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.

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