Monday, November 14, 2016

More Poison X-Alps Test Flying!

Advection of warm air from the south today made for some very weak conditions, especially low down on the mountain, whose surface had cooled over the past week, but after a lot of effort Leanne and I were both able to speck out and go to cloudbase.

After takeoff, all the usual places failed to give sufficient lift; I eventually found a very weak release point in an unusual spot almost at the end of the ridge.
Leanne was flying her Tala very light without any ballast, whereas I was just a kilo or two below the max. all-up weight on the Poison X-Alps.  The increased airspeed was very obvious, but today this was not going to be an advantage for me! I think it was thanks to the Poison's sensitivity and agility that I was able to delicately center the small, weak thermals and ride to success today.  Of course, its glide performance musn't be too shabby either!  In any case, today's two other flyers could not top out, and neither could I earlier with the tandem.  Another few score points for the Poison X-Alps!

Unlike yesterday I got enough extra height to do some more testing.  The air was once again not rough enough to be interesting so I did some induced collapses.  Here, I yanked down hard on the entire right A-riser.  And: no problem!  Holding down the riser I could still fly straight with less than a half of the wing inflated, although it was hard to avoid pilot-induced bank oscillations.  Upon releasing the riser, the canopy sorted itself out completely and automatically in less than a couple of seconds.  In several trials here was no tendency for the lines to get stuck on the leading edge plastic rods near the wingtips and causing a cravatte, a common tendency these days displayed by a few other high-aspect gliders I have flown.  I find this cravatting kind of scary because of incidents where after a full frontal, the cravatte caused a tendency to enter a spiral and/or SAT as the glider tried to recover.  On a couple of occasions I had to full-stall the glider to get out of this, but that's an option only if you have a lot of height.  So, the Poison's behavior in this respect is a big relief of an important safety concern I have.

I had just enough disposable altitude left to do a few wingovers.  It's always fun to see one's shadow dart across the canopy!  As expected, already after the first swing the fast and agile glider wound up fully into very energetic wingovers.  What with the rapid, rotations and sudden G-forces, I didn't dare to rotate the canopy any closer to the horizontal.  No surprises here!

Today, there was a "Walk Rally" event at Kuratake, with over 200 hikers climbing the mountain by either the paved road or the hiking trails we help maintain.  For the first time in years the weather cooperated enough for us to fly and give the hikers a bit of a show!

In the late afternoon, a short burst of thermal activity near the inversion created even some thermal clouds!  Leanne and I spent over an hour playing around the cloud edges at around 1300m.

Image showing Rick's flightpath (blue) and the return walk (green).
Lift began shutting down around 3pm and as it was our day off work, we both decided to fly to Sumoto and hike the 11km or so back up the mountain to retrieve the car.  We scarcely get a chance to do this together, so it was pretty special!  We first went to Domeizan where Leanne practiced for the first time finding the elusive thermal that makes the flight to Hondo possible.  Today the timing was much too late but we did find the typically complex wind conditions and rode a few incipient thermals before having to turn toward the LZ.  In spite of losing more height on the glide in, Leanne found the better thermal and was able to stay at Domeizan for a couple more minutes.  Well done!

Some excited little girls greet Leanne as she lands in Sumoto.  Now, pack up and hike up!

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