Monday, August 26, 2013

August 17th - Typical Summer day at Avenal

Visibility: Good, but some haze
Wind: Typical light NE flow
Altitudes: 10,000 in the convergence, 4,000 in the valley
Time Aloft: 4 hrs
Max Lift: 4-6 knots
Temperature: Upper 90's
Comment: No pictures turned in
Tow pilot: Peter Mersino, Yutaka Buto

Thanks to Alex Caldwell for providing some feedback on the days activities.

This is the activity I observed on Sat. at Avenal. Apologies for missing anyone.  Hope somebody took some pictures, I didn't!

Harold's knee is doing better, and he was back in action. He still has an MRI coming up. Jameson McRee flew with Harold in Bigbird for his second formal lesson and seemed to really enjoy it.

Harold also checked out Keith Curry on the 1-26. Keith flew the 1-26 after first flying solo in Bigbird,  and seemed stoked about thd 1-26 when he landed.

John Harbick was out early flying on his own in the Orange Crush,  practicing accuracy landings and energy management in the pattern and landing.  Then we did three more flights,  practicing boxing the wake, simulated emergency rope break, no dive brake landing using slips for glide path contfol, stalls, some  thermaling etc.  John now has his recommendation for his private pilot checkride and will be scheduling that with Dan soon.

Yutaka Buto was out and working on getting his glider CFI to add on to his power CFI ratings and the commercial glider rating he has already earned.  He is going to be scheduling a checkride soon.  Late in the day, Yutaka took over towing duties from Peter Mersino, who towed all morning and much of the afternoon.

 Ben Andros had the day off from his day job flying F-18s at Lemoore,  and got checked out in the 1-26. He made two flights in it, staying up the better part of an hour on the second one. He seemed to really enjoy the 1-26. I think he was just trying to make us measly glider pilots feel better,  but he says the F-18 is not that much harder to fly. He says he mainly thinks about his "lift vector" and where he wants that, then the computer(s) make the controls do what they need to to make it happen. He also says the available power allows one to "power out of mistakes".

 Jim Rickey came out and made his 5th and 6th glider flights with me. He is handling the towing in the turbulent afternoon air very well, as well as the patterns and landings, and will be ready for solo before long at the rate he is progressing. One benefit of flying in the afternoon turbulence has been that most of his flights have allowed soaring, with up to, or over, one hour to practice medium and steep turns, coordination of the controls and lots of stalls and slips due to the altitude we gained from the good soaring conditions we've had. We have  used 2000ft. tows instead of 3000ft. in the hot afternoons when there are soaring conditions, to save some wear on the towplane. Conditions near Avenal on Saturday allowed soaring to 4000ft. MSL with 400fpm climb rates in the best lift. Oh, I should mention that we discovered during tne towplane oil change last week tnat in addition to his other credentials,  Jim is also an A&P mechanic!

Ethan Ronat was the only one out flying a private ship. He had a good flight,  and was up for the whole afternoon. He got to over 10,000 ft. MSL north of Coalinga near Center Peak. He went under some mid level cumulus clouds with about 12,000 ft. bases but did not find lift under them. From the ground, they looked like tbey were associated with a weather system crossing just north of us but extending out way west to sea and not like the typical cus we see along our common convergence line. They were more like tbe kind you see at higher levels with a front, and probably were not connected
with thermals rising from the surface. That's my theory anyway.

Also showing up after a few month's absense was Yovani Hernandez. Turns out he has been playing soccer on Saturdays, but it's finished now, so we may be seeing him more often.

Alex Caldwell

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

August 10, a bit cooler and very good soaring.


Visibility: 10+ miles
Wind: 5-8kts South shifting to East
Altitudes: 10K
Time Aloft: 4 hours, 50 minutes
Max Lift: 10 kts
Temperature: pleasant
Comment: Great Day, busy schedule!
Tow pilot: Russ, Julie, Alex, Yutaka

Morgan, Pancho, Katie and I (Julie) arrived at Avenal with operations already in order. Dan Gudgel was completing a tow pilot check out for Russ with Keith and Joe (both from Shell Beach) receiving some early morning training flights. After rigging my glider, I jumped in the tow plane and did one tow off  13 before switching operations to 31 for the remainder of the day.
"The Grid"

Jack Knutson brought out  a new member, Tim, for a glider lesson with Alex; Andrea Mersino brought out a friend to take up; Yutaka Buto brought out a friend as well. Pancho went aloft in the 1-26 and Andy and Morgan in their fiber glass ships. Once the afternoon group was aloft, I talked Alex into giving me a tow.

Pancho ready for a long flight in the 1-26.

Once aloft, I found some decent thermals between the IP and prison to about 3500MSL - enough to get me to Tar Peak where I climbed to 5K and headed farther into the hills and under the clouds and shot up to 8K. I then proceeded south to follow Morgan's route in the blue convergence I made it about 5 miles south of Twisselman before I decided to turn around. I had made the run south with only a few turns and decided my goal was to make it back to Black mountain without turning. I was able to stay in the convergence and made a 55 mile run back to Coalinga with only one turn and climbing from 7500 to 9300 feet in the process - oh how I love the convergence. I decided to hurry back to Avenal and get Pancho into my glider for his into into fiber glass. Here is my OLC trace:

The tow plane was already put away, but I convinced him that we needed to fly it again anyway to get the engine warm for the oil change. So up he went in JB for a short flight to get acquainted with the wonderful world of slippery ships. He had a beautiful landing and is now hopefully motivated to proceed faster with the partnership in a Libelle with Jerry Badal.

Morgan's Report:

With the Duo still in Cal City and the convergence looking like a good one according to the RASP, we decided on Avenal for the day.  Karl was out of town and Harold down with a knee issue so I had GD to myself.  It looked good for a run to the south and another attempt at Diamond Goal.

In the morning I ran around handing out A/B/C badge cards to people.  Dan and Alex confirmed requirements and signed off for those that filled out their cards.  We now have a number of "Official Observer" qualified members.

I had Julie observe that the 302 was installed in the glider and that I wasn't able to cheat and modify it.   Julie then towed me and I got off in a nice thermal after a pattern tow.  Pancho was high overhead at nearly 5k.  I couldn't get above 3.  I joined Andy for a few turns half way to the mountains and then pushed deeper finding good lift to get onto the shoulder of Black.  Southerly flow had the south face working to over 7k and with that I headed south in the blue towards the first Cu at the north end of CA Valley.

Not the only cu, but hard to spot in the haze.

The blue was working well.  Very smokey/hazy day and the convergence was pushing up haze domes marking the tops of thermals even where there weren't actual clouds.  The Cu that did pop were thin and short cycled, but it was an easy run south with only a couple of stops to climb required.

I was trying to tag Conover up in Lockwood Valley near Mt. Pinos.  It was in the blue and the convergence line dipped way to the south of New Cuyama, nearly to Ojai.  There were a few small cu that were cycling near Pinos and I decided to try a max glide from around 10k to get on the shoulder of Pinos and find a climb.  It didn't work.

Probably 1500 agl and still several miles east of the New Cuyama airport trying to get back to those clouds.
I turned with 1000ft over a pattern at New Cuyama and try to find a climb along the foothills on the south side of the valley.  Nothing but strong sink and an inability to find the thermal near it.  Finally, a few miles east of the airport I picked up a climb at about 1300agl.  500ft in that gave me the confidence to press farther west towards the clouds and the convergence.  I was rewarded with 5+ knots to 8000.

I ran the convergence north for 15 miles and then took one more climb.  That was the last circle I made for 1:50minutes.  The convergence was consistent enough that I was able to flying between 6700-9700 from near New Cuyama to about 10 miles South of Panoche before turning and running back to Avenal.  It was a 269km "final glide" or 167 miles if that rings true.  I think that's my longest run out of Avenal without circling.  It's amazing what you can do in an efficient ship and by making good decisions on what line to take.

Haze in the blue.  No clouds for most of CA Valley, still good lift.
Line north near EL5 and San Benito Mtn.

Running up the San Benito range.  Hernandez reservoir just visible on the left.

Cloudbase getting lower as I approached more marine influence near Hollister.

Good clouds across New Idria Valley and even beyond Panoche.

Last item of the day was changing the oil on the tow plane. When Jim offered his assistance, I of course happily accepted. It only took four of us and three phone calls to get it done, but the plane is ready to go for another busy weekend.
Aha! The problem is the interpolation flange on its orthogonal interconnect to the flux capacitor.
Alex casually warms up the engine, arm out the window like on a country joy ride.
Russ departs after a morning of towing and training.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

27 July 2013 - Two Tasks in One

Visibility: 10 + Miles
Wind: S 5 at the start, NE 10 at finish
Altitudes: 10 K
Time Aloft: 2.5 hours
Max Lift: 8 kt
Temperature: Didn't note
Comment: Glider - SGS 1-35
Tow pilot: Andrew Oullet

               I spent the night of 26 July creating two tasks in the Magellan navigation system; one south to Orchard Peak, back to 41/33 then Avenal; the other north to Darcy, New Coalinga, Hale, then back to Avenal.  I would decide which one to fly at the field.

                I had always wanted to try the Orchard – 41/33 route so I turned on the Magellan and prepared for the tow.  I checked the weather, packed food and water, took another look at the sky and I was ready to go.

                All of this pre-planning was of little help during the first flight when I put the 1-35 in some pretty dead air off tow to the south of town and found myself back in line 24 minutes later!

                Before the next launch I observed good air to the north of the field and heard Morgan Hall in GD calling altitude and climb rates.  I still wanted to go to the south.  Off tow at about 3,000 feet I was able to climb at a good rate.  I had programmed the Magellan to wake up with the Orchard Peak – 41/33 – Avenal task loaded so I headed south.  Morgan had stated that he was headed that way and I could always turn north if there was no lift.  Half way to the first ridge I realized that the unit was taking me in a different direction so I quickly re-set the waypoint and kept heading to Orchard Peak.

                The lift was strong when found and the sink was predictable on either side.  I was able to climb using dolphin and circling techniques.  I kept in touch with GD, noting that he was always 1,000 - 2,000 feet above me and much farther out!  It was a beautiful day; it was easy to stay high and make good time. 

                After rounding Orchard Peak and 41/33, I decided to attach the north task to the day and headed toward Black Mountain, finding lift and seeing small clouds coming and going ahead.  I was able cover some distance before circling in a couple of thermals.  Looking to the north and west it was easy to see the clouds marking the convergence; they went in that direction as far as I could see.

                I kept running north-west until I was near Center Mountain.  At about 7,000 feet I found another thermal and took it to 10,200.  I checked the Magellan and found the battery had given its all; the screen was blank.  Still, 10,200 is 10,200, so I ran straight to New Coalinga, turned right and then straight to Avenal.   

                I arrived with altitude to spare so I practiced flying with gear and flaps until it was time to do it for real.  The flight lasted about 2.5 hours.
             To view the OLC link of the flight, click this. 

               In the end, I was able to enjoy some outstanding soaring conditions and see both landmarks slide under the nose in one flight.  Lesson learned? – practice more with the Magellan on the ground and get a better power source!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

July 27th, Ken goes Solo! Great flights and hot weather continues

Visibility: 30miles
Wind: Light and Variable early N 10knts Late
Altitudes: 10k+ Locally
Time Aloft: 4+ hours
Max Lift: 10knots
Temperature: 102
Comments:  BBQ Burgers feed the hungry pilots on-hand.
Tow pilots: Andrew Oullet and Yutaka Buto

Ken Solo's on his way to a Glider Add-on.

From Alex:

Congratulations to Ken Chaffee who soloed in Big Bird on Saturday. Ken is a power pilot and had had training before in gliders at tehachapi a few years ago.  He continued with us and soled in the 2-33. He towed to 2000 ft and had some lift and climbed for a while before making a good pattern and landing.

Alex providing some last words of advice.  "Follow the rope Ken."

Alex running Ken's wing.  Right
 wing low into the late afternoon crosswind.

Ken rolling out wings nice and level after a safe flight.

Fantastic Intro Flight

Jim Rickey also had his first glider flight and lesson with a one hour flight reaching 5900 ft. msl. He got in quite a bit of stick time and did considerable thermalling and did the pattern and landing.  Jim is also a power pilot, and has a Cessna 210 he keeps at Hanford. He attended our ground school last winter. Jim is also a CFI.

New CFIG in the works?

Yutaka Buto flew wth me in prep for adding the glider CFI on  to his power CFI. He also took up his son for a flight and then flew the towplane after Andrew hd towed earlier for us.

More Training:

Harold was turning and burning training flights the better part of the day. Keith Curry is a returning member from many years back.  He's back in the glider working on his Add-On rating now.  

Peter Mersino was hard at work at his soaring skills as well.  Good thing or else he's going to earn the Slipping Tortoise award again for taking the longest to get his license.

Fun Flights:

Peter Sahlberg won the coin toss between him and Richard Walker and got to fly their 1-35.  Richard hopped in the 1-26 instead and seemed happy with the results.  Both Richard and Peter had to take relights.  There was a SE flow and the usual spots weren't working at first.  Peter will hopefully post some more details of his second flight.  He strayed pretty far from home according to his OLC trace.  Getting as far south as Orchard peak and as far north as Coalinga although his batteries died in his logger cutting his distance short for OLC.

Badges?  We don't get no stinkin' badges.

GD primed for a Diamond Goal flight.

I (Morgan) finally flew GD after nearly a year.  With the Duo in Cal City and conditions looking good at Avenal I opted for flying locally and Karl wasn't able to fly.  I hadn't worn GD in a while and it felt good to be back in a glider that has treated me well.  I had decided the night before to try for a Diamond Goal flight.  I quickly reviewed the requirements and programmed a task into XCSoar and then uploaded it to the Cambridge 302 logger.  Avenal -> Conover -> Avenal.  A little over the required 300km distance for Diamond Goal.

Task loaded, the day was getting late and I launched around 2:15.  Quickly climbed out with Jim and Alex and realized I should dart in and make my start low enough to avoid a Loss of Height penalty if I was squeaking back in late in the day.  Started the task, returned to Jim and Alex and climbed to 6k.  I found a good line to the mountains, gaining as I went and then got to 10k at Black and started South.  There were Cu over Soda Lake, 50 miles S of Avenal.  I found a climb 1/2 way there for a couple thousand feet and raced in to Soda Lake to the first cloud and an obvious dust devil.  I was rewarded with good lift, not to cloudbase, but close enough and over 10k.  

From there I followed markers and then had to take a detour across the Cuyama Valley and over to the Sierra Madre mountains closer to Santa Ynez.  The clouds marked the convergence well and it was easy to find a climb after crossing the valley.  Julie had texted me before takeoff that there were huge dust devils in the Cuyama Valley.  At 3:45 they were still churning and showing the convergence line.

Over the Sierra Madre range I was able to make good time near cloudbase at around 11k.

Heading East along the convergence.  Pine Mountain is just under the yaw string.  It's 15 miles or so NE of Ojai.

The clouds wrapped around with only a short gap to Mt. Pinos and the Frasier Park area.  No circling required to cross the gap and connect with the powerful clouds over my turnpoint. The line was so good I got a little greedy despite it being 4:30pm as I approached Conover. I tagged the sector for my task, then pushed on another 10 miles or so to the end of the cloudstreet.  I turned just over 100 nautical miles out from Avenal.

Leaving Pinos at nearly 12k I headed for a cycling cu 30 miles away at Caliente Peak west of New Cuyama.  I figured I would reconnect with the convergence for an easy run to within final glide.  Well, it wasn't really working when I got there.  I headed across the CA Valley along the former line of Cu that had now dissipated.  Nothing.  No signs of lift.  No birds, no dust devils, no dust, no ponds for wind indicators.  It wasn't looking good.  5 knots sink for a long time had me a bit concerned.  I could clear the Temblors and make Taft easy enough, but I really didn't want to land out, especially that far from Avenal.

I figured I must be west of the convergence and headed east towards the ridgeline.   Just before the ridgeline at around 5k I hit some smooth and consistent lift and began to work it.  2-3 knots all the way around.  Then I spotted a dust devil to my east another 1/2 mile.  I worked my lift for a little more altitude and then pressed farther downwind.  Sure enough 5-8knts to over 8000ft.  Back in the game I reported in to Peter who was still flying.

The run home was a little slow, but generally uneventful.  Convergence/shear lift over the Temblor range that defied circling, but suckered me a number of times.  A final climb about 30 miles out gave me final glide.  I talked to Alex when I was around 20 miles out and told him I was fine.  I just bumped along the convergence at 75knots or so, not willing to turn anymore.  That took me nearly to Coalinga before it was time to head for home and tag my finish sector. 

Winds were 90 cross when I got back to the airport around 6:30.  Let me land on 13 and roll straight to the trailer.  Thankfully we have a one man rigger although it was still very hot and I had to take my time putting GD back in the box.  

Sunday morning I looked at my flight in See You from the 302.  It was valid, I had my declared goal and all my turnpoints.  Looks like I had Silver Distance, Silver Altitude, Gold Distance, Diamond Goal all wrapped up in one flight.  Then I read the rules a bit more carefully.  I didn't have an official Observer verify my flight recorder was sealed.  They also weren't present on landing to watch me download the files and sign paperwork.  So, not a valid badge flight. :(

I now have a much better understanding of how to screw up a badge flight so hopefully I can figure out the details to get it right and we can start claiming some badges out of Avenal for members.

See you at Avenal Soon.