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.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Spring Training Season Underway!

Visibility:       5-10 miles in the Avenal area, fantastic 100+ miles above the inversion layer.
Wind:             Light north wind
Altitudes:       Whatever you released at.
Time Aloft:    How high did you release?
Max Lift:       From the Towplane.
Temperature:  Low 50s.
Comment:      Terrible soaring day, good training day.
Tow pilot:      Julie and Morgan

January 18, 2020

At about 10 minutes before 1:00, a group of F-18s returning from deployment overflew the field on their way to Lemoore N.A.S.

Aleks Radko has just landed.  Alex Caldwell is instructing Mark on takeoff.

Big sky - not very ominous - and little glider.

Kevin debriefs Braden after landing

Kevin instructs Eric as this flight is coming to its successful conclusion

Tops of the hills and the clouds silhouette Eric and Kevin in 22S just about to touchdown.

Wing runner is falling behind the accelerating 2-33, as student Mark supervised by Alex on the takeoff.

Eric & Kevin looking for traffic before launch.

Crunch the cameraman!

Martin and Karl chat while Julie is all smiles waiting for the towplane.

Eric is performing a good, full rudder slip!

Straighten it out to get ready for landing

Crosses the approach end at a good height for a short-field landing.

Spencer coaches student Conor how to work the trim on 22S prior to takeoff.

Conor is telling Kevin what he will do if the F18s attack

Wing runner Spencer, Karl watching, as Conor and Kevin begin the takeoff roll.
Unfortunately, I did not get the camera our earlier in the day to catch those flights.