Sunday, August 23, 2015

Saturday August 22, 2015

Visibility: Hazy from the Sierra fire smoke.
Wind: Absolutely dead calm early, then out of the southeast with gusts up to 20.
Altitudes: Yutaka Buto, Harry Davies, and Richard Walker have these statistics.
Time Aloft: More than an hour.
Max Lift: We saw about 4-6 knots only occasionally.
Temperature:  Mid 70s early in the day, even 100° mid afternoon.
Comment: Two new members joined the club.
Tow pilot: Jim Rickey, Dan Gudgel, Sean Knight

REMEMBER: Just click on any photo and you'll see the beginning of a series of very large versions of photos shown here.

A giant step was made on the rebuilding of Big Bird today, starting the fabric.  Keeping the cloth clean was essential, and a good number of hands were available to make sure the fabric stayed up in the air while it was rolled out, measured, cut , and finally laid upon the underside of the fuselage.

.  Many hands working together were able to get the fabric onto the glider cleanly
Jan Zanutto decided to do the bottom first as the complex shapes would be the most demanding to deal with.

After the fabric was resting on the frame there were trials and discussions about the best way to put the fabric onto the compound curves.

The final decision was to slit the fabric at the front, where Larry has it folded, and overlap it.
(No photos were obtained with glue on the photographer's hands.  Time was also critical--no time for putting the glue down and picking up the camera.)

The glue was painted on the metal, then the fabric pressed on the glued area.  Another coat of glue was then applied to the outside of the fabric with force so that it would seep through the fabric to the glue on the frame.

The new water-based, greenish-blue glue was not working like any other glue any of us had experienced before. Jan was following the manufacturer's information, but it was completely different than any of us had worked with before.  It did not seem "right."  But giving it an hour to "set" did the job.

After the glue was holding like it was supposed to do, it was time to put the iron to the fabric to get it to shrink tight.  On the bottom of the aft empennage, there was no problem with ripples or waves in the fabric, as that section of the fuselage is perfectly flat..
Jan starts the iron at the tail end.
Closer to the wheel well it took a little more finesse to get the fabric straight and tight.
Waviness is starting to disappear under heat.
Keep on working the iron!
Waviness to the rear of the strut attach is almost gone.
Not perfect yet, but getting close.
Notice in the picture below there is now another piece of fabric that was precisely fitted around the strut attachment.  Jan gives the fabric a final heating to make it nice and tight and straight.
At the end of the day, the bottom was done and it was looking pretty very good.  In the picture below you can see where the fabric was cut, overlapped, and glued back together running longitudinally from the fiberglass nose bowl to the opening for the landing gear.  The two small lateral bumps are where the skid will attach to the frame.

Final Inspection--looks good!
At the end of the day, before covering in plastic to keep pigeon poop off of it.

 Flight Operations

Rick Eason started the day off with three close-in flights.  The first was box-the-wake, and he did fine.  The second flight was a practice rope break.  The third flight was for him to see a different landing runway than 07.  Dan Gudgel has completed his work with with Rick and has turned him over to Harold for his final recommendation ride.

We welcome two new members to our club. J. Mario Pauda and Ed Mandibles. Mario is a Doctor in Family Practice in Salinas with a very interesting background that includes the Air Force Academy and flying the B-52. Ed Mandibles has an equally interesting story including being given a glider to build while never having flown any glider. But in the process he did gain enough skill in glider flying while building that his skill set today was clearly evident. Mario is a licensed glider pilot who needed a Biennial Flight Review to regain his currency and we expect to complete that next weekend. Ed may very well solo next weekend.

Our two new members, Ed Mandibles on the left and J. Mario Pauda on the right.

After Rick Eason, Roman Franco flew four times. He is very close to solo and depending on his initial performance next weekend he might just do it. First two was 2000 agl and we practiced maneuvers including quick steep turns in preparation for the 200 agl sim rope break. The second launch was just high enough so that we could actually do a simulated rope break at 200 agl. Although Roman was surprised at the release and a bit slow on the turn back to the runway, he accomplished it all with smoothness and calm.

On the third launch tow pilot Dan Gudgel had a surprise for Roman, waving him off at 800 agl so Roman had to think quick about how to get back into a pattern for landing. Finally, the fourth flight was another 2000 agl where we tried some thermalling and a few additional maneuvers and ended the day with a nice, unassisted landing by Roman.

Roman Franco waiting for the tow plane to move into position for launch.

Next up is Mario Pauda who has a Commercial Glider license and simply needs to fly again, get the rust off his skill set, understand the Avenal environment, earn his Biennial Flight Review and he's off on his own here in the club. We did two flights and Mario is getting those skills back very quickly.

Mario Pauda waiting for the tow plane to move into position for launch.

Next up is Ed Mandibles who is already a licensed power pilot flying a beautiful Piper Tri-Pacer and a Mooney Mite. He used his Tri-Pacer to get to Avenal and it is as nice inside as it is outside.

Ed Mandibles really nice Piper Tri-Pacer. He's from Lompoc so maybe he'll connect with
Peter Sahlberg and Philip Gerfaud
Ed Mandibles just about to begin his launch on runway 31 at Avenal.
Ed after his two flights where he got better and better at towing, easing off on the over-controlling.
While all this was going on, Harry Davies arrived and launched in the 1-26. Harry wasn't up too long because it was early and the thermals hadn't started popping yet. Then, while Harry was out having lunch, Yutaka Buto showed up and since no one was using the 1-26 he decided to launch. He was able to stay up longer so the thermals were indeed improving as time went along.

Yutaka Buto launching in the 1-26 while Harry Davies had lunch.
After Yutaka, Richard Walker launched in his Schweizer 1-35. They look low but were about 400 agl .
On tow and heading up, albeit slowly due to the heat of the day.
Yutaka returned after a nice flight just in time for Harry Davies to finish his lunch. So Harry launched and was up quite as long time, returning some time after I left Avenal and headed home. If he sends me his notes I'll include them here as a revision.

Harry launching in the 1-26 from the far end heading down runway 13L.
They are about half way down runway 13L enroute to a nice long flight.

Harry Davies on tow just about even with the clubhouse.
Once Harry launched, Sergio Grajeda was on the field and flew training flights with Alex Caldwell. This Avenal resident is determined to get his license and we hope he does. He could well be a model student for other young men in Avenal who might otherwise choose another path not acceptable to society. Sergio is a fine young man with great potential for his future.

Next weekend should be interesting. We have the possibility of (1) a Commercial Glider checkride, (2) a solo of a 15 year old student, (3) a solo of a 40 year power pilot, and (4) completion of a Biennial Flight Review by an accomplished Glider Pilot and family Doctor. Should be a very interesting weekend.

See you all next time.

Harold Gallagher

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

SATURDAY, August 15, 2015

Visibility: Excellent
Wind: Variable at 6 knots
Altitudes: Something above 4000 msl
Time Aloft: Several hours.
Max Lift: 6 knots
Temperature: 100+
Comment: Blog includes Friday ops.
Tow pilot: Peter Mersino

On Friday, August 14th, Jan Zanutto and Steve Valentine decided to fly and Peter Mersino offered to tow. Since Steve is my student the day worked out just fine. Steve is nearing solo and determined to fly often so that he doesn't get too rusty between weekends. Now that he's flying more often, he's getting much better and his last flight on Friday was his best by far.

Steve Valentine thermalling up above 3000 msl from 2200 msl.

Jan Zanutto made one flight but it was pretty good considering the RASP wasn't all that great for soaring today. There were thermals but none seemed to get too high. He had fun anyway.

Jan Zanutto launching in a cloud of dust.
On his way to a nice flight of some duration, putting up with the heat down low.
Meanwhile back on the patio, Mike Paoli was working on the seams of his Libelle canopy. Better there than out in the hot sun.

Mike Paoli is going to make his glider the best Libelle ever on the field at Avenal.

By mid-afternoon, Jan Zanutto had returned from his flight and Steve Valentine had also gone home. Mike was left to finish the improvement on his Libelle canopy.

Jan Zanutto's ASW-20 awaits disassembly and a return to the box from which it came.


Early Saturday morning, Rick Eason began a series of 5 flights to continue his quest of his commercial glider add-on rating. We all arrived about 9:15 am and began launching shortly thereafter.

Rick Eason waiting for his first launch early on Saturday morning.

Once Rick was finished, Roman Franco flew three flights and he also is nearing his solo flight. The first flight terminated prematurely because we got out of position high on the tow plane and had to release immediately. The second and third flights were excellent and gave me more confidence that he will soon be able to handle the various realms of flight in preparation for his solo.

The Alphabet Lineup of glider trailers.

Joe Anastasio signed up on the CCSC Scheduler and although he didn't say so, I'd guessed that his BFR was due. Time really does fly, along with all our pilots. It seems like just yesterday that Joe completed his BFR with me, but that turned out to be in August, 2013. He did very well, on the simulated rope break, and then on the hour of thermalling around the field. Another BFR added to the mix.

Joe Anastasio ready to launch on what turned out to be a surprise rope release at 200 agl.
Peter Mersino in the tow plane returning to Avenal's runway 7.
Joe Anastasio doing nicely in a 4 knot thermal accomplishing his required one-hour BFR flight.

Higher still, but this time only two knots of lift to work.
On the ground at the end of his one hour flight, Joe is a bit tired from all that thermalling.
While Joe and I were aloft, Carl Engel launched in the DG100. He was up long enough so that Peter and I had flown back to Fresno before he landed. As we approached Fresno, the Rough fire near Hume lake in the Sierra, had produced a pyrocumulus cloud that kept getting higher as we neared Chandler airport.

Called the Rough Fire, near Hume Lake in the Sierra, it produced a high pyrocumulus cloud.
Carl Engel and Mike Paoli did us all a great service by going for fuel at the end of the day. On the way back they photographed this beautiful sunset.

Thanks to Mike Paoli and Carl Engel for this beautiful photo of the sun setting over the Temblor Range.

See you all next weekend when the temperatures will likely be below triple digits.

Harold Gallagher

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Time Aloft:
Max Lift:
Tow pilot:

He was one of the best, for our club and for life.

He liked to soar but he liked to soar in the Blanik best.

The last image I have of Mike, taken at his home two months before he died.

Monday, August 10, 2015

August 8, 2015

Visibility:        10 miles in smoke and haze
Wind:             Typically light from the SE early, moving WNW to northerly, one gust of 15 MPH.
Altitudes:        6700 msl
Time Aloft:     3 hours
Max Lift:        6-8 knots
Temperature:  Highest temp was 95°, highest dew point was 56°
Comment:      Relaxing day.
Tow pilot:      Jim Rickey and Frank Owen

At first the day looked to be so-so with few dust devils in evidence. But as the day wore on the dust devils began popping up all over the low foothills.
A nice big dust devil just to the west of the field promised good lift above it.
More of the same good markers for those circling nearby.
And they kept getting bigger and fatter as the afternoon got later.

The flying day started off slow.  However, in the work hangar things were going full tilt sanding the nosebowl of Orange Crush.  Skip Briedbach, Frank Owen, Larry Johnson, Sergio Grajeda, and Jan Zanutto were busy at work.

If this nose cone gets any smoother it will morph into a mirror.
Roman Franco with mentor Harold were the first ones up. One of the planned activities was a practice rope break @200', but even switching to runway 13 for a little bit of a headwind did not counteract the mid-80s temperature and maybe less than optimal towpilot technique.  When 200' was reached, Harold thought it may be too far away for an assured landing on the gliderport.

Roman Franco ready for his second flight which was greatly improved from the first.
Roman closing up the glider after two good training flights.

Morgan and Julie showed up with a new addition, a Brown Lab called Lizzie that was pretty well behaved already.

Sergio Grajeda and Alex Caldwell were up next before lunch. They also finished off the day with a longer flight with some thermalling.

Sergio Grajeda and Alex Caldwell launch on what turned out to be a nice long thermalling flight.

Burgers were BBQed during a lull in the action, then it was time to get back in the air.

Richard Walker took a quick "warm-up" flight, then got a another tow and stayed up for the remainder of the afternoon.

Richard Walker on his first launch testing the thermals before committing to a longer flight.
Richard Walker in great position behind Frank Owen in the tow plane.
Richard is back again for a much longer flight this time.
Richard's second launch into a much better field of thermals and dust devils.
Frank Owen returning to runway 7 after dropping off Richard Walker west of the field.

Alex Caldwell did one demo flight before he went up with Sergio Grajeda the second time.

Morgan decided to fly Julie's new sailplane for the first time. She's had the glider for awhile but he's not had a chance to fly it before today.

Julie Butler in front of her Discus that Morgan is about to board and launch.
Morgan Hall ready to launch with Sergio running his left wing. The heat ripples make this a painting.
Launching on runway 31 they will be quite high over the fence.
Morgan piloting the Discus towards an ultimate landout south of Avenal.
On tow past the fence and heading aloft for a long flight and a short return.

Morgan was going to take XD back to KSBP (San Luis Obispo), but did not quite make it.  His text is in italics, below:

After a late attempt to fly to San Luis Obispo from Avenal, the marine push was too far to the east and it wasn't going to happen. Paso was unreachable with 15kts of headwind. I could have dove back towards Avenal and probably got up, but would definitely have had to commit to a field landing.  As it was my first flight in Julie's Discus, I felt that was rude.

So I worked my way back to Shandon and a strip I drive by every time we go to Avenal. It is in good shape, no cattle, fences or weeds. Completely safe landing, just have to come in high over the trees and power poles on the east end of the strip. And a huge combine parked next to the runway.

Julie was there when I landed and we packed up in about 20 minutes and were ready to go.

Jim Rickey took the 1-26 up for a while.  His text follows:

I released at 1100' AGL because I had gotten both well above the towplane and had a very slack rope. use in jerking the towplane around.  Was within gliding distance and in a booming thermal.  The thermal seemed to be doing it best to convince me to leave, but I tood my ground until I left on my terms.

Headed for the hills to the west.  Enroute is was smooth all the way.  At 3:30 the east facing slopes would not be getting much solar heat, so when I started getting below the ridge line, I felt there was no point in going any further, so retreated back to the angry thermal.

After getting altitude again, went for the Kettlemen Hills, which had a good lift report a couple of hours earlier.  Not quite smooth, but the bumps were mostly small enough that I did not try to work them.  The two bumps that seemed promising only let me maintain altitude.  Got to the crest of the Kettlemen Hills, and even though had altitude to spare, did not see the point in going any further east.

Coming back to the Avenal Valley I joined Alex in a thermal for a couple of turns, then left so he could concentrate on the demo flight he was giving.  While I had great view of him, the structure of the 2-33 would be impeding his view of me.

5:00 pm must have been quitting time for the thermals, as they quickly stopped working.  I saw one dust devil working overtime near the northeast corner of the circle crop and went for it.

There was a lot of lift in the "hot spots" over the nearby freshly plowed bare fields.  Many times the thermals today seemed to be trying to get rid of me.  Several times full controls into the turn were not enough to keep the thermal from rolling me out of the turn.  Once it even felt like I had been rammed from 6:00 o'clock low, and about three times my head gently hit the canopy.  (The thermals did get my stomach to say, "let's take it easy a while.").  Probably never got more than 5 miles from the glider port, never got particularly high at a peak of only 6700', but did stay up for 3 hours.

Jim Rickey and Sergio Grajeda moving the 1-26 out to the launch area.
Jim Rickey is going over last minute preflight checklists while Sergio waits on his right wing.
Jim is starting his launch sequence on a flight that lasted 3 hours.
Good position behind the tow plane with the tail already raised.
Nice and low behind the tow plane until the towing aircraft breaks free of the runway.
We hope to see more of our pilots next weekend. This is the time to get those personal bests both in altitude, duration, and distance away from the field. And of course, it's fun.

Jim Rickey and Harold Gallagher