Great Soaring Day at Bermuda High

Hey All,

Just wanted to share another flying adventure that Jon and I went on yesterday (6/30/2018).  

TL;DR: Excellent day flying Jon’s RV-6, and Schwitzer SGS 2-33 and 1-26 gliders.  Jon and I took 5-flights each, with flights of 1-2hrs of sustained flight at the end! 😊 See photos below.

Full Report:

The goal for the day was to get in some soaring at Bermuda High, in Kershaw, SC. The soaring weather forecast looked great (see pic), with climb rates @ 3-4kts up, and strong buoyancy to shear ratio so the lift should be fairly consistent from low levels to the cloud bases. It also predicted the Cu (cumulus) to start forming around 11am, so we wanted to get into the air by then to start hunting for lift!  

Forecast for the day.

We departed 0A7 around 9:30am, and flew south thru the hazy conditions. We followed the valley out of the mountains and skirted below the outermost shelf of Charlotte airspace. Everything went smoothly on the ~1hr flight down. We landed at SC79 Bermuda High and parked the RV-6 at the end of the field next to a nice red & white Aeronca Champ that the tow pilot had flown in. Soon after we were greeted by a staff member in a golf cart to take us to the clubhouse.  

The staff there already had a number of gliders out, as they were doing a checkride and prepping for a couple rides for visitors later that day. After a short discussion about the day’s plans,  they decided pulled out their third SGS 2-33 and by 11am we were strapping in for our first Aerotows behind “Silver”, one of the field’s Piper Pawnee’s. 

(Near to far) SGS 1-26, SGS 2-33, Duo Discus
Getting hooked up to the tow-plane.
Just sitting there on a gorgeous day, waiting for a tow. 🙂

AeroTow Video

We both took two solo flights in our own SGS 2-33’s, towing up one right after the other, to get into the swing of things. Our flights went smoothly, but at this point there was not much lift….just enough to maintain “Zero sink” in a few places, which meant about 200ft/min updrafts.

After this, Jon volunteered to be my first passenger, so we went up for a flight with me as PIC in the front, and Jon in the back. We searched around for lift, but it still wasn’t strong enough to let us gain much. We might have gained a couple hundred feet, and some sustained zero-sink.

My first passenger!

 After this, I did my transition into the sleeker mid-wing, single-seat, SGS 1-26 glider, which was said to be much more sensitive in pitch and have a higher roll rate.  It’s convenient that the V-speeds are all the same between the 1-26 and the 2-33….almost like it was designed that way. 😊 The airbrakes are also much more effective, as they are similarly sized between the aircraft, but on the shorter wing of the 1-26, they increase the descent rate much faster. My instructor briefed me on the cockpit and got me “fitted” in the glider. Take-off roll felt quicker than the 2-33, but perhaps it was just my first impression. I made a smooth lift off and tow out, making conscious note to tone down my pitch inputs to avoid any PIO’s. Once in the air, I found the 1-26 a delight to fly. My “test flight” saw me put it thru some shallow and steep turns, the stall series, and some airbrake testing to get the feel for it. By then I was out of altitude with no lift in sight, so I joined the pattern and was pleased to put it down smoothly, despite the difference in sight picture between the gliders.

Getting prepped for my first flight in the 1-26

 On the next flight, Jon (in a 2-33) and me in the 1-26, we went up to 3000ft and continued the hunt for lift! Conditions were great by this point and we were getting 200-400ft/min climb rates. We were able to spend quite a bit of time chasing eachother thru the thermals, and at one point I got some cool photos of Jon above me in the thermal as I was trying to catch up.

    Flying parallel with Jon to the next cloud.
I’m climbing to get you Jon!!!

    Close enough to read the tail number.

There were also some hawks, and two other fiberglass ships out playing with us in the clouds (an LET L-33 and a Ventus Ct, IIRC), which made things more interesting. Following the hawks or other gliders into lift is really a cool sight in a bubble canopy. It becomes a constant game to see who can locate and center the thermals better and out climb the other (though, we couldn’t play with the glass ships on flight speeds between clouds though….they win that game everytime due to better glide ratios).  

In the end:

  • Jon set a new personal best, at right around an hour of soaring flight time!
  • My last flight I came down right around 2hrs in length, only because I had to pee and I knew the school was waiting on me to close up the hangar! When I made the decision to come down, I was up at 4900ft and had plenty of options to play around the cloud bases. 

What a blast! I hope more of you decide to try soaring sometime and come join us…it’s a lot of fun. 

This is what a glider pilot loves to see….Cloud Street! That line of Cu’s should provide great lift for a cross country flight ahead.
Flight track from my long (2hr) flight. Note…I forgot to turn off the logger after the flight, so this also includes our walks to the clubhouse and the takeoff/departure in the RV-6 towards home in Hendersonville.

 The ride back to Asheville was interesting as we were dodging storms on the way. Made for some really interesting photos as we passed thru the clear area between two large cumulonimbus formations on either side of us, near GSP.  Conditions were very hazy and visibility was poor at lower altitudes, so we were both on alert. However, once we got back north over the Sugarloaf VOR and dropped into the valley, conditions were great and Hendersonville looked fantastic during golden hour.

Yup….we’re gonna avoid this guy.
And…we’ll avoid this one too…
Checkout that view over Hendersonville.
Final approach @ 0A7
Very cool ag plane sitting at Johnson Field. The size of this thing and the scenery were just too cool to pass up some photos.

Till Next Time!

-Mike Cola

J-3 Cub in the air over Johnson Field, after doing a landing and takeoff at 0A7. Nice sight for the end of the day.