Wednesday, April 27, 2016

SATURDAY, April 16, 2016. New Students and Demo Flights

Visibility: Unlimited
Wind: N at 8 kts
Altitudes: More than 6000 msl
Time Aloft: More than 3 hours
Max Lift: 800 fpm
Temperature: Low 80's
Comment: Good lift and heavy sink.
Tow pilot: Julie Butler, Yutaka Buto, Harold Gallagher

Beautiful weather, a smaller crowd of high performance sailplanes, student training, a new demo flight,, visitors from Mendota, and the beginning of cross-country camp week rounded out the day's activities.

Ethan Ronat's glider is first. But others are assembling. Dave Greenhill, and Peter Deane were welcome visitors.
Bob Glougie is chatting with Paul Scheibel while Joe Oldham prepares Big Bird.
The launch line is busy as usual. Peter Deane is first, Julie Butler second, and Dave Greenhill third. All long flights.
Paul Finck visited and waited patiently for his chance at a demo flight.
Paul's photo of the gliders lined up for launch.
Joe Oldham working hard to maintain thermal updraft. He did very well.
Joe is working with a three knot thermal, but saw much stronger during his flight.
Charles Johnson, Director of Administrative Services for Mendota and his kids.
Andy Reistetter waiting for the tow plane to return and launch him.
Paul Scheibel's first glider flight, courtesy of his lady friend as a gift to him.
Yes, Paul was excited and really enjoyed the time aloft. He did two flights as a member of CCSC.
Larry Johnson went flying with Thomas Greenhill while Thomas' Dad flew in the mountains.
The hills behind Tar Peak are still green.

Well, not all of them. But rain is forecast over the next two weeks so they may stay green.

At least there are enough green hills to make the scenery enjoyable from a glider.

The Cross-Country camp, headed by Julie Butler, began with flights on Saturday, April 16th and continued on through Wednesday, April 20th. There were excellent flights, at high altitudes, for long duration, and everyone had a great time. Ethan Ronat send the following photos of his flight on April 18th and it's fairly representative of all the flights during the Camp. Strong thermals, even at high altitudes, were nearly common for the time everyone spent soaring. The names of the participants were not available at press time, but most of the high performance gliders and pilots were on hand.

Note the vario pegged while at 11,000 msl.
The cloud forms were most beautiful in all quadrants while Ethan flew all afternoon.
Ethan captioned this, "Many clouds were cheating". Not sure what he meant.
First view of Hernandez Reservoir below the glider.
Another view of Hernandez Reservoir and one of the possible landout spots.
Ethan is on his way back to Avenal after a beautiful flight.
Beautiful sunset over the glider just before it gets put away in the hangar.
The end of a great day of soaring in the Temblor Mountains both north and south.
We'll look for you next Saturday. Bring friends and neighbors for a fun time even if it's just on the patio watching the launches and landings.


Harold Gallagher

Sunday, April 10, 2016

SATURDAY, April 9, 2016. Two BFR's and afternoon rain.

Visibility: Unlimited below the cloud deck.
Wind: Southeast at 5-8 kts.
Altitudes: 4000+ just below cloud deck.
Time Aloft: About an hour: Sergio Grajeda
Max Lift: 500 fpm.
Temperature: High 60's, low 70's.
Comment: No high performance sailplanes flew today.
Tow pilot: Jim Rickey, who else?


Cold, windy, and later on, rainy. That's about the only way to describe the day. But there was enough lift below the darkest clouds to satisfy most everyone who wanted to fly. But there weren't that many out here today, other than students and some work on the tow plane by Jim Rickey and Martin Caskey. It was pretty unusual that no high performance glider was flying today. I can understand that because the cloud deck was low enough to challenge even the best of the gliders. So we had fun with the two 2-33's because there was virtually no waiting for a tow.

Jim Rickey observed at about 5:00 pm the sound of a thunderstorm and shortly thereafter the rains came heavier and longer. So that puts our planned Sunday ops in limbo until we can assess the runway condition. There are quite a few signed up for tomorrow and hopefully the rain didn't soak in too much.

The colors of Nature are as beautiful as a 10 knot thermal.
The top of the Kettleman Hills is the best view of our valley at Avenal.
Main Street in Avenal with majestic mountains in the background.
Alex Caldwell's van making its way down 269 to the gliderport. The solar farm is ahead.
Nothing subtle about our beloved Big Bird. It brightens up everything around.
Sergio Grajeda on his way to a really good flight of nearly an hour, above the gliderport.
A promising sky, a beautiful glider, and a competent student pilot make a great combination.
Sergio doing nicely on tow behind Jim Rickey in the tow plane.
Peter Sahlberg completes his BFR with three fun flights.
Jim Rickey is always available for help around the gliderport. Thanks, Jim.
Martin Caskey riding shotgun for the trip back to launching on runway 13L.
The dark rain clouds began gathering over the K-Hills but there was lift over there as well.
Big Bird looks good from any angle. Here it waits launch when our tow is completed.
Strange that only the two training gliders were in use today.
Over the top of Peter Sahlberg's hat, the view is interesting of the dark clouds ahead.

After Peter's BFR, my good friend, Joe Oldham, arrived with his buddy, Joey, and they enjoyed the beautiful scenery and the launching activities. Then Joe and I went aloft for what was going to be two training flights but the rain came and we went ... back to the tie down for Big Bird. The mud was quickly beginning to attach itself to my shoes. Joe is doing quite well and solo now doesn't seem so far off to him as he gets more and more excited. With so much flying experience I suspect he'll solo in short order after demonstrating the safety maneuvers and knowledge of glider operations.

Alex Caldwell training from the backseat in the neon-like Big Bird.
And then the rains came. Finally a thunderstorm to soak the runway.

SATURDAY, April 2, 2016. Great OLC Flights.

Visibility: Ceiling and Vis unlimited early, some cloud cover later.
Wind: Light and variable from the North
Altitudes: 9500+;  Ethan Ronat
Time Aloft: 4 hours: Ethan Ronat
Max Lift: 10 knots
Temperature: 80 deg plus.
Comment: We dominated Region 11 on the "On Line Contest" (OLC).
Tow pilot: Harry Davies, Jim Rickey, Alex Caldwell


The day didn't start out looking very good but the high performance glider pilots proved otherwise. Early on, lift was a bit difficult to find and stay in, especially for the student pilots. There were small beginning markers over the West Ridge, north and south, but they didn't seem too promising. However the day seemed very busy with nine gliders at a time waiting to be launched. Today we sure could have used either another tow plane or a much more powerful one. A few of the higher performance gliders couldn't get launched until well into the afternoon lift. Here are two blogs from Ethan Ronat and Bart Klusek:

Ethan Ronat:

Hi Harold,

For Saturday’s blog, the dry data from my flight:

Max altitude: 9500’ MSL
Time aloft: 4 hours
Max lift: 10 knots
Route: south to Soda Lake, then back north to the foothills north of Coalinga, and back south close to Paramount Farms, before returning to land at Avenal after 7pm.

Total of 320km, in my first X-country flight in the Discus CS.
No pictures, sorry. 


And Bart Klusek:


I heard rumors that the Russia was sad in her trailer and the forecast was decent so, after a long break, I came to Avenal. 
I launched after 2pm, and by then the conditions were good enough for me to stay up. Eventually I made it to the Black Mountain, found a nice thermal in the usual spot, climbed to 9-ish thousand feet and went north. I turned back some 15 miles past Coalinga, and landed after two and a half hours. Overall, a nice start to the season!


Morgan Hall sent around a nice email showing the results for Region 11 on the OLC. Check it out and you'll be impressed with what our pilots accomplished with their long distance soaring today. If you didn't keep a copy of that email, ask again for one from Morgan, then enjoy what the CCSC was able to do.

The assembly area is busy with high performance gliders being put together.
There are (ONLY?) 7 gliders waiting to be launched but later on it went to 9.
Jan Zanutto hovering over his ASW-20, just before his excellent flight.
Jim Rickey watching Morgan Hall and Troy Wollman prepare for their flight in the Duo Discus.
Harry Davies and Julie Butler assemble the DG100 for Harry's nice first cross-country flight. Yutaka Buto watches.
After launching a few gliders there were still SEVEN waiting to be pulled into the Wild Blue Yonder.
Our brand new CCSC member, Joseph Oldham, after his first glider flight ever. He loved it.
Joe Oldham is a long-time power pilot from Fresno and a member of the Central Valley Aviation Association who attended a presentation on glider flying for power pilots. He caught the bug and is now a member of the CCSC. WELCOME AND CONGRATULATIONS, JOE!!!

Jan Zanutto launching in his ASW-20 for one of his better flights.
Andrew Palmer and Neiman Walker moving Big Bird back to the launch area.
Julie Butler, Jan Zanutto, Dennis Lyons, and Karl Kunz chatting while waiting for the tow plane.
Bill Campbell from Fresno walking on the left, took his first Avenal glider ride.
Neiman Walker decided to check out in the 1-26 today and made a very good takeoff and landing after finding lift and remaining aloft for quite some time. He was steady on takeoff with no discernible PIO in any phase of his flight.

Neiman Walker on tow in his first flight in the 1-26. He did very well.
Bart Klusek ready for launch in the Russia and a nice flight described above.
Dan Clark and Yutaka Buto talking under the wing of Big Bird.
Nine gliders waiting at the launch area, everyone wanting to fly as soon as possible. The 1-26 is in the foreground.
Harry Davies rolling on tow, heading for an excellent first long cross-country flight in the DG100.
Julie Butler on tow, finally, after a long wait at the launch area.
Bill Campbell about to go for his first Avenal glider ride. He's had several flights years ago.
Bill Campbell is a long time power pilot who used to buy and sell the Valor, Light Sport Aircraft in the Fresno area. Bill has been at Avenal several times in his maroon Valor but never quite got a chance to fly. This time, not only did he fly, but worked very hard thermalling, gaining a lot of altitude and understanding the thermaling process. Bill has had some prior glider experience but too long ago and too little to remember much. He also is a member of the Central Valley Aviation Association and lives in Clovis.
After his flight, Bill said his shirt was soaked with sweat because of all the thermalling he was doing.
Morgan Hall in the Duo Discus following the bird on final to switch back seat passengers.
The bird did a go-around so it cleared final for Morgan Hall and Troy Wollman.
Morgan landed long to launch from the NW end of runway 31R.
Karl Kunz, finally, almost ready to launch in his beautiful ASW-20BL
Wow, that beautiful Big Bird, wild color and all, makes an impressive splash on the horizon.
Moving the Orange Crush back quickly so the tow pilot doesn't have to wait too long.
Jennifer Bauman launching in the 1-26 and had a fun flight coming up.
The tow plane launching from the NW end with a large glider in tow.
This time it's Morgan Hall and Neiman Walker flying in the Duo Discus.
The Duo Discus makes a beautiful picture, for the cover of  Soaring Magazine?
Late afternoon, Yutaka Buto is ready to launch in the 1-26.
I believe he may be one of the last to launch for the rest of the day.
A good way to end the story of April 2nd, with Yutaka looking very relaxed in the 1-26.