Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Visibility: Unlimited
Wind: Variable from SW and later NW
Altitudes: 9000+ msl
Time Aloft: 5 hours
Max Lift: 8 knots
Temperature: Upper 90's
Comment: Accomplishments and Chaos.
Tow pilot: Peter Mersino on Thursday, then Jim Rickey, Ethan Ronat, Harold Gallagher


The weekend began on Thursday, August 27th with Rick Eason flying his necessary recommendation flights in preparation for his checkride on Saturday, the 29th. He did very well and is prepared for his checkride on Saturday. Thanks to Peter Mersino for volunteering to tow for Rick especially since no other pilots were out there on Thursday to be towed.

Rick Eason aloft, but not very high aloft.
Looked like it was going to be a good day with four dust devils all together in one field.
End of the first flight with two more to go.
Peter Mersino positioning the glider for another of Rick's flights.
Rick is tired and hot after a sweltering three flights at Avenal.

Saturday, August 29th.

On Saturday, the day began innocuously with Rick and Dan Gudgel engaged in discussion for the oral segment of the checkride.

Dan Gudgel and Rick Eason at the beginning of Rick's Commercial Glider Pilot checkride.
Rick's beautiful RV-9A parked just outside the tow plane hangar.

Flight ops began as well with Jim Rickey towing for Mario Pauda and me on a couple of flights. Shortly thereafter the chaos began.

Mario Pauda preflighting the Orange Crush early Saturday morning.
Jim Rickey decided to hose off the tow plane, especially the windshield.
Mario Pauda ready for his first two Biennial Flight Review launches.
There were a number of high performance ships assembled today for what later meant long flights.

The assembly line for high performance gliders.
Karl Kunz beautiful Cessna 170 is framed by Morgan's equally beautiful Duo Discus.
Ed Mandibles cute little Mooney Mite that whistled as it passed overhead while landing.
Work goes on with Jan Zanutto in charge, helped by Larry Johnson and Ethan Ronat.
Cutting holes around various attach points is tricky business. One slip and ......
Larry J. Ethan R and Jan Z concentrating on the delicate cutting of holes in the fabric.
Martin Caskey's Nugget assembled and ready to launch.
Karl Kunz assembling his ASW-20 for a mid-afternoon flight.
Tow plane duty all day long wasn't easy. It was hot, dusty, and busy.
Richard Walker moving his Schweizer 1-35 out to the launch area.
Rick Eason and Dan Gudgel on his first return to landing as part of the checkride.
These dust devils encouraged all who were there to get aloft.
They kept forming all afternoon and promised excellent lift if one could find the thermal and stay in it.
Martin Caskey about to launch in his Nugget with Sergio Grajeda running the wing.
Larry Johnson assisting Karl Kunz, with Morgan about to hook up the tow rope.
And they kept forming neatly marking where the best thermals were to be found. 
Julie Butler awaiting her turn to launch, sitting in her Discus with Dan Gudgel monitoring the action. 
Shortly after Julie launched, Morgan moved the Duo into position and launched with Sergio Grajeda in the back seat. They flew down to near Santa Ynez and back, with very little time wasted thermalling. Here is the photo taken by Morgan down south.

Looking SW from 8500 msl on the Sierra Madre range SW of New Cuyama
Back on the ground waiting for another launch are the four horsemen or fearsome foursome.

The fearsome foursome, Dan Gudgel, Larry Johnson, Jim Rickey, and Mark Neal.
Dan Gudgel getting Mark Neal ready for his first flight since September, 2007 when he was close to solo.
It looks like both Dan and Mark will enjoy this flight.
Mark Neal refreshing his flight skills gained 8 years ago this month.

The Neal family arrived today for a picnic on the patio and to watch son, Mark, get back into flying. Seems that Mark's lady friend, Sandra, wanted to give a very nice gift to Mark for his birthday and decided to financially support his return to solo flight. Don Neal, granddad to Alexsandra, is a long time member of the Central Valley Aviation Association located in Fresno. Don has been a pilot for, .... maybe forever. Great guy, loved by all the aviators around and has more stories to tell than anyone I know. If he doesn't know someone in aviation in the Central Valley then that person is probably not really in aviation. Welcome to the CCSC, Neal family, and hope that you all will come back time and again to watch Mark get back to solo flight.

The Neal family, Sandra just to the left, Don, and his lady friend, Jerri Yandell.
Sandra, Don, and Jerri enjoying the cooler shaded patio with a nice breeze wafting through.
Alexsandra on the clean floor of the patio with the Neal family.
Alexsandra and her Mom, Sandra, having a good time on the patio.
Mark Farabaugh came out today to get in a demo flight. As tired as Ethan Ronat was, he still managed to agree to fly with Mark. Then it was one of those flights that, in spite of lift before and after their flight, they found little or nothing to stay aloft. Too bad, but that's what happens often. In fact, after their flight I took the next young man for a flight and we found strong lift to above a mile high. Such are the vagaries of lift and sink on a day when the dust devils were prancing all over the foothills.

Sarah Woolf brought her two sons to Avenal, Clark, 13, and Robert 11. They live near Jack Wiegand's home and now Clark is the same age as Jack was when he started soaring lessons. Maybe if Clark continues his training we'll see the same achievements we had from Jack a few years ago. Today, Clark flew most of the flight off tow after we had thermalled to 5450 msl in a very strong thermal. Clark's handling of the glider was smooth, and confident and reminded me a lot of the day Jack started training.

Clark Woolf's first glider ride, and he's capturing it on video. Should be interesting to watch
Karl Kunz heading home after a hot day and long flight out of Avenal.
Ed Mandibles, the Mooney Mite driver, who flew with me earlier in the day wanted to take another training flight at 6:30 pm. I couldn't refuse so we went aloft in search of good lift. We knew where the previous lift was to be found since I flew with Clark Woolf to 5450 msl. When we arrived in the area there was nothing but zero up to just maintain altitude. So we went about doing our maneuvers and finished the flight and the day of flight operations. One flight, no lift, the next flight strong to above a mile, then no lift. Oh well. Not much one can do about Nature's ways. They are sometimes that fickle.

It was an interesting day, frustrating with so many things going awry, but some accomplishments as well. So with the positives identified we look forward to next weekend with anticipation that there will be more of the positives and less of the negatives.

See you on September 5th.

Harold Gallagher

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