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.