Saturday, 17 November 2012

Passenger to pilot windrushers style

As I sit here writing this post one eye is on my mailbox waiting for my official instructor rating number thingy to arrive. After spending this past glorious Sunday get put through the ringer by our CFI he sees fit to allow me to carryout basic instruction...

Alan Smith carried out my prep work, from motor glider flights for learning patter to 3000' aero tows to carry out stalling and spinning exercises. He signed me off as good to go so I must of held it together.

The course was to be run over two days and consisted of 3 pupils, a full cat to help out (Ian Pattingale) and our regional examiner (David williams) we would be doing a mix of flying and classroom work to help us work around what is sure to be dodgy October weather. Day one was bright and sunny an boy was it windy 40kts + at 2000' the first flight went off on a stalling and spinning flight and quickly got into a scrape back from downwind...eek no time for a circuit. The flights for me went ok, a repeat of the prep flights really I did, being a tight bast**d manage to fit all of the exercises into a single Aerotow with Ian, his head was spinning by the time we landed... As the next day was forecast to be pants we did all the flying in the first day and spent the second in the class room going over the theory of basic instructing. David happily signed off my paperwork and I then had to wait a few weeks to get a Sunday where I could go and do my check flights with our CFI, pulling the bung on an aerotow at 200' was the highlight of my check rides.

ooo the mail has just popped in, I am now able to carry out basic instruction!!!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Passenger to pilot windrushers style - autum 2012

The club is beginning to wind down our summer operation and we will soon be down to flying Wed, Thur and Fri, as well as the weekends.

For me its been a very busy soaring season, trying to cram a lot of flying in to the few good days my family, job and good weather have allowed. Needless to say progress has been made, I attained my Bronze and silver this year, competed in my first regional competition and although I finished stone cold last it was a really good learning curve. Up until the start of the comp the longest flight I had done was my 50k for silver and day one was straight in with a 250km task....yes that curve was steep. I pushed myself, abandoned a few, got round a few and landed out all while being looked after by a cracking bunch of club members. It's a testament to the clubs instructional attitude and camaraderie that comes with looking after the next generation of soaring pilots that not once did I feel out of my depth. someone was always on hand to come fetch me from a field, give helpful advice when the conditions were not perfect or indeed just towing out to the grid.

As the year winds down I am now working on my BI rating, having done all the prep the actual course is taking place in October so by the time I next right I should have my basic instructors rating...fingers crossed.

So whats the plan for next year?

Mainly to pass on my enthusiasm for gliding to the blogg's coming in off the street. So often do we here the visitors asking the same stereotypical questions about "going up and floating down" or "what do you do when the wind stops" that the process of educating and enlightening them to the prospects of engine less flight and their reaction afterwards is something I am looking forward to being a part of.

Oh and my 300 and 500km badges next year too....

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Regionals 2012 update

So my comp week is finished, I bailed on a short task on Thursday after getting very low and taking an hour to get back to a sensible height. There was just not enough day left to make progress.

Friday we were set a 2:45 AAT Bicester, Broadway, Charlbury, stony stratford, bicester. The first leg was very slow going out to broadway as conditions were improving all the time. I was averaging 40kph so opted to turn early, which I thought, after getting stuck at charlbury for 30mins was a good idea. The run for then on was fantastic, the sky was booming and looking at my trace I can see one period where for 20secs I was climbing at 13.5kts. So I ended up getting back very early which cost me and I really should have pushed much further into the first sector, but hey ho.

Two days to go and it looks as though we will get a full nine days flying which is fantastic. I have learned a massive amount about competition flying and cross country in general, lest I forget that up to the start of the comp I had done one XC flight which happened to be my silver distance. I found that if I had had a landout or two under my belt before I would have made it round on the first saturday where instead I bottled it after getting low.

But probably the most important thing that I learned is that despite all the advice given, and there was tons of it, when flying a lower performance glider on blue days leave near the back and on Cu days go early. Also when you have as little experience as I did find someone with a similar spec machine that is doing well and fly with them to find out why they do so well!

Finally big thanks to Tony Cleworth for lending me tie down kit, being on stand by to retrieve and an all round good guy. Thanks also to the mitchels and BAM's crew for looking after me and Ian harris + 2 scouts for pulling me out of a field at silverstone.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Regionals 2012 day 5

Five contest days in a row now.

Today started out Blue and according to Mel the met man it was going to stay that way although by the time briefing was complete and we were on the grid there were Cu out to the west. Slowly as we lead up to the sniffers being sent the Cu were starting to pop in all quadrants. By the time sports were launching ahead of the opens base was 3k+ with 2-3kt climbs.

The task for the sports was a run north to corby, then Bozeat, down to bourten on the water up to stony stratford and home for 265km. The opens did a modified version of 305km

I started with W20 (strats) ST (steve tape) and KFE ?? and had a good run towards the first turn point, with my Astir not being able to keep up in the long cruises I had to stop to top up before the turnpoint. I was joined by GAM (Cris Emson and George T) and stuck with them from corby to bourton on the water.

Elated to make it round 294km handicapped especially as some big names landed out so thanks to Cris and george in GAM for dragging my arse round.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Regionals 2012 day 4

Mel the met man had the day listed as Eschorchio and Blue with a 2k+ base. The task was a 2hr AAT and the sniffers, Nick Kelly and Derren "beaker" Francis were launched just after lunch.

With them reporting 3000'ft and climbs of 2kts + the opens were launched first with the sports streaming behind.

There were plently of gaggles as people tried to climb in the blue together. After starting I headed into the blue yonder and promptly landed at silverstone. Thinking that starting at 3800 I had plently of height to find the next climb but no and my first "thankfully uneventful" field landing ensued.

Thanks to the guys that came and fetched me as loading an astir into a trailer cooking in the sun was no fun.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Regionals 2012 day 3

No flying for me today as I had other commitements outside of gliding.

The tasks were set and then changed quite quickly when the sniffer had trouble, it went from an AAT to a 103k racing task for both classes.

There were plenty of landouts and land backs today. Luke roberts landed at calvert and the nimbus EHT was seen being reassembled after landing out just short of the airfield in the same field as derek staff in his LS4

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Regionals 2012 day 2

Regionals day 2

Started the day with plenty of medium cover which started to burn off, there were some cu around launch time at 11:30 but it quickly went blue out in the task area to the west. sports had a 196k with the opens on a 250.

I headed back after feeling rough and having been working really hard and I was hearing of landouts while on the way back...

Luke Roberts won day one in the sports and Dave Watt won it in the opens.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Bicester Regionals 2012 day 1

The sun is shinning at least as we head into the first day. I am just setting off for the airfield so more updates to follow

Briefed at 09:00 and the opens are going straight after. sports are launching around lunch time.

Well...I didnt get all the way round today, the task was Bicester, Great Malvern, Stour, andoversford, buckingham, bicester. I didnt make the andoversford TP and head to head back under an ever increasing amount of high cover.

137km flown, I think all got round bar one.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Bicester Regionals 2012

Five Days to go!!

We are all closely watching the forecasts for next week, so far the weather looks like being a marked improvement on what we have had recently.

Competitors have started to arrive already and Bob B has been floating around the airfield in his ASG29 and there are a few others I have not matched with their aircraft.

Still some work to do on my chariot (Astir DFR) we found an old switch buried in the back of the panel which was causing the TE issues, so now I only get stick lift when pulling up hard from 70+kts and a leak test on the tubing should point us to the right area.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Bicester Regionals 2012

With a little over a week to go and with Olympic airspace restrictions coming into effect tonight preparations are still under way BGC's 2012 regional competition.

We have ~50 entries in two classes and some of the big names in UK competition are entered. The website is up and running and you can visit it here

The airfield is holding up really well considering the vast quantities of rain that have fallen and the facilities team are making sure all of the infrastructure is in place ready to go.

I will be updating the blog daily from a pilot flying the comp's point of view and the fact it is my first competition should make it all the more interesting.

All we need now is for the weather to play ball, long range forecasts are still decidedly unsure as to what the prevailing conditions will be, but 8/9 contest days last year will be a tough act to follow.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Passenger to pilot windrushers style

As I type an envelope with claims for all three requirements for Silver C is winging its way to the BGA, where hopefully the team there will see fit to sign me off and supply me with my Silver and a comp license, thus allowing me to enter the Bicester Regionals at the end of the July.

Just over a week ago I saw that there were a couple of days approaching which were looking quite good. The first, which turned out to the much better day in the end was unusable to me as I was working, so I was stuck with the second. Arriving at the airfield around 8am I could see that in the gentle ESE breeze there was a very large plum from didcot power station, this is note worthy as it showed me that the moisture (R/H) levels were very high and the air being blown in off of the north sea was very close to saturation but more on this later.

I wanted to grab the Astir or K8 but both had been grabbed so I ended up with the club Discus, which to some eyes is a little bit like cheating. I rigged her, cleaned her and loaded up my Oudie and nano before heading off for a briefing and Notam check with Alan smith. I chose, in light of the weather and now towering CU to the east that heading off WNW to Bidford would be the best bet. With the task set I towed the glider to the winch launch point, well I wasn't going to areo tow as well as use the Discus was I, to have some breakfast and wait for optimum conditions.

Talking to a few of the pundits in the morning it seemed like they all wanted to head north east into east anglia for the best conditions and I was being told that Gransden would be the better bet. Luckily for me I know a little bit about the weather, and my forecast as well as the filling sky to the east convinced me not to change task. I launched around lunch after a solitary K13 had managed to stay airborne, the first 10mins was a scratch from 1200' AGL and being blown gentle west I got to 2500 using 1/2 to 1kt before having to make a decision. I was under spread out and not climbing fast enough to be able to make it back to Bicester if it went down hill, so this was it, time to break the umbilical cord of local soaring!! I headed out away from Bicester, west into the sunlight I found a small climb to 3500' and decided to press on knowing Enstone or Heyford were viable options if I fell down. Just past Enstone I was just on glide for Bidford and ahead of me an unknown K13 was marking a thermal, I joined as he left the top and was rewarded with 5kts on the averager with peaks to 8kts and in no time at all I was 5700', well in glide for Bidford and having fun. I pressed on topping up under most CU, just to be sure, and arrived at Bidford at 4000', a couple of orbits to get the lay of the land and some guidance from the ground saw me landing up hill on another friendly, albeit soggy airfield...Job done.

A cuppa tea, something to eat, signatures and a chat saw me hooked on to the back of Bidfords Tug for the return journey, towing into bluing conditions and worsening sink made me happy I had opted for the 5000' guaranteed to get home method which was reinforced when I met up with Richard Wilkens in his ASW15 (846) I was on glide about 15k out and he was doing the same some distance below me. He landed at heyford and I got back to Bicester. After packing away and retrieving Richard from Heyford with Dave Watt in the Robin it was time to down load the trace, have a beer and relax.

Lee H

Bicester gliding the success


HOT OFF THE PRESS.. ................ Derren came away from Hus Bos today as 18 meter National Champion, beating three ex World Champions and a host of other World Class pilots!!
Sincere congratulations to him. He has dropped only two solitary points over the course of two Nationals.

This means that Bicester now has effectively got 5 National Champoins. ......myself and Derren at the 15 meter class ( It turns out that as we both got the same points we are joint ¬National Champion even though he was a second faster on the day), Derren in the 18 meter Class, Pete Harvey in the Open class and Dave Morgan in the Advanced aerobatic Class.
( Maz was 2nd in the Unlimited aerobatic class, which is, I can assure you a very impressive achievement.)

Dave Watt

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Passenger to pilot windrushers style

After my silver height I did a couple of flights in T19 (our Discus) for currency, I managed to get a couple of hours in off of two winch launches and as the Astir was coming back on line I decided to have another bash at my five hours.

Sunday the 13th of May was looking good, the previous day had been excellent weather wise and the Sunday was forecast to be better still. I turned up nice and early as I was supposed to be on duty, seeing the weather was indeed going to mean the five hours were on Debbie my duty instructor gave me the nod to give it a bash.

I went and got the Astir DI'd, kitted out with a chute and batteries and then dragged it outside for a wash down. At the launch point I added my Nano logger and Oudie, as well as my DriftCAM, food, water and favoured method of taking a pee. With the glider set I grabbed a light breakfast, cup of coffee and made sure I had sunscreen on.

I then had a chat with an instructor as to the best way to approach the day,  as well as the get high and stay high brief it was decided to set a small task of Bicester - Enstone - Edge hill - Bicester and see how many times I could get around it. This was plumbed into the Oudie in no time and uploaded to the Nano. I got myself settled into the glider and then when my turn was up I took a winch launch to 1400' after 10mins of very broken lift I was back on the ground already thinking today may not be the day.

Launch two @ 11ish went ok until I got to 1000' and the weak link let go in a gust, after recovery action the undercarriage was raised and I was into scratch mode. Lift down low was lumpy and hard to work and after 20mins of between .5 and 4kts I was up to 2500' here the lift smoothed out and was easier to work and before long I was at cloud base just under 4k. Stupidly I had forgot to check the time I launched at so I needed to go to 16:30 at least to be sure of getting in, it was going to be a long flight.

I crossed the start line over the airfield and 3200 and set off on track to Enstone. Being very Conservative I took an age to get there, an hour or so to cover the 20ishKm to the turn point and turning north west towards Edge Hill the e-vario went U/S, five minutes later the radio was dead and so was the FLARM unit, a quick check of the voltage revealed 6.1volts instead of 12. I decided at that point to change the plan and bin the task, nearly 2hours in all I wanted to do was stay up. I ran the cloud street I was under back to Bicester, during the run I took my first in flight pee and thanks to the convene equipment I had it was a non event, thankfully. back at Bicester things had started to fill in, looking downwind to buckingham things looked better so off I went, the plan would be to land at Finmere if I got flushed. coming back from Buckingham I got down to 1800' just north of the airfield, scratch mode again and on the 3:30mark I dug out a good climb back to cloud base. From here I could see a nice street setting up between Bicester and Oxford so off I went. the first run down to oxford took a little time but the run back took minutes. Still with an hour to go I decided to turn around and head back along the street again. I reached oxford and pushed on to didcot. I reached 5hrs and turned for home on final glide. nearly 30k out with 5k in hand the oudie showed me being 2500' arriving back, pushing the nose down and running 80kts all the way back I arrived with 1000' to spare. Nice circuit and spot landing next to the bus meant I just rolled out of the cockpit.

I could not walk straight for a couple of hours and my arse was the shape of the astirs seat pan but I had fun, the logs and my Nano showed I had done 5hrs 21mins the nano also showed I had covered 227kms which was not bad.

50K to go and I can then get my comp license and enter the regionals proper.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Passenger to pilot windrusher style

Its been a good few weeks since I updated my blog so here we go.

A year after completeing my Bronze I have managed to get my XC endorsement. For the last few months all thats been remaining is my 100k Nav Ex and after a couple of failed attempts, one in the snow and one in less than poor visability I finally managed it. The task was BIC-HUSBOS-GRW-BIC and we would fly it in the motor glider.

On the day the weather was overcast at 3000' so at least the airspace would not be such an issue and the visability was about 15km. I flew the aircraft as if it were a glider and Mike P, my examiner, used the throttle to simulate lift and sink. We made our way to HUS BOS which was not to difficult and after a look at the airfield turned east to head to grafham water. Half way there we simulated getting low and some field landings and then cut the task short with Mike asking me to get us home. heading back over Northhampton I missed the A43 and started to head a little too far west, realising the picture didnt look right I took a 'climb' and found the A43 by tracking along the M1 a short way. The rest of the flight home was pretty uneventful and Mike signed me off sighting that had I not rectified the situation correctly at Northhampton I would be doing it again...

Since then I made a silver duration and Height attempt in the K8, I was shot down after an hour and fourty by spread out in conditions that were a little marginal wind wise for a K8. But I managed to get the height done after getting to brackley and then climbing in 8kts to cloud base as I was blown back to the airfield. John Wright signed me off for that.


Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Passenger to pilot windrushers style

Its been a little while since I have put anything up here.

I have been planning to do my XC endorsement over the last few weeks but the freezing temps and snow covered landscape has meant that it has not been fesible to do it. Something about the landscape looking like a high contrast map.

I have booked the Asitr for the week of the Bicester regionals running the 21st to the 29th of July this year with the aim of at least running Hors Concors on the back of the Grid. I have my portable Oudie-Nano rig all up and running using a small 2.1AH battery which should power it pretty much all day.

As spring approaches I am looking towards my silver C, with the duration of 5 hours, 50km flight and a 1000m height gain. I guess the key is to have the logger with you becasue I did silver height at least 4 times last year. the duration I also attempted last year in a K8 but being an older ship designed for a smaller men than me I got uncomfortable after a couple of hours and had to come down

I also have my new DriftCAM which is a 1080p POV camera so I will be mounting it in the cockpit and recording the action, check out lhitchins on Youtube.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Condor and Oudie

Thanks to John Delafield at LX Avionics I now have a shiny new Oudie and LX Nano ready for this years soaring season.

It has to be said that See You Mobile running on the Oudie is an awesome piece of software, it does however due to its nature have a large amount of configurable options. Enter Condor.

It is perfectly simple to connect the Oudie to Condor and in my case I am using the Bluetooth connection to do this. Once connected you simply create your task in the Oudie and when you launch in Condor the NEMA output goes live giving you the full GPS feed.

               Here is my sample setup and a close up of the Oudie in action.

The great thing about using the Oudie with Condor is the ability to get familiar with the interface and tools before you take it into the glider, also for a guy like me without my own ship it is very easy to creat multiple profiles for the different club ships that I might fly, these profiles take in to affect the gliders polar and water loading etc..

Flying in Condor with the Oudie. Condors NEMA output means that you basically have the Oudie working as it would in the cockpit. Thankfully I have learned quite a few things that would of had be stuffed whilst while flying. One of them was that I inadvertently passed the start line whilst climbing before the start, See You started me and I could not figure out how to start again. Short pause read the manual, oh yes either hit go to and navigate back to the start or if you do not have the auto next after the start you have to press the start time indicator to agree with the start otherwise each time your cross the line it generates a new start time. The other big thing I have found is the airspace, whilst on a wave flight the other day for real I found myself constantly checking the map which detracts from ones lookout. with See You you simply tap the airspace ahead double check it against a current map to make sure its correct, or has been updated correctly and carry on. See You will then warn you when you are getting too close.

Finally is the Final glide, you can use the polar, bug, water settings etc.. which actually when you try to do the math can be quite often in correct. See You tells you what L/D you need to get back and what L/D you are currently doing. Both of these are pragmatic and are the actuals irrelevant of flies on the wings and the 20 gallons you have in each wing.

Highly recommended piece of software and method of learning to use it. I may start adding short how too's if anyone is interested.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Passenger to pilot Winter round up

Been a little while since my last post so I thought I would add some more, especially after this weekend.

Not much flying in November and December, a total of six short circuit flights in K13's when weather and planning for Christmas allowed.

In what seems to be a tradition news years day saw the hanger doors opened and a K13 towed onto the field. about six of us turned up for some fun including our CFI, airfield manager and several other team members. Dave Watt was seen with his new cranium cam,
All though in the end he actually forgot to switch it to record so we didn't see them in action.

Leading up to the 7th of Jan I had been keeping an eye on the weather for that weekend to see which day would have the least cloud cover, expected 5/8 on sat and 6-7/8 on Sunday. Saturday looked OK but the wind was strong out of the North, until Fridays forecast when the wind swung westward meaning we could have wave on Saturday. I arrived at the club early, DI'd the Astir and headed out onto the field. Several coffees and an windy winch launch brought us to nearly lunch time and I decided to take a 4k tow into the blue to see what I could find. We headed west towards heyford and the old disused airbase and releasing at 4k over the eastern end of the runway I quickly realised that the eVario did not agree with the mechanical one. The eVario was showing a regular downward trend while the mechanical was showing 1-2kts up, the altimeter confirmed I was climbing so I turned off the eVario, which I suspect is having TE issues. Ahead I could see a wave bar but as I was climbing in the blue I decided to track across wind where I was. I no time at all I was passing 4500ft and as I turned 180 to head back along the bar I saw the lenticular forming to my east, a short tack to get me just above the leni was rewarded with 3kts. the next 25mins were spent exploring the western half of my 5nm from the airfield limit. After working my way to just short of 6500ft the lift was down to a knot and the cloud had started to fill in, mindful that I did not have the turn and slip working I picked my way down to 4000ft back below cloud base. I finished off the hour long flight with a final glide exercise, starting at 2k over heyford I ran the 5nm miles back to the airfield aiming to get there as quickly as possible with a 1000ft remaining didn't take long downwind with a ground speed of ~120knots.

Head over to U tube and search for lhitchins you can access my page and take a look at the 1 hour long flight in HD.