Tuesday, May 31, 2016

VASA Cross Country Camp, Emporia VA

This past weekend I attended the Virginia Soaring Association Thermal/XC Soaring Camp (week 1). All of the soaring clubs in Virginia meet once a year in January.  During those meetings, the presidents of each club (and a few key members) share ideas on how to grow each other's soaring clubs. We share tales of working with the FAA or the SSA.  At the last meeting, somebody opined that it would be wonderful if all of the soaring clubs in Virginia could get together to practice flying in thermals.  So we did.
This event is spread over two weekends, and we just finished the first weekend.  Members from Tidewater Soaring Society (Windsor, VA), Merlin Soaring in (Ameila, VA), Shenandoah Soaring (currently in Petersburg, WV), and Skyline Soaring club (Front Royal, VA) got together in Emporia, VA.
I left on Thursday evening to drive my two seat glider down to the bottom of the state.  The drive was about 4 hours through the winding back roads to I-64, then I-95 to Emporia. The weather en route was terrible; heavy rain, poor visibility, and aggressive drivers zooming by me and my 2800 pound glider trailer.
If you ever wondered how to get a glider around, you put it in a trailer like this
(and tow it with a big enough truck)

Friday: We sat inside and looked at the cats-n-dogs of rain outside.  We spent the time constructively.  Jim Garrison gave many lectures about how to fly a glider away from the airport.  The lectures covered many topics such as: "Off Field Landing", thermalling techniques, what speed to fly when flying between the thermals, and there was also a lecture on the etiquette of flying in a thermal with many other gliders.

Soaring with another Duo Discus, "Tango"
On the final day of Cross Country Camp, we finally got some seriously good soaring weather. I took the Duo out for a 300k triangle, with Pete Appleby, JP Stewart, and Brandon Pierson from BRSS.
The first leg of the trip was from Emporia to Merlin Aerodrome.  From there, we were to go to an airport called William Tuck airport, right on the North Carolina - Virginia border.  Then back to Emporia.
The soaring was excellent on the first third of the trip, but much worse on the second leg.  Once we got to Merlin, the 6 and 7 knot thermals turned into 2 and 3 knot thermals.  I limped along between the two Military Operations Areas of Farmville and Pickett.
As I got south of the Farmville MOA, I looked at a blue sky ahead, and not many prospects for good soaring. I turned and headed home, 15 miles short of the second turnpoint.   The rest of the trip was pretty easy, with a 15 knot tail wind.

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