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.