Sunday, September 25, 2016

SATURDAY, September 24, 2016. Lazy day, 14 tows, mostly Cal Poly Group.

Visibility: 40 miles in haze.
Wind: Light from the East
Altitudes: 45oo msl.
Time Aloft: Just over an hour.
Max Lift: 400 fpm
Temperature: 85 degrees F.
Comment: SLO day, with both meanings.
Tow pilot: Jim Rickey, Harold Gallagher

It was one of those lazy days where most pilots weren't in any hurry to launch. And most of them were from Cal Poly. The schedule looked full but when it came  to actually getting the gliders in the air, no one was in any hurry. The weather was cool, and it seemed like not much was happening aloft, but a few pilots, Troy in particular, showed us otherwise. Later in the day, the lift that was available earlier, all but disappeared.

I had several flights with Andrew Palmer who might just have soloed today except some of his paperwork was missing. Maybe next time we'll get him aloft alone.

Jennifer Bauman was back out here for the first time all summer. Sounds like she had a wonderful time during the summer months flying a number of different gliders at a soaring site on the East Coast. And the Cal Poly group was right along with her. Jesse McClintock , Andrew Palmer, Troy Wollman, Kyle O'Connell all showed up and all at least had one or more flights, solo or in the passenger seat.

Alex Caldwell and Sergio Grajeda used the time to prepare for the upcoming checkride, not yet scheduled. Near the end of the day, they flew several flights that were intended as practice checkrides. It looks like Sergio will be ready for Dan Gudgel in about three weeks. We wish him well.

The last flight of the day was Jim Rickey in the Orange Crush. Jim and I had shared the tow duties but he at least wanted to try his hand at finding some lift. Trouble is, the lift eluded him like it had all others in late afternoon. But since the weather was beautiful, cool, and hardly windy, no one seemed particularly upset and finding mostly sink.

Fall is here and with the passing of the Autumnal Equinox the shorter days will bring on much needed cool, smooth air. And that is the best time for training. If any of you reading this have always wanted to learn to fly anything, but gliders in particular, now is the time to come out to Avenal and begin your training.

The Cal Poly group moving Big Bird back into position after a flight by one of them.
Left to right, Jesse McClintock, Andrew Palmer, Jennifer Bauman, and Kyle O'Connell.
Big Bird is unhappy because three of its current students couldn't make it out here today.
Jennifer Bauman and Kyle O'Connell waiting for the tow plane to move into position.
Troy Wollman in the 1-26 up at 4000+ msl out toward the foothills.
With a telephoto lens, the heat aloft shows wiggles on the outline of the glider.
Troy has decided to come down and let Jennifer Bauman fly the 1-26.
Even though it seems early, there is no one else scheduled in Big Bird, so back to the tie down area it goes.
No one apparently wanted to fly the Orange Crush earlier but later it was used by Alex Caldwell and Sergio Grajeda.
Troy Wollman arriving in the 1-26 after a long flight  where good lift was found.
Alex Caldwell and Sergio Grajeda awaiting another launch for practice checkride flights.
A lovely flower out in the area of the outdoor men's bathroom.
Troy Wollman in the 1-26 again ready for another launch.
Kyle O'Connell walking past Troy Wollman seated in the 1-26.
Andrew Palmer and Jennifer Bauman sharing thoughts about the current school year.
Jesse McClintock feels the wheel is better than the ground, along with the shade.
That's Jim Rickey on the nose handle of the Orange Crush tying it down after the last flight.
About 2800 msl density altitude wasn't nearly as high as it has been in the heat of summer.
I hope everyone has a nice week and is looking forward to next Saturday for a cool day of soaring or training. Great time of year for either one.

Harold Gallagher

Friday, September 23, 2016

SATURDAY, September 17, 2016. Dennis Lyons flies his ASW-20 for the first time.

Visibility: 30+ miles
Wind: Light and variable, NW
Altitudes: 4000 msl
Time Aloft: 1 hour or more.
Max Lift: 600 fpm.
Temperature: 100 deg F.
Comment: Dennis Lyons new glider, ASW-20
Tow pilot: Julie Butler, Don Flinn, Peter Mersino

At 1045 pm, Peter Mersino and I are just now going to launch in spite of scheduling at 10:00 am.
Orange Crush being towed out to the far end for launch.
Larry Johnson helping out by using his SUV to tow when the normal tow truck was being used.
Thanks for the hookup Larry, and for running our wing.
Peter Mersino launching on one of his BFR flights; rope taut and ready to go.
Towed out over the SE end of runway 13L, Peter is in good position behind the tow plane.
Big event for Dennis Lyons who just purchased this ASW-20 from Jan Zanutto.  First flight.
Dennis Lyons about to fly his "new" ASW-20. Troy is standing by.
Seems everyone wanted to help Dennis; Troy, Don, Julie, Kyle, and Tiffany.
Tiffany Nguyen into the back seat for a nice long ride with Troy Wollman as pilot.
Big Bird on tow passing overhead. Troy released soon after and was up for more than an hour.
Kyle O'Connell ready to launch. He's looking ahead at what needs to be done to prepare for his checkride.
Mario Pauda in the 1-26 on tow while Kyle O'Connell steadies a wing for the next launch.
Mario Pauda passing overhead on tow in the 1-26. He had a very nice flight.
After a lengthy flight, Troy and Tiffany are landing on runway 7.
Troy and Tiffany are probably tired and hot but with good energy management, they arrived back here.
Richard Walker flying the 1-35 on tow with Peter Mersino in the Cessna 150.
Kyle on his second flight in preparation for the process of practicing for the checkride.

Monday, September 12, 2016

SATURDAY, September 10, 2016. Hot, dusty, some training, some cross country

Visibility: 20 miles in haze and smoke.
Wind: Variable, mostly from the East
Altitudes: 9700 +
Time Aloft: 3.1 hours
Max Lift: 900 fpm.
Temperature: 100 degrees F.
Comment: Erich Harding, 11, learning to fly.
Tow pilot: Harold Gallagher, Jim Rickey.

Click on any photo for larger sizes of all photos.

Last March, Erich Harding was here in Avenal taking the first two of a planned training program to earn his Pilot's license. He did very well on those two and was back for more today. He is a very quick learner and his progress is excellent. I have no doubt he would be soloing in less than a year. Trouble is, he's only 11 yrs old and won't be 14 to solo until March, 2019. By that time, he'll probably be flying better than anyone has in a long time, at that age. The great part about Erich is that he's bright, listens carefully, does what I ask him to do in the flight sequences, stays focused, and seems to understand clearly why, for example, the rudders are a necessary partner with the ailerons. So, here he is again, doing even better than he did last March.

Erich Harding flying his third training flight at age 11. Flying very well.
Erich is not left-handed but has a sore right hand. It's good to switch hands occasionally.
At his age, Erich is learning so quickly he could solo in his 12th year but, alas, the FAA says no.
Erich is a bright, determined, quick learner and will have no trouble learning to fly, anything.
A small cross country group is forming but won't launch until sometime after 1:00 pm.
Don Flinn and Jim Rickey chat while Russ Genet waits on his second flight.
Kyle O'Connell taking the ballast out of Big Bird in preparation for his solo flight.
It was a hot day with the heat ripples seen in this photo taken from the far end of the runway.
Sergio Grajeda is departing on what turned out to be a nice long, 2 hour flight.
With only one in the 2-33, the Bolthouse wires are overflown with slight room to spare.
The cross country group gathered and were ready to launch on hoped-for long flights.
Jeff Richardson, Andrew Palmer, and Carl Engel using the wing of the 2-33 for other than lift.
The guys are at the front of Martin Caskey's glider helping him get ready to launch.
Looks like the time is now for all of them to launch, one after another.
It's a small shadow but Jeff Richardson finds it useful for a slight cool-off.
Carl Engel standing by to help Martin Caskey get ready to launch. Martin's face shows how hot it was in that cockpit.
Martin Caskey is launching in his Nugget sailplane.
Jeff Richardson preparing the DG100 for flight but he's second to Carl Engel's launch.
Jim Rickey, the guy who somehow always shows up to help, towed half the flights today.
Carl Engel launching in his Discus was gone a very long time. His story follows.

Not sure if Jeff or Martin got back to you; a short summary of my flight below.

Duration 3.1 hours
Max altitude: 9,700 ft over Black, 5,000 ft over the foothills/valley
Max lift: 9 kts

The soaring conditions were reported as relatively non-existent through midday, but not long before I launched, we observed Sergio soaring over town and showing there was lift to be found!  I heard he ended up flying for around 2 hours. 

I released near where Martin reported a good thermal off tow where the power lines cross the foothills, and it took me high enough to press to the ridge.  Once there, I could maintain altitude, but not really gain much to push farther into the mountains.  I was joined by Jeff in the DG-100 and we bounced between the ridge and that first thermal a couple times. I was beginning to think this would be one of those days where you claw your way from thermal to thermal to stay up for an hour or two only to come back exhausted.  That's when Jeff spotted a circling hawk and reported better lift there, so I joined him along with Richard Walker. 

Richard's yellow 1-35 stands out well and I took a few pictures while we climbed together (see below).  Once we were at 5,000 ft, I pressed to Black where I found a stronger thermal which shot me up to a peak of 9,700 ft (and cooler air!) with Jeff not far behind.  Realizing the conditions of the day weren't very forgiving if I wandered too far from the mountain-provided lift, I stretched my legs a bit along the mountains but stayed within glide of Avenal.

Richard Walker in his bright yellow 1-35 sharing Carl's thermal near the West Ridge.
Jim Rickey moving into position to tighten the tow rope for Jeff Richardson's launch.
Jeff's wing runner, Mike Paoli, is just about to lift the wing of the DG100 for launch.
And now Jeff Richardson is on his way to a long flight, probably running the mountains with Carl Engel.
Richard Walker assisting Mike Paoli in readying the 1-26 for launching.
Yes, it was that dusty today, and with little cross wind, the glider spends a lot of time in IFR conditions.
The 1-26 on tow behind the Cessna 150, with Mike Paoli after some good soaring.