Monday, November 23, 2015


Visibility: Hazy but more than 25 miles most of the day.
Wind: Calm mostly but a slight East crosswind in late afternoon.
Altitudes: Only tow height or maybe a foot or so above.
Time Aloft: Alex Caldwell probably set the time record today of about 30 minutes or so.
Max Lift: Likely about 100 feet per minute but rare.
Temperature: Mid 70's, a beautiful Fall day at Avenal.
Comment: Three solo students today, tying a record set ten years ago, 9-24-05.
Tow pilot:  Dan Gudgel, Julie Butler, for a total of 21 tows, a very busy day.


Note: All the best photographs were taken by Jim Rickey, the rest by me and one by Joe Anastasio.

It was quite an amazing day for student flying and solo. For the first time in 10 years, three students soloed on the same day. Who were these people? They're from the newest and most active group we have had in the club in years. Cal Poly!!! Yea team!!!

These fine young men and woman are a wonderful asset to our club and to society in general. They are going to be the leaders in technology and community in the not-too-distant future. They bring excitement, ambition, laughter, intensity, brainpower, creativity, and whatever else we can say about them. Each of these great young people are very different from one another but in many ways, so similar. Our club hasn't been this fortunate with such new members as a group in a long time. Of course we have had and continue to have new students that are excellent additions to our club. Lately we've seen Clark Woolf, Tyler Bishop, Roman Franco, Sergio Grajeda, Ed Mandibles, Harry Davies, Jamie Strickland, Steve Valentine, Rick Eason, Philip Gerfaud, Kavin Gustafson, Skip BreidbachMario Pauda, and others over the past year join our club and begin their training as individuals. And we're grateful for their presence in our club. But it's tough to beat the group known as the Cal Poly Pilots, for adding members at a torrid pace.

Most soaring clubs nationwide lament the fact that there aren't any young people coming into soaring. But, here at the CCSC, in a matter of just a few weeks, the Cal Poly group has changed all that for our club. We now have seven new members, all but one are solo pilots as of today, and looking forward to soaring together in the coming months. Here they are: Jennifer Bauman, Troy Wollman, Kyle O'Connell, Andrew Palmer, Griff Malloy, Luke Bughman, and Neiman WalkerCONGRATULATIONS EVERYONE FOR ADDING SO MUCH TO OUR CLUB!!!!

We can't forget Harrison King and Ethan Lawton who came out last week. Harrison had his first training flight but Ethan chose to just get acquainted with the club and the flight operations.

The day started off with several people sanding on Big Bird:

Sergio Grajeda also helps out a lot and has done so on the Big Bird these past few months.
Jennifer Bauman always helping out whenever and wherever necessary.
Luke Bughman is hoping to solo today, perhaps thinking about it as he sands Big Bird.
Griff Malloy hopes to solo today so he sands as a way of calming down.
Mario Pauda takes his turn sanding Big Bird.

Big Bird has its final coat of yellow.

We needed weak links in order to begin towing for the day.
Christian Heidgerd, an NAS Lemoore pilot is back again after a lot of fighter flying. He visited us on July 11, 2015, to renew his CFIG and we hope he'll get back current again so he can help out here at Avenal when necessary. He's in the photo above, and below holding the right end of the weak link. Christian worked with Dan Gudgel this morning on towing, and is planning on becoming another CCSC tow pilot.

Adding duct tape to the weak links to slow down the rate of wear during use.

All gathered around while Troy Wollman installs video cameras for the upcoming solo flights.

Julie Butler adds the power to the towplane.
Mario Pauda ready to launch in the 1-26, a glider he loves to fly, and others do, too.
Kyle O'Connell helping Alex Caldwell finish the pre-launch tasks before flying his superb Nimbus 3.
Must be nice to enjoy flying that long-winged bird, the Nimbus 3.
Distinct shadows in the dust.

Up first for solo flight is Kyle O'Connell who took two training flights before this solo.

Kyle is ready now and looking forward to being back in the air solo after a long layoff.
When Kyle finished his solo flight, Griff Malloy was ready and willing to go for it.
A crowd gathers as Griff Malloy is about to takeoff on his 1st solo.
Liftoff on 1st solo for Griff Malloy.
Alex Caldwell watches the proceedings from overhead in his beautiful Nimbus 3.
Still on tow as Griff Malloy passes overhead on his 1st solo flight.
Very first solo flight and a tractor crosses the threshold with Griff on short final
Nice touchdown on runway 13R.
Griff Malloy is all smiles after his 1st solo.

Jennifer Bauman ready for launch in the 1-26, a glider she loves to fly. Troy Wollman running the wing.
Jennifer Bauman launching in the 1-26.
Jennifer lands after her flight in the 1-26. Following her is the Orange Crush and behind that is the tow plane.
Harold goes up with Luke Bughman for one last flight before soloing.
Now Luke is ready for his first solo, having done very well on the previous training flights.
Luke Bughman's 1st solo takeoff has begun.
Luke Bughman is airborne on his 1st solo.
Short final approach for Luke's 1st solo landing
Congratulations are handed out after Luke Bughman's 1st solo flight.
Luke is on his second solo launch as the sun just about sets below the West Ridge.
Harold is in the back seat again for another training flight, this time with Andrew Palmer.
Harold watches as Andrew takes off on his sixth dual flight .
Now it's Neiman Walker's turn to fly. He soloed last week and is now taking advantage of the cockpit-absent CFIG.

Neiman begins his takeoff roll in late afternoon after all the other solo flights.
Neiman is light on the gear as he lifts off on his solo flight this afternoon.
The three solo pilots today, Kyle O'Connell, Griff Malloy, and Luke Bughman. This is Kyle's second official solo, the first at Lake Elsinore many months ago.
Kyle's shirttail comes off for the first time because it didn't happen on his long ago first solo.
Griff Malloy loses his shirttail after a good day of training flights and the three solo flights.
Luke Bughman said he never dreamed even a couple of  months ago he'd be learning to fly and now he's a glider pilot.
We headed to the burrito place for a celebratory dinner, Alex Caldwell and Jim Rickey at the table on the right.
Luke Bughman, Troy Wollman, Neiman Walker, Jennifer Bauman, Kyle O'Connell, Andrew Palmer, and Griff Malloy.
It was a great day for all these fine young people from Cal Poly and they have started on a path in their lives that one cannot predict how far and how embedded they will be in the world of aviation. Becoming a pilot changes one's life in ways that are positive and with a whole new way of viewing our world. At the Air & Space Museum, some years ago, they had a documentary film titled, "To Fly", not shown any longer but I have a copy. Here is some of what was narrated in the film*:

"...Throughout human history we have struggled to move ever more freely about our world. Our conquest of the air began with the first balloon. These flights suddenly gave us a whole other way of seeing. It was like the opening of a new eye.

Our new vision has changed our very comprehension of our land. From up here, we see a country different from anything known at eye level in the world of the horizontal. This development of mobility and rapid transport has no parallel in all human history.

... We first flew in dreams. And the dream of flying has become real. We have extended our limits and seen our world from a new angle in a way that once would have seemed god-like.

We have come a long way from the time when people gazed enviously at the birds in flight. Today we look upon our planet from afar and feel a new tenderness for the tiny and fragile earth. For we know now that even as we walk upon the ground we are ever in flight throughout the universe.

And so we begin to realize that human destiny has ever been, and always must be, To Fly!"

Today was fast and furious and most of all, fun. Thanks everyone.

Harold Gallagher and Jim Rickey.

*Copyright 1976, a National Air & Space Museum IMAX movie.
The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
A Presentation of Conoco, Inc. , a Du Pont subsidiary.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Visibility: Hazy and 15 miles below the haze layer, 150 miles above it.
Wind: Brisk from the southeast causing runway 13L launches.
Altitudes: No more than tow heights.
Time Aloft: Not much less than 20 minutes including tow.
Max Lift: At times, maybe 100 fpm.
Temperature: Cool 70's, a lovely winter weather day.
Tow pilot: Dan Gudgel until 1:30, then Jim Rickey and Harold Gallagher


Another milestone for the Cal Poly group. Today, Neiman Walker soloed, and had three very nice flights. He's already a power pilot so the learning curve was quite steep upward. We continue to add new members and new solo pilots on a regular basis thanks to Jennifer Bauman who has organizational skills better than most. Thanks again, Jenn. And CONGRATULATIONS NEIMAN WALKER!!!

Harrison King and Griff Malloy after their respective training flights.
Harrison King came out today for the first time, and for his first glider ride. He enjoyed it and took the controls off tow, did a very credible job and perhaps he'll consider signing on with the CCSC and working on his Private Pilot's License.

Griff Malloy has already had a number of glider flights and is moving rapidly toward his solo flight. He's done very well on tow and off so we have a few more maneuvers to go through, a pre-solo test, and he will be ready to go aloft on his own.

Rick Eason was also on the field and had two nice up and down flights in the 1-26. It was just that kind of day here. So he will be flying it a few more months before he starts getting the itch to fly the DG100.

We haven't see Yutaka Buto here at Avenal for a few months but here he was again, out to fly and just to have some free time with the other members. He flies of Ameriflite, running a route from Bakersfield to Burbank in a twin-engined turboprop Merlin Metro.

Ethan Lawton is a new arrival on the field, coming from Cal Poly and aerospace engineering, like all the rest of his group. He chose not to fly but just get familiar with the operations on the field, enjoy being with other student friends, but maybe he'll change his mind some day and begin glider training.

Work continued on in the southeast hangar on Big Bird. It's now a familiar yellow and will be painted again after some soft sanding takes place today. It's close but as Jan Zanutto points out, assembly and fixing small issues will take some time. We're coming up rapidly on a year of effort by our great work crew, whew, and they are committed to taking a major break between Big Bird completion and restoration of Orange Crush.

Jim Rickey and a few other good souls worked on Big Bird in the morning, and then at about 1:30 or so, Dan Gudgel had to leave after a mornings worth of towing, so Jim Rickey gratefully took over the responsibility of launching gliders into the wild blue yonder.

Thanks again to Jennifer Bauman who brought two new students to Avenal along with four other returnees. She has done a masterful job of rounding up Cal Poly students who she convinces to have an interest in gliders. So far, the number of students exceeds 10 as I recall. If I'm wrong on that, she'll have it over ten in a week or two. Thanks Jennifer for such great effort at bringing new people to the club.

Ethan Lawton and Jennifer Bauman enjoying the activities.
Harrison, Ethan, Jennifer, Neiman, and Griff simply enjoying the beautiful day.
OK, time for us to get moving and get the gliders launched.
Yutaka Buto visited us today and Rick Eason is hooking him up for launch.
On approach to landing is Neiman Walker on his first solo flight.
Yes, Neiman is happy but the sun, low on the horizon, is shining directly into his eyes.
It's great to see the Cal Poly group always helping one another and wishing each other well.
This will be Neiman's second solo flight, with the sun getting closer to the West Ridge line.
We have been launching all day from the NW end, taking off on Runway 13L.
This is Neiman's second approach to landing and is in perfect position for safety.
The sun is just about to set behind the West Ridge as Neiman passes by on final.
While the Cal Poly crew retrieves Neiman, the tow plane rolls in with Jim Rickey at the controls.
Wearing a video camera, Neiman is ready for another solo in his series of three flights.
Jennifer and Troy assisting Neiman in his next launch.
Neiman looks as ready as he'll ever be. And his launch was a good one.
The Cal Poly crew waiting for the next retrieve in the hazy light of late afternoon.
Neiman Walker high above the airport in the light of the sun that has already set on the ground.
Right after release, the tow plane is departing down and to the left while Neiman turns right.
Neiman's second approach to runway 13R is a good one in excellent position.
Neiman is just passing by the end of the runway where we are all standing and waiting.
The Cal Poly retrieve crew going after the Orange Crush with Neiman waiting patiently.
There was a rather high aircraft on left downwind for runway 31L but apparently overflew the field.
The end of the day's launches and a happy crew helps Neiman (third from left) celebrate his solo flights.
Troy Wollman, Neiman Walker, Jennifer Bauman share achievements.
Jan Zanutto making sure it is really YELLOW!!!!
You can see in the background that most of the glider is painted with at least one coat. 
With a new spray gun, the job has gone a lot faster than previously.
Even if you don't plan on flying this coming weekend just come out and enjoy the beautiful weather we have had at Avenal for the past four or five weeks. It is soothing, comfortable, warm, sunny, and full of laughter from our happy group of club members.

See you next weekend,

Harold Gallagher