Monday, January 10, 2011

Some more Bocian Pics

I'be already written a little bit about our Bocian's first flight after far too long hidden in the back of the hangar here: Our Bocian is Finally Flying

Now we have collected all the pictures taken on the day, I thought I'd post some of the best ones.

We had bought the Bocian in February, with ideas and plans to be flying by May at the latest. We had put so much time, emotion and effort into getting the old girl flying that we had thought of giving up. We made jokes about bonfires, but as the months rolled on, the jokes took on a slightly more serious edge... Most weeks, at least one of us was ready to throw in the towel.

Somehow, we kept going. The weeks rolled into months, the months threatened to roll into years, and yet we carried on. A gliding club in the Isle of Wight had both its Blaniks grounded and wrote us a letter asking if we would sell CKN to them, and we were tempted. Really tempted. Still, we kept going.

Finally, here we were. The 21st November 2010, and we are ready to go. Ross has always been lined up for P1 on the first flight. Being both a member of the other Bocian syndicate at our airfield and also in charge of its maintenance, who else could have flown the shakedown? Anyway, after all the work and time he has put in on CKN, he deserved it. P2 was always going to be decided on the day, I was just lucky enough to be there are available!

I don't look nervous at all, do I?
We towed CKN to the 03 launch point. The wind wasn't too strong, but it was coming from North-Northwest... This gave us about 5-10 knots crosswind. The wind wasn't any sort of issue compared to the cloud cover, as we would later find out. As we strapped ourselves in, there was broken cloud at 1,200ft, a clear gap, then more broken cloud at about 3,000ft. We weren't too worried, the lower layer was full of holes... More than enough for us to see where we were and where we were going.
Ross doesn't look nervous either...
There is always that moment when the tug takes up the slack and the glider starts to move... It doesn't seem to matter how many times I do it, it's always special.
Too late now
The Bocian has a large wingspan and can be a bit ponderous on the ground, it takes a bit of a ground run to get flying speed up. Until you have good speed, the control inputs needed to keep the wings level are quite large. This was the moment I realized how little room there is between the control stick and the side of the cockpit at full right/left deflection... I'll have to learn to keep my knees out of the way!
And we're away
The tow was pretty uneventful, just a chance to breathe a sigh of relief and let it sink in.
There were patchy low clouds that day
For some reason, you can sit in a glider on the ground, close the canopy and have a look round, but you can't really tell what visibility issues you are going to have in the air. That's my excuse for having a dirty canopy on our first flight, and I'm sticking to it!
View of the tug and rope from the back seat
Another special moment of every flight, when you pull that yellow handle and watch the rope drop away. Watching the tug peel away (at our club, the tug dives right) and knowing that you are on your own. The first flight back we took a tow to 3,000ft, we needed a bit of height so that Ross could test her out with some tight turns, stalls, dives, etc. The only issue we discovered was a trim tab that needed adjusting. Nothing major, but a bit unsettling when fully back trims out around 75 knots!
The tug peels off, and we're free
The second flight of the day, my turn to do the flying! We had adjusted the trim tab between flights, and the Bocian now trims out to a more usable 45-50 knots. By the time we launched again, the clouds were really closing in, the holes were still there but shrinking fast. We took a tow thinking we'd go as high as we were comfortable, but by the time we'd reached 2,500ft the cloud was looking pretty thick... That would have to do.
Time for a quick pose
I managed to spend a little time getting familiar with the Bocian, the nose down attitude of the aircraft makes for an interesting view! A bit like a helicopter, you always feel tilted forward. The rudder pedals are quite light as well, and I think it will take some time to grow fully accustomed to them. Ross in the back seat took his camera with him this time, and snapped some good in flight pics.

Heading back to the airfield from the south, it became apparent that the clouds were closing in quickly. Ahead of us was a wall of cloud with a base at around 1,100ft. We had to get the nose down and get under it if we wanted to see where we were going! I put on 80kts and aimed under the clouds, heading for high key. Ross did manage to get this picture of the airfield.
Crowland airfield from above, the strip running from the top of the picture to the bottom is 03, the one we are using today
Under the clouds now and heading for home. We might have shaved a few minutes off our flight time getting clear of cloud, but November in the UK isn't a time for thermals anyway, today was always going to be sled rides all the way (get towed to the top of the hill, slide to the bottom... Repeat). Landing is very relaxed, the Bocian 1E has a sprung undercarriage so even our field gets smoothed out!
Checking the reference point and joining the circuit
What the day did leave me with was a sense of anticipation. The Bocian is going to be ideal for hour building and soaring, all we need now is the spring to arrive and the weather in 2011 to be better than last year...
Two weeks later, and the other two syndicate members, Howard and Trevor get to fly
Two weeks later, my partners on the syndicate took CKN for their first flights in her. They both reported back that, (like me) while it would take a while to get used to the rudder, the spring should bring some good flights.
The start of a new chapter in CKN's history
It has been a long road, but we finally arrived. Thanks to Peterborough and Spalding Gliding Club having room in the tug hangar, our Bocian won't need to be de-rigged every weekend, she is going to have a permanent home under cover. 

Thanks to everyone who helped us get here, directly or indirectly, you know who you are :-) 

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