Monday, October 19, 2020

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Visibility: about 6 to 8  miles, in mild to moderate haze and light smoke
Wind: light and variable all day
Altitudes: approximately 6000 ft MSL by Zach Yamauchi in his Standard Discus 
Time Aloft: 1 hour, 22 min. and 44 sec. also  by Zach Yamauchi  in the Standard Discus.
Max Lift: 4 kts. 
Temperature: 93 deg. F. on the clubhouse porch.
Comment: Not quite as clear,  and not quite as good lift as last week. But a nice fall training day,  none the less. 
Tow pilot: Karl Kunz

Richard Walker was out today and flew his Schweizer 1-35. It has 90 deg. flaps for glide path control on landing.  It uses no spoilers. He makes very accurate landings with the system, usually rolling right up adjacent to his hangar, for a short push to the hangar for storing the glider all assembled until the next flight. Of course, his experience at landing those USAF B-52s may have helped some!
You can see a small portion of the wing of Zach Yamauchi's  Discus in the picture off to the right. Zach had the best flight of the day, staying up 1 hour, 22 minutes and 44 seconds, and flying north towards Coalinga,  for a total distance of 100.4km and a speed of 72.8km per hour.  But he modestly commented on the OLC web page that it was not that good a day, and he really couldn't go anywhere! Actually, it was the No. 1 flight on the OLC for today in the USA Soaring Region 11, which includes Northern CA, Nevada, and Hawaii!
Zach's flight on the OLC
Mark VanBergen, Daniel Diazdelcastillo, and Logan Stevens all came out and flew in the 2-33 N3613F for more training. All are doing very well, making good progress,   and we're anticipating more solos in the near future and some new licenses and glider ratings as well.  The morning air was very smooth and good for practicing take offs, boxing the wake on tow, slips and accuracy landings.  There were also some weak, but still nice thermals,  that allowed us to  keep the 2-33 up for a while during the best part of the day,  and resulted in some modest climbs a few times back up from pattern altitude to 2000 AGL, maybe 4 or 5 times on various flights. The longest training flight was about 45 minutes long. 
Ken Talovich getting ready to fly his Discus sailplane. He's enjoying it a lot,  I think, as you can tell by the smile! Ken flies down from his home airport in his beautiful RV-8, which he built himself. He's been landing it at New Coalinga and driving over to Avenal from there to fly the glider.   He's also a former hang glider pilot, so he should also be good at soaring in sailplanes,  if the other former hang glider pilots in our club are any indicator.
A more  all inclusive view of Ken's beautiful Discus sailplane.  He installed the winglets himself. He plans on refinishing it eventually,  when time allows, hopefully this winter.

Lou Marquez opened his trailers again,  and we got a much better view of both aircraft in there today. We still aren't sure if the Jantar is a 2A or a 2B yet. 

Karl Kunz, our tow pilot today flew all the way down from Monterey in his beautiful Cessna 170 to fly the tow plane for us. It's always nice to have a recently retired United Airlines Senior 777 Captain to be your tow pilot! 

Monday, October 12, 2020

Saturday October 10, 2020

Visibility: Quite good. The smoke was gone (probably just temporarily). Just a pretty normal haze for this time of year. 
Wind: light and variable all day.
Altitudes: We got to about 3500 MSL in the 2-33. Other ships probably got somewhat  higher.
Time Aloft: 30 min. max in the 2-33.
Max Lift: 400 fpm. briefly. Enough to stay up for a while and enjoy the flying,  without too much turbulence,  or the extreme heat of the past few months! 
Temperature: 92 deg. F. It was quite pleasantly comfortable today.
Comment: Thomas Wolfe solos! Wyll Soll flies the Discus 1B! Veronica Guzman and Ignacio Lopez take FAAST introductory lessons. Logan Stevens from San Luis flies in the 2-33. Lou Marquez opens trailers! 

Tow pilot: Jim Rickey

The smoke was going somewhere else today! We had almost forgotten what it looks like without it until today!

It was a very pleasant day today  out at the  Avenal aerodrome. There was more activity going on than we've seen for a few weeks. Thomas Wolfe soloed in the 2-33,  N3613F! He did an outstanding job! He was close to soloing at his home in Chicago at the Hinkley Gliderport,  flying an ASK-21 for about 25 flights earlier in the summer, but is now back flying at Avenal where he had started flying a few times in the 2-33 last academic year.  We had flown at Avenal last week in the 2-33,  but could only do pattern tows,  due to it being very smoky that day.  First, we went over his pre-solo written test, which he had done at home,  and passed with flying colors.  Then, we did one 2500 ft. AGL tow,  with some low tow, wake boxing on tow, and  some stalls, steep turns, slips,  a bit of thermaling, followed by  a slip to a landing on runway 12 . Then we did a short flight with a practice rope break with a landing on runway 8.  Following this, Thomas soloed,  and he did a great job!

  Wyll Soll made a deal with Carl Engel to fly CZ, Carl's beautiful Discus 1B sailplane this season. Wyll trailered CZ to Avenal for his first flight in the ship.  I gave Wyll an insurance required  "cockpit checkout".  I must have done a really good job,  even if I do say so myself, because he did two flights in the ship that appeared absolutely flawless! We saw him take off from the air while we were up in the 2-33 on both of his flights,  and we saw his last landing from the ground. He appeared to have an ear to ear "Discus grin" on his face after that landing! On one flight, when we were up in the 2-33,   we saw him flying in a thermal just south of the airport,  and then heading over in our direction. After the flight,  he said it didn't seem like we were "too worried" when he was flying in the same thermal with us. We replied "well maybe we might have been, if we had even known you were there!"  (the visibility is very limited from the back seat of the 2-33!).

Avenal residents Veronica Guzman and Ignacio Lopez came out and each took an SSA FAAST introductory lesson so they could "check it off their bucket list". Everyone enjoyed having them out there flying with us!  They both seemed to enjoy it too, and seemed to like the FAA glider flying handbooks and log books they received. Hopefully, they'll come back for more flying fun in the future! We hope to get a copy of the video they took as an example of what a FAAST introductory lesson is like for other interested persons.

Logan Stevens flew out from San Luis Obispo in a rented Cherokee 140. He's working on his commercial power license over there,  and is also looking at getting a  glider rating here at Avenal. He flew the tow very well. We did some low tow practice,  and he'll be able to box the wake the next time he comes out,  I'm sure. He has only had one other glider flight before today! 

In the photo above, tow pilot,  A&P mechanic, glider pilot, and CCSA board member  Jim Rickey waves as he gets ready to leave for home,  as usual, the last person to leave the airport for the day, after performing many behind the scenes,  often much underappreciated work, not only on the tow plane,  but on  other club facilities,  "so that others may fly!"

Lou Marquez was out there all day today. He opened the two trailers he's got parked out here recently, letting us all see and admire his Lazair style two place powered experimental "GAPA tow plane" (we fantasize and hope, some day, maybe)  in one trailer,  and a beautiful looking Jantar 2 open class glider in the other.  The Jantar 2 is a now older, but still very potent open class sailplane designed and built in Poland, one of the World's historically most active and talented of soaring countries. It has about a 48:1 glide ratio, comparable to it's contemporaries,  the  Schempp Hirth Nimbus 2, or the Schleicher  ASW 17.  It's very strongly built,  and is cabable, in strong soaring conditions, with a strong tow plane,  and lots of runway, of carrying a whole bunch of water ballast, and making very long soaring flights.  There was a 2A  model,  and a later 2B model,  that had the wing mounted a little higher on the fuselage and a slightly longer gear leg, so as  to give the wings a little more ground clearance on landing. Until we can get it out of the trailer, to examine it, along with it's accompanying paperwork etc. , we won't be sure yet which model this one is. 

Also seen at the gliderport today was Sergio Grajeda. Sergio didn't fly today,  and was working on some things. But he recently got his glider flight review done, and wants to start working on a commercial and a CFI rating in gliders. He is a quite capable pilot, and we hope he will "get it done"! 

 Avenal insects behaving badly!  We noticed one interesting thing I had not seen before today when Luke and Jim Rickey were winding up the tow rope for storage until the next flying session. The yellow polypropylene tow rope had been laying on the ground for a while,  not too far from a mound of giant red ants that we have on the runways at Avenal. There was a trail of ants from the mound about 20 feet going over towards the tow rope. The rope was full of big red ants that had worked their way down between the strands of rope. I think they might have smelled something edible in the rope,  or else they were trying to use their big jaws to pinch off chunks of the rope itself to take back to their nest and feed to their larvae in there, or maybe even to their queen!  I don't think I've ever heard of ant biting listed as a cause of a tow rope failure, but there's always a first time, I guess!   They just might be in a late season feeding and food storage frenzy, I think! They might be getting desperate now that the fall season and approaching winter are upon us! That's my theory, anyway! Wish I'd thought to take a picture!

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Visibility: Very bad, due to the very smoky conditions.
Wind: Light and variable.
Altitudes: 1200 ft. AGL max. in order to stay legal VFR ( in "class G" uncontrolled airspace, 1mile visibility, and clear of clouds, of which there were none, just a lot of smoke)
Time Aloft: maybe 15. minutes
Max Lift: None. (We didn't even try).
Temperature: About 92 deg. F. 
Tow pilot: Dan Gudgel

A few die-hards came out today in spite of the ugly sky conditions. Thomas Wolf is working on getting ready to solo in the 2-33. He flew quite a bit near his home  at Hinkley gliderport near Chicago this summer, about 25 flights  in an ASK-21, after a very small number of 2-33 flights last school year here at Avenal. He mainly is getting used to the 2-33 again,  and getting familiar with the Avenal gliderport area and it's procedures again. He did some pattern tows today, which was as high as we could go and still stay legal under VFR rules. We were listening to the ATIS and AWOS reports from nearby airports such as Hanford and Lemoore, which were reporting 1.5-2.5  miles visibility most of the time,  and that  seemed consistent with what we were estimating here at Avenal. Aleks Radko was flying his Glasflugel 304. I believe he's flown more than anyone else in the club for the past 2 years! He comes out regularly and flies in all different types of conditions, and his very good flying shows it as well! 
Dan Gudgel flew out with  his  power student in Dan's Citabria. I believe Dan said they also had to stay below 1200 ft AGL in order to be in legal VFR conditions during their flights in both directions.  His student was very patient.  and helped everyone with towlines, wing running and other launching duties during the time Dan was towing for us. 
Very poor visibility looking towards the NW from the clubhouse area. 

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!