A Single Step... A Single Step...

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That's One Heck of a First Step...

Sun Aug 30, 2009 6:45 pm




I already put up a posting on this in the learning to fly forum but I thought I'd share a few more thoughts.

To recap, I had my first mountain launch on Saturday. Everything went pretty smoothly and the conditions were great. I still have a tendency to flare late so I really want to focus on this going forward.

I'm not sure how it is for most new pilots but I will admit I was profoundly afraid. My hands were shaking and sweating and my heart pounded in my chest from the torrents of adrenaline being dumped into my bloodstream.

I fought a mental battle on the ramp for what seemed like 5 minutes but was in reality maybe 10 seconds. The emotional side of the brain said "This is madness..." while the rational & critical thinking side said "You've been trained for this and know what to do...".

In what seemed like an instant it all came together. The glider felt like it was barely there. The nose angle was right, the wings were level, the windsock and streamers were all cooperating and I had a perfect target picked out on the horizon. There were probably 20 people around launch but I was not really aware of them. Nothing else was important. "Now" I thought and I heard myself say a distinct "Clear" although it sounded as if someone else was saying it.

I pushed hard with my shoulders and accelerated as smoothly as I could. 3 steps, maybe 4? I flew the glider away and it felt much like a training hill flight.

Airspeed felt fine. Some light bar pressure , the sound was also what I was accustomed to and the glider was responding well to control inputs. A quick check on the airspeed indicator (mandatory at LMFP for first flights) seemed to confirm I was at 20-21 mph which was right where I wanted to be.

At LMFP there is a huge jump in altitude between the big training hill at 120' or so and the mountain at 1340' AGL. This didn't bother me at all. In fact it was nice to actually have more than a few seconds to see how the glider responded to control inputs.

It seemed a long time before I was over the LZ although I know it was probably only 3-4 min or so. I flew the box pattern over the middle third of the field as we had been taught with no problems. I hesitated for a second before turning Downwind as I was thinking I was too high and needed to lose some more altitude. In reality I was probably just about right so I made an adjustment and committed to the Downwind leg a bit later than I had wanted but still high enough to make it work. Base and Final were
mostly uneventful. I had good speed but the roundout was less than perfect. I made too many small corrections too low and the wings were not perfectly level when it was time to flare so I made a conscious decision to land on the wheels. Still, I was within 50' or so of where I wanted to be.

The weather did not cooperate Sunday AM and I had to head home by 10:30.

I should be back in 2 weeks. Its going to be a very, very long two weeks...

Mike

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Getting High...and other Incoherent Ramblings...

Sat May 30, 2009 6:03 pm




Another weekend at LMFP. This time the weather is cooperating and I had a good day on the small hill. My launches are confident and strong and landings are getting better. Provided I stick a few more in a row on the small hill in the AM I'll be on the big hill tomorrow.

The highlight of the day was my first tandem to 2k which was my first time at an altitude higher than fifteen feet. WOOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO....ahem....WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Why did I not do this 20 years ago? Rarely has something felt so right and so perfect.

We did some soaring passes down the ridge and I got to practice some 180 turns for the first time. I also got an education in how to box the field and set up the landing approach. The kicker was the instructor let me fly the glider all the way to the ground and we landed spot on. OK, I had more than a little help from him but it was still great.

It hardly seems fair to all the earthbound humans that we get to do this and it will only get better.

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New Beginnings

Sun May 17, 2009 2:50 pm




Nearly a year after receiving my H1 in Ellenville, NY and then suddenly relocating to NC I made it to LMFP and resumed instruction.

It was exciting to say the least and I did OK on Saturday. 8 flights, several very good and a couple not so good. All in all a good day. My head remembered what I was supposed to do and the body (mostly) followed the instructions.

Sunday looked like a washout due to rain so after checking in at the training hill in the AM I headed home.

I look forward with anticipation to the road ahead and its good to be back.

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Day 3 on the Training Hill

Mon May 05, 2008 3:10 am




Yesterday was Day 3 on the training hill in Ellenville, NY. I got 5 flights in before the winds became a bit too much in early afternoon and we took a break for lunch. Unfortunately I had some commitments so I had to head home just as conditions had settled down a bit and we were ready to resume.

Some important lessons learned:

I really need to relax as the first couple of flights saw me making lots of mistakes. After that I got my head together and did much better.

A few extra steps on launch make a big difference! I was able to feel the glider a bit better and really lean into it while pulling with the training harness. A slight pull in on the bar and those last few big strides generate some real speed before making the decision to take off.

I focused on keeping a light grip and was therefore able to better feel what the glider was doing. As a result, my airspeed was more consistent and I could tell much more easily when it was time to flair. I managed to stick two really nice no-step landings and one required a few running steps. The first two were bad so I'll chalk that up to lessons learned.

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