Monday, September 7, 2015

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Visibility: A bit hazy but still more then 30 miles.
Wind: N at 5-7 mph
Altitudes: Above 4500 msl
Time Aloft: 3+ hours
Max Lift: 6 knots
Temperature: Mid 80's
Comment: Wonderfully cool day at Avenal
Tow pilot: Allen White, Harold Gallagher, Jim Rickey


A beautiful day here today, much nicer than last Saturday. It was more than warm in the sun but very nicely cool in the shade.

Starting the day of flight operations was Alex Caldwell training Sergio Grajeda. Sergio is determined to solo as soon as possible and Alex reports that he is making good progress.

Sergio Grajeda and Alex Caldwell launching on a training flight.

Next up was Ed Mandibles, a power pilot with some previous instruction in gliders. Ed has made such excellent progress in training that I knew he would solo today.After a high tow to box the wake twice, then prepare for the quick turn on a simulated rope break, we then tried such a maneuver at 200 agl. Trouble is, for the first two attempts, we weren't high enough too far out to get a good break. It took two more launches to get enough height close enough to get the break at 200 agl. We did it, and Ed performed very well. At that point he was ready to solo, And of course he did his three flights very competently indeed. Later on in the afternoon, he went for another solo flight and was up for 42 minutes in sight of the patio, and enjoying himself immensely. He could have been up much longer but another student, Mark Neal, was scheduled in the Orange Crush. I called Ed on his cell phone and he came down right away even though our daily schedule was delayed by nearly 90 minutes. Great going Ed, and I'm sure you'll love our world of glider flying and soaring with the ravens.

Ed Mandibles is ready for his first solo glider flight. He has been a power pilot for many years.
Ed Mandibles on tow over the field enroute to the IP for release.
Ed is over the IP ready to turn downwind on his first solo glider flight.
Ed is turning final for runway 13R and in very good position for landing.
Ed is lined up on runway 13R just about to touch down in excellent position.
Ed Mandibles is one happy guy. He's wanted to fly a glider solo for a long time now.
In the meantime, the guys in the construction hangar have been working all morning and have Big Bird a long way towards completion. Jim Rickey sent these words in:

Today the work continued on "Big Bird."  Two weeks ago the fabric was put on the bottom, the toughest side because of the curves.  One week ago fabric was put on the "port" (left) side.  Today fabric was put on the "starboard" (right) side, the last side since there is no "top" as the port and starboard sides meet at the top tube of the frame.
All fabric has now been installed.  In the picture the horizontal stabilizer and elevator have been temporarily installed to help Jan Zanutto and Larry Johnson position the last piece of fabric on the fuselage.  This piece will have the cutout for the elevator actuating rod to pass through the skin of Big Bird.  In this picture the fabric on the starboard side has wrinkles and waviness in it.  The starboard side will be ironed to shrink it tight next Saturday the 12th--ironing goes very fast and will only take about 15 minutes.  Then the scary part happens--holes will be cut into the nice, new, tight fabric to install inspection/access rings.
Progress is happening slower than hoped for, but it is moving forward.  We are not giving estimates of completion by a certain date.  As has happened, and may happen again, when one of the other aircraft in the fleet goes down, it gets priority to get it back in the air.  When this project is done, we should have a very nice and trouble-free SGS 2-33A.

Jan Zanutto, Pancho Herrera, and Larry Johnson all determined to finish Big Bird soon.
Now Jim Rickey is in the picture since he's been working on the fabric along with the others.
Working on the fabric at the tail section is a bit trickier than the rest of the fuselage.
Early in the morning, Carl Engel and his friend from work, Bill Shoemaker, showed up towing a glider trailer inside of which was Bill's LS6. It looked like a fun day for the two of them to soar together, Carl flying Julie's previous glider, DG100. They weren't in any hurry to assemble them since the day was unusually cool and the thermals weren't going to get going until after lunch.

Carl Engel slowly working on the DG100 for an afternoon launch.
Bill Shoemaker assembling his LS6 that he has been flying out of Hollister.
Sometime after lunch, the assembly line got busier in anticipation of thermal production from what we were seeing as a few tiny dust devils. Not great encouragement but these guys can fly with even the smallest thermals.

Carl's DG100 is ready and Joe Anastasio's PW-5 is nearly finished, as is Bill Shoemaker's LS6.
Beyond the LS6 is the tail of Mike Paoli's Libelle. Pancho Herrera and Mike Paoli are comparing notes.

Now the high performance ships are ready to launch and Carl Engel is first in line. Right behind is Bill Shoemaker's LS6 and later on, Joe Anastasio and Richard Walker each launched on what turned out to be fun flights but not necessarily long range. Joe topped out at 4200 msl but no more reports were turned in from the other pilots.

Carl Engel is ready and Bill is next in line for launch.
About 2 pm, Mark Neal and his lady, Sandra, arrived for another training flight for Mark. This time, his flight instructor is Alex Caldwell and they were prepared for a nice long flight. But they had to wait for my student, Ed Mandibles, who took a fourth solo flight and was in the air about 42 minutes just having a whole lot of fun. Ed finally came down after I called him on his cell phone but he could have stayed aloft several more hours. Thankfully he agreed to cut the flight short even though we all got a 90 minute late start this morning. Pretty darn good for his fourth solo flight.

Alex watching while Mark Neal secures his seat harness.
A few words of advice and Mark is ready to launch with Alex.
Now they're ready to launch with Ed Mandibles running the wing.
Sometime after 3 pm with the high performance guys still in the air, we had one more project to complete. Ed was a good sport in allowing his nice polo shirt to be cut up. Actually he had no choice since the lose the shirttail of whatever they are wearing when they solo. He took it all in stride. Congratulations again, Ed, and welcome to a silent world you will really appreciate.

It was a pretty nice shirt but no more. Ed looks glum but he was happy to solo.
Actually it's fun carving up someone's nice shirttail. Ed says he has another one or two at home.

See you all next weekend,

Harold Gallagher

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