Sunday, February 14, 2016

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Visibility: Unlimited
Wind: light, about 5 kts out of N. before noon, then came up to about 18 kts out of the NW later.
Altitudes: Tow release altitude was about all we could get
Time Aloft: 18-20 min.
Max Lift: a few patches of zero sink
Temperature: pleasant, a slight wind chill with the stronger afternoon wind
Comment: Sergio Grajeda Solos! Cal Poly Akafliegers fly and make fuel run.
Tow pilot: Jim Rickey (Thanks to Debbie for letting him come out!)

It was another beautiful Spring-like day at Avenal.  Some high cirrus clouds seemed to keep the heating down a bit in the morning, then it got a bit windier than yesterday. So overall,  it didn't seem quite as warm as it did yesterday.

The Cal Poly Akaflieg group including Neiman Walker,  Troy Wollman, Beth Hotchkiss and Tiffany arrived about 10:00 a.m. This was Tiffany's first time at Avenal.  Tow pilot Jim Rickey arrived shortly after that. Unfortunately, we had a bit of a communication/coordination problem arranging everything by email last night. The solo students from Cal Poly couldn't fly until an instructor got there,  and I had told Jim I would get there at 11:00. The word didn't get out to everyone, particularly the Cal Poly group.   Also,  I didn't actually get there until about 11:45.

There was thick fog from Tulare out to the LeMoore Tachi Palace Casino,  which necessitated going quite slowly for the first half of the drive. Troy Wollman was waiting when I got to Avenal and made a good solo flight in the 2-33. After that,  I was able to get one training flight in with Beth Hotchkiss.

Neiman had taken Morgan's Toyota truck to Harris Ranch for fuel with the fuel trailer, which had a flat tire, and the fuel cans. By the time he got back with the fuel, the Cal Poly group had to leave,  as they had an important meeting some of them needed to get back to in San Luis Obispo. So unfortunately,  Neiman and Tiffany never got to fly, for which I'm sorry!

Sergio Grajeda Solos!
 Sergio's girlfriend Dulce arrived just after he had taken off on his first solo. Her timing was perfect. She said she didn't want to make him nervous by being there while he was getting ready to fly, but she was there when he landed to surprise him and greet him enthusiastically.

Sergio Grajeda and I made one pattern tow  with a landing on runway 13, which he handled very well. Then I gave him a rope break from about 400 ft. AGL  to the west of the field. He handled it very well, entering a left base leg for runway 31 and making another very nice approach and landing. By then, the wind had come up enough that we were getting some loose dust lifting off the runway in places at times. However, the wind was almost directly down the runway, so it was actually helping our take-off performance, along with the cool conditions and relatively low density altitude compared to summer conditions.

Sergio and I made another flight, this time towing to 2000ft. AGL,  and getting off upwind of the airport. We circled a number of times while drifting downwind towards the IP,  and he made a perfect pattern and landing on runway 31.  He's been flying very well, and  I decided it was time to cut him loose for his first solo.

He didn't disappoint me,  and made two very nice solo flights. He towed to 2000ft AGL both times. The wind was probably about 15 kts, but it remained almost straight down the runway. He released and stayed upwind of the field. After entering the pattern, he  adjusted his base leg somewhat closer to the end of the runway than in no wind conditions, as we had practiced,  and made 2 excellent touch downs and landings on runway 31. His judgement of the flair, touchdown, rollouts were excellent. He came over the runway threshold at conservative heights,  but rolled out and stopped within about 1/3 the runway length or less. All in all, very good for his first solo flights! 

Sergio just prior to his first solo flight.  He's worked hard getting to this day.

Without Dulce's help, Sergio wouldn't even have been able to be out at Avenal today! Is he ever a lucky guy! 

The traditional post-solo shirt cutting ceremony, which Dulce seemed to enjoy. I assured Sergio not to worry, that when he walked proudly, and with a slight swagger, down Avenal's main street with his shirt back removed,  that very soon,  he will see many other young men about town doing the same. Somehow, he didn't seem to believe me.

Sergio's solo take off.

Sergio's first solo landing.

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