Monday, December 12, 2011
of Excellence has intermittently worked for the past three years to get
a new CAP glider operational center established in the North. He has
succeeded in accomplishing this important milestone by offering O-rides
in Byron in our Grobs.
See details of the new CAP Glider Orientation Rides offered to CAP
cadets in this blog from the Oakland Squadron 188
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Shamim tells his Story of A Checkride - how the lizard brain threatened to quit but human brain won out....
asked me to write up my checkride, so here it is.
Story of A Checkride
You Don't Fail Until The Examiner Says So
I started flying in the early 90s. I had been working on the glider
rating around the turn of the century but I had taken a few years off
since then. I decided the break had been too long and I would mark my
return to aviation by finishing up the G rating. In the summer NCSA
had been having trouble with glider availability so I decided to go to
Williams and just get it done. After 3 months of flying every weekend,
Ed S. (the CFI at Williams) said I was ready; I made a 2 pm
appointment for Nov 7 with Rex Mayes, DPE and owner of Williams Soaring.
The oral part of the exam was fun. It was thorough and explored the
depths of my knowledge -- but there's nothing wrong with talking about
flying for an hour or two! It made me realise how very little I knew,
but also that I was in fact prepared for the test.
I preflighted the glider, and soon we were hooked up and ready to go.
The takeoff was a little squirrelly and I reminded myself to relax.
Rex had told me that instead of giving me a slack line, he would just
put the glider into an unusual attitude on tow, and expect me to
recover -- ideally without any slack developing, but to fix any slack
that did happen. We did a couple of steering turns, boxed the wake,
and did a few unusual attitudes. He asked me to give the "slow down"
signal, so I rocked the wings.
"Are we slowing down?"
"No, because I gave him the wrong signal!"
I wagged the tail and we slowed down, and it was time to let the
After release he pointed out that making a right 90 isn't the best
idea: it's better to only turn 20-30 degrees so you can keep an eye on
the tug until it's far enough away and below the horizon. (He reminded
me of the accident at Crazy Creek where the towplane and glider
collided soon after release.) Phew, we're finally off tow! I can relax
now. And then he said,
"Where's the airport?"
!!! It was almost 4 pm, Daylight Savings Time had ended, and the sun
was low. All my other flights had been during the morning and early
afternoon, and all the fields had been green. They had now been
harvested, burned, and flooded, and it looked like an alien landscape.
I could see I-5 and the towns along it, but which one was Williams?
"Over there," I said, pointing to Maxwell.
"Ok, where are the Twin Barns?"
I look to where they should be, and there are only fields there! Was
the other town Williams? I haven't been lost since I first started
flying... and I picked a checkride to repeat it. This is a fail!
Lizard Brain wants to quit and go home! Luckily Human Brain took over:
we're PIC, and we don't give up. There's I-5; where's Highway 20? Oh,
it's under the glider. So that town to the left is Williams, and look,
there's the runway, and there's Twin Barns. We're north of the field,
not south -- which makes sense, because the winds aloft are from the
Since I was convinced I had already failed, the pressure was off. We
did a stall series, and then "falling leaf" stalls, followed by steep
turns. (He tried to lead me downwind away from the airport, but I
noticed and told him I would do a 180 first.) As I rolled into the steep
"Can we get back to the runway from here?"
"Yes, if we're above 2K here we're fine."
"How far is the airport?"
"How high will we be if we head there now?"
"Argh, I can't do arithmetic while I'm turning!"
"Well, in a glider you're always turning."
After all that, the pattern and landing were uneventful. My speed
varied more than I liked, and I touched down 50' beyond my selected
spot. I need to practice more before I re-take the checkride.
After we climb out of the glider, Rex put out his hand and said
"Congratulations, you passed." What?! After getting lost? And letting
the airspeed wander all over the place?
We then de-briefed the flight. He told me everything was within the
Private PTS, but I need to work on precision.
- if the airspeed is supposed to be 50, it should be 50, not 48 or 53
- no dawdling over the pre-takeoff checklist if you're on the runway
- a 30:1 glider goes 5 nm per 1000'; 40:1 goes 6.5; 50:1 goes 8.
- check spoilers high enough (above 1500) to be able to do something
about it if they're stuck
So, even though the FARs say there will be no instruction during a
flight test, I learned a lot. The most important: to not give up,
and to relax -- remember that flying, even a checkride, is supposed to
A big thank you to all the CFIs and tow pilots who made it possible.
Now for badges and XC!
ASEL, IA, G
getting ready to launch
-click on the link below, from Picasa:
Thursday, October 27, 2011
This year's Women Soaring Pilot Association (WSPA) Annual Seminar took
place at El Tiro gliderport north of Tucson, Arizona, from September
22nd to 25th. Each Annual Seminar, which is the most important event for
WSPA, has specific goals set by the location and flying habits of the
hosting club. This year, the goals were improving cross-country (XC)
skills, Badge Work and aerobatics instruction. Customarily, the Annual
Seminars are organized during the summer when most WSPA members can take
time off. This year we had to change venues abruptly for some
unprecedented reasons, but September in Tucson seemed like an excellent
alternative to the original plans. Fourteen of us participated, a
relatively small number of participants, mostly due to the short
lead-time and the fact that schools have already started in September.
But, Tucson Soaring Club (TuSC) members went out of their way to make
this a memorable event for women pilots who could be there. Thus, we
were pampered by 78 TuSC volunteers in 4 days. TuSC members donated
money for one full Seminar scholarship ($500), grant money ($300)
towards hauling Neita's ASK21 all the way from Air Sailing; one of their
CFI-Gs donated his time, and they had a designated cook or two who
folded egg-whites into pancake batter every morning for us, and made
roast-beef au-jus, grilled beef au-jus, salmon (not au-jus), with loads
of good side-dishes and salads for every lunch and dinner, all made in
their club's kitchen. We had a great time!
The gliderport is about an hour drive on I-10, north from Tucson. Once
off the highway, directions to El Tiro are clearly labeled with road
signs. The street that finally leads to the gliderport is appropriately
named El Tiro Road, and it's unpaved for the last two miles. The
entrance to the gliderport grounds is a large gate, paddlocked at night,
after which the speed limit goes down to 10 mph to prevent raising too
much dust and sand onto the glider canopies. Like Air Sailing, El Tiro
is on Federal land (Bureau of Land Management), and consequently has
enough "real-estate" to house 11 runways (26 Right, Center, Left,
8R/C/L, 35 R/L, 17 R/L, and the diagonal winch runway), with 8/26
runways being the fantastic 7000 ft long. Club's and some private
gliders are kept in the shade hangar, which has wide roof and no walls,
where each glider is tied-down on the specially-built cement platform.
The club's fleet got almost completely destroyed few years ago by a
tornado which ripped gliders out of the tie-down spots and left them
mangled in the nearby bush and saguaros. The insurance covered the loss,
and El Tiro eventually recovered the fleet. However, in the wake of the
tornado and club operations being down for 6 months, they built this
super-sturdy shade hangar to protect aircraft from the future bad luck.
I arrived on Sept 17, a Saturday before the Seminar started, hoping I
could help with final preparations, as I am WSPA VP and Seminar
Coordinator. Also, getting all the check-out requirements early out of
the way seemed like a good idea. My host, Greg Hodgins, and I drove to
El Tiro that same afternoon. I got checked-out in their G103 Twin II
acro-ship, one of the three G103s Tucson Soaring Club uses for initial
training. The first flight was a standard 2000 ft high tow, with release
over the Black Hills, their source of house-thermals. After releasing at
around 4000 ft MSL, we found a strong thermal and flew to 8000 ft. This
gave us more than enough time to do standard maneuvers like stalls, slow
flight, and slow flight with spoilers fully open. In addition, I got
well acquainted with the local landmarks of Ragged Top, Silver Bell
Mine, and Pinal Airpark. Couple of pattern flights, one of which was a
simulated rope break followed by the landing on a different runway,
finished off the checkout process. Next day, Greg and I went for a 2
hour XC flight: we covered a larger part of the Avra Valley, to Waterman
and Towers South on the Southern side, and almost reached Picacho Peak
on the North. I got to see land-out fields. Good ones are Ultralight and
Sasco strip, both towable. A very bad place to land would be a
dirt-strip-looking place, south of Silver Bell Mines, where a hidden
missile-launch site was during the Cold War. On Monday, I finally went
flying by myself. It was a good enough soaring day that TuSC had
operations going, even though it is usually not open on Mon/Tue. I took
off in the early afternoon and found lift up to 10.000 ft in usual
places like Black Hills, hills sloping off of Silver Bell and around
Towers South. Sometimes even cattle ponds kicked off thermals, but
valley floor gave serious sink most of the time. It was very convenient
to have Black Hills to go back to in order to get high up again and stay
afloat. I stayed up for 2.3 hours.
Tuesday was a non-flying day for me, but Neita and Mark Montague, who
arrived from Air Sailing the night before with their ASK21 in tow, got
an area- and G103 check-outs so they could act as additional CFI-Gs
during the Seminar. In return, TuSC chief instructor, James Lyne, got
checked out in their ASK21, which was apparently a very nice experience
for James. Wednesday morning we got treated with the visit to the Desert
Museum, a very beautiful and very hot place. Wednesday afternoon
participants finally started arriving and the entire afternoon got
filled with more check-out flights. Since all the Grobs were taken, I
decided to take the hosts up on their offer and get checked out in a
PW6, dual-seater of Polish built, which "is a great spinner like all the
other Eastern European gliders". I read the manual, passed the mandatory
test, washed the glider as part of the pre-flight (the washing part also
mandatory), and went flying with Chuck Schroll, a good soul who donated
all of his CFI-G time to women pilots during the Seminar. PW6 flies with
a nose-high attitude, so it took me few minutes to switch the
pitch-attitude from the Grob's to the PW6's best L/D . PW6 is an easy
ship to fly, and unlike Grob, very light on the rudder. It was a breeze
to stay coordinated, After a single dual flight, I flew it solo very
briefly, since the sun was setting and all the lift was almost
completely gone by that point. One of the oddities of PW6 is that it
should not be towed in low-tow position because the tow-rope would rub
against the fuselage and damage it eventually. I guess boxing the wake
is still OK, since James Lyne and I did it the next day on our way to
the acrobatics "box".
Thursday, Sept 22 2011, finally the whole thing started officially. For
me the highlight of the Seminar was the opportunity to get instruction
in aerobatic flight. TuSC has three acrobatics instructors who are also
competition acro-pilots. One of them is their chief instructor, James
Lyne, with whom I had two acrobatics flights Thu afternoon. But before
that afternoon excitement, we got a great lecture by their parachute
rigger, Mike Morgan. Mike-the-rigger worked once upon a time with Alan
Silver, our own NCSA parachute rigger. WSPA participants got to read
Alan's old articles from Soaring Magazine on proper parachute
pre-flight, fitting and bailing-out procedure from the glider. As part
of the demonstration, I got to deploy the parachute, and learn how to
find steering handles to land parachute as safely as possible. Bail-out
practice was an eye-opener. One thing that becomes crystal-clear right
away is that if you have never done the bail-out routine before, you
will be too slow; probably too slow to save yourself if the situation
was for real. I did the "bail-out" twice in a row, and second time I was
significantly faster. Practice makes perfect, and as Alan suggests in
his articles, it probably does pay to rehearse the bailing process every
time one gets in and out of the glider. Apart from being useful, this
exercise had a great entertainment value because we got to jump out of
the glider and onto the mattress by diving out head-first…and there are
many "styles" of leaving that glider in a rush. The fastest girl,
Gretchen, got an award that evening for the speediest egress from the
My first acro-flight was in PW6: spin training with recovery to a
heading. First two spins were one full turn, spinning to the left and to
the right. Both times, I overshot the heading during the recovery. On
the last one, I spun PW6 three full rotations, experienced the fully
developed spin with the nose of the aircraft pointing straight down to
the ground, and recovered exactly on the heading. On the second
acro-flight in G103 I got to practice loops, chandelles and wingovers.
Loop entry was at 120 kts, which allows for a nice, large, show-like
loop. At 120 kts, pulling the stick back to about 3 Gs, got us up and
inverted. Since the inverted portion of the loop is not sustained, it
feels like weightless state, we did not really experience negative G
force. With stick relaxed, the glider recovers into the upright flight.
One of the consequences of aerobatics flight, is that afterwards,
landing pattern speed seems very slow. It was true for me: I had to work
hard not to fly too fast. Adrenalin-rush immediately after the
acro-maneuvers made straight-and-level flight awfully boring.
Friday morning brought fun and educational landing exercises. Women
got to practice low-energy short-field landings, ground-effect flying
and steep approaches. Flying in ground effect along 4000-5000 ft of the
runway was everyone's favorite. To get enough energy for a long glide in
ground effect the landing approach speed needed to be as high as
65-70kts. Once ready to flare, the spoilers got closed completely. The
glider had enough energy to fly for a long time in ground effect, only
few feet above ground, before it eventually settled down very gently,
"like a butterfly with sore feet".
Training in cross-country flying took form of the team-flying challenge.
On Friday afternoon, teams did XC practice-flights, so everyone would
get first acquainted with local turn-points and land-out options. Since
by Friday I got to know most of the local XC area, and since all the
dual-seat gliders got occupied, I decided to go get another check-out
and fly solo in a PW5. It is a single-seat version of PW6, and, of
course, another "excellent spinner of Eastern European origin". After
fighting with the seat-belts that appeared to be modeled on leather
weight lifting belts, I took off around 2 pm. It was not a good soaring
day. The cumuli were there, marking the lift, but those were not growing
cumulus clouds. They appeared flat, and the lift beneath them was rather
weak and disorganized. In addition, frequent overdevelopment kept
shutting down the reliable source of thermals. PW5 is a very light
aircraft, and the "secure" feeling of flying in a heavy Grob was gone.
It took me awhile to habituate to the fact that I will be bounced around
a lot. Like PW6, the ship is very light on controls and easy to fly.
Because of its short wingspan and very slow minimum sink and best L/D
speed, it climbs nicely even in weak thermals. After the initial
struggle, I spent almost half of the 3.4h hour flight between 6000 and
10000 feet MSL. The Grobs and ASK21 that all took-off before me were
coming back to land very quickly. Some of them tried to connect to the
thermal I was in, but without much success: PW5 had an unfair advantage
in the weak lift conditions. The downside of PW5 is obviously the very
poor penetration into the wind: 47kts best L/D speed will get you down
more-less vertically once in sink. The OLC trace for this flight is
rather funny, showing mostly thermalling, and not much horizontal
flying, until later in the afternoon, when sink associated with cumulus
clouds was gone.
Saturday, I teamed up with the local woman pilot, Sheena Stogsdill for
the OLC XC challenge. TuSC weatherman, Mike Stringfellow, gave us a
weather briefing in the morning, which turned out to be too optimistic.
The cloud street running to the south of El Tiro was supposed to take us
all the way to the Baboquivary Mountains further southwest where the
long convergence awaited, marked by cumulus clouds all the way to
Mexico. Around 1pm, a long grid of gliders kept getting longer as all of
those who took-off, quickly came down because the cloud street
overdeveloped right above El Tiro shutting down the lift. Sheena and I
caught a blue thermal after the second take-off attempt. Once we got to
10.000 ft we pressed on south, towards clouds that promised more and
higher lift. The highest we got that day was 12.500 ft, to keep us legal
without oxygen supply. We had a portable oxygen system that sat next to
Sheena in the back seat. But with only one flow regulator, it meant only
about 15-20 min of oxygen for the two of us. It seemed easier to just
stay below the 12.500 ft, and we did fine on that day (tomorrow was a
different story, though). Decision was made to try to go further
southwest towards Kitt Peak, but we quickly reneged on that commitment
because of the unrelenting sink we encountered and no known land-out
places in the rugged terrain. Instead, we changed course towards east.
We skirted Ryan Field, and made it to Robles Junction to see Sheena's
house, before we finally headed back "home" and away from almost
complete overdevelopment further south. Even going back north towards El
Tiro and Black Hills was a struggle because all we had to work with were
small sunny patches that did not always make thermals. The few
good-looking clouds were too far for us at that point. Once we reached
the relative safety of El Tiro and Black Hills, we got disappointed
again: the usual sources of blue thermals were covered by cloud shadows
most of the time. It took monitoring when each potential thermal source
got insolated and then waiting for at least 10 minutes of sunshine to
finally attempt getting some lift off of it. We did something right,
because we finally managed to get back to 11.000 ft. There were no
clouds north of where we were, but it looked like we would encounter
less sink if headed that way, than back south. By the time we reached
the foothills of Picacho Peak to the north, it was getting to be dinner
time and we headed back to El Tiro. The rest of the flight was spent
monitoring who was landing before us, eating animal crackers and Sheena
did some wingovers and steep turns for me as she got bored with
straight-and-level flight. (A side note on Sheena: she is a 20 year old
acrobatics glider pilot of impressive precision and talent. Since her
dad is also an acro-instructor and TuSC A&P, Sheena started flying
early, when she was 13. On her 4th solo flight she had a "dogfight" with
her dad flying the other glider.)
Saturday evening was a WSPA Banquet, this year specially honored by a
lecture given by a former space-shuttle commander Don McMonagle, who
flew on three missions. Overloaded power generator kept blowing fuses
during his talk, but he was quick on his feet. Don pulled out a Space
Shuttle "toy" and explained all three modes of emergency landings and
then some, all without lights or a working projector.
On Sunday, the last day of the Seminar, the soaring weather was finally
outstanding. Unfortunately, most of the participants were pooped. I woke
up immensely tired, with heart racing at 130 beats/min. Since no amount
of coffee or food helped, and after seeing Sheena in the same condition,
I concluded that we both got hypoxic on the previous day's flight and it
carried over as fatigue the next day. After all, we did spend most of
the time of 3.4h flight between 9 and 12 thousand feet without
supplemental oxygen. I wanted to do precision landings solo in order to
finish off the leftover Bronze Badge requirements. Trusty PW5 was all
mine. Chuck Schroll set-up orange cones for me, marking the beginning
and end of the 600ft stretch of the runway, within which I was supposed
to touch-down and come to a complete stop. The first landing was as
hoped for. When the time came for my second take-off, we got a
radio-call from one of the airborne gliders that the dust-storm is
coming our way. Everyone locked their canopies and waited beside their
gliders for the storm to blow over. After few minutes it appeared that
it was bypassing us on the east side of the field, and we got a "green
light" from the line chief to resume operations. I was the first one to
take-off from 26. When the tow-plane made its usual left 180 degree turn
towards east, we faced a "wall of sand", which was high enough that we
could not see Mt Lemon and Catalina Mts on the other side of Avra Valley
and I-10. The dust-storm was not bypassing anything, it was going right
over the field! Tow-pilot kept circling above the west side of the
field, and in front of the dust-storm, until we got to the pattern
altitude. Luckily, there was lift everywhere, since I needed to stay up
for another 30 minutes because the ops got shut down again on the
ground. Eventually, I landed "downwind" on rwy 8, since 26 was jammed
with the gliders in the grid, and rwy 17 which would have made the most
sense, if the wind-socks are to be trusted, was at the edge of the
storm, and the awesome wind-shear made it difficult to have good
airspeed control on the final.
After all that excitement and my pulse rate still going at 130, I called
it a day. After a nap on the futon on the conference room floor, and the
lunch of elegant Mexican dinner leftovers catered for the previous
night's event, I spent the rest of the afternoon on the shaded porch of
the club-house, watching gliders go by, and enjoying my water spiked
with electrolytes. 100F never felt so cool.
The Seminar in Tucson was a success for every participant, as well as
organizers. Women achieved Gold Altitudes and Badges, some of us had
first serious acro-instruction, and some young ones got to see for the
first time what 10.000 ft gain in altitude feels like in comparison to
their wet, Seattle, 100 ft gain on a good day. At this point I have to
specially mention two TuSC members, Kate Porter and Greg Hodgins, who
put their hearts and heads together to make this a really special event
for women pilots. Three of us worked hard to jump-start the whole
project back in April 2011, get appropriate-turned-overwhelming support
from their club, as well as do as early PR as possible. Gretchen Gibbs
designed the wonderful logo for the Seminar, which we all enjoy now on
our Seminar t-shirts and posters. At the end, we all had tremendous fun
working and flying together, and both TuSC and WSPA got some loyal new
PS. Few links:
In addition, please find attached the pdf file of photographs taken by
our "official" photographer Pete Rendek, whose daughter Kim got one of
the WSPA scholarships to help her towards her private rating:
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Total OLC distance 585KM. Highest altitude over the sierra was the same as over the Mendocinos: 16K!
OLC trace: http://www.onlinecontest.org/olc-2.0...l?dsId=2124662
|Arriving at Mt Lassen|
Special thanks to Lee Edling, who really took care of me while at Airsailing, provided me with a trailer to spend the night and a tow back towards Williams. And many thanks to the Airsailing folks for their hospitality. The Banquet was great and the food was delicious.
Now we need to plan the next egg attack from Byron or Hollister before Lee captures it from Williams again :-)
Ramy the eggnapper
Mike Mayo shows how FAA WINGS flights can be soaring fun, with over a dozen required tasks slipped in
have been nice to get the trace and post on OLC. Maybe next time. It
is the same equipment as I used in 5H but that was a long ago now. It
was a Friday, we took off just before 3pm and just before the tow pilot
stopped for the day. No possibility of a relight and it was just
beginning to be soarable. After what seemed like a lot of work we got
to the Pine Nuts and made our way to Mt. Patterson and then back to some
way across Lake Tahoe with "final glide" to Truckee. Landed back at
Minden after nearly 3 hours.
Two years ago I also had a fine flight with Monique for "Wings". That
time it was even harder getting to the Pine Nuts but was rewarded with
wave to 18K eventually. The same wave gave us more than 2000 ft/min
climb to 14Kft in the Long-EZ on the way home to Palo Alto.
My most memorable "Wings" flight was with Dave Cunningham in 81C out of
Truckee. We went to Susanville and back, quite easily, after deciding
at Spooner that the glide angle would not get us to the big clouds at
Freel Peak. Returning from Susanville we were dodging spectacular
overdevelopment. All very pretty.
Friday, September 16, 2011
Monday, July 11, 2011
I want to start by thanking Mike Schneider for spending more than four
hours while I bobbed and twisted in KP.
On Sat 7/9 I had the second flight of the day. Maja had the first
flight and she came back her usual smiling self. I knew it was going to
be good, we took off at about 3:45 for a 2.1hr intro flight to the world
of more than 1 to 4 knots of lift. I wasn't ready for the tooth jarring
ride to 6,500ft where we found 10kts+ of lift. Spent the time learning
more about thermaling. We got to 14,200ft once. Traveled up and down
the Pine Nuts(SP?) as far north as Virginia City and south short of
Topaz Lake. Moderate to very good lift the whole flight. I am kind of
hooked on this. I can see why the rules say you need a check out here.
Sun 7/10: I took the first flight and it was again a bump and grind ride
to 7,200 ft where Mike cut us loose in 10kts of lift. Today was a
different day. It was up and down the whole 2.1hrs (weird, 2hrs and
8min on both days). We wound up to 10K and then it was 8-10kis down to
9K and back. Hit 11K then 12K off and on, 13,100 for a brief second.
Lost altitude quickly and gained slowly. We headed back to MEV a couple
of times but found lift. We were at the south end of the valley at 10K
and headed back. After all the work we kept running into lift. Back to
12K. Enough of this I worked at loosing altitude. At 8K found lift and
tried to ignore it, I looked and we were at 8,600ft. Flew out of lift,
put KP in a steep turn and came down. I had to leave as Maja and Mike
Hope Maja posts her adventures soon (HINT).
Again thank you Mike you are a patient teacher.
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Friday, July 8, 2011
Monday, June 27, 2011
Terry Lowe flies the Whites at the NSA Bishop encampment - 'Impressive' is the understatement of the year!
I didn't get chance to drive to Schulman Grove, but I did give the visitors there a close up (and I mean really close up) view of my glider as I rode the thermal ridge lift at their eye level.
'Impressive' is the understatement of the year!
Although I never needed a relight on the four days I flew there, on three of the days I released too early in what I thought was good lift, only to find myself scratching round at 5,800' - 6,000' for 1/2 an hour to an hour trying to find the elevator to take me to the top (I believe my tow costs were the lowest for those four days). That in itself was a learning experience - doing short, figure-of-eight beats of perhaps 1/4 mile in length, just a couple of hundred feet above ground (airport still within glide, of course), just to stay airborne. Of course, once decent lift was found, it was no trouble getting to the ridge line. People often talk about ten-knot thermals when in fact they're really only ten knots (an optimistic maybe) for a short duration. Well, in one thermal, my averager showed a minimum of ten knots+ for two minutes straight! Unbelievable!
The other quite amazing learning experience (common knowledge to power pilots, of course) is the effect of altitude on true airspeed. Since most of the flying on the Whites is above 12,000', a glider's true airspeed can be quite remarkable - and hence the need for extra vigilance in the lookout for other gliders and also being cognizant of the glider's design limits in the sometimes turbulent conditions. It is easily possible for two gliders to be approaching head-on at closing speeds approaching 250 knots. The lesson is - use your radio frequently, give position reports and keep your eyes out of the cockpit. On the day I contacted wave (oh, so smooth), west of Bishop, I initially burned off my 17,999 feet of legal altitude at about 140 kts true airspeed (it was my turn to be cook for the barbecue that night!).
Incidentally, and it didn't seem to matter, anyway, there was no cumulus on the Whites to mark the lift during those four days. Once you were on top of the ridge and running in the clear blue sky, it was easy to find thermals just by flying along the ridge, from peak to peak.
All-in-all an experience not to be forgotten and one I hope to repeat in years to come.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Here's us camped out under the wing waiting for a dark patch to keep moving:
And some more pics, including what the sky looked like Saturday in San Francisco: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mangtronix/sets/72157626606662081
Special thanks to Rick for taking over the towplane to squeeze in a few more tows for the day!
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
amazing views of our area that is the greenest I can remember. Was a
day to tiptoe and be in the right place at the right time.
It has been nearly month since that epic flight Ramy and I had doing the
Bay Tour in grand style. As we start to leave winter behind, we are
moving into the best time of year of X-C soaring out of Byron. March is
normally when things start kicking off, but this year it has been pretty
flat compared to one of the best February's on record. With lots of
rain in the forecast for the next week, I was getting disparate to
stretch my wings.
Thanks to Rolf and Ramy I decided to take a day off of work and take
advantage of the brief window before the next storm came in this
evening, timing is everything.
Getting to Byron the sky was showing promise with lots of blue in the
valley and nice cumulus clouds over the high country just as RASP had
called out. If the forecast was to pan out we could have cloud bases as
high as 6-7k. Early on it was more like 3-4k local and getting better to
the west and to the south in the Diablo range. The day was definitely
dynamic and was changing rapidly with the next front moving in producing
rain in places and good lift in others.
First thermal was over Byron at 3-4 knots up to a little over 3k. I
worked towards Diablo and Concord I found the cloud base increasing to a
little over 5k. I stretched glide to the Delta and then headed back
south in the Livermore Valley. I could see good looking clouds in San
Antonio Valley with bases near 7k and had little hope of reaching them
until I found the cloud step where I could climb above the lower base by
over 800 ft. I rode this shelf to Rel1 and then connected with the
higher bases. About this time I heard 1JH (Matt) out of Hollister doing
well near Lick Observatory. I continued in the Valley, sometimes
referred to as "Tiger Country" to near Hoover Lake before heading back
north. On the way back I flew over Lick Observatory for some cool
pictures of that classic facility surrounded by snow. By this time the
sky was getting darker as the front was coming through, I headed back to
Byron near cloud base for a easy run.
Attached are some pictures to help tell the story.
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-------- Original Message --------
|Subject:||[norcalsoaring] Post frontal tiptoeing tour|
|Date:||Wed, 23 Mar 2011 05:31:49 +0000|
|From:||Buzz Graves <email@example.com>|
There are better days, but this one was good enough to take in some amazing views of our area that is the greenest I can remember. Was a day to tiptoe and be in the right place at the right time. It has been nearly month since that epic flight Ramy and I had doing the Bay Tour in grand style. As we start to leave winter behind, we are moving into the best time of year of X-C soaring out of Byron. March is normally when things start kicking off, but this year it has been pretty flat compared to one of the best February's on record. With lots of rain in the forecast for the next week, I was getting disparate to stretch my wings. Thanks to Rolf and Ramy I decided to take a day off of work and take advantage of the brief window before the next storm came in this evening, timing is everything. Getting to Byron the sky was showing promise with lots of blue in the valley and nice cumulus clouds over the high country just as RASP had called out. If the forecast was to pan out we could have cloud bases as high as 6-7k. Early on it was more like 3-4k local and getting better to the west and to the south in the Diablo range. The day was definitely dynamic and was changing rapidly with the next front moving in producing rain in places and good lift in others. First thermal was over Byron at 3-4 knots up to a little over 3k. I worked towards Diablo and Concord I found the cloud base increasing to a little over 5k. I stretched glide to the Delta and then headed back south in the Livermore Valley. I could see good looking clouds in San Antonio Valley with bases near 7k and had little hope of reaching them until I found the cloud step where I could climb above the lower base by over 800 ft. I rode this shelf to Rel1 and then connected with the higher bases. About this time I heard 1JH (Matt) out of Hollister doing well near Lick Observatory. I continued in the Valley, sometimes referred to as "Tiger Country" to near Hoover Lake before heading back north. On the way back I flew over Lick Observatory for some cool pictures of that classic facility surrounded by snow. By this time the sky was getting darker as the front was coming through, I headed back to Byron near cloud base for a easy run. http://www.onlinecontest.org/olc-2.0/gliding/flightinfo.html?dsId=1631754 Attached are some pictures to help tell the story. Buzz BG ------------------------------------ Yahoo! Groups Links <*> To visit your group on the web, go to: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/norcalsoaring/ <*> Your email settings: Individual Email | Traditional <*> To change settings online go to: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/norcalsoaring/join (Yahoo! ID required) <*> To change settings via email: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com <*> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org <*> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to: http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Monday, February 21, 2011
If only willpower were enough....or 'Aller aux vaches!'= French for 'landing out' - some of those cows were ferocious bulls, staring threateningly
('Aller aux vaches!'= French for 'landing out' i.e. 'going to the cows')
Title as suggested by Monique.
Sunday turned out to be a most excellent soaring day as prognosticated
by our expert soaring veterans Ramy and Buzz. I did not have my soaring
computer, but that did not deter me from going cross country in SS with
a trusty sectional, knowledge of how many nautical miles across my thumb
is, some handy math and a tow.
I managed to make my way out there for the first tow of the day at about
11:55am. I took a high tow to 3k feet and proceeded to descend back
down to the boundary layer which was only 2,500 feet or so AGL at the
time. I scratched around Discovery Bay and the duster strip East of the
Forebay for about 30 minutes until Buzz, Ramy and Bill had launched.
Buzz and Ramy decided to try for Diablo across a nice big patch of blue.
I stayed behind and looked Eastwards towards lots of cumulus. Once
they started having some troubles, I committed to the East. Since I
didn't have my soaring computer and hence no waypoints (landable strips
that are not on the Sectional), I confirmed the location of the duster
strip with Ramy and away I went. The cloud base was up around 3k, but I
could only manage 2.5 before the thermals started breaking up. But, I
wanted to make Stockton, so I kept creeping every so slowly away from
the duster strip as I managed to get another couple hundred feet. Soon,
I had Kingdon in glide and went for it.
I got a nice thermal at Kingdon, and headed over to Lodi to debate
making my way to the Sierras. Of course, the whole time, I was
struggling to achieve 2,500 and Buzz came across the radio saying he
made it to 4,900. So, my mind was made up and I pointed the nose of SS
towards Byron. Thankfully, the clouds got higher and higher as I went
West, which made coming back much easier. Not easy, easier.
I actually arrived over the Forebay with 3k of altitude. Morteza was
down by Tracy and Buzz was super excited about a convergence zone with
8+ knots of lift on the averager, so I decided to see what there was
down there. Well, my luck ran out and I headed back to Byron. I was
over the Forebay scratching for lift in zero sink for about 10 minutes
at 1k feet and decided that was enough for one day and made the decision
to head back in. Just as I was coming over the Marina at the Forebay, a
Cessna was on downwind. I tried to mention that I was low and a glider,
but he just kept on going and giving me position reports. I was
convinced I had enough altitude, so I hung back for a second to give him
some room. By the time I looked back to the runways, I knew that was a
bad decision. I pointed the nose straight at Rwy 23 and kept the
landing gear up as long as possible. With a quarter mile to go, I had a
choice. Try to make it over the fence, or dump everything now and make
sure I come up short of the fence. I decided not to tempt fate, dumped
the gear and went full spoilers. The landing was nice and short in an
ok grass field full of cows. No damage, but cowpies all around and some
were fresh. Yuck.
Thanks to Ivey, Rick, Boyang, Charlie, Peter, Morteza, and Monique (I
hope I didn't forget anybody), we lifted the glider over the fence
(after towing it through tall grass and potholes) and safely to the
airport environment. Of course, 5 feet from the runway, we rolled
through some very deep and sticky mud which caused me to spend an hour
over at the wash station with SS and some brushes.
There were several factors which I hope people can take away and learn
from. On my way back from Lodi, I noticed very little impact from
headwind and assumed (wrongly) that it wasn't affecting me too much. I
was a little too optimistic on making Byron from 950 feet over the
Forebay Marina. I hung back a little bit waiting for the Cessna to
clear when I should have been more assertive. This probably would have
given me more than the extra 1/8 of a mile I needed to make the runway.
I listened to Byron AWOS and heard winds 220/9, which is a 20%
reduction in best glide for SS.
If I was at any other airport, I would have committed to being in a
pattern at that altitude, but my complacency and level of comfort with
Byron proved to be my undoing.
On a side note, while trying to keep the left wing off SS from scraping
along the barbed wire fence, we managed to hit the right wing on a rock
in a culvert. There is a small ding underneath the wing that will
probably require eventual fixing.
Video clip of the retrieve: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvTxn-94cC4
Monday, January 24, 2011
Diablo was working as advertized and near the exact altitude, it is too
bad more did take advantage of the day.
Winds were showing about 20-25 knts out or the Northeast, best lift was
just down wind of the Peak right on the border of the Class C airspace,
in the Hollister Data base it was near Wav2. I contacted the wave at 6k
and when I found the best spot I was climbing at 4-6 knots up to 12k
where the lift dropped off quickly to around 1 knot or so. At around
12.5 it was time to explore, I first headed south in very friendly air
to Hummingbird and then back north back to Diablo. Then I pushed across
the Delta to the north, I retrospect I could have gone much further, I
had Byron by over 6k when I turned. Then it was back to Diablo to top
out again to head south. I had decided to I would continue south until
I had byron by 3k, this got me close to Mtn Oso. I found friendly air
most of the way, I am thinking the NE direction is contributed to this.
Nearly the whole afternoon the winds on the ground at Byron were calm.
This made for a very easy day.
A couple of pictures to help tell the story, one of the Bay Area from on
top and another showing the climb rate going through 10k.
I saw one of our Grob at the end of the day in wave at Diablo, but
wasn't sure who it was. (It was Rick Robbins) At least there was one
other to enjoy the day called by Ramy. Ramy has his own story and it
was sorry he wasn't able to join the fun. With his presents we probably
would have pushed a bit hard to get more from the day.
Sat was GREAT. Mike Voie suggested the wave. I dusted off my surf board (N103FB) and a little before 2PM we took off. I got off at 6,500' with 800-1000' f/m up. I did figure 8s and circled. At around 10,500' I was down to 400 f/m, after 11,000' 200 f/m at around 12,000' I was somewhere around 50'-200' f/m by 13,300' I was 0-50 f/m so I stopped trying. The world looks different from the Grob than any of the power aircraft I have piloted at any altitude. I really enjoyed it, just basking in being there. I went to LVK and looked around and back to Diablo then Brushy Peak. A great deal of this was at zero to a little over 100 f/m sink. I went almost to SCK and came back a circled the Fore Bay. I was at 6K and got to watch Elevator slide under me at 4K doing about mach 1. The FM asked how much longer I would be? Eh, it was getting late so I went Discovery Bay and used the air brakes. The total flight was 2.6hrs. If I had played around I think I might have had another 45' in the air. The Grob just did NOT want to come down. I landed long and was almost on the center line of the taxiway as I exited. As I said, "Sat was Great."
Thanks Mike for suggesting the wave.