Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Visibility: Unlimited
Wind: Variable from SW and later NW
Altitudes: 9000+ msl
Time Aloft: 5 hours
Max Lift: 8 knots
Temperature: Upper 90's
Comment: Accomplishments and Chaos.
Tow pilot: Peter Mersino on Thursday, then Jim Rickey, Ethan Ronat, Harold Gallagher


The weekend began on Thursday, August 27th with Rick Eason flying his necessary recommendation flights in preparation for his checkride on Saturday, the 29th. He did very well and is prepared for his checkride on Saturday. Thanks to Peter Mersino for volunteering to tow for Rick especially since no other pilots were out there on Thursday to be towed.

Rick Eason aloft, but not very high aloft.
Looked like it was going to be a good day with four dust devils all together in one field.
End of the first flight with two more to go.
Peter Mersino positioning the glider for another of Rick's flights.
Rick is tired and hot after a sweltering three flights at Avenal.

Saturday, August 29th.

On Saturday, the day began innocuously with Rick and Dan Gudgel engaged in discussion for the oral segment of the checkride.

Dan Gudgel and Rick Eason at the beginning of Rick's Commercial Glider Pilot checkride.
Rick's beautiful RV-9A parked just outside the tow plane hangar.

Flight ops began as well with Jim Rickey towing for Mario Pauda and me on a couple of flights. Shortly thereafter the chaos began.

Mario Pauda preflighting the Orange Crush early Saturday morning.
Jim Rickey decided to hose off the tow plane, especially the windshield.
Mario Pauda ready for his first two Biennial Flight Review launches.
There were a number of high performance ships assembled today for what later meant long flights.

The assembly line for high performance gliders.
Karl Kunz beautiful Cessna 170 is framed by Morgan's equally beautiful Duo Discus.
Ed Mandibles cute little Mooney Mite that whistled as it passed overhead while landing.
Work goes on with Jan Zanutto in charge, helped by Larry Johnson and Ethan Ronat.
Cutting holes around various attach points is tricky business. One slip and ......
Larry J. Ethan R and Jan Z concentrating on the delicate cutting of holes in the fabric.
Martin Caskey's Nugget assembled and ready to launch.
Karl Kunz assembling his ASW-20 for a mid-afternoon flight.
Tow plane duty all day long wasn't easy. It was hot, dusty, and busy.
Richard Walker moving his Schweizer 1-35 out to the launch area.
Rick Eason and Dan Gudgel on his first return to landing as part of the checkride.
These dust devils encouraged all who were there to get aloft.
They kept forming all afternoon and promised excellent lift if one could find the thermal and stay in it.
Martin Caskey about to launch in his Nugget with Sergio Grajeda running the wing.
Larry Johnson assisting Karl Kunz, with Morgan about to hook up the tow rope.
And they kept forming neatly marking where the best thermals were to be found. 
Julie Butler awaiting her turn to launch, sitting in her Discus with Dan Gudgel monitoring the action. 
Shortly after Julie launched, Morgan moved the Duo into position and launched with Sergio Grajeda in the back seat. They flew down to near Santa Ynez and back, with very little time wasted thermalling. Here is the photo taken by Morgan down south.

Looking SW from 8500 msl on the Sierra Madre range SW of New Cuyama
Back on the ground waiting for another launch are the four horsemen or fearsome foursome.

The fearsome foursome, Dan Gudgel, Larry Johnson, Jim Rickey, and Mark Neal.
Dan Gudgel getting Mark Neal ready for his first flight since September, 2007 when he was close to solo.
It looks like both Dan and Mark will enjoy this flight.
Mark Neal refreshing his flight skills gained 8 years ago this month.

The Neal family arrived today for a picnic on the patio and to watch son, Mark, get back into flying. Seems that Mark's lady friend, Sandra, wanted to give a very nice gift to Mark for his birthday and decided to financially support his return to solo flight. Don Neal, granddad to Alexsandra, is a long time member of the Central Valley Aviation Association located in Fresno. Don has been a pilot for, .... maybe forever. Great guy, loved by all the aviators around and has more stories to tell than anyone I know. If he doesn't know someone in aviation in the Central Valley then that person is probably not really in aviation. Welcome to the CCSC, Neal family, and hope that you all will come back time and again to watch Mark get back to solo flight.

The Neal family, Sandra just to the left, Don, and his lady friend, Jerri Yandell.
Sandra, Don, and Jerri enjoying the cooler shaded patio with a nice breeze wafting through.
Alexsandra on the clean floor of the patio with the Neal family.
Alexsandra and her Mom, Sandra, having a good time on the patio.
Mark Farabaugh came out today to get in a demo flight. As tired as Ethan Ronat was, he still managed to agree to fly with Mark. Then it was one of those flights that, in spite of lift before and after their flight, they found little or nothing to stay aloft. Too bad, but that's what happens often. In fact, after their flight I took the next young man for a flight and we found strong lift to above a mile high. Such are the vagaries of lift and sink on a day when the dust devils were prancing all over the foothills.

Sarah Woolf brought her two sons to Avenal, Clark, 13, and Robert 11. They live near Jack Wiegand's home and now Clark is the same age as Jack was when he started soaring lessons. Maybe if Clark continues his training we'll see the same achievements we had from Jack a few years ago. Today, Clark flew most of the flight off tow after we had thermalled to 5450 msl in a very strong thermal. Clark's handling of the glider was smooth, and confident and reminded me a lot of the day Jack started training.

Clark Woolf's first glider ride, and he's capturing it on video. Should be interesting to watch
Karl Kunz heading home after a hot day and long flight out of Avenal.
Ed Mandibles, the Mooney Mite driver, who flew with me earlier in the day wanted to take another training flight at 6:30 pm. I couldn't refuse so we went aloft in search of good lift. We knew where the previous lift was to be found since I flew with Clark Woolf to 5450 msl. When we arrived in the area there was nothing but zero up to just maintain altitude. So we went about doing our maneuvers and finished the flight and the day of flight operations. One flight, no lift, the next flight strong to above a mile, then no lift. Oh well. Not much one can do about Nature's ways. They are sometimes that fickle.

It was an interesting day, frustrating with so many things going awry, but some accomplishments as well. So with the positives identified we look forward to next weekend with anticipation that there will be more of the positives and less of the negatives.

See you on September 5th.

Harold Gallagher

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Saturday August 22, 2015

Visibility: Hazy from the Sierra fire smoke.
Wind: Absolutely dead calm early, then out of the southeast with gusts up to 20.
Altitudes: Yutaka Buto, Harry Davies, and Richard Walker have these statistics.
Time Aloft: More than an hour.
Max Lift: We saw about 4-6 knots only occasionally.
Temperature:  Mid 70s early in the day, even 100° mid afternoon.
Comment: Two new members joined the club.
Tow pilot: Jim Rickey, Dan Gudgel, Sean Knight

REMEMBER: Just click on any photo and you'll see the beginning of a series of very large versions of photos shown here.

A giant step was made on the rebuilding of Big Bird today, starting the fabric.  Keeping the cloth clean was essential, and a good number of hands were available to make sure the fabric stayed up in the air while it was rolled out, measured, cut , and finally laid upon the underside of the fuselage.

.  Many hands working together were able to get the fabric onto the glider cleanly
Jan Zanutto decided to do the bottom first as the complex shapes would be the most demanding to deal with.

After the fabric was resting on the frame there were trials and discussions about the best way to put the fabric onto the compound curves.

The final decision was to slit the fabric at the front, where Larry has it folded, and overlap it.
(No photos were obtained with glue on the photographer's hands.  Time was also critical--no time for putting the glue down and picking up the camera.)

The glue was painted on the metal, then the fabric pressed on the glued area.  Another coat of glue was then applied to the outside of the fabric with force so that it would seep through the fabric to the glue on the frame.

The new water-based, greenish-blue glue was not working like any other glue any of us had experienced before. Jan was following the manufacturer's information, but it was completely different than any of us had worked with before.  It did not seem "right."  But giving it an hour to "set" did the job.

After the glue was holding like it was supposed to do, it was time to put the iron to the fabric to get it to shrink tight.  On the bottom of the aft empennage, there was no problem with ripples or waves in the fabric, as that section of the fuselage is perfectly flat..
Jan starts the iron at the tail end.
Closer to the wheel well it took a little more finesse to get the fabric straight and tight.
Waviness is starting to disappear under heat.
Keep on working the iron!
Waviness to the rear of the strut attach is almost gone.
Not perfect yet, but getting close.
Notice in the picture below there is now another piece of fabric that was precisely fitted around the strut attachment.  Jan gives the fabric a final heating to make it nice and tight and straight.
At the end of the day, the bottom was done and it was looking pretty very good.  In the picture below you can see where the fabric was cut, overlapped, and glued back together running longitudinally from the fiberglass nose bowl to the opening for the landing gear.  The two small lateral bumps are where the skid will attach to the frame.

Final Inspection--looks good!
At the end of the day, before covering in plastic to keep pigeon poop off of it.

 Flight Operations

Rick Eason started the day off with three close-in flights.  The first was box-the-wake, and he did fine.  The second flight was a practice rope break.  The third flight was for him to see a different landing runway than 07.  Dan Gudgel has completed his work with with Rick and has turned him over to Harold for his final recommendation ride.

We welcome two new members to our club. J. Mario Pauda and Ed Mandibles. Mario is a Doctor in Family Practice in Salinas with a very interesting background that includes the Air Force Academy and flying the B-52. Ed Mandibles has an equally interesting story including being given a glider to build while never having flown any glider. But in the process he did gain enough skill in glider flying while building that his skill set today was clearly evident. Mario is a licensed glider pilot who needed a Biennial Flight Review to regain his currency and we expect to complete that next weekend. Ed may very well solo next weekend.

Our two new members, Ed Mandibles on the left and J. Mario Pauda on the right.

After Rick Eason, Roman Franco flew four times. He is very close to solo and depending on his initial performance next weekend he might just do it. First two was 2000 agl and we practiced maneuvers including quick steep turns in preparation for the 200 agl sim rope break. The second launch was just high enough so that we could actually do a simulated rope break at 200 agl. Although Roman was surprised at the release and a bit slow on the turn back to the runway, he accomplished it all with smoothness and calm.

On the third launch tow pilot Dan Gudgel had a surprise for Roman, waving him off at 800 agl so Roman had to think quick about how to get back into a pattern for landing. Finally, the fourth flight was another 2000 agl where we tried some thermalling and a few additional maneuvers and ended the day with a nice, unassisted landing by Roman.

Roman Franco waiting for the tow plane to move into position for launch.

Next up is Mario Pauda who has a Commercial Glider license and simply needs to fly again, get the rust off his skill set, understand the Avenal environment, earn his Biennial Flight Review and he's off on his own here in the club. We did two flights and Mario is getting those skills back very quickly.

Mario Pauda waiting for the tow plane to move into position for launch.

Next up is Ed Mandibles who is already a licensed power pilot flying a beautiful Piper Tri-Pacer and a Mooney Mite. He used his Tri-Pacer to get to Avenal and it is as nice inside as it is outside.

Ed Mandibles really nice Piper Tri-Pacer. He's from Lompoc so maybe he'll connect with
Peter Sahlberg and Philip Gerfaud
Ed Mandibles just about to begin his launch on runway 31 at Avenal.
Ed after his two flights where he got better and better at towing, easing off on the over-controlling.
While all this was going on, Harry Davies arrived and launched in the 1-26. Harry wasn't up too long because it was early and the thermals hadn't started popping yet. Then, while Harry was out having lunch, Yutaka Buto showed up and since no one was using the 1-26 he decided to launch. He was able to stay up longer so the thermals were indeed improving as time went along.

Yutaka Buto launching in the 1-26 while Harry Davies had lunch.
After Yutaka, Richard Walker launched in his Schweizer 1-35. They look low but were about 400 agl .
On tow and heading up, albeit slowly due to the heat of the day.
Yutaka returned after a nice flight just in time for Harry Davies to finish his lunch. So Harry launched and was up quite as long time, returning some time after I left Avenal and headed home. If he sends me his notes I'll include them here as a revision.

Harry launching in the 1-26 from the far end heading down runway 13L.
They are about half way down runway 13L enroute to a nice long flight.

Harry Davies on tow just about even with the clubhouse.
Once Harry launched, Sergio Grajeda was on the field and flew training flights with Alex Caldwell. This Avenal resident is determined to get his license and we hope he does. He could well be a model student for other young men in Avenal who might otherwise choose another path not acceptable to society. Sergio is a fine young man with great potential for his future.

Next weekend should be interesting. We have the possibility of (1) a Commercial Glider checkride, (2) a solo of a 15 year old student, (3) a solo of a 40 year power pilot, and (4) completion of a Biennial Flight Review by an accomplished Glider Pilot and family Doctor. Should be a very interesting weekend.

See you all next time.

Harold Gallagher