Sunday, August 13, 2017

SATURDAY, August 12, 2017. Rough air with good lift.

Visibility: Hazy but more than 50 miles.
Wind: Light and variable.
Altitudes: 6600 msl for Joe Anastasio
Time Aloft: 2+ hours for Joe and perhaps as long for Carl Engel.
Max Lift: 1000+ fpm.
Temperature: 103 degrees, 4100 msl density altitude
Comment: Thanks to Dennis Lyons and Martin Caskey for cleaning the starter motor on 4205U.
Tow pilot: Frank Owen all day.

The good news of the day is that our great friend from Avenal, Doug Morris, brought over his tractor trailing a really good scraper for the removal of tumbleweed. About 2 years ago, he did the same thing and we really cleaned up the runways right down to the dirt. By the way, Doug is the man who is solely responsible for any good fortune the AGC and subsequently the CCSC  realizes from the contractors on the solar farm just to our west. Doug has gone out of his way to see that we have been treated generously and fairly.

His family obtained land in the Avenal valley as far back as the 1880's and today Doug still runs cattle on acres from Coalinga south to Rte 41. He's one of life's nicest guys and anytime he shows up at the field please treat him as royalty. He also likes to fly in a glider so if you're going up solo in one of the two place ships please ask him to join you. We also owe his wife a ride as well.

The tractor was delivered about 10:00 am this morning and Dennis Lyons drove first. When he had to head home, Mike Paoli took over and continued throughout the day, even planning on scraping Sunday since Doug had generously offered to let us use the tractor on Sunday as well.

Doug Morris and Mike Paoli working on the hitch for the scraper. It came loose during one run while Mike was driving. After the fix Mike continued to drive the remainder of the day and planned on driving Sunday to get the job done removing as much tumbleweed as possible. Thanks so much for all your effort Mike.

Zach Yamauchi in place for his first flight of the day, a practice checkride.

Zach executing a right climbing and turning stall in preparation for his checkride.

On the ground again, Zach needed another pattern tow to make sure all was well in his skill set.

The heat was a bit oppressive waiting for a launch but once aloft the cooler air prevailed.

This time it's Luca Soares flying solo in Big Bird on tow behind Frank Owen in our beloved Cessna 150.

Luca is in great position just above the runway waiting for the tow plane to break ground.

Luca had a very nice 2-hour flight in good air with thermals hitting 800 fpm.

Eric Burlingame is launching in Big Bird and he, too, had a nice long flight with good thermals.

Carl Engel launching in the 1-26 since his glider was undergoing its annual and wasn't finished by mid-afternoon. He and  Martin Caskey worked on the annual most of the morning but a few things needed finishing later on.

The nice surprise was the tow plane being ready to tow early this morning. Those responsible arrived early, checked the starter motor, reinstalled it, and by 10:00 am the tow plane was usable. Thanks to all who helped make that a really quick operation.

Joe Anastasio assembled his PW-5 and launched around 1:30 pm or so. He said it was a 2+ hour flight that took him to 6600 msl and as far north as Coalinga and as far south as Route 41. It was just a very nice relatively easy flight since there were excellent thermals topping 1000 feet per minute in lift.

For those of you who may have noticed how neat and clean the area has been maintained not only around the clubhouse but along the fence line as well, we can all thank Sergio's dad, Carlos, who has been out there cleaning up the grounds for many days now. If you haven't been out there lately you have to see what a great job he's been doing and how neat the grounds look now. Muchas gratias, Carlos. Take him for a ride whenever you can because he enjoys going aloft in both gliders and the tow plane and it's a small way to repay him for all his effort.

On another note, Daniel Slezak arrive unannounced at the field and introduced himself to me because I had forgotten what he looked like since his last visit to Avenal and the CCSC. His dad, Doug, and brother Caine used to be regulars at Avenal and one day just headed home and hadn't returned for years. In fact, the last time I flew with any of them was Daniel who soloed on September 29, 2001. His brother Caine soloed on September 30, 2000.  Welcome back Daniel!!! After looking that up in my log book, I don't feel so bad about forgetting what Daniel looked like after 16 years away.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

SATURDAY, August 5, 2017. Hot but nice for moderate soaring.

Visibility: Unlimited
Wind: Light and variable from the E
Altitudes: More than 4000 msl.
Time Aloft: More than two hours.
Max Lift: 9.6 m/s from Peter Sahlberg, and 600 fpm from Big Bird.
Temperature: More than 104 degrees
Comment: Not many students or pilots out today.
Tow pilot: Peter Mersino, after a few months absence.

There weren't too many ships aloft today but those that were had fun and managed to remain aloft for several hours. I'm expecting stories from Karl Kunz and Jan Zanutto, but in the meantime, Peter Sahlberg offered this description of his flight;


 Nice to see you at the field!  Here is the write up for yesterdays flight:

 I launched in the 1-35 about 1:40.  The weather service said it was 96 degrees and that felt about right.  Jan had launched and returned and Karl had gone before me; it seemed that it was still soft in the foothills.  Off at 3,500 in 2-3 knots near Tar Peak I made a hash of circling and still managed to hold my own and move farther west over the mountains.  This area had recently burned and there were still small pillars of smoke rising here and there.  I ran up the ridge toward Black and saw that the smoke columns were dust devils sucking white ash.  There was good lift here; I recorded 9.6 m/s in one bubble. I also had a visit from a hawk who didn't seem thrilled to see me.  I used that climb to run north; found nothing and came back to the ridge, climbed again and headed to Orchard Peak.  I reversed course at Orchard and once again headed back to the burn area.  I saw Jan in front of me and the hawk was close behind.  After a short climb and another hawk visit I headed back to Avenal to find Jan landing and Karl nearby.  A good 2 hour flight after a long time off.

Peter Sahlberg.

Karl Kunz assembling his ASW-20 early in the day.

Informal chat on the patio with Peter Mersino, Elee, and Peter Sahlberg.

Peter Mersino towing the first flight of the day, with Eric Burlingame in Big Bird.

Eric Burlingame solo in Big Bird as the first flight of the day. More to come soon.

Not a lot of lift early but Eric made the best of it staying aloft for perhaps 45 minutes.

A long landing by Eric but a very nice approach and touchdown.

Peter Sahlberg and Karl Kunz talk about where they might find lift after both launch.

Peter Mersino towing the 1-26 past Peter Sahlberg's Schweizer 1-35.

Neiman Walker launching in the 1-26. He returned early but had a better flight later on.

Ken Talovich walking the wing after his demo flight that he thoroughly enjoyed just observing.

Now it's Karl Kunz turn to launch and he, too, was aloft for several hours.

Jan Zanutto and his buddy launching in the Grob 103 for another of the day's long flights.

Eric Burlingame and Alex Caldwell team up for a training flight and some good thermalling.

Everything is done for the pre-launch checklist and now they're waiting on the tow plane to move into position.

Ken Talovich running the wing for Eric and Alex.

A beautiful sky all day long.

Actually he ran much farther than I thought he would. Nice going Ken.

This was the last flight of the day but Alex and Eric didn't know it at the time. 

Untying the rope used to tow the 150 back to the hangar. It balked at starting in this hot weather.

Yes, it was hot, with 4000 msl density altitude and over 104 degrees.

Sunday, August 6th, 2017--Work on Orange Crush

Visibility:        Clear Blue Skies
Temperature:  Max 77° F.
Comment:      Nice to be at a busy airport.

Sunday, August 6th, Andrew, Eric, Nieman, Troy, Brad, Dennis, Martin, and Jim met at a hangar in San Luis Obispo to continue working on Orange Crush.  As most of you know, it was decided the time had come to bite the bullet and recover Orange Crush.  Of course, anything else we see the needs to get fixed will get fixed.  My goal is at the end of the process to have a glider that will be in tip-top shape and can many more years of good service.  Since its rebuild, Big Bird passed its first annual inspection with nary a discrepancy, and the only trouble I can recall have been tire issues.

First things first, get the hangar properly equipped to spend time in:
Neiman and Andrew setting a refrigerator in place.
Just like Big Bird, Orange Crush is going all the way down to the tube frame.

The decision was made to remove the nosebowl.  Below Martin is chipping out the bondo and fiberglass to get to the rivets that hold the nosebowl onto the frame.  Andrew, Dennis, and Eric are sanding on the frame.
Martin, Andrew, Dennis and Eric working on the teardown of Orange Crush.
Andrew disconnecting pitot and static tubes prior to the nosebowl coming off.
The aged fabric skin in the cockpit area was the reason for the rebuild. The frame was in basically pretty good condition, as expected.  There was only one real surprise when it was all opened up, and that was relatively minor.  Almost all moving parts will be renewed.  When it comes back to CA69, the plan is to have it essentially as good as new.

Monday, July 31, 2017

SATURDAY, July 29, 2017. Ken Talovich flies in, has a demo ride.

Visibility: Unlimited
Wind: Light and variable from the E
Altitudes: 8300 msl
Time Aloft: 2.5 hours
Max Lift: 600 fpm
Temperature: 105 degrees
Comment: Too hot for comfort at least on the ground.
Tow pilot: Dan Gudgel.

Jan Zanutto and Rick Eason had an excellent flight in their new Grob. Here is Jan's story:

On Saturday the 29th Rick Eason and I pushed the Grob out and prepared for what I thought was going to be some ridge flying up over Black. The attached picture shows the first 15 minutes of our flight.

First 15 minutes of Jan and Rick's flight.

Dan towed us over to the power lines along Tar ridge and a right-hander put us into some nice lift. Within 15 minutes of being on the ground we were climbing through 6000 feet on our way to what would be the top-out at 8300. Nice! I really believe that the new black of Black mountain is putting off some strong thermals. 

We worked Castle, then tried pushing out into the blue to see where the line might be. Didn't really find it, so we lost some altitude and went back to Black to regain height. Then we pushed down to Orchard for a look at the Temblors. There were CU down along the Temblors, I couldn't really tell just how far and I thought I'd maybe try to push out to around highway 46 and see if there was anything that could help me make it limp back across the gap. 

Not finding much out that way, we pushed back to Tar, and tried going East toward Kettleman. Nothing but a sled ride out that way, but having 8000 feet to play with it was kinda fun being able to push out and see what was lurking out there, and then run back to regain what was lost. 

Great day, at about 2.5 hours, and we could have stayed up for twice that if we had wanted to. I have included some Instagram video links so you can see the breadth of the fire.

Hosing off the 1-26 is a nice gesture. All the gliders need it weekly.

Alex Caldwell and John Harbick are preparing for a refresher flight since John hasn't flown in awhile.

Ken Talovich on final in his beautiful RV-8. He's considering glider flight lessons after his demo ride.

Short final for runway 31R and Ken's RV-8 is in perfect position.

You have to see this RV-8 to believe how immaculate it is in all respects. The paint alone is artistic.

Neiman Walker in the 1-26, good position just above the runway. 

Eric Burlingame in Big Bird launching for a nice flight.

Ken Talovich's RV-8. The exhaust pipes are painted on, not real. Even the rivets are painted on.

Ken's wife, Tammy, is painted on a Vargas body. On the hatch cover she is crying because Ken is gone all the time.

Yes, even the machine guns and trailing smoke are just painted on. You need to see it up close to believe it.

Ken making a 200 mph flyby over the runway 31R.

Ken has a smoke adaption on his RV-8 that makes a nice looking trail after him.

SATURDAY, July 22, 2017

Visibility: Unrestricted.
Wind: Early from the NW, later from the SE but light and variable
Altitudes: 5400 msl.
Time Aloft: More than two hours
Max Lift: 1000 fpm
Temperature: Hot, above 100 degrees
Comment: Meeting on the patio early, soaring in the afternoon.
Tow pilot: Julie Butler and later, Neiman Walker.

The long burn scar from the Avenal fire that consumed the entire ridge all the way to Coalinga.

Luca Soares and Jim Rickey looking at the aileron and the hinges connecting it.

Julie Butler moves the tow plane into position for a hot day launch.

Those are the mountains where we typically go to get good soaring. Now Tar Peak is just a black ridge.

Joe Anastasio on his way to finish assembling his PW-5.

Jim Rickey and Troy Wollman talk over the condition of the tail wheel from the DG-100.

Luca Soares and Joe Anastasio going in different directions but with the same objective.

The trio are still looking at the tail wheel hub on the DG-100.

Niva, friend of Eric Burlingame, waits patiently on the patio with her young puppy.

Moving Big Bird past the patio are Eric Burlingame driving the tow vehicle and Luca Soares walking the wing.

The wheel hub had numerous cracks in it and will need to be ordered to fly again. Troy, Jim, and Joe all agreed.

Luca Soares watching as Neiman Walker launches in the 1-26. We'll see more of him aloft.

Hosing off Big Bird is Luca Soares and sure does make the glider reflect yellow much more brightly.

Luca Soares ready to launch in Big Bird for a renewal of his solo privileges.

Luca in a 3-knot thermal working it well and gaining altitude quickly.

He was able to convert the last thermal into a 5-knot thermal and we got into the cool upper air more quickly. Ahhhh!

Neiman Walker in the 1-26 below us and he's heading for our thermal, a good move for him.

And then we headed to his thermal when we saw Neiman above the horizon. It meant he was above us.

Neiman Walker above us in the same thermal gaining altitude about the same rate as we were.

We finally moved away from Neiman in the 1-26 and looked for another thermal nearby.

The very long burn scar from Tar Canyon on the left all the way to Coalinga.

All that shows are the uplifted rock patterns at the base of the West Ridge. That ranch house was nearly consumed.

A better view of the uplifted rocks along the base just northwest of Tar Canyon, off to the left of the photo.

Luca Soares after his very nice flight, thermalling well, and renewing his solo privileges.

Eric Burlingame on tow in the Orange Crush, nice and low in good position.

The gouge left by the tail wheel on the Orange Crush. Let's hope that during restoration that tail wheel will be fixed.

Carlos, Avenal resident, and student at Cal Poly taking a demo ride. He may join his fellow students and take lessons.

Yes, Carlos definitely liked the ride (we topped 5000 msl) and perhaps he'll be back soon to begin flight lessons.

Zach Yamauchi getting in two checkride practice flights today. He takes his written on Monday. (95%).