Tuesday, August 29, 2017

SATURDAY, August 26, 2017. Another hot day, few members out today.

Visibility: Unlimited
Wind: Light from the NW.
Altitudes: 5000 msl, Jan Zanutto
Time Aloft: 2 hours, Jan Zanutto
Max Lift: 800 fpm.
Temperature: 105 degrees, 4200 ft density altitude.
Comment: Hot and extremely dusty (on takeoff) day. Carlos Grajeda continues beautifying the field.
Tow pilot: Initially, no one. Then Alex Caldwell showed up so he and I could swap towing.

There were few of us at the field today. Alex Caldwell, Joe Anastasio, Ken Talovich, Jan Zanutto, and Patrick Ciolkosz. As stated above, Alex and I swapped tows for one another. Alex towed Jan and Patrick out to Black Mountain where he had this to say about his flight:

Harold, here is a brief write-up from yesterday:

My friend Patrick Ciolkosz has wanted a glider ride for quite some time. We decided yesterday was the day so we rolled the Grob out and launched around 1:45. I took a 3K tow directly to Black Mountain where we released in some good strong lift. It was a bit deceiving though, because after several attempts to break free of the magnetic pull of Black Mountain we just couldn't get a climb above 5K. We migrated back to my favorite spot at Castle Peak where there is normally a good climb but 5K was tops.

There was quite a bit of radio chatter, guys up out of Truckee hitting 16.5, and guys down at Tehachapi doing similar triumphs. There were some nice markers that looked at least 4K above us, to the north just above Center Peak, and I tried pushing out north but just couldn't connect with anything that was going to get me there. The Temblors and California Valley had nice markers as well. We heard some calls from guys launching out of Hollister and they weren't getting anything except some weak action from the normal EL spots. 

We still stayed up 2 hours in the ridge effect off of Black, doing mostly S turns and getting a look at the charred ground below us. It was nice to see that the bird population did not get snuffed out by the fires. We were accompanied by some ravens, and on one of my lower passes by the microwave tower I thought I saw one of the local eagles perched up on top of a tree.

Air quality was horrible below 5K, but as the saying goes- a bad day soaring is better than the best day at work....

Jan Zanutto and his buddy, Patrick Ciolkosz prepare the Grob for flight.

Ken Talovich waiting for his second flight in preparation for his upcoming solo flights.

Joe Anastasio and Alex Caldwell flew over an hour, enough for his single BFR flight.

Putting the Grob to bed after a nice 2-hour flight to 5000 msl.

Patrick Ciolkosz helping Jan bundle the Grob as protection from the dust and sun.

It moved above 4000 ft density altitude by late afternoon. 105 degrees on the field.

Ken Talovich leaving Avenal in his beautiful RV-8 after two good glider flights that makes him ready for solo.

Ken lifting off toward the clouds to the NW of Coalinga enroute to Merced, CA.

Very late afternoon, after all had quit flying, the clouds began marking lift over the Temblors.

SATURDAY, August 19, 2017. Few members, hot day.

Visibility: Hazy but good at 40 miles.
Wind: Light and variable, early from the SE
Altitudes: 5000 msl
Time Aloft: 2+ hours
Max Lift: 800 fpm
Temperature: 103 degrees, 4000 ft density altitude.
Comment: Way too hot for humans in flight.
Tow pilot: Dan Gudgel, Harold Gallagher

It was another hot day at Avenal. So, as a result, there were only a few hardy souls to brave the extreme heat. My guess is that it was about 120 degrees right on the field based on observations I made a few years ago with an accurate thermometer and a shade device.

Zach Yamauchi's excuse for being there was a need to practice checkride maneuvers for his upcoming checkride. We flew two training flights, one to 3300 msl and the second to pattern, and got in all the necessary maneuvers. Before putting Big Bird away, Mike Paoli decided he'd like to fly one good flight with me just as a refresher. So we headed to pattern altitude, thermaled a bit in the heat, and landed. As we waited for a tow back to the launch area, Dan Gudgel had an emergency at home and left immediately. I'm happy to report that the issue was resolved without further difficulty. In the meantime, I took over towing duties while Richard Walker and Luca Soares still had time for a launch. After that, and in the heat of the day we put the aircraft away and left.

Mike Paoli thermalling in the heat and while he successfully gained altitude, the heat went along with it.

Richard Walker worked on his Schweizer in the morning and flew in the early afternoon.

Big Bird waits patiently for someone interested in flying.  Not many on the field to go flying.

You can see what the heat does to the picture of the tow plane. That's what it was doing to us on the field.

Sergio Grajeda's Dad, Carlos, was using Doug Morris' tractor and scraper all day. New scenes are now available.

Richard Walker nearing launch with Mike Paoli helping out and running the wing.

One more checklist item and Mike will raise the wing for the launch. I start moving into position in the tow plane.

At the end of the day, Richard Walker helped me move the tow plane back into its hangar.

One large dust devil just sat there on the runway, hardly moving, but churning up a nice column.

You can see the wind gradient bending the thermal over to the left in this picture.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

SATURDAY, August 12, 2017. Rough air with good lift.

Visibility: Hazy but more than 50 miles.
Wind: Light and variable.
Altitudes: 6600 msl for Joe Anastasio
Time Aloft: 2+ hours for Joe and perhaps as long for Carl Engel.
Max Lift: 1000+ fpm.
Temperature: 103 degrees, 4100 msl density altitude
Comment: Thanks to Dennis Lyons and Martin Caskey for cleaning the starter motor on 4205U.
Tow pilot: Frank Owen all day.

The good news of the day is that our great friend from Avenal, Doug Morris, brought over his tractor trailing a really good scraper for the removal of tumbleweed. About 2 years ago, he did the same thing and we really cleaned up the runways right down to the dirt. By the way, Doug is the man who is solely responsible for any good fortune the AGC and subsequently the CCSC  realizes from the contractors on the solar farm just to our west. Doug has gone out of his way to see that we have been treated generously and fairly.

His family obtained land in the Avenal valley as far back as the 1880's and today Doug still runs cattle on acres from Coalinga south to Rte 41. He's one of life's nicest guys and anytime he shows up at the field please treat him as royalty. He also likes to fly in a glider so if you're going up solo in one of the two place ships please ask him to join you. We also owe his wife a ride as well.

The tractor was delivered about 10:00 am this morning and Dennis Lyons drove first. When he had to head home, Mike Paoli took over and continued throughout the day, even planning on scraping Sunday since Doug had generously offered to let us use the tractor on Sunday as well.

Doug Morris and Mike Paoli working on the hitch for the scraper. It came loose during one run while Mike was driving. After the fix Mike continued to drive the remainder of the day and planned on driving Sunday to get the job done removing as much tumbleweed as possible. Thanks so much for all your effort Mike.

Zach Yamauchi in place for his first flight of the day, a practice checkride.

Zach executing a right climbing and turning stall in preparation for his checkride.

On the ground again, Zach needed another pattern tow to make sure all was well in his skill set.

The heat was a bit oppressive waiting for a launch but once aloft the cooler air prevailed.

This time it's Luca Soares flying solo in Big Bird on tow behind Frank Owen in our beloved Cessna 150.

Luca is in great position just above the runway waiting for the tow plane to break ground.

Luca had a very nice 2-hour flight in good air with thermals hitting 800 fpm.

Eric Burlingame is launching in Big Bird and he, too, had a nice long flight with good thermals.

Carl Engel launching in the 1-26 since his glider was undergoing its annual and wasn't finished by mid-afternoon. He and  Martin Caskey worked on the annual most of the morning but a few things needed finishing later on.

The nice surprise was the tow plane being ready to tow early this morning. Those responsible arrived early, checked the starter motor, reinstalled it, and by 10:00 am the tow plane was usable. Thanks to all who helped make that a really quick operation.

Joe Anastasio assembled his PW-5 and launched around 1:30 pm or so. He said it was a 2+ hour flight that took him to 6600 msl and as far north as Coalinga and as far south as Route 41. It was just a very nice relatively easy flight since there were excellent thermals topping 1000 feet per minute in lift.

For those of you who may have noticed how neat and clean the area has been maintained not only around the clubhouse but along the fence line as well, we can all thank Sergio's dad, Carlos, who has been out there cleaning up the grounds for many days now. If you haven't been out there lately you have to see what a great job he's been doing and how neat the grounds look now. Muchas gratias, Carlos. Take him for a ride whenever you can because he enjoys going aloft in both gliders and the tow plane and it's a small way to repay him for all his effort.

On another note, Daniel Slezak arrive unannounced at the field and introduced himself to me because I had forgotten what he looked like since his last visit to Avenal and the CCSC. His dad, Doug, and brother Caine used to be regulars at Avenal and one day just headed home and hadn't returned for years. In fact, the last time I flew with any of them was Daniel who soloed on September 29, 2001. His brother Caine soloed on September 30, 2000.  Welcome back Daniel!!! After looking that up in my log book, I don't feel so bad about forgetting what Daniel looked like after 16 years away.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

SATURDAY, August 5, 2017. Hot but nice for moderate soaring.

Visibility: Unlimited
Wind: Light and variable from the E
Altitudes: More than 4000 msl.
Time Aloft: More than two hours.
Max Lift: 9.6 m/s from Peter Sahlberg, and 600 fpm from Big Bird.
Temperature: More than 104 degrees
Comment: Not many students or pilots out today.
Tow pilot: Peter Mersino, after a few months absence.

There weren't too many ships aloft today but those that were had fun and managed to remain aloft for several hours. I'm expecting stories from Karl Kunz and Jan Zanutto, but in the meantime, Peter Sahlberg offered this description of his flight;


 Nice to see you at the field!  Here is the write up for yesterdays flight:

 I launched in the 1-35 about 1:40.  The weather service said it was 96 degrees and that felt about right.  Jan had launched and returned and Karl had gone before me; it seemed that it was still soft in the foothills.  Off at 3,500 in 2-3 knots near Tar Peak I made a hash of circling and still managed to hold my own and move farther west over the mountains.  This area had recently burned and there were still small pillars of smoke rising here and there.  I ran up the ridge toward Black and saw that the smoke columns were dust devils sucking white ash.  There was good lift here; I recorded 9.6 m/s in one bubble. I also had a visit from a hawk who didn't seem thrilled to see me.  I used that climb to run north; found nothing and came back to the ridge, climbed again and headed to Orchard Peak.  I reversed course at Orchard and once again headed back to the burn area.  I saw Jan in front of me and the hawk was close behind.  After a short climb and another hawk visit I headed back to Avenal to find Jan landing and Karl nearby.  A good 2 hour flight after a long time off.

Peter Sahlberg.

Karl Kunz assembling his ASW-20 early in the day.

Informal chat on the patio with Peter Mersino, Elee, and Peter Sahlberg.

Peter Mersino towing the first flight of the day, with Eric Burlingame in Big Bird.

Eric Burlingame solo in Big Bird as the first flight of the day. More to come soon.

Not a lot of lift early but Eric made the best of it staying aloft for perhaps 45 minutes.

A long landing by Eric but a very nice approach and touchdown.

Peter Sahlberg and Karl Kunz talk about where they might find lift after both launch.

Peter Mersino towing the 1-26 past Peter Sahlberg's Schweizer 1-35.

Neiman Walker launching in the 1-26. He returned early but had a better flight later on.

Ken Talovich walking the wing after his demo flight that he thoroughly enjoyed just observing.

Now it's Karl Kunz turn to launch and he, too, was aloft for several hours.

Jan Zanutto and his buddy launching in the Grob 103 for another of the day's long flights.

Eric Burlingame and Alex Caldwell team up for a training flight and some good thermalling.

Everything is done for the pre-launch checklist and now they're waiting on the tow plane to move into position.

Ken Talovich running the wing for Eric and Alex.

A beautiful sky all day long.

Actually he ran much farther than I thought he would. Nice going Ken.

This was the last flight of the day but Alex and Eric didn't know it at the time. 

Untying the rope used to tow the 150 back to the hangar. It balked at starting in this hot weather.

Yes, it was hot, with 4000 msl density altitude and over 104 degrees.