Monday, July 4, 2016

Saturday, July 2

Visibility: 10+ miles
Wind: NNE
Altitudes: 9,500
Time Aloft: 5.2 hours
Max Lift: l0+ kts
Temperature: 107
Tow pilot: Allen White, Julie Butler

Jim Rickey and Dan Gudgel started ops early in Hanford with towing the 2-33 back from it's annual inspection. When they arrived, Sergio was ready to take his two flights while before Dan left so there was an instructor on the field.
By the time Pancho, Lizzy, and I arrived, many people were already hard at work getting their planes inspected or doing work. Martin and Carl were completing an inspection on CZ with Carl's friend Dhruv observing. Joe was getting his PW5 ready for it's inspection under a very nice blue awning that provided some much needed shade. Karl was getting ready to pull GD out of the box and work on the flarm.
I dragged Pancho out in order to get the necessary work done on his trailer so it could get pulled back to the coast for more advanced trailer work. After getting that rolled into the hangar to escape the heat, we made a plan for the day.
Sergio bought some sound beef and made some amazing burgers for us all while Dhruv helped me fuel the tow plane. Allen decided with not very many people flying, I could handle the tows and he went home to air conditioning. We had a very nice lunch on the patio with all mentioned above, plus Dennis Lyons, Larry Johnson, Richard Walker, Mario Padua, and probably somebody else that I forgot.
Everyone got in position for tows at 1PM and off we went with Richard launching first in 181. It was pretty warm and there was a right crosswind, but we got a little height and turned parallel to the power poles and climbed slowly. Next up was Mario in the 1-26. I would call that marginal on obstacle clearance and I called ground to tell them to drag the 2-33 down for a 13 departure. I made one more tow off 31 with Karl in GD and switched ops to 13 for the last tow. I had dropped GD near red barn at 1100AGL and by the time we were ready to launch the 2-33, he was climbed through 5K on his way to Black. I never saw him again. See his story below. Carl's friend Dhruv had come out hoping for his first glider lesson. But, with the holiday weekend and at least one illness, there were no instructors on the field. So Carl graciously put away CZ and took him up in the 2-33. They released at 2K AGL and had a fabulous flight. I'm sure Dhruv will be adding a glider rating to his power rating soon. See Carl's story below.
Back at the club, everyone was busy packing things up and getting ready to head out. The forecasted temperature of 99 was far surpassed. When I got in my car to leave, it indicated 107. No wonder we were not climbing fast today!
I'm not as talented as Harold - so, there are no pictures of the day from me. Just imagine a lot of dust, everyone sweating profusely, and monster dust devils ripping through occasionally.

Here is Karl's write up:
Had kind of decided I would NOT fly on Saturday as it was very hot and very few were going flying, but since I had GD out of the box for some maintenance items figured what the hell might as well put it together and take a short flight and see if I got my Flarm working. Going north looked best on the RASP info Bart so kindly provided but there was a TFR over Curry Mountain (just east of Coalinga) due to a fire which was right in the way of the usual run north. The lift was amazing, caught a thermal between the solar farm and the crop circle and was in lift from there all the way to Black were I tanked up again and ran north and circled around the south side of the TFR and headed up near Hernandez Lake with all the EL fixes working as advertised. Coming back I went to the north side of the TFR heading back to Avenal for landing but literally was in lift most of the way back as the convergence was right down the Avenal valley. Hit a thermal so strong over the red barn (10-12kts) and was quickly back up near 10K so I decided to venture a ways southeast toward Dudley Ridge looking for some sink to get back to Avenal. The thermal heights were much higher than forecast and had I not have to take the long way home (Hwy 198 was closed because of the fire which looked like it was out) I might of stayed up a bit longer.

And Carl's write up with pictures:
One of my co-workers, Dhruv, was interested in a glider flight and start training towards an add-on glider rating, so he came with me to Avenal on Saturday to find out what soaring is all about. I was planning to fly my Discus while Dhruv started his training, but we ended up without any instructor on the field. Rather than let him bake in 100F+ heat on the ground while I flew, I took him up for a soaring flight in Orange Crush. We spent the first hour clawing up to 5,000 ft while I let Dhruv get a feel the 2-33's handling and how to thermal. We spotted a cluster of big dust devils east of the prison and headed that direction. Two strong thermals later, we found ourselves at 9,500 ft (and cold!)! From there, we went out to Black Mountain for some sightseeing and a couple more thermals. We made our way back towards the field and ran north and south a few times, with Dhuv doing a lot of the flying and really getting the hang of catching and centering thermals. As we approached the 4-hour mark at 6pm with strong lift still present, we decided Dhruv's first soaring flight should be Silver Badge duration and an Iron Butt Award contender flight. We then snagged another 6-8 knot thermal directly above a big dust devil in the crop circle; we were able to see down the center of it! After crossing the 5-hour mark, I showed Dhruv a couple stalls and a full slip to bleed off our remaining altitude before coming in to land.

The OLC trace (complete with a big score for a 2-33, sure to make Alex proud):

Lessons Learned:
-A 5 hour first soaring flight is sure to hook anyone on learning to fly gliders
-The best way to cool off from the Avenal summer heat is to climb high and stay there
-The back seat of a 2-33 isn't a comfortable place for a 5 hour flight (but still fun!)

Monday, June 27, 2016

SATURDAY, June 25, 2016, Hot and Rough; just a few members.

Visibility: Unlimited
Wind: NW at 6 knots
Altitudes: 5100 msl - Jim Rickey
Time Aloft: 2 hours - Jim Rickey
Max Lift: 8 knots
Temperature: 100 deg F.
Comment: Slow day, few members, more training.
Tow pilot: Allen White, Jim Rickey, Yutaka Buto, Harold Gallagher



Troy's rollout on his second checkride flight.
Troy Wollman and Dan Gudgel after Troy's successful checkride for his Private Pilot's License - Glider.

It wasn't an exceptionally busy day here at Avenal. Most of the flights consisted of training in both Schweizer 2-33's. Joaquin Riviera, Carsten Moeller, Sergio Grajeda, and Troy Wollman made most of the training flights in those aircraft. The high performance sailplanes that were flown today included the DG100, Harry Davies' newly purchased Libelle (from Moab, UT) and our own 1-26 flown by Mike Paoli.

Allen White arrived this morning and flew several tows just to keep his hands on the yoke. The heat takes its toll so Allen passed off the towing to Yutaka, and later to Jim Rickey. I towed only three times.

It was hot today and thermal heights were mostly 4500 msl, with one brief fling at 5100 msl by Jim Rickey. At least getting above about 2500 msl proved to be worth it because of the cooler air.

The air was very rough and pushed the 2-33's around on tow quite a bit. The newer students struggled with tow position and the heat in the cockpit at lower altitudes made for a sometimes queasy flight. All worked out OK but this time of year, with temps over 100 deg F, makes for uncomfortable training flights. It was a lot warmer than that on the ground since the runway dirt surface was very hot to the touch.

Joaquin Riviera brought his son, Joaquin, Jr, along and the young boy was a model of good behavior on the patio. Joaquin, Sr, and I flew two training flights and he continues to progress towards his solo flying.

Troy Wollman and I did three good prep flights in anticipation of his checkride on Monday. We also spent three additional hours in preparing for the oral portion of the checkride. When I finally left Avenal at 7:15 pm, I felt that Troy was ready for the testing. He had scored a 92% on his written exam and that was a good indicator of the work he did on his own in preparation. So I felt he had an excellent chance to pass the checkride for his Private Pilot License - Glider. We wish him luck on Monday.

Finally, Jim Rickey went aloft in Big Bird just after Yutaka Buto had flown the 1-26. Yutaka's flight was a bit short since there was sink everywhere the lift wasn't. It made finding lift and staying in it a rather interesting challenge. Somehow Jim Rickey manages to find lift where the rest of us can't, and today was no exception. There he was, one moment looking like he was entering the pattern, the next minute he was so high we couldn't visually spot him easily. Nice going Jim.

Joaquin Riviera running the wing for Sergio Grajeda.
Carsten Moeller flying several pattern tows landing on runway 7.
Harry Davies about to fly his newly purchased Libelle for the first time.
Carsten Moeller finishing one of his pattern tows, landing on ruway 7.
Harry is ready, wings up, signal given to the tow plane and off he went.
Good takeoff, no discernible PIO, in good position, and had a good flight.
Jeff Richardson flying the DG100 just to keep his skills sharp without too much time off.
MikePaoli flying the 1-26 instead of his Libelle because it's easier to get ready to fly.
Troy Wollman in Big Bird for his last practice flights before his checkride.
Troy on takeoff still over runway 31R behind the tow plane.
One day soon we need to clear this area for a longer takeoff run on runway 31R.
Two of the three club workhorses, the Orange Crush and the 1-26.
Troy downwind for landing runway 13R.
Troy's last flight before his checkride on Monday, June 27th. We wish him luck.
Sergio Grajeda on final one of his many pattern tows in the Orange Crush.
A good pattern and landing on runway 13L for Sergio.
Jim Rickey, the amazing thermal seeker, finally lands after about 2 hours aloft.
Jim's nice landing and roll out right up to the tie down area. The last flight of the day.
That's all folks, see you next weekend when the weather will still be hot and above the 100 mark.


Harold Gallagher

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

SATURDAY, June 18, 2016. Training and demo flights. A few high performance flights.

Visibility: Unlimited
Wind: Mostly from the NW at 5-7 kts
Altitudes: Above 5000 msl
Time Aloft: More than an hour for most.
Max Lift: 6-8 knots
Temperature: A pleasant mid 80's.
Comment:Only three high performance sailplanes, but training and demo flights.
Tow pilot: Dan Gudgel, Don Flinn, Alex Caldwell, Jim Rickey

It was another weekend when few members showed up even though the lift was good and enough to do some cross country flying. Andrew Ouellet arrived along with a beautiful friend, Phoebe Brown, who, surprisingly, is a licensed balloon pilot. She travels the circuit from Albuquerque, to Phoenix, to Northern California, to anywhere else where a balloon festival is operating. She had fun flying in a glider for the first time but remains a dedicated balloonist. After sending me some photos, Phoebe allowed as how maybe she "may have a new found love for a different form of flight." She'd probably make an excellent glider pilot as well. See the photos at the end of the published photos for June 18th.

Clark Woolf flew another series of pattern flights in preparation for what might be his solo flights sometime in July, just after his 14th birthday. It continues to look likely that he will solo then since his progress has been excellent.

Dan Gudgel was out early with a Lemoore pilot, checking him out for towing duties.

Jim Bell was back again today looking for a much better flight than last Saturday when the sink was so bad, we almost terminated the tow early. This time, Jim got the ride he was looking for and over an hour later, he was a bit tired since he did most of the thermalling. But he was also quite pleased with the performance and might just sign up for lessons and a club membership.

David Deniz brought his son, Bryston, out for a gift flight. They arrived early but seemed to enjoy just being at the launch end watching the activity going on. Bryston did get a chance to fly Big Bird, although the lift wasn't as good as hoped for. Later on in the day, the lift was extensive and the thermals quite strong, but he missed a bit of that lift. Still, the flight was long enough, and his flying good enough to make his day.

Mario Pauda was back again today, flying the 1-26 and just enjoying himself.

Bart Klusek returned after nearly two months away and flew the Russia. He was impressed with how clean and neat he found the glider just before assembly and complimented whoever flew it last. That was nice.

Joe Anastasio flew the PW-5 long enough, far enough, and high enough to have made the trip over from Atascadero worthwhile.

Andrew Ouellet and Alex Caldwell flew a one-hour flight for Andrew's BFR requirement. Then Alex posted the flight on the OLC and within the region, did fairly well, coming in 11th.

Sergio Grajeda flew several flights and now is talking about preparing for his written exam. But today, we shared a thermal with him, just below us while Jim Bell and I were having fun in Big Bird.

Carsten Moeller flew with Don Flinn several times and then Don graciously offered to tow for awhile.

Clark Woolf practicing for his solo flight, sometime in July.
Clark moving the glider back to the launch area for his next pattern flight.
Sherry waits patiently, while Carsten Moeller, David Deniz and son, Bryston chat about flight.
Phoebe Brown, Troy Wollman and Sergio Grajeda wait for the tow plane.
Phoebe and Troy just sitting around chatting about Phoebe being a licensed balloon pilot.
Sherry, David, and Bryston right after Bryston's first glider flight.
Mario Pauda nearly ready to launch in the 1-26 with help from Bart Klusek.
Mario, like most of us, just really enjoys flying Casper the 1-26.
Bart Klusek returns after being absent for a month and a half.
The tow plane has returned and now Mario is ready for what turned out to be a rather short first flight.
One of the biggest thermals formed right at the solar farm installation office.
And a few minutes later, another thermal formed in the same area.
Jim Bell had a demo flight last week but due to massive sink, it didn't last long.
This time was different. We were aloft over an hour, and Jim did most of the thermalling, and did it well.
Jim caught on to the idea of circling in lift and worked hard most of the hour in flight.
The variometer shows only 400 feet per minute up but we experienced much more.
Mario Pauda on another launch in Casper the 1-26.

Phoebe Brown's photos submitted on June 22nd:

Phoebe Brown hasn't taken her first glider ride so maybe she can be converted yet.
As an experienced balloon pilot, Phoebe isn't convinced yet that flying gliders is in her future.
Bryston Deniz ready for his first glider ride, and taking the controls off tow.
Don Flinn doing the towing for a portion of today's flights.
Phoebe is looking forward to this flight with Andrew Ouellet and maybe she will like soaring after all.
That's all for now, folks, and we hope to see many of you out here next weekend.

Harold Gallagher

Sunday, June 12, 2016

SATURDAY, June 11, 2016. Drifting lift and 23 tows.

Visibility: Unlimited
Wind: N @ 8 kts, slowed later.
Altitudes: 4000+ agl
Time Aloft: 1.2 hrs. Peter Sahlberg.
Max Lift: 8 kts but mostly 4-6 kts.
Temperature: Cool, mid 70's
Comment: Few high performance ships aloft.
Tow pilot: Peter Mersino with 23 tows.



An unusual day with very few high performance ships being flown. The weather was a most comfortable cool day, interesting cloud formations, with cloud shadows drifting across the valley most of the day. That made for drifting lift or bubbles of lift cutoff by the changing sunshine on the ground. Peter Sahlberg's 1-35 was the only high performance sailplane flown today. Both 2-33's were in use almost the entire day, as noted by the number of tows. The 1-26 also was flown quite a bit but there were periods of inactivity for it as well.

Rick and Melissa Eason arrived early so that Rick could take Melissa up early before the air got too rough. Melissa had trepidations about going up in an aircraft without an engine but after some discussion it appeared she was calm enough to go forward. After the flight she really was smiling and announced that it was a rather interesting experience seeming to be floating in the sky. I'm now sure she'll fly again with Rick since this was so nice an experience. Rick himself contributed to her comfort, not making any unusual maneuvers, no steep banks, no deep thermalling turns, etc. That was clearly the right thing to do for Melissa.

One new demo flight was completed with Ken Morrison from Lemoore NAS who appeared to enjoy the experience, a first time for him in a glider. It might be enough for him to work on his Commercial Glider add-on rating this summer.

Clark Woolf is moving along, now rapidly, toward his solo flight in July. On one flight alone, we accomplished three wake boxings, and six stall recoveries in addition to steep turns, and slow flight. He did very well and finished with a pattern tow in prep for his solo flights.

Joaquin Riviera brought his beautiful wife, Ariana, to the gliderport, to watch his training flights. She appeared to be most comfortable reading a book on the patio. Maybe next time she'll go for a demo flight.

Peter Sahlberg and his daughter, Jamie, were on hand, with Jamie driving the pickup truck around, helping move his glider to the launch area, and also retrieving landed gliders. Peter had the longest time aloft and highest altitude attained, although with the lift moving around with the cloud shadows, it was a bit harder getting any higher.

Sergio Grajeda flew a number of flights in the 2-33 as did Andy Reistetter. Late in the afternoon, Troy Wollman and I flew two checkride flights in preparation for what we expect will be his checkride day on June 27th.

Alex Caldwell had several flights, the latest with a gentleman who appeared at our clubhouse inquiring about a demo flight. I know him only as Berle, and I'm not even sure of that spelling. Maybe later on Alex will regale us with his dead stick landing at Avenal while flying his RV-3 in from Tulare.

Jim Rickey, as is his custom, waited until everyone else had flown before he chose the glider he wanted and selected the 1-26. Trouble is, by that time in late afternoon, the lift had mostly faded due to the continuing overdevelopment and very cool conditions. His return was too soon but he likes flying regardless.

I think one of the most interesting stories is about Peter Mersino and his 23 tows. I don't remember him getting out of the towplane from 10:30 am until 5:00 pm except once, and then once for refueling. It seemed like he kept going all day long, and there were hardly any short tows to speed the process, most being 2000 or 3000 agl. He deserves kudos for that performance and plans on doing it again tomorrow, Sunday. Now that's CCSC dedication. Thanks from all of us, Peter.

Alex Caldwell came up with a late revision, describing more about Berle Allison who he took for a demo ride today. Here is Alex description:

The name of the nice gentleman that took the demo ride on Saturday is Berle Allison. He's 85 years old and lives in Exeter.  He was out for a drive and was going to go to get something to eat at Kettleman City,  but decided to drive over the hills from I-5 to Avenal because he hadn't been here before. He saw the gliders and decided to stop and see what was going on.   He was a teacher,  mainly of industrial arts,  for much of his career.  He also did many other things, including working on light aircraft,  such as J-3 Cubs, overhauling  engines and recovering them etc..  This was back in the years just after WWII. He said at that time, it was thought that every family would get a plane,  and there was much more interest in flying, with a lot of pilots coming back after WWII.   He had about 40 hours flying time, and soled in Cubs back then, but didn't  finish getting his license. He  was a little to young to serve in WWII but he served in the military in the Air Force during the  Korean War Era, and was stationed in Texas. He was born in Texas, but has lived most of his adult life in California, which he prefers to Texas.


Rick helping his wife, Melissa get belted in, oblivious to the landing towplane.
Opps, he just spotted Peter Mersino landing the towplane on runway 31L.
Rick and Melissa about to embark on her first adventure in motorless flight.
The cloud forms were a painters sky with Rick and Melissa on tow against that backdrop.
This is the picture Melissa should print and frame as her first glider ride against those cloud forms.
Clark Woolf in sink at the moment but this first flight was extensive and full of maneuvers.
Clark's second flight was only to pattern altitude practicing for his planned solo in July.
Peter Sahlberg riding in the bed of his pickup while his daughter, Jamie, tows a glider to the launch area.
Peter and Jamie having fun together on a lovely, cool, day at Avenal.
Rick Eason in the 1-26 unaware of the landing Big Bird on the runway to the west.
Now Rick Eason is ready to a few launches in the 1-26. He must have several dozen by now.
Andy Reistetter ready to fly Big Bird while Sergio Grajeda and Alex Caldwell standby.
Sergio has joined Andy in Big Bird for a back seat view of soaring. Alex is running the wing.
A lovely little sailplane and a beautiful sky.
Ken Morrison about to launch on his first glider ride but maybe the beginning of his training.
Ken worked hard trying to understand being on tow, and did very well thermaling for the first time.
Berle Allison, and Jim Rickey enjoying the cool shade on the patio in mid-afternoon.
Jamie Sahlberg enjoying a relaxing afternoon, well after her University final exams.
Troy Wollman launching in the 1-26 prior to our checkride practice flights.
Troy in nice position on tow, staying low and adjusting for the right crosswind.
Peter Mersino and I flew to Avenal from Fresno Chandler in his Cherokee 140.
Joaquin Riviera walking the wing after his first flight of the day.
Troy Wollman hooking up the Orange Crush for Sergio Grajeda.
Sergio is ready to launch with Troy running the wing.
Joaquin Riviera ready for one more flight and hopefully an improved towing experience.
Joaquin now just about to launch for what turned out to be a most successful experience on tow.
Alex Caldwell getting belted in for his demo flight with Berle Allison.
Troy Wollman ready for a practice checkride in prep for his June 27th date with Dan Gudgel.
Troy walking Big Bird back and this next flight will be a simulated rope break at 300 agl landing on runway 7.
Jim Rickey waited most of the day and  when everyone else had finished he chose the 1-26 for his flight.
Ariana Riviera waited patiently for Joaquin to finish his two training flights. Her lovely presence was appreciated by all.
Most of the gliders were tied down by 5:30 pm and the tow plane put away for the night. Peter Mersino plans on returning tomorrow to tow for anyone signed up for the day.

See you all next weekend,

Harold Gallagher