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XC Soaring in 2017 in Washington State

With the end of the soaring season for this year it is time again to review what happened in the world of XC soaring in the state of Washington (WS).  While the calendar year is not over yet, the OLC year 2018 started already on September 25.  This cutoff for the OLC 2017 may generally be enough to cover the thermalling season but wave flying is attracting some renewed interest lately and we have already some entries for the OLC 2018.

The 2017 Awards Banquet

November 4, 2017 saw the well attended annual SGC awards banquet at the Wilde Rover restaurant in Kirkland.  After enjoying a lively social hour and a nice dinner it was time for the awards and trophies to be handed out by awards chairman Craig Funston.  Evergreen Soaring members were well represented.  So here are the various winners:

Special Certificate (expression of appreciation for the dedication and effort given to our sport)

The 2017 Willy Burhen Cup (WBC)

September 24 marked the end of the OLC 2017 year and thus the end of this year’s WBC competition.  This is the annual competition to prove that XC soaring is possible and actually quite competitive on the “wet” side of the mountains.

Walla Walla/ Martin Field

Earlier this year - May 28, when we still enjoyed some soarable conditions - Ron Clark made another pioneering flight when he soared his venerable LS-3 from Arlington all the way to Walla Walla.  This flight (which include another Cascade crossing) amounted to 459 OLC points and was the best flight on the west side so far.  Ron liked what he saw and is now planning for some soaring exploration of the Wallowa mountains.  Incidentally, Bob Pattison from the PSSA just announced his plans to make a combined soaring/wine tasting excursion over the October 6,7 weekend and

Class G Airspace in the North Cascades

For most glider pilots in the USA Class G air space (uncontrolled air space) is something that is of no practical importance, except possibly for takeoff and landing.  Class G allows operations “clear of clouds” and with a minimum of 1 mile visibility”.  Over Arlington Class G extends to 700 ft above ground (AGL) and gliders don’t lend themselves to scud running.  We don’t operate unless the cloud base around Arlington is at least 2000 ft AGL for pattern flying and at least 3000 ft for extended local flying and then fly basically in Class E (500 ft below clouds, 1000 ft above

Mount Baker

Another noteworthy flight by Evergreen’s chief explorer Ron Clark. This took place on 7/29/2017, when Arlington had typical stable summer conditions, while there were nice looking clouds visible further east some 20 miles away.  Ron realized the potential of these conditions in the high country and took a long and high tow, resulting in another of his pioneering flights.

 

A PERILOUS JOURNEY AROUND AN ACTIVE VOLCANO

by Ron Clark

The Twisp 2017 XC Camp

It has become now a tradition - the XC camp in the middle of the summer. From June 26 to July 1, 2017, it was the time to explore the spectacular scenery of the North Cascades in the best soaring conditions during the longest days of the year. Some 15 pilots from the Sawtooth Soaring Association, ES, SGC and PSSA took up the challenge of exploring the mountains.

Another Epic and Pioneering Flight by Ron Clark

editor's notes:

After a long wet sping we had (finally) a stretch of good XC weather over the Memorial Day weekend and Ron Clark was ready for it. Following is his account of the first XC soaring flight from Arlington to Walla Walla,which is also the leading entry so far for the Willy Burhen Cup (459 OLC points). The next day Ron flew from Walla Walla to Ephrata (another first), next day he made a "local" flight from Ephrata (441 points) and on the fourth day he flew home to Arlington with some major diversions in the mountains for 511 points! 

The AERO 2017 Exhibition in Friedrichshafen/ Germany

In the world of General Aviation it has become a tradition to come to the Zeppelin city of Friedrichshafen every year in April to be dazzled by the latest offerings from the various manufacturers. 

The Online Contest (OLC)

For anybody seriously interested in cross-country (XC) soaring the OLC has become a standard tool for comparison and analysis of what is happening in the worldwide scene of soaring.  Over a few years this method of posting XC flights to document, analyze, scrutinize, compare, and – not to forget – brag about has become almost universally accepted and has provided a major stimulus for XC soaring.  It is simple, timely, reasonably fair, and free (even though donations are encouraged).  The following statistics give some indication of the acceptance of the OLC as well as the ave

Gold Badge and Diamonds in Western Washington?

Now that Thomas Van de Velde has shown convincingly (i. e.

First Silver Badge in Western Washington

Soaring – i. e.

Meanwhile, on the Southern Hemisphere...

The New Year 2017 celebrations are barely over but for the OLC year 2017 (which began in September) the most spectacular soaring may be already over. This is not to ignore the upcoming World Championships in Benalla or the upcoming soaring season in the northern hemisphere but is based on some outstanding long distance soaring in the southern hemisphere that captures the imagination and the admiration of soaring and non-soaring pilots alike.

News from the 13.5m Class

Several years ago the IGC – the international body governing the sport of soaring – decided that the World Class (based on the PW-5) was not viable because it just did not appeal to the soaring community.  Thus ended the first, and so far only, attempt by the IGC to revive soaring competition with a “cheap” one design class that would also provide a reasonable tool for beginning XC pilots.

2016 XC Flights by Evergreen Pilots in Washington

Now that this soaring season in Washington is over, it is time again to take a look at what happened in the friendly skies over Washington. Evergreen Soaring (ES) pilots fly almost exclusively from three airfields - Arlington in western Washington, the ES home base, Twisp in the North Cascades, and Ephrata in Eastern Washington, the base for the Seattle Glider Council.

Soaring the Spine of the Cascades Range

WBC 2016

As usual, the XC season for Evergreen Soaring started in March; however it did not really start in earnest this year until the beginning of May. Actually, it was a very rainy early season followed by an unusually warm and stable period. As a consequence all the better flights were made on a few selected days in the first half of May. The total number of XC flights in 2016 on the west side was far below the usual. Nonetheless quite a few pilots made their personal best west side flights indicating a general rise in XC capability.

Summer soaring meteorology - more is possible than you think

I just got back from a trip out of town and saw Ron's double cascade crossing last Thursday (http://www.onlinecontest.org/olc-2.0/gliding/flightinfo.html?dsId=5384322). In the pilot comments section of the OLC Ron remarked in his usual low key style, "Over and back. Who would have thought, this late in the year?"

First of all, congratulations to Ron on a superb demonstration of his extraordinary pilot skills. There are few of us who have the abilities to pull something like this off. He continues to be an inspiration to those of us who are still trying to cut the apron strings.

2016 Twisp OLC Camp

The 2016 Twisp OLC Camp is now in the history books, and it was a memorable experience for all involved.

The Owens Valley Wave

Ever since Bob Symons was able to soar a P-38 fighter engine off for about an hours at up to 32,000 ft over Bishop on a very stormy day in 1950, the Owens Valley wave has been a magnet for daring soaring pilots willing to brave the power of this manifestation of natural power.

Flying with Fred in the Chinook

The Tuesday morning plan was for an exciting day of installing hardie-plank siding on the west wall of my garage.  Motivation was low.  The normal internet procrastination was in full swing… email, news, weather etc…  Lately a new website has made its way into my morning routine, thanks to Noel Wade. 

May 13, 2016 - A Remarkable Flight by Tom Bjork and Kemp Isuno

This is the story of Tom and Kemp attempting to soar along the mountains from Williams (north of Sacramento) to Arlington and coming close to succeeding.  It was a valiant effort that ended short of Mount Saint Helens when they had to start the engine and retreat to North Plains OR.  They still flew an OLC distance of 491 miles at an average speed of about 75 mph for a total of 633 OLC points.

While it was not quite successful it was an extra-ordinary flight and should serve as an inspiration to try for extra-ordinary tasks.

- editor

 

Rimrock Ramble by Ron Clark

Following is the story of another of Ron’s pioneering flights in the Cascades.  This is so far the best soaring flight in 2016 in Region 8; it is also by far the best soaring flight from the west side of the Cascades.  Btw, Tieton airfield at Rimrock Lake is the highest airfield in Washington State with close to 3000 ft elevation.                                      

Spring Weather - Holding Pattern

Evergreen Soaring is blessed with a number of intrepid meteorologists that help to the general membership to get a better understanding of our local weather.  Here is Ed's analysis of the strange weather this year that have made XC soaring such a challenge so far in 2016 (until May 3).

Enjoy the article and chime in if you want to add to the discussion.

- editor

Holding Pattern by Ed Walker

Dream Building by Tom Wolf

Here is the story of a 12 year pursuit of a dream -
building your own powered glider. Tom Wolf - one of our new students -
describes his building of the ultralight powered glider
"Cumulus" (plus trailer) that is nearing completion.
Hats off for his perseverence and best wishes for the completion! 
And of course, will it get close to its hoped for 1-26 performance?

- Editor

by Tom Wolfe

The Twin Astair is back on the line

Great news, as of this Saturday, the Twin Astir is back on the line and available to be flown. Let the soaring season begin...

  • The Twin Astair is back on the line

The 2016 SSA Convention

Some impressions from the recent SSA convention in Greensville SC by Ed Walker.

 

White Chuck Mountain: Portal to the Cascades

After years of having the “why don't you come out and enjoy the mountains” conversation with numerous glider pilots, some who have been soaring for years without venturing into the Cascades, and some who are relatively new to soaring, I think I have unraveled at least part of the puzzle. It's a four letter word that begins with the letter “F”. You know the one: Fear. Yes, that old bugaboo.

The OLC 2016 - An Intermediate Report

While we have just started the calendar year 2016 and are still awaiting the first signs of usable lift (ridge, wave or thermals), it is hard to believe that the OLC year 2016 is already mostly over for the southern hemisphere (having started on September 20).  The conditions in southern Africa (i. e.

Beyond Jordan Ridge

Just in time for the coming season, here is the personal account of one of our newly minted mountain pilots. As a reminder, the Evergreen Soaring club has Flying Rules in the by-laws that specify XC qualifications and separately mountain soaring qualifications. While these are required for pilots flying as PIC in club gliders, they are also highly recommended for flying in private gliders

- Editor

By Thomas Van de Velde

Cross-country Soaring with Club Sailplanes

XC (cross-country) soaring – generally defined as getting out of gliding range and thus the comfort zone of the home airfield – has been the mission statement of the Evergreen Soaring Club for some time.  And the results of the Willy Burhen Cup bear out the attraction of this kind of soaring for a dedicated group of pilots.  Closer inspection of these results, however, shows that this relatively small group consists almost exclusively of private owners who were intrigued enough to invest the money to acquire their own sailplanes and have the time and drive to go XC.  There is

The Willy Burhen Cup (WBC 2015) and the Joe Patton Milestone

September 21 was the last day of the OLC year 2015 and it is time again to review the various soaring achievements of the past season.  This was the 11th year for the WBC, a simple decentralized contest for the best XC flights on the west side of the Cascades as evaluated by the OLC.  So here is a list of the 17 pilots who posted their best XC flights of over 100 points

Green Valley Airfield Familiarization

Anybody contemplating XC soaring has to be prepared for the possibility “that the wind dies” and that a return to the home base becomes impossible (even for a powered glider which may not start up).  Landing at another airfield is the preferred solution to this predicament but making an off-field landing may be the only option.  So far this year four Evergreen pilots had to make off-field landings while venturing from Arlington, showing that this is not a lost art.  All these landings were executed without any problems, demonstrating that off-field landings on the west side are not as chancy or risky as sometimes assumed.

June 13, 2015 - Quite a Day

May and June show typically the best thermal conditions in Washington and together with some of the longest daylight hours present the best potential for extended soaring flights. Saturday June 13 of this year saw a number of ambitious XC pilots attempting some really long distance flights. The OLC provides a good look at what happened and allows some useful statistical comparisons. So here are the best flights from our different airports in the state:

The Twisp OLC Camp

The very successful Twisp encampment is now memory and it is time to relate some of the experiences and to sort out the relevant achievements.

First and foremost, it was successful because of Ron Clark thoroughly organizing this event, getting the Twisp community involved (including an article in the Methow Valley News), and getting a lot of local businesses to contribute prizes.

And the whole event would not have been possible without Duane Barr's tireless towing efforts (and having to wait until every pilot was back for a possible retrieve before having a beer). 

The 2015 Region 8 Soaring Championships

Once again the Region 8 championships, taking place from June 14 to 20 in Ephrata, was a popular gathering for competition pilots from near and far.  32 pilots participated in 5 classes and enjoyed conditions ranging from tough to perfect. 

The 2015 Evergreen encampment in Ephrata

by Zach Schrempp

Every year, the Evergreen Soaring club goes on a weeklong encampment to the Ephrata Airport, located in central Washington. Ephrata usually has strong thermals and high cloudbases, giving club pilots a chance to soar for long periods and try cross country flights.

Reflections on XC Flying

Memorial Day saw the now traditional Dust Up fun contest at Ephrata which was also the begin of the Evergreen Soaring encampment this year.  This provided the opportunity for novice and experienced pilots alike to enjoy the thermal conditions and the wide open spaces of Eastern Washington.  Following are the observations and reflections of our youngest XC pilo, who is incidentally now also preparing for the Region 8 contest.

by Daniel Dyck

OLC and Skylines Differences

For 12 years now the soaring flight evaluation program Onlinecontest or OLC has become the worldwide standard for evaluation of flight performance providing almost instant insight into what is happening in the world of XC soaring. It went thru a number of changes and updates but is now officially endorsed by the International Gliding Committee (IGC) and has been a tremendous instigator of getting pilots to push their XC soaring skills.

A Different State of Mind

by Ron Clark

I like Oregon. Always have. I was born there, and brought up on the south coast in the logging and fishing town of Coos Bay.

flightpath-154x281.jpg

Of course I can visit by car or any other conveyance, but since I like to fly gliders, visiting the home state in my favorite method of transport, the UN-motorized glider, has always been a goal.

The AERO 2015 Exhibition

The annual AERO Exhibition for General Aviation in Friedrichshafen took place in the middle of April 2015 and this year (as every second year now) it included the full glider segment.  Almost all major manufacturers for sailplanes, accessories and engines showed up and presented their latest offerings.  There were few new sailplane designs but a lot of refinements and developments.  Most notable was the eagerness of most manufacturers to offer some sort of electrical propulsion either as sustainer or self-launching application.  At the same time, jet engines are also off

The 2015 Willy Burhen Cup

As usual, the XC season for Evergreen Soaring started in March; however it did not really start in earnest this year until the beginning of April. We had a number of days with exciting soaring conditions that combined strong lift with showers and overdevelopments,that required shifting between survival flying and racing. 

Green Mountain to Mount Baker

By Ron Clark

Friday March 27th was a good wave day for our part of the country.  On the way to the airport I got a good look at the amazing lenticular cloud hovering over Mt. Pilchuck that Dan Housler had told me about earlier on the phone.

Beginning of the 2015 XC Season

Saturday February 21 started with a lot of low lying clouds but by noon the sun had cleared the skies over Arlington and some cumulus clouds were forming in the mountains to the northeast. 

The Outlook for 2015

Now that the year 2014 has is history, it is time again to look at the state of the Evergreen Soaring club.  We have still fewer tows than several years ago and our XC flying has decreased considerably.  We had to cope with particularly rainy weather in spring, the Oso landslide TFR and the unavailability of towing or instruction at times.   Let’s call 2014 a year of consolidation and work on increasing our activities again.

Noteworthy Flights From Arlington in 2014

Now that the Willy Burhen Cup (WBC) 2014 is history and serious XC soaring has to wait for next spring, it is a good time to reflect on how this past season went and what one can learn from it.  It turned out to be another contest between Dan Housler and Ron Clark.  Both pilots had won the WBC before and both had previously made cross-Cascade flights.

The 2014 Willy Burhen Cup (WBC 2014)

Now that the official OLC year 2014 is over it is time again to review again all the XC soaring flying in Western Washington this year. After a slow beginning due to very wet weather the soaring season started in earnest.

Arlington Airport Appreciation Day 2014

For the 2014 Arlington Airport Appreciation Day on September 20, Evergreen Soaring displayed the G-103 Twin Astir and explained the basics and finer points of soaring with the visitors. Local families who attended told us about watching Evergreen gliders fly over their neighborhoods heading toward the AWO landing pattern, and were eager to see one up close. Many children, and a few adults, were able to sit in the cockpit and get a view from the pilot’s perspective. We also had three walk-up demo rides. Appreciation Days is a useful public relations opportunity for Evergreen Soaring.

Mount Ditney or How to Get Away from Arlington

One of the reservations that some pilots have about going XC from Arlington concerns the difficulty of connecting with lift and getting sufficient altitude to get going.  This is especially true in late summer when the flat lands around Arlington and even the foothills further east offer only marginal lift and altitudes that make even staying up a chore.  These conditions look even less inviting when there are no clouds to indicate any convection (which happens quite often).  What is not apparent in these cases (even with Dr. Jack’s predictions) is the fact that the higher mountains, starting some 15 to 20 miles further east  from Arlington, quite often offer great thermal conditions.

Traversing the North Cascades

While most of the Evergreen members were tryng to make a favorable impression on Sunday August 23 about our flight operations on our guests from the Soaring Safety Foundaton (Tony Condon and Adam Kite) or enduring a gruelling 4 hour board meeting, Ron Clark and Brad Hill took long tows into the Cascades to make another exploration of the North Cascades. Ron Clark made yet again a noteworthy flight with 414 OLC points (best in Region 8 for the day) and agreed to provide the following report. Just don't believe it is as easy as Ron descibes it!

So here is Ron's report:

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