A rich man's hobby?

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Tubby
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A rich man's hobby?

Post by Tubby » Mon May 29, 2017 5:01 am

I've gotten addicted to Bruno Vassel videos at YouTube. He is a competition glider pilot. (For some reason, it was more PC in the 1970s to call it a "sailplane," at least in my area.) He gets towed from runways in Utah to 1,000 or more feet above the ground, then spirals in thermals up to as high as 18,000 feet MSL. Then it's time to convert that potential energy to a glide out to mountain ranges where he does ridge soaring. You may wish to fast-forward to 26:45 in this video to see an especially exciting pass over a ridge. At 26:48 I hear a warning which may be telling him to pull up.

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In one video he says he is flying a ASW-27 SL with a glide ratio of 48:1 and retractable gear. I would image that counts as a cutting-edge glider. The wheeee whirp whirp is what they call a variometer. The sound gives information about rate of climb so that the pilot can keep his eyes fixed outside.

Some questions--

I tried to find out how much it would cost to buy such a glider, but couldn't find a price. Any estimate? A glider's instrument panel isn't big enough to hold a lot of items, but the stuff he does have looks like it would be plenty costly.

How many hours would you have to put in at flying lower-performance gliders to transition to something as hot as his?

What would be the annual costs of ownership? Tow planes + oxygen bottles + insurance + registration + inspection + maintenance + trailer to transport it (something shown briefly in one of his videos) + recovery crew for when you don't manage to make it back to your departure field.

What are the controls on the left side? I know he's got a spoiler, and I think he mentioned flaps. Also there must be some lever or handle for dumping the 34 gallons of water ballast he can carry. Where is the gear retract?

Does anybody hangar a glider? Do they tie one down outdoors at an airfield? (In his case I imagine he stores it folded up in his trailer on his residential property, but I don't know for sure.)

Would only a high performance (high priced) glider work for doing what he does?

One video ends with him losing lift and setting down in a farmer's wheat field. How much compensation would a farmer expect after that?

Is his skill set as rare as, say, a chess player who can make a living playing chess? Or could any old retiree with plenty of time/money on his hands get to this level?

What are the chances he will die in his sleep?

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Post by Abominable Intelligence » Mon May 29, 2017 7:59 am

Ping WizofOz, this is his pastime.

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Post by Worldtraveller » Tue Jun 13, 2017 3:19 pm

I know a few glider pilots in Az. They tell me there are days where they have to put the aircraft into a dive to descend! Apparently the thermals are really good in the desert. :D

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Post by Tubby » Wed Jun 14, 2017 2:57 am

[quote=""Worldtraveller""]I know a few glider pilots in Az. They tell me there are days where they have to put the aircraft into a dive to descend! Apparently the thermals are really good in the desert. :D [/quote]

The flip side being their clothes are soaked with perspiration by the time they exit the glider, I suppose.

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Sey
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Post by Sey » Wed Jun 14, 2017 8:52 pm

About 35 miles East of here you can get rides, lessons or rent sailplanes.
http://www.soarsundance.com/

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Post by Worldtraveller » Wed Jun 21, 2017 3:40 pm

I'm considering driving a tank for my b-day next year.

Although I might just go do another aerobatics ride.

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Sey
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Post by Sey » Wed Jun 21, 2017 5:33 pm

[quote=""Worldtraveller""]I'm considering driving a tank for my b-day next year. [/quote]
But will it fit in your garage?

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Post by Worldtraveller » Thu Jun 22, 2017 4:05 am

I did a little poking around, and gliders for sale are a little harder to find than powered aircraft, but it looks like a typical mid to low end (in terms of performance, which you would want to learn on) typically run in the $40k - $70k range. The variability is mostly due to the avionics. These are all in the good to go (not really needing any work to get flying again) category as far as I could tell.

Not tragically pricey, but I don't know your means. I don't think it's more than a couple hundred to get a tow to altitude, maybe less than $100 in some areas.
http://www.barnstormers.com/Glider%20&% ... ifieds.htm

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Sey
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Post by Sey » Thu Jun 22, 2017 7:57 am

Tow prices here (Sundance Aviation):

COSTS
Tows are rated by altitude:
$35 for the first 1000'
$20 for each additional 1000' (or $2.00 each 100')

Gliders are rented by the hour:
$50.00 for the Grob
$50.00 for the LS-4 (single place)
Minimum charge is 2 tenths of an hour
There is a daily MAXIMUM charge of 3 hours,
so if you fly all day you get am awesome deal.

Instruction:
$40.00 per hour plus glider and tow costs. Please go to the LESSONS page for more detail.

Presently there are no tie-down fees

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Post by Tubby » Fri Jul 14, 2017 5:51 pm

Cost info from Sey noted, by the way.


The SubSonex jet is not as cool looking as the BD-5J, but one hopes it is safer to fly than that earlier aircraft. You can build it yourself for US$135k. Neutral stick position is tilted heavily left. I suppose the pilot gets used to that, but I would have designed it vertical.

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Post by Tubby » Sun Jul 16, 2017 5:37 am

My stress in getting a pilot's license would not be fear of heights or worry about the stick & rudder stuff, it would be dread of coming across as clueless on the radio with the controller. I feel this novice pilot's pain! I wonder if he felt so humiliated he quit on his lessons.

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Post by Hermit » Sun Jul 16, 2017 9:09 am

[quote=""Tubby""]My stress in getting a pilot's license would not be fear of heights or worry about the stick & rudder stuff, it would be dread of coming across as clueless on the radio with the controller. I feel this novice pilot's pain! I wonder if he felt so humiliated he quit on his lessons.

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(View video on YouTube)[/quote]"...from now on you need to pay attention to what you're told, sir, because you haven't caught one thing right since you got here." The AC's frustration is understandable in those circumstances. Any humiliation would not be due to the AC's conduct. It would be due to his own incompetence as a pilot. And the AC did not scream at him.

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Tubby
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Post by Tubby » Sun Jul 16, 2017 5:02 pm

[quote=""Hermit""]"...from now on you need to pay attention to what you're told, sir, because you haven't caught one thing right since you got here." The AC's frustration is understandable in those circumstances. Any humiliation would not be due to the AC's conduct. It would be due to his own incompetence as a pilot. And the AC did not scream at him.[/quote]

The video generates comments at YouTube sympathetic to the controller, and also sympathetic to the student pilot.

My own view is that the situation is highly asymmetric. The pilot is worrying to begin with about whether the airport he can see out there is really the one he has contacted on radio, his flap setting, pattern altitude, landing gear (sometimes), carburetor heat, other traffic in the air, wake turbulence--basically getting his flesh down on the ground alive. The controller is sitting on a chair in a concrete room on the ground. Of the two, which one is more likely to have his brain partly shut down from information overload, and start messing up? Obviously the pilot. So the controller needs to save that negative tone of voice for later, not while the situation is developing.

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Post by Worldtraveller » Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:49 pm

[quote=""Tubby""]
Hermit;674717 wrote:"...from now on you need to pay attention to what you're told, sir, because you haven't caught one thing right since you got here." The AC's frustration is understandable in those circumstances. Any humiliation would not be due to the AC's conduct. It would be due to his own incompetence as a pilot. And the AC did not scream at him.
The video generates comments at YouTube sympathetic to the controller, and also sympathetic to the student pilot.

My own view is that the situation is highly asymmetric. The pilot is worrying to begin with about whether the airport he can see out there is really the one he has contacted on radio, his flap setting, pattern altitude, landing gear (sometimes), carburetor heat, other traffic in the air, wake turbulence--basically getting his flesh down on the ground alive. The controller is sitting on a chair in a concrete room on the ground. Of the two, which one is more likely to have his brain partly shut down from information overload, and start messing up? Obviously the pilot. So the controller needs to save that negative tone of voice for later, not while the situation is developing.[/QUOTE]
You make a good point, but lot of people also don't realize how much pressure ATCs are under sometimes. It's not a job I would want.

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Post by Tubby » Tue Jul 18, 2017 4:01 pm

[quote=""Worldtraveller""]You make a good point, but lot of people also don't realize how much pressure ATCs are under sometimes. It's not a job I would want.[/quote]

That is indeed said to be one of the most stressful occupations.

(And thanks for the $ info above.)

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Post by Tubby » Thu Jul 20, 2017 5:46 am

My first video link above was a glider, and my second a tiny jet. Here is an aircraft which combines both of those features. I'm not sure if this is available to the public, or a one-off experiment.

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Post by Hermit » Thu Jul 20, 2017 7:07 am

There's lettering on the fuselage, saying "experimental", so my guess is that it is a one-off at this stage.

You can buy the engine, though. Specs here.

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Post by Tubby » Thu Jul 20, 2017 4:14 pm

[quote=""Hermit""]You can buy the engine, though. Specs here.[/quote]

Service life = 300 hours. I presume that means you have it overhauled at 300 hours, rather than throwing it away.

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Post by Hermit » Thu Jul 20, 2017 5:18 pm

[quote=""Tubby""]
Hermit;674823 wrote:You can buy the engine, though. Specs here.
Service life = 300 hours. I presume that means you have it overhauled at 300 hours, rather than throwing it away.[/QUOTE]
If 300 hours is meant to indicate the period between overhauls "service interval" seems a more appropriate expression to use. "Service life" sounds like it indicates how many operational hours the engine is expected to last overall, but the best way to find out with certainty is to contact PBS.

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Post by Tubby » Thu Jul 20, 2017 7:33 pm

[quote=""Hermit""] "Service life" sounds like it indicates how many operational hours the engine is expected to last overall, but the best way to find out with certainty is to contact PBS.[/quote]

For the time being I'll just keep watching videos on the aircraft and the engine, and maybe the answer will become clear. If I ever have one of those, it'll be quite a few years in the future. :p (A guy would have to take flying lessons in pistons, then build up time in pistons, before approaching the factory for a jet check ride.)

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Post by Tubby » Sat Jul 22, 2017 2:08 am

Dropping into a Peruvian canyon to land on a paved strip by a river. Could a go-around be done here? What is the purpose of the displaced threshold seen at 1:50?

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Post by Tharmas » Sat Jul 22, 2017 4:52 pm

[quote=""Tubby""]Cost info from Sey noted, by the way.


The SubSonex jet is not as cool looking as the BD-5J, but one hopes it is safer to fly than that earlier aircraft.[/quote]

I saw two BD-5Js flying in an airshow, must be 25 years ago, as the "Coors Silver Bullets." I've often thought they must not be very safe, but I don't know any particulars about them.

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Post by Roo St. Gallus » Sun Jul 23, 2017 12:44 am

Anything which requires a moorage/hangar fee is basically a 'rich person's hobby'.

With most, one can rent or lease while one is learning and getting one's certification.
Once obtained, though, the next step is pretty much ownership, and thus, finding a place to service and store it.
IF YOU'RE NOT OUTRAGED, YOU'RE NOT PAYING ATTENTION!

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Post by Worldtraveller » Mon Jul 24, 2017 11:23 am

[quote=""Roo St. Gallus""]Anything which requires a moorage/hangar fee is basically a 'rich person's hobby'.[/quote]
What is your threshold for this? I've seen places where a modest hanger (large enough for a single engine plane) costs about as much as a meduim sized storage unit. And I dare you to say all those people with storage units are rich.

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Post by Tubby » Mon Jul 24, 2017 1:46 pm

The son of the founder of the company which makes the yellow jet in post #10 above crashed a different type (piston) made by the same company, and died. The cause is thought to be a goof on his part in screwing in a spark plug, resulting in loss of some power on takeoff at Oshkosh.

https://www.ntsb.gov/_layouts/ntsb.avia ... pgsize=100

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