Now that the official OLC year 2014 is over it is time again to review again all the XC soaring flying in Western Washington this year. After a slow beginning due to very wet weather the soaring season started in earnest.
Submitted by Martin Gibbins on Thu, 09/25/2014 - 13:51
For the 2014 Arlington Airport Appreciation Day on September 20, Evergreen Soaring displayed the G-103 Twin Astir and explained the basics and finer points of soaring with the visitors. Local families who attended told us about watching Evergreen gliders fly over their neighborhoods heading toward the AWO landing pattern, and were eager to see one up close. Many children, and a few adults, were able to sit in the cockpit and get a view from the pilot’s perspective. We also had three walk-up demo rides. Appreciation Days is a useful public relations opportunity for Evergreen Soaring.
One of the reservations that some pilots have about going XC from Arlington concerns the difficulty of connecting with lift and getting sufficient altitude to get going. This is especially true in late summer when the flat lands around Arlington and even the foothills further east offer only marginal lift and altitudes that make even staying up a chore. These conditions look even less inviting when there are no clouds to indicate any convection (which happens quite often). What is not apparent in these cases (even with Dr. Jack’s predictions) is the fact that the higher mountains, starting some 15 to 20 miles further east from Arlington, quite often offer great thermal conditions.
While most of the Evergreen members were tryng to make a favorable impression on Sunday August 23 about our flight operations on our guests from the Soaring Safety Foundaton (Tony Condon and Adam Kite) or enduring a gruelling 4 hour board meeting, Ron Clark and Brad Hill took long tows into the Cascades to make another exploration of the North Cascades. Ron Clark made yet again a noteworthy flight with 414 OLC points (best in Region 8 for the day) and agreed to provide the following report. Just don't believe it is as easy as Ron descibes it!
After a soarable spring and early summer, mellow and, unfortunately, stable weather takes over the Puget Sound. In attempt to break away from it, four pilots - Ron Clark, Brad Hill, Bill Ling and Movses Babayan, moved to Twisp for a few days for a chance to experience some of the stellar soaring conditions that Methow Valley has to offer. Phil Anderson has graciously provided towing in 17Z.
Some 90 years ago the Silver Badge was created as recognition of outstanding soaring achievement (1000 m altitude gain, 5 hours duration and 50 km distance). Soaring progressed rapidly and so the Gold Badge, the various diamonds and then the 1000 km diplomas and so forth were created to keep up with the possible achievements. And the Silver Badge became pretty much the entry level requirement for any self respecting soaring pilot, who is serious about XC soaring.
The annual Arlington Fly-In in July with its busy traffic, air show restrictions and tower operations has become the stimulus for an Evergreen excursion to one of the nearby mountain airfields (Darrington or Concrete). This year the destination was Concrete over the July 12/ 13 weekend. Concrete had not been visited for a few years by Evergreen and – most of all - it has now a fuel pump, eliminating having to transport fuel.
From June 8 to 14 the SGC hosted again the Region 8 contest for this year in Ephrata. Ron Bellamy (as contest director) and a whole crew of veteran contest workers made sure that the contest was run efficiently, safely and in a friendly spirit.
A lot has been said and speculated about the best preparations for XC soaring preparedness - two-seat XC, buddy flying with more experienced pilots, simulator training, planned landings in grass airfields and so on. One key ingredient is of course being prepared to make off-field landings "when the wind dies" and there is no convenient airfield in reach.
After a wet February and the wettest March on record, April of this year gave us finally some more soaring-friendly weather, making for a slow beginning of this year's XC season on the west side. Best days so far were April 26 and 28 with Dan Housler and Ron Clark posting the highest scoring OLC flights yet of about 450 points.
On March 21 a historic land slide devastated a little community east of Oso, about 15 miles from Arlington airport. And since March 23 a "temporary" flight restriction zone (TFR) with a radius of 8 nm and up to 6000 ft has been in effect.
The annual SSA convention in Reno (Feb. 27 to Mar. 2) was well attended, including by a large contingent of Northwest pilots. It was a time to find out what is new and get motivated for the coming season. As usual there were a lot of interesting talks and interesting contacts, even if there was not too much technical news.
On January 31 Klaus Ohlmann succeeded in making the first soaring flight over Mount Everest, another achievement for this outstanding pilot. According to the first sketchy reports, he took off from the Pokhara airport in Nepal in a Stemme S-10 motorglider, climbed under power high enough to continue in soaring flight toward Mount Everest. Using weak thermals and ridge lift and then rotor and finally wave lift he was able to climb over Mount Everest (29,093 ft).
Since the advent of modern composite sailplanes with ever increasing sophistication and performance pilots with yesteryear’s types have tried to equalize the achieved performances in competition or record flying with the help of handicapping systems.And ever since such handicapping systems were devised pilots have argued about the fairness of such systems.The goal is of course to emphasize pilot
November 2 saw the annual awards banquet of the Seattle Glider Council (SGC), as usual for some time now at Ivar’s Salmon House at Lake Union.In addition to a social gathering at the end of the season this was the time to recognize special efforts and special performances during the past year in the greater SGC area (which sometimes extends to beyond Washington state.).
Since 2005 Evergreen Soaring recognizes (and encourages) upcoming club XC pilots by listing the first reasonably documented soaring flight that includes a straight line distance of at least 50 km in Western Washington. This is in recognition of the memory of Joe Patton who very much encouraged such flying and who left us much too early.
Submitted by Movses Babayan on Mon, 11/11/2013 - 22:51
Public artist Jim Pridgeon worked with frequent collaborators Benton Shaw and Richard Beckerman, as well as volunteers from Evergreen Soaring (Evergreensoaring.com) to install a Czechoslovakian designed and built Blanik L-13 glider into a raw ground level space at One Main Street Professional Plaza, a nod to Auburn’s history as an aviation town.
The 2013 OLC year ended officially on Monday October 14, 2013 and with that the WBC 2013 has also been decided. So here are the results - a list of the best flights for each pilot from Western Washington. Most of the flights started at Arlington (Evergreen's home base) but two flights originated in Bergseth (home of PSSA).
For over a dozen years the MWP (Mountain Wave Project) team, consisting of top sailplane pilots and meteorologists has been mostly associated with the exploration of the awesome wave systems created by the Andes. Exploration of these unique weather conditions has resulted in many spectacular soaring world records, including the longest and highest soaring flights ever. Now the MWP team is trying to explore the Himalayas.
With the sale of Evergreen’s last L-13 Blanik – N 2414J – the era of the Blanik seems to have come to an end, for Evergreen and probably the US. While 14J is supposed to continue its career as an exhibition model in Auburn (hopefully providing some advertising for soaring and Evergreen) no L-13 has flown in the US since 2010, when a mid-air breakup in Austria grounded the L-13 worldwide.
Halfway thru the soaring season it is time again to look at our yard stick for west side XC soaring - the Willy Burhen Cup (WBC 2013). This little friendly competition amongst west side soaring pilots is now in its 10th year and still gaining momentum. It is based on the best west side soaring flight of any pilot according to the OLC rules and has proved to be quite a stimulus for exploring the challenging XC potential of Western Washington. So here are the results for the WBC 2013 as of July 15.
One of the standard questions for any newcomer to the Evergreen Soaring Club (ES) is; “How much time and effort does it take to become a glider pilot?” Our old web site gave some optimistic information like “15 to 20 flights to solo” and “another 20 to 30 to license.” Experience has shown that this information was somewhat misleading and we have seen quite a few new members leave the club before getting a license or even before getting to solo. There are undoubtedly many reasons for this but one is certainly that it takes considerably more time and effort (not to mention m
There were all the ingredients of a big day – a good weather prediction from Dan Housler, an eager group of ES pilots finally hoping for a great XC day, an impressive early line-up and start of towing just after 11 am. Phil Andersen did the towing honors and one by one all hopeful pilots disappeared apart from one that sunk out (guess who). Clouds were still trying to develop over the low lands while the mountains were full of low clouds but conditions gradually improved. Most pilots were able to fly later in the mountains getting to over 7000 ft. It turned into a lo
The just concluded AERO 2013 tradeshow in Friedrichshafen/ GE was the official unveiling of the ASG-32 by Schleicher. This is a new 20m two-seater with flaps that is obviously Schleicher’s response to Schempp-Hirth’s (S-H) highly successful Arcus. It has not even been flown yet but offers some insight into the latest thinking of modern racing sailplanes. It will be built with an engine compartment as standard equipment and will be offered with the same retractable rotary engine unit as most of the other Schleicher types. A future electric sustainer is also in the works.
The increasing popularity of the OLC has led to an increasing element of competition for XC soaring with an ever-increasing world wide participation. It also has led to a competitive drive to get the most OLC points for a given flight and before 2011, when the points were determined by simple distance (discounted for the 4th and 5th legs), this gave rise to the preponderance of “Yo-Yo” flights, i. e.
March is usually the month when thermal deprived Evergreen soaring pilots look for the first days of recognizable thermals to allow getting away from the confines of the AWO pattern. This year it started with Ron Clark and Chris Young posting the first tentative XC flights (with over 100 OLC points) on March 4. Things got moving on March 18, when 3 pilots were able to speed up to the border and back in three hours. Things got more exciting on March 23 when improving conditions allowed flights of up to 5.5 hours into the mountains and 6 Evergreen pilots posted flights on the OLC. Ron Clark took the top spot with 404 OLC points; he together with Dan Housler and Brad Hill did not only get the top spots in Region 8 on that day but also in the USA! And Movses had his first go at this in the L-33 and posted actually two 100+ points flights – not a bad start.
During the recent SOARING EXPO at the Museum of Flight everybody had a chance (again) to get familiar with the Perlan, the pressurized sailplane that Einar Enevoldson and Steve Fosset had envisioned to get soaring to new heights. Unfortunately this ambitious project – under construction in Bend, Oregon by Windward Performance - that has been designed for flying up to 90,000 ft is now on the backburner because it still needs several million dollars to complete.
Mount Pilchuck (5341 ft high and 17 miles SE of AWO) is one of the more prominent landmarks around Arlington and a favorite waypoint for Evergreen XC pilots in thermalling conditions. It is also one of the more accessible ridge and wave flying locations available when the winds are blowing and the visibility is adequate.
The World Gliding Championships 2012 are now over. After the successful first part in Uvalde in August, the second part for the "non-flapped" classes Standard, Club and World was concluded on January 19 in Chavez/ Argentina.
And in Standard class Sebastian Kawa (PL), the reigning world champion persevered (on the last day) and won again. This comes after his win in the 15m class in Uvalde, making him the first pilot to win 2 world championships within one year. He is indisputably the number one competition pilot at the moment!
On January 1 the members of Evergreen Soaring held the annual New Year’s morning breakfast at the AWO clubhouse under cold but clear skies. We welcomed several new members who joined near the end of 2012 and hosted a few prospective members. A few members took a first-of-the-year glider ride behind the towing of JC Hauchecorne.
The annual awards banquet of the Seattle Glider Council GC) took place on November 3 at the usual place, Ivar's Salmon House on Lake Union. It was the usual get-together of soaring addicts in the Northwest at the end of the season and it attracted also quite a number of Evergreen members. Besides swapping old stories about flying experiences and hoped for new achievements the banquet was the occasion to recognize the various achievements and contributions made this year in the greater Seattle area (which sometimes extends to the Region 8).
Windward Performance, located in Bend, Oregon, and the only US sailplane manufacturer, has had a pretty good year. Chip Garner took the prototype Duckhawk to the 15m Nationals and claimed the title and then missed out on the 18m title by only 19 points. The Duckhawk is now in production and there may be several for the coming competition season in 2013. There is also a new version of the Duckhawk in the works - the Duck-E with an electric motor in the nose (like the Slowenian front engine sustainer/ FES?).
On October 8 (the second Monday of the month) the OLC 2012 year ended and thus also the WBC 2012. The OLC 2013 started the next day and the long distance specialists Jim Payne and Klaus Ohlmann did not wait too long to post the first 1000+ km flights. And the Richland pilots were the first in Region 8 to enter their first flights.
A recent trip to Europe offered a nice opportunity to revisit the airfield in Unterwoessen in the Bavarian Alps. This is the location of the German Alpine Soaring Center (DASSU). And it is here that I started my soaring career a long time ago (don’t ask me how long).
While the world was mourning the passing away of Neil Armstrong - the first man to set foot on the Moon - as an outstanding test pilot and astronaut, the soaring community is also remembering him as an accomplished soaring pilot. He was not your proverbial brash test pilot; he shunned publicity and was sometimes described as "geekish" before this became an endearing term. To the chagrin of the media, he was more like Charles Lindberg than Chuck Yeager and guarded his privacy to the extent of being labeled a "recluse".
It may not affect thermalling potential or terrain recognition but the US Board of Geographic Names has just approved the names of several features that are of interest to pilots flying out of Arlington:
Jordan Ridge - the ridge about 7 miles east of AWO - is now an official name (this makes our colloquial name official).
The World Gliding Championships 2012 in Uvalde are now history and by all accounts they were a full success. It was a well-run contest and put the contest pilots through 13 days of hard flying in generally very strong conditions. It was a contest for the “flapped” FAI classes - 15m, 18m and Open.
The WGC 2012 will continue in Chaves, Argentina for the “unflapped” classes – Standard, Club and World (for the last time). Incidentally, this contest will take place in Jan. 2013 but is still counted as WGC 2012.
The annual Evergreen encampment in Darrington which is predicated on the EAA Fly-In at Arlington which makes normal glider operations there impossible started on July 7 with a double tow of the L-23 (264BA with Paul A. and Tom Flandro) and the Chinook to Darrington. The L-33 (CT) and the Twin Astir followed on the road, as did a number of private owners with their ships (Ron Clark, Brad Hill, Travis Brown).
Earlier this year, at the annual SSA convention taking place in Reno, quite a number of Seattle glider pilots had the opportunity to inspect the unfinished prototype of the Duckhawk. This elegant 15m racer was designed by Greg Cole of Windward Performance and is the first full size glider built entirely of prepreg graphite composite (similar to the 12.6m Sparrowhawk, also designed by Greg Cole). In the mean time the Duckhawk has been finished and test flown.
With Dan Housler's awesome flight on May 26 and some other additions, here is an update of the WBC 2012. Dan's flight went over both, Glacier Peak and Mount Baker. Over Mount Baker Dan surprised a group of 4 climbers and shot this stunning picture, which also made it onto the King 5 TV web site.
This year's Annual Ephrata Dust Up replaced the straight-up competition format with one that put an emphasis on learning and mentoring. An important part of this new format was dual-ship cross-country student mentoring featuring three glass ships and several very experienced cross-country pilots.
There has not been too much XC flying for the last month in Arlington as the center of activity shifted to the Eastside and Ephrata (Dust-Up, ES encampment and Region 8 contest) but nonetheless a number of noteworthy events have taken place over here.
Last year Evergreen made use of an advantageous offer to purchase a G103 (Twin Astir) from Tony Wiederkehr with the express idea to use this medium performance two-seat glass ship for XC flying (training, transition and contest). It is a capable XC flyer with an OLC index of 92 compared with our sedate L-23s with an index of 76. Now that all the paperwork is taken care of and the landing gear problems are resolved (thanks Gary!) it is beginning to live up to its intended purpose.
Despite a very wet March we have now seen a few good days and last Saturday - April 7 - was the best yet. Daniel Dyck took one of our L-33s up to 9000 ft during a 3 hour flight and Mike Berwald entered his first OLC flight with a 2 hour flight in the other L-33. And a whole armada of fiberglass sailplanes went exploring to the Northeast where the best conditions were with a number of personal best performances for this year. In the end Btrad Hill maintained the lead in the 2012 WBC, a further endorsement of his new Tetra.