Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Visibility: Hazy but more than 30 miles.
Wind: 5-10 knots SE, switching to the WNW in the afternoon.
Altitudes: 8000 +
Time Aloft: 3 hours +
Max Lift: 6-8 knots
Temperature: Low 90's.
Comment: Hot and dusty.
Tow pilot: Dan Gudgel early with a tow student, Alex Caldwell and Jim Rickey later.

It was a quirky day, weather-wise. The RASP called for a convergence over the Kettleman Hills and that proved to be true. But that's it. No lift anywhere except over the K-Hills. The best pilots aloft couldn't find lift, even looking West, South or North. Even East wasn't a good bet. More on that later.

Early morning saw Clark Woolf arrive with his Dad, Chris, and because he was first up in the Orange Crush, we did a first-time thorough preflight. Clark listened well, and focused most of the time because making sure the glider is airworthy is a life-or-not decision for both the student and the instructor. After that we did two 2000 agl tows during which Clark not only experienced stalls but loved them. Reminds me of how well Jack Wiegand took to the glider stalls. Should be a very good year for Clark as he moves towards his solo flight on his 14th birthday, next year.

This morning Jan Zanutto held a sanding party with Jim Rickey, Pancho Herrera, Jeff Richardson, and others (somehow I never remember to write down the names of those working on Big Bird). Spray, sand, spray, sand, and slowly the surface is coming down to acceptable smoothness. One day the Big Bird will go aloft again. Here are Jan's notes:

Thanks all you who have helped. We were able to get the sanding done very quickly and I shot the last of the gallon of fill/primer just after I consumed my subway sandwich. The girls at subway know us by name....

I'm out of fill primer. I am ordering more today, but I don't think it will be here by this saturday. Most likely the project is just going to sit this weekend as I wait on the paint

again, thanks for all of your help so that it's consistently been 6 guys for 1 hour and not 1 guy for 6 hours... my spine thanks you!!


As you'll see in the pictures, most of the launches took place from the far end of runway 31R, launching down runway 13L. Late in the afternoon, the wind switched and was almost a direct crosswind from the WSW. By then most of the gliders had been launched including Ramy Yanetz who surprised us with his visit to Avenal towing his glider. At first I thought he had landed out here, but he just said he very much likes Avenal and our club members and decided to visit and fly with our pilots.

Alex Caldwell readying Sergio Grajeda for another training flight after Clark finished his two.
Clark Woolf heading for the golf cart after his two flights.
Gathering at the far end, all the launches except two were made from there.
Jeff Richardson and Jim Rickey were going to fly the 1-26. Only Jeff did.
Jennifer Bauman brought Kyle O'Connell and Andrew Palmertwo Cal Poly students, out to go flying. 
Peter Sahlberg and his Schweizer 1-35 moving to the far launch end.
Jeff Richardson and Jim Rickey are going to wash the 1-26 before flight.
May be the first time the 1-26 has been doused with water since the last Avenal rainfall.
Ramy Yanetz launching in his ASW-27.
Ramy's focused on the tow but came back soon after this launch for another one.
The heat waves begin to obscure how many gliders are actually at the launch site.
Here comes the Duo Discus with Julie Butler and Morgan Hall enjoying flight in that great glider.
They're both focused so it's hard to tell who's manning the controls.
Smooth takeoff, nice tow position, and we expected them to be off and gone for hours somewhere south.
Ramy returned and here he is launching again
This time Ramy stayed up for several hours along with all the other high performance gliders.
Launching now is my favorite glider, the ASW-20 BL, piloted by Karl Kunz.
Karl will also find lift confined to the K-Hills after exploring all quadrants.
Great looking glider. I'm biased.
Here comes Pancho Herrera in his Libelle in excellent position behind the tow plane.
Pancho really enjoys his Libelle and does a great job of getting the most from it.
The Duo Discus down low over the K-Hills but not for long.
The Duo Discus
Another camera angle as Morgan and Julie gain more and more altitude.
At this point the Duo was well over 4000 msl or higher so the picture isn't as sharp.
Jennifer and Andrew on their way to inspect the winch.
Pancho Herrera flying his Libelle at a high altitude.
Karl Kunz well above 5000 msl and beyond camera-sharp range.
It takes only five people to fuel the tow plane.
I think Karl might have lost a bit of altitude since this is a sharper image than the previous one.
I thought a tiny white spot in the sky was one of our gliders very high. I was wrong.
Another white spot I thought was a plastic garbage bag thermalling as they always do.
Peter Sahlberg launching in his Schweizer 1-35.
Nice close up of Peter focused on being in the best position on tow past the clubhouse.
Waiting for the launch of the 1-26. Took forever. Mounds of tumbleweed got between glider and tow plane.
Jeff Richardson finally launching in the 1-26 mid-afternoon.
Jeff on his way to a nice long, and high flight.
Jennifer Bauman has been great at bringing new people out to Avenal and introducing them to the joys of soaring. Most have been Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, students in engineering which should make them ideal candidates for earning a glider license. Last time she brought out three new students, this time one new and one from the previous visit. The new is Kyle O'Connell who had started training in gliders at Lake Elsinore, got to 20 hours of time, soloed, then went off to college. Perhaps now he'll resume his glider training and finish his license. The returning student, Andrew Palmer, has decided to join the club and earn his glider license. Welcome aboard, Andrew, and we wish you all the success in your new endeavor.

Kyle O'Connell about to enter the Orange Crush with help all around.
Jennifer Bauman gathering rope while Kyle gets reacquainted with the 2-33.
Kyle's first flight in two years after amassing 20 glider hours previously at Lake Elsinore.
Kyle and I are ready to launch with Jennifer running the wing.
Jennifer's photo of Kyle and I on tow past the clubhouse.
Ramy Yanetz on final returning from a nice long flight, then heading home to the Bay area.
Kyle and I released at 2800 msl at the southeast end of town, just over the K-Hills and from then on just had fun with thermal after thermal. At one point, as we know happens, we were trying to descend, had the dive brakes full on, nose down to 60+ mph, and still going up. It was great fun, and after nearly an hour aloft, Kyle had managed to gain a net of 4000 feet. Hopefully that will stimulate him to get his license.

Kyle handling the controls at 5000 msl during which time he gained a total of 4000 feet.
Another picture of Pancho Herrera above 4000 msl still having fun aloft in his Libelle.
Andrew and Jennifer having fun with my camera, with nothing else to do.
Jennifer decided that even our weeds are strewn with a few flowers worth photographing.
After Kyle's flight, Alex Caldwell and Mark Neal went aloft looking for that lift Kyle and I enjoyed. They didn't find much, stayed up there awhile, not gaining nor losing much altitude, and finally returning after a good training flight.

Alex Caldwell and Mark Neal launching but not finding as much lift as Kyle and I did earlier.
Jennifer and Kyle moving the Orange Crush back to the tie-down area at the end of a fun day.
It was a pretty good day for fun flying, but not so hot for long distance soaring. Nevertheless everyone had fun doing something even if it was just enjoying sightseeing around the local area.

See you next weekend.

Harold Gallagher

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