Thursday, December 22, 2022

Final Instructional Day of 2022

Visibility: 10 miles, very hazy
Wind: Light andVariable
Altitudes: Release Height
Time Aloft: 15 minutes, maybe?
Max Lift: Pawnee induced 10kts+
Temperature: Chilly, probably 50s with fog early
Tow pilot: Morgan in the Pawnee

Final Instructional day of 2022.  Thanks to Kevin for coming out to provide instruction for the two students and to perform a 1-26 checkout for Chris O.

Larry was at the airport early in an attempt to continue clearing the remaining brush from trees at the arrival end of 30.  Kevin and I were trying to arrive around 9:00 in order to assist with the dump runs, but the winter thule fog had other ideas.  We flew over from KSBP in the Citabria and upon clearing Tar Peak, we could see a line of fog running down 33 that was 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile wide.  
Fog shrouding the airport early
Thin layer envelopes the airport.  Clear just across the street in town's "heat island."

We circled the airport for a bit and it looked quite patchy and very thin and in the process of clearing.  The palm trees and hangars were visible and you could see down through the layer no problem.  I set up an approach to 30 and at about 400ft, the slant angle visibility just went away.  So we climbed back up.  Stared at the clearly visible trailers and runway and thought "Oh, it's changing pretty quickly" so we loitered while it cleared up and made another approach with the same result.  It was clear about the middle of the Solar farm and west, but all runways were obscured once you were looking through the fog at a slant rather than straight down.  I made one more low approach before abandoning the idea and heading to Coalinga which was clear.  We only needed about 15 minutes on the ground at Coalinga for Chris to text me that it had cleared.  So much for arriving early.

Larry had made a few loads of brush to the dump in his pickup.  Given the delay in our arrival, I went to work on prepping the Pawnee which hadn't flown in a few months due to registration delays at the FAA.

Kevin finished up Chris's cockpit checkout for the 1-26 and they got the gliders pulled down to the launch area for 30.

Chris took his first tow in the 1-26 which was my first tow in the Pawnee.  Despite Dan's "No zoomies" admonition during our Pawnee tow pilot briefing, a full power departure in cold, thick air with the 1-26 yields a pretty rapid transition to a steep climb attitude to keep the airspeed reasonable. Chis followed well despite my shortcomings in giving him a boring first departure. A standard box departure had us abeam the 30 numbers at 2000agl.  Damn!

Chris in Good position on one of his higher tows

Brandon and Kevin flew several sorties.  Starting with a high tow and progressing into some pattern work and rope break practice.  Chris flew a number of patterns and then some low patterns to continue work on the 1-26 sight picture and getting enough single seat time to qualify for the DG.
The western smokey mountains.

Kyle D jumped back into a glider after a lengthy break due to life getting busy and in the way of soaring.  His tows were butter smooth and it wasn't obvious that he'd been away from the 2-33 for any period of time.  
Staging for another tow
We wrapped up tows around 3:30 and put the aircraft away.  Kevin and I hopped back in the Citabria with fog closing in from the SE and got out of there just in time for a nice late afternoon commute back to San Luis Obispo.

Looking west over the foothills as we departed.  Layers of fog filling in.
The view to the southeast.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Autumn at Avenal

Summer is Over; Winter is Coming

Autumn '22 saw some good days out at Avenal.

It started on the last day of Summer.  The soaring forecast showed good lift, and relatively high bases over the Valley.  Sure enough, our XC guys had some nice flights and even a couple of the club Schweizers were up and away on multi-hour flights.  Some flight logs are here - 




Here is Eric's comment on his flight - 

"I deviated from my plan of heading north along the ridge after releasing over tar peak when I began to chase clouds to the southwest. I ended up flying through Avenal canyon at low altitude without a good land-out picked out. Because I was so focused on finding lift under the clouds I was chasing, and because I was in 6kts+ of sink, by the time I noticed my glide computer drop below glide back to Avenal, it was impossible to turn around and fly back through the sink. I was able to spot what looked like a good land-out when I was at about 2500 feet, and around 3 miles away. It was a long and straight dirt road with a house next to it. As I dropped my gear and prepared to fly a pattern, I found a good climb and got out of the valley then proceeded to have an enjoyable flight. I'll be inspecting the condition of the road and noting any fences on my way out to Avenal next time I go. Before this, I hadn't experienced tunnel vision(chasing clouds stupidly) while soaring, but now that I know I'm susceptible to it, I can recognize it and avoid it in the future."

In October, we had a work-day at Avenal and got a lot of good maintenance and clean-up work done.  Zach summarized some of the accomplishments from the day:

Club house bathrooms sprayed for insects and deep cleaned
Cessna Hangar decluttered and cleaned
Patio and picnic tables power washed
Vegetation on the runway and shade structure removed
Tetrahedron repainted
Shelters and trash removed and transported to the dump
Barbed wire fence repaired around staging area
Black Golfcart tire changed
Club Gliders washed
Shade structure cleared for towplane use

Mid-November saw David get checked out in the 1-26.  His technique on launch and landing was very good.  Larry got this video - 



Later in November, Chris added a Glider rating to his commercial pilot certificate.  Dan was the DPE administering the practical test.

Pre-frontal, wet wave brought some great early December flights by Morgan & Zach - logs & spectacular pictures are here - 



Here's Morgan's description of the day - 

"Very wet wave made for well marked lines, but cut routes shorter than we hoped for. Raining at dawn and the field was nearly IFR at times. Cleared enough to let us launch, but concern about the timing of the frontal arrival had us call it a day early. Would have liked to jump down towards the San Gabriel’s, but the tops of the lennies were well above 18k. Thanks to Jim for towing, Chris for running wings and Zach for being the motivator."

On our last day of operations this Autumn, Chris got his 1-26 checkout and his flights too were really smooth and precise.  Brandon took these shots - 


 We will likely have some good soaring days over the winter months - watch the soaring forecasts and stay current so you'll be ready to take advantage.

Happy Holidays and here's looking forward to 2023 at Avenal.

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Saturday June 4th, 2022: Chris O. Solos!

Visibility: +10sm
Wind: Light south wind in the morning turning into an 6kt north wind in the afternoon
Altitudes: Lift to 6000 ft over the valley
Time Aloft:
Max Lift: 10 kts
Temperature: Not too bad for an almost summer day
Tow pilot: Goki Yamada

Saturday June 4th saw some fun and productive ops at the gliderport. Thank you to everyone who came out and made this Saturday run smoothly.

Congrats to Chris O'Donnell on a first Solo! After a check out with Kevin in 22S, he was off on his own. He must of found some lift because his first solo flight clocked in at 1 hour and 26 minutes!

The days weather ended up being better than expected with lift up to 6,000 ft over the valley. Legend has it even some 10kt thermals were encountered multiple times today! Thanks to Goki for towing and making the day possible for us. We were able to get 15+ flights! 

Kevin was able to get 3 FAST Rides in to Robert, Mike and Kirsty. I was able to get in 5 flights in for checkride prep! For glass ships, Peter helped Richard get familiar with glider 06; they both took turns taking 06 out over black with plenty of luck finding lift. Meanwhile Mitch had a great flight in DL also flying west to Black and Tar.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

May 14, 15, 21, & 22 Avenal Contest

Time Aloft:
Max Lift:

Here are all the pictures I took and have been given.  They are in chronological order.

If anybody has some pictures to add, you can do it directly or e-mail me the pictures.



Day 1, May 14, 2022
Tow pilots  Dan Gudgel in "Red Tow" and Andrew Ouellet in "White Tow."






Day 2, Sunday, May 15
Tow pilots  Dan Gudgel in "Red Tow" and Andrew Ouellet in "White Tow."

Sunday's weather was a significant improvement over Saturday. We all woke up to a sky filled with mid level cirrus that slowly burned off as the morning progressed. Skysight showed thermal tops at 10500' in the early afternoon at both Wright and Black, with a hint of cu over San Benito around 4 pm. Also shown was blue convergence running from EL5 to the Temblors.

The task called had a nominal distance of 221 miles (355 km):
Start Tar Peak
EL3 1 sm
Bitterwasser 3 sm min, handicapped
San Benito Mtn 1 sm
Avenal Finish 1sm

We launched at 12:30 as the last of the cirrus was passing over Black. This proved a slight challenge and delayed the opening of the 5 minute start window until 1:50 to allow all but one competitor to climb up to the 6000' start ceiling. As we flew north towards EL3, we were happy to see wispy cu beginning to form over Wright approximately 11,500ft high. By the time the last of the gaggle were turning south, the cu covered about a 5 mile area and marked the tops of 8-10 kt climbs.  Alex Neigher (4B) found the highest climb of the day around this  time to 11,400 ft. The run south rewarded those who were able to sniff out the blue convergence and took us to the north end of the california valley, no clouds in sight. Climbs were available, but more dispersed and weaker south of Black mtn. The run back north was similar to the south leg, I found myself off the line, too far to the east and had to dig out of black from below ridge height while the rest of the group who were able to stay connected blew by me a mile above. Climbs got strong again around Center peak, with quite a few of us finding 8,9,and even 10kts bottom to top. Many got above final glide prior to rounding the final turnpoint and were able to take final glides in excess of 100 kts due to the buoyant air all around San Benito Mountain. 

Congratulations to Wyll Soll for finishing the task in 3:18:48 with an average speed of 67.3 mph (108 kph)! Below are the other preliminary results. 



Andrew Ouellet provides a picture of "Red Tow" pulling up the last contestant of the day

Ground Crew is enjoying the electric air conditioner in the ClubHouse while watching the contestants progress.

Wyll Soll lands CZ after Day 2 winning time of 3:18:48.

Alex Neigher  lands 4B with Day 2 second place time of 3:22:13.

Close behind is David Greenhill in Contest 16 with a Day 2 Fourth Place time of 3:23:03.
Only 50 seconds separated second through fourth places today.

Zach Yamouchi lands after a Day 2 fifth place time of 3:27:27.

Walt Rogers has just landed after a Day 2 Third Place time of 3:23:23 and is watching
Neiman Walker land his Libelle, 4P.

Thomas Greenhill has a Day 2 fourth pace time of 3:27:08.

Ken Talovich land NT.
Tom Coussens on short final in Z9,

Tom Coussens an inch from touchdown in Z9.

Day 3, May 21, 2022
Tow Pilots:  Morgan Hall in "Red Tow" and Jim Rickey in "White Tow."

Today's forecast delivered! Although the mountains were completely blue, strong climbs, and prominent convergence ran the length of the San Benitos. Plenty of 10 kt climbs were found on course, topping out at 10,000 ft.  The task began again at Tar with a 6000' start ceiling at 12:40, up to EL1, down to Blackwell, then rounding Harris Ranch on final glide, 212 mi nominal distance. All competitors made at least 2 of the turnpoints and everyone made it home for our contest banquet. 

Thomas Greenhill turned in an impressive 78 mph task speed, winning the day 14 minutes ahead of the rest of the pack. 

Below are the day's scores as well as preliminary cumulative times for the competitors. 

Tomorrow is our final day, with high cirrus forecast. Tasking will likely keep us closer to Avenal similar to Day 1. 


NameContest IDDay 3 TimeTotal TimeRanking
David Greenhill163:08:378:22:581
Zach YamauchiZY3:10:158:23:092
Thomas GreenhillFH2:48:538:33:043
Walt RogersWX3:26:568:36:044
Wyll SollCZ3:02:248:46:365
Alex Neigher4B3:15:409:05:316
Neiman Walker4P3:23:2910:29:267
Philip LeeUV3:39:4310:45:408
Tom CoussensZ94:48:5210:58:399
Ken TalovichNT4:48:5211:54:4910

Final Day, (Day 4) May 22, 2022
Tow Pilots:  Dan Gudgel in "Red Tow" and Kyle Hyde in "White Tow."

Day 4 Summary:

Saturday night was the BBQ/banquet, we all likely benefited from increased wing loading Sunday seeing how much tri tip was consumed :) We were very fortunate to wake up to a completely different forecast than that of Saturday night. The cirrus outlook dramatically improved, skysight still showed some patched passing through, but the day turned out to be mostly cirrus free. The task we improvised (Avenal, York Rd, EL7, New Coaling, Dudley Ridge, EL5, Avenal) kept us mostly off the mountains in the early afternoon, with the thought that we would allow the high ground more time to start working before a run up north later in the afternoon. 

We launched the grid at 12:30 and opened the start gate at 13:40. A few contestants were able to reach 8000' over black while waiting for the start gate to open so we likely could have done another mountain task; however, keeping us off the high terrain proved to be a doable challenge for the group. Climbs off the high terrain were weaker and more dispersed, as expected. The front gaggle was able to avoid getting stuck for the first 4 turnpoints, and all elected to take an indirect route to the final turnpoint (EL5) by following the ridgeline out to the west. It was a little slow for everyone reconnecting with the convergence around Black the second time. The blue convergence set up far west, I ended up committed to parkfield before finding a climb about 5 miles west of black that got me back on the line northbound. 

Congratulations to David who won the day, and further widened his first place lead.