Saturday, October 3, 2015


Visibility: Hazy but more than 30 miles
Wind: Northwest at 10 knots
Altitudes: 4000 msl
Time Aloft: Several hours
Max Lift: 6 knots
Temperature: Mid 80's
Comment: Many demo flights.
Tow pilot: Karl Kunz, Jim Rickey, Harold Gallagher


It wasn't a great day for soaring but if one got lucky and encountered lift soon after release, you could remain aloft for several hours. Not too many pilots did that today partly because the lift was fickle, and often narrow, and broken up by the wind aloft. Some demo flights were very good for time aloft and altitude gained but others were short and not too high. That's Mother Nature. We'd like to count on having all our flights be long and high but that's not always in the cards. For some there was disappointment, for others there was the thrill of having been aloft in a glider for the first time regardless of time aloft.

The work goes on for restoring Big Bird. We continue to thank those few who have devoted a large measure of their time to working on the glider rather than flying. Besides Jan Zanutto and Martin Caskey, others are well known around the field and since I don't want to leave out anyone, I'll just say, THANK YOU FROM ALL THE CLUB MEMBERS.

Jan Zanutto spraying the fuselage with the first coat of primer.

Jim Rickey is almost always working on Big Bird when he isn't towing.

We had the Avenal Gliderport Corporation annual meeting this morning at 9:00 am and were finished by about 10:00 am. Mark Neal had arrived hoping to perhaps get someone to fly with him and sure enough Dan Gudgel was able to make several flights with Mark on his way to his license.
Mark Neal waiting for Dan Gudgel to board the glider.
Ed Mandibles running the wing for Dan and Mark.
 One of the stockholders decided to go for a ride since it had been several years since he flew the last time.
Tom Marchione had fun with Dan, staying aloft for enough time to satisfy anyone.
Dan Gudgel doing more demos, this time with Tom Marchione from Los Angeles.
Another demo flight was made by Ethan Ronat for Jeremy who arrived about noon for his flight.

Dan Gudgel and Mark Neal watch as Ethan Ronat prepares Jeremy for his flight.
Now they're ready to launch and the dust devils seem to be getting more numerous.

Around 1:00 pm, the family arrived who had been scheduled for one demo ride. That turned out to be the grandmother, accompanied by her husband, her daughter, and their tiny grandson.

 Of all the people who I meet at the donut shop every morning, this "young" grandmother was the only one to accept the challenge and go for a glider ride. Good for her, and this should embarrass the others to finally decide to "risk all" with a glider ride.

Grandfather, daughter and grandson were having fun on the patio.
Grandmother and daughter walk to the launch area but had to wait for refueling and several launches.
Sergio Grajeda and Ed Mandibles push Carl Engel and his glider into place for a launch.
Our club gliders have already flown this morning and will fly again all day.
Carl Engel waiting patiently for launch but it wasn't to be quite soon.
In the meantime, after walking to the launch area, Grandmother and Daughter had to wait for refueling the tow plane and for the high performance gliders to launch. While waiting they made themselves busy looking at the gliders, and taking pictures.

With Carl out of the glider, what is so interesting that everyone is looking at?
What? A substitute pilot? An invader? A Future Glider Pilot of America?
Nope, just a lovely Grandson not at all dismayed by all the fuss over him.
Now with Carl back in his glider, the launch may not be too far away.
Well, finally, the high performance gliders were all launched and now came Grandmother's turn to fly. She is a great sport, anxious to experience what it's like to fly silently, no engine noise, few bumps, some lift, a bit of gained altitude, and a tour of the Avenal area.

She is absolutely looking forward to this, her first glider flight.
A few words about helping do the release and re-trim the controls and Harold is satisfied she is ready.
One last hug from her Daughter and her pilot will crawl into the backseat.
The launch is underway and Grandmother is going aloft in a glider!! Imagine that!!
Grandmother was not nervous at all and had ample time to take this photo on tow.
Still on tow going past 2250 msl, Grandmother took another picture of Avenal.
Thousands of feet in the air and still on tow behind the tow plane.
Grandfather points out the baby's Grandmother way up in the air. WOW!!
And so the experience ended. Not a lot of lift, nor a lot of time aloft, but the flight was valuable nonetheless. All the elements of a glider flight were present in even a less-than-lengthy flight so Grandmother was happy to have done it for the first time.

Jennifer Bauman brought three of her classmates in Aerospace Engineering from Cal-Poly to take their first glider flights. They all had a good time, not all had stellar flights for time aloft. But that's the nature of glider flying and the odd chance of lift being where you are at any moment.

Andrew Palmer aloft at just after release. We found lift and gained about 1000 feet overall.
Yes, Andrew enjoyed the flight and told the others about his experience.
It's Daniel Stalters' turn helped by Andrew Palmer, Paul Kujawa, Carl Engel, Jennifer Bauman and Jim Rickey.
A great  group of our future leaders of America in technology and other disciplines.
Jennifer, Andrew, Paul, and Daniel in the cockpit.
They are putting away the DG-100 that Carl flew today.
After landing, Daniel Stalters enjoyed the flight as much as Andrew.
Mark Neal stayed on today after his early morning flights to not only help out with the launches but to take a series of really nice photographs. I couldn't use them all but tried to pick out some of the best in his series. He was especially good at shooting the landing sequence of the 1-26 flown by Ed Mandibles.

Nice shot of the Orange Crush quite high at this point. He used a good telephoto lens.
The right turn from base to final for runway 7 at Avenal.
In flight and there were a good series of these shots, all of which could have been shown.
On final, dive brakes opened, for runway 31L, at Avenal, piloted by Ed Mandibles.
Nicely aligned for the runway, Ed kept it under good control.
Just a nice sequence of photos by Mark Neal of Ed Mandible's flight.
About 10 feet or so above the runway Ed is bringing it down slowly and carefully.
That 1-26 is just a good looking glider and very fun to fly as well as mostly forgiving.
Bill Shoemaker had a minor mishap that thankfully occurred on the ground and not in the air. We all breathed a sigh of relief at the outcome. The day was about ending and both he and Carl Engel headed back to the Bay Area soon after.

It turned out to be a very busy day with six or seven demo flights and more flights by students and high performance glider pilots. If you missed today, you missed a good one so plan on being out at Avenal soon. The weather will be superb from now on, likely in the mid-80's so very comfortable on the ground.

See you next week.

Harold Gallagher.

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