Tuesday, June 3, 2014

June 2, 2014. Checkride Day for Andrew Ouellet

Visibility: Unlimited
Wind: From the southeast, 5-12 kts, then from the southwest 10-18 kts.
Altitudes: 4000 msl by Jim Rickey
Time Aloft: About an hour.
Max Lift: 500 feet per minute
Temperature: Mid 90's
Comment: Checkride Day for Andrew Ouellet
Tow pilot: Peter Mersino

The weather early was quite nice with a steady breeze out of the southeast. So, they launched from the northwest end of the runway, taking off on runway 13.

Dan Gudgel and Andrew were through with the oral about 10:00 am and immediately began the preflight inspection with Dan observing. That went well and Big Bird was towed to the northwest end for launching. The first launch was quite good and very close in at 200 agl so Dan opted to release the tow and Andrew did a reverse course and landed half way down the runway and rolled to the launch end. Nicely done.

Then the next few launches were according to the Practical Test Standards for the flight portion and again, Andrew did well in spite of his last landing in the face of a very strong direct crosswind since the wind had shifted while they were aloft. It took all he could to keep the glider aligned with the runway and wing down against the wind. After a short rollout the test came to a positive conclusion. Andrew had passed his checkride. CONGRATULATIONS, ANDREW.

Dan Gudgel observing Andrew Ouellet doing his preflight on Big Bird.
Waiting at the northwest end. Just like a painting by Renoir.
Launching on his first checkride flight that turned out to be a sim rope break.
Returning from 200 agl south of the runway, landing to the northwest.
Peter Mersino over the fence at 200 agl then diving down for a landing.
On tow for another flight heading southeast.
Both Dan and Andrew concentrating on the tow as they pass the clubhouse.
Performing maneuvers above 3000 msl in a clear sky.
Another painting by Renoir just as they ready for the final launch.
Rolling out to a successful finish for Andrew's checkride.
All four crew members involved in Andrew's checkride.
Andrew Ouellet congratulated by his Flight Instructor, Harold Gallagher.

Jim Rickey was the only other member to take advantage of towing for today. Here is his story:

First of all, my flight got off to a good start because I was able to congratulate Andrew on passing his checkride!

When the e-mail came the night before, I thought, "Well, that is kind of early."  But Bart's Avenal RASP predicted things would be pretty good early, with the BL Max being right over Avenal at 10:00 AM, and the best thermals about 1:00 PM.  So I took the invite to come and fly, since it had been a few weeks from my last glider flight.

On tow it was apparent there was lift, up to about 2700 MSL.  Then the ride smoothed out a lot--not a good sign.  Climb rate went way down, and I was wondering if there was any point in going to the recommended 3000' AGL.  I happened to catch the vario out of the corner of my eye, and at about 3000' MSL we were descending, for what seemed like a long time.  On tow.

Clawed our way up to 3000' AGL and released.  As I expected, no lift, but it did give me some time to go hunting.  Searched for that "Positive BL Max" over the town, or maybe a little bit of upslope wind over the hills to the northeast.  Found a little lift just past the north edge of town about the time I was down to 2500' MSL.  And more lift.  And more.

I knew that I was downwind of the gliderport, and I knew there was sink, so I kept my TLAR (That Looks About Right) Angle pretty high.  Lift was slowly moving to the NNE, just like the RASP had shown it would.  About 2 miles north of the town I was able to stay in some good lift, briefly up to 8 knots, long enough to touch 4000'.  All the time keeping and eye on my "TLAR Angle."  After I touched 4000' I could not find any more lift.  In fact, quiet the opposite, so I started heading to the gliderport.  Coming out of my last turn, the gliderport was in the very bottom left hand corner of the canopy.  As I increased the airspeed into the wind, the runway threshold started descending even more on the Plexiglas.  Good!  Crossed the runway 13 threshold at about 2600' MSL, so I still had a little time to play.  A few seconds later it started getting bumpy, so I started hunting.  Was able to stay between 2500' to 2900' for quite a while, all the time staying very close to home.  The really good updrafts seemed to be a really small diameter, there were a couple of times the updraft was succeeding in rolling me out of the turn despite full aileron into the turn.  Kept getting harder and harder to find the updrafts, until finally it was time to give it up and land.

With the wind I stayed high in the pattern--altitude is my friend!   On very high final I set up my slip.  Full rudder wasn't enough, so add some crab in there, too.  As I got closer to the ground, the crosswind component decreased enough to get rid of the crab.  Touched down where I wanted to, and thought I was going to stop within PTS standards.  Not so--as I slowed down, full left rudder became inadequate to stop the weathervaning to the right, so without any nose-wheel (or tail-wheel) steering nor differential braking to use, I pulled the brakes and ended the ground roll.

The fun came when it was time to put Big Bird away.  Peter brought the golf cart out and hooked on.  I went to the right tie-down ring to pull the wing down, but so close to the fuselage even a big guy like me was not going to have much reserve pull the wing down against the wind.  Peter got out of the golf cart and went to the left wingtip and pulled it up, so I could reach the right wingtip.  I walked the right (upwind) wingtip as Peter drove the cart, but it didn't work.  As the wind weathervaned the glider, I sped up.  Faster and faster.  The wind was helping the speed, like the fuselage was a sail.  I ended up lowered the right wing so the left wing would go over the golf cart!  (In retrospect, if had been walking the left, downwind, wing, I could have held it back to counteract the weathervaning, vs. pushing the right forward to counteract weathervaning.)  Peter decided it was time to get the golf cart out of the way, and he, Avenal's newest Glider Pilot, and myself walked it in by hand.

Today was the first time I have worked the convergence.  The most crosswind I have landed a glider in.  Stayed up about an hour.  A great flight!

At 12:30, as I was heading to the car to head home, I saw blowing dust to the southwest through west.  It only had horizontal movement, no sign at all of any lifting.  It visualized what I had already figured out, thermals around Avenal were done for the day.

Everybody was happy at the gliderport today--once again, congratulations Andrew!

The blowing dust nearly blew all of us away just after noon.

A very nice day for Andrew, he did well on all portions of the test, and deserved the add-on license to his power rating. And thanks to Peter Mersino who came out to Avenal specifically to tow for the checkride. John Harbick whose own checkride the day before came to an abrupt end for lack of validating paperwork by the FAA, came out today for the very same reason; moral support for Andrew and helping launch each flight. Thanks John.

Best wishes to all,

Harold Gallagher

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