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Leg 7, Silvercreek Gliderport, IL to Terry Airport, Indianapolis - Friday, June 27, 2003:

From Tom Serkowski:
RTKH - Leg 7 report

Yesterday we drove all day. Most of the drive was quite pleasant with cool temperatures and nice views. As we got close to Saint Louis, we hit several traffic jams and lost over an hour getting to Silvercreek.

The airport and club members are great. They had a terrific BBQ waiting for us with lots of brats, pork steaks, sauerkraut, beans and salads. Due to the heavy rains of the previous day, most of the field was quite soggy. But we got all the trailers parked on
a taxiway and by this morning, the runway was drying a little, so we rigged there. It was quite wet at 0900 as we assembled, but by noon or so the grass was dry enough to sit on and not get your pants wet.

Cu started popping shortly after the pilots meeting and by the time we launched the sky looked classic. This was to be the downfall of most of us as we played start games trying to get up to the 6,000' MSL start altitude. I saw 5800' before the start but cross the line at around 5400'.

Since the lift was so good and the clouds looked nice we were all waiting around for someone else to start and lead the way. By the time we started, the sky was still looking good, but the thermals weren't as easy to find anymore. By about 1/3 of the
way down the leg, the clouds had almost completely dried up. I had a couple more climbs to 5K or so but was spending most of my time between 3 and 4,000', and with the ground at 6-800' MSL, that's not much of a cushion. I started behind TP and AA, but we soon separated and I was alone for most of the flight.

Near Terre Haute I join up with RS and we stumble along from one weak thermal to the next. Along the way we pick up CW and continue slowly to the goal. Finally, over Mumford Farms airstrip my luck runs out and I have to start the engine. Shortly thereafter I hear CW landing there. This is about 20 miles short of the finish.

As I motor up to final glide altitude, I hear DJ find a low save and get high enough for a finish. TP, J3, ZA and a few others do manage to complete the task. Most of the motorglider class had to start up somewhere short of the finish.

At Terry, we were treated to a delicious spaghetti dinner in a huge hangar with several business jets parked in the back. Tomorrow, looks like the weather will get us to Caesar Creek and a long awaited rest day to follow.

Tom Serkowski

From Jim Payne:
Today we launched from the Silvercreek Glider Club's gliderport near St Louis, Missouri.
The folks at Silvercreek did an outstanding job of hosting RTKH. They put on a wonderful dinner last night. Their gliderport is on the grounds of a farm. For this desert soarer it was one green place.

While waiting to start we got to 5,800 feet MSL ... our high point for the day. The task was 192 miles to Terry Airport north of Indianapolis. During the first 40 percent of the course we worked to about 5,000 feet under widely scattered cu. Once in the blue it was a big struggle. Tom and I switched to survival mode, climbing in any thermal that was "round" and planning our glides toward the next of many airports along the course. Thanks to perseverance and an 8-knot tailwind we made it to the destination.

Lots of motorgliders showed up at Terry but most of them used the "noisy thermal" so I'm not sure how many finishers we had. Of the pure gliders in the contest, TP, DJ, J3, 441, and ZA made finishes.

Tomorrow we head for the home of the Wrights, Dayton, Ohio.

Jim Payne

From Dave Nadler:
Yesterday (Thursday) we drove from Wagoner Oklahoma up to the Silver Creek glider club East of St. Louis. Towards the latter part of the drive, the sun peaked through the cloud trailing the front and a few cumulus started to build. Bodes well for today's flying. We arrived at the Silver Creek club just in time for the 6PM dinner that they hosted. Great hospitality, food, beer, and mud from all the rain. The glider trailers had to be carefully positioned to avoid rutting the field, or worse getting stuck in the mud.

Our caravan had an assortment of blown up motor-homes and broken trailers but everybody arrived safely (not necessarily together with their motor-homes).

Today's task is Task Silver Creek (East of St Louis) to Terry Indiana (north of Indianapolis) - around 200 miles. Weather looks OK but not as strong as normally expected post-frontal. The weatherman calls for blue, but I can't see any way we won't have at least some cumulus with all the standing water in the fields (2 days after the
front passed). Due to the soft field we had a very late grid and even later launch - cumulus were popping before grid time. With 200 miles to go and not super-strong lift, this is really not good...

We slowly launch, with various motor-glider disasters requiring aero-tows. Mines running well, but RV's starter gear has got loose, Natalie's engine won't start, and one of the '26s is not developing full power. Quick climb up, and I get on course pretty much as
quickly as I can. Good initial run with up to 4 knot lift under the cumulus. Cloud bases around 5k AGL, better than forecast. Starting to look doable ?

On the ground, commotion as GJ's battle-star-class motorhome sinks into the mud. I don't think I've ever heard a call for help with heavy equipment on 123.3 before.

Unfortunately, it really does go blue as we get further to the East. I charge off on my own (why do I persist in doing this ?). Struggle, join up again with TP and RV, go our separate ways, chase a gaggle and waste time, eventually no-one else in sight. 135 miles to go and crew David Fitch is ahead of me on the highway ! Repeatedly down to 2k, find a weak thermal, hang on, gradually it builds to 3 knots at peak but with a thermal average of barely 2 knots. Low near Clinton airfield, there's a glider on the ground and another joins me in the weak thermal - then peels off and lands at Clinton. Discouraging, still 100 miles to go.

I'm trying to visualize where the lift will be. Like Reichmann advises, think about walking on the ground - where's it hot ? Also, boundaries between warm ground and cooler areas seem to be triggering. At Clinton its the boundary between the hot fields and the river. A '26 pulls in underneath me and grinds around, then the motor pops out and he flies away under power. I'll stick with my 1 knot boomer and see how far I can get. Top out at almost 4k above ground and slowly push East as the sun gets lower...

Next climb also next to a river boundary, I'm joined by GJ in his Ventus 2bx. We grind around for a while and he peels off and lands. Extremely discouraging, but I'm climbing, barely. Could use less wing-loading - -with the engine and full fuel I'm flying at max gross. Still, the Ventus 2c climbs really well. Dial up the next airport on the SN10, though there are plenty of great farm fields to land it the airports add comfort.

Finally I'm down to 1700 feet 33 miles out. With the motor-glider, I don't fly lower than 1500 if I'm going to try an airstart, and then only after completing landing checks on downwind for a field. Because, if it doesn't start, I'm landing in a big hurry, as it comes down like a brick with the motor out and not running. Time to give up. The Solo starts instantly, and I climb at 5 knots towards final glide to Terry. I only needed another 2k !
Oh well. Motor past DJ making his last climb at Boone. Stash the motor, after reaching MC 3.5 final glide height, and pass ZA who is already on final glide. Land at Terry as
a few gliders are finishing. A few finishers, but we scattered gliders about the countryside pretty well this afternoon ! The Terry climb has hosted a great spaghetti dinner in the hangar (in front of a few jets and a pretty PT-26 WWII trainer).
Great food and company.

Fun flight - 4:30 hours and around 165 miles (plus 35 after running the motor). A bit of work though !

Task for tomorrow - Terry Indiana to Caesar Creek Ohio. Lets hope we can get started early enough, and also that the center of the building high doesn't have us in stable air.

Best Regards, Dave


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