My Fist Flight in HP-11 N631H
Date - September 10, 2006
TJ Johnson

Briefing for flight

Someone had recently asked about the HP11s that had sold over the summer. I bought N631H, a beautiful 11 dressed in bare aluminum. After doing a weight and balance I added ballast to place the C.G. at 28.4%. (The HP-11 range is 25% to 40%) Last night 31H and I got out of ground effect for the first time and took a 5000' tow followed by the most glorious flying I have experienced in my very short gliding history.

I am a very low time glider pilot (almost 7 hours now!) but have about 200 hours in powered planes. My first auto tow in ground effect was anything but pretty. My second (after getting some great advice from Wayne Paul and Brian Case, and taking 2 weeks to think about it) went much better and my third was a very nice flight. They prepared me well for the control response and landing attitude that I would find on the aero tow.

The tow was in perfectly smooth air and because of the great handling characteristics of the glider and the benefit of a little bit of flap to keep the slack to a minimum the tow was easy and enjoyable. On release I immediately performed a no flap stall and a stall with about 14 degrees of flap. The glider stalled straightforward and gave quite a bit of aerodynamic indication before the stall. With no flap it gives quite a shudder about 2 or 3 mph before a crisp break, but it had no tendency to drop a wing and recovers almost immediately with a relaxing of the back pressure on the stick. Very little altitude loss was noted on either stall.

After testing the stall characteristics I decided to head upwind a ways and see how it ran. I pulled the flaps full negative and pushed the nose down a touch and saw the speed run up to 110 mph in a hurry. At that speed it was still quiet and really solid (until I pulled some tape loose on my right side wing fairing) and I covered a couple miles distance in a very short time.

By now I figured that it was time to test the flaps out so I slowed it to 60 and gradually pushed the nose over while cranking on about 70 of the 90 degrees of flap that it has. What a weird picture to be looking out through the top of the canopy with the nose pointed at the ground and still maintaining 60 mph. I can't wait to see what the other 20 degrees does!

I then did some steep turns and tested out the stall behavior in a bank and while just enjoying gliding around the sky was able to find a late evening thermal and gain 500' to give me more time to play. I sure didn't expect that as it was evening and the air had seemed as smooth as glass.

It finally came to an end and I had to bring it in for a landing. I put on 35 degrees of flaps abeam the numbers (it feels like it is on rails when you get the flaps down), did my base and final turn and set it quite smoothly just past my aiming point. Without trying I had stopped in what I estimate at about 300' past my touchdown point.

I have limited time and experience in gliders and I wasn't really sure what to expect. I certainly didn't expect it to fly as nicely as it did. I can say without reservation that this is the finest thing that I have ever flown and I am still having a hard time believing that I got such a wonderful glider for the little bit of money that I paid for it. I realize that there must be better gliders out there, but at the moment I am having a hard time believing that there is a glider in the sky that feels better than my new 11 does!

Huge thanks go out to Brian Case and Wayne Paul for all that they have done to bring me into the HP family and helping me to find a glider that was suited to me. They have given selflessly of their time and knowledge and the result is an HP grin that it is going to take a couple thousand gallons of ice water to wipe off of my face!

Life just got a whole lot better!