A very good day at Wes-Mar airfield with plenty of sunshine, light variable winds and a good lapse rate. On my second tow, I hooked on very low and patiently worked the weak lift which became eventually stronger and took me up over 3000ft above the field.
I kept climbing this very smooth lift well above 3800 ft AGL and I started to really enjoying the day as there was lift all around Wes-Mar airfield; but then I looked to the north east and clearly saw Rickenbecker International Airport’ runaways not very far from my current flying position; I then remembered that I was in a LOA (limited operating area). At 4000ft AGL I decided to leave the thermal as I did not want to climb any higher for the moment. I then started thinking about going cross country but could not make my mind up about which direction would be best and further away from controlled airspace and the regional airstrips of the area. The wind was very light and variable so I could have gone any direction really; the day was really good with plenty of lift and a good climb rate. The most logic rout to take was to the north west where a good cloud street had formed; but not having studied a map beforehand, I wrongly assumed that it would take me very near Columbus CMH controlled airspace. I therefore decided to enjoy the lift and the day by flying around the airfield area and over Darbyville, leaving thermals as soon as I went over 4000ft. Also the Cessna going up and down on the airstrip and dumping men made me a bit nervous as I am not used to see aircrafts in the vicinity when I am soaring.. The best lift of the day was when I saw Steve and his hanglider climbing real good towards the end of the airstrip and the cornfield. I decided to go and join him; I pushed on the speed bar and in no time I was climbing at 5m/second on a monster thermal that took me well over 4500ft. After another couple of tours around the field and one hour and thirty minutes in the air I decided that I should give XC a go. I finally made up my mind and decided for SE, head past Darbyville and possibly follow road 56 all the way to Circleville and beyond. I left my thermal possibly way too early over Darbyville and went on my first proper glide of the day. After a couple of minutes I started to sink really bad, a constant –5ms. I tried to pick a different line but it was too late, all of a sudden I found myself low and had to land some 5 miles SE from Wes-Mar. I landed next to the road on the green yard of a house; the landlady very kindly gave me a ride back to the field. When I was folding the wing, I noticed how the thermal I did not reach on time was now full on lifting losts of dust and weed in the air about 50 yards from where I was.. very unlucky.. typical, you can’t get down because of lift everywhere and the minute you decide to venture away, you hit sink… A very good flight nevertheless with almost two hours in the air. Shame that I could not get very far, but this happens especially if you are not focused and distracted by controlled airspace thoughts and waiting way too long before heading away.
General May 5th, 2008