Friday, February 19, 2016

SSA Convention Second Day

I missed the earliest morning session because I slept in a bit. I managed to make it to the second session to hear a very technically intense presentation about the design and building of Schempp-Hirth's newest racing glider, the Ventus 3.

The Ventus 3 had its first flight a few months ago.  The flight testing hasn't been going very well, simply because the weather hasn't been very good for flight testing in Germany.

I got into the presentation rather late, and didn't get a good seat at the front of the audience. The presentation included many graphs that described many of the design decisions they made.

Later in the afternoon, I really enjoyed the "Concordia Lessons Learned" presentation by Dick Butler. The Concordia was designed as a one-of-a-kind racing glider with the most outrageous wingspan that could ever be built.

When you design a glider that has a 55 to 1 aspect ratio (that means the wing span is 55 times as long as the chord length), you're going to have wiggly wimbly-bimbly bouncy wings, unless you do some serious engineering to solve that problem.  So they had to consider how to resist the twisting, find a way to keep the wings from bouncing around so much that they flutter in high-speed flight.  They had a really neat solution.  They sacrificed a small bit of slow speed performance to maintain the high speed performance by doing a special type of lay-up that resisted stretching on the skin of the wing.

They still have to have water ballast, in order to get the wing loading they needed to make the racing glider fast, so they had to make water ballast tanks in front of and behind the main spar.  They needed extra wing strength, so instead of using Styrofoam in their composite, they used balsa wood.  But it couldn't be any kind of balsa wood, it had to be balsa wood with a very specific mass.

They had to consider the size of the horizontal stabilizer: It couldn't be too big, because that would reduce the performance of the glider by making extra drag.  They started with a Schleicher ASW-27 horizontal stabilizer, shrunk it by 10 centimeters on each side, and ended up with a what seems to be "way too small" horizontal stabilizer.  The advantage of this is to make the empennage more efficient.  The downside of this, however, is that there is a lot more sensitivity to the center of gravity.  The center of gravity range is only 2.5 centimeters.  Everything is OK, so long as the pilot (with parachute) is exactly 85 kilograms.

The results of this amazing achievement in aeronautical engineering is a glider that can cruise with unbelievable performance.  It has a maximum glide ratio somewhere around 70 to 1.  That means for every thousand feet of altitude lost, the glider is going to go about 13.3 statute miles. My Duo Discus usually sits around 7 miles per thousand feet.

To make things even more amazing, the glider has a 50:1 glide ratio at 115 knots.  It has a better glide ratio at 115 knots than most high performance gliders have at 50 knots.   What an amazing bird!

I attended a Luncheon "SSA Focus on the Clubs".  I sat next to Mark Wilson.  The name seemed familiar.  He's the guy I bought my old LS-4 from back in 2002. After eating, Frank Whiteley hosted the discussion.  Subjects covered were things like "How does a club schedule flying operations, tow pilot, instructor availability, and glider usage?"  One club in Canada uses "Click'nGlide", a utility very popular in France.   Another discussion was how the SSA saves money by having clubs all register at the same time with their club. There was a smaller discussion about how clubs are now sharing notes on a Google Groups discussion group called "Chapters-SSA." It's an invitation-only group that shares notes similar to the discussions that were held during this meeting.
Frank Whitley shows off the Google Group Chapters-SSA  (invite only)

The next presentation that I attended was by Sean Fidler, and the topic was
How to use SeeYou for post flight analysis.  Sean has a YouTube channel, where he takes the flight traces from the winners of soaring contests and compares them to his own flying. After watching a lot of replays with the 3-D viewing function of SeeYou, he has made many observations about the mistakes he made, the successes that the winners always make. Sean has a YouTube channel where he describes what competitors did during various sailplane races.

Sean Fidler shows SeeYou for a recent National competition
Karl Striedieck had a presentation describing the different birds that you may encounter while soaring. I didn't take very good notes about this, and was too far back to get any pictures.  

The final presentation I attended today was hosted by the Soaring Safety Foundation. The topic was "Using Scenario-Based Training" to enhance flight instruction.  Sure, flight instructors do a great job teaching a student how to monkey the controls effectively to do the maneuvers.  But in many organizations, the ideas of how a student could handle a certain situation comes up a little short. Airlines use the term LOFT, and the SSF uses the term PAVE. Consider the Pilot, Aircraft, enVironment, and External pressures when presenting a scenario.  FAA Advisory Circular 61-98C mentions that the instructor should use Scenario-Based Training for the ground portion of a 61.56 flight review.  After seeing this presentation, I realize that there are some improvements to be made.  I'm going to have to have with the instructors in my flying club. 

I spent very little time on the show room floor, but managed to take enough time out of my busy schedule to get some more pictures of the gliders. But still, not nearly enough time looking at the gliders.  This is a Pipistrel Taurus motorglider. I've been fascinated with this glider, and up until now, I've never seen one in person.

Pipistrel Taurus M
 And what would an SSA convention be without a beautifully restored SGS 1-26 on the showroom floor.
The shiniest 1-26 I've ever seen
I took a picture of Shane Neitzey's flight simulator rig, that somehow didn't make it into yesterday's blog post.  So here it is:

Shane and Valerie let visitors try out the "Illudium G-36 glider flight simulator"

SSA Convention First Day

I'm currently in Greenville, South Carolina at the Soaring Society of America's biennial convention.
My favorite part of this is hanging out at the show room floor, where all of the fancy gliders are on display.  There are meetings that discuss the issues that face glider pilots today, but as usual, I'm most interested in the museum aspect of the convention.

Eric Lambert and Jim Garrison pose in front of the Stemme S-10VT
The Stemme S-10VT is an absolutely amazing machine. Terribly expensive, but a wonderful combination of glider and airplane.  With a 50:1 glide ratio, and a service ceiling of 30,000 feet (!), cruises at 120 knots at something like 2.5 gallons per hour.  The wings fold back, and the plane can be stored in a T Hangar. It can also taxi with the wings folded, so if there's not enough room to squeeze between two hangars, you can do that without scraping the wings.

I'm a Schempp-Hirth lover, and love everything they make.
Arcus M with a motor, owned by Al Simmons. Absolutely beautiful!
I think the Arcus is just absolutely beautiful. This one belongs to Al Simmons (OLC) It has many similar features with the Duo Discus, but has flaps.   Of course, this one is equipped with an outboard engine.
The new Arcus M from Schempp-Hirth
This is another Arcus M, but this one's outboard motor is actually a jet engine!  See the next picture.
DUDE! That Arcus M has a jet engine installed in it!
Dennis Tito (OLC) recently bought this jet-powered Arcus-M.

The glider with the longest wings imaginable was at the convention.  This is a 28 meter glider called "The Concordia" Pictures can't justify the wingspan.
The Concordia!  Man those wings are long! 
Another view of the Concordia's super long wings

The ASH-30 MI motor glider from Schleicher
Another Schleicher has a jet self launcher
 The meetings I attended on the first day were:
  1. ADS-B, presented by Dave Nadler.  How do PowerFlarm, a transponder, and ADS-B relate to the mandatory ADS-B out ruling from the FAA? 
  2. Finding and making use of energy lines, by Pete Anderson. This presentation showed me different ways to exploit lift by looking at clouds in a slightly different way. 
  3. The FAA is in attendance, and their representative described the way that the FAA is going to apply the ADS-B Out requirement in 2020
  4. Finally, Scott Manley had a presentation about how to use the Condor flight simulator more effectively to aid in flight instruction.
This evening, I managed to crash the Stemme party. This was a meeting put together to appreciate the Stemme owners, recent purchasers of the Stemme, and those who are interested in buying a Stemme S-10VT.  Of course I'd like to have one!   Yes, I'd like to have another beer. 

During the evening, I hung around at the bar, waiting for somebody to start a conversation with me. I talked to the land developers of Ensign Hangars ( This guy was absolutely sure that we could get a hangar built on the property, he's done it dozens of times with even the most glider-hostile environments.

I met the aerobatic pilot Bob Carlton, who is probably one of the most charismatic people I've ever met.  The day ended very late for me.  Now I'm going to try to get to the exhibition hall before lunch.