Sunday, October 12, 2014

October 11, 2014; Quiet Day

Visibility:       Excellent
Wind:            Light.  Two gusts of 13 MPH @ 2:02 & 2:07 PM
Altitudes:       Alex; 3800 MSL
Time Aloft:    Alex; 1 hour, 47 minutes
Max Lift:       Not much.
Temperature: 83°F @ noon, broad peak of 87°F during the afternoon.
Comment:      Slow Day!
Tow pilot:      Jan Zanutto most of the day, then Andrew for the last tow of the day.

A good description would be broad areas of gently descending air, with a few fingers of air that rose.  Not many people had signed up for gliding today--they probably all looked at the RASP and decided, "Why bother?"
High Resolution Hcrit prediction for 3PM this afternoon.

Jan Zanutto did all the towing for the day except for the last tow, when Andrew Ouellet towed Jan for a ride.  Jan was getting good at finding and circling in the little bit of lift to be found.  Even from the ground, it was obvious to see the difference in climb rate when Jan circled in the lift.  It looked pretty neat, too, watching the two planes climb while "dancing" round and round.

Mike Paoli put fresh tape on the 1:26 and it looks much better.  Then he took it up a couple of times for a slow descent home.

Andrew Ouellet made a couple of flight in Orange Crush with a guest, then took the 1:26 up for a downhill ride.
Andrew Ouellet taking off on the second flight with his guest.

Alex Caldwell put his beautiful Nimbus together and took it up.  With Nimbus's glide ratio and its ability to stay up in light lift, he was able to head for the ridge and work the lift there for over an hour, with a total aloft time of 1:47.

Alex ready for takeoff.  Picture taken by Jan Zanutto from the towplane.

A few seconds later Andrew Ouellet grabs this picture of Jan and Alex taking off.
Here is Alex's own account of the day:
I was up in the Nimbus today for 1 hour 47 minutes. I spent most of the time ridge soaring between Tar Canyon and the power lines. Occasionally,  a thermal would come through while I was ridge soaring, and I could get up to about 3600 ft. MSL.  Later, as I was getting ready to land, I found out there were thermals out over the Valley along highway 31 which were just as good as along the ridge, and also got me to 3600-3700 MSL.  I could have made more OLC distance, I think, by flying out in the valley and covering more ground there, because I would have had a higher altitude AGL to work with than over the ridge, where I was just scraping the hills and was very limited as to where I could go.
Here's a link to my OLC (On-line Contest)  info for my flight today:
I did not get an official  score, because my handicap distance was just under the minimum required 50km handicap distance.
I used the program or app called  "XCSoar" on my Android phone to record the .igc file that I uploaded to the OLC.  I have a USB plug connected to my glider's battery, so I can run the phone for a long flight.  The standard phone battery would not last for very long without external power.

I also experimented with the new SSA supported live tracking app today that also runs on the Android phone at the same time as XCSoar. It's called "GlideTrack."  It is a very simple to run program/app.  It uploads your .igc file as a track that can be displayed in your "locator URL" web page.  You can get to your locator URL page  from the SSA web site  at Soaring Society of America -> Member Resources -> Sailplane Tracker by typing in the pilot's name or the glider contest number once you are registered with them.  It appeared to work quite well.  Here's a link to the SSA tracker URL page at Avenal Airport.  You have to find the contest no. IB and select it's track.  If the date  has changed since the flight was made, you can use the calendar selector to go back to a previous day.   It defaults to the current day.
The SSA tracker has a lot of really cool features, such as the 3-D view using the Google Earth Plugin, and it gives altitude, speed, and direction information at almost continuous 4 second intervals, unlike SPOT, which only gives info roughly every 10 minutes and gives no altitude, speed, or heading info.  The only complaint I would have is that it only works in the Google Chrome browser.  If you try to look at it in Internet Explorer or even Firefox on Linux, or for that matter, Chrome on the Android phone, nothing works right, and the display makes no sense.  It needs a simplified version that runs without all the fancy features for a non-Google Chrome browser.  This is important, because If a wife or friend tried to find you, and they don't know it needs Chrome, they'll be out of luck, and it won't help them find you when it's really needed.


Jan Zanutto had the last launch of the day, choosing to take up the 1:26 instead of pulling out his own bird.  Lift had not been very good at the peak of the day, and by now it was 3:30 and what little lift there had been there was starting to fade.
Jan Zanutto and the Ravens, which are much closer to the camera than Jan is.
The long days of the summer soaring season are apparently over...Jan is the last landing of the day, at 3:50 PM.
Jan Zanutto makes the fianl landing of the day

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Visibility: Unlimited.
Wind: Calm all day.
Altitudes: 2800 MSL
Time Aloft: 30 min.
Max Lift: zero sink.
Temperature: 88 deg. F.
Comment: Weather somewhat worse than the already dismal forecast due to persistent cirrus cloud deck which cut the maximum temperature more than either the RASP or the NWS forecast.
Tow pilot: Harold Gallagher.

Today we had the group from the DASH man powered airplane project visit the field at Avenal again. DASH stands for "Dead Simple Human Powered Airplane".  It is being assembled now by a team of volunteers at the Hiller Aviation Museum in the Bay Area. This time Andrew did not make it out to act as the glider pilot for them as he did last week. So Harold and Alex agreed to do the honors. Harold towed and Alex piloted Big Bird from the back seat.  Robert Klapper, Grant Grundler and Greg Thomas all went up, Robert and Grant each for one flight, and Greg went up twice. Greg is a pilot candidate for the project, being a very fit cyclist of the desired weight as well as a 500 hour private pilot, and a very experienced paraglider pilot.  He has flown the Owens Valley and numerous other areas in paragliders.   The project is very interesting, it is a 40meter + span human powered aircraft that will have an empty weight of only weight 80 lbs. when fully assembled.  Robert posted some photos he took while at the field today.

Grant sent a nice email thanking the club for hosting the DASH crew.  Grant was very patient explaining to us the engineering problems involved in the power transmission from the pedals to the propeller, along with some of the problems they've overcome and re-designs they've done with the prop itself. He also explained some features of the wing structure and it's covering material.

On Sat, Oct 4, 2014 at 1:38 AM, Alexander Caldwell <> wrote:
> I'm down for 1-2 pm with Mel. I will try to get out there around 11:00.

Hi Alex and Harold
Thanks again for taking us up!

Your calm way of describing how things work is great. I definitely
learned more than I'll remember but some of it will "stick" (no, I'm
not trying to make puns about the flight controls.)

> Harold indicates he can't get there until 1:30.  The schedule looks very
> light so far.

It all worked out really well anyway.

>  Usually thermal conditions are maximum about 3:00 pm. Not to
> be a party pooper, but the soaring forecast does not look real great
> compared to last week. The RASP says the boundary layer top is only going to
> be about 3000ft MSL over the airport at 1400 PST. We are under a high
> pressure ridge with associated subsidence,  and consequently there will
> likely be a low level inversion at about 3000 MSL or less over the airport
> at 1400 PST.  The airmass is quite dry,  and there will be no cumulus.

Yup - it was "modest" conditions - but we had to take those since
that's when we are available.  In the future, we can be pickier. ;)

> There is an offshore pressure gradient,  and any convergence will likely be
> way to the west of Avenal towards Paso Robles and probably weak at that. The
> only good thing is the NWS is forecasting slightly higher maximum temp. for
> Avenal than what the RASP says, so if that pans out, the  thermals might go
> a bit higher than the RASP predicts. Also the winds are forecast to be
> light,  which helps keep the thermals from getting broken up due to shear.
> So it may be possible to stay up during the best time of day,  but it will
> take a lot more work to be able to stay in the air compared to last week, and
> achievable altitudes will be low.

And it seemed like a reasonable accurate forecast. But Robert, Greg,
and I had a good day in Avenal despite "minimal lift" conditions. :)

It's still hard to believe it's _October_. Weather was just too nice.

Robert posted some pictures here publicly:

thanks again!