The conditions looked a bit more promising for soaring day, but doubtful for cross country. Figuring that we might go up for a couple hours and mill around locally, we decided to fly in the Harris Hill Duo Discus rather than assembling our two ships separately. This was a good opportunity to learn more about how we fly and think with less of the stresses that come with flying on our own.
It was a lot of fun! And the conditions developed better than we expected. A beautiful cloud street marched west of the airport, into the wind. We climbed up to a little over 5000ft and slid our way upwind. The Duo penetrated so beautifully and we had no trouble staying connected. We hardly got out of gliding distance of the airport heading 48 miles into the wind!
We traded flying a couple times and discussed the basics. How to run the lines and the nuances of our thermalling technique. Noah routinely out-thermals me by a tiny bit and we talked quite a bit about recentering strategies and how much slip we like to use in the lift. On the runs, I said whether it felt better a bit farther left or right. I’m not sure how helpful I was because he would ask, “Why?”. My response tended to be, “felt better…”, which was not terribly instructive. Interestingly, we pretty much always agreed on the clouds we wanted to go to.
When it came to reading the sky, he was picking up on different things and focused very much on the details and composition of the clouds. I tended to scan and pick the better looking clouds and just rely on the feel of the air when we got closer (deploying my thermal beacon as I like to say.) But in any case, we always converged on the same clouds/lines to go to, just in slightly different ways.
Since the day was quite relaxed and we didn’t have a task, we flew pretty much in a risk-minimization mindset. This is also compounded by the fact that in Harris Hill it rarely pays to get into a racing mode. But I suspect that’s where our biggest differences really are; in our optimization algorithms for competition flying. And we seem to integrate our respective algorithms very well when we fly together.
After getting near Wellsville, we headed a bit farther north, toward the Chemung Valley. We got to fly over Noah’s house and then headed back. I wasn’t flying much at this point because my legs were hurting a decent bit trying to move the rudder on the Duo. Maybe my thighs were a bit sore from assembling the LS4 the day before and the pressure just went to the wrong spot. The Duo rudder was surprisingly heavy! But in any case, we had our 2.5 hours of fun and made a nice final glide back home.
Otherwise, it was a blast hanging around the Harris Hill summer ops and juniors. It’s the young folks who run the operations around here, doing the instructions, tows and rides. They know how to have a good time and it’s great being here!
See our flight log here.
Thanks Aero Club Albatross and Harris Hill Soaring Corporation for supporting us in our team training toward the Junior Worlds.