Saturday, September 26, 2020

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Comment: Video made by Frank Owen of Kris Caldwell's commercial glider checkride with F.A.A. Designated Pilot Examiner Dan Gudgel
Tow pilot: Frank Owen

Monday, August 17, 2020

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Visibility: Good, as long as you stayed away from thunderstorms to the west that had some rain and eventually, some lightning that hit the ground and started some fires up in the foothills near the big power lines that come over the hill from the  Diablo Canyon power plant. See pictures.
Wind: light and variable during the time we were out there. Slightly favoring using runway 30 for take offs. But we variously landed the gliders on runways 8, 12, and 30 depending on where we wanted to position the gliders for the next take off,  or to stow away for the day in their tie down spot, or hangar,  in the case of Ethan.
Altitudes: I think Ethan Ronat had the best soaring flight of the day, but I forgot to ask him how high he got though!
Time Aloft: Probably a little less than one hour by Ethan Ronat in his beautiful new Ventus 2.
Max Lift: Not sure, but definitely not very good!
Temperature: The highest I remember seeing was 103 deg. F. on the porch thermometer. But we left early, so it may have gone higher. It was quite humid for Avenal. So it felt oppressively hot! 
Comment: The RASP forecasts were way off today. They didn't seem to get the mid level monsoonal moisture that came in from the south, mostly to the west of Avenal, and resulted in some thunderstorms with virga, lighting, and even a few drops of light rain at the airport by the time we all packed up to leave. 
Tow pilot: Karl Kunz, all the way from Carmel! 

We had had 4 CCSA pilots out flying gliders today,  and one CCSA pilot, Karl Kunz,  graciously flying  the tow plane after making the long drive from Carmel.
I won't say that I accidentally caught Ethan working on his in-flight relief tube system. Rather, at the risk of dating myself, I'll say he had just been unloading his turnpoint cameras, or had just been smoking his barograph foils.  This was the second day he flew his beautiful Ventus 2 sailplane. It was also the first day the new glider was put away in it's new glider hangar home at Avenal.  Ethan  had the only actual soaring flight of the day. 
In this picture, you can see some smoke rising from 2 or 3 fires that had been started a little while before by some cloud to ground lightning strikes. The cloud that had generated the lightning strikes had already drifted away to the NW, parallel to the Diablo range. 

View to the SW of approaching weather that eventually formed some thunderstorms,  with some cloud to cloud,  and cloud to ground lightning. They still looked like rather "lightweight" storms, as those things go at the time this photo was taken. But just the same, it's always best to avoid those things by a very wide margin!  Fortunately for us, they never came directly over the airport,  and just slowly drifted north along the Diablo range 5 to 6 miles to the west of us. But I was told that later,  after most of us had left, the thunderstorms did form and drift over the airport area and that there was lightning and heavy rain reported right at the airport!

        Kris Caldwell checking the weather after just running the wing of the 2-33 for Dan Clark.  (Note the dust cloud just to the upper right of the picture.)
You can just make out Dan Clark taking off in the 2-33 in the dust cloud. Ethan is readying his beautiful new (to him)  Ventus 2 for flight near it's trailer.  His  ship has a beautiful finish. He has an amazing cockpit, with every electronic gadget for  enhancing cross country soaring performance currently available, all of which Ethan is very capable of taking full advantage of!

Kris Caldwell running the 2-33 wing for Dan Clark in the front seat.

Kris Caldwell checking to be sure the pattern is clear, the runway is clear, the tow plane looks like it's Ok and the parts of the glider that pilot Dan Clark can't see are all A-0k, before running the 2-33 wing for Dan.  Wing runners have a lot of safety  responsibility! In Kris's hand was what looked like a piece of old tie down chain Kris found poking out of the runway. We've also found old electric wire we think was part of a runway light system back in the heyday of Avenal Airport when it was owned by Standard Oil and later Chevron Corp.

Some serious soaring, and other professional talent in this shot of Karl Kunz, Kris Caldwell and Dan Clark.  Kris is preparing to fly from the back seat of the 2-33 with yours truly in the front seat in prep for adding on the glider rating to his commercial pilot certificate.  Kris was getting some tips from Karl, a former line boy at the Fremont glider port, tow pilot, glider pilot and CFI, and recently retired 777 captain for United Airlines! Kris is currently  flying the F-35 for the U.S. Navy at nearby Lemoore NAS. It's very interesting, and always educational, to listen to those guys talk! 

Saturday, August 8, 2020

August In Avenal

Its hot in August and even the local snakes have thrown in the towel!

But the soaring was good today and a number of well-hydrated folks were out to enjoy the conditions.

 A few highlights:

- New member Carl Lindgren had a good first flight.

- Daniel & Mark got another nice set of flights (they came down from the Bay Area and flew Friday and Saturday).

- David Simpson got checked-out to tow by Dan and was put to work immediately

- Sergio got current again with a Flight Review from Alex

- Eric got checked out and had his first flights in JB

- Kris continued his preparations for his commercial practical test

- Joe, Aleks, Kris, Eric, Ken & Ethan each spent some time in nice blue lift.

- Ethan was flying his new ship, Z5, for the first time

Friday, June 5, 2020


We've gotten some practice with retrieves lately at CCSA.  Its an unavoidable and sometimes fun part of cross-country soaring.  Here are the Retrieve Heros from my off-field landing on Thursday - our own Martin Caskey and Jesus of the Zapata Ranch.  Big thanks to them both.

When you have a chance to join a retrieve, don't hesitate.  There's always something to be learned and some grand adventures and maybe tall tales as well.

- Kevin

Friday, May 22, 2020

Flying 5/20/20

Visibility: infinity 
Wind: light out of the north
Altitudes: 8000ft
Time Aloft: 6.5hrs
Max Lift: 9kts
Temperature: 70s
Comment: Awesome midweek flying day
Tow pilot:  Alex

Alex agreed to come out tow for us on this Wednesday.  With high bases and nice weather predicted Aleks, Ethan, Ken, and myself (Wyll) came out to fly.  Here is a bit about the day from my perspective. 

This was probably one of my all-time favorite flights and my best by far flying out of Avenal. 

Launched around 11:30 with good cu already building over Black and a few wisps around the airport.  Alex towed me about halfway out to Tar Peak and I got off in decent lift.  It worked well with a decent climb rate but cut off around 3300ft.  I made one attempt to reach the clouds over the hills but was met with lots of sink on the way and high tailed it back toward Avenal.  I then climbed back up in the same spot but held on to the thermal a little higher and was able to connect with the clouds in the mountains and they were booming.   

Looking south towards Soda Lake

 I then met up with TG and continued on towards the California Valley.  Once on the correct line, the run south was again uneventful staying above 6000ft and only stopping for climbs around 5kts or better. 

    Cloud base was about 6500ft when I got my first good climb and rose throughout the day to about 8000ft.  I cruised under the well-marked convergence from Black around the horn to EL4. At EL4 with cloud base still, only about 6500ft I couldn’t go any further north without committing to New Idria as a landout so I turned around.  This also worked out because about this time the Hollister guys were just getting their first climbs at EL1 and so I figured I would get a head start on all the modern glass that was going to be chasing me down in my 50-year-old Libelle. 

Climbing with TG

The run back to Black was again very strong with very little circling needed.  Past Black, I initially took a to far east rout and found a few dead clouds. 

Looking North from Cholame

Looking south from my turn around point

 Just north of Caliente Mountain, the line turned from fully developed cu to wispies.  TG reported they were working but I decided not to push my luck and turned around.  The run back north was again uneventful and I spent a decent bit of it flying with HV and 1KS.  

Climbing with HV and 1KS

Heading North over Parkfield 

I continued north past Avenal with my goal of getting to EL4 again before turning around.  As I got close to EL4 a few climbs didn’t work and I started to get worried.  

8kts on the averager 

    Getting towards the edge of glide to New Coalinga I started heading east.  I realize now that I was probably too far east of the convergence line and flying under dead clouds.  I kept getting lower and started going into survival soaring mode, taking anything that felt like a thermal just trying to make it back to Avenal.  About this time my glider battery also took a dump (I had been flying for about 6 hours) so I turned everything off but the Vario and switched to a handheld radio.  After two broken climbs in the hills that didn’t work out, I figured I was destined to land at New Coalinga, then about 2 miles from the edge of the town of Coalinga I hit my 2knot savior. 

This 2kt climb just got me home

     I climbed as high as it would go which was about 50ft above a Macready 4 glide back to Avenal and set off.  Not ideal but as long as I hit some good air I could make it and worst case I could turn around and go back to New Coalinga.  Luckily I hit good air and was able to float my way back.  I closed off my trace and headed into land touching down right around 6:05.  Big thanks to Alex Caldwell for towing today and Ethan Ronat for helping me put WE away.  

Here is a link to my OLC trace to see more 

Happy Flying 

Wyll Soll