Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Friday and Saturday, May 1 and 2, 2015

Visibility: Unlimited
Wind: Variable from SE, then NW. then W
Altitudes: 12,200 msl Karl Kunz  and Ethan Ronat
Time Aloft: 4 hours +
Max Lift: 1000 fpm
Temperature: High eighties
Comment: Long flights on Friday, shorter on Saturday
Tow pilot: Mike T on Friday, Karl Kunz on Saturday

LATE LATE BULLETIN !!!!   See below for Martin Caskey's landout story.

There aren't any photos but the flights by Karl Kunz and Ethan Ronat don't really need any. On Friday, they soared for hours as far north as Panoche, then back south again, then east beyond I-5, then around again. As noted above, they were up to 12,200 msl and soared for hours. Great flights both of them.

Lots of folks out here today, Saturday, and the lone 2-33 was scheduled all day. It actually went quite well considering how many wanted to fly. At one time we were nearly on schedule, a first for Avenal soaring.

Alex Caldwell and Dan Gudgel were on hand early helping the Boy Scouts earn their Aviation Merit badges. Alex was doing the flying in the Orange Crush and Dan was giving a seminar on the ground material of soaring. The boys had arrived on Friday evening, camped in tents overnight, and were ready to fly early morning. It worked out quite well and the Scout Troop had finished by early morning and were packing up to leave right about noon.

Jim Rickey was on hand primarily to do the lunch barbecue but he had a good time doing other things as he always does, helping out on the line, in the assembly hangar, and generally making himself useful.

Jim Rickey walking away from the most beautiful glider in the fleet. 

Rick Eason flew into Avenal last weekend and didn't get to fly. But today, with his early arrival and Dan Gudgel already here for the Boy Scouts, Rick was able to get a couple of training flights in towards his add-on rating. He flew here from Merced in his very nice Cessna 172.

Rick Eason and Dan Gudgel about to launch in the Orange Crush.

Jennifer Bauman brought her sister, Jessica, to Avenal introducing her to glider flying with a demo flight. Jessica also is a licensed power pilot who flies a Skybolt when it's not down for maintenance. She did very well on tow and off, flying a glider for the first time as expertly as her sister. But because she lives in Southern California it is doubtful she will continue her add-on rating at Avenal. Perhaps she'll go to Santa Inez or maybe Tehachapi.

Jessica Bauman, accomplished power pilot, ready for her first glider flight
Next up is Skip Breidbach flying with Alex Caldwell. According to Alex, Skip did a very creditable job of flying even in bouncing air. So, Skip is moving along towards his solo flight sometime in the not too distant future. Good going, Skip.

Kavin Gustafson followed Skip and we had a good time in the air. Kavin is now fully capable of handling the tow even in rough air. Practicing a few of the required maneuvers on this flight, and a second afterwards allowed us to move toward solo flight sooner than we had anticipated. We just need a few more of the required maneuvers especially when the air is smoother and Kavin will be ready for solo flight. He's made great progress in the past few flights.

Jennifer Bauman running the wing for Kavin Gustafson.

Now it's Jennifer Bauman's turn and this flight is her first solo high tow after her three solo flights two weeks ago. The air was bouncing with lift, and I was confident she could handle the tow with no difficulty. I also thought she'd find some lift and be aloft for at least 20-25 minutes. How wrong I was on the duration. She was up just about an hour, reached 5500 msl, toured the area numerous times and finally decided to land because others needed the glider. She might have been up for two or three hours and reached 10,000 msl if she had the time in the glider. A superb first long solo flight in a glider and this young lady is heading towards much achievement in soaring and Aerospace Engineering.

Jennifer somewhere above 5000 msl.
Jennifer touring the area in a huge circle.
Meanwhile, as Jennifer was touring the area, pilots were relaxing on the patio either waiting to fly or already having flown, or, like Morgan, taking a break from working on the wings of his Duo.

Morgan and Jessica engaged in conversation while the others listen in.

At least we had shade and good conversations while Jennifer was aloft.

Harold III was smug here because as seen in the previous pictures he's made a major change.

Jennifer considering the possibility she may not be able to lose altitude.
On final, finally, after an excellent flight of an hour.
Jennifer on short final with a satisfying accomplishment behind her.
While all this flying was happening, the guys in the far hangar were working on Big Bird to get it assembled enough to put fabric on the fuselage. And they did all this before flying, although Martin mostly since Jan Z, Richard W, Alex C, and Yutaka B weren't going to fly today.

Beautiful tube work on the Big Bird who will be yellow inside and out.
It sure will be nice to fly this glider when it's completed.
Yutaka, Alex, Jan, and Richard all paying close attention to a particular assembly.

Rick Eason wasn't done with the early flight. With a change of wind, most of the succeeding launches were done from the northwest end of runway 31. Rick is shown here on tow as he passes by the clubhouse.

On tow passing the clubhouse departing on runway 13L
Looks like a good position behind Karl Kunz in the towplane.
Right turn after 200 agl and climbing for altitude.

Jeff Richardson assembled the Russia and moved it to the northwest end for launch into the wind. By that time, the wind had subsided a bit and turned west but still slightly favored launching on runway 13L. Jeff does quite well in the Russia having flown it numerous times lately. He always has good flights.
Jeff Richardson in the Russia on tow just passing the end of runway 31L.
It's an easy tow for Karl in the towplane with a sleek glider on the end of the rope.
Heading northwest is the Russia with Jeff Richardson flying.

Martin Caskey finished his work on Big Bird and assembled his Nugget. With help from other club members he moved it to the launch end and departed on runway 13L.

With help, Martin's Nugget is moved northwest to the prevailing wind launch site.

The afternoon at Avenal provided a lot of sightseeing for those interested in dust devils. There were many and ranged from south of the prison to northwest towards Coalinga.

A continuing site for thermal development is just behind the barn.
Karl Kunz did yeoman's duty towing for everyone, all day long. I'm not sure how many tows there were but he was busy from early morning to late afternoon. Thanks so much for all your effort, Karl.

Turning final trailing the rope, on runway 31R.
Karl surely exerted a lot of effort all day long in the towplane.
Even the tractor was helping mark the thermals with dust rising from his activity.
Most everyone was flying except a few like Morgan who is polishing the wings of the Duo.
Based at the far northwest end for launch sits Martin's Nugget.
The heat waves over 2500 feet distance make this look like a French Impressionist painting.
Martin Caskey on tow on runway 13L nearing the clubhouse.
Martin Caskey in his Nugget passing by the clubhouse on tow.
A rather sleek looking glider, that Nugget.
A right turn after 200 agl and the tow will be quite fast with that Nugget attached.

Here is Martin's story of how his flight ended last Saturday.

Blue Day @ CCSC
Launched about 2:00, after dragging to the north end due to wind. This was a good move.
Released over the hills northeast of the airport in what I thought was 10 kts. Did not work out that way, flew over to the dump, found a good 4 kts, worked it to 6k, then headed east to see if I could find the convergence. Over I-5, I worked another 4 kts up to 8.3k. Started to head north on the east side of I-5, got as far as Harris Ranch feedlot at 5.5k and still had not really hit the convergence. At this time there were three other ships from Hollister flying in the convergence. I could not push myself to go east. So I started back south, worked to the west of I-5 a little. This was not worth much, mostly -0 average.
About a mile east of the rest stop on I-5 at 2.6k turned towards CCSC. This did not work. About a mile west of I-5 at 1.6k knew this was not happening. I had looked at a field east of I-5 earlier that looked like a good place to land. It had a nice hard road in the center nothing in the way and long. It was just like landing at CCSC without the tumbleweeds.  One hour ten minutes of intense fun. The land out was uneventful.
Called Dennis Lyons, he brought the trailer over and helped capture the Nugget again. Drove back to CCSC, dropped off Dennis so he could fly his PA-12 back to PRB. Dinner with Julie, Morgan, Todd (Composite Guru looked at Morgan’s wings) and Dennis in Paso.

Thank you, Dennis, for the retrieve.

A very good day

The Nugget all alone on a barren stretch of land, but good for gliders.

A good landout in a great place to protect glider and pilot, near I-5 and Rte 269.

Every week now for the past three weeks, Harold III has accomplished something for the club that has significantly improved the living conditions either in the clubhouse, washrooms, or now, on the patio. He painted all four picnic tables white and they look much better than the old wood look. All the supplies in the past few weeks that he has used on the premises have been purchased out of his own pocket.



Very nice looking patio area with four newly painted tables.

You may recall that last week I published a photo of someone in a KISS costume. Maybe you thought it was the real Gene Simmons. Alas, it was not. But it was someone of equal fame, my son Harold III, who for many years now has laboriously put on the makeup and the costume and won many awards, cash and otherwise especially when Halloween rolls around. Every time he enters a costume contest he usually wins first place as he did several times last Halloween here in Fresno.

Harold III and a Gene Simmons look-alike.

That's it for this weekend. I won't be around next weekend but I'm sure someone will take over the duties of editor and write the blog.

Harold Gallagher

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