Another tough weather day today – with flying cancelled at the morning pilot briefing due to low cloud, rain on the way, and generally grim conditions. Northeastern Europe is in a difficult weather pattern – not so far south of here soaring could be good, but at latitude 54 we have cool air, too much moisture (both in the ground and the air), and conditions generally unfavorable for motorless flight. Tomorrow offers some hope.
We have a report on the Hungarian pilot who landed on the rooftop: He is in stable condition, soon to be transported to Budapest where he’ll need surgery to fix two or three damaged vertebrae. He has a positive long-term outlook, but I expect will be spending a lot of time in the next few months repenting of decisions taken in the final minutes and seconds of Friday’s flight.
On display this morning outside the briefing hangar was the latest from the local LAK factory: the Mini-LAK. This is an elegant, well-finished 13.5-Meter glider sporting a powerful FES. This usually stands for “Front Electric Sustainer” – an electric engine with foldable propeller blades at the front, capable of allowing an airborne glider to sustain flight and even climb. In the case of the Mini-LAK, this name is misleading: the engine is fully up to the task of launching the glider, even off a grass runway. This was demonstrated yesterday, as the Mini-LAK did two brisk launches (one off pavement, the other off grass) on one battery charge. A Wilga towplane with cameraman on board flew in formation, and an uninformed observer on the ground might have imagined that the LAK was towing the Wilga. The climb rate looked very good – it was reported to be over 4 kts (note that this was on a cool day, at 62 meters above sea level). The 13.5-Meter wings have a high aspect ratio, and could pass for 15-meters. This looks like a very interesting design.
John Good has been a member of the US Team at many World Gliding Championship events, serving as crew, Team Captain and report author. He was the Deputy Championship Director/ Task-setter at the 2012 WGC in Uvalde, Texas and brings a wealth of international rules knowledge as Captain.