Monday, May 17, 2021

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Visibility: excellent, unlimited,  except for the dust behind the tow plane on the first part of the take off roll. 
Wind: Light most of the day.  It was out of the ESE early, but shifted to the N later in the afternoon. It came up a bit more as we were tying down the gliders.  A "cut off low" was parked over our area today,  and appeared to be moving slowly SSE as the day progressed.  The surface  wind  direction shifted around several times, making it a good day for students to check the wind direction indicators,  and be thinking about runway selection,  as well as  the effects of the wind on the landing pattern and drift while thermalling. There was lots of lift and it was turbulent, especially noticable on tow. 
Altitudes: We got to 5000 ft.  MSL right near the field. I'm sure others in private ships got higher.
Time Aloft: Our longest flight was just short of one hour, but I'm sure some of the private ships were up a lot longer.  All our training flights lasted the better part of an hour today. The waiting on the ground to fly must have been hard! But the longer flights are good experience too!
Max Lift: We had 6 kts. steady lift frequently in the 2-33.  
Temperature: It was below normal  for this time of year. I'd say it was in the mid 80s F. on the ground. It was cooler at altitude also, with the cold pool of air aloft advected in by the cut off low.  It was comfortable on the ground and in the air at 5000 ft, but probably would have started getting uncomfortably cold in the leaky 2-33, had we been able to get higher.
Tow pilot: Kyle Hyde, many thanks! 

It was a very nice day out at Avenal today.  See above for weather comments. It was blue in our area, but the air was unstable and provided good thermals everywhere.  There were cumulus clouds on the San Benito Mountains about 20 miles to the North, but those were a long ways too far for us to reach.   The lift right near the airport started early  too.  We got lift,  and stayed up, right off on our first training flight of the day, on which I think we took off at 10:35. Rick Ibarra drove all the way to Avenal from San Jose.   He is doing quite well.  He does everything pretty much on his own now. He pre-flighted the glider, and had it all  ready to go.  He transitioned between  both high and low tow.  He boxed the wake on tow without me having to touch the controls.  He's an instrument rated pilot,  and used to have his own plane. He also soloed gliders at Lake Elsinore some 40
years ago, but then he became distracted by power flying, his "life got in the way", 
 and he didn't pursue his glider rating further -  until now.   Quinn Marsh got in two good flights, with quite a bit of thermalling practice and tow practice as well. He's also doing quite well in all areas,  and I would think it's likely he will be able to solo very soon.  Another big highlight of the day was  Jimmy O'Neal and his son James,  who is 9 years old. They   came all the way up from Simi Valley to check out Avenal and get an SSA F.A.S.T. introductory lesson for James.  They have had a kitfox airplane,  and like to fly into a number of STOL back country strips and camp out. They also have these small off road racing cars that James races, and that look to me, anyway, kind of like minaturized versions of the  "Sprint Cars" that race in Tulare on a dirt track,  and have a roll cage and a lot of  special roll-over protection. Any way,  James seemed to gravitate almost right away towards  the tow plane. I think that's because of his experience with the Kitfox,  and the various other motorized vehicles he's had. We wanted  him to be able to fly in 13F,  because it has the factory ballast box,  and the foldable rudder pedal blocks so that he'd be able to reach the rudder  pedals.  His Dad brought along a "booster seat" that he uses in the kitfox to get him up high enough to see out over the instrument panel from an adult perspective. That also worked well in the 2-33. We also still needed some more ballast besides what was in the built-in factory box, and we put 4 of the long weight bars out of Joe Anastasio's seat bottom ballast box behind James, which also moved him a bit further forward, which helped with the rudder pedals.  And with all that, plus my weight in the rear seat, we were within gross weight and C.G. "weight and balance" limits.    Joe's weight box has some pins that fit into holes in the seat of 45H, the "Orange Crush" , but don't exist on 13F A.K.A. "Big Bird", or 22S,  A.K.A. "Laird". So we didn't think the ballast box would be secure enough under James, as without those pins in holes in the seat, there could have been a chance of it being able to slide out forward from under him. And he might not have  been able to do anything about it. . We ended up having a good flight,  and went further out from the field at 5000ft towards the N. end of the Kettleman Hills.  James flew the glider, both straight and level, and in shallow turns. He had a nice smooth touch on the controls!  He got to experience how gliders  use thermals to stay up, and use the altitude gained to cover some distance, hopefully finding another thermal to climb in before getting too low,  and needing to land. Meanwhile, always  staying within a safe gliding distance of a good landing spot at all times, and always being cognizant of the effects of  wind strength and direction on the glide.  Near the end of the flight,  he announced he thought it was "time to land".  I was wondering if he might be feeling a little queezy due to all the circling while thermalling,  possibly, but I was wrong!  I now think he saw we were  back over the airport. Then after we had  landed, the next time I saw him, He was on his booster seat  back in the right seat of the tow plane!  I also heard him making radio calls from the tow plane while they were in the pattern. So my conclusion had to be that he was "having a blast",  just being out  out there with his Dad,  and at 9 years old, he's got plenty of time to explore everything that catches his eye, and  interests someone of his age out there! Plus, he's already used to being out in the heat, dirt, sun, wind, and dust, the goathead thorns, etc and he loves it! And he's already got good shoes and other clothes for the conditions we have out there! The people hanging out at the clubhouse were also very helpful for James. They seemed to take him under their wing, and he spent some time with them on the "Condor2" flight simulator. Condor is  not FAA approved to log the time spent on it towards your license. But many instructors feel that it is still very useful in setting up all kinds of of weather and wind scenarios that would take years to experience in real life flying. It's photo realistic terrain of your home airport, and the surrounding fields etc. are extremely good. The controls and the glider flight dynamics are also quite good. It might be even more realistic if recovering from mistakes were  made a little more difficult and more realistic, such as maybe  requiring no flying for six months while your glider is being repaired in a virtual shop, or maybe six months in bed in a  virtual hospital in traction, maybe!  The last pilot to fly was Patrick Dillon, who had been extremely patient out there waiting to fly and helping out everyone else all day. Fortunately, he also got a good flight in. He did a "no wing runner take off ". He's flying the tow quite well, and the air  was still pretty rough at that time of day. He boxed the wake, and got to experience the "crack the whip" phenomenon, where the glider will tend to get high and fast if allowed to get  on the outside of a turn. Then, it can get to be somewhat more difficult to correct,  because you tend to accelerate more when you try to get back down to the tow plane's level,  and tend to get slack in the tow line. The slack can get even worse if the tow pilot, who can't really see you back there 99% of the time. decides it's time to stop turning and rolls level. If you're even a little bit slow recognizing this, you'll still be turning and then the  distance between you will start to rapidly close. Combine that with descending and accelerating relative to the tow plane, this results  in an impressively  large loop of slack,  that can come back threateningly towards your wing. Patrick handled everything quite well, He's got 50+ flights now,  and I think he'll be soloing very soon.  Also flying solo today, in 22S, while preparing for taking his FAA practical test for his "add-on" glider rating was Carl Lindgren from Porterville. He's already a power pilot,  and will be taking the Private Pilot Glider Practical Test or "Checkride" with Dan Gudgel soon. He's focusing on the 2-33 right now, but he has also flown the 1-26 as well.   We had a number of pilots out there with their own private ships. Zach Yamauchi was there with his Discus ZY, Ethan Ronat in 75, his Ventus 2, Ken Talovich in his beautiful Discus and Richard Walker flying his all yellow Schweizer 1-35, which provided a good example of a no dive brake, 90 deg. flapped  glider's landing abilities, with Richard peforming one of his landings,  where he turns off the runway and stops right in front of his hangar.  Thanks Richard! Richard also pointed out that the SSA is trying to get more copies of the "FAA glider flying handbook" to send to us in the package  for the FAST lessons. The book they sent out by Bob Wander was a substitute,  while they could not get the FAA book. I didn't realize that until today. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you to everyone Avenal for being so welcoming & helpful my 9 year old had a great day of flying.