulative flights to date: 28

Site: Dog Mtn

Vertical to LZ: 1462 ft

Conditions: 4:00PM launch, 5-8 W (cycling NNW some with light thermal cycles) 60F
Harness configuration: Chest pack chute, hammock harness and shoulder lifters.
Assistance: none
Launch: solid, step into step and easily swung opposite leg up. Video shows a slight left cant as I flew away from the hill but basically tracked straight out.

The flights: 1

Video/Photos: Tina Jorgenson shot 3 stills and a short video clip.

Landing: Crashed in at close to full flying speed (~20mph) into the tall grass way short of the mowed area. Nothing damaged except the PVC step which I will need to repair. The tall grass spread the force out over the entire wing, bringing it to a stop without damaging the spars or struts as far as I could see. It disassembled normally. None of the fairings were damaged.

Narrative: This is the second attempt to fly here (crashed after takeoff last year in June). Direction switched to north as I waited through fairly ideal conditions 5 minutes prior. Had to wait it out and when it got back to light west again I launched. I was banked slightly left and did not react with rudder control but rather swung my legs to the right which corrected the bank and then stepped up into the cage. Had no problem and held things steady hanging by my arms until well clear of the hill using the PVC step I fabricated which worked flawlessly. . I kept it flying at or above 20mph on the Dwyer pretty much all the way down slowing it down a few times but always going back up to 20 or so. I think this is much faster than I need to be flying but did not want to experience a spin as I experimented with a couple 360’s to the right and one to the left. Ended up entering my standard pattern too low and could not complete my turn to get into the wind and crashed in the tall grass while turning. I was probably going close to 20 when I crashed in but the only thing that appeared to be damaged was the step. I did bruise my right ankle and also hit my left rib cage which feels like a light crack even with the rib protector vest on! Still feeling it the day after and expect a slow heal. Went for a 12 mile hike today on the ankle and although I could feel it, I think it will be healed in a week. Neither injury will be a problem flying. I did not use the hammock and just let it hang free the entire flight. I felt I had my hands full just feeling out the pitch for trim as I moved my feet back and forth on the leading edge.

Take aways: The chute nor the hammock presented any problem launching or flying. The closure clip for the hammock was perfect and allowed me to easily step into the cage prior to clipping in the lifters. I need a solution to the lifter clips. They need to be easy to clip in and unclip with no hanging up on the webbing loop. Need to re-build the right rudder to account for the short bracket I used on the lower trailing edge. This will require some re-rigging. It is currently about 3/8” short. This may partially account for the TE wing joiners being off about that much which puts a bunch of bending force right at the wing joiners making it really hard to set up. I nearly decided not to wear my rib protector vest and was so glad I put it on because even with it on I bruised a rib or two. I could see the mark on the vest where it hit the left hang tube. The vest is an absolute requirement when flying a cage-style glider because of the total exposure your rib cage has to the frame cage.