Wednesday, February 8, 2017

SUNDAY, February 5, 2017. Soft field, early mountain wave.

WEATHER
Visibility: Unlimited under the overcast.
Wind: Initially from the SE at 5 kts. Later, 15 kts from NW
Altitudes: 4500 msl.  Harry Davies
Time Aloft: About 42 minutes.
Max Lift: 600 fpm occasionally.
Temperature: Mid 50's.
Comment: Operating on a narrow strip alongside the main runway.
Tow pilot: Jim Rickey.

It was an iffy day. The field was good only along the narrow strip used mostly by the vehicles. But it worked OK for those few who turned up today. First flight was Zach Yamauchi and he arrived early, got the glider preflighted and was ready to fly on time. Zach is a most delightful student who always has a smile on his face, a great attitude, and he's always ready to take direction in flight. I have great students now and have had in the past years I've been teaching. But every now and then, a few students in particular stand out mostly because of their attitude and Zach is right there at the top with a few others. He's fun to teach and fun to just have around the field. Today, he flew twice and we are getting ever closer to his solo. I would expect that the second time out after today he'll solo. We are all looking forward to that milestone.


Zach is ready for takeoff on runway 13 LL, a far left narrow strip used for vehicles mostly.
 Nels Siverson, an early years commercial airline pilot with Eastern Airlines, decided he wanted to get his glider add-on rating. He joined the club, and today was our first time up together. He did well considering his lack of recent flight experience and I expect him to move along quickly to solo and beyond.

Nels Siverson and Beth Platz chat while waiting for their turn to fly.
Beth Platz is a Doctor at Valley Children's Hospital working in a very difficult specialty. So her time out here is somewhat of a pressure reliever. Because of her duties and things like being on call every few weeks, she cannot fly every weekend. But her progress is good and when the time is available she comes out to fly. We tried to do two or three flights today but after the first flight, when the rotor got too rough, Jim Rickey and I decided we'd call it a day. So Beth was disappointed but determined to push on with her glider license.

Nels Siverson in a left bank soaring for the first time here at Avenal
 Nels Siverson flew for the first time in the club and did well, especially on tow where he had a few deviations but overall had much better control than I thought he would. Since we were aloft just when the lift was excellent, at 4-6 kts, Nels had an opportunity to learn about soaring and gaining altitude. While we set no records for time aloft, nor did we gain much altitude, Nels managed to stay around 2800 msl for about 42 minutes. We quit soaring not because the lift went away but because we knew Beth was waiting to fly. As he quickly found out, giving up a lift area that was 4-6 knots and descend with full dive brakes open is not an easy thing to do.
Nels had the longest flight of the day since we went up at the right time just before the lift died.
 Now it was Beth's turn to fly and since she hasn't been out flying lately, it was most of all a refresher flight and reintroduction to the difficulties of being on tow. Of course, just as we were taking off, the wind shifted from the SE, to the WNW, and increased in speed from 5 to 15 knots. After bouncing around at 2500 msl for too long, we reluctantly gave up and decided to relaunch, only this time taking a much higher tow. We landed like an elevator right at the takeoff spot for 13LL and sat there talking. Finally Jim Rickey signaled that perhaps it might be a bit too rough for another flight and I concurred. So, we all headed back to the tie down area, secured the gliders, and headed home. Meanwhile, Jim Rickey worked on the alternator in the tow plane since it didn't appear to be working to recharge the battery.

Around 3:30 pm the mountain wave started blowing from the WNW and it got rough on the ground.
Beth and I quit flying about 4:00 pm because the "rotor" was tossing the tow plane around a bit. Us, too.
Harry Davies arrived towing his glider, a beautiful Libelle, and drove down to the far NW end to assemble it. When he finally went aloft, he encountered enough lift to be there for awhile but as Beth and I found out, all of a sudden the lift went away and Harry had no choice but to land. He was as surprised as we were because it looked like a strong mountain wave was developing. Well, at least Harry came out, flew awhile, and had some fun in the process. Good to see you again, Harry.

We are looking forward to seeing those of you who want to fly this Saturday. Remember there is a ground school being held on the Cal Poly campus for anyone wishing to attend, for a modest fee. We usually conduct these seminars every year during the wet and cold season, a good time to be there because usually the field is either too soft to fly or it's raining. There is one more seminar this Saturday at Cal Poly beginning at 10:00 am. Check with Dan Gudgel for location on the campus and subjects covered.

Those wishing to fly should get on the schedule even though it appears Saturday might be either too wet or the field too soft. But just in case it turns out good for flight ops, get on the schedule so we can show a tow pilot volunteer that there are enough folks who want to fly.

See you on Saturday unless you're at the ground school.

Harold Gallagher

Monday, January 30, 2017

SATURDAY, January 28, 2017. Flight operations resume finally.

WEATHER
Visibility: Unlimited, especially when above the Kettleman Hills and one could see the snowy Sierra.
Wind: Calm
Altitudes: Tow altitudes, a few to 3800 msl.
Time Aloft: Mostly tow time at about 18-20 minutes total for a 2000 agl tow.
Max Lift: A few little bumps but nothing sustainable.
Temperature: Mid 50's.
Comment: Work early on filling in gopher holes toward the northwest end of the runways.
Tow pilot: Frank Owen

Wow. What a large turnout for a Saturday after five straight weekends with no flight operations. Most of the newcomers were from college and were first timers out here at Avenal. The field was just marginal although most ruts made were deep depressions rather than ugly deep tracks. The grass everywhere reminded me of Ireland with green color at every quadrant. In no time we'll have to mow the grass because out here it grows uncommonly fast.

There were quite a few students and student pilots that wanted to fly another flight, and several that wanted to fly even a first flight but the day was too busy to fit many of them in for a flight. The day just seemed to go by slowly with only a few flights per hour. but Don and I were busy most of the time. Waiting seemed to take up an inordinate amount of the day.

I have two students who will solo next time out and another who is very close to solo. So when the next day of operations presents itself, it will be fun to watch them make the first of many solo flights in the future.

Jennifer Bauman, Wyll Soll, Bennett Diamond, and Eric Burlingame wait for a tow aloft.
Lexy Aguirre running the wing for Troy Wollman and his passenger Megan.
The college folks liked to gather around the launch area picnic table with Dulce Blanca in the middle.
Some are familiar: Eric, Olivia, Lexy, Jennifer, and Wyll Soll.
Jim Bell doing a nice steep turn to the left, getting the rust out from being away for 6 weeks.
After his flight, Jim Bell had to walk back to get the vehicle for towing back to the launch area.
Mike Paoli, Richard Walker, Nels Siverson, Karl Kunz, and Bennett Diamond taking in the warm sunshine.
Big Bird after Jim Bell's nice, safe landing in preparation for his solo next weekend.
Big Bird still continues to look great even after many months of usage. A great bird.
Wyll Soll and Don Flinn nearly ready for takeoff in the Orange Crush. Bennett Diamond wing runner.
Jim Bell and Nels Siverson swapping old war stories while waiting for a training flight.
Karl Kunz taxiing out for takeoff in his beautiful 1952 Cessna 170B.
Karl Kunz is heading home to retirement which he did last month from United Airlines.
Jennifer Bauman taking a student for a glider ride while Troy Wollman and another student run the wing.
Don Flinn waiting for the tow plane while Lexy Aguirre gets settled in for the training flight.
Troy Wollman taking another student for an introductory glider flight.
Neiman Walker departing Avenal for San Luis Obispo and back to the campus.
Surrounding the IP is a lot of standing water left by all the rains we've had lately.
The entrance to the solar farm is completely flooded and the ground is drenched at the beginning of our runway 7.


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

SATURDAY, December 17, 2016

WEATHER
Visibility: Unlimited
Wind: NW at 10-13 kts
Altitudes: 3000 msl
Time Aloft: 30 minutes
Max Lift: 300 fpm
Temperature: Cold.
Comment: Few members present
Tow pilot: Frank Owen

Not much going on today. Frank Owen showed up in his Cessna 152 and towed until about 1:00 pm at which time we all left.

Troy Wollman was "flight instructing" another college student, John Preslik, and I was getting Jim Bell ready for solo. Troy had a few flights with John, while Jim and I had four launches, of which two were simulated rope breaks at 200 agl. The other two were to pattern altitude as preparation for his solo which will likely take place when he returns after the holidays.

The field was OK along the main runway but quite soft and in some cases actually muddy almost everywhere else. But no ruts were made, except for those made by the tail wheel on the Orange Crush. That wheel must get fixed or we're going to have narrow ruts all over the field this winter. Apparently the wheel on Big Bird swivels nicely and perhaps one or more of our talented mechanics can modify the Orange Crush tail wheel to match Big Bird's tail wheel. That would be a nice present for Christmas.

And that was the day, today. Tied the trainers down and went home.

Harold Gallagher

Preparing the Orange Crush for flight while Frank Owen waits patiently in the tow plane.
Sergio Grajeda helping Troy Wollman's "student", John Preslik, get settled in for the flight.

SATURDAY, December 10, 2016.

WEATHER
Visibility: More than 40 miles under the cloud deck.
Wind: NNW at 5-8 knots
Altitudes: 4000 msl.
Time Aloft: Less than an hour.
Max Lift: 500 fpm.
Temperature: Low 60's to high 50's.
Comment:  Waves to the south, cold air aloft.
Tow pilot: Dan Gudgel, Neiman Walker

It was a busy day with many people out here, both demo flights and training. We had three visitors who just may come back one day as members of the club. Anthony Azevedo has a business nearby in Five Points which makes a quick trip to Avenal possible. Anthony seemed interested in perhaps learning to fly.

The other visitors were Pete Goulding and Kat Winkelman who live in Paso Robles. Pete just acquired a modified HP-18 and is planning to bring it to Avenal after some work needs to be done on it. Some of us knew Bruce Patton who also built his own HP-18 but not modified much from plans.

Fortunately I had two college students for training flights today and one very young  student, Erich Harding, who is doing well for his age of 11 yrs. The college guys are Zak Yamauchi and Eric Burlingame and both are progressing nicely. Eric already holds a power rating so his progress is moving along more quickly. He will likely solo soon after he returns from the holidays.

Don Flinn had the majority of students that included Bennett Diamond, Connor Zabrocki, Alexia Aguirre, and Andrew Ochoa. There were numerous flights today and it kept Neiman Walker busy both learning early with Dan Gudgel and later on towing alone. All agreed his performance was excellent.

There were two demo flights today from construction workers temporarily stationed at Lemoore Naval Air Station. They were just a few days away from returning home to Maryland where they have homes.

We were happy to see John Harbick finally show up once again after being away for several months. But in that time he had to endure more "stuff" than anyone should expect. Hopefully the holidays will be kinder to him and Peggy than they have so far.


Lenticular clouds to the south but fairly mild winds here in Avenal.
Erich Harding keeps progressing nicely, especially for an 11 year old young man.

Erich's landing was almost completely unassisted with a nice smooth touchdown.
The Orange Crush is just beginning its takeoff roll. 
Sergio Grajeda and Larry Johnson helping Joe Anastasio assemble the PW-5.
Dan Gudgel is teaching Neiman Walker how to fly the tow plane expertly.
Don Flinn and student launching in the Orange Crush.
Alex Caldwell and John Harbick going for a nice flight together. It's about time John flew again.
Typical lineup of gliders waiting for a tow.
Neiman Walker learning quickly and is doing very well for first time towing.
Don Flinn and student launching in the Orange Crush.
Glider inbound on short final for runway 31L.
Alex Caldwell and John Harbick on tow again in Big Bird
The PW-5 sits between the two trainers. Joe Anastasio is flying today along with a few more college students.
Zak Yamauchi, Bennett Diamond, Connor Zabrocki, Wyll Soll, and Andy Ochoa.
Zak Yamauchi ready for another training flight with great enthusiasm.
Jim Rickey, surprise, about to fly the 1-26 after a few weeks of helping others. Connor standing by.
Neiman Walker now flying tows with no guidance from Dan. He's doing quite well.
Jim Rickey ready for launch. That's Wyll Soll running the left wing.
Now that's what we liked to see. Jim Rickey enjoying the momentary launch.
Don Flinn and Bennett Diamond on final for runway 31L. Nice picture.
Don Flinn launching with Andy Ochoa in the Orange Crush.
Andy Ochoa and Don Flinn on final in the Orange Crush landing runway 31L.
Eric Burlingame waiting in Big Bird for the Orange Crush to land on runway 31L.
Another good day of training with the air smooth enough for good tow experience. Get as much training in these winter days as possible and you'll be happy you did when the really good soaring conditions arrive in Spring.

Harold Gallagher