: Light and variable early, strong and gusty late afternoon.
: 8000+ msl
: 3.5 hours
: +1000 fpm
: Cool 70's
: Too good a day for anyone to miss.
: Harold Gallagher, Jim Rickey, Alex Caldwell
Last weekend was one of the best lift days we’ve had
in a long time. Anyone who went aloft had fun and could have stayed aloft all
afternoon. I have added several interesting stories from most of those who flew
that afternoon, and among them is Dan Gudgel’s granddaddy of all demo flights.
You’ll see what I mean when you read his stories.
Wyll Soll was first to launch and he stayed up for 3.5
hours. Since Wyll is engaged in academic work his story is somewhat
abbreviated. Here is what he wrote:
Hey Harold I am a bit too
busy with school right now to do an in depth write up about my flight but
basically I got off tow into a good climb. Then ran SE along the
convergence line for about 19 miles until I got to a blue spot that I couldn't
comfortably cross. I then ran back to Avenal and went up to Black. I
headed for a q w of EL7 but it was not working and I retreated back to the
valley. I then went north towards Coalinga but had to skirt around a
lot of overdevelopment. After that I went back to Avenal and tried the
mountains again but they were not working and then I hung around near Avenal
for a bit and then landed with a solid 15 kt headwind on 25. Here is
a link to my trace on OLC:
Mario Pauda also went up and here is what he wrote:
|Wyll's trace of his flight showing all the places he stopped to thermal.|
I had a nice flight
after you towed me 2000 ft over the Kettleman Hills, right into the convergence
The cu’s were lined up
all the way to Coalinga, my task for the day. At times, the lift under the
clouds was so strong, it felt as if I were “pulling g’s.” I found myself
wondering if I should curl my toes, tense up my legs and grunt (ha!).
One cloud was
particularly noteworthy: it had bumpy (bordering on turbulent) lift associated
with it, and, get this, the cloud was rotating. Rotor? Perhaps. The rotating
cloud was further west than the convergence line; the wind from the west was
strong enough to push the convergence zone to the Kettlemans and beyond. So
perhaps the west wind was strong enough to set up a rotor. In any case, I went
back to the main convergence zone at around 5,500 ft.
Close to Coalinga, the
cu’s had overdeveloped. Sink everywhere. I took the attached photo of the New
Coalinga airport from my highest altitude of the day, 7,500 ft MSL, and then
headed back to the Kettlemans. I got as low as 4500’ or so before I found a
good climbing thermal to make it back home for a 2.1 hour-flight. Overall, an
educational and rewarding fight in “Nothing Too Loose,” my 1-26 (that is
the intended spelling, T-o-o L-o-o-s-e, as in “everything is just tight
enough”). The New Coalinga airport is to the left of the picture.
|The New Coalinga airport is at the left side of the photo.|
One more point about this
nice soaring day: Jim Rickey had a long flight in the Casper the 1-26 later in the
day. He was gone for so long, Wyll Soll and I were wondering if he had landed
out. When he finally made it home, his butt was frozen (his words). Evidently,
the seat cushion he used was too thick. Jim, being the tall man that he is,
kept bumping his head on the canopy. So, he removed the seat cushion and sat his butt on bare metal. He was wearing shorts, to boot. A cursory
examination revealed no signs of frostbite!
Next up for a story is Jim Rickey who spares no words to convey an
I'm going to start my
narrative just a little bit before I climbed in Casper.
My last tow of the day
was Rick Eason, also in Casper. Right after takeoff I spotted a good dust
devil 1/2 mile west of the departure end of 31. Went for it. While
in the vicinity of the dust devil I was seeing 1000-1200 fpm lift with Rick in
tow. Just as I completed a 180 deg turn to head back to the real action,
Wyll announced that he was directly over the field at 5500 feet and climbing 5
knots. Let's head there! Wished Rick had a radio to hear the
announcement, because at 2000’ AGL he found lift and pulled the big red
knob. Dang. He was back on the ground way too soon.
I offered to tow him
again, but he said he needed to get going, and asked if I wanted to fly it or
should he put it away. "Leave it out." (I think Rick decided
for me!) I rounded up Alex to tow, he did somebody else first, then it
was my turn at 4:27 PM. Is it even worth a tow? Might as
well. Rick stayed to run my wing.
Found a little lift and
released at 2500' MSL. Got up to 3000' MSL with a little bit of effort,
then back down, then back up to 3100', etc. Scraped along for a little
while just barely east of the gliderport. Surface winds were WSW 11-19
MPH with gusts 20-27 MPH on every report during my flight. The lift was
downwind of the gliderport, it was getting late enough I figured lift could
collapse with a bang at any moment, and the headwind back to the gliderport was
strong. I played it very cautiously.
Finally got up to about
3100' over the dump, which gave me a little room to explore, even with the
headwind back to the runway. Actually got up to 3100' about three
times. The last time I was able to find convergence heading to the
northwest from the dump. As long as I was climbing I was happy.
Went up and down between 3000' and 5000' a few times. Finally got up to
5100' at the southeast end of a run, and felt good about pushing a bit further
east to get under a promising looking CU that had been parked there. Worked it
for a little bit, then the bottom started getting lumpy. Bound to happen.
I found either the same
convergence line that had moved further east, or a second one. Traveled
in a straight line for a while at +2 knots, until I stumbled into some 6 knot
lift. Bank to 55 deg and take every advantage of it.
Rode that up to about 7100', adjusting the turn the whole time. When it
died (or I lost it?) scratched around and touched 7500'. Not at all
cross-country efficient to seek out the last bit of climb you can, but I had no
thoughts of going anywhere. Had pushed a little further east, continuously
aware of the headwind to home and the thought that this rising air is all going
to come crashing down at any moment. Never got much further east than the ridge line of the Kettleman Hills. Not having a working radio, and leaving
my cellphone behind (because Casper had already claimed one touchscreen of
mine), caution was the order of my day.
The flight did not start
out too promising. Compared to some of the earlier flights--like
Dan's--it was nothing. All things must come to an end, and the CUs were
rapidly dissipating. Sun angle looked like it was nearing 6:00.
Headed back to the gliderport, and found some 6-8 knot sink Over the town
I was able maintain altitude for awhile. I could see all other aircraft
were on the ground, and was able to keep 2500' for three east-west round trips
over the City--mainly just to add another tenth of time. Heading eastbound the
groundspeed was probably triple the groundspeed heading into the wind.
Entered left crosswind
for 31. Looking at the wind sock and the wind tee, I considered landing
on 25. Crab angle on left downwind for 31 was impressive, 30 deg I'm
guessing. Looking at Casper's shadow moving on the ground confirmed the
track was pretty close to parallel of the runway, though. Even running
the downwind leg a little wide to leave room for high groundspeed on the base
leg, the downwind-base-final turn was a quickie to avoid overshooting the
runway. Impressive crab angle on final down to about 100' AGL, where surface
friction started reducing surface wind to WSW15.
Rolled out at 6:15
PM. What had started off as a not-too-promising flight ended up being a
1:45 refreshing blast.
Last but not least are the events experienced by Dan Gudgel on his one demo at Tehachapi and two demos at Avenal all in one day.
Here is what Richard Walker had to say about his flight:
Took off about 4:20 pm with a 1 hour flight. Convergence was over the Kettleman Hills. I got up to 6400 msl and went south to 41 where sink was 800 and increasing. I headed back, regaining altitude for a run to the north end of the hills. Cut over to the power lines then back to Avenal. Getting cooler by that time. Jim Rickey was still enjoying his flight when I landed. Enjoyable flight.
And last but certainly not least is what Dan accomplished with three demo flights today:
synoptic pattern above: Upper level low with
its associated cool air aloft and yet generally sunny conditions for surface
heating thereby providing a deep convection layer. With the low aloft slightly inland,
encouragement for onshore flow in the day following a dry-cold front passage also
resulted in the deep marine layer along the coast to push air through the
passes into the West San Joaquin Valley
for shear line development
in combination with thermals to high-based cumulus.
Timing is everything and today was no
exception for me. Due to weight and
balance limitations I flew in two venues today, Mountain Valley Airport
. The morning instructional flight
at Skylark North Flight School
ended up being a long flight of 1.2 hours in the
Tehachapi Shear Line
with a young USAF Test Pilot School
Officer. A coordinated long-awaited Spring Soaring
present for Garrett Quade
had been arranged for this afternoon
towed me up for the
“Demonstration Ride” in SGS 2-33, N3613F
and about the time we reached 2500 ft
AGL (3300 feet MSL), a strong thermal was encountered. I released, centered the initial 500 fpm
thermal and proceeded to climb to 8100 feet MSL with thermal strength reaching
800-1000 fpm in the band between 5000-8000 feet MSL. From that point 1 mile southeast of Avenal
ran a rough line of scattered cumulus with bases estimated 8500 feet MSL out to
the west and not losing but about 300 feet of altitude during the run. Not bothering to turn I continued to fly
along the Kettleman Plain
interface working small cumulus-to-cumulus
at an average speed of 65 mph indicated.
Encountering another strong thermal averaging 800 to 1000 fpm about 4
miles west of Avenal
, I again climbed back to 8000 feet MSL and now proceeded to
leisurely porpoise fly north-by-northwest to the New Coalinga Airport
to scattered cumulus around. About a
mile southeast of the Coalinga State Hospital
I spotted Mario Pauda
above in his SGS 1-26
and took a few turns below him but the flight was getting
long on time with another ride waiting so I impatiently pushed southeast. The return flight back to Avenal
75-80 mph indicated airspeed and still I arrived at the airport at 3500 feet
MSL. The surface winds were from 250
degrees, magnetic, at about 15 mph so I opted to angle-land on runway 31 and
had only a short ground-roll in preparation for the next ride. Garrett Quade
had a great time on the approximately one hour flight.
The waiting ride was a complimentary ride
for Doug Spencer, Sr
., a close friend of Doug Morris
who has graciously allowed
us to use his tractor to keep our weeds down and provided scraping for the
benefit of the airfield operations. Jim
towed me off runway 31
nicely despite the 45-degree crosswind and north
of Avenal City
I released to work an encountered thermal at 2300 feet AGL (3100
feet MSL). The thermal was initially hard to find and
center as it was “only” 200 to 300 fpm and small. However, it soon developed into a nice 500 to
700 fpm thermal that I took to 7500 feet MSL.
From there I proceeded west to the Diablo Range
and similar to the
previous flight I followed a line that seemed to have more lift than sink along
its axis. Unfortunately, this flight
became a bit more turbulent as the wind conditions were worsening so the flight
was truncated for comfort purposes.
Still the flight lasted about 40 minutes and provided Doug Spencer
introduction to general aviation, and specifically to that of soaring
flight! By 4:45 PM PDT, the surface
winds shifted back to the southwest with gusty conditions and speeds of 17 to
Here are some additional pictures taken from some training flights and a few others:
|Several Board meetings took place this morning and a fair amount was accomplished.|
|The three Musketeers, Doug Spencer, Sr: Doug Morris; Doug Spencer, Jr.|
|Dan Gudgel breaking the sound barrier on his way back from Coalinga with Garrett Quade.|
|Dan Gudgel turning left base after the Granddaddy of all demo flights in the 2-33.|
|Dan is setting up on final for runway 31L at Avenal.|
|Over the fence and the end to a spectacular demo flight for Dan's friend Garrett Quade.|
|Finally Doug Spencer, Sr., gets his chance to experience the wonder of silent flight. Doug Morris standing by.|
|There were still nice markers aloft when Dan and Doug launched in Big Bird.|
|Dan and Doug passing by the clubhouse on the way aloft. Doug had to wait a couple of weeks for this flight.|
|Still lots of clouds aloft and Dan should have no difficulty finding the same strong lift he found with Garrett.|
|Rick Eason decided to test the lift and he's readying for launch in Casper, our friendly 1-26.|
|It's late in the day and unless Rick catches a good thermal he might just land back and give Casper to Jim Rickey.|
|Richard Walker just finished assembling his 1-26 and will be launching soon.|