Monday, May 12, 2014

SATURDAY, MAY 10, 2014. Blowing wind and good thermals.

Visibility: Unlimited
Wind: 15G21 from the North
Altitudes: 9500+
Time Aloft: 4 hrs+
Max Lift: 600-800 fpm
Temperature: Mid 70"s
Comment: New Solo and Intro Flight
Tow pilot: Harold Gallagher and Alex Caldwell

A great day for soaring, except that the wind was, at times, obnoxious, and moving the thermals around. The 2-33's did OK but the high performance ships did very well. Most pilots had their hands full both on takeoff and landing with the gusty crosswinds.

CONGRATULATIONS TO CRAIG GIFFORD. He's our newest solo pilot and did so when the winds were about as rough as they were all day. So not only does he get a pat on the back for soloing but a few more points for doing it on a day when we all were trying to keep our aircraft lined up for takeoff and landing. Nice going Craig.

Craig Gifford and Alex Caldwell doing training before solo.
Craig has earned his chance to fly the 2-33 solo.
Congratulations on a flight well done in rough air.
Enjoying the moment after solo while the logbook gets filled in.
Tyler Bishop and his Mom, Cindy Farley, arrived about 1:00 pm and watched the operations before Tyler went for his Intro ride as a birthday (May 13) present from Mom. He did well, handled the stick with smoothness and we were able to demonstrate soaring even without the helpful variometer. It would be nice to have him back again, he's 15 nearing 16 and a great age for learning to fly. Maybe ...
Mom, Cindy, giving a birthday present to son, Tyler.

Tyler doing a good job of flying the glider while I take the photo.

End of the flight with Cindy, Tyler, and Harold enjoying the moment.
Chris Reilly was back out again after several weeks flying his FA-18 on and off the aircraft carrier moving around out in the Pacific Ocean. Chris is determined to get his license soon and wanted as many flight as possible. First, though, he had to overcome a mild mishap. Landing on runway 7 with a healthy crosswind, his downwind wing snagged some tumbleweed and abruptly turned the glider 90 degrees to the right. No big deal and he went on the rest of the day chasing thermals in Big Bird.

Not sure but he might be texting one of his girl friends.
Chris is ready to launch into the gusty winds of Avenal.
Ooops. Turned the wrong way.

Jeff Richardson thought today would be just fine to learn how to assemble and fly the Russia. He had Morgan give him lessons on assembly and after reading all about flying it from other members, he took to the air. Here is his story:
Waiting for his launch turn is the tough part.
At the end of a long 3.5 hour flight the dis-assembly takes longer.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to try my hand at flying Larry’s / the clubs Russia 6LJ.

Morgan and I carpooled out from the coast, leaving Atascadero around 8:30.  My plan was to get out to Avenal early enough to get first flight in before noon to try to avoid the winds as much as possible.

On the drive over Morgan drilled me on tail draggers, retractable gears, ….

Morgan was also kind enough to supervise / help me put the Russia together.  Morgan did a great job of letting me make mistakes and stopping me just in time and explaining how it could be done better.  As a result the Russia got assembled correctly, I learned a lot, but it took longer than I thought.  With all the activity at the field, I found myself number 4 for takeoff.

At 1:45pm with Avenal normal wind conditions and nice dust devils starting to pop up it was my turn to fly.  The Russia is really light and the tow plane provides quick acceleration with rudder and aileron authority coming soon after the takeoff roll starts.  I knew from Bart and Morgan that the Russia would be 'twitchy’ on takeoff but I still managed to touch the ground again.

Did I mention the Russia is light?  On tow the Russia positively dances behind the tow plane but the glider is really easy to handle.  After getting off tow I made a couple of turns to get a feel for the plane and cycled the gear a couple of times to get a feel for that as well.

After messing around with the glider for a while I started thinking about getting closer to the airport.  As usual when I arrived over the IP at 2,500’ I found a nice thermal.  The Russia thermals similar to the 1-26 but I found that it needs less rudder and is more sensitive to elevator input.  Centering the thermal I was able to climb to 5,000’ with the wind pushing me close to Tar Peak.  I turned NW and followed the ridgeline finding a bunch of broken lift but only managed to climb an additional 500’.  After descending to about 4,000’ I looked back toward Avenal and it looked like I was bit low to make it back.  After running back to Avenal I found that I had made it back with at least a 1,000’ to spare above pattern.  The Russia might thermal similar to the 1-26 but it sure glides much better.

Finding another nice thermal, near the circular irrigated field, I was able to perform the path as before (climb while being blown to Tar, follow the ridge NW), but this time I pushed it a bit further along the ridge.  I repeated this circuit one more time.

After staying in the air for 3.5 hours I was getting tired and decided it was time to land.  The wind had picked up quite a bit.  Just before entering the pattern I managed to remember to put the gear down (yay)!  The spoilers are super effective and I made a normal pattern to runway 31.  Because of the winds, I made the approach at 65kts and rolled out near the tow plane hangar without using the brakes much.  Exiting the runway I angled into the wind and was able to keep the wings off the ground until I came to a complete stop.

All in all it was a really fun flight in my first fiberglass glider that also turned out to be my longest duration glider flight to date!

Morgan landed in 5H a few minutes after me and again made sure that I dissembled the glider correctly (catching me making a few more mistakes).

I'm looking forward to flying the Russia again!

Jan Zanutto is preparing for entering our contest coming up this Wednesday so he tried to fly as though it was an official flight. Here is his story:

It started with email calls for a tow pilot. It's been about a month since I've towed and I would have loved to but Morgan had just given me some really good instruction on using XCsoar for what will be my first contest, and I needed to fly and try it out. Also a new back cushion arrangement in the DG needed to be flight tested as well.

So with everything installed and programmed I climbed into the cockpit of 7K with my parachute on and launched at roughly 1:30. There were reports of a big thermal just beside the new circular watering device. I was going to take the usual tow over to the hills but then Morgan advised over the radio that this was a practice contest day for me so 2K was the tops for a tow.

As we passed over the "crop circle" at 1000AGL the vario was pegging and remembering last year towing for the contest I had guys getting off at 1K I figured I might as well be realistic. It was a good thermal to pop into at 1K AGL. I very quickly climbed to 3K and headed for the hills for my practice contest start.

My XCsoar was dinging, chirping all sorts of things I've never heard it do. My climb was very rapid as the thermals were strong and the surface wind was still fairly light. After what seemed like no time at all I was level with Black Mountain and I ran straight for the peak.

Black was owned by Otis elevator Co. yesterday as I again hit a series of boomers that very quickly put me up to 9K which was cloudbase. I decided to go north, following a CU line that was pointing toward Panoche. What I didn’t know at the time was that the surface winds were kicking up to 15-20 and the thermals seemed to be getting harder to work and sustain (should have been a clue). I went as far north as I dared for yesterday and shot back south to hit my second turn point and final contest finish.

You can see my flight in the attached JPG.

It was a really fun day, I think I ended up with about 2.5hrs

Morgan flew the Duo with a passenger and was gone his usual more than 4 hours. It must have been a good flight and at one point I heard him at 9500 msl.

Carl Engel chose a back seat checkout in the 2-33 and did very well. After that he chose to fly the 1-26.
Mike Paoli also flew the 1-6, John Harbick flew Big Bird and was thermaling for quite a while. Richard Walker flew his 1-35 and like the rest of the high performance ships stayed aloft the rest of the afternoon.

And finally, last but not least is our young man working around the gliderport each weekend gaining points for classes at Duncan Polytechnical High School, Jose Rivera. Thanks Jose for all the work you've done on our field and around the patio/clubhouse.

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