Archive | July, 2007

Logging sailplane flights

30 Jul

I've been doing some sailplane flying out at Invermere, BC lately, and
recording my flights using a variety of tools. Oftentimes there'll be
a Colibri flight recorder in the glider – it's an IGC-certified GPS
and datalogger. But also I often fly with a Garmin Venture cX, which can record flights, and occasionally I've flown with a Wintec WBT-201 Bluetooth GPS/logger.

Here's a trip report of a flight on July 14th, recorded by both the
Wintec and the Garmin. If you want to compare the recording behaviour of the two loggers, download the two .gpx tracks and then open them both in a program like GoogleEarth.

Here's a screenshot of GoogleEarth showing the two tracklogs. I raised
one of them (and coloured it red) in order to separate it slightly so
as to be visible. Note that there is pretty good agreement between the
two tracks except at the end (when the Garmin inexplicably shut off).


Soaring Forecasts with Dr. Jack

27 Jul

The best source of soaring forecasts in N. America is provided by “Dr. Jack” Glendenning, a sailplane pilot based in California.  The Canadian Rockies Soaring Club in Invermere, BC, has sponsored one of his BLIPSPOT forecasts for that location.

The BLIPSPOT forecasts contain a wealth of information allowing pilots to assess the day’s flying conditions much better than is possible using the public forecast or even an aviation forecast like the GFA

Two versions of Dr. Jack’s forecasts are available for the Invermere area. One is the text version containing all major parameters on one page.  The other is an index page where you can select, and view, full-colour maps showing the variability of the parameters over a wider range (the whole NW US – SW Canada area).  Further, Dr. Jack provides access to forecasts produced using both RUC and NAM models.

It costs $20/year for full access to Dr. Jack’s forecasts. For $50/year, you can sponsor a BLIPSPOT forecast for your location. Well worth it!


(submitted by e-mail)

The connectivity power shift

24 Jul

I read an interesting post on about the problem of high prices for internet connectivity in the US.  And I had to laugh, because those rates are very low compared to the rates in Canada.  But then I thought, if US rates are consider too high compared to those in Europe and Japan, what does mean for *our* rates?  They must be unconscionably high (which is just what many people have been arguing).

The Slashdot post I read is here:

Smoky skies in the Kootenays

17 Jul

Today’s sailplane flight was marked by the heavy smoke from nearby forest fires, making visibility poor (less than 10-15 km at times). I had to take a 2000m (7000′) tow way into the back range in order to find any lift at all. Only once I had reached the inversion, at just under 3000m, was it possible to release and climb up to cloudbase at 3600m. Later I got as high as 3850m and was able to cross the valley to the edge of the Purcells, but the smoke was thicker there and I got shot down.

Here’s my flight track:

There are a few pictures from the day on the same website that’s hosting that flight track, Click on the little camera icons on the flight track to see the picture that was taken at that location.

The flight is also logged at, and on the OLC.

Sailplane flight from Invermere to Fairmont & back

14 Jul

Today I had a short flight in a PW-5 sailplane from Invermere to Fairmont and back. I hit heavy sink and turbulence and decided to land. Here’s a map of the flight showing the flight track:

Calgary Stampede 10k

8 Jul

Today was the 43rd running of the Calgary Stampede Marathon – quite a lot of history there. I made a last-minute decision to participate and registered on the last day at the regular price, July 3rd. The next day I agreed to fill in as a volunteer for a friend who had to leave town, so I was now doubly committed to the event.

I awoke at 02:30 and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I got up early and was down at the grounds at 04:45 to help set up the start gate. Rob Stichbury was already working full speed when I arrived! The streets were empty when I got there, but the first marathoners started arriving a little before 06:00, when a small group of about 25 race-walkers started on the marathon course. By the time the marathon and half-marathon runners started at 07:00, the street outside the Mewata Armory was jammed.

Here’s the start of the marathon and half-marathon:

My race started at 07:30, but of course since all the racers were wearing an electronic chip, our time didn’t actually start until we crossed the electronic sensor at the start line. This same sensor was later used to help the announcer tell who was arriving at the finish line, and she announced the name of every single runner: quite the nice personalised touch.

Here’s the view of the start area just before the 10k race started:

For the first time ever, I ran with a heart monitor, and it was invaluable for helping me to stay very close to, but just under, my anaerobic limit. I was so jazzed at the start of the race that I was surprised to see my HR at 177 soon after the start, and I had to dial back the pace to a more reasonable 155-165 beats/min.

The course was flat and fast, and it ran downwind to the west along the river, on Memorial Drive. The nice thing was that the turnaround was at the 6.5 km mark, so psychologically the 2nd half was shorter than the first. At that point I was on track for a 50-minute 10k race, but as we turned into the wind, I tucked in behind a runner who passed me going just a little faster, and got him to “tow” me all the way up to the 14 St bridge. Running in his wind-shadow certainly allowed me to run faster than I could have run alone, and also having a faster running “partner” forced me to push my envelope a bit. I was surprised to see the finish-line clock telling me I finished in 48:05. Not bad for a 52-year old with a torn knee meniscus who only runs once a week (or less!). I later saw that I finished 8/64 in my age-group, which was also surprising.

After a bike ride home for a pancake breakfast, I returned at noon to watch the final finishers in the marathon (over 6 hours!) and helped to tear down, finishing that work (and the mandatory beers) around 16:30. It was a long day!

Thanks to Blair Shunk for going away this weekend and vacating his volunteer spot, and to Rob Stichbury for putting me to work and allowing me to see the race from the other side.