Cross posted on Studentpilot.com and pilotsofamerica.com, enjoy:
Last friday I was in Ames, IA to help the club out with their intensive training week. I had two students, one of which had done his first solo two days before, the other had also soloed that week in the schweizer gliders and wanted to get solo in the Blanik as well. I got both of them back up solo by 1 pm and the weather was booming. the first one stayed up for a self limited hour to let the other guy get some flying in. The second had the glider to himself for the day and stayed up for 2.5 hours! Once I had the first guy up in the air, me and the club president put my glider together and i pulled it down to the flight line. I was not going to let the students have all the fun. Overdevelopment was showing up to the Southwest but all other quadrants looked good. I towed out to the south then worked back to the Northeast of the field, caught a good thermal and climbed to 7700 MSL! I was pretty sure i could glide straight to the Boone airport (BNW, home of CJones) from there, so i set out following highway 30 to the west.
That Overcast to the south of the highway was causing a big huge blue hole between me and the airport. Good clouds were starting to pop back up slight north of my course. I tried to stay right on the edge of where they were. this gave me the shortest distance, but i also didnt get really strong lift. I was down to 3300 MSL after about 5 miles but was still fairly confident i could make BNW and was kinda dissapointed. I had hoped to make it back to Ames. I was starting to kick myself for not really getting the trailer ready, not having a crew, and generally being not so prepared for cross country, even a short one.
Luckilly i managed to catch a good thermal, I think it was coming off of some kind of factory or something, this put me back up to 6000 feet or so just northeast of BNW. By this time I had been in the air over an hour and a half, I had not been trying to make the best time for the trip and it showed. It was 430 and I knew that i was burning daylight. I quickly ran over the airport, snapped a picture and headed back to ames. Once again I was sure i could glide straight to the field, so instead of flying for good looking clouds and deviating, I pointed straight for AMW and just slowed down in the lift and sped up in the sink. I dont think I turned in a thermal until I got to the airport. I believe I only lost something like 1500 or 2000 feet on the 10 mile trip back, took about 15 minutes. Not stopping to try to work thermals that arent really there saves a lot of time and altitude!
I found another good themal in the same spot I started out at and climbed back up to 6000 feet or so. I could see that the day was not going to be good for much longer. I had 5000 feet AGL to burn and figured i might as well go somewhere with it! The town of Nevada is only about 6 miles east of Ames, also on Highway 30 so I headed out that way. There were good clouds between me and it so I was confident in being able to find lift and make it back. I flew straight for it, once again slowing down in lift and speeding up in sink. I never found a thermal worth turning in, so I got over town, turned around, snapped a few pictures and headed back for ames. once again, the thermals were weak and not worth turning in, I just dolphin flew it back to the airport. I managed to catch a good break over a fresh construction site where they are doing a lot of dirt work. I held altitude for about a half a mile over that. I arrived back at Ames with 800 feet of altitude above ground, and flew a pattern and landed in the grass next to 31.
All in all it was a great flight. 62 kilometers, 2.5 hours. i got really comfy flying my glider really slow, 45 mph or so in the turns and as low as 37 or so in straight flight. I never got above 60 mph once I was off tow, as anything above that is not efficient for me. One of my students had landed and helped derig, and Leah stopped out as well.
Everyone must believe in something, I believe that I will go flying.