14 July 2011

Glider Flying at Burner Airport (VG55)

The 1-36 landing following cross-country aerotow from FRR
On Saturday, 9 July, I had the privilege to fly out of Burner (formerly Woodstock) Airport, a beautifully manicured 3,000 x 100+ ft. private grass strip. My club held an "away day" there. At one point I counted 8 gliders, 3 towplanes, innumerable pilots, and a record number of family on the field. Soaring is inherently social; you can't do it without teamwork.

I wanted to make the first flight with an instructor to be sure that I'd get the approach and landing right at an unfamiliar-to-me field with a sloping runway. The high density altitude made it unwise to tow the heavy Grob 103 loaded with two people using the Aviat Husky, so I took the 1-36 and just gave it a shot solo.
The venturi on the Bergfalke powers a gyro turn-and-bank

The color contrast of the tall corn on each side of the grass made it easy to spot the field from the air. I found a few turbulent bits of lift but nothing that I could center and really work. I made a few dolphin passes through it and then set up to land. My base leg was too short, but otherwise landing on the up-slope was no big deal. The grass was surprisingly smooth, completely free of ruts and bumps.

I got another turn late in the afternoon. The thermals had pretty much died out, so I was content to practice my steep turns in a narrow patch of zero-sink over the airport. My approach was steep, requiring full dive brakes and a forward slip on final to get down.
Schweizer 1-26 sharing a thermal with a few birds

On Sunday, I flew a practice checkride and worked on spot landings in the K-21. Before I left, I witnessed my first real rope break: the rope parted about a foot from the slug just as the glider started to roll during takeoff, the time when the load on the towline is the greatest. It was a non-event.

Slingsby Capstan landing
1-26 with rare open "sport" canopy

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