ASW-20: Maiden flight

We’re currently going through an unusually long period with northerly winds (“Bise”). This is great for slope soaring (all our favourite slopes are north-facing), but flying at our club’s airfield is not recommended. Our airfield is on the leeside of the mountain along lake Zürich. In the morning the flying is ok(-ish), but around noon usually the Bise starts pushing its way over the mountain, causing very turbulent conditions with evil downwinds. Flying is really hard then, no fun, and the risk of seriously damaging the plane is significant. Before the bise pushes through, conditions are also challenging, with often gusty and changing winds, often also from the South or South-West, which means landing with tailwinds. Sometimes we also have amazing thermals for a short while just before the Bise pushes through and makes flying impossible.

Nonetheless I decided to take the ASW-20 out to our club’s airfield for its maiden flight. At our airfield I can safely start the glider using the bungee and landing is way easier than on the slope – especially without having any recommended butterfly settings. I was hoping that going out early enough would allow me to get enough flights in to get the basic settings of the glider in order, so that I can then safely take it to the slope and to our club’s annual outing to Hahnenmoos starting on 17 June. After a thorough double-checking of all functions the first start went very well. No trimming was needed, the ASW-20 flies like on rails. Over five flights and landings I fine-tuned the down-elevator mix for the butterfly function, reduced the throw on the ailerons and mixed in a bit of down elevator for the motor function so that it goes up nice and straight with medium positive camber. Landings were tricky – the first landing went into the tall grass, due to a stiff tailwind and too much down-elevator mixed into the butterfly braking. After that was corrected landings were better, but challenging with increasing and very gusty tailwinds.

The plane is what I expected it to be. It is incredibly responsive to rudder and ailerons, needing very little thrown on both. It has a wide speed spectrum, from very slow with lots of camber, to nice and fast with negative camber – even with its low weight. All characteristics which are great for a plane to use on the slope.

I now hope to be fly it on the slope in the next few days.