12-07-18 A 1-26 Fix!

It was a very nice ridge day and 692 is a very nice 1-26. I had no trouble making it down to Bake Oven knob without turning and at high speed. 692 seems to be rigged a bit differently compared to most 1-26s. It cruises very nicely at 60, 70, 80, 90 mph. Very little forward pressure is needed and the glider just feels very solid and happy. It’s a little touchier in the climb… it doesn’t like to go quite as slow as Red did. Not that it can’t, but the sinkrate goes up noticeably and the buffet is a bit more pronounced. But the run performance totally compensates for that.

Down at Bake Oven, I saw a very nice street marching upwind toward Second/Sharp. I figured I’d try making my crossing early and stay in the higher band. I had no trouble making it across the valley. I was hoping to stay connected with the thermals heading toward Tamaqua… just needed another climb. But when I made it to Second at 3000ft, I couldn’t find that climb. And I figured that I could find something under the clouds, along the ridge. No joy. At that point, I started settling down into the top band of Second… hardly any love. Several hundred feet above the ridge and looking at the sea of trees in front of me, I decided that I had a very nice flight and called it quits. Dumped it over the back toward cut fields and had no trouble getting there. Now, I reassessed my options and found a better field, along a little ridge.

I almost climbed out… right as I got closer to the field a bubble popped loose. But it only got me to 1900ft. I had to decide whether to chase it downwind or try to find another bubble upwind. Usually going upwind works better… but not this time. No trouble landing in a beautiful hay field, although with quite a bit of slope.

The landowners were really friendly. Heck, they brought me a thermos of coffee, an orange, and a banana. A bunch of hunters saw me circling over the hill and came in a hurry to make sure that the “airplane crash” wasn’t so bad. They received the whole spiel and came away satisfied everything was fine.

After I got the glider prepped for disassembly and the excitement died down, I marched on over to the edge of the field, into the wind shadow. I just sat for a while, sipped the coffee and enjoyed the view. The hill opened up a panorama of the whole valley and you can see our ridge in the distance. Some gentle wave bars dotted the sky. I could hear the turbines on the airliners passing in the distance. And every once in a while, it would be almost silent, save for the occasional rustling of the leaves or a gust that bends the trees. It was peaceful.

After about a half hour goes by and just as I started feeling the warmth starting to escape my body, a car rolled by. The fellow said he heard news about the glider, lived up the road and wanted to check in on me. He then offered for me to join him and his wife at his home for a while to stay warm. I gladly accepted.

Turns out the fellow and his wife were from Brooklyn. He was a cop in the 80s and when he finished his duty and got the pension, he moved out to PA. That gave a heck of a lot to talk about, let alone the glider flying stuff and their life story, typical fodder for landout banter. During this time, I texted Steve and Rob that I had landed, hoping that they would see my note only when they had come down. I didn’t want their flights to be curtailed on my behalf.

Steve was especially enthusiastic to come and get me. Nothing better than a crew that actually wants to go on the journey! He was on his way quickly and arrived at 5pm. It was already quite dark, but everything was ready to go. Red’s old trailer hasn’t been exercised in a while and it showed. It definitely needs a bit of TLC. But with a bit of improvisation and ingenuity, the ship was safely on, albeit it took a bit longer than it should.

It got really dark. It was a moonless night and it was the starriest sky I had seen on the East coast. Steve pointed out the milky way!

We finally hit the road and got to the airport a little after 8pm. We figured that if we could disassemble in the dark, assembling shouldn’t be any harder. So we put the ship back together so folks had a chance to fly it today without having to go through any extra trouble.

It was a very enjoyable day for me. It was really fun flying a 1-26 again. And it was fun to try something different and see how it works out. It didn’t this time, but that’s all part of soaring.

Thanks a million to Tommy for towing us; it was a really nice and solid tow. I was very happy that I had safe places to land in and then we made a beeline to the ridge. Thanks Ole and Cookie for organizing and running the ops. Huge thanks for Steve for retrieving me. And to Aero Club Albatross for giving me the chance to fly this wonderful bird.

Find the flight log here.

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