Saturday, December 19, 2020

Peter prepares to launch

Piper Baynes closes herself into the cockpit of N3613F to be launched by newly minted CCSA towpilot, her dad, Chris Baynes.

A Great Day for Training

Visibility: Clear to the Sierras above 2500'
Wind: Calm
Altitudes: Tow heights
Time Aloft: 40 mins Kyle Detke and Alex
Max Lift: Alex?
Temperature: 50s
Tow pilot: Dan Gudgel, Kyle Hyde, and Chris Bayns

Lots of activity for nearly the shortest day of the year! After Monday, we are over the hump with days getting longer and the soaring season getting ever closer.

The days started with getting the wheel back on 13F. Big thanks to Chris Bayns for taking the wheel home with him, cleaning the hub and axle up, as well as all the help with the reinstall this morning. 

Ops began around noon with Piper taking the first flight putting her new solo endorsement to use. Logan also had the opportunity for more solo flights as he works towards his commercial glider add on. 

Both Kyle Hyde and Chris Bayns flew with Dan Gudgel to complete their tow checkouts today, I had the pleasure of being on the other end of the rope from both of them and they both did a fantastic job. 

Kyle Hyde and Kyle Detke both took instructional flights with Alex today and are getting real close to soloing. 

I also had the pleasure of flying from the backseat with Carl and Frank. Carl is ready to solo, other than a paperwork formality that he will be working to clear up this week. Frank has been a long time CCSA member and has done a great deal of towing for the club in recent years. Today was his first time back on this end of the rope in a decade and he is looking forward to regaining glider currency this winter. 

Today was finally the day that Peter got his new to him ASW 20 in the air and he had nothing but great things to report on the ship. He is looking forward to getting much deserved XC time in it this spring. 

Despite the later start, everyone had a chance to get in the air today. It is great to see this enthusiasm during the offseason and I am excited to see how everyone continues to progress as the thermals return.  I hope everyone has a merry Christmas and I will see you in 2021!

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Piper Banys First Solo!

Visibility: Mostly clear, with low and high clouds passing all day
Wind: Light, typically NE at 5-7 knots
Altitudes: Release height! 
Time Aloft: Sled Rides, except for one flight with some zero sink
Max Lift: Nada, zilch
Temperature: 50s
Comment: Beautiful winter training day
Tow pilot: Karl Kunz

Piper Solo'd Today!



Piper Banys made her first solo flight today.  The first solo is a flight every pilot remembers the rest of her life, and I'm sure Piper's will stick with her as well.  Her parents and brother were there to share in the special moment.  There's more training to do, of course, but let's congratulate Piper for this terrific accomplishment.

New members Kyle Hyde and Kyle Detke, who are power pilots transitioning to gliders, worked on polishing their technique as well.

Today also saw the return to the air of 22S, after some months of Covid-19 lockdown.  I'm sure some spiders were unhappy that we disturbed their habitat, but otherwise it was great to have the "Spirit of Laird" back in the sky.

We had several members out doing other tasks as well - Zach brought out a loaded fuel trailer and then did some runway smoothing / weed scraping for a while.  13F had a flat tire, so he and Chris Banys and others worked on extracting the wheel and planning on a tube replacement, clean-up and bearing-repack, etc.

Logan and a friend were out and got a flight to wrap up the day.  A big thanks, as always to Karl Kunz for towing today - we tried to keep him as busy as possible.

This fall and winter have been drier than average, so let's take advantage of these clear, cool days to finish training or brush up on your proficiency and precision.  And then you'll be ready for a pre-frontal wave day or two when they appear in the forecast.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Logan Solos

Visibility: 10+
Wind: Calm
Altitudes: 5500 Alex Radko
Time Aloft: 1.5 hrs Jim Rickey
Max Lift:
Tow pilot: Luciano Worl

Congratulations to Logan Stevens for soloing on Saturday! It was another nice October day for training flights. The temperature got to 72 deg. F. The winds were "light and variable" all day. There were no clouds during the day over the airport. Early in the morning, we could see some coastal stratus clouds just spilling over the mountains a few miles to the West. The clouds were coming through the Cottonwood Pass,  where Hwy 41 and 46 come over the hills from the coast. But those clouds burned off by later in the morning,  and did not affect us at Avenal.  We all got there quite early.  I think we were in the air on the first training flight by about 08:30.  I had a feeling, from his flying last week,  that Logan would be ready to solo today if we had more time to make a few more flights. We made, I  believe 5 dual flights. 3 of them were to 2000 ft. AGL,  and he practiced boxing the wake on all 3 of those flights, as well as some stalls, "rolls on a point", steep turns, slips and slips to a landing, with 2 landings on runway 8 and then 1 on runway 12, and some extra work on signals on tow,  and the causes of,  and how to handle,   "slack in the tow line". Then we worked on "simulated rope breaks", now called  "PTTs" or "Premature Termination of the Tow". We did 3 PTTs,  with landings on runway 8,  and one PTT straight ahead on 30, which was short, but still counts as a "flight",  since we did leave the ground. Then we retired temporarily to the clubhouse porch where Logan filled out his pre-solo written test and we discussed all of it.  Logan then did, I believe 4 solo flights in total, in our 2-33, N3613F. All these solo flights  were very nice. He got some lift on his last flight and climbed to about 3700 ft. MSL!  There were by then,  some small, anemic looking dust devils to the west of the airport near the solar farm, and he stayed up the better part of an hour. His landings looked like each one was getting better and better. He was controlling his airspeed very well, and using the dive brakes to control and modulate his glide path in the landing pattern,  while judging where his aiming point should be,  so as to be able to control where his touchdown point, his landing roll out and his stopping point should be, all based on the conditions he was encountering,  as to the wind, runway slope and runway surface condition, etc.
Carl Lindgren also came out early and helped Logan with all the preflight duties on the glider and getting it ready for flight. After completing the pre-flight duties, he also made 3 very nice dual flights with me. We reviewed transitioning to low tow, which he had already done with Kevin Shaw,  then he started boxing the wake. He did very well with boxing the wake, and I think next time we'll review what he did today, but will also start working on doing the premature termination of the tow procedures. When he's doing all those activities well, he'll very likely be ready to solo also!

We're using the Russell Holtz progress sheet, which is very useful for the instructors and students, as they can see their progress, and what's coming next. The instructors can see easily what the student has done with the other instructors on other days. The students can see areas that they haven't yet done, so they know what to expect, etc.
Aleks Radko was at the field again flying his Glasfugel 304 glider. I believe he had the longest and highest flight of the day. Attached is a picture of Aleks disassembling his Glasfulgel 304. 
Here is a link to the "Online Contest" page where he has been posting all his flights recently:

Jim Rickey flew the 1-26 for about 1 1/2 hour too, as reported by Zach already.
Also making a flight in the 1-26, but too late in the day to get any decent lift, was Sergio Grajeda. Sergio was helping Looch Worl a lot in fueling the tow plane, putting it away, winding up tow ropes, etc. 

We were very lucky today to have Looch Worl come out and tow for us. He arrived very early in the morning and stayed out there the whole day! Except Jim Rickey did the very last tow of the day for Sergio Grajeda.  I believe I heard we did 16 tows total for the day. We need to get Looch up in a high performance glider on a good soaring day!  What say you Morgan?

Alex Caldwell

Monday, October 19, 2020

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Visibility: about 6 to 8  miles, in mild to moderate haze and light smoke
Wind: light and variable all day
Altitudes: approximately 6000 ft MSL by Zach Yamauchi in his Standard Discus 
Time Aloft: 1 hour, 22 min. and 44 sec. also  by Zach Yamauchi  in the Standard Discus.
Max Lift: 4 kts. 
Temperature: 93 deg. F. on the clubhouse porch.
Comment: Not quite as clear,  and not quite as good lift as last week. But a nice fall training day,  none the less. 
Tow pilot: Karl Kunz

Richard Walker was out today and flew his Schweizer 1-35. It has 90 deg. flaps for glide path control on landing.  It uses no spoilers. He makes very accurate landings with the system, usually rolling right up adjacent to his hangar, for a short push to the hangar for storing the glider all assembled until the next flight. Of course, his experience at landing those USAF B-52s may have helped some!
You can see a small portion of the wing of Zach Yamauchi's  Discus in the picture off to the right. Zach had the best flight of the day, staying up 1 hour, 22 minutes and 44 seconds, and flying north towards Coalinga,  for a total distance of 100.4km and a speed of 72.8km per hour.  But he modestly commented on the OLC web page that it was not that good a day, and he really couldn't go anywhere! Actually, it was the No. 1 flight on the OLC for today in the USA Soaring Region 11, which includes Northern CA, Nevada, and Hawaii!
Zach's flight on the OLC
Mark VanBergen, Daniel Diazdelcastillo, and Logan Stevens all came out and flew in the 2-33 N3613F for more training. All are doing very well, making good progress,   and we're anticipating more solos in the near future and some new licenses and glider ratings as well.  The morning air was very smooth and good for practicing take offs, boxing the wake on tow, slips and accuracy landings.  There were also some weak, but still nice thermals,  that allowed us to  keep the 2-33 up for a while during the best part of the day,  and resulted in some modest climbs a few times back up from pattern altitude to 2000 AGL, maybe 4 or 5 times on various flights. The longest training flight was about 45 minutes long. 
Ken Talovich getting ready to fly his Discus sailplane. He's enjoying it a lot,  I think, as you can tell by the smile! Ken flies down from his home airport in his beautiful RV-8, which he built himself. He's been landing it at New Coalinga and driving over to Avenal from there to fly the glider.   He's also a former hang glider pilot, so he should also be good at soaring in sailplanes,  if the other former hang glider pilots in our club are any indicator.
A more  all inclusive view of Ken's beautiful Discus sailplane.  He installed the winglets himself. He plans on refinishing it eventually,  when time allows, hopefully this winter.

Lou Marquez opened his trailers again,  and we got a much better view of both aircraft in there today. We still aren't sure if the Jantar is a 2A or a 2B yet. 

Karl Kunz, our tow pilot today flew all the way down from Monterey in his beautiful Cessna 170 to fly the tow plane for us. It's always nice to have a recently retired United Airlines Senior 777 Captain to be your tow pilot! 

Monday, October 12, 2020

Saturday October 10, 2020

Visibility: Quite good. The smoke was gone (probably just temporarily). Just a pretty normal haze for this time of year. 
Wind: light and variable all day.
Altitudes: We got to about 3500 MSL in the 2-33. Other ships probably got somewhat  higher.
Time Aloft: 30 min. max in the 2-33.
Max Lift: 400 fpm. briefly. Enough to stay up for a while and enjoy the flying,  without too much turbulence,  or the extreme heat of the past few months! 
Temperature: 92 deg. F. It was quite pleasantly comfortable today.
Comment: Thomas Wolfe solos! Wyll Soll flies the Discus 1B! Veronica Guzman and Ignacio Lopez take FAAST introductory lessons. Logan Stevens from San Luis flies in the 2-33. Lou Marquez opens trailers! 

Tow pilot: Jim Rickey

The smoke was going somewhere else today! We had almost forgotten what it looks like without it until today!

It was a very pleasant day today  out at the  Avenal aerodrome. There was more activity going on than we've seen for a few weeks. Thomas Wolfe soloed in the 2-33,  N3613F! He did an outstanding job! He was close to soloing at his home in Chicago at the Hinkley Gliderport,  flying an ASK-21 for about 25 flights earlier in the summer, but is now back flying at Avenal where he had started flying a few times in the 2-33 last academic year.  We had flown at Avenal last week in the 2-33,  but could only do pattern tows,  due to it being very smoky that day.  First, we went over his pre-solo written test, which he had done at home,  and passed with flying colors.  Then, we did one 2500 ft. AGL tow,  with some low tow, wake boxing on tow, and  some stalls, steep turns, slips,  a bit of thermaling, followed by  a slip to a landing on runway 12 . Then we did a short flight with a practice rope break with a landing on runway 8.  Following this, Thomas soloed,  and he did a great job!

  Wyll Soll made a deal with Carl Engel to fly CZ, Carl's beautiful Discus 1B sailplane this season. Wyll trailered CZ to Avenal for his first flight in the ship.  I gave Wyll an insurance required  "cockpit checkout".  I must have done a really good job,  even if I do say so myself, because he did two flights in the ship that appeared absolutely flawless! We saw him take off from the air while we were up in the 2-33 on both of his flights,  and we saw his last landing from the ground. He appeared to have an ear to ear "Discus grin" on his face after that landing! On one flight, when we were up in the 2-33,   we saw him flying in a thermal just south of the airport,  and then heading over in our direction. After the flight,  he said it didn't seem like we were "too worried" when he was flying in the same thermal with us. We replied "well maybe we might have been, if we had even known you were there!"  (the visibility is very limited from the back seat of the 2-33!).

Avenal residents Veronica Guzman and Ignacio Lopez came out and each took an SSA FAAST introductory lesson so they could "check it off their bucket list". Everyone enjoyed having them out there flying with us!  They both seemed to enjoy it too, and seemed to like the FAA glider flying handbooks and log books they received. Hopefully, they'll come back for more flying fun in the future! We hope to get a copy of the video they took as an example of what a FAAST introductory lesson is like for other interested persons.

Logan Stevens flew out from San Luis Obispo in a rented Cherokee 140. He's working on his commercial power license over there,  and is also looking at getting a  glider rating here at Avenal. He flew the tow very well. We did some low tow practice,  and he'll be able to box the wake the next time he comes out,  I'm sure. He has only had one other glider flight before today! 

In the photo above, tow pilot,  A&P mechanic, glider pilot, and CCSA board member  Jim Rickey waves as he gets ready to leave for home,  as usual, the last person to leave the airport for the day, after performing many behind the scenes,  often much underappreciated work, not only on the tow plane,  but on  other club facilities,  "so that others may fly!"

Lou Marquez was out there all day today. He opened the two trailers he's got parked out here recently, letting us all see and admire his Lazair style two place powered experimental "GAPA tow plane" (we fantasize and hope, some day, maybe)  in one trailer,  and a beautiful looking Jantar 2 open class glider in the other.  The Jantar 2 is a now older, but still very potent open class sailplane designed and built in Poland, one of the World's historically most active and talented of soaring countries. It has about a 48:1 glide ratio, comparable to it's contemporaries,  the  Schempp Hirth Nimbus 2, or the Schleicher  ASW 17.  It's very strongly built,  and is cabable, in strong soaring conditions, with a strong tow plane,  and lots of runway, of carrying a whole bunch of water ballast, and making very long soaring flights.  There was a 2A  model,  and a later 2B model,  that had the wing mounted a little higher on the fuselage and a slightly longer gear leg, so as  to give the wings a little more ground clearance on landing. Until we can get it out of the trailer, to examine it, along with it's accompanying paperwork etc. , we won't be sure yet which model this one is. 

Also seen at the gliderport today was Sergio Grajeda. Sergio didn't fly today,  and was working on some things. But he recently got his glider flight review done, and wants to start working on a commercial and a CFI rating in gliders. He is a quite capable pilot, and we hope he will "get it done"! 

 Avenal insects behaving badly!  We noticed one interesting thing I had not seen before today when Luke and Jim Rickey were winding up the tow rope for storage until the next flying session. The yellow polypropylene tow rope had been laying on the ground for a while,  not too far from a mound of giant red ants that we have on the runways at Avenal. There was a trail of ants from the mound about 20 feet going over towards the tow rope. The rope was full of big red ants that had worked their way down between the strands of rope. I think they might have smelled something edible in the rope,  or else they were trying to use their big jaws to pinch off chunks of the rope itself to take back to their nest and feed to their larvae in there, or maybe even to their queen!  I don't think I've ever heard of ant biting listed as a cause of a tow rope failure, but there's always a first time, I guess!   They just might be in a late season feeding and food storage frenzy, I think! They might be getting desperate now that the fall season and approaching winter are upon us! That's my theory, anyway! Wish I'd thought to take a picture!

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Visibility: Very bad, due to the very smoky conditions.
Wind: Light and variable.
Altitudes: 1200 ft. AGL max. in order to stay legal VFR ( in "class G" uncontrolled airspace, 1mile visibility, and clear of clouds, of which there were none, just a lot of smoke)
Time Aloft: maybe 15. minutes
Max Lift: None. (We didn't even try).
Temperature: About 92 deg. F. 
Tow pilot: Dan Gudgel

A few die-hards came out today in spite of the ugly sky conditions. Thomas Wolf is working on getting ready to solo in the 2-33. He flew quite a bit near his home  at Hinkley gliderport near Chicago this summer, about 25 flights  in an ASK-21, after a very small number of 2-33 flights last school year here at Avenal. He mainly is getting used to the 2-33 again,  and getting familiar with the Avenal gliderport area and it's procedures again. He did some pattern tows today, which was as high as we could go and still stay legal under VFR rules. We were listening to the ATIS and AWOS reports from nearby airports such as Hanford and Lemoore, which were reporting 1.5-2.5  miles visibility most of the time,  and that  seemed consistent with what we were estimating here at Avenal. Aleks Radko was flying his Glasflugel 304. I believe he's flown more than anyone else in the club for the past 2 years! He comes out regularly and flies in all different types of conditions, and his very good flying shows it as well! 
Dan Gudgel flew out with  his  power student in Dan's Citabria. I believe Dan said they also had to stay below 1200 ft AGL in order to be in legal VFR conditions during their flights in both directions.  His student was very patient.  and helped everyone with towlines, wing running and other launching duties during the time Dan was towing for us. 
Very poor visibility looking towards the NW from the clubhouse area. 

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Comment: Video made by Frank Owen of Kris Caldwell's commercial glider checkride with F.A.A. Designated Pilot Examiner Dan Gudgel
Tow pilot: Frank Owen

Monday, August 17, 2020

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Visibility: Good, as long as you stayed away from thunderstorms to the west that had some rain and eventually, some lightning that hit the ground and started some fires up in the foothills near the big power lines that come over the hill from the  Diablo Canyon power plant. See pictures.
Wind: light and variable during the time we were out there. Slightly favoring using runway 30 for take offs. But we variously landed the gliders on runways 8, 12, and 30 depending on where we wanted to position the gliders for the next take off,  or to stow away for the day in their tie down spot, or hangar,  in the case of Ethan.
Altitudes: I think Ethan Ronat had the best soaring flight of the day, but I forgot to ask him how high he got though!
Time Aloft: Probably a little less than one hour by Ethan Ronat in his beautiful new Ventus 2.
Max Lift: Not sure, but definitely not very good!
Temperature: The highest I remember seeing was 103 deg. F. on the porch thermometer. But we left early, so it may have gone higher. It was quite humid for Avenal. So it felt oppressively hot! 
Comment: The RASP forecasts were way off today. They didn't seem to get the mid level monsoonal moisture that came in from the south, mostly to the west of Avenal, and resulted in some thunderstorms with virga, lighting, and even a few drops of light rain at the airport by the time we all packed up to leave. 
Tow pilot: Karl Kunz, all the way from Carmel! 

We had had 4 CCSA pilots out flying gliders today,  and one CCSA pilot, Karl Kunz,  graciously flying  the tow plane after making the long drive from Carmel.
I won't say that I accidentally caught Ethan working on his in-flight relief tube system. Rather, at the risk of dating myself, I'll say he had just been unloading his turnpoint cameras, or had just been smoking his barograph foils.  This was the second day he flew his beautiful Ventus 2 sailplane. It was also the first day the new glider was put away in it's new glider hangar home at Avenal.  Ethan  had the only actual soaring flight of the day. 
In this picture, you can see some smoke rising from 2 or 3 fires that had been started a little while before by some cloud to ground lightning strikes. The cloud that had generated the lightning strikes had already drifted away to the NW, parallel to the Diablo range. 

View to the SW of approaching weather that eventually formed some thunderstorms,  with some cloud to cloud,  and cloud to ground lightning. They still looked like rather "lightweight" storms, as those things go at the time this photo was taken. But just the same, it's always best to avoid those things by a very wide margin!  Fortunately for us, they never came directly over the airport,  and just slowly drifted north along the Diablo range 5 to 6 miles to the west of us. But I was told that later,  after most of us had left, the thunderstorms did form and drift over the airport area and that there was lightning and heavy rain reported right at the airport!

        Kris Caldwell checking the weather after just running the wing of the 2-33 for Dan Clark.  (Note the dust cloud just to the upper right of the picture.)
You can just make out Dan Clark taking off in the 2-33 in the dust cloud. Ethan is readying his beautiful new (to him)  Ventus 2 for flight near it's trailer.  His  ship has a beautiful finish. He has an amazing cockpit, with every electronic gadget for  enhancing cross country soaring performance currently available, all of which Ethan is very capable of taking full advantage of!

Kris Caldwell running the 2-33 wing for Dan Clark in the front seat.

Kris Caldwell checking to be sure the pattern is clear, the runway is clear, the tow plane looks like it's Ok and the parts of the glider that pilot Dan Clark can't see are all A-0k, before running the 2-33 wing for Dan.  Wing runners have a lot of safety  responsibility! In Kris's hand was what looked like a piece of old tie down chain Kris found poking out of the runway. We've also found old electric wire we think was part of a runway light system back in the heyday of Avenal Airport when it was owned by Standard Oil and later Chevron Corp.

Some serious soaring, and other professional talent in this shot of Karl Kunz, Kris Caldwell and Dan Clark.  Kris is preparing to fly from the back seat of the 2-33 with yours truly in the front seat in prep for adding on the glider rating to his commercial pilot certificate.  Kris was getting some tips from Karl, a former line boy at the Fremont glider port, tow pilot, glider pilot and CFI, and recently retired 777 captain for United Airlines! Kris is currently  flying the F-35 for the U.S. Navy at nearby Lemoore NAS. It's very interesting, and always educational, to listen to those guys talk! 

Saturday, August 8, 2020

August In Avenal

Its hot in August and even the local snakes have thrown in the towel!

But the soaring was good today and a number of well-hydrated folks were out to enjoy the conditions.

 A few highlights:

- New member Carl Lindgren had a good first flight.

- Daniel & Mark got another nice set of flights (they came down from the Bay Area and flew Friday and Saturday).

- David Simpson got checked-out to tow by Dan and was put to work immediately

- Sergio got current again with a Flight Review from Alex

- Eric got checked out and had his first flights in JB

- Kris continued his preparations for his commercial practical test

- Joe, Aleks, Kris, Eric, Ken & Ethan each spent some time in nice blue lift.

- Ethan was flying his new ship, Z5, for the first time

Friday, June 5, 2020


We've gotten some practice with retrieves lately at CCSA.  Its an unavoidable and sometimes fun part of cross-country soaring.  Here are the Retrieve Heros from my off-field landing on Thursday - our own Martin Caskey and Jesus of the Zapata Ranch.  Big thanks to them both.

When you have a chance to join a retrieve, don't hesitate.  There's always something to be learned and some grand adventures and maybe tall tales as well.

- Kevin

Friday, May 22, 2020

Flying 5/20/20

Visibility: infinity 
Wind: light out of the north
Altitudes: 8000ft
Time Aloft: 6.5hrs
Max Lift: 9kts
Temperature: 70s
Comment: Awesome midweek flying day
Tow pilot:  Alex

Alex agreed to come out tow for us on this Wednesday.  With high bases and nice weather predicted Aleks, Ethan, Ken, and myself (Wyll) came out to fly.  Here is a bit about the day from my perspective. 

This was probably one of my all-time favorite flights and my best by far flying out of Avenal. 

Launched around 11:30 with good cu already building over Black and a few wisps around the airport.  Alex towed me about halfway out to Tar Peak and I got off in decent lift.  It worked well with a decent climb rate but cut off around 3300ft.  I made one attempt to reach the clouds over the hills but was met with lots of sink on the way and high tailed it back toward Avenal.  I then climbed back up in the same spot but held on to the thermal a little higher and was able to connect with the clouds in the mountains and they were booming.   

Looking south towards Soda Lake

 I then met up with TG and continued on towards the California Valley.  Once on the correct line, the run south was again uneventful staying above 6000ft and only stopping for climbs around 5kts or better. 

    Cloud base was about 6500ft when I got my first good climb and rose throughout the day to about 8000ft.  I cruised under the well-marked convergence from Black around the horn to EL4. At EL4 with cloud base still, only about 6500ft I couldn’t go any further north without committing to New Idria as a landout so I turned around.  This also worked out because about this time the Hollister guys were just getting their first climbs at EL1 and so I figured I would get a head start on all the modern glass that was going to be chasing me down in my 50-year-old Libelle. 

Climbing with TG

The run back to Black was again very strong with very little circling needed.  Past Black, I initially took a to far east rout and found a few dead clouds. 

Looking North from Cholame

Looking south from my turn around point

 Just north of Caliente Mountain, the line turned from fully developed cu to wispies.  TG reported they were working but I decided not to push my luck and turned around.  The run back north was again uneventful and I spent a decent bit of it flying with HV and 1KS.  

Climbing with HV and 1KS

Heading North over Parkfield 

I continued north past Avenal with my goal of getting to EL4 again before turning around.  As I got close to EL4 a few climbs didn’t work and I started to get worried.  

8kts on the averager 

    Getting towards the edge of glide to New Coalinga I started heading east.  I realize now that I was probably too far east of the convergence line and flying under dead clouds.  I kept getting lower and started going into survival soaring mode, taking anything that felt like a thermal just trying to make it back to Avenal.  About this time my glider battery also took a dump (I had been flying for about 6 hours) so I turned everything off but the Vario and switched to a handheld radio.  After two broken climbs in the hills that didn’t work out, I figured I was destined to land at New Coalinga, then about 2 miles from the edge of the town of Coalinga I hit my 2knot savior. 

This 2kt climb just got me home

     I climbed as high as it would go which was about 50ft above a Macready 4 glide back to Avenal and set off.  Not ideal but as long as I hit some good air I could make it and worst case I could turn around and go back to New Coalinga.  Luckily I hit good air and was able to float my way back.  I closed off my trace and headed into land touching down right around 6:05.  Big thanks to Alex Caldwell for towing today and Ethan Ronat for helping me put WE away.  

Here is a link to my OLC trace to see more 

Happy Flying 

Wyll Soll

Friday, May 15, 2020

Visibility: great
Wind: seasonal, from the N
Altitudes:  bases were 7-9,000'
Time Aloft: 4-5 hours
Max Lift:  Strong
Temperature: Pleasant
Tow pilot:  Frank

Limited Operations Resuming at Avenal

Great soaring conditions have arrived.  Several from CCSA flew yesterday, both locally and XC.  This picture shows the 100+ mile cloud streets from the OTHER side (Paso Robles airport) at the end of the day.  Plan to come out, enjoy the fresh air and help get the fleet and airfield into shape.  Then get current, following the modified procedures adopted by the Board, and remember how fun this is.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Visibility: Probably about 8 miles in haze below the inversion. Unlimited above the inversion, which was at about 3,200 ft MSL.
Wind: Light and variable most of the day. Out of the ENE late in the day,  at about 5-10 kts.
Altitudes: 3,100 ft. MSL
Time Aloft: 30 min.
Max Lift: 2-3 kts at times.
Temperature: 70 deg. F.
Comment: Dual control soaring simulator running Condor2 software at the field.
Tow pilot: Karl Kunz

We had 5 students that flew today from the Cal Poly Akaflieg group.  Will Beaudoin, Anthony Bellanti, Thomas Wolfe, Alan Lewis, and Lux Vadakin all flew.  Everybody got 2 flights in. One of Alan Lewis's flights was a shortened one, with a practice rope break he got because he's ready for that phase of training. Otherwise,  we towed to 2,000 ft. AGL,  2,500 ft. AGL,  or on one flight to 3000 ft. AGL.   For a while,  we had 2  of our 2-33s  flying when Zach Yamauchi flew a friend. Also flying today was Luca Soares in the SGS 1-26. I think Luca flew at least 2 flights in the 1-26, maybe more.  On one flight in the 2-33, we had some lift,  and climbed the better part of 1,000 ft. from our low point,  up to just a little over our release point at about 3,100 ft. MSL, if I remember correctly. On the flight just before that, we had some zero sink type lift.  The lift window for the day was pretty narrow, as on the next flight, I think we couldn't find anything. By then, the wind had also come up just a bit out of the ENE, at maybe 5-10 kts.,  and it seemed to put a damper on any further lift.  I thought the temperature also felt like it had dropped with the arrival of the wind. Perhaps a cooler airmass had moved in, maybe a convergence line had crossed over the field as the new wind arrived?

Zach Yamauchi brought out a glider flight simulator set up that's on loan from Truckee Soaring to the Akaflieg group.  It has 2 seats with dual controls.  It was made by Mike Mayo and loaned to the Cal Poly Akaflieg group until the Truckee Soaring season opens. It's quite impressive,  and must have taken a lot of thought and creativity to get it all working. My first impression was that it might have been made from an IKEA kit, as it's mostly wood.   It has an ingenious system of pulleys, cables and electronic sensors to feed control input data to the program running on the associated computer.  It's running a copy of the new Condor2 software, which is a giant leap in performance and the realism of the terrain and scenery over the original Condor.  Zach has asked that we use it only when a checked out Cal Poly Akaflieg member is present to supervise,  and not allow unsupervised children to use it, etc. It could be breakable if not treated with a lot of care.  I watched a couple of the Cal Poly flight students using it.   I think it is a valid way, with a supervised, well thought out training syllabus,  to practice a lot of training maneuvers that would otherwise cost a lot of money for tows, and would also require waiting for the right weather conditions, etc.  Thanks to Zach!
Thanks also to Karl Kunz for donating his whole day to provide the excellent towing!

Monday, February 3, 2020

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Visibility: Very good, almost unlimited. Some fog in the valley to the east early.
Wind: Very light all day
Altitudes: Release altitude -500 ft.
Time Aloft: .5
Max Lift: 1.5 kts.
Temperature: about 70 deg. F.
Comment: We got some very weak lift on a couple of flights and were able to gain about 300 ft. on one flight and hold altitude for a little while on the other.
Tow pilot: Nick Ferraro
Some funky fledgling ravens on our clubhouse roof a couple of years ago. Maybe title should be fledgling ravens doing the "funky chicken"!  Not shy, in fact very curious, but being closely watched by their parents in the adjacent palm tree.

Steve Schery preflighting  "Big Bird", SGS 2-33 N3613F,  prior to completing his flight review. Steve currently flies a Carat motorglider, usually at nearby New Coalinga Airport. He has previously had both
 Discus and  Russia sailplanes , which he's flown here and in Moriarity, NM. He is working part time at the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffet Federal Airfield in Mountain View, CA. He is a Professor emeritus, of physics, if I recall correctly,  from the University of New Mexico.  He is also a tow pilot with over 500 hours in Pawnees flying at Moriarity, and has also  towed  in our Cessna 150/150 for our club as well. He helped the club get our current tow plane set up to be legal to tow, which was no mean feat.  He also makes very good tow ropes and weak links.

Later, I flew with Alan Lewis and Lux Vadakan, both of whom made two flights and are progressing well. Sorry, I didn't take any more pictures. I saw Jim Rickey and I hope he may have gotten a few! Or maybe Richard Walker, who was also out at the field today. There was another couple there who's names I didn't get. I don't think they were flying.   We had some weak lift on some of those flights,  and were able to gain about 300 ft. one one flight.

Dan Gudgel came out and flew with Spencer Umney and Anthony Bellanti in 22S.  Thanks to Dan! He also finished the glider familiarization portion of the towing endorsement for Nick Ferraro.  I noticed everyone was pitching in helping to tie the gliders down at the end of the day, fueling and putting the tow plane away at the end of the day, securing the hangar, checking the water level in the golf cart batteries, cleaning the battery tops of dirt, and thecorrosion from the battery terminals, hooking up tow lines, running wings, retrieving and positioning gliders in the take off area, picking up trash, collecting tumbleweeds and other property maintenance chores. The operation seemed to go pretty smoothly with everyone helping out.  I'm not sure exactly how many tows we did, but it was at least 12, perhaps 14.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Visibility:       Very good under the cloud deck
Wind:             Stiff breeze / light north wind on the ground, more up a bit.
Altitudes:       Mostly whatever you released at.
Time Aloft:    Short.
Max Lift:        +1 knot, hard to find, short lived.
Temperature:  Cold for Central California.
Comment:      Not a soaring day, but good for training.
Tow pilot:      Kyle Jason

January 11, 2020

Spring Training is just getting started.

Yes, this is out of order--the blog for January 18 ought to be above this one.

Note that in the pictures below the runways are refereed to as 30, 12, and 8.  Richard has accurately measured, and it has been determined that with the current 13° E variation, those are the correct descriptors.  No more "0-7," "1-3," or "3-1."

The cloud deck moved up and down a bit today.  This is about the lowest it got.
Chuck Jarabek, with a Commercial Airplane rating, has soloed in gliders before at other locations, and is now coming to Avenal to persue his rating! 
Charles ("Chuck") , from Santa Maria, gets ready for his first flight from Avenal.

Charles's daughters Charlotte and Lily move out of the way before dad takes off.
Our faithful towplane, today piloted by Kyle Jason, pulls a 2-33 up for the umpteenth thousands time.
Left wing low, (forward slip to counter the north wind), right rudder to keep it aligned with runway 08, 13F is on short final with Black Mountain obscured by clouds in the background.

Still keeping the left wing a little low, still keeping right rudder to counteract weather-vaning, and up elevator to keep skid off the ground.

Richard takes a tow in his 1-35.
Richard has released and Kyle is on his way to the next tow.
Because of the long distance for this shot, it may not look like Richard cleared the wires with little room to spare, but he had  plenty of clearance on his way to landing on Runway 12
Lily was the first daughter going up for a ride.
Away she goes!
Lux, Charlotte, Richard Walker and Chuck, the "retrieve / welcoming committee,"
go out to see how she enjoyed her first glider ride.
All was well, and she convinced Charlotte to take a ride, too!
Lux running the wing as Charlotte is on her way, too.
Richard helps Aleks get his glider lined up for takeoff on "3-0."
While all the fun is happening outside, Joe is faithfully getting the riding mower ready for the upcoming season.

Alex instructs Eric Wang during the takeoff roll.
Eric is practicing a full slip on his way to landing on "3-0."
Eric is straightened out and ready to land.