Gordy’s 8-Hour Slope Flight!
Two weekends ago, our own Gordy Stahl did what he said he could never do… the LSF Level V 8-hour slope flight. Not only that, but he did it TWICE in one weekend! Gordy and a team of hardy individuals flew for 16 hours over two days at the Frankfort, Kentucky Slope, getting Gordy one step closer to his goal of finally becoming a League of Silent Flight Level V pilot – an honor only 124 other pilots have received in the last 30+ years. Gordy tells his epic tale after the jump:
Coming up to that weekend, the forecast was promising SW winds for Frankfort virtually for Friday, Sat and Sunday…I posted notes on the RC Soaring Exchange about my planned attempt and an invitation to anyone else who might like to give it a shot, figuring misery loves company. Saturday was blowing with only a few parts of the day getting a bit short on lift. Bob and I were both toasted from the heat and sun and at times he wasn’t sure he’d be able to hang in because of the heat, but Ed Wilson stayed close and kept him motivated and aware. I got a few instances of distraction, finding that I’d let my ship lose all its altitude, having to focus again to get back to a safe height and area.
It was at 7 hours and 11 minutes that we all got to chatting about where we were going to celebrate the day…I know because I looked at my watch. The banter continued and after a bit I decided to look at the watch again…and didn’t look back up soon enough because I heard Ed yell out that a plane was going in….I wasn’t too concerned because there was plenty of slope foamies darting around…but when I looked back, my plane was gone….and hard into a the top of a tree well down on the slope. A gorgeous wooden Marauder…dead.
Bob finished off his flight to hoops and hollers but my stupidity kind of put a damper on what needed to be an amazing life experience. I did my best to keep things light saying there would be other days and attempts, when Dave Smith said,”Hey the conditions are still looking great for tomorrow, lets get this done!”
Everyone else chimed in with support, I felt I couldn’t give up with all those great guys willing to spend another hot day on the slope to help me get it. So I agreed, lets do it! I got my Super AVA out and checked everything..Bob had put 4 C CopperTops under his wing saddle of his AVA, and left everything in the plane unchanged, so I stopped on the way home and bought a box of 4, soldered them up and stuff them in the pod, same as Bob’s. I didn’t have my 2.4 TX home so I borrowed Lee’s and at the slope the next morning programmed it for my SuperAVA.
The wind Sunday was supposed to be more South, and at 7am was forecasted to be at 10mph already…at 9am, it was only about 3mph, and the passing birds were flapping. I decided to super tune the CG so that the model was flying as efficiently as possible. About 10 hand tosses and all the lead I had in the nose of the model later, it was set…and had I not done it, things would have been another ugly result.
I decided that I had to get the model up and the clock started or the day would run out before I could complete the 8 hours…. So I bungee’d up to about 50′ over the slope and proceeded to fly what little lift there was, S’ing back and forth, the smoothest I’d ever flown….for one whole hour! What I thought was the most difficult flying I’d ever do in my life time….little did I realize that as the day went on that would be tested.
The air picked up and the slope compression was the best I’d ever seen on our hill. Lee and AJ, Doug and Dave were always 50′ to 60′ off the slope combating and DS’ing. At one point they were thermal’d up as high as my Super AVA! 140″ at 46oz versus 50″ at about 60ozs….they were easily up over 700′!
At 7 hours and 30 minutes exactly….(according to the Talking Timer official shot clock) the air died completely, no birds, no thermals, no wind! The plane was at about 100′ as it slid over the slope face heading toward the left. I noticed that the sun seemed to be shinning on the ridge way off so took a chance to just trim the model for its best glide and let it go. She worked her way that way without losing an inch.
All eyes were watching her as she extended out over that far ridge of trees, moving well and maybe gaining just a bit. I did some S runs away from the ridge toward the center of the valley and got some alt doing that, but found it safer to just keep her moving along that ridge. It was pretty hard to see it, and one stall or thumb mistake would have put her into those woods, likely lost forever. I let her head almost all the way to Hyw 64 and along that path to the ridge on the far right side, where I could see some birds working a really small and light bit of nothing. By the time she was back over the face of the slope…all of 10mins had passed, 20 more to go! ARGH!
Seeing the sun was still on that left ridge, I did the circuit once more, By the time I got all the way around to about the Tower on the right, Some birds were forming up again…so I pointer her that was and watched. Nothing dramatic was indicated as far as lift went but the birds seemed to be holding so I began to very carefully and passively began to circle, hoping just to burn more minutes. It worked and I’d gained about 50′ more than I’d started the whole thing at.
By the time I’d brought her back to the slope face, the wind came back up, thermals popped and the DS guys were back at it harder than ever. It was super satisfying to complete the task and everyone urged me to add the extra 8 minute lost from the previous day’s attempt to get an even 16 hours over the two days!
Thanks to everyone for their help and support and believing I could do it.
Just the 10K Goal and Return left, looks like we are going to try for a group day of G&R’s on the road in front of the Kentucky Horse Park, Lexington in the near future.