Over the last two days I received my checkout in our club’s Discus CS. It’s a nice plane with strong performance characteristics and easy to fly. I am particularly impressed with the quick roll rate: you can go from a 45 degree bank angle in one direction to a 45 degree bank angle in the other direction in just about three seconds – very responsive! I also like how quick the plane picks up speed and how efficiently it reconverts it into height when pulling up into a thermal. I look forward to flying it for longer distances when the weather permits.
The only real downside is that the plane is always stored disassembled in its trailer. That means I always have to have someone help me rig it before a flight and derig it afterwards. I was at first a bit intimidated by the 85-point rigging checklist but once I had done it a couple of times I realized that it actually goes pretty fast. It reminded me a bit of the process involved in rigging a sailboat – like the Hobie Cat that I sailed as a kid. The automatic hook-ups of the control surfaces are a big plus so there really isn’t all that much that can go wrong. Obviously, it’s still well worth double checking everything – after all, unlike with a sailboat where mistakes are usually pretty benign, the pilot’s life is on the line when you mess up the rigging of a plane…
The weather hasn’t been all that great for soaring. We’ve had about 10 cold days with clouds and rain,and the ground is still pretty wet (very unusual for Colorado). Temps were back around 20 degrees Celsius today but the air was stable and we stayed well short of the projected trigger temperature of 25 degrees. There were a few weak thermals above the city of Boulder and the nearby plains but no lift at all over the foothills despite some decent looking cumuli. The cumuli had tempted me into a high tow to about 12,000 feet but 20 minutes later I was already back over town at about 8,000 feet. There I stayed for more than an hour until I was done flying in circles that didn’t really lead anywhere.
The air was fairly clear so I still got some nice views of the Continental Divide, glistening white in its first fresh snow cover of the season. The trees around Boulder have also started to take on nice color. My other satisfaction was watching other gliders take off and land while I was able to hang on. Credit to the Discus, which thermals very nicely at a relatively low speed. I’m still hoping that we’ll get a few good thermal days before it’s winter wave or nothing.