I participated in the introductory glider acrobatics course. York Soaring has developed a serious and stringent acrobatics curriculum. With five or more acrobatic instructors available,York is becoming a great resource for glider pilots from all over the world.
York Soaring association is a club and offers one-day ($25) and one-week ($100) memberships, so it is relatively inexpensive to fly with them. They run quite a few programs over the summer (particularly for youth, cadets, and the handicapped, with Freedom Wings). They welcome temporary members. For their acrobatics program, the club uses a DG-500, an ASK-21, a Grob 103 Twin II Acro, and a Schweitzer 2-32. The Schweitzer they use for spin training; it produces “Holy Mother of God!” spins. They have at least five acrobatic instructors with various levels of experience. During the WSPA week these five were joined by three acrobatic instructors from the Southern Ontario Soaring Association, about 30 mi away. There were only seven WSPA students in the "Acro Course" so it was no problem lining up an instructor or getting a glider. There was no cost for instruction; one flight with a 5,000 foot tow cost about $90.
|This attitude appears to be... unusual|
|This also seems a bit odd somehow.|
Here is a look at my first Roll:
And here is my first Loop:
And for something really fun, here is a spin:
The acrobatics made me appreciate how little we think about the flight envelope of a glider during the normal flight. Once one starts to pay attention to the maneuvering airspeed and g-meter both in upright and inverted flight (yup – you get to read the instruments and watch for traffic while inverted – not easy), think ahead how much airspeed and G-pull is needed to finish an acrobatic maneuver and not break a glider at the same time, one starts to keep the flight-envelope graph in the head at all times.
|Here I am with Manfred Radius (very famous acrobatic glider pilot - Google him!) and Kristin, another of the women of WSPA.|
|One of two hangars at York Soaring|
|The York Soaring conference room|
An added bonus of the Seminar was a ride in the open cockpit Slingsby T-21 owned by a club member who spent the week giving rides. What a hoot! I lost sunglasses and a helmet on tow because of the prop-wash (found them later), and got to cruise at 35 kts, and stick my head out of the cockpit to enjoy the scenery (that's the best part).
|That's me in the right seat of the Slingsby T-21|
I am very pleased I participated in an acrobatics course that is so well organized. Aerobatics is a challenge, but it makes one a better pilot. Most importantly, it is so much fun! I loved it!
I have to say that there are few flying organization like WSPA, that offer such varied and unique flying experiences to their member, as part of their organizational mission. For the next two years, the WSPA Seminars will again be focused on cross-country soaring, and will be held in two of the most enticing places: in 2015 the Seminar will be in Minden, Nevada (it is close to us, but WSPA members from Slovenia and Germany are already making their plans because it is one of the greatest places to soar); in 2016 we go to Northern Italy for some soaring in the Alps with the largest Italian Aero-Club.
WSPA is so awesome!
|The WSPA Seminar Group Photo|