WWDD 09 – Day 3 – White out

Another early day at Wallaby. I talked with Mike from Wills Wing about flying the Falcon 195 and working my way up to the U2.

I was able to get a flight on the Falcon sometime before breakfast today. The winds were light down low but were blowing 25 up higher. I was reminded to be careful on the Falcon in this wind and up I went. The tow went very well. It was real smooth all the way up except for some small burbles as we passed through the shear. We basically towed straight into the wind the whole tow.

Once off tow I just kept pointing the nose into the wind. At trim I was slowly going backwards over the ground – cool. But it was real smooth up there and boaty. There had been some clouds during the morning at about 500 feet. In fact the morning started pretty foggy but cleared up. As soon as I was off tow I noticed some clouds upwind. A few small clouds blew through below me. Then I started to notice the upwind clouds were getting thicker. Hmmm. They were moving in fast and I quickly realized I might lose sight of the ground in a minute or two as the widely scattered clouds were quite solid upwind a bit.

So I pulled the bar in a bunch and started descending. I was at the far upwind end of the Wallaby field. I was trying to get under the clouds before they got to me. Nope, too late. As I got about even with the tops I knew I wasn’t going to win the race. I ensured my wings were level and I was relaxed. Years ago I was an instrument rated private pilot so I knew what whiting out could do to the brain. Moments later I "crashed" straight into this big gray wall. Happily I had descended just enough because even though I couldn’t see anything around me I could just make out the green looking straight down. After about 10 seconds in the cloud I descended out the bottom. That was actually really cool. It was a little bumpy in the cloud but perfectly smooth under it and the winds were a lot lighter. I then setup my approach and did an OK landing.

It was weird as that cloud came at me. There was some ancient part of my brain telling me I was about to crash into a wall. Logically I knew the cloud was soft but I still felt a little apprehension just before I "hit" it.

My plan was to fly the Sport 2 after breakfast. The winds were still blowing a bit and the sky was building in places. I kept going back and forth trying to decide whether to go or not. I put the fin on the Sport 2. I had finally decided to wait for calmer conditions. And just about the time Malcolm was going to call it for lunch it did get a lot calmer. So I hooked in and went. I was to be the last tow before lunch. There were maybe three other gliders in the air. It wasn’t soarable.

My tow went really well. The air wasn’t too active and I was nice and relaxed making good, small corrections. My only worry was the Mylar leading edge on this Sport 2. Minutes before I launched one little cloud just on the edge of the downwind side of the field spit a few drops on us. After I got off of tow I got settled in and stowed my bridle away. I had no vario but felt a few small bumps. But I was scanning the sky. A few miles off to the northwest was a big area of rain. Given the wind it wasn’t heading for Wallably but there were other dark clouds scattered around so I decided to come down. Quickly. The whole point of this flight was to work up to the U2 so soaring the Sport 2 wasn’t a priority. I had fun putting the Sport 2 in a spiral, slipping turn and dropping like a rock. After a dozen turns I got dizzy and leveled out. There were two or three gliders below me heading in too. We all landed in the same area within a minute of each other.

It was a good tow and short but fun flight with an OK landing. The lunch bell rang a bit before I launched so it was time to get over there before the food was gone.

This was it for the day. It rained real hard later on but only for a few minutes. Then it was windy.

But I felt confident that I could safely tow the U2 on my next (morning) flight.

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