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By DMarley
#404193
Had a nice little soaring flight this past Saturday (2018.07.28) over Big Walker Mountain in Virginia.
Made a lil', real-time narrated vid of it, ala JD-style. ;)

So... make a sammich, crack open a cold one, clip in and enjoy the ride......

Keep in mind that this was my 5th soaring flight. Fourth flight of the year. Weather here has not cooperated nicely.
Suggestions/comments on the flight and/or vid are appreciated.
-doug
#404201
Thanks for posting your latest fly Doug, i managed fifteen mins and then the landing,looks like you really enjoyed it too.Don"t be afraid to use wind streamers around mtn launches...if nothing else, they can be your fail safe when judging launch conditions...Well done.
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By DMarley
#404202
Thank you Col!
We have streamers on the bottom of the launch but they are hard to see in the vid as the weeds have grown up. But of course you are absolutely correct.... more streamers! We will be installing some tall, flexible streamer poles on each side at the bottom of launch next time I am out there. I have a bunch of 1.25" x 10' and 1.5" x 10' pvc pipe just sitting around doing nothin', so those will do well enough if extended to 20' tall. :)

But leaves, when they're on the trees, do a fine job of wind indicating as well, if one can interpret them accurately. It's always good practice for XC to sense what the leaves are showing us, as well as all the other natural wind indicators.
We will soon have some brand-new players to the mountain, so we need to take every opportunity to make it easy for everyone to launch safely. Tall streamers will most definitely help.

Thanks for your comments, Col!
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By JR
#404204
Thanks for sharing!

The only suggestion I would make is to learn how to edit your videos down to a more reasonable timeframe. You'll get a lot more views if you limit their length, as most folks aren't going to want to watch a hang gliding video that's over an hour long. With my short attention span, I'm usually good for about ten minutes or maybe a little longer if the flight is especially interesting or noteworthy.

Just my $0.02,

JR
#404211
Hello Doug;
As an H1, working to become an H2 pilot, I really enjoyed watching your (mostly unedited) video! I love it when the OP doesn't replace the natural wind noises with music. It's a really inspiring video and thanks for posting it. My question to you, is this; You stated that you were moving at 24mph, so I guess you're flying a single surface glider? If a double surface glider, then you're flying below stall speed. It looked like you were really fighting with controlling the glider? Wouldn't pulling back on the control bar to increase your speed, also give you much better and smoother control of the glider?
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By DMarley
#404221
maximilionalpha wrote:
Thu Aug 02, 2018 6:39 pm
Hello Doug;
As an H1, working to become an H2 pilot, I really enjoyed watching your (mostly unedited) video! I love it when the OP doesn't replace the natural wind noises with music. It's a really inspiring video and thanks for posting it. My question to you, is this; You stated that you were moving at 24mph, so I guess you're flying a single surface glider? If a double surface glider, then you're flying below stall speed. It looked like you were really fighting with controlling the glider? Wouldn't pulling back on the control bar to increase your speed, also give you much better and smoother control of the glider?
Hey Max,
Yes, the glider is a WW Falcon 3/195 (single surface).

And yes, you're correct, by pulling in I would increase my airspeed, and the increased airspeed would allow me to input less roll control for the same heading change, however.....
What was happening, and you WILL experience this soon enough, when you feel the glider being rolled, say, to the right without any input from the pilot, then you know that a rising air mass of some sort is on your left, providing the left wing more lift than the right. And therefore, if you want to nab that thermal, you turn left as hard and expediently as you can while eating up the minimum of forward distance. (CLEAR your turns first, young Luke Skywalker!) You don't want to fly away from that thermal. Your aim is for the core of the thermal, not to be easy about it and eventually enter the thermal.... you want it NOW! It could be merely a bubble, and if you pull in so much while inputting roll that the turn is 'easy', you would most likely miss it all together, fly right past it, and completely miss it on the return. I believe I was pulling in a bit while throwing my body to the side I wanted to turn to, but since the glider was responding as I wanted, I didn't want too much more airspeed. Heck, I was flying at least at 21-22 mph airspeed. And as I banked (perhaps 30 - 45 degrees, depending upon what I felt I needed) my airspeed correspondingly increased to maintain climbing flight withing the rising air mass. Remember.... the thermal mass on the left side is doing all it can to throw you away from it. It doesn't like you (just yet). You have to prove your mettle, and only then may it accept you into it's rapidly rising embrace. :)

But I digress.... I'm certainly not an expert on thermalling. I'm only an H2 with only five soaring flights to my name so far. I've nearly as much to learn as you! :)
I do know that my spirals are NOT as clean nor as nicely formed helices as say Jonathan Dietch's or Richard Cobb's published GPS tracks show (these guys have been flying since the dawn of HG). When I was spiraling in the thermals, many times I could feel that I was just on the ragged edge of the thermal, the glider wanted to roll to a level heading and I was prodding it to continue to bank at the previous bank angle... WRONG! I should coulda put in more roll input and pushed out harder to make the ship bank tighter to better core the thermal. Watch those spirals again and you can see the glider trying to level out. Also, while spiraling, the glider is making a porpoising motion. I believe this is an indicator of not being solidly within the core. Most likely I was spiraling on the outer fringe of the rising air mass, then re-entering nearer the core, then nearly exiting again, round and round, again and again, rinse and repeat. The idea, obviously, is to stay within the core.

I've also found that if the thermal is rising fast enough, a tight, 45 deg-banked spiral is more expedient a climb compared to that of a 20 deg bank or so. Why? Because, if you can stay within the core, you will go up faster than if you are merely circle on the slower-rising edges of the thermal. Also, if you don't core it consistently and get thrown out, flying faster in the 45 deg bank will not be as harsh a throw as if you were in a lesser bank (less airspeed as well), and core re-entry will be less of a challenge.

I think that this is the value of watching the whole flight, watching the progression of the conditions. Especially for us new players. The more I watch this and other vids, the more I see my mistakes.

As you progress and find yourself thousands of feet above any ground, take the opportunity to play with your glider's stall peculiarities. Do some mushing stalls, some slightly aggravated stalls, some stalls with roll added (entry to spins) **DO A LOT OF STUDY AND VISUALIZATION BEFORE ATTEMPTING AG-STALLS AND SPIN ENTRIES**. Watch the tell-tales (ticks in sailing terms) and make note of your control-bar position when it kicks forward during the stall. The bar will likely be as far out as you can push while in a mushing stall. This will give you great confidence in your wing, and carving tight spirals will become a joy rather than a tense experience.
But above all, STUDY and VISUALIZE, STUDY and VISUALIZE!

Perhaps someone with much more experience can help fill in any blanks and misconceptions.


I'm sure there will be some very cautionary words garnered from this post.
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By DMarley
#404223
Looking at my GPS/GLONASS tracks, they often show I get pushed to the side by a rising air mass if I was slow to react (the gps track points are recorded once every second). Sometimes, it is obvious that the thermal is to my left, the glider is pushed to the right, then follows the curvature of the column for a second or two as if I reacted and now am on the very edge of the thermal, then I swing hard to the right and do a 275 deg turn that puts me smack dab into what appears as the core, and then continue to spiral up quickly from there. I wish I could link my google earth .kml track file here, but I don't see any way of doing that without a url.
But the biggest difference I see when comparing my tracks with someone of more experience is that their spirals are more uniform, where as mine are not so much. But still, the column is plainly evident without the perfectly concentric helices, and the climb rates of the track points clearly point to quick gains.

Perhaps I should try pulling in more and power my turn into the core. But unless it is really good, consistent conditions, you just don't know if the rising-mass-induced roll is a good thermal and is slip-worthy, or is it merely a smallish bubble? So I begin my exploration by feeling it up, and if it feels strong enough, then I get serious about it. I'm sure more air-time will reveal the correct strategy for varying conditions. There is always the requirement of clearing your turns before reacting, so that certainly will delay your ascent as well.

Also, after not flying for a couple weeks, I find my aggression waning much more than it ought. But as the flight advances, the aggression fills back in waves.

Be safe!
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By DMarley
#404224
Richard Cobbs flight track on 2018.07.10


I didn't have my gps on me while flying with Richard, but it would be interesting to see how those would compare on the same day, same conditions.

This is my track from 2018.07.28

Different conditions from 2018.7.10, and I was finding decent lift near launch rather than the other house thermal positions to the East (left in the pix).

Anyway as indicated before, my spirals need improvement. I need to constantly adjust my bank angle while spiraling, constantly monitoring and adjusting for the thermal's need to seemingly push me out. So when the glider seems to want to level out a bit, throw to the low side and/or push out to generate a steeper bank angle, then reduce bank a bit. Constantly adjusting to center the core.
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By red
#404225
DMarley wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 12:03 pm
Had a nice little soaring flight this past Saturday (2018.07.28) over Big Walker Mountain in Virginia.Made a lil', real-time narrated vid of it, ala JD-style. ;)
So... make a sammich, crack open a cold one, clip in and enjoy the ride...... Keep in mind that this was my 5th soaring flight. Fourth flight of the year. Weather here has not cooperated nicely. Suggestions/comments on the flight and/or vid are appreciated.
-doug
doug,

That's pretty good, for a fifth soaring flight. I do see the need for a few tweaks, to help you get airtime.

SAFETY NOTE: Land on FLAT fields. Rolling landscape (and treelines) can produce some truly dangerous air, in terms of rotors and dead air locations. I would not want to land where you did, and air does not care; it can smack you down like a bug. Do NOT give the air such an opportunity again. You used up a fair portion of luck there, and you only have just so much luck, before you run out.

Vario: Fly the sound of the vario, not the numbers on the dial. With some backyard practice, you can learn what sounds produce what readings, so the instrument readings then become redundant, and just a distraction. Forget looking at the gadget; you should know enough just by listening to the sound, from your backyard vario practice. I also notice that you need a lot of lift to get any sound, so I'm guessing that the gadget came to you that way. Your gadget could seriously use a minor adjustment, there. You can make the gadget much more useful, just sitting in the back yard with the owners' manual and the gadget, and making a simple adjustment. Click here:
https://user.xmission.com/~red/#vs

Thermals: Well, hate to say, but a lot of ridge lift is not a thermal. There are three ways to deal with spotty lift, on a ridge. One way is to fly right through it. Poor choice, and easy to make. Another way is to circle in the lift, which is okay if you have some wide lift or a real thermal. That's only good when the lift is large enough for circles. Plan C is to turn almost straight into the lift, making an 80 degree change of course (not a 90). Continue on your new course until 1.) you fly out the far side of the lift or 2.) there is enough lift behind you (the lift is wide enough) to let you make a circle without exiting the lift. Expect to spend a lot more time in the lift, if you do this. If you can circle with the vario sounding UP all the way around the circle, just keep circling, and make short straight sprints (20 yards or 20m each) toward the strongest-lifting part of your circle. If you get dumped out of the lift, remember, lift is usually surrounded by sink. Making a turn back to the lift immediately means that you are turning hard in heavy sink (bad plan). Let the glider zoom out, sure, then wait a few seconds (no more), then carve a clean turn back to the lift in normal (not sinking) air. If you make the 80 degree change of course, fly from the ridge in lift for a few, and leave the far side of the lift, just change course maybe 20 degrees back, to see if you can find the same lift again. You can find yourself flying out from the ridge a good distance, and still climbing. If you can, find the strongest part of the lift and fly straight into it slowly (no more zig-zagging) and let the glider climb. If this plan is not making overall gains in altitude for you, just fly back to the ridge and continue flying the ridge lift as before. For the flight in your video, Plan C would have helped you a lot. Much of that lift was too small for circles, but Plan C does not use circles.

Other than avoiding a mid-air collision, do not be concerned with the location of other pilots, especially if they are below you and a ZIP-code away. You won't get there (usually) in time to share their success (if any), and you might have to fly a long way in no lift to join them. Bad plan, mostly, on a big ridge like yours. Do your own thing, unless you see some truly stellar performance happening elsewhere.

Those are the most constructive ideas I can give you, from the video. Post more videos, when you can, if you want more.
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By DMarley
#404227
Thanks for the suggestions, Red.
If there were flat LZ's about, I'd likely fly there. But then I'd not have learned what I have while flying at BWM.
Too bad there are NO sites around here that are flat. They all have hills and valleys and trees that can provide plenty of action. I merely keep my speed way up when I think it might be a little bumpy. Mostly it is active during the day. Sometimes it isn't (mostly evenings). On this flight, I made the mistake of not cutting the corner by the trees and shortening the distance to the landing hill. Otherwise, I would have landed higher up the hill with less turbulence from the surrounding features. If we launch in the afternoon, we better have a warm, fuzzy feeling that we'll be up until evening (I've done this once).
So far, landing pretty on a flat RLF is a walk in the park (again, most every LZ here is a RLF and/or well-rolling). When executed properly, landing at this LZ is very satisfying. I've never been thrown here, and if it is rough above the LZ, I can loiter at altitude until things settle down. Any possible surrounding outlandings are tight and hilly as well. We've done a bit of casual surveying to familiarize ourselves with outlanding options. Yes, it's a technical site, but gad darn, it is fun.

A few flights ago, a squall was moving towards my direction while I was at 2000 above launch. I didn't want to deal with it while in the air or hitting me while on the ground, so made the decision to immediately spiral all the way in to landing on the hill. A very bumpy, tense, less than four-minute rodeo-ride down from 2900' directly above the bubbling LZ to landing, all the while searching for sink. Directly from a steep spiral, I put her into a diving final straight into the uphill landing strip. Landed nicely, high on the hill, only to discover the squall had ceased. Seconds after the glider was bagged, though, we had some heavy gusting winds blow through.
Seems I land better on that hill when conditions are more active. Perhaps I'm more focused in those conditions. I don't allow myself to get low (unlike in this vid), and always initiate my final quite high and dive it in. I also like to mix my approaches, doing something slightly different each time for a varied practice. This was the first time I did two complete cc boxes, and approached from the west side of the LZ. Much of the time I do some figure-eights along the south road, then jam-in on final. If still too high, I have room to complete a quick S-turn or two.

Many pilots are intimidated by our LZ at BWM. Sadly, it keeps the traffic down. But when it's all ya got within two hour's drive for the wind direction, it ain't bad. Same with 'all' our other flying sites in VA and NC. Tight and/or hilly. Coming directly from LMFP's school as a brand-spanking new H2 with only 13 mountain flights, it was a major culture shock! The first few sled rides I was quite apprehensive before launch, and the flights were white-knuckle rides into the LZ, but they all turned out to be non-issues with good landings. That's where all my outstanding mentors came in to play.

Ya gotta have good mentors, you new pilots! Don't go it alone. Two mentors are way better than one. Three are even better. Yes, they all may have different ways of doing specific things, but then you have more tools to choose from. Do your darnedest to accrue brownie points with them all. Offer to drive for them (for free) when they do a XC (ya better have HG-sized padded roof racks good and ready on your 4x4 - if not, beg to use their vehicles). T'would be very beneficial to get your HAM license. Offer to take them out to lunch. Your treat. Chop up or purchase firewood and bring it to the site for the evening's festivities. They'll all love ya for it! Above all, be intelligent, friendly, and bring a can-do attitude. And don't be a launch potato! Study study study!

Last September I went to Blue Sky to practice some flat land stuff. What a pleasure! Wide open spaces, billiard-flat, nicely-grassed facility at 51' msl. Even with the 'chunky' conditions, Steve and his site made me look good.

The vario (6005) I have is set to the most sensitive settings. I can move it up or down less than one foot and it reacts almost immediately. I was reading the vario merely to spout off numbers for the vid. I probably should limit the workload to better work the lift.

The ridge lift was waning as the flight continued. I was trying to get every last drop of lift with my newbie-powers, and when the bubbles and thermals didn't present themselves, I was not getting much lift at all from the ridge. I've been told that ridge lift is ok to about 250' in those mild conditions. The GPS ground speeds indicate roughly a 6 - 8 mph WNW breeze while I was working the lift near launch in the later half of the vid. That isn't gonna give much ridge lift. Just after my landing, another good pilot, who had come for a wonder-wind flight and just arrived after a two-hour drive, tried to launch into the weakened conditions and didn't get anything but a sledder.

ok. I'll have to try Plan C.

Red, thank you for all your suggestions! The more the better, even if I may counter a bit. :)
I've learned much from your site as well.
-doug
Last edited by DMarley on Fri Aug 03, 2018 4:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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By red
#404228
DMarley wrote:
Fri Aug 03, 2018 3:24 pm
The vario (6005) I have is set to the most sensitive settings. I can move it up or down less than one foot and it reacts almost immediately. I was reading the vario merely to spout off numbers for the vid. I probably should limit the workload to better work the lift.
Red, thank you for all your suggestions! The more the better, even if I may counter a bit. :)
I've learned much from your site as well.
-doug
Doug,

Sorry, you missed my point. It's not about sensitivity or gaining a foot of altitude, it's about how much of the time the vario sounds off when the vario is parked on the ground. You probably sink (gliding) at about 250 fpm in still air. If the vario sounds off about 1/3 to 1/2 of the time when parked on the ground, it will also sound off when you hit 250 fpm lift, which is otherwise known as Zero Sink. For any glider, Zero Sink is the best place to be, short of being in actual lift. It's a great place to turn back when traversing a ridge, 'way better than doing the turn in normal air or sinking air. Any time you are not finding lift, no matter where you look, then hang out in Zero Sink. That Zero Sink often has a way of becoming better and better, and the trick is to be there then, not off somewhere else in the pursuit of untamed waterfowl. 8)

It's a normal newbie mistake to fly right through decent air, looking for a boomer that may not exist, at least not where they are going. Setting the vario to tell you about Zero Sink will help you to avoid the lost opportunities.
User avatar
By DMarley
#404229
Hey Red!
I getchya I think.
The very last part of the vid, where I'm talking with the guys in the LZ break-down area about the flying conditions, the vario is consistently crying, becoming somewhat of a nuisance for the audio! I turned it on while reading your previous post, and yup, it was telling me about it while being motionless.
I'll have to try Plan C, next.
Thanks Red!
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By DMarley
#404234
Many times we encounter sailplanes on the same ridge (100 miles long!), so I like to keep a keen eye for anything. There's a sailplane port about 50 miles to our ENE, just a couple miles north of BWM's ridge. So, if there is a possibility of encounters of the super-sleek, glassy kind, keep your head on a swivel! If you can see them at all... good chance you won't until they're on top of you. But it's still good to out look for them, and other aircraft.
:)
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By DMarley
#404235
I'm guessing that if you're doing thermal spirals, another aircraft is more likely to see you than if you're merely flying the ridge within ridge-lift. Especially low, along a mountain ridge as most pilots (should) have their heads out of their cockpits. But that's still not a given.
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By DMarley
#404242
TomGalvin wrote:
Sat Aug 04, 2018 5:02 pm
Hook-in check?
I was wondering when someone would bring that up. :oops:
And, no, didn't do a hook-in check.
At the set-up area I did a pull-through check with tactile assurance and everything else ('beaner lock, leg loops, helmet strap, 'chute pins, etc). From there I immediately carried the glider to the launch while hooked in. Yeah, didn't do a lift and tug (hook-in check) at launch [since I was the only person on top.] However, it wasn't too windy to do it reasonably safely.
I have always done a hook-in check in the past, but .... [insert piss-poor excuse here]. :oops:

Good point.

I'll do something like Greg Porter does.
Thanks Tom.
User avatar
By red
#404271
DMarley wrote:
Fri Aug 03, 2018 4:17 pm
Hey Red!
I getchya I think. The very last part of the vid, where I'm talking with the guys in the LZ break-down area about the flying conditions, the vario is consistently crying, becoming somewhat of a nuisance for the audio! I turned it on while reading your previous post, and yup, it was telling me about it while being motionless.
I'll have to try Plan C, next.
Thanks Red!
suggestions! The more the better, even if I may counter a bit.
DMarley,

Well, I can counter, too. I recommend that the vario (once stabilized) should sound off for lift one-half or one-third of the time, when it is sitting on the ground. By my count (and yeah, it is only approximate), your glider sat on the ground for six-plus minutes in your video, and the vario sounded off for barely sixty seconds in total in that time. That ratio is far less time than what I would fly with, or want my students to get. In plain words, I watched you fly right through a lot of very good air in silence, there. If you watch your video again, maybe you will see the same thing. Still, your choice, I suppose.

I realize that the Lift sound on the ground is somewhat annoying, which is why I said to silence the audio (rather than change good settings) on the vario, when it is on the ground. If that is a complex task to do on your vario, just put a piece of tape over the speaker, when the vario is on the ground.
User avatar
By DMarley
#404287
Ok Red. I'll play with it and see if we can't get it to work like what you're indicating.
Typically, it's beeping if there is any airflow. I believe while on launch, the atmospheric pressure was on the rise, but after landing it had stabilized, and the vario seemed to be going off much of the time while stationary.
Anyway, I'll see what I can do with it.
Thanks!
User avatar
By DMarley
#404290
Red, you are correct. Audio threshold was set to 12 ft/min climb. Now with it's new settings it is quite annoying! Good thing the 6005 has a mute option. :)
Thanks for your persistence.
-doug

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