Tuesday, May 31, 2016

SATURDAY, May 28, 2016. Memorial Day Weekend. Camp outs.

Visibility: Unlimited
Wind: NNW 7 kts
Altitudes: 12000 msl +
Time Aloft: Six hours.
Max Lift: 15 kts.
Temperature: Low 80's.
Comment: Nice beginning to the Memorial Day weekend.
Tow pilot: Harold Gallagher, Alex Caldwell.


It was a good beginning to the long weekend. The lift got better as the afternoon progressed so that by the time I took Rick Harvey for his first glider ride, the lift was nearly everywhere in the area called "The Avenal Effect". There weren't too many members out today, perhaps because it was the holiday weekend and many folks head to the mountains or the shore. Those that arrived had a good day with lift evident much of the day and in many areas, with cloud streets showing up as great markers.

Early in the day, Dan Gudgel took Carsten Moeller up in the Orange Crush and after a few flights, turned him loose since Carsten had already amassed sufficient glider flight time. Carsten lives in SLO but came from northwest Germany, south of Kiel, near Schleswig-Holstein.

Carl Engel arrived for soaring today, planning to stay overnight, and flying again tomorrow. I think Mario Pauda was also planning on an overnight camp out but not sure how many others were as well. I wasn't around when Carl returned from his long flight but with his latest aerial conquests, he likely had a long and high flight.
Recently Carl emailed his version of the flight with five excellent photos, especially the last two. I have included them at the end of this blog. Here is Carl's story of his flight:

Saturday 5/28:   My flight on Saturday is very similar to Ethan's, so I won't elaborate much.   I also was just over 500km for the day!  I've attached a couple photos after landing, as well as one during my flight showing the power of convergence: varios indicating 10 knots up, and averaging above 8, all while going straight!  OLC trace here: http://www.onlinecontest.org/olc-2.0/gliding/flightinfo.html?dsId=5087080

Sunday 5/29:  Mario Pauda camped overnight with me to fly on SundaySunday took a bit longer to develop than Saturday, but was also turned out to be an excellent day.   After hearing the Hollister guys having trouble finding good lift south of Black Mountain but reporting solid conditions between Panoche and Black, I launched.  Mario had launched a bit earlier in the 1-26.  Once off tow and climbing in a thermal, I tried to get him on the radio to see how he was doing, but no answer.  I headed for Black once I gained enough altitude.   As I was climbing through 8K over Black, I spotted the white 1-26 above me!  After topping out around 10K, we left the thermal together and I got a couple good pictures of Mario.  Of course what would have been the best ones turned out blurry.  I worked my way northwest along the mountains to just shy of Panoche where the cloud street ended, then turned around and headed back southeast.  I met up with Karl Kunz in GD on and off as I ventured south, tracking the sometimes-marked convergence as it bowed east over I-5 once I was south of Tar Peak.  I eventually turned back north and ended up over Black again with lots of altitude to spare.  Needing to be on the ground soon, I spent the next 20 minutes cruising at 100 knots to bleed of altitude on my way back to Avenal.  Another 5 hour flight and ~350km!  OLC trace here: http://www.onlinecontest.org/olc-2.0/gliding/flightinfo.html?dsId=5089531 

A fantastic weekend getting more experience flying convergence, venturing farther from Avenal, and getting more time in my new-to-me Discus!  

Clark Woolf had tow pattern tows which are preceding the all-important solo phase of his training. Since he won't be 14 until July 11, he still has time for more training flights and a renewed interest in, and focus on, the crucial issues of glider flying. We wish him much luck.

Ethan Ronat submitted his flight data and I've updated it in the header above. I'll post his story later.

Here is Ethan's excellent flight description:

Another epic soaring day at Avenal. A day there was lift almost everywhere until late evening, and cloud streets that enabled you to stay high most of the time, without circling in thermals.
The strong conditions were felt immediately as I started my tow, and I was almost tempted to release at 500 ft. AGL, but I decided not to push it…   Another boomer at 900 ft. AGL was just too much to pass, and I released, sending Alex (thank you Alex for volunteering to tow, when nobody signed up) to return for the next tow, as I was climbing in 10 kts. faster than I would have climbed, had I stayed with the tow plane. 
At 4000ft. I headed for the mountains, and at 9000ft. it was time to head north. Quick run north, as I was hoping Carl Engel in CZ will catch up. Turned back at Panoche, and met up with Carl over Hernandez Reservoir, who wanted to continue north, so I turned back and joined him back to Panoche (for those OLC geeks, this slowed my average speed, because at the end of the day, I maxed out on the 6 OLC legs, so this extra distance didn’t count..). From there, back south, and at some point near EL5 I got into some heavy rain, but there was still lift all around. Shortly after, I reached my peak altitude of the day, at 12,000ft., and used oxygen for the first time flying my Discus
Carl Engel and I were “loosely” flying together. We tried team flying, but quickly lost contact, as each one flies his style. In order to team fly, you need to want it badly enough, and you need a high level of discipline. I guess at that point, we had neither one of the two, which is fine. It was a good enough day that you didn’t really “need" it, in order to stay in the game.

At some point, around Orchard Peak southbound, I was flying under an impressive cloud street, when I hit incredible sink that I couldn’t shake myself out of, which lasted for maybe two minutes, in which I lost about 3000 ft!! It was almost scary – I was looking at my wings to see if there was something structurally wrong, or maybe my airbrakes inadvertently got deployed, but everything was normal, and I finally was able to stabilize the altitude and stop losing it so dramatically. That made me reconsider my original plan to continue southbound – maybe the day is turning around, and the party is over? Maybe if I will continue southbound, very quickly I will find myself without lift, searching for land-out options? With a 5am showtime to work the next day, I was definitely not in a mood for a long ground retrieve into the late evening… Looked like Carl also ran into some serious sink south of the 41 (or was it the 46? I kept confusing them), and he sounded like he had enough of going south, but somehow a bit more lift convinced me that the day still has got a lot to offer. I tried to pass my optimism on to Carl to join me going farther southbound, and before I knew it, he was back up at 11,000 ft. cruising past me, farther to the east, and 2000 ft. above me. 

So on we went southbound, seeing each other time to time, but most of the time we had each other on Flarm. It's so nice to have my Flarm fixed (surprisingly, the problem I have been struggling with in the last two months ended up being the old core I had, that was faulty - not very common to have a hardware issue, with these high quality instruments), so now with a PowerFlarm in working order, it makes both for safer flying, and easier buddy flying. I crossed highway 58 just north of Soda Lake, continuing south under a nice cloud street, and before I knew it, it was banging hail on my canopy. I tried to get out of there quickly, as I didn't fancy a cracked canopy, or worse. Once I was out, I figured we may be getting ODed all over, so it was time to head back north. Turns out lift was still good all the way to Avenal, and it wasn't long before I was back in glide range to Avenal. Back over Black Mountain, I was still at 8000-9000 ft., so I decided to make one last excursion north again. Carl was a few miles ahead of me, reporting good lift to 10,000 over Lookout, and by then I was down at 6500, so I was debating if to continue, after telling Mario (who graciously agreed to crew for me - thank you Mario!) that I will now stay in glide range from Avenal. But soon enough, I found lift again, and shortly after, Ramy in TG passed above me at 10,000, confirming the good lift and clouds that were still very "alive". I got a good climb and continued north at 10,000-11,000 ft., as I saw Carl flying in the opposite direction directly below me at 9000 ft. heading back south to Avenal. I continued north up to Hernandez Reservoir again, before heading back myself. Still plenty of lift on the way back, long after 7 pm, but it was time to land and put Romeo back in its hanger for the night. 
Landed after about 6 hours of flying, covering just over 500 km.

See track at OLC: http://www.onlinecontest.org/olc-2.0/gliding/flightinfo.html?dsId=5087141

Avenal soaring at its best!  Pictures added at end of this blog.

Mario Pauda after running the wing for the launch of the 1-26 piloted by Rick Eason.
Dan Gudgel helps Peter Sahlberg get ready for his launch in the 1-35.
Mario Pauda helping Clark Woolf wipe the canopy on the Orange Crush.
Don Flinn waiting for Carsten Moeller to go through the takeoff checklist.
Dan Gudgel waiting for Peter Sahlberg's pre-takeoff checklist to be finished.
Clark Woolf is just about to launch in the Orange Crush for pre-solo pattern flights.
Ethan Ronat readies his glider while Carsten and Mario look on.
Sarah Woolf running up her Cherokee 140 prior to heading back to Fresno with Clark as co-pilot.
Troy Wollman and Neiman Walker move the 1-26 back into position for a subsequent launch.
Two good guys from Cal Poly SLO, Troy Wollman and Neiman Walker.
Finally, Ethan gets his turn to launch and promises to send a story for publication.
Ethan Ronat launching down runway 31R for a nice long flight.
Mario, Troy, and Neiman preparing the rope link for another 1-26 flight.
Mario hooks up the Schweizer link while Neiman waits patiently.
Big Bird waiting for the afternoon's introductory flight for Rick Harvey.
Alex Caldwell took over the tow duties from Harold Gallagher for the remainder of the day.
Neiman Walker going up again since he had a good flight the first time.
Rick Eason flying home to Merced in his immaculate RV-?, (I keep getting mixed up on numbers.)
Most of the prevailing lift came from the heated metal supports of the solar farm.
Mario Pauda wanted a back seat checkout in the Orange Crush and got one for 45 minutes.
The under-construction solar farm to the southwest of our gliderport.
Markers were showing everywhere up and down the Temblor Range making cross country easier.
The solar farm has been a good neighbor ever since construction began.
Martin Caskey flying his Nugget in and around our Orange Crush flown by Mario Pauda.
Martin Caskey's Nugget in flight almost looks like an oil painting with clouds as background.
Martin may want to pick the best picture out of those shown here.
All good shots but some are sharper in focus than others. Martin had fun flying around us.
Neiman Walker flying the 1-26 in the same thermal as we, in the Orange Crush.
Neiman kept his distance but when higher could have moved more in front of us.
Rick Harvey was given a gift glider ride from his son, Scott. He really enjoyed the superb lift.
Rick Harvey after enjoying about a 36 minute flight.
Now that's a cloud street, maybe all the way down to San Diego, maybe!!! Also note Neiman Walker is landing the 1-26 on runway 31L after a very long flight, sharing our thermal.
Here are Ethan's photos during his excellent flight of 500 km.

Good lift even under overcast skies.
Still excellent lift after 7 pm.
Back home at the end of the flight over Black Mountain.
Leaving Black Mountain and heading back to the gliderport.
Landed just in front of my hangar.
Carl Engel after landing.
It's almost bed time for Romeo.

Here are the five pictures Carl Engel sent for his flights on 5-28 and 5-29:

Mario Pauda in the 1-26 flying along with Carl Engel.
Looks like Mario may have found another thermal and is heading towards it.
The awesome power of the convergence. At 10,300 msl, the vario is showing 1000 feet per minute lift.
A beautiful picture. Worthy of the cover of Soaring Magazine. Carl Engel's Discus.
Another interesting photograph of his Discus at the end of the day.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

SATURDAY, May 21, 2016. A lot of fun flying.

Visibility: Unlimited under the cloud deck. Overdeveloped late afternoon.
Wind: 7 kts from the SE, changing to NW in late afternoon.
Altitudes: Above 8000 msl.
Time Aloft: Up to 5 hours for the high performance ships.
Max Lift: 8-10 kts early afternoon.
Temperature: Mid to high 70's.
Comment: Many excellent flights. New member, Joaquin Riviera.
Tow pilot: Julie Butler, Jim Rickey, Harold Gallagher

Click on the pictures for larger sizes.

It was an excellent day for both long and high flights. Morgan and Julie headed to the Pacific Coast along which they flew for more than 4 hours, easily the best flight of the day. I'm sure they posted that great flight on the OLC which most of you have a link taking you there.

Harry Davies and Ethan Ronat also flew long and high flights in their high performance sailplanes.

The Cal Poly group were out today flying both solo and preparing for their checkride for Troy Wollman and Jennifer Bauman.

Alex Caldwell assembled his Nimbus 3 for the first time in a long time and enjoyed the lift ever present under the overdeveloped cloud deck.

Our newest member, Joaquin Riviera brought his son, Joaquin, Jr. out to watch his Dad soar up over 5200 msl. in his first training flight as a member of CCSC.

Jesse McClintock flew again with me for the first time in many months. He just has to put two good weekends together of flying with me and he'll solo. That''s a hint, Jesse. :-)

Jennifer Bauman is closest to her checkride, with Troy Wollman not far behind. Good luck to both on getting their licenses.

Neiman Walker and Griff Malloy both flew solo flights and did well, both in time and altitude gained.

Thanks to Julie Butler early, and Jim Rickey later on, for their towing services especially when I had students and couldn't do both. Although we talked about the comedic scene if I did try to tow and head back to the glider along the tow rope. Easy to get back there, but tougher to return to the tow plane, assuming it's still tracking and climbing steadily. Good laughs.

The nice part about this is that Jim Rickey had a great flight after releasing in very strong lift. He wandered about the area above 6000 msl mostly and at times, at 7100 msl. In an earlier time frame, we had to call Troy Wollman to come down or he would have been up there until dark, naturally having fun.

Joaquin Riviera walks the wing of Big Bird for his second training flight, first as a member of CCSC.
Heading up, Joaquin Riviera continues to thermal very well.
Reaching 5000 msl, Joaquin is one happy pilot, his highest level.
5200 msl wasn't the highest of this thermal but we needed to get the glider back down.
Jesse McClintock waiting for the tow plane to move into position.
Jesse is going past 4000 msl on his way to a nice thermalling flight.
Ethan Ronat on tow passing the tow car. He had a very nice flight well into the mountains.
Mario Pauda flying the 1-26 in anticipation of bringing his own 1-26 to our gliderport.
Mario is launching into some pretty good thermals, with height and longevity.
Griff Malloy and Jennifer Bauman wait for the tow vehicle after Griff's flight.
The overdevelopment strangely didn't stop the thermals from reaching well above 7000 msl.
The high performance ships headed south along the cloud deck pictured above.
PG&E's solution to the danger of wires. Orange balls are legally to protect only them.
I don't think anyone at PG&E or Bolthouse ever flew an aircraft while trying to see these little balls from the air.
Jennifer Bauman on one of her pre-checkride flights required by the PTS.
Griff Malloy about to launch in Big Bird with Jesse McClintock assisting.
The wing is up, the tow plane takes out the tow rope slack and the launch is on.
Mario Pauda, Troy Wollman, Jennifer Bauman, and Jesse McClintock watch the sky for the tow plane.
Aha,  they've found it, up there against the cloudy sky. Look closely.
Big cloud street extending south all the way to Santa Barbara.
Alex Caldwell returning in his Nimbus 3 after an easy flight with such great L/D performance.
Alex on short final showing why it's critical to look carefully at incoming gliders. Hard to see, isn't it?
Alex landing his Nimbus 3, accompanied by no noise at all, as we always warn newcomers to our gliderport.
Harry Davies, Don Flinn, Morgan Hall, Julie Butler, and Jennifer Bauman all talk about the long flight.
With the over-development, the day remained beautifully cool, and comfortable, especially for the pilots inside those cockpits. Well until late in the day when Jim Rickey flew, the lift continued to push the gliders up over 6000 msl. A very interesting and satisfying day for all who ventured aloft.

See you all next weekend, Memorial Day, and hope we see more of the wonderful lift we've been getting almost every weekend this year.


Harold Gallagher