So a few weeks ago I went out flying with a fellow glider guider here in Rochester. The day was perfect and conditions for lift couldn't be better. I decided to take out the Pulsar because I had not had it out in a while and I wanted to work on my flap to elevator settings and tweak my dual rates. You know, important stuff.
Mark was in the air first with his new 2.5 meter Pulsar, wow what a plane. It was only half a meter longer but it really made mine look tiny. I did my usual preflight checks, did a couple of hand throws, the second one was 125 yards
, and declared it good to go.
Launch 1, I wanted to play it safe so I took it up to about 400 feet and started to play with the flaps. I would throw the flaps, observe the plane's pitch, make an adjustment to the radio and then do it again. I was getting close but didn't have it perfect and decided to land. Oh it looked nice. I fiddled with a couple of things and launched it again. I was trying some 2S batteries and the launches were OK but not the rocket ship launches that come with a 3S battery.
Launch 2, This launch I found some lift as soon as I shut down the motor. The Pulsar climbed very nicely and I called out to Mark to come over and enjoy the ride. He did and soon both of us were climbing out in this really nice thermal. The higher I went the faster it climbed and soon I realized that the Pulsar was getting small really fast, too fast. So I deployed full flaps and waited for it to start to get bigger but it didn't, it just kept getting smaller. Now I'm getting nervous, I like the Pulsar but it has a very thin wing and it has a narrower cord than my Riser so it can be harder to see at altitude. It was around this same time that I can recall Mark proclaiming that he had never seen lift like this before and, frankly, neither had I. And then it happened, the Pulsar blinked out of sight. I gave it a second, didn't see it then stuck the right stick into the lower corner, just like I had read about here on RCGroups. I immediately reacquired the plane and watched it slowly spin down from the hungry plane eating thermal. My quick thinking and calm state of mind had denied the thermal its prize.
But this thermal was not finished, although I was slowly making my back to the ground Mark was still up and now the hungry thermal placed its sights on Mark's new plane. He deployed his flaps and started to point the nose of his plane down but he was also having trouble escaping the powerful rising air. He would quickly build up speed only to have to level out and immediately start climbing again. Flaps were not going to be enough to escape this monster but it seemed to take up the entire sky so flying out of it was not going to be easy either. By now I had dropped a couple of hundred feet, was feeling much better and was getting ready to stop the big spin and pull back the flaps. The thermal sensed this and decided that I should not be allowed to leave its grasp for so small a price. At around 400 feet I noticed something odd with my Pulsar, something was not right. It took a second for me to realize what had happened but it was clear that part of my wing was no longer attached to the plane and was fluttering away, while the Pulsar continued its spin towards the ground. There was very little I could do at this point. I redeployed flaps and activated crow in an attempt to slow its descent. I said something like "Uh oh" and Mark saw its spin and wanted to help but he was still battling the thermal for his own plane.
The fuselage came to rest in the middle of a very big soybean field and the separated wing floated down into the same field but further away. I did my best to mark the direction of the wreckage with my transmitter antenna. Mark was able to recover his Pulsar and get it back safely to the field but that thermal just didn't want to let go. Now the search was on. Not to bore you with the gory search details but suffice it to say you never want to have to walk a bean field in shorts. Although they look nice and soft and fuzzy they are not. After about an hour and a half of searching Mark located the fuselage. The other wing half was not located that day. I went back about 5 days later and was able to find it after about 45 minutes of walking the rows.
So now I get to decide whether or not to scrap it or try to repair, rebuild it. Amazingly there was no damage other than where the wing broke and the servo wire was pulled through the wing. Fuselage is fine, tail is fine and outer wing panels are fine. For now the Pulsar is back in its case and will wait there until I finish the Raven build, then I will decide what to do with it. Here are a couple of pictures of the recovery effort taken by Mark.