Gliding: how was it for you?

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Gliding: how was it for you?

#1 Post by Yamagata ken » Thu Aug 09, 2018 11:41 am

In another life I lived in Perth. WA. The local gliding club (based at York) held an open day. I drove my wife and 3yo son there for the day. My wife went up first, leaving me to entertain boyo. Pilot took her up, did a couple of circuits and landed. My turn.

After a short briefing (this is the air speed indicator) we went up, found a couple of thermals, and kept going up. Then, "you have control". York in summer time is a doddle, no shortage of thermals, just a bit of aileron and round and round and up and up you go. After gaining lotsa lotsa height he set me off cross country. The task was to pick an oblique fence line, turn in and end up with an arc which brought us exactly lined up with and directly over the fence line. Getting it right every time was a piece of piss. En plein air, the aileron induced drag caused the airspeed to drop, so I'd put the nose down a smidge to keep it on the number. "Why did you do that?" came the voice from the back. "Because I don't consider insufficient air speed to be a life enhancing experience" was my reply. "You're a natural", said he, and he was right.

After about an hour we headed home. Landing was a thrill. Pilot took it very high over the threshold, then nose down and air brakes on. Fantastic.

When I got back, my wife (thankfully, praise be to God my ex-wife) was purple and incoherent with rage. That was the start and end of my flying days.

Happy Alisson? Would you like to see a photo of my partial thyroidectomy scar :0 :0

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Re: Gliding: how was it for you?

#2 Post by Fox3WheresMyBanana » Thu Aug 09, 2018 1:52 pm

My only experience so far was 7 flights and getting my licence in one weekend at Dishforth. It was summer in the Vale of York, with wave activity that meant an engine was unnecessary (indeed, I had been 'soaring' in a Bulldog, such was the uplift occasionally). I just did it because I was stuck at Leeming between finishing Uni and starting Initial Officer Training, and somebody over Saturday breakfast in the Mess said they were going gliding, and would I like to come? No forms, no charges, just help push the aeroplanes and drive the winch landy (I had no driving licence, nobody asked or cared). I just treated the airbrake lever like the throttle and that seemed to work. I had spent the previous fortnight at Chivenor, and the gliders were a lot better at gliding than a Hawk or a Wessex!

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Re: Gliding: how was it for you?

#3 Post by CharlieOneSix » Thu Aug 09, 2018 2:27 pm

As a youngster I was in the Air Training Corps in Bournemouth and when I reached 16 I managed to get on a gliding course with 622 Gliding School at Christchurch - the UK one. The airfield has long gone and is now covered in houses. I got my A and B certificates on the T31 Tandem Tutor - it was really a brick with ineffective wings. My first solo on the T31 was on XN246 and it hangs today in the Solent Sky Museum in Southampton.
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XN246.jpg
XN246.jpg (55.71 KiB) Viewed 2933 times
I stayed on as a Staff Cadet, added the T21 Sedbergh and the C certificate to my logbook, also drove the winches and, after some tuition, the Land Rovers and Bedford 3 ton truck. I remember a cold Boxing Day, maybe 1962, with snow on the ground and all the staff gathered for a day of trying to burst party balloons that we released at the top of the launch - hilarious fun!

The Navy called and apart from a few gliding flights at Sembawang in Singapore I had to wait until 1980 when I had a pier head jump to Aberdeen and for relaxation I joined the Deeside Gliding Club at Aboyne. Lots of wave soaring there but I had only progressed to the Swallow before the flying job took me temporarily elsewhere and I regret I never took up gliding again when I returned to these parts.
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Re: Gliding: how was it for you?

#4 Post by admin » Fri Aug 10, 2018 3:16 am

Yamagata ken wrote:
Thu Aug 09, 2018 11:41 am
Happy Alisson? Would you like to see a photo of my partial thyroidectomy scar :0 :0
Don't push your luck Sir. Smart arse comments are not appreciated. You can leave anytime if you don't like it here.

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Re: Gliding: how was it for you?

#5 Post by Yamagata ken » Fri Aug 10, 2018 3:59 am

Ooops. Sorree. I'll leave attempts at humour to the wittier. :(

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Re: Gliding: how was it for you?

#6 Post by FD2 » Fri Aug 10, 2018 6:15 am

CharlieOneSix: I had a two week gliding course at Milltown, near Lossiemouth in 1968 and had forty flights in the T31. It had brick-like flying qualities I seem to remember, but the one and only flight in the T21 was fun - we caught a thermal and actually went upwards for a few seconds! The T21 was quiet as well. There is a great gliding centre south of here at Omarama in Otago - maybe I should give it another go in a machine that wants to fly one of these days...

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Re: Gliding: how was it for you?

#7 Post by Fox3WheresMyBanana » Fri Aug 10, 2018 1:39 pm

BOAC can tell us about gliding bricks. I believe high key for glide landing a Harrier was 17,000 feet over the airfield.

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Re: Gliding: how was it for you?

#8 Post by FD2 » Fri Aug 10, 2018 6:54 pm

Amazing! I wonder what it was for the F104?

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Re: Gliding: how was it for you?

#9 Post by Fox3WheresMyBanana » Fri Aug 10, 2018 7:33 pm

About the same, I believe.
The Tornado F3 would glide much better (assuming you could get the wings forward) but the Ram Air Turbine, which provided engines out hydraulic power for the flying controls, was placed behind the right undercarriage leg, and would have ceased to function when the gear went down. There were other aircraft which couldn't do glide landings for similar reasons. To be fair to the designers, I don't think any F3 needed the RAT for longer than its intended purpose of providing power for relight attempts. I believe at least one glide approach was actually done for real (successfully) in the F104 (at Edwards, with about a 10 mile runway), but none in the Harrier.

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Re: Gliding: how was it for you?

#10 Post by 4mastacker » Sat Aug 11, 2018 7:41 pm

Done my gliding at Ouston when I was in the ATC. It took a few weekends but I managed to get my A and B certificates. Would have gone for the 'C' but I discovered girls. :-bd Absolutely fabulous feeling being up there by myself and re-discovered many years later when I tried paragliding - then a Welsh hillside got in the way.
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Re: Gliding: how was it for you?

#11 Post by Rwy in Sight » Sat Aug 11, 2018 9:48 pm

Not a good experience - a then bad job kept me from joining a course and when money was not the problem I did not follow it. I had some great Saturday mornings though in the local gliding club.
glide approach was actually done for real (successfully) in the F104
An F-104 gliding would make an interesting reading. In the local AF an F-104 run out of fuel in the final, flown by an experienced pilot and it landed short.

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Re: Gliding: how was it for you?

#12 Post by 603DX » Sun Aug 12, 2018 1:08 pm

I thoroughly enjoyed the gliding experience, as a CCF cadet at RAF Halton in August 1957, on a course at 613 Volunteer Gliding School. Everything was right, and I was pleased to have an instructor who was a navigator on Lancasters during WW2. Not much in the way of thermals in the area, but when not out on the grass airfield, there were many examples of the RAF's retired aircraft to climb into. At that time there were several marks of Mosquitos and Meteors scattered around, and in a hangar was the scarlet pointy-nose Hunter WB188 in which Neville Duke had gained the world speed record.(That is now in the Tangmere Aviation museum).

Like others here, I flew in the tandem-seated T31 and the side-by-side seated T21 Sedbergh types. I did my solos in the T31, and even did loops in the Sedberg with the CO, who was a F/L Jackson if I remember correctly. My beret came down over my eyes at the pull-up for the first loop!

I was much impressed with Halton as an important apprentices training establishment, especially their facilities for "hands-on" aircraft maintenance and servicing work, with so many different types of aircraft available to learn on. And years later, I was absolutely astonished to learn that no less than 3 Vulcans and 2 Comets were landed on the grass runways there, on their last one-way journeys to become teaching objects! The runway was only about 1,400 metres max length!

I still have my Royal Aero Club Gliding Certificate No. 24184, for the "A" and "B" certs gained on that course, together with the blue enamelled badge with two white gulls on it.

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Re: Gliding: how was it for you?

#13 Post by CremeEgg » Sun Aug 12, 2018 1:42 pm

While I still can (and here's hoping Admin has a change of mind) I'll contribute my thoughts of my gliding.

How was it for me? Wonderful, exhilarating, educational and occasionally frightening.

Power flying never appealed apart from the fast pointy stuff but I knew I''d never cope in the services.

So I took a two week intensive course at Lasham in the early 80’s and taught by amongst others the incredible Derek Piggott. What a varied life he has led. Lasham - an old WW2 RAF station atop the Hampshire Downs with the typical three concrete runways with peri track and dispersals. One main runway in good nick the others resembling a hardcore suppliers. The main runway used by Dan Air Maintenance at the time and still used by one of their successor tenants. So plenty of old 707’s, Comets, 727’s, 1-11’s, 737’s to look at whilst in the circuit.

In those days you could wander around the hangers unhindered as long as you had a chat with the old guy in the security hut first. Round the back of the hangers was an Avro York in Dan Air colours that I believe was used as a bunkroom by the local scout troop. An interesting history see the Duxford website where it was moved to in 1986. It was used on the Berlin Air Lift operation, and had the distinction of carrying the 100,000th ton of supplies into the city. It suffered an undercarriage collapse during a landing there, in January 1949, but was repaired and put into storage. In 1950/51 it was used by Fairey Aviation for in-flight refuelling trials before being put back into storage awaiting disposal.

In 1954 it was bought by Dan-Air and registered G-ANTK. It was based firstly at Blackbushe and then at Gtawick, and was used mainly on long-range freight charters to Africa and the Far East, including many flights under an MoD contract to the Woomera Rocket Range in Australia. It was finally retired at Lasham in April 1964. It was fitted with bunks and used for a time by Scouts as their headquarters. In 1974, with the aircraft deteriorating badly through standing outside, a group of Dan-Air engineers began restoring the aircraft in their spare time, but this proved difficult because of the limited time which they could devote to the job, and eventually Dan-Air offered both the York and their Airspeed Ambassador to the DAS on long-term loan for restoration and preservation at Duxford. The York was moved by road to Duxford on 23rd May 1986 and after a complete restoration which took 20 years, it was given an official roll-out before being moved into the new AirSpace building where it is now permanently on display.

At the time Lasham were one of the few sites that used the Falke motorglider extensively for ab-initio training - it certainly made circuit work easier. From there you progressed to a tandem seat K-13 with launches usually behind a Ford F100 charging up the runway and a length of piano wire. On a good day it was easy to get a launch height of 1200’. A few aerotows behind a SuperCub or Rallye as well and after 7 hrs I was solo.

First solo memories – casting off the top of a wire launch and looking at my right hand grasping the stick - fingers white they were gripping the stick so hard. Deep breath and relax. Always remember Pete, one of the instructors, saying about holding the stick and control movements “remember you’re not having a wank but tweaking your girlfriends nipple – small movements are always best”.

On early dual check flights before I’d be let off solo I’d hear him fiddling with his son’s Tonka toys in the back seat.

Plenty of time spent on spinning and incipient spins and spiral dives as you were always flying on the edge of the stall to obtain the best glide angle. Some of the Polish instructors down there had scant regard for the club minimum heights and would start you in your spin training at about 800’ – by the time you are pulling out the blades of grass were getting bigger very quickly. Always concerns me that modern commercial pilots have little or no spin training.

Of greatest interest was what the air was doing; learning how to scour the countryside for thermals – over the concrete of Basingstoke and the M3 was always good. Concentrate on south facing sloped ploughed fields, avoid the sinking air over woodland. Thinking for the first time in my life in three dimensions - unless you fly you don't realise its importance.

The fascinating battle of trying to centre a thermal knowing that they continually change their shape and you have to rely on the seat of your pants to stay wholly within the thermal. Snatching a thermal whilst on your downwind leg – hoping no one on the ground noticed – then gradually climbing up maybe thousands of feet to cloudbase. In my day just a variometer – nowadays with electric varios beeping at you and your path plotted on a GPS making thermalling much easier. Getting to cloudbase and becoming slightly disorientated as you climb inside the concave base of a cumulus cloud the outer edges of which drop down and lower your horizon so you can only really see any ground by looking almost straight beneath you. On one occasion I was climbing rather too well and could see so little I just stuffed the nose down and pulled the speed limiting airbrakes to get me back into clear air safely.

Of spending hours checking the weather and maps full of isobars to try to pick out that nice ridge behind a cold front and get a day off work to go gliding.

Of wondering why as a right hander I always found thermalling easier when turning to my left – whether in side by side, tandem or single seat cockpits. Left hand circuits always easier as well.

Of spending days on a windy airfield helping move and retrieve gliders, doing the log, awaiting your turn and hoping Dan Air would require the main runway for a jet arrival or departure. Then it was a mad rush to move all the cars off the runway and onto the peri track. Accepted practice at the time to leave your car unlocked at one end of the runway with the keys in the ignition whilst you went flying. So it was funny how the Jags, Ferraris and similar were always driven off the runway long before the Morris Marina’s. Then being able to stand at the edge of the runway whilst the jets landed or took off – just like the old movie film of early Farnboroughs.

Few people realised that as the airfield was at that time still MOD property your car insurance was invalid. Good time to nick a Ferrari when its owner was certainly miles away.

K13 was a good solid, or rather stolid, glider - min lift to drag about 1:20 I think but a clunky albeit fully aerobatic two seater. Then a K8 single seater – very good at climbing but terrible penetration into wind. Then a K6 single seater probably the best of the wood metal and fabric gliders. Early glassfibre like the Slingsby Vega were a revelation and an insight into the high performance glass fibre gliders with water tanks in the wings and a L/D ration of 1:60 and a 24+ metre wingspan – only flown by the seriously wealthy.

Also flew numerous cross countries in a Fournier motor glider owned/flown by a friend of my father who was more used seat 0A in Tridents and 757's. Such an infernally noisy beast but at least we could take off independently without bothering anyone else. Used to fly from Booker out west to Oxford and way beyond. Heathrow outbounds used to look very close when leaving Booker at around 1500’.

Also had a year at Kent Gliding Club at Challock whilst I was working on the Channel Tunnel – just a farmers field that looked very small after years at Lasham with 5500 feet of concrete. Sea breeze front used to arrive early and kill the thermals for a while but a friendly enough club with K13’s and Bocians.

Flying was all absorbing and a very keen lookout required especially when thermalling with others in a gaggle as there was always some highly skilled or very lucky person who managed to name the good lift at the centre of the thermal that the rest of us spent hours trying to find. You saw him hundreds of feet below you on one turn, a couple of turns later he was well above you. It really taught me to think in three dimensions – something never needed in a car.
Before the world went green and at this time of year farmers lit their stubble. Enormous clouds of smoke but what excellent lift usually at the end of a day when thermals were dying down. Pull your straps really tight as the air was as rough as anything but you went up like a rocket. You came home stinking like an old kipper smoked over a bonfire.

Weirdest thing - underestimating the wind at height and getting blown downwind and having to land about five miles east at RAF Odiham. They were not impressed but there is no way a K13 would go very far when pointed into wind. Eventually got an aerotow retrieve back to Lasham from one of their SuperCubs. Expensive business but not as expensive for the club as me bending a K13 in an inpromptu field landing.

Best thing – the feeling of achievement having climbed thousands of feet purely on rising air – no infernally noisy engine. Being literally up with the birds – usually buzzards – much better at flying than us. Floating along quietly and hearing voices; doing a double take that you weren’t in a two seater with an instructors in the back; then realising it’s a couple talking to each other as they walked across the fields below wafting up on the breeze.

Second best thing - doing so at a time without an airfield full of hi viz vests. You kept a good lookout - no one got hurt on the ground. For those that didnt keep a good lookout in the air then they got hurt when they either hit someone else or the ground; sometimes both. Most people got hurt because they seemed to believe that they didn't get ring rusty over the winter and didnt need check flights.

Magic times – killed off by promotion at work, less free time whilst climbing the corporate ladder and mostly the delights of a mortgage rate of 15+%. How would today’s snowflakes cope with that?

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Re: Gliding: how was it for you?

#14 Post by CharlieOneSix » Sun Aug 12, 2018 3:59 pm

Brilliant post CremeEgg! The joys of silent flight, beautifully described.
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Re: Gliding: how was it for you?

#15 Post by Fox3WheresMyBanana » Sun Aug 12, 2018 4:01 pm

+1
I like it when someone gets all 'lyrical'!

Another point on gliding jets. We used to practice on Hawks doing a glide recovery on instruments to the airfield overhead. This would be a "one-in-one" glideslope, 1 mile forward for every 1,000 ft of height lost (a 1-in-6 glideslope, technically). This would be at about 300 kts in the Hawk. One would then punch through the cloudbase at about 1,000 ft agl, use the excess speed to flat position for low key on a suitable runway, then complete the glide landing at 150 kts. Could be dodgy, I know of 2 fatal crashes doing glide approaches in Hawks.

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Re: Gliding: how was it for you?

#16 Post by FD2 » Sun Aug 12, 2018 7:56 pm

+2
Thanks Egg. Great account of some happy days. Also the worrying days when inflation meant a letter from the building society about very two months with a new, higher repayment rate! I certainly hope that doesn't happen again.

Fox3: I felt my a*se clenching, imagining that approach! @-)

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Re: Gliding: how was it for you?

#17 Post by larsssnowpharter » Fri Aug 31, 2018 9:42 am

First solo was when I was a few months over 16 and in the CCF. Some brave soul sent me off in a Kirby Cadet after just 24 launches. Given that each flight lasted no more than 3 minutes that means that I had only about an hour's instruction before going solo.
As I recall, we had to do one 360 turn to get the A and B license. Confirming to then then wisdom, I decided to to this on my first launch which was only to about 800 ft. Needless to say this resulted in a somewhat abbreviated downwind leg and a lowish turn onto finals before landing long
Instructor must have seen some promise as he sent me off to do it again 🤔.
Stopped gliding at 19 with, I think, full Silver and a 300 km flight in a Skylarks.
Returned to the sport in my 40s and have been gliding in Oz, USA, Germany, France, Spain and Croatia.
I simply love the challenge of mountain flying. There is probably no form of aviation I can think of that is more challenging than taking an unpowered aircraft into big mountains. The conditions change by the minute and no two days are ever the same.
I'm lucky enough to have a Dg 400 and still fly mostly in Italy in the Appenines or out of a place called Asiago in the Dolomites.
The Dolomites are, arguably, the most beautiful mountains in the World and it is a real privilege to play in them. Word of warning: get the cables marked on your charts 😅🤔

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Re: Gliding: how was it for you?

#18 Post by Cacophonix » Fri Aug 31, 2018 7:05 pm

Fox3WheresMyBanana wrote:
Sun Aug 12, 2018 4:01 pm
+1
I like it when someone gets all 'lyrical'!

Another point on gliding jets. We used to practice on Hawks doing a glide recovery on instruments to the airfield overhead. This would be a "one-in-one" glideslope, 1 mile forward for every 1,000 ft of height lost (a 1-in-6 glideslope, technically). This would be at about 300 kts in the Hawk. One would then punch through the cloudbase at about 1,000 ft agl, use the excess speed to flat position for low key on a suitable runway, then complete the glide landing at 150 kts. Could be dodgy, I know of 2 fatal crashes doing glide approaches in Hawks.
What is the clean stalling speed of a Hawk (assuming an ISA day at an altitude of say 1000 feet)?


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Re: Gliding: how was it for you?

#19 Post by Fox3WheresMyBanana » Fri Aug 31, 2018 8:04 pm

Been a long time.
The gen is here:
http://virtual4fts.tripod.com/id5.html
I think it's correct, but I'm not sure.
The problem is that a lot of energy is lost in the flare, so 150kts approach. Full flap in the final stages gives a steep approach, then the flare needs to be finely judged. Too early and you drop in from 50 ft+ up, too late and accidents show you either tent-peg, or bust the gear off and catch fire.

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Re: Gliding: how was it for you?

#20 Post by Cacophonix » Fri Aug 31, 2018 8:41 pm

Fox3WheresMyBanana wrote:
Fri Aug 31, 2018 8:04 pm
Been a long time.
The gen is here:
http://virtual4fts.tripod.com/id5.html
I think it's correct, but I'm not sure.
The problem is that a lot of energy is lost in the flare, so 150kts approach. Full flap in the final stages gives a steep approach, then the flare needs to be finely judged. Too early and you drop in from 50 ft+ up, too late and accidents show you either tent-peg, or bust the gear off and catch fire.
Best Glide Speed
170 KIAS (gear and flaps up; both engines inoperative)
Stall speed, clean, full fuel
80 KIAS
Stall speed, gear down, full flaps
70 KIAS
Thanks for that Fox3WheresMyBanana.


Surprisingly low stall speed but one imagines that anything under +- 130 knots results in a descent rate akin to a cannonball dropped off the Leaning Tower of Pisa!

The Hawk Story - Journal of Aeronautical History

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