Sunday, March 27, 2016

SATURDAY, March 26, 2016. Big Bird flies all day.

Visibility: Clear except for cumulus over the mountains.
Wind: North at 10 knots
Altitudes: 4200 msl,  Jeff Richardson
Time Aloft: 1.75 hrs, Jeff Richardson
Max Lift: 500  fpm
Temperature: Low 80's
Comment: New pilot Candidate, Erich Harding
Tow pilot: Frank Owen all day.

For large size photos, simply click on any photo.

Hello Everyone,

Another nice day at Avenal with activity involving both 2-33's, the 1-26, the DG100, and might have been the GAPA if we had time. Harry Davies is nearing his goal of flying all the club ships and so far he has only two to go, the GAPA and the Russia. He'll do it, for sure.

The day was warm and sunny with a pretty good breeze from the north. It got stronger just short of noon, and right after Harry did his back seat checkout. We easily found thermals then but the strong breeze began to break up the thermals and later on proved harder to find. In fact during the second flight with Erich Harding we actually got what I thought for sure was a mild wave off the Kettleman Hills.

Sergio Grajeda was out early and was determined to be the first aloft, which he was. In fact, during the day he did pattern tows and helped out where necessary. Thanks Sergio.

Martin Caskey was at Avenal today doing the necessary paperwork for the previous glider restoration as well as preparing for the annual inspection on the tow plane that he plans on doing tomorrow. He certainly has contributed a huge amount of effort on behalf of our club and for all that we are humbly grateful.

Sergio Grajeda on base for runway 31L after just a pattern tow.
Sergio starting his turn to final and in excellent position.
Frank Owen piloting the tow plane all day long.
Short final for Sergio on one of his three or four pattern flights.
It's great to see Big Bird back out on the launch area ready for great flying.
Harry Davies preparing for his back seat checkout in Big Bird.
Here comes Sergio again, on short final for runway 31L.
I think this is one of those expensive tows out of Hollister.
A beautiful new instrument panel for Big Bird with very accurate instruments.
A Cessna 170 landing on runway 31R, two gentlemen came to visit.

As mentioned, Harry and I are waiting to launch for Harry's backseat checkout. Because it was before noon, the wind wasn't as strong and the thermals were easier to find and enter. That changed later, however.

Sitting in the front is an unusual place for me but good for photographs of the tow plane.
Turning left and a flyover of the solar farm to the West of our gliderport, Harry maintains position.
Harry snagged a good thermal from the back seat of Big Bird.
We might have stayed up a lot longer but there were others waiting for Big Bird and reluctantly we had to leave a very good 4 knot thermal and head down to earth. The next flight with Erich Harding would prove to be a bit disappointing because of the strong breeze.

Sarah Harding, husband Trevor, and son Erich arrived from San Luis Obispo where Sarah teaches in the Mechanical Engineering department. It was Erich's 11th birthday yesterday and he was treated to a glider lesson in honor of that occasion.

Sarah, Trevor, and our newest student pilot, Erich, nearing launch time.
Erich is watching the tow plane for movement ahead of the glider.
OK, now Erich is satisfied that we're almost ready to launch in Big Bird.
After Erich's flight we talked about it and both of us weren't satisfied with the thermals.
With the strong crosswind I thought Erich would have trouble walking the wing. He didn't.

Jeff Richardson didn't launch until nearly 2:30 pm but in doing so, probably had the best time for lift in a high performance sailplane. Early in the day, he and Mike Paoli did a fuel run since we were down to our last two inches of fuel in the black tank. After that, Jeff made the most of the day soaring over 4000 msl and remaining aloft for nearly two hours. I didn't get any photos of Jeff but there are many in the archives over the past several months.

Here are Jeff's own words:

Hi Harold,

After assembling the DG100 and doing a fuel run to Harris Ranch, I finally got launched at 2:25pm.

I took a 3,000 ft tow behind Frank.  After releasing, I used up 1,000 ft looking for a thermal.  From there I slowly fought my way by back up to release height, but the 15kt north wind had blown me down to near Tar Peak.  Heading back into the wind I put the nose down and was soon past the airport over Hwy 33 where I found a nice 5kt thermal and climbed to 4,200 ft. while arriving back at Tar.  I repeated the cycle several more times for a nice 1.75 hr flight.


Harry Davies about to launch in the 1-26.
Just sitting there Big Bird looks great. And what a wonderful interior, especially for the back-seaters.
Frank Owen has moved the tow plane into position and Harry is about to wag his rudder.
Looks like Harry is in perfect position behind the tow plane as they near the end of the runway.
Clark Woolf is ready to launch in Big Bird, his first time in the newly restored 2-33.

Sarah Woolf passed her (Powered) Private Pilot checkride several weeks ago and decided to fly Clark out to Avenal for the day. She wisely used Friday to do a test flight to Avenal when traffic wasn't a factor. So, her arrival at Avenal today was excellent. I was sitting in the front seat of Big Bird when she passed overhead landing on runway 31R. Very nice touchdown in a pretty good breeze with a right crosswind. Clark continues to do well in training and I have no doubt he'll  be ready to solo on his 14th birthday in July. We flew together twice today and both times he handled the rough air very well.

Sarah Woolf going over her takeoff checklist in the Cherokee 140 from Fresno Chandler.

Erich's parents generously gave Erich another chance at a good flight and this time it paid off. We found lift, especially what turned out to be wave and some choppy thermals. But the entire time off tow, Erich did the flying and he really got the idea of how to control not just the turning and banking but being able to maintain the correct airspeed as well. So here is this 11 year old young man, latching onto and demonstrating his newly found skill at controlling an aircraft in three dimensions. A very bright young man for sure!!!

I had to continually put my hands on his shoulder to convince him that he really was doing all the flying and it wasn't me flying from the back seat. Too often it happens that way when the student in front is doing so well that he/she believes it is really me in the back seat doing the flying. Erich is young and has a few years ahead of him before he is allowed to solo but it would be great to see him at Avenal on a regular schedule even if it turns out to be only once a month until his 13th year. Maybe his Mom and Dad will agree to that idea.

This is the second flight for Erich and turned out far better than the first one.
The entire flight off tow was Erich controlling and he did exceedingly well, even soaring.

Jim Rickey spent the day mostly enjoying not having to work on anything in particular. He volunteered to cook the lunch hamburgers but other than that, he simply enjoyed being relaxed at Avenal. Finally in late afternoon, he decided to fly Big Bird and I had to head home and didn't have a chance to see how well he did during that flight.

This is the first fun flight in Big Bird for Jim Rickey after last week's test flight.
Later in the day, Sergio made another pattern tow and nice landing on runway 31L.
Jim Rickey in good position behind Frank Owen in the tow plane taking off on runway 31R.

It was a fun day for everyone who showed up and the beautiful scenery of the green mountains made it a stunning visual treat. These are the days when thermals are everywhere, the scenery is fabulous, the soaring is great, and the camaraderie is even greater. So come on out and go soaring. Avenal is at its finest!!!

Harold Gallagher

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

SATURDAY, March 19, 2016. Big Bird Flies Again!!!

Visibility: High cirrus but more than 40 miles vis below.
Wind: Light and variable from the Southeast
Altitudes: 6200 msl Jan Zanutto
Time Aloft: 3.5 hours, Jan Zanutto
Max Lift: 500 fpm
Temperature: High 70's to Low 80's
Comment: New people, demo rides, beautiful day.
Tow pilot: Yutaka Buto and Harold Gallagher shared 28 tows.

Click on the photo for a large size and a slide show.

Hello Everyone,

A beautiful day, with some lift in the area that was enough to remain aloft for a few hours. Some of the high performance sailplanes headed for the cumulus clouds over the mountains but for the training flights, the best lift occurred just west of the field and around the soon-to-be solar farm.

Rick Eason is going to fly the 1-26 for the first time after he got it painted so beautifully.
Last week Harry Davies set the record for the most flights in a short time and the reason he did that was evident today when he qualified to fly the DG100. No PIO's on takeoff, smooth on tow, and after several flights I think he's hooked on the higher performance sailplanes.

Harry Davies flights last week were rewarded today with his first flight in the DG100.
Clark Woolf hasn't been out too often but his Grandpa, Allan Clark, to the left, brought him today.
Rick Eason is camera shy but he was caught with his shorts up in this photo.
Don Flinn and friend, to his right; Allan Clark, Clark Woolf, and Rick Eason.
Clark Woolf flew today after being off for several months. We launched and his performance was nothing short of remarkable. From takeoff to landing he flew so well it was hard to believe he was even off one week. In fact I suggested his Mom had been taking him to another gliderport, getting lessons just to shock me with his performance. He said that wasn't the case but couldn't explain the high level at which he flew the Orange Crush. Good show Clark!!! Clark's second flight today wasn't as good as the first one. But that's the nature of the learning process. He'll rebound.

Clark Woolf did his absolute best on his first tow after a few months away from Avenal.
Harry Davies went through the correct routine in getting acquainted with the DG100. He helped with the assembly, then familiarized himself with all the cockpit controls, then got a cockpit checkout from Alex Caldwell, then launched after he felt himself completely ready. It showed on his performance.

Alex Caldwell hooking up the DG100 for Harry Davies first flight in a high performance sailplane.
Two ships waiting for pilots and they were soon filled to capacity.
Harry Davies about to launch in the DG100 for his first flight in that very nice sailplane.
Clark Woolf's second flight wasn't quite as good as the first one today. But it's a learning process.
Ethan Ronat is assembling his "new" glider bought recently from Steve Schery.
In the background note the work being done on Big Bird. The question, "Will it fly today"?

Troy Wollman has been flying regularly since he started at Avenal. He has successfully achieved the number of solo flights in the 2-33 to be able to check out in the 1-26. So, with no delay, he took and passed the solo written exam for the 1-26, then was thoroughly checked out in the cockpit, including the standard sight picture for the three pitch positions, and was very steady on takeoff, no PIO's recorded, and had a fun flight.

Troy Wollman taking his solo written test prior to checking out in the 1-26. He passed.
You'll note John Harbick sitting across from Troy Wollman. He will fly the Orange Crush shortly but the next time out he promises to let me check him out in the 1-26, a sailplane he's never flown since he's been in the CCSC. Let's make sure he gets in the air in that nice little sailplane. Next week for sure.

Kinslee Rix, Alex Caldwell, and Dwight Kroll chat about, what else? Soaring, of course.
Sergio Grajeda and Alex Caldwell fly one to pattern before Sergio goes solo again.
The 1-26 is really a great sailplane to fly, and with Rick's paint, a great one to look at.
Ethan Ronat's newly purchased Discus CS. He's excited about owning and flying it.
And here is Ethan Ronat about to fly his "new" bird, the Discus CS.
Dwight Kroll's buddy, Bruce from Seattle, is a sailor and wanted to see what soaring is all about.
Since he lives in the Seattle area, Bruce looking around Avenal was a bit of a culture shock.
We launched and found a bit of lift but not enough to remain up there for an hour.
Kinslee Rix is headed for the Air Force Academy in the Fall and wanted to experience a glider flight.
We had a great time aloft with plenty of lift that kept us up a bit longer than we should have.
Dwight Kroll headed back to Fresno in his Dakota along with friends he brought to Avenal.
 The next story is pretty amazing. Clark Woolf's grandpa, Allan Clark, brought Clark to Avenal for his training flights and I learned that he had flown gliders in 1983. I suggested that depending on the schedule I could take him for a ride in the glider. What I didn't know was that Allan was going to take me for a ride in the glider. Can you imagine for a moment that, 33 years later, this fine gentleman still had enough skill left over to do the tow, do the necessary flight maneuvers, and land the glider successfully. Now that's memory I haven't seen in a long while. Allan, you've amazed me, and perhaps you'll take my advice and get your glider add-on rating before the final sale of your Bonanza.

This amazing "young man" in the cockpit hasn't flown a glider for 33 years but you wouldn't know it.
 Somehow I missed Jan Zanutto's launch and flight, although I might actually have towed him aloft and didn't remember it with so many other tows today. Anyway, he had a very good flight to 6200 msl and was up for 3.5 hours. I believe that was tops for the day, although there were other high performance sailplanes aloft and they might have done as well. I haven't heard from others who flew fiberglass.

Here is a video link from Jan as he soared over the Black Mountain area:

Jan's Soaring

Ethan Ronat's new Discus CS is resting in his hangar after giving his owner a great flight.
It was a fun day with new people given new glider experiences, new checkout rides, new high performance flights, new gliders, and a newly restored Big Bird.

Here's  Jim Rickey:

The last two tows of the day were Big Bird.  The first flight was a planned flight to about two feet, releasing at the tow plane hangar and feeling all controls.  Second flight went up to 3400' MSL and wrung it out.  I could only get it to "nibble at the stall," likely because of the CG being further forward than it would be for most pilots.  Stall characteristics were about same as they have always been for me when solo.

Did 60 degree bank 720 turns both directions, flew it from minimum controllable airspeed to 95 mph.  Controls are a little stiff due to paint in bushings under the floor, but in flight I cannot say it was noticeable.  Was well behaved and a delight to fly!

Logbook entry of the flight has been made.  It is ready for you all to fly.

Three upper rear interior panels (by the instructor's head) are not installed until we get new Dzus fasteners, as the new panels are too thick to use the old Dzus fasteners.

Before the next flight the pilot's shoulder harness needs to be lengthened at the anchor end.  A yaw string also needs to be installed. 

Note that the minimum solo pilot weight is 161 pounds WITHOUT the removable ballast and 127 pounds WITH the removable ballast.

Enjoy the bird!


Jim Rickey in the cockpit of Big Bird, Martin Caskey standing by, as are someone and Alex Caldwell.
Big Bird is ready to launch for the first time in maybe 16 months.
Meanwhile, our dear downtrodden Orange Crush sits quietly in her old clothes at the end of the day, depressed.
Troy Wollman getting some dual instruction in the art of towing gliders.
Have a great day and hopefully we'll see you next weekend.

Harold Gallagher