Two-seat XC Soaring

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Last year Evergreen made use of an advantageous offer to purchase a G103 (Twin Astir) from Tony Wiederkehr with the express idea to use this medium performance two-seat glass ship for XC flying (training, transition and contest). It is a capable XC flyer with an OLC index of 92 compared with our sedate L-23s with an index of 76. Now that all the paperwork is taken care of and the landing gear problems are resolved (thanks Gary!) it is beginning to live up to its intended purpose. And after having half a dozen members spend several hours wrestling this ship together it is clear that having it on the line is the only way to go. While other clubs have just begun to start this year's season, the G103 has been busy to introduce various pilots to the near and not so near surroundings of Arlington with several OLC entries. Paul, Noel and Winfried have taken a number of other club members up and Paul introduced the G103 to Barker (with Mike Berwaldt). It seems that the G103 is living up to expectations.

Paul was equally active with the L-23, making an unannounced visit to Green Valley (with Jennifer) and even an off-field landing near Lake McMurray (with Hugh Davies). Besides that the Chinook and the Foundation DG-1000 contributed a number of two-seat XC flights.

Besides enabling two-seat XC soaring - which is enjoyable in itself - it is particularly useful to introduce advanced students to XC soaring such that they can make better use of our single seat glass ships or their own sailplanes. Pairing students with experienced pilots seems to be the most efficient and safest method to share tribal knowledge about local XC soaring and to help prospective XC pilots develop the right mix of confidence and competence. This is not to say that other approaches like buddy flying in single seat gliders, digesting available literature, virtual soaring with Condor or other video programs, analyzing OLC traces or just participation in XC discussions are not helpful - quite to the contrary, they are all useful. It is just a recognition that hands on participation in XC flying in confidence inspiring conditions is an excellent learning experience and provides reassurance for all involved. And besides combining knowledge, sharing flying duties and facilitating navigation it also allows safely taking pictures and videos.

There has been quite a revival of two-seat XC soaring lately and many of the attention getting flights by Jim Payne, Gordon Boettger and other notables have been achieved with two-seaters. Two-seat sailplanes (with a 20m span restriction) will be an official IGC competition class again (after having been discontinued in 1956) and one may expect US championships in this class in due time. The Arcus with an OLC index of 114 is currently the front runner in this class. It promises to be an interesting addition to the competition scene.