Monday, February 24, 2014

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Visibility:         10+ miles at surface
Wind:              3-8 knots, with gust up to 13 knots around 3:30 PM.

Time Aloft:     Alex, 2 hours,  Jan, 2.5 hours
Max Lift:        Very small bubbles of about 8 knots
Temperature:  63º @ 10:00 AM, peak of 70º from 2:30 to 4:55 PM
Comment:       Great day to be at the Gliderport.

The sentiment of the day seemed to be that there were good thermals, but they were hard to find, hard stay in, and short lived.  I saw an 8 knot rise for a moment, but could not keep it.  I released at 2500' MSL because I was in great lift and close to the gliderport if lift failed, then worked up a few hundred feet higher.  It was pretty much the same story for all of us, except those that could get to the ridge could work the lift there.

I ventured as far west as had ever been, which really was not that far.  Worked the lift for a while, then could not find any.  Headed back towards the gliderport while I still had altitude to spare.  Caught a few more thermals on the way back.  As I was calling it quits and heading to the IP, I saw another glider about a mile west of me that was getting good lift.  The clock was closing in on 4:00 and the lift was getting so sporadic it didn't even tempt me.  High sink was getting more common than lift--what goes up must come down??

Early in the day Pancho and Jerry take the Libelle out of the trailer and assemble it.
Several people worked on their sailplanes today.  Pancho and Jerry spent the day working on their Libelle. Andy Reistetter also worked on his own sailplane but did not take it up.

Mike Paoli did two flights with Harold, practicing for his Commercial checkride.  Richard Walker released at 3300' and got up to 3700,' giving him a chance to "play around."

Carl did two flights in the 1-26, and he "touched 4000 feet."
Dan Gudgel and Dan Clark wait their turn as Carl Engel begins his takeoff roll.
Carl a few seconds later.  Notice his right aileron to counteract the left wing low.
05U drags another CCSC member aloft
Everybody wanting thermals, click on this next picture to enlarge it to see the convection distorting the image.  2:11 PM, the 22nd of February.  Amazing.
(Click to enlarge to see the heat waves.)
Enlarge and look close in the landing area of Runway 13, and you can see mirages.
(Click to enlarge to see the mirage.)

Dan Clark got 8 flights in today, most of them with instructor Dan Gudgel.  Dan Clark had not flown for a while, and said it was good to get out again.  He was able to find a little bit of lift, and really enjoyed the beautiful day.
Dan Clark about 1 foot off the ground.
Dan Clark about 4 inches off the ground
Dan Gudgel was demonstrating landings to Dan Clark.  Instructor Dan is doing this landing.  Yes, a long lens does compress apparent depth, but even keeping that in mind, this still looks ominous, as the tire is still about three inches away from the dirt.  Of course, Dan G. had the glider stopped exactly where he planned on it coming to rest.
Three inches to touchdown.
Later in the day it did get more hazy.  This picture was taken at about 2500' MSL, while last weeks picture was taken about 1000' higher.  Visibility down low was better than last week.  Some cumulus buildups can be seen over the Sierras, and if you look closely, the mountains themselves can just barely be discerned.

Alex Caldwell dusted off his Nimbus that had been hidden in the trailer for too long.  He did not venture too far--south to highway 41 and north almost to New Coalinga, but he was able to stay up about 2 hours in his graceful Nimbus.  Unfortunately, I did not capture an image if it in flight--it is a nice looking bird.
Alex is getting help disassembling his Nimbus to put back into the trailer.
Jan Zanutto took his bird up, and got in a 2-1/2 hour flight, mostly on the ridge at Tar, going from "bump to bump."  There were some strong localized thermals at the power lines, very narrow and a lot of work to stay in them.  At the end of his flight he found that the ridge was working and had a lot of fun there.  He was joined at the ridge by a Carat motorglider from the Bay Area, who was inbound to Avenal for Jan to look at the engine.
Carat Motorglider in sight.
Cart Motorglider abeam.
You can see Jan's YouTube video here.

Oliver Dyer-Bennet flew the Carat in.  He stated that it uses the wings and tail of Discus, merged to a fuselage with a racing plane concept.  Oliver stated that the Discus wings were the best 15 meter racing wings ever designed.  "It is a super efficient power plane, and is also a good sailplane."

To read more about the Carat go this Wikipedia article or this AMS Flight page.
The landing gear folds forward into the engine cowl.
A few more instruments than your standard sailplane.
Jan Zanutto looks the engine over.
Oliver demonstrates how the prop unfolds when the motor is running.
Loading on the propeller pivots the blades a little bit forward during takeoff.
Oliver is makes a low pass after before he departs.
As the first image of the day was Pancho taking the glider out of the trailer and assembling it, it seems fitting to close with him taking it apart and putting it back away.  Unfortunately, there is still some work to be done on it, so he did not fly it today.  But the day is soon coming when it will fly!

The street lights are on, time to call it a day.

The good day at Avenal Gliderport is now over.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Friday, February 21, 2014; Martin Caskey, new Glider Certificate

Visibility:        Great
Wind:             4 to 6 knots, gusts to to 12 knots
Temperature:  65º - 70º F.
Comment:      Martin Caskey, new Commercial Glider Pilot
Tow pilot:       Jan Zanutto

Jan Zanutto -- Today our beloved Martin took and passed his commercial glider checkride!  Congrats Martin

Dan Giudgel -- Special thanks to Mike Paoli, groundcrew, and Jan Zanutto, towpilot, for the special effort to assist per true 'club' format.  Congratulations, Martin!
Dan and Martin on the preflight briefing.
Mike Paoli cheerfully ready to hook up the towrope.
Ready to go -- view from the towplane.
Martin taking the handshake of the guy who had to ride in the front!
Here are the comments circulated via e-mails afterwards:

    Morgan Hall; Woo hoo!  Congrats Martin.

    Alex Caldwell; Congratulations Martin!  Great Job!

    Pancho Herrera; Three cheers!

    Jim Rickey; Hearty Congratulations, Martin!

    Harold Gallagher; Great going Martin. I'm really happy for you!!!

    Karl Kunz; Congrats Martin, I know you put a lot of hard work prepping for this with your usual attention to detail.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

February 15th 2014

Visibility: 10mi + with haze, 100mi+ above 2k
Wind: Light and Variable on the surface, westerly up high
Altitudes: Release height
Time Aloft: 30 minutes
Max Lift: 50fpm sink
Temperature: 60's
Comment: Good day for projects and training, Dan came out to act as our official instructor observer. Thanks to Jim and Dan for pictures.
Tow pilots: Julie, Morgan
Glider Pilots: Julie, Jeff, Pancho, Martin, John, Mike, Peter, Jim

Sierra Nevada from above the haze

Great day for some project work at the airport.  Calm and comfortable.  High overcast prevented much thermal development.  There was some very weak wave to the west of the field it seemed.  Peter Sahlberg found lighter sink over towards Tar peak.  Nobody took a high/far tow to behind Black mountain to look for wave though.  The RASP indicated some wave would be there in the afternoon although winds were light enough all day that it may not have had the velocity and gradient to be workable.

On the Checkride-Prep front we had Jim, Martin, John H. and Mike tuning their skills.  The smooth conditions were great for ensuring it was you causing the position problems on tow and not the atmosphere.

Andy flew Big Bird to keep the rust off.  He even flew with Mike P. in what I assume was Mike giving him a mock check ride.
Andy on Final
Jeff Richardson took a few flights in the 1-26.  Most likely knocking off rust and hopefully getting ready for checking out in the Russia this spring.
Jeff on Final

Pancho or Jeff off behind Julie.

Pancho flew the 1-26 in prep for flying the Libelle he and Jerry Badal are partnering on.  On tow Pancho was steady as a rock while waiting for the towplane to leave the ground.  I think you would have needed a micrometer to measure the variance in height during the first part of the tow.

After flying and in between helping run wings and fetch gliders, Pancho reinstalled the control-stick and trim mechanism in the Libelle.  This represented the final step before Jan can finish the review and sign-off of the Annual and Pancho can finally get to fly the glider he's been working on for months.

Jan was busy inspecting Peter and Richard's 1-35.  With it getting a fresh annual inspection, Peter took it up for the longest flight of the day, but reported it was mostly a slow death back to pattern altitude.

Richard didn't fly, but did cap a leaky sprinkler valve.  We still need to replace some PVC at the hose bib that cracked during the big freeze.  That hose bib remains in-op for now.

I (Morgan) finally showed my face at the glider port.  Alas, mostly doing work.  I reinstalled the new control stick in 45H after it came back from Schweizer with a new trim mechanism.  This was observed by 2 A&P and 1 IA so I feel pretty confident that the work was properly performed.  At the very least it was properly observed by near CalTrans levels of oversight quality.

I also reinstalled Julie's wheel fairing and assembled her glider while she was towing so that she could get current in gliders after a dry spell of mostly towing or flying power.  She took two tows later in the day.
Julie about to depart in JB

Late in the day, I hopped in the towplane with Dan to get my Tow Endorsement.  We towed Julie first in her DG100 and then Martin in the 2-33 and then repeated the process.  It was fun to experience the front end of the rope and I will try to ease my way into towing here and there.  I am amazed that our tow pilots will often make 20+ tows in a day, especially in the heat of summer.  It's fun, but busy flying as you attempt to fly smooth and get down in an efficient manner.
Morgan about to take his first tow.  Dan explaining what a throttle is for.
Martin heading up to show how much a 2-33 can drag a tow pilot around when boxing the wake.
Lastly, we did a little ground school work.  Dan presented some of the new math that you'll be expected to demonstrate as part of the updated PTS.  It turns out Calculus is finally going to come in handy as you show your work will calculating the volume of an average thermal and show that relation to the thermal index and air density in a mixing environment.  It's pretty basic, just look at the photo below.
Just Kidding.  This was Jamie Sahlberg's homework I think

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

February 1, 2014

Visibility:         Hazy down low. Unlimited above inversion layer.
Wind:             Light and variable.
Altitudes:        3000 MSL.
Time Aloft:     1 hour
Max Lift:        3 kts
Temperature:  High 50s °F.

Tow pilots:     Karl Kunz and Alex Caldwell
Pilots:            Dan Clark, John Harbick, Dan Gudgel, Andy Reistetter, Joe Anastasio, Michael Paoli,
                     Richard Walker, Carl Engel, with Peter Marsino and Herald Gallagher showing up later.

This was almost a repeat of Jan. 25 with light winds out of the NNW and thermal activity. Carl, Joe, and Andy were able to stay up for a while in weak thermals. We had two Russias flying with Andy’s and Richard checking out in the club Russia. While we only had about six flights scheduled we ended up with 25 tows for the day with most pilots taking multiple tows. Overall a great day for training flights with just enough cross wind to make it interesting for new pilots.

For a time it was a real three ring circus with gliders and tow plane landing on runway 8, 13, and 31, many times arrivals at the departure pad simultaneously. It was good to see glider pilots using runway 8 to get comfortable looking at a different landing picture and landing on a shorter narrower runway.

This has been the busiest winter flying I have seen since I have been a member of the club, one benefit of no rain.


Getting "Big Bird" ready for the day.
Richard Walker, Martin Caskey and Alex Caldwell discussing matters.
This is not a view one sees very often--nice shot!

There were glass ships all over the place today. And the rudder is back on Jerry & Pancho's Libelle. The only thing left is to finish installing the new trim mechanism and the Libelle will be in the air! -- Jan Zanutto.

 A minor mishap for Andy Reistetter brings out Peter Mersino and Jerry to help.
Karl Kunz standing by to help hook up for Daniel Clark.
Carl Engel lands the 1-26 after chasing a few weak thermals around the field.
Daniel Clark and Dan Gudgel flying another training flight.
Peter Mersino ready for another training flight.
Alex Caldwell taxiing to the hangar at the end of a long day of towing.
Thanks to Harold Gallagher, Frank Cowen, Karl Kunz, and Jan Zanutto for their contributions to this day's blog.  I only put the pieces together -- Jim

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Visibility: Hazy down low. Unlimited above inversion layer.
Wind: Light and variable
Altitudes: 3000 MSL
Time Aloft: 1 hour
Max Lift: 3 kts.
Temperature: 70s F.
Tow pilot: Frank Owen

              John Harbick climbing to 3000 MSL on 1 hr. flight.

Hi all,
A few brave souls came out, and we did five tows. Richard, John, and Utaka did the flying. And they stayed up some. Not fantastic soaring, very mediocre, in fact. But Alex and John stayed up for over an hour, and Richard and Utaka had respectable flights. I heard the Hollister guys on the tow plane radio talking about being at 7500' over the "rock pile", wherever that is. Then Julie flew over enroute from Fresno/Chandler back to SBP and said hi. Martin helped out a lot, getting the planes up into the air. All in all, it was a fun, quiet day at Avenal.
Best wishes,