Sunday, February 14, 2016

SATURDAY, February 13, 2016.

Visibility: A bit hazy but still 30 miles
Wind: 3-5 kts from the NW early, a bit more brisk later on, from the North
Altitudes: Tow release altitudes
Time Aloft: About 40 minutes
Max Lift: A few saw up to 3 kts.
Temperature: High 70's
Comment: Operations back at wonderful Avenal. Yay!!
Tow pilot: Steel butt Frank Owen.

It was just a beautiful day at Avenal. And the grass is covering all the bare turf so it looks like we laid down synthetic turf. A nice covering, though, for St. Patrick's Day coming soon. But let's begin at the beginning. Yesterday Peter Mersino and I flew to Coalinga, where we met Harry Davies for the return of the tow plane and glider to Avenal. The transfer was easy and Harry got to do a bit of flying even after tow. So he enjoyed the transfer as much as Peter and I.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Using Harry Davies car to tow the glider to the launch intersection at Coalinga.
We waited here for Peter Mersino in the tow plane to taxi into position just to the left of the intersection shown.
Harry has just arrived at Avenal after being towed from Coalinga and gliding a bit.
Saturday, February 13, 2016

There was a lot of activity today, both in the south hangar working on Big Bird, as well as on the field where there were more than 16 tows, two powered aircraft visited, three high performance gliders launched as well as the hard-working Orange Crush. A new visitor lately, Matt Stelmas, started his return to flying gliders with several checkout flights with Dan Gudgel. And the hard working guys in the Big Bird hangar, Martin Caskey, Jim Rickey, Richard Walker, and Larry Johnson, all deserve a whole lot of credit because they could have been flying but chose instead to work on the last few items before the new launch of Big Bird.

Dan Gudgel and Matt Stelmas getting the cobwebs out of Matt's glider skills.
Jeff Richardson assembling the club's DG 100 for a warm afternoon flight.
Mike Paoli working on his Libelle in preparation for the coming soaring season.
In the background is Matt Stelmas' Cessna 182 he flew down from Alaska.
Matt going over the many notes he took while flying with Dan Gudgel.
Alex Caldwell and Sergio Grajeda taking another training flight in preparation for his solo.
Andy Reistetter helping Joe Anastasio assemble the PW-5
Tireless Frank Owen taking a break between tows. He is indefatigable.
Richard Walker and Larry Johnson working on the tail feathers for our new Big Bird.
Jim Rickey and Martin Caskey worked all day on this beautifully restored SGS 2-33.
Alex and Sergio landed after a good flight while Frank Owen waits for more instructions.
Jeff Richardson runs the wing for another training flight with Alex and Sergio.
Yes, the sun was that bright, and the day warm, and a few took advantage of it.
Frank Owen slowly takes up the rope slack in preparation for the Orange Crush launch.
The dust shown here wasn't too bad because of all the grass covering the dirt runway.
Sergio waits for another flight while Yutaka Buto, Frank Owen, and Alex Caldwell chat.
Matt Stelmas heading back to Paso Robles in his bush-flying Cessna 182.
Harry Davies takes his turn in the Orange Crush with Sergio holding the glider down.
Frank, Yutaka, and Alex had a nice, warm afternoon conversation about flying, naturally.
Frank Owen is towing Harry Davies in the Orange Crush on runway 31.
Harry Davies on tow just above the clubhouse at Avenal.
Harry in a thermalling turn where he managed to stay up about 40 minutes in weak lift.
Yes, a landout in the southeast field. Harry touched down softly and rolled back to the perimeter.
 Here is Harry Davies story of his short landout:

After a fun and exciting day of mostly gliding and a bit of soaring, I decided to write my first blog post for a flight. Normally, I’m not inclined to document a flight so publicly. In this case, however, the prospect of trusting Harold’s well-meaning but too-accurate version of events is sufficiently daunting to prompt a few words of my own.

I launched solo in the 2-33 for a 3k tow. The high work portion was uneventful, except to say that I used it as an opportunity to practice for my checkride. I’m happy to report (pay attention here Mr. Gudgel) that I was able to complete all of the maneuvers well within the Practical Test Standards (stop reading entirely here Mr. Gudgel).
The flight became interesting as I made my way back to the IP. At the IP, I noted two things in particular on the airfield. First, the windsock was showing a stiff wind out of the North. Second, I saw Yutaka Buto standing near the launch area anxiously awaiting the 2-33’s return, which prompted me to expedite operations. As I began my pattern for a runway 31 landing, I extended downwind to a 45-degree sight picture familiar to any power pilot. I then executed a textbook turn to base and final, perfectly meeting my target altitudes and airspeed.

At this point, I ran some calculus on my knee-board and determined my best course of action was to completely retract the dive brakes. I then contacted “Avenal Tower” and requested an elevator approach to a precision landing. It was approved as requested, so I began an expeditious descent. Accounting for a number of factors, my landing roll calculation made selecting a landing zone fairly trivial. I made my initial touchdown precisely 165 feet south of CA69 in calf-height grass. Adjusting my roll-out direction to avoid known obstacles, I was able to stop the main wheel of the 2-33 precisely on the property boundary.

As Harold photo-documented my accomplishment, Yutaka assisted me in pulling the 2-33 the short distance to the launch area. Before we knew it, the 2-33 was hooked up and on tow again. It was, easily, the shortest retrieve of the entire day. Additionally, the matted grass in the farmer’s field left a perfect trail for me to wander back and pick up my pride.

In all seriousness, I was fortunate that an unintended landout did not result in anything worse than a bruised ego. My sincerest thanks to the CalPoly Akafliegers for their cleanup work in recent weeks. Without a clear approach, my OAV (that’s Off Airport Vehicle, for those unfamiliar) ride could have been much less fun. Oh, and to quote Harold: “Never turn base past the end of the runway on a high wind day.” Lesson learned. I now humbly submit this flight for the consideration of the CCSC Awards Committee.

Harry Davies

Rick Eason in his immaculate RV-9A preparing to return to Merced.
Richard Walker preparing for launch in his Schweizer 1-35 with Frank helping.
Harry Davies defending his arrival on the perimeter, with Sergio Grajeda and Rick Eason as witnesses.
Luke Bughman taking a pattern tow to insure his skills have not declined in eight weeks.
Griff Malloy on the right wing also had a skill enhancer flight  due to being away for many weeks.
Jeff Richardson preparing for launch in the DG 100.
The concentration is evident while Jeff goes over the final pre-launch checklist.
OK, all is ready, wing up, while the tow plane takes up rope slack.
Finally, Joe Anastasio gets to fly his PW-5. 
While Joe readies his glider, Luke Bughman prepares to launch in the Orange Crush.
Two unidentified observers await Joe Anastasio's launch.
Good concentration on the critical items to check before launching
Yutaka Buto hooks up while Griff Malloy stands by for canopy close and wing running.
Joe is lined up and ready to launch in the PW-5 behind Frank Owen in the towplane.
Its soooo nice launching on a nice smooth grass strip. Everything is easier and gentler.
Luke Bughman taking his second flight to pattern altitude.
Jeff Richardson on base for runway 31, about to turn final.
Jeff is lined up on final with enough height to clear the folks at the end of the runway.
Rick Eason taking off on runway 31, heading back to Merced to start painting the 1-26.
Harry Davies had another go at it in the Orange Crush. 
Joe landed after a flight of 30 minutes or so. At least he had fun.
Harry still circling in very weak lift. Probably only zero sink.
Time to put away all the toys and head home.
It was a fun day, everyone had something to do whether flying, towing, assembling the Big Bird, or just working around the field. There is always plenty of work to do, and with the wire buried, the front gate is now useful and preferable instead of going around the towplane hangar to arrive or exit.

See you all next week,

Harold Gallagher

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