Wind: Southeast early, East northeast later.
Altitudes: 4300 msl.
Time Aloft: 1.5 hours
Max Lift: 600 fpm
Temperature: Low 80's
Comment: Andrew Palmer flew three excellent flights.
Tow pilot: Frank Owen, all 21 tows. Thanks, Frank.
Wow, what a day. Seemed like all the members were here but probably only half the club size. The day was beautiful, the wind not so strong but later on developed a good crosswind from the East. That didn't bother anyone, especially Andrew Palmer, who soloed today after a year in the club. Problem was, he didn't often get a string of training weekends put together so that hampered his skill development. Finally today, Andrew showed everyone that he indeed had the skills to put three excellent flights together for his first ever aviation solo.
The really nice part is how all the club members were cheering him on and wishing him success. He and Jennifer Bauman were the first Cal Poly students to come to Avenal back in March of 2015. The good feeling all around the gliderport was palpable and it seemed everyone thoroughly enjoyed Andrew finally soloing. And he did it with style and smoothness. CONGRATULATIONS ANDREW!!!!!!!!!!
Jim Bell continues his training and will likely be the next student to solo at Avenal. He does very well thermaling and that part of his training doesn't need additional time. What's next are the necessary maneuvers required before solo can be attained.
Beth Platz also flying her fifth training flight continues to add more and more to her initial skills in handling the glider both off tow, and today, more of the on-tow effort. She will probably solo a few weeks after Jim Bell since he began training earlier than Beth. But Beth, being an over-achiever, is already disappointed that she hasn't mastered the tow and the landings after her fifth flight. Maybe she doesn't really need a flight instructor to get her pilot's license. However, what one learns as an M.D. doesn't always translate over completely into learning to fly aircraft. But she might prove all of us wrong.
When Joe Anastasio tells me how his flight went, I'll include that here as a revision. He stayed up longer and flew higher than anyone today so his information should be interesting.
"I flew for about 1 1/2 hours. Best altitude was 4300, consistent with Alex's RASP. As the day wore on it seemed that the wind increased, making thermals more difficult to climb in. Interestingly, conditions were more "Winter Like", with the best lift over the valley and local favorites like the prison, the dump and the drag strip."
Alex Caldwell and Sergio Grajeda continued working on the necessary documents that will be required for Sergio to take his checkride. Alex says that a few more practice flights and Sergio can schedule the test.
Mario Pauda is nearing first flight in his Schweizer 1-26. It gets an annual inspection next Friday, then he flies ii on Saturday.
We had some difficulty early on with the tow plane. The battery had been run out and we had to both jump it for the early launches and later on, took the necessary time to put a charger on it for about an hour. That seemed to be the trick getting it to start every time after that.
The narrative will likely stay short because of the number of pictures and the captions beneath. They tell a good story, often better than here in the text. If anyone wants to add information, stories, photos, or videos, just email me and I'll create a revision to this blog.
49 pictures follow:
|Early morning, the Cal Poly group were out clearing tumbleweeds from the west runway.|
|Dennis Lyons and Jim Rickey were busy patching a small tear in the Orange Crush fabric.|
|First launches were made from the far end because of a 7-9 knot wind from the southeast.|
|Amazingly, Jerry Smeltzer showed up after a few years away driving his superb Avanti.|
|Now that's one big, powerful Studebaker Avanti engine that Jerry loves to push to its limits.|
|The design of the Avanti was quite radical when it was first introduced in June 1962.|
|Jerry Smeltzer and Joe Anastasio assemble their PW-5.|
|Jerry is back after a long time away but wasn't up to refreshing his soaring skills today.|
|Jerry Smeltzer, Andrew Palmer, Jesse McClintock, Troy Wollman, Jennifer Bauman, and Beth Hotchkiss.|
|Dennis Lyons chatting with Jennifer Bauman as Joe Anastasio goes for a ride in the Avanti.|
|Mario Pauda has enlisted the help of Neiman Walker and Troy Wollman washing his 1-26.|
|Clark Woolf on the ground and Griff Malloy getting the Orange Crush ready to fly. Air is needed in the tire.|
|Jerry Smeltzer taking Joe Anastasio and Frank Owen for a ride in his Avanti.|
|Joe Anastasio, Jerry Smeltzer, Jim Bell, Jennifer Bauman, Beth Hotchkiss, Andrew Palmer, Jesse McClintock, Alex Caldwell, Griff Malloy, and Sergio Grajeda.|
|Mario Pauda is now all alone doing the more difficult under-wing cleaning.|
|Back from their hot-rod sojourn, Joe and Jerry lunch on Subway sandwiches.|
|Jennifer Bauman and Mario Pauda in conversation, certainly about soaring.|
|Two of the highest volume gliders ever produced by the Schweizer Aircraft Factory.|
|Not sure who is in the 1-26 but it could have been Jennifer Bauman or Troy Wollman.|
|Beth Hotchkiss, Jennifer Bauman and Jesse McClintock move Big Bird to the launch area for Andrew Palmer.|
|Andrew isn't sure he'll solo but I've asked him to retrieve his logbook and license from the patio.|
|Griff Malloy and Beth Hotchkiss helping get Big Bird in position for Andrew Palmer's first solo.|
|Troy Wollman over the fence on short final in the 1-26.|
|Troy is just about to touch down on runway 31R.|
|The Big Day. Andrew Palmer is about to launch on his first solo after many months of wishing and training.|
|Andrew's fellow students, Beth Hotchkiss, Troy Wollman, and Jennifer Bauman are eager to help him launch.|
|Since Jennifer first brought Andrew to Avenal, she gets the honor of running his wing for the solo.|
|On tow above the gliderport, Andrew Palmer on his first solo flight.|
|Andrew Palmer is on the final approach to runway 31L at the conclusion of his first ever solo flight.|
|Everyone is cheering Andrew as he nears touchdown after his first solo.|
|We all couldn't wait to get to the glider and congratulate Andrew. Everyone was delighted.|
|Naturally Andrew flew the three best flights after his instructor got out of the glider.|
|Back at the launch area, Andrew and fellow students preparing for his second solo flight as a 1-26 lands.|
|Troy Wollman over the fence on short final in the 1-26.|
|Griff Malloy, Beth Platz, Andrew Palmer and Beth Hotchkiss all feeling good about Andrew's solo day.|
|The two Beth's, Platz and Hotchkiss, share some fun stories.|
|Andrew in Big Bird is lined up for launch behind Frank Owen in the tow plane.|
|Andrew in good position behind the tow plane as he flies his second solo.|
|Andrew is making the low level turn right after lift off to try and avoid the Bolthouse power lines.|
|Andrew on final just short of the fence in perfect position for landing on runway 31L.|
|Andrew is definitely happy but so is his Instructor after watching that performance.|
|Jennifer Bauman and Beth Hotchkiss launch in Big Bird for an interesting flight but not long enough for them.|
|Jennifer in front, Beth in back on the way to search for thermals in the unstable air.|
|And the cutting begins. It was a good shirt but Andrew failed to remember it would possibly be cut after solo.|
|There will be a lot more pictures and videos floating around SLO and Cal Poly after this important event.|
|One more cut and the shirttail will be in good hands. BTW, Andrew just bought that nice new shirt.|
|Congratulations among the three principals involved in Andrew's solo flight. Frank Owen, tow pilot, in the center.|
|Bare Back Andrew is going to show off that loss in restaurants around SLO.|
|At 6:30 pm, some of the Cal Poly students are out at the windsock measuring for a new replacement.|
We hope to see more of you next weekend. The cool weather is here and it makes soaring so much more comfortable. Come out and see for yourself.