South Dakota Slope Soaring Journal, May 2004

Photo by Vicki

The May 2004 Slope Trip to South Dakota saw a variety of weather conditions, often within the same day. Thursday was cold and cloudy with winds around 20 mph.

Friday was was clear with perfect temps, but very little wind. Out came the light air planes and the bungee launchers. At times the thermal lift coming up the hill was outstanding, other times the sink was just as strong. Several flyers were able to work foam slope planes high in thermal lift. Off a bungee launch Emil had a flight of 25 minutes with a Weasel.

Saturday started with rain and a slippery drive to the flying site. The sky cleared off and the wind fluctuated between 10 to 20 mph and then dropped late afternoon. Light air planes came out again and then the winds picked up again. Out came the JW's and everyone started racing in a sort of figure-eight pattern close to the hill. At times there must have been ten planes in the course at once. Mid-airs were frequent and fun, often three planes would crash at once with no damage.

The Sailplanes Flown

This trip saw a huge variety of planes; HL and DLG gliders, light foam wings such as the Weasel, electric airplanes, glass planes in all sizes, JW's, balsawood thermal planes, and a huge variety of scale-like planes.

The ingenuity of MRCSS members never ceases to amaze me. Several members flew hawks built out of foam, there was also an eagle. Several members built jet aircraft out of foam. One of the jets was a converted glow engine aircraft picked out of the trash and rebuilt in the motel room on a previous trip.

The highlight was Dave Engelson's giant C5 transport plane built from pink foam. Dave waited till Saturday to fly this huge plane because he was finishing up the radio installation in the motel.

Larry grabbed the huge fuselage and made a couple of runs without letting go to see if the plane would lift. Looked like it would, so he took another run and launched the C5 off the hill. Everyone had stopped flying to watch and take pictures.

As soon as the plane was airborne, everyone cheered. The flight began as a slow decent down but the plane began to wobble because of rearward CG. Dave picked a spot to land down the hill and landed with slight damage to tail assembly.

The plane was brought up the hill and repairs made. Nose-weight and a tow hook were added. Next flight was a bungee launch that started much better. The plane flew stable, made a couple of turns and even gained altitude for a time. Lift was not strong enough to keep the giant bird up for long and it made another emergency landing at the bottom of the hill. More damage ended the test flight for the day.

No doubt I missed other highlights of the trip. This was my fifth trip and just as fun as all the previous trips. No matter what gas prices become, can not imagine not making the trip again.

Bill Kuhl

Links to flight videos

One of several RC hawks
3 mb video clip

Dave with his C5. Video clips of C5 in flight
Flight One 2.5 mb
Flight Two 6 mb

Walt's Eagle
3.28 mb video clip

Larry's Fantastic F-104 Starfighter
4.2 mb video clip

Race of the JW's with three Mid-airs
6 mb video clip