Thursday, February 22, 2018

Discus Duo at Santa Ynez

This Trip Even Counts as an Airplane Cross Country!

On 2/19/18 I had the incredible opportunity to fly with Morgan in his Duo Discus on a XC launching out of Santa Ynez.
The day started, as it ended, cold and windy.  We arrived at Santa Ynez at about 10:30am and were met with cold post-frontal conditions.  We met Ramy Yanetz, the other pilot launching out of Santa Ynez that day and began rigging.  As the wings slid into the gliders we watched as the low clouds from the front began to burn off and the sky filled with little puffy cu.  Me and Neiman Walker, our ground crew for the day, also did a fair bit of ogaling at Ramy's  new 18m ASG 29. 

Once the gliders were rigged we pushed out onto to the taxiway and began to prep for launch.  As we were pushing out we began noticing not only some nice looking cu popping up just to the south with lenticular clouds forming over them, marking the scattered bits of wave we would encounter later in the flight.  

The tow was quite normal other than a 172 having to do a go around above us because we didn't get hooked up and launch quick enough.  We towed to the Santa Ynez range where the 15kt winds from the north were producing very workable ridge and thermal lift.  We used the ridge to climb up to about 5000ft and made our first unsuccessful attempt to connect thermal lift the clouds were marking.  With the strong wind and early morning light convection, we were not able to connect with anything meaningful and circled back to the ridge to climb back up and try again. 

 It was here that we were able to connect with a bit of what Morgan described as bow wave off the Sant Ynez Range.  With this, we were able to climb up to about 7000 thus getting us slightly above cloud base.  We again pushed north to try and connect with them, at this point, a fairly obvious cloud street forming just beyond Mt. Figueroa.  As we got closer to Figeroa we watched as Ramy climbed out and connected with the clouds, but we again were met with disorganized and unpredictable lift.  

We spent the better part of an hour trying to find a meaningful thermal on the southern hillside of Figueroa, and with unpredictable winds, and disorganized lift I was faced with a few situations that I would have been very scared had such an experienced pilot as Morgan not been at the controls.  Eventually, we were able to find a decent thermal and climb out into the cloud street and the day was on.


Once we got over Figueroa and into the convergence line the lift was very good.  We were able to dolphin fly for the majority of the way north while staying within 1000ft of bases, which were now at around 7000ft. It was at this point that I gave Neiman a call and told him we had connected and he could head back to SLO.  We continued in the convergence line toward SLO making a good time especially considering we had a decent bit of headwind.  

Around 2:30, we made it to Paso, well within glide of SLO but decided to keep on going since the lift was still working great.  About 30 miles north of SLO we started seeing some very interesting clouds in the line northeast of us.  They seemed to be dumping what looked like snow but it was evaporating before hitting the ground, thus we ended up calling it snow virga. 

As we got closer to King City and further away from SLO the lift slowly decreased which meant more circling and less dolphin flying.  I didn't mind much though because it gave me a chance to learn how to thermal the Duo from the back seat, not an easy task. 

At 3:30 and about 60 miles NNW of SLO we turned around because the cloud street we were on had a large blue patch and we wanted to guarantee making it back to SLO.  The flight back was generally pretty easy soaring with only minimal circling required, and with a tailwind, we were cruising at speeds of up to 100kts ground speed.  

Once back near SLO we were able to find a especially high cloud that allowed us to tank up and climb to about 9500ft, and thus with this altitude, we were able to do a bit of sightseeing before landing back at KSBP.  We headed for Morro Bay and I was able to capture one of coolest photos I have taken from a glider of the Morro rock with the wing framing it from the side. 

 Still, at around 7000ft we cruised over  Los Osos as well as the Diablo Canion Power Plant before turning back towards SLO.

Before coming into land we went back to the convergence line to see if it was still working and sure enough it was. We got decent 1000ft climb out of it before calling to tower and beginning to get ready to land.  As the controller seemed to have not dealt with gliders much if at all Morgan explained the situation to him saying we would have to jump out of the glider to clear the runway but other then that it should be fine.  The controller was very cooperative and eventually just replied with "go ahead and do whatever you need to do, clear to land".  

As we descended into KSBP we stopped for a few brief S-turns over the grade because when else are you going to ridge soar over SLO and then continued to land.  With winds 20kts down the runway the approach was not exactly easy but Morgan handled it with ease and we were able to roll to within 10 ft of taxiway Mike.  We then quickly jumped out of the glider and pushed off onto the taxiway.  With cold hands, and even colder feet, and 20kt+ winds disassembling the glider was a bit of a trick but after such a fun day of flying no one was in bad spirits. 

I have to thank Morgan for inviting me on this incredible flight, I learned more about how to deal with different situations than I ever could in a classroom.

Also a big thanks to Neiman who crewed for us making this a cross-country flight, in every sense of the word, possible.  

Untill next time
Wyll Soll

Saturday, February 17, 2018

SATURDAY, February 10, 2018

Visibility: Unlimited
Wind: Strong from the N at 13G19
Altitudes: Release altitudes
Time Aloft: An hour
Max Lift: 3-4 knots.
Temperature: Cool in the mid 60's.
Comment:  Draft issue. Detail added in the next day or two.
Tow pilot: Jim Rickey, Kyle Jason

Kirk Robertson waiting to launch, with Neiman Walker standing by to run his wing.

Kirk and Neiman wondering how the lift is now and going to be through the day.

Don Flinn and student completing a low level turn base to final in the 2-33.

Erich Harding aloft practicing his aerial maneuvers with about 1 year remaining until he can solo.

He liked that first flight but usually his second flight is so much better.

Aloft again and true to form, he did very much better on his second flight of the day.

Nice going, Erich. The countdown begins soon for the year before solo is permitted.

Alex Caldwell and Ken Talovich chat before Ken's training flight, a practice checkride.

Don Flinn and Eric Burlingame ready to launch on another training flight in the 2-33.

Wyll Soll looks like he's modeling for a statue of a Greek Warrior.

Jim Rickey, as usual, doing the tow duties today. He volunteers a lot, thankfully.

Off go Don and Eric for another training flight, behind Jim Rickey in the tow plane.

Time for a lunch break on the patio. Eric, a young lady, Andrew Palmer, Mike Paoli and Neiman Walker.

Alex Caldwell in the backseat with a student in the front, flying Big Bird.

Eric, Andrew, and Don chatting about moving them toward their licenses.

Neiman Walker flying Big Bird solo in turning base to final on runway 31L.

Short final for Neiman as he completes another solo flight to practice for his checkride.

Ken Talovich at the controls of his RV-8 as we head back to Fresno.

About 500 agl and turning north to head back to Fresno Chandler airport.

Ken Talovich is his beautifully painted RV-8 is on his way home to Pine Mountain Lake airport.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

SATURDAY, February 3, 2018, CCSC Annual Meeting.

Visibility: Unlimited
Wind: Light and variable from the NW
Altitudes: Mostly release altitudes
Time Aloft: More than an hour.
Max Lift: 2-3 kts
Temperature: Cool in the 60's
Comment: Nice turnout for the meeting.
Tow pilot: Neiman Walker

Before the CCSC Annual meeting.

Studying for the meeting.

Mike and Mike confer. Actually the second Mike's nickname is Pancho.

A debate over how to clean the 1-26.

Debate settled and now on to the cleaning.

It was an easy and relaxed day for our meeting.

Jim, Alex, John, and Pancho listen intently.

President Paoli going over his presentation material.

Discussion from the members made the event even more interesting.

The Cal Poly group paid close attention to the meeting issues.

Jeff and Kevin watching closely and interested in the data presented.

Continued discussion among the members made for the longest meeting in years.

Numerous subjects were covered and everyone had a chance to participate.

This is the administration table where the facts and figures resided.

John Harbick looks worried but he isn't. Just about to check out in the 1-26.

Don Flinn covered some suggested operational issues before they become policy.

On their way home after a long meeting and not yet any flight ops.

Flight ops were held up because of the goodwill of folks like Jim Rickey, Bob Crooks and Karl Kunz.

The tow plane left main tire went bad and had to be replaced before flight ops could commence.

Bob Crooks in the air on tow for another of his training flights.

On the ground, Bob Crooks will be moving quickly to solo with a background of high power time.

Bob Crooks, one of our newest members, hails from Fresno and built his own RV-10.

Big Bird on its way back to the launch area for someone else to fly.

The Schweizer 2-33, N8722S, on tow above the gliderport.