Last year we began charging for airtime in our club gliders — 10 cents per minute (but only after the first ten minutes to encourage winch launches in no-lift conditions). The winch launch now costs $5. There is no time limit on gliders except for being subject to radio recall after one hour. This was rarely needed, it satisfied our pilots, and it meant fewer launches and less wear and tear; however, we got almost the same revenue from 1200 flights in 1987 as we get from our usual 2000 in other years.
At last, we have a written agreement with the power club as to our tenure on the field. It only came about because we took a strong position re: public use of public (Lands and Forests) property. We still have crazy runway use rules in place which insist we do crosswind landings across the path of power aircraft departing on a right angle runway. Okay, provided they look before they roll, which they usually do.
Our added security of site has led us to a more positive attitude toward investment in our facilities.
Among the projects for 1988 are trips to Cape Breton to explore the northwest coast for ridge — it is very steep and up to 1200 feet high. In theory, it could be soared right up to North Cape (the north east tip) in strong NW winds. I have been contemplating a downwind flight from Stanley to New Glasgow over reasonable fields, thence to Antigonish over the coast road and fields I have not looked at yet, then across the Canso Causeway to Port Hawkesbury. After that it is across the wind at 45 degrees to reach the ridge. A brave pilot would leave the coast and cross 15 miles of open sea to reach the ridge (cut across the corner). If things turned bad, it is straight downwind to the Port Hawkesbury airfield. Some preliminary outlanding field study would prove out the safety or otherwise of this project. Three hundred kilometres is well within possibility, but 500 km would put the finish 100 km on the way to Newfoundland!
The insurance cost has finally got to us, and our AGM voted to drop hull coverage of the club gliders — “self insurance” is the term used. This means private owners won’t pay for insurance of club gliders any more. Their point is that we have to insure our old, rickety gliders for much more then they are worth, at the highest premium rates; and as our repair costs haven’t gone beyond the deductible in recent years, the insurer catches us coming and going. I’m afraid that this will inhibit crosscountry by the less-experienced pilots, though there is little enough of it anyway — there was one Silver C flight last year. We have successfully experimented with pulley tows last year. We obtained a 20" diameter pulley, mounted it on a wheel hub in azimuth, and provided side rollers to keep the car/glider angle of the whole assembly aligned properly. A hydraulic cylinder is mounted on the rear hitch of the tow car and a sensitive hydraulic pressure gauge visible to the driver measures the pressure in the cylinder (it still has to be calibrated to indicate towline tension).
We have radio contact between the tow car and glider. The pulley is mounted on a rig which digs into the ground and hooks onto the trailer hitch of our retrieve vehicle which is parked with brake on and transmission in “park”. Our first attempt was very exciting. The K8 got airborne and reached a safe height; however, when the glider pulled up into its steep climb, the digger dug in, and the rear end of the truck was levered off the ground about three feet, at which point the pulley assembly was twisted off the ball hitch and the pulley and some other pieces bounced off down the field. The glider levelled off and did a 180 degree emergency landing from a safe height. After straightening out the pieces and collecting the loose parts, we strapped the pulley onto the side of the winch and parked it in an appropriate position. Nothing, of course, would shift that. This time it all worked reasonably well and after several trials we got an 1800 foot launch in still air with the K8.
One interesting problem was encountered with the skid-type gliders—the initial drag is quite high and the wire stretches a good deal under the load. When the aircraft leaves the ground, the energy in the wire accelerates the glider briefly, and then the speed fails to increase until the towcar can take up the slack. In the meantime, with some slack in the cable, the parachute opens! It takes steady nerves to hold still three feet above the ground looking at an open parachute ten feet in front of the nose.
We haven’t tried a heavy glider yet, or one with aft CG and a tail wheel. We plan to bury a ground anchor in concrete and use the pulley on the field when the winch is away on off-field adventures. We had planned to take the pulley away, but to run it, you need a paved surface for the towcar to accelerate on, whereas with the winch one only needs 300 feet of good surface for the glider and any old dirt road to pull the cable back. In fact, for an occasional trip, it could be pulled back by hand over almost any surface. More news on these and other loony schemes later. The pulley tow information came from an old OSTIV paper done on the Dublin (Ireland) pulley tow operation.
On calm days, one could have gliders and a pulley at both ends, then each transition of the tow car would launch a glider — get a piece of paper and draw it out. I’m not sure Bluenose Gliding Club’s organizational skills could deal with the complexities of this, but it is an interesting way to save our money, then perhaps we could afford to insure our gliders again.