performance of even a C-150 by using heat
and turbulence to your advantage".
feet from the side of the mountain, I
held the controls with both hands.
It took both to ride the turbulence. The
hot wind was quartering from about my 8
oclock position, blasting against
the rock to the right of the Cessna.
The battle required counter
inputs, left aileron, right rudder.
lift! Whoa, what a ride.
Like an elevator. Twelve,
fourteen, even eighteen hundred feet per
minute on the VSI. Quite impossible for a
150 at full gross.
passenger seat, John was leaning toward
me as he stared out the right side at the
wall of granite. In his best
cool voice he remarked
You like to keep it in tight to the
mountain dont you I think he
was a bit concerned.
departure westbound from the grass at the
Hope airport was almost directly into the
gale. With a mere 200 feet under the
wheels, I swung to the left, and quickly
picked up the mechanical lift against the
mountain on the downwind.
Predictably, we shot up to a thousand
feet in less than thirty seconds, and we
makes sense to use the wind and thermals
as best I can in this airplane.
John was listening, but still
concentrating his attention on the rock
and trees right outside his door.
against the mountains, cruising the tops
of ridges and getting under the cumulus
clouds is glider pilot mentality.
Ive never flown a glider, but have
learned a lot from the people who do. The
Vancouver Soaring Association is active
at the Hope B.C. airport in summer, and
for two seasons, I flew their towplanes,
Cessna L-19s, the bird-dogs.
Leftovers from combat duties in Korea and
Vietnam, many L-19s have found
retirement with operations such as the
VSA. Theyre powerful, agile, and
tough. Bulletproof tough. Some of us
pilots with low tailwheel time can be
thankful for that.
gliders takes concentration, and
sometimes sheer determined nerve.
Keep the speed at 75, on takeoff, climb
and descent. Its especially
critical in the climb with a glider tied
on the back. The L-19s wingspan is
about half that of the glider, so
dont expect the poor glider pilot
to enjoy the same manoeuvrability.
He also has no control over his speed
being at the mercy of the pilot more than
100 feet in front of him. Sometimes over
my headphones would come the excited
command, Slow it down would
ya!! Other times it was, Take
it in closer ..... CLOSER!
flying was quickly, albeit unofficially,
becoming part of my piloting skills,
whether I liked it or not. Flying
lessons from the masters of taming the
thermals. Glider pilots always
amazed me. They routinely soared
to the flight levels, cruised incredible
distances for many hours at a time, then
returned to the same 400 feet of turf
they started from, all without an engine.
Full bladders and empty stomachs more
often than not dictated the length of
mechanics of lift and sink began to make
sense to me, I experimented with my own
aircraft. My Renegade ultralight
with a 53 horsepower engine needed all
the help it could get in the climb.
I discovered plenty out there, even
following the hawks and seagulls to the
best rising air.
glider pilot taught me ridge
running while flying through the
mountains in my 150. Soon it
became second nature to take advantage of
what the weather gods provide to improve
the performance of the aircraft. I
John, is quite unaccustomed to reading
and flying the thermals. He has no
reason to since his plane has a
turbocharged engine, and no shortage of
horsepower. He regularly cruises
above 10,000 feet, and has no trouble
getting there. Like so many
pilots, myself included before exposure
to the glider fraternity, John
hadnt even considered there was
help for his horsepower in the thermals
and turbulence. Horsepower rules!
The rule most pilots live by
not ashamed to admit to never having an
approved mountain flying lesson.
There are dozens of very competent, well
qualified instructors who could show me a
thing or two about it. And maybe
someday Ill step up to that plate.
So far so good though, and I owe
much of what I know to the sailplane and
hang glider pilots I worked with.
You have to admire guys like that.
Theyre guys, and women too, who
challenge the laws of gravity, and win.
They put nature to work,
controlling the gift of lift thats
there for the taking. We powered
pilots can do it too, just not to the
same extent. Getting a cruise
speed of 130 out of a Cessna 150 tickles
me right up the ASI.
no sense being in a hurry since my flying
is pretty much all for recreational
reasons these days. The journey is
the destination. Time spent in the air,
flying, is like savouring the chocolate
cake or a glass of cold, sweet wine. Why
would you want it to end. The trends
today are for more horsepower, more
speed, more avionics. It all comes with a
price, and so far has priced too many
people out of flying. Remember when
Arlington and Oshkosh were gathering
places for simple, experimental,
homebuilt, fun aircraft? Today we see
only remnants of that era there.
But some of us remain, the diehards, who
enjoy and prefer the old ways, the old
days. Ill always be excited about
getting more from my Cessna 150. But
its a bigger kick when it comes
free. We just need to follow the simple
rules of nature.