Thursday, April 19, 2018

SUNDAY, April 15, 2018. Carl Engel BFR

Visibility: Unlimited
Wind: Calm early, then SE 12-15 kts
Altitudes: Mostly release altitude
Time Aloft: An hour or more
Max Lift: 500 fpm
Temperature: Cool 70's
Comment: Neiman and Griffin work on checkride prep, Carl Engel on his BFR
Tow pilot: Harold Gallagher, Griffin Schwarz, Neiman Walker

The weather on Sunday was a little clearer than Saturday but the winds were higher and most launches took place from the far northwest end of runway 31.

Carl Engel arrived for his BFR, driving a new Tesla Model 3. Wow, what a car!! If you haven't seen one yet I suggest you find one to inspect. At the bottom of these pictures are three photos of Carl's car. I know they aren't soaring pictures but the inside looks like the panel of Bob Crooks RV-10 with only a monitor for all the information.

Neiman Walker is just about to take his checkride so this morning he flew enough times to satisfy the FAR's for recent preparation for a checkride. He and Don Flinn worked on Neiman's skills and after the first two flights we all agreed to change runways due to the wind shift to the Southeast. Griffin Schwarz took over from me as tow pilot and towed Neiman for his last two flights.

Later, Don Flinn and Griff Schwarz were doing much the same but by that time, Neiman had taken over as the tow pilot.

Griffin Schwarz towing Don Flinn and Neiman Walker for Neiman's third flight of the day.

With a good SE wind, no difficulty clearing the fence at the SE end.

We all used the same glider rather than untying Big Bird for just a few flights among us.

Carl Engel on takeoff to the SE behind Griffin in the tow plane.

As you can see we were quite high already and not even past the clubhouse.

Neiman Walker checking the tow plane.

Another takeoff for Carl Engel but in this case he's in the back seat just getting the rust out from there.

Another good takeoff into the wind, and down hill. We aren't lower, just used the telephoto lens.

Starting our turn to the right and Carl is doing quite well from the backseat.

A view of the instrument panel on N5722S for those who want to stay familiar with the instruments.

An interesting view of the three glider hangars along the runway.

Carl snagged a thermal just above the launch end so Don and Griff waited patiently as we stayed up maybe too long.

Neiman towing Don and Griff near mid-afternoon. I believe they kept up flight ops for another hour or so.

Don and Griff in 22S going past the clubhouse with excellent height on takeoff.

Here are the photos of Carl's Tesla Model 3. An amazing automobile.

Aerodynamic wheel covers add to the efficiency of the car.

There are no dash board instruments other than the monitor that controls all vehicle functions.

A closer look at the brain of the Model 3. Too much there to even begin to describe in this essay.

Monday, April 16, 2018

SATURDAY, April 14, 2018. Bob Crooks Solo.

Visibility: Hazy but unlimited
Wind: NW 2-5 kts early, SE 12-15 later
Altitudes: 8000+
Time Aloft: More than two hours
Max Lift: 800 fpm.
Temperature: Mid 70's
Comment: Very busy day with 26 tows.
Tow pilot: Julie Butler (21 tows), Harold (5 tows).

It was one of the busiest days since last year. It appears that the winter hibernation of boxed gliders is about over. High performance and  trainers were out today en masse. It was really great to see the members back in the air even though it wasn't a booming day.

Julie Butler again played Iron Woman towing nearly non-stop for 21 tows. I don't recall if she ever got out of the towplane except for refueling. What a performance!! Many thanks Julie.

A lot happened today, long flights by Peter Sahlberg, Alex Caldwell and Ethan Ronat. But the kudos should go to Bob Crooks who soloed today. He's one of the few pilots in our Friday morning meetings at Fresno Chandler who had the courage and interest in learning to fly a glider.Sadly, not many in that group have followed suit, to my utter consternation.

Don Flinn made the statement, and I fully agreed, that the entire day of 26 launches seemed to flow so smoothly it was hard to believe we had that many. But we tried to make sure that each time Julie returned to the launch area, we had another glider waiting to go. The turnarounds were quick and error free.

Here is Peter Sahlberg's flight narrative:


I launched near 1:00 pm with a short triangle task (Avenal-Black-Darcy-Home) loaded in the Oudie just for fun.  There was lift over Hwy 33 so I got up, went through the start and headed west.  I had seen other ships circling in the area but the hills short of the range had nothing to offer so after a couple of turns I headed back to Avenal thinking I could climb again and try another path.  I found nothing but sink all the way home and arrived at pattern altitude.  On the ground after 30 minutes and back in line!

The second launch close to 2:30 pm started in the same area.  No task this time - just flying to see where the lift went.  I worked the Kettleman Hills for a while, running to just north of Hwy 41 up to several miles north of the field.  After a few of these passes I ran back to the mountains.  I could hear WE, R and IB reporting good altitudes and this time there was good lift.  I got in several turns with three red tail hawks before they found better things to do.  I ran south on the ridge line and then turned back towards the field.  The day was getting better; no longer trying to stay up I hit 700 ft/min on the way back.

Two hours for this flight.
Thanks to all who got me in the air!!


And here is Ethan  Ronat's narrative:

It’s about time I came out to Avenal. It is very frustrating that I can’t seem to get Saturdays off work these days. So finally I could, and I didn’t miss my opportunity to pull Romeo, my Discus CS, out of the hanger, remove the dust off, and take it airborne.

I do apologize for not giving my fair share of towing and other club duties. I sincerely wish I could come out more often and do more of those as well. Even the club work day coming up next weekend - I can’t come because I’ll be on a work trip.  So sorry guys.

Well, Harold suggested I write about my flight, not whine here about my work. So here is a brief summary:

Lift was pretty decent today, good thermals averaging about 5 knots, and best were about 8 knots. Off tow in a thermal, picked up a bit of altitude, and headed for Tar, to find Alex in his majestic Nimbus, struggling low in the canyons there. Today felt like we were taking turns - one minute he was a thousand feet below me, and five minutes later, he shows up out of nowhere, two thousand feet above. That went on for quite a while, and it seemed like we never really thermaled together. Just joined below, as the higher glider was leaving.

As usual, as we worked our way into the mountains, the climbs got stronger and higher, and I peaked a few times at around 8000 ft. or so. I often see some private ships on similar days, not breaking the altitude barrier of 3000-5000 ft. and I think they just don’t work their way deep enough into the mountains. I understand the concern of staying in glide range of Avenal, but I think most private ships have glide to the field even from tree top level at Tar Peak. Of course by no means am I trying to “tempt” pilots to go beyond their level of confidence or feeling safe. But once you get comfortable in your glider and know it’s performance capabilities, it’s ok to start “stretching your comfort zone”, and gradually push yourself deeper into where the real fun begins.. Just my 10 Cents..
Anyway, from 8000 ft above Black, I headed north to explore some nice CUs that were forming in the distance. Every time I almost reached a pretty single cloud, it dissipated on front of my eyes. For me, it was the first flight in quite a long time, and I was not in the mood to venture out too far. I only wanted to get some rust off, have fun, and land back safely, so I stayed local, and just enjoyed the ride, the views, and the greenery everywhere. We will miss all this green, as it gets hotter and dryer. Attached are some pictures from almost 2 hours of flight, posted here.

Ethan's OLC trace with altitudes in the diagram below the flight track.
Ethan's Discus CS instrument panel at one point in the flight.
El Piloto Ronat.
The Discus CS owned and flown by Ethan Ronat.
Hope for a good soaring season, and more Saturdays off work to enjoy it. 


And here are the pictures from other flight ops during the day:

Everyone is gathered around Rick Eason and Jan Zanutto's Grob 103.

Big Bird being towed back to the launch area while Richard Walker's 1-35 is lining up in the tow queue.

Wyll Soll is going to fly his newly-acquired Libelle. All are watching and rooting for him.

Wyll waits patiently for Jim Rickey to hook up the tow line.

Ethan Ronat's Discus CS and Alex Caldwell's Nimbus 3 are in line for a tow within the hour.

Three of the Cal Poly students await their turn to fly with Don Flinn.

Alex Caldwell about to launch in his Nimbus 3. With an L/D of 65, he won't be down for hours.

As Alex's glider wings react to carrying the load of the fuselage, they begin to bend upward in a U-shape.

Lexy holding the wing for Ethan Ronat at the beginning of a very nice long flight narrated above.

Bob Crooks at the start of his first solo in a glider. He's a power pilot and proud owner/builder of an RV-10.

Bob Crooks is just about beginning his takeoff roll. First solo!!

Reacting to the thermals on the runway, Bob maintains his good position behind the tow plane.

Bob on final for runway 31L in excellent position and with enough altitude over the fence.

Just over the fence Bob's position is just right for his solo landing.

Great solo flight and a picture perfect landing for Bob Crooks.

Well done Bob and now you'll have even more fun in solo flight.

At the end of the day, just before I left for Fresno I noticed Alex Caldwell on base turning final.

Alex Caldwell and his Nimbus 3 sailplane just over the fence on runway 31R.

Daniel Clark came out today for a refresher flight, a very safety conscious move to make after the winter.

Dan thermalled for 45 minutes in lift that exceeded 6 knots quite often.

Daniel Clark after an excellent flight that initially was for rust remover. Turns out he hadn't much rust in his skill set.

John Harbick was one of the early pilots to launch. He was doing his required three takeoffs and landings.

Bob Crooks and Daniel Clark comparing notes after Dan's flight but before Bob's solo flights.

Don Flinn and student arriving on runway 7 in the Schweizer 2-33, N5722S.

Moving Big Bird around and behind Mario's 1-26 for another launch as soon as possible.

Mario Pauda's Schweizer 1-26 is ready and so is he. He had a good flight like others.

This is the Iron Woman's corner office as Julie Butler continues one launch after another. Whew!!

Mario Pauda's is doing last minute check lists before launching on a very nice flight. His beard is a new addition.

All the Cal Poly students are gathered around for Wyll Soll's next flight in the Libelle.

Now they are all interested in when the tow plane is inbound for Wyll's launch.

Peter Sahlberg on short final for runway 31L in his Schweizer 1-35.

Don Flinn and Jesse preparing to launch on another training flight.

Peter Sahlberg walking the wing of his 1-35 back toward the launch area for another try at finding good lift.

Don Flinn and Joe Anastasio chat while Griff hangs on to the wing.

Griff and Don Flinn are going again on another training flight.

The following pictures were taken by John Harbick on his cell phone and while there are some duplicates of other pictures shown above, I really appreciated the effort John made to make sure I had enough photos of the day's events.

Alex Caldwell on takeoff in his Nimbus 3, a beautiful Open Class sailplane.

I'm not sure what I was photographing but Bob Crooks is ready to launch on his solo flights.

Joe Anastasio helping Alex prepare the Nimbus 3 for launching on a very long flight.

Just a few more items to check and Alex will be ready to launch

Alex doesn't get to fly his Nimbus very often but he always enjoys it's superb performance.

More items to secure and check for operation and finally Alex will be ready with Joe's help.

Peter Sahlberg on his relight, one that will take him on a very nice flight, narrated above.

Looks like Alex is ready.

Alex glider's tail identification is India Bravo although many think the first initial is a 1 rather than an I.

John Harbick is almost always the last to leave the field after he has helped everyone finish their flights and
disassembled and tied down all the gliders.

A pot of golden Schweizers at Avenal.