Thursday, May 21, 2015

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Visibility: Unlimited
Wind: Initially from the NW, then switched to the SE.
Altitudes: Not reported but estimated at over 8000 msl.
Time Aloft: Three plus hours.
Max Lift: 800 fpm
Temperature: Mid-eighties.
Comment: Melanie's 13th birthday ride, Jan newest Glider, Pancho's successful BFR
Tow pilot: Mike Thometz and Alex Caldwell.

It was a busy day and there was something for everyone. First up was David Edwards, Jr. who came out several weeks ago wanting a ride and for some reason we couldn't accomodate him. I was hoping he came back for his ride and this morning early, he and his Dad, Edward, Sr. made the trip and Ed, Jr. got his ride. Maybe that will be the start of his glider training. Let's hope so.

Switching to the far northwest end for departures on runway 13L was caused by a bit of a wind from the SE that wasn't too strong but enough so that the pilots launching early decided it was for the better.  While there were other launches in the morning, my first student was Kavin Gustafson who is very close to solo. All we need do is get him his Student Pilot's License he needs for solo and a few launches to pattern altitude in preparation for his solo. Then he's on his own. This time we had a higher tow and boxing the wake in rough air was not too difficult for him. Then we tried a sim rope break but we were too far out from the runway at 200 agl so we went to pattern and thermalled a bit before committing to a landing.

Alex Caldwell, Mike Thometz, Faith, waiting while Kavin prepares to launch
Kavin is very close to solo and likely within the next weekend or so.
With Kavin's flight over, next up is Pancho Herrera flying for his Biennial Flight Review. Hard to believe that it's been two years since his license but time doth fly. He passed with flying colors (no pun intended) and now is legal to fly once more. He's more at home in his Libelle than the 2-33 but I wasn't going to sit on his lap during the BFR in the Libelle.

Jennifer Bauman providing the beauty and Pancho Herrera the intensity.
Meanwhile Pancho is belting in for his BFR flights.
The tow plane is in position and Pancho is working his way down the checklist.
Faith, Mike Thometz friend, waits while Pancho closes the canopy.
Departing over the glider trailers a few moments before I released at 250 agl.
Looks like Kavin Gustafson in front of the clubhouse watching our launch.
The little red 1976 Volvo is the culmination of a 5-year project for Jennifer and her Dad.
Peter Sahlberg, as indicated, had tried a good flight on the first attempt but didn't connect with any decent lift. He waited until it was later in the afternoon and the thermals were doing much better.

Peter Sahlberg's first attempt at finding lift and going cross country.
Peter Sahlberg and his Schweizer 1-35 are ahead of Pancho in the launch sequence.
Jennifer, Mike, Faith, and Pancho watching Sheila crew for Peter Sahlberg.
Since the first launch didn't turn out so good, Peter decided to try it again. While Mike Thometz was at the clubhouse notifying Alex Caldwell it's his turn to tow, I decided to tow Peter on this flight. I towed him out to Tar peak and turned along the West Ridge where he almost immediately found excellent lift, got off, and that's the last we saw of him for several hours.

Sheila Sahlberg crewing for Peter waiting for his second launch.
Melanie Peters, Grandpa Al, and Jim Rickey waiting for her turn for her first glider ride.

Pancho and I had one last flight to go for his BFR and after launch to pattern altitude we caught a thermal and began turning. We were joined almost immediately by Henry, the large red-tailed hawk who showed us how to thermal for a few minutes, then got bored with our lack of skill and flew off.

The hawk joined us and then out-flew us for a few turns.
Finally he got bored while thermalling ahead of us and finally left, probably in despair at those silly gliders.
Once Pancho and I finished with his BFR, it was time for Jennifer Bauman to fly. She's working hard at school in her engineering curriculum and was a bit more tired than she could handle solo. So she flew with me and was quite capable of flying on her own, but I think she made a cautious and very safe decision to go with me rather than trust herself. As she just demonstrated, the very first pre-flight we must all make before going flying is of ourselves to insure that we can handle the skills needed with a clear head and rested body.

Jennifer Bauman doing well on tow even in quite bumpy air.
Heading over towards Avenal town, the tow plane keeps climbing until we release.

Al Peters decided that the nicest gift he could give his granddaughter, Melanie, is a glider ride on her 13th birthday, the day she becomes a teenager. So, along with Jim Rickey who would be the pilot in command of her flight, Melanie was buckled in and given serious instructions by Jim about expectations on the flight. they launched and Jim, always good at finding lift, stayed up nearly an hour as I recall. Whatever the final time aloft, Melanie really had a fun time up there. Maybe she'll start taking lessons one day soon.

Jim Rickey provided a nice write-up that I forgot to include when I published this blog. So here is his story:

Jim and his friend Al had previously talked about giving his flying-loving granddaughter a ride in a glider for her 13th birthday.  We did not really expect it to happen today, but at 7:15 this morning when "Grandpa Al" arrived to cook for our EAA Chapter breakfast, Melanie was in the passenger seat of his truck.  She has been working at the breakfasts for almost two years, and gets a lot of airplane rides, but she has never been up in a glider.

Checked the schedule and saw that Orange Crush's last schedule for the day was Jennifer from 2:00 to 3:00.  Called Harold and told him to have her leave out Orange Crush after her flight, and we would be on our way.  Melanie did not hesitate one bit to take the left seat of the 210 both ways to Avenal.

Got Melanie situated in the front seat of glider, and gave her some instruction on the instruments and controls, making sure she was comfortable pulling the big brown knob when it was time, and also to work the trim.

Found some bumps on climb out, with one good riser.  Had a ways to go to get up to my planned 3,000 release, so kept on going.  But no climb.  Alex was heading towards Tar Canyon in hopes of finding lift, but we were just barely climbing, on tow.  Was getting further away from the gliderport than I felt comfortable releasing at that altitude in all the sink, then Alex did a 180°.  Caught the thermal again and told Melanie to look for traffic to the right, and finding none, to release.

I got it trimmed up and let her take the controls.  Felt a thermal, and went for it.  I got us into it, then coached her to try and stay in it, with just occasional help on the controls.  We had released at 3,600' MSL, and worked it up to 5,400' MSL.  At one point she had Orange Crush in a 55° to 60° in the thermal.  Any other first timer I would keep the banks really gentle, but she has done rolls, inside and outside loops, etc., and seemed to be having fun, so go girl!

Either the thermal had run its course, or we lost it.  Either way, we were within three miles of the gliderport, and almost a mile up, so we (rather she) could play.  She wondered about stall recovery without a throttle to push forward, so after making sure she was game, we did one.  Her comment was, "Oh, that wasn't so bad."

After the stall, Melanie just had fun. A couple of times we felt some lift, and worked it for a little bit.  The sun's heating was decreasing, and the little bit of lift we found just slowed the descent.  Finally I told her it was time to get in the pattern for landing, and she said a disappointed, "Aawh."   We were up about an 1:10.

After the flight Melanie expressed a desire to take lessons.  I would not be too surprised to see her solo on her 14th birthday, then a glider certificate on her 16th birthday, then solo Grandpa's Cherokee 180 the same day.  Her goal is to become a commercial airline pilot, a pretty ambitious goal for a teenager.of two days.   I think she just might make it happen.

Jim Rickey giving Melanie Peters instructions about what to expect on her first glider flight.
They both look like they're going to enjoy the flight and indeed she did enjoy all of it.
Jan Zanutto decided some months ago that he needed a new glider, one with higher performance and kept looking for that length of time. Finally he found just what he was looking for, an ASW-20 which was just enough higher performance for him to really feel comfortable flying. He launched and did have a great time flying his "new" glider. Gone for a long time, I caught him returning to Avenal and doing a left pattern for runway 31R.
Jan Zanutto downwind for runway 31R at Avenal.
The classic turn from base to final, spoilers unlocked and raised a bit.
Jan on short final in excellent position for a nice landing.
You can't get any more concentration out of Jan than what we're seeing now.
The end of the day and those who flew had fun, were satisfied at the lift strength, and time aloft. Most of all I think that Melanie and her Grandpa, Al, had the most fun since it was something new for both of them. They helped tie down the Orange Crush and chatted with Alex Caldwell at the end of the day.

Wrapping up the day tying down the Orange Crush, Melanie and Al enjoyed it all.
Alex Caldwell describing the various regimes of flight to the interested parties.

I was around late in the day when Joe Anastasio arrived back from a long 3-hour flight in his PW-5. He was a bit tired but really satisfied with his performance and I suspect he'll add it to the OLC so we all can see what he accomplished.

In that same vein, Morgan and Julie launched and were gone a very long time having worked the convergence and flying more than I had expected with the current conditions. They chronicled their flight on one of the recent emails and I'm sure entered it in the OLC.

Last but certainly not least, Harold III was again at his task of beautifying our clubhouse and surrounding areas. This time, he painted all the trim around the windows and cleaned and painted around the electrical boxes to the right of the door. In addition, he had time to paint the outside of the door as seen in the following pictures. Thanks for all that great work, Harold. All of us appreciate what you have done lately.

Sure looks better with all the trim painted, especially near the electrical boxes.
Our window with the reflection in it looks like a painting by Rembrandt.
Close up of the extra work that went into cleaning up the electrical boxes.
Outside of the clubhouse door looks better than ever, thanks to Harold III.

See you all at the XC Camp weekend coming up this Saturday and Sunday, and maybe even Monday.

Harold J Gallagher

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