Congratulations to our tow pilot & instructor, Wali, on his Wright Brother's Master Pilot award! The FAA presented Wali with the award on June 1st during the Virginia Regional Festival of Flight at Suffolk Airport. We are happy to have Wali pulling us up in the air and training us to be safe in our ships. Way to go, Wali!
put a new TET on the vertical and a great pilot behind the stick and look what our 26 did on Sunday! #2 on the OLC! (left:trace image) I think Pete may have pushed out further than any MSA pilot ever has in that venerable craft. Nicely done Mr. A! Paint that thing and he'll be using it to fly the MMR! (Merlin Milk Run...ha ha...MSA-CREWE-PETERSBURG-MSA)
The weekend was good guys.
Sat. was a bit challenging with few cumes and big sink between thermals. Nevertheless, JD put that little charmer Holly in the back seat and made her his first passenger since returning from B-Hi. He showed her what Dad could do in that 33 with an hour and 15 minutes and heights over 5k at times. Vince did a couple of nice 1 hour flights and I and my 19 put a few points on the OLC.
Sunday was spectacular with many cumes, cloudbase at 6 and good lift! With Ron commanding the 150, JD running ops and Mr. K offering pointers on lift...off we went! Pete took first tow, got off at 2 and shortly thereafter called a relight. Guess he was just messing with us though as a short time later, he cranked that 26 over, rose into the blue not to again be seen til 5:35! Stefan in her heaviness the LARK launched next and he too disappeared into that beuatiful sky! His return to earth occured over 3 hours later at 5:45. (Note - we must make every effort to insure our guys have some way of recording flights!) After telling Ron to "take me to the lift" (what - no "take me to Scott's Fork"???) I pulled off a 2k and went straight to over 5k. Pete and I got in the same thermal for a bit and then I pointed the nose of that pretty 19 at Crewe for the MMR!
I can say with great conviction...ya gotta luv this sport!!!
Big thanks to Ron for breaking up his Sunday to get us aloft and to JD (and his luvly wife Kim!) for coming out to run ops!
We have been busy this weekend! Pete, Dave, JD, and Eric put up a combined 1385 points on OLC racking up over 690 miles (1144km). You can see our club traces here. We tried a new start, contest style, where we lined up all of the gliders allowing Wally to land, hook up, and launch the next customer.
Saturday, we had a visit from Rodney, down Texas way, a fellow '26 pilot. We hope to see him again soon! Speedy and a guest were up in the venerable 2-33 for half an hour. A birthday ride guest, Cathy, was finally able to come out and get her ride - what a day for it! Dave and Cathy hung out in the Lark for an hour touring the countryside. Eric and Peter were up in the 2-33 for 75 minutes of training. Vince was up, down, then back up and hanging for a 90 min flight. JD was there in spirit, but in body was working his way through his check ride with Frank Reid @ Bermuda High Soaring. He passed and is Merlin's newest Airman. The team kept Wally buzzing around in our hard working 150-180! Hardest working towman in five counties!
Sunday, Eric, Dave, and Pete were sucking up all the lift. Stephan sacrificed the heart of a buzzard to the lift gods, but to no avail. Some days are like that.
Monday we had a mix of the retired, the 'on vacation', and the 'snuck away from work' flying. What a day! Lift up to 7,500' all over the place and Ron at the controls of the 150 helping us get there. Pete and Eric ran the 'local XC' - Petersburg, Crewe, up to the James, while Dave high tailed it to visit our friends at Tidewater Soaring Society. Stephan pulled the Lark out and Pete reports that he thought Stephan had snuck a motor on it! Over two hours in the Lark zipping up to 7.300 and having a grand old time!
This was JD's first day as Pilot In Command and he made the best of it - climbing to 7,400', running out 10 miles away from home base (our club ships have to remain in glide distance), and staying up a bit over four hours. Pete, JD, Eric, and Ron (pictured right) had a nice dinner of smoked brisket and beans that JD brought with him. After the flying and dining was done, JD headed out with Dave's ride to pick up him and the 19 at Garner.
You don't get too many weekends where so much comes together so well. We are fortunate to be able to share these experiences with our friends. Good flying, folks!
A Killdeer made a nest right in front of the trailer garage. These are ground nesting birds and have a nest with four eggs. The eggs look just like the surrounding rock. The hen pretends to be injured in order to lure you away from her eggs. This gave me some time to take some pretty good pictures of her.
She didn't do too much flying, but the rest of us had some pretty good times! Dave and Pete were both up for almost four hours. There was an inversion layer around 3,100' for most of the day, so they topped out pretty low. Lots of thermal work to stay up.
Greg, Stephan, and Vince all had a few flights; Vince had a good two plus hour flight in the '26 making one of two such flights required for the bronze badge. Speedy showed us all what it means to bring the glider in to the end of the runway; landing such that we turned the glider around, swapped passengers and sent him back in the air. Nice work, Speedy! Between Speedy taking up his family members and some tough thermal finding conditions on this blue day, we kept Wally pretty busy in the 150. I don't know what our final tow tally was, but it had to be pretty close to ten or more tows!
Hopefully the field will dry up quickly and the rain from this week won't shut us out this weekend!
We always take good care of our ships; last weekend we brought them all out and gave them a good bath. JD is shown cleaning up the winter's dust from the 2-33; Greg and Co. did the same for the Lark. They are ready for action!
Which we saw plenty of! JD completed his post solo training phase receiving sign off in his log book to register for his check ride. Dave, Eric, Greg, Stephan, and Holly all got in the air last weekend. We had a visit from Will who was in for a FAST flight. He spent much of the day with us and was great help to have around. Check out our OLC trace page (link to the right) and see some of the logged flights. We had a number of power planes around as well; David flew his Luscombe to the field, as did Wally in his SR22, and we had a visit from Pat Riley in his old open cockpit warbird.
We also had a visit from a skunk. It was sitting in the middle of the taxiway as we were bringing the 2-33 up for a wash. Good thing we didn't get too close! He wandered through the hangers and (hopefully) back out to the fields and home. We didn't see him again and are just fine if it stays that way!
JD and Holly took a number of pictures last weekend, we'll be getting those up on our pictures page as well.
Looks like good flying weather for the next couple of weekends, check out our Facebook page for more current ops updates.
MSA has been growing over the last year. At our Annual General Meeting, we voted all of our interim members as full members. Welcome Wally Azimi, Kevin Bennett, David Edmunds, Peter Gebs, and MaryBeth Wicker!
We'd also like to welcome our newest member, Kevin Rasmussen! We look forward to many great flights this year!
MSA made our second appearance at the Banff Mountain Film Festival this year. We really need to figure out how to get a glider in the James River High School cafeteria! We met folks, pressed the flesh, showed some glider videos and had a good time all around. We provided the Parks and Rec folks with an Experience Ride certificate for the raffle Saturday night, JD won a ski cap and two passes for a day of skiing at Lake Louise. We're pretty sure there's no connection!
If you were the lucky recipient of the flight, please contact us and let us know! We'd love to know who you are! The certificate is good for a year, so you have plenty of time to pick a great day to come fly with us. We'll be happy to have you out to the field.
It's high time for the snow to quit falling and for the rain to fall early in the week (and not on the weekends)! We are ready to rock and roll and start posting our flight traces!
Merlin has been pretty busy this winter! We've done some soaring, some training, some growing and some fixing. The slide show above shows some of the improvements we've made to our little '26. We:
We also replaced the battery and secured the external airflow tube. Our '26 is even more of a joy to spend time in! Now to get some new paint on and make her look as good as she flies!
Merlin has a few new members that came in over the past few months. Marybeth has signed on to be one of our tow pilots and will also start the glider add-on to her power license. We have two active students, Kevin and Peter, as well as a new instructor and member, Wally Azimi. We have also welcomed new member pilot Dave Edmonds working on a glider add-on to his power license.
We'll again be at the Banff Mountain Film Festival this spring (check the Chesterfield Parks and Rec site for more information). If you are interested in meeting members of the club, and seeing great movies focused on the outdoors, come out and see us at Banff!
We're on the right side of the solstice and looking forward to the high lift and longer days of spring and summer! We'll try to post more often as our activities increase!
Sunday turned out to be a great day for our pilots! JD went up in the '26 for a 30 minute flight to stir things up and let the Lift Gods know that we had some high expectations for the day ahead. Evidently, it worked because every flight after that was considerably longer than his paltry half hour! What he lacked in staying power, he certainly made up for in getting the lift out. The image to the left is Pete's trace, a nice three hour flight in the 1-26! We're going to have to start calling him leatherbutt! Dave hung with him for hours of fun in 19LK. Stefan and Greg each had a turn in the Lark. Mamat and our alternate Dave had a good long flight in the 2-33 - again proving that Central VA has plenty of good soarable weather. After Dave and Mamat came down, Eric took Marybeth up for a ride. Hopefully she had a great time and we'll see her back again!
We had a day of accomplishment on Sunday. We got new gator seats in (although they are quite a bit more forward than the old ones and we’ll need to work on that some). Traded one discomfort for another! Tom was out working on 094 with Eric, we now have an OEM looking mirror mounted on the spar of the Cessna, Eric reports great visibility and it looks like an official part of the plane. Tom is going to find a quick-drain plug for the engine oil as we’d have to drop the bottom cowling off of the engine to do oil changes and that’s a lot of labor hours for what should be a simple task. The quick-drain plug will let us get the oil out without a lot of hassle. Sounds like a good plan to me.
While there, Tom looked at our 1-26 radio set up and advised Dave to remove the existing antenna mount and see if there is a part number we can use to order a replacement. He said if we got the cable, he would put new connector ends on it for us. Dave is also going to look at an extra mic boom he has and see if that would be a suitable replacement for the current one.
All in all, it took us a while to actually get to the flying part of the day, but we got there about the same time the lift did, so that was OK. Dave took Kevin up in the 2-33 and up they went! While they were flying around, Tom helped us out with wing runner duties and I got up in the ’26. There was pretty steady lift in the four miles around Merlin. Eric was kind enough to drop me right into the lift under a CU and I had a pretty quick ride up to 4,200’ and minimums, so I popped out from under there and for the next hour plus, kept doing the same thing. Got far enough North that I crossed over 360, a personal first, but it looked like there was a pretty big gap between there and the next farther CUs to the NE, so while I could see the Chesterfield Berry Farm corn maze, I couldn’t quite get out to overfly it. Maybe next time! After that I spent a fair amount of time working between 3K and 4K, topped out close to 4,500’. Played with airspeed and altitude and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Tried to play music out of my phone speaker, but it couldn’t compete with the wind noise. May have to bring a short plug to put in the speaker box before Dave fixes the radio!
Dave had two flights after Kevin had to leave for the day. I think he pulled off and found some of the sink pretty fast and hard. He was chasing Eric back to the field. He relit and came up to play for a bit, but by that time the sun was pretty well past the yard arm and the day was quieting down. Knowing we were both going in about the same time, I figured to try and get in a good precision landing – and managed to pull it off! Almost all the way off, even. Got right between the first taxiway cones and had the ’26 turning into the taxiway before I stopped. A short tug on the straps and the runway was clear for Dave, who didn’t need it. But I was pretty excited about having the glider go where I wanted it to go and stopping pretty close to where I wanted it to stop!
There was a local family that came out to visit after seeing us flying around. Eric gave a couple of pattern flights to Rashad and his older brother. They were there with their dad and grandfather. Great folks, had a really good time looking at the gliders and talking with us. The boys (13 and 16) had ear to ear grins following their flights!
With the ’26 right at the hanger and the tow plane not stored, we decided to see if we could get some red and white hanger mates. And we can! The ’26 is now keeping 094 company. If we had a glider dolly we could easily move the ’26 in and out, but even so, it’s an easy exercise to get them both in. Eric painted some wheel marks on the ground to help us guide the planes in. We have an open tie down up front, Pete!
So ended Sunday. Lots done, I’ll put some pics up on the Merlin site. By the way, our Daily Ops page has copies of these mailings as well as a link to our club flight postings on OLC. If you want to show off what we do, the Daily Ops page is a great resource to help you do that!
And just to keep ego in check, I do have the #2 slot for R4… Out of 2. #43 out of 43 for the US. Daniel Sazhin did much better with his ’26 flying the ridges up in NJ for the #1 US slot/#2 worldwide. You should look at the trace, most of the flight it looks like a good size tree would have been the end of him! 512KM over 7.5 hours. That’s a good day flying!
Click here to see some of our flight traces. We use various GPS enabled devices to record our flights and submit them to the OnLine Contest site.
MSA - Officer of the Day. The OD will generally post the highlights of the day's operations in the blog.