Wednesday, February 8, 2017

SUNDAY, February 5, 2017. Soft field, early mountain wave.

Visibility: Unlimited under the overcast.
Wind: Initially from the SE at 5 kts. Later, 15 kts from NW
Altitudes: 4500 msl.  Harry Davies
Time Aloft: About 42 minutes.
Max Lift: 600 fpm occasionally.
Temperature: Mid 50's.
Comment: Operating on a narrow strip alongside the main runway.
Tow pilot: Jim Rickey.

It was an iffy day. The field was good only along the narrow strip used mostly by the vehicles. But it worked OK for those few who turned up today. First flight was Zach Yamauchi and he arrived early, got the glider preflighted and was ready to fly on time. Zach is a most delightful student who always has a smile on his face, a great attitude, and he's always ready to take direction in flight. I have great students now and have had in the past years I've been teaching. But every now and then, a few students in particular stand out mostly because of their attitude and Zach is right there at the top with a few others. He's fun to teach and fun to just have around the field. Today, he flew twice and we are getting ever closer to his solo. I would expect that the second time out after today he'll solo. We are all looking forward to that milestone.

Zach is ready for takeoff on runway 13 LL, a far left narrow strip used for vehicles mostly.
 Nels Siverson, an early years commercial airline pilot with Eastern Airlines, decided he wanted to get his glider add-on rating. He joined the club, and today was our first time up together. He did well considering his lack of recent flight experience and I expect him to move along quickly to solo and beyond.

Nels Siverson and Beth Platz chat while waiting for their turn to fly.
Beth Platz is a Doctor at Valley Children's Hospital working in a very difficult specialty. So her time out here is somewhat of a pressure reliever. Because of her duties and things like being on call every few weeks, she cannot fly every weekend. But her progress is good and when the time is available she comes out to fly. We tried to do two or three flights today but after the first flight, when the rotor got too rough, Jim Rickey and I decided we'd call it a day. So Beth was disappointed but determined to push on with her glider license.

Nels Siverson in a left bank soaring for the first time here at Avenal
 Nels Siverson flew for the first time in the club and did well, especially on tow where he had a few deviations but overall had much better control than I thought he would. Since we were aloft just when the lift was excellent, at 4-6 kts, Nels had an opportunity to learn about soaring and gaining altitude. While we set no records for time aloft, nor did we gain much altitude, Nels managed to stay around 2800 msl for about 42 minutes. We quit soaring not because the lift went away but because we knew Beth was waiting to fly. As he quickly found out, giving up a lift area that was 4-6 knots and descend with full dive brakes open is not an easy thing to do.
Nels had the longest flight of the day since we went up at the right time just before the lift died.
 Now it was Beth's turn to fly and since she hasn't been out flying lately, it was most of all a refresher flight and reintroduction to the difficulties of being on tow. Of course, just as we were taking off, the wind shifted from the SE, to the WNW, and increased in speed from 5 to 15 knots. After bouncing around at 2500 msl for too long, we reluctantly gave up and decided to relaunch, only this time taking a much higher tow. We landed like an elevator right at the takeoff spot for 13LL and sat there talking. Finally Jim Rickey signaled that perhaps it might be a bit too rough for another flight and I concurred. So, we all headed back to the tie down area, secured the gliders, and headed home. Meanwhile, Jim Rickey worked on the alternator in the tow plane since it didn't appear to be working to recharge the battery.

Around 3:30 pm the mountain wave started blowing from the WNW and it got rough on the ground.
Beth and I quit flying about 4:00 pm because the "rotor" was tossing the tow plane around a bit. Us, too.
Harry Davies arrived towing his glider, a beautiful Libelle, and drove down to the far NW end to assemble it. When he finally went aloft, he encountered enough lift to be there for awhile but as Beth and I found out, all of a sudden the lift went away and Harry had no choice but to land. He was as surprised as we were because it looked like a strong mountain wave was developing. Well, at least Harry came out, flew awhile, and had some fun in the process. Good to see you again, Harry.

We are looking forward to seeing those of you who want to fly this Saturday. Remember there is a ground school being held on the Cal Poly campus for anyone wishing to attend, for a modest fee. We usually conduct these seminars every year during the wet and cold season, a good time to be there because usually the field is either too soft to fly or it's raining. There is one more seminar this Saturday at Cal Poly beginning at 10:00 am. Check with Dan Gudgel for location on the campus and subjects covered.

Those wishing to fly should get on the schedule even though it appears Saturday might be either too wet or the field too soft. But just in case it turns out good for flight ops, get on the schedule so we can show a tow pilot volunteer that there are enough folks who want to fly.

See you on Saturday unless you're at the ground school.

Harold Gallagher