Monday, February 26, 2007

Wouldn't This Make an Excellent Tow Plane?

Link to Auction Site

Sorry, couldn't help dreaming...

--Tom Hail

[According to the auction site, the plane has been sitting in a hangar, unused, for a good fifty years.--JL]

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Yay for Buzz

Congratulations to Buzz Graves who has completed the requirements for his

Well done.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

NCSA 2007 Safety Seminar

Byron Airport

Saturday, March 3rd

8:30–9:00: Sign In

  • bring SSA #, 2006 totals & dates of BFR & Proficiency Flights

9:10-9:20: Mark Grosenheider--Byron Airport Emergency Plan

9:20-10:15: Mike Schneider--Byron Airport Operations

  • emergencies
  • collision avoidance
  • airspace
  • communications
  • recent incidents
  • focus on prevention

10:15-10:55: Buzz Graves -- Flying the Ridge Safely

10:55-11:10: Break

11:10-12:00: Steve Wells--Everything You Wanted to Know About Contacting Approach Control But Were Afraid to Ask

  • when flying the Diablo wave
  • on cross-country flights
  • Steve Wells is Operations Supervisor of Norcal Approach

12:10: Richard Duggan--Lunch

--Monique Weil

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Air Sailing Cross Country Camp

June 3-8, 2007

Contact David Prather, Camp Manager at or 530-748-7275 for more information or to register.

This 6-day camp (Sunday afternoon through Friday) offers a safe and comfortable introduction to cross-country soaring suitable for beginning and intermediate cross-country pilots. Days begin with enjoyable and informative classroom sessions in the morning, continue with lead & follow flights in the afternoons, and frequently conclude with an optional evening activity. You'll learn from experienced lead (or mentor) pilots who regularly make recreational cross country flights from Air Sailing, Truckee and Minden, many whom are active and former NCSA members. The facilities at Air Sailing are fantastic, so come join us for some great flying, a wealth of practical cross-country knowledge and an opportunity to hang around glider people for an entire week.

--David Prather

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Glider-Rides on Oahu

Back in January, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer had an article about The Original Glider Rides, a company running glider rides (d'uh) on Oahu.

The article doesn't mention the glider model, but from the description and the picture, I'm guessing it's an SGS 2-32.

-- Johan Larson, from a suggestion by Marianne Larson

Summary of NCSA 2006 Accomplishments & Awards

Badges and Badge Legs (A,B,C , Bronze, Silver, Gold)

  • A: Dmitry Chichkov, Mark Violet, Mike Voie, Larry Suter, Dale Roberts,

  • B: Larry Suter, Hennadiy Rez, Dale Roberts

  • C: Dale Roberts

  • Bronze: Dale Roberts, Sebastien Belanger

  • Silver Altitude: Sebastien Belanger

  • Silver Distance: Lee Grisham, Shannon Madsen

  • Gold Distance: Peter Kelemen; Shannon Madsen

  • Diamond Goal, Diamond Distance: Morteza Ansari

  • Silver Badge: Lee Grisham, Shannon Madsen

  • Gold Badge: Peter Kelemen, Shannon Madsen, Morteza Ansari

Awards were divided into 2 sections: Advanced and Standard.

Total Cross-Country Miles

  • Adv: Ramy Yanetz: 13,803sm
  • Stnd: Morteza Ansari: 1,883sm

Longest Distance Flight

  • Adv: Yuliy Gerchikov: FAI 1,000KM Diplome; and Ramy Yanetz:1000KM FAI triangle (unofficial)
  • Stnd: Morteza Ansari: 548KM--Diamond Distance

Highest Altitude Achieved

  • Adv: Rolf Peterson: 26,800'
  • Stnd: Morteza Ansari: 25,095'

State and Other Records and Awards

  • Adv: Rolf Peterson: 3 Utah State Records: 15 meter; Free Triangle Dist: Open Single + Sports
  • Stnd: Shannon Madsen: PASCO AWARD for longest Silver Distance

Pilot of the Year 2006

  • Adv: tied between:

    • Yuliy Gerchikov - Two 1,000KM flights
      ATPB: Distance: FAI 1,000KM Diplome; ATPB: Speed: 105 mph over 316sm (Gerlach Dash)
      ATPB: Scenery on single flight: (Cedar Breaks, Grand Canyon, Vermillion Cliffs)
      "Two-in-one flight": Trk-Coyote Flat - TRK- Spaulding-TRK;
      TAGARDS; CAPTURE OF PASCO Egg from Hollister
    • Ramy Yanetz: 1000KM FAI triangle(unofficial) from Truckee -
      US and Nevada Free Standard class triangle record(unofficial)
      Two flights over 1,000KM; highest miles/hrs:13,803sm/290hr in 2006

  • Stnd: Morteza Ansari - 1883sm - all but one flight in club's G-102.
    Diamond Distance; 25,095' Altitude; Gerlach Dash, in club's G-102.

Instructor of the Year 2006

Monique Weil: 263 Instructional flights in 115 hours

Tow Pilot of the Year 2006

Ken Ferguson: 226 tows/48.4hr towing

-- Monique Weil

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Nature -- Raptor Force

This week's episode of PBS's perennial Nature was
about birds of prey. The episode included an extended treatment of
various type of flying, including soaring flight. The material on
dynamic soaring was particularly interesting and included footage of both radio-controlled and full-size gliders.

PBS has a site devoted to the episode, and the KQED website shows several repeat broadcasts later this week.

-- Johan Larson

When You Stare Into the Farm-Country...

...the farm-country also stares into you.

-- Johan Larson

[Gee, that didn't have much to do with soaring, did it? -- No. But it's good to be the king.]

Kemp at the SSA Convention

This year, the SSA annual convention was in Memphis, February 8-10. Kemp was there, and has described the experience on his blog. Mmmm, motorgliders...

--Johan Larson

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Ninth Pasco XC Seminar -- To Fly Safely Throughout the Great Basin

Saturday, 24 February, 2007

8 am – 5 pm

Le Conte Physics Building, 1st Floor, Room 1

UC Berkeley Campus

I hope you will find the Seminar an interesting day. It should generate
good questions and interesting answers.

Dan Gudgel and I are looking forward to your attendance.

You can register at the door for $60.00, non soaring guests will cost
Attendees don't have to be PASCO members. Full registration fee
will also receive a CD documenting the Power Point presentations.

-- Carl Herold (775-230-0527,

The brochure can be downloaded here.

West Wind Articles Available Online

Shannon has uploaded the 2006 West Wind articles to our website:

Progress By Ulf and Shannon

Congratulations to Ulf Gustafsson who has completed the requirements for and
earned his SSA A, B & C badges.

Congratulations to Shannon Madsen who has completed the requirements for his
WINGS phase II.

Well done!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Thermaling Camp

May 28 – June 1, 2007

Air Sailing

This five-day camp is for beginner and intermediate-level glider pilots who want to develop efficient thermal soaring skills for longer local flights and for safe cross-country flights.

The objective of the Thermaling Camp is to develop and sharpen thermaling and soaring abilities through comprehensive lectures, practical demonstrations, and daily practice of the basic concepts and skills of recreational thermal soaring.

Thermaling Camp is five days of soaring talk and practice. Daily lectures, demonstrations, and flights start at 8:30 AM and continue through at least 5 PM. The week is topped off with a banquet and celebration of accomplishments on Friday evening.

Participants must have a Private Pilot Glider certificate or a Student Pilot certificate with 5 hours solo experience.

For more information, consult the application form.

A,B,C & Bronze Badge Camp

June 25 – June 29, 2007

Soar Truckee

This five-day camp is for beginning and intermediate-level glider pilots who desire improved and more efficient soaring skills for longer local flights and for safer cross-country flights. For those more experienced pilots, an official observer will be available for badge flights.

The SSA ABC & Bronze Badge Training Program provides a basic approach to flying thereby developing skills and experience necessary for future flights and FAI Badge attempts. The objective of this Camp is to develop and sharpen your soaring abilities through lectures, practical demonstrations and daily practice of the basic concepts and skills of recreational soaring.

Camp is five days of soaring talk and practice. Daily safety orientations, lectures,
Schedule demonstrations and flights start at 8:30 AM and continue through at least 5 PM. The week is topped off with a banquet and celebration of accomplishments on Friday evening.

Participants must have a Private Pilot Glider certificate or a Student Pilot certificate with 5 hours solo experience.

For more information, consult the
application form.

Please Welcome Tony Derrer

I joined the NCSA on 1/25/07.

My work background has
been in Aviation Maintenance for the past 22 years. I've enjoyed many
aspects of the job from working on Ag Helicopters to restoring P-51
Mustang wings that went on to race around the pylons of Reno. This
month marks my 18th year at United Airlines, helping maintain their fleet of passenger aircraft.

up my power rating in '87 I'd always felt that there was something
missing in my flying. Pulling the rope release on that ASK-21 in '94, I
had no idea I'd just changed my life forever. The freedom of soaring
captured my heart and soul, filling the void that was missing in my
power flying. Receiving my commercial glider rating allowed me to share
the sport of soaring with a variety of interesting people over the past

I look forward to flying my own ship and working with the members here at the NCSA.

--Tony Derrer

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Please Welcome Bill Gage

Bill Gage - joined on Feb 11. Have been contemplating learning soaring for some time. First logged flight was 25 years ago. Next flight was 4 years ago. Now I have had 3 more. Progress!

I am a power pilot. Learned in college through ROTC, then went on to fly helicopters in the Army. Have also done a fair amount of fixed wing flying. Had half a Citabria for a few years. More recently was in a flying club, where we had a C-172, C-182, a Bonanza and a Citabria. (Loved the Bonanza) But the club imploded after an accident. I am excited to be flying again and developing a new skill.

I am married to Jackie - we live in Point Richmond. We are pretty active in sailing; we have a boat and I have been quite active in running sailboat races on the Bay. I am now the regional race officer for US Sailing, the national organization.

We have two kids. Colin recently graduated as an electrical engineer from UC San Diego. Michele is a junior at Columbia in New York, where she is also on the basketball team.

--Bill Gage

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Kemp in Wave

Kemp had a great wave flight out of Minden in January, and he has told us all about it on his blog. Click on the little pictures to see the full-sized ones. There's video, too.

-- Johan Larson

Upcoming Events

February 25: Talking to Approach Control class (Byron Airport)

March 3: Safety Seminar (Byron Airport, 9 AM)

Attendance is mandatory, folks!

March 17: Spring Work Day (Byron Airport)

March 25: NCSA Board Meeting (Byron Airport, 10 AM)

March 31: Operations at Tracy Airport

May 28-June 1: Thermal Camp, (Air Sailing)

June 3-June 8: Cross-Country Camp, (Air Sailing)

June 18-22: Women's Soaring Camp, (Avenal)

Organized by the Women Soaring Pilots Association. Men are welcome, too.

July 23-28: Sports Class Contest (Air Sailing)

January 19, 2008: NCSA Annual Meeting (Concord MDPA)

Monday, February 12, 2007

How Do I Prepare for the Written Test?

I recommend you read at least two books, and possibly two more if you want superior preparation.

First, you need to read the FAA's Glider Flying Handbook. Consider it your basic text.

Then, read and work through ASA's Private Pilot Test Prep. This book is updated every year, and contains every question in the FAA's text bank, with answers and explanations. I recommend you work through all the questions relevant to the Glider test; they are marked ALL and GLD.

I was not particularly impressed with the coverage of weather services in the GFH and the Test Prep book. There's a lot of detail to know about how to read the various charts, how to interpret cryptic Telex-format weather reports, and what all the different reports are called. The GFM and Test Prep book really only teach a bare imperfect minimum. To fix this problem, I recommend reading Aviation Weather and Aviation Weather Services, but consider this supplementary.

All four of these titles are available on Amazon as of this writing. You should be able to look them up by name.

If you start from scratch, reading through the GFM and working through the Test Prep book might take you fifteen evenings at a comfortable pace.

Finally, while taking the written test is an important step in getting your license, the Flight Examiner will not rely on it when he administers the Oral. Expect him to ask many of the same questions you have already studied for and answered on the written test. This may be a bit frustrating, particularly if you scored high on the written test.

-- Johan Larson

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Proposed New Procedure for Field Manager Report

One of the last tasks for the Field Manager at the end of each day is making a brief report on the day's flying. Once upon a time, this report went in one place: the FM notebook in the clubhouse. Right now it is also supposed to be echoed to NCSoar. Of course, since the FM can't take the notebook with him, he has to make a private copy somewhere, which is the third time the report gets written down.

I say reporting in triplicate is too much, and we should amend our requirements to avoid it. Let's do away with the notebook, and let the message to NCSoar be the actual FM report. This will do away with the first copy, and also the second, assuming the FM composes the NCSoar report directly.

This new procedure does raise the possibility that the next day's field manager will arrive without having seen the NCSoar report -- for whatever reason -- and will have no simple way of determining whether anything noteworthy took place the day before. To that end I propose that the FM leave a note of any really urgent items on the small whiteboard inside the clubhouse entrance.

Let's have one report; not three.

-- Johan Larson

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Keeping It Short

Some things can be said succinctly, and others require thousands of words. Both types of articles are welcome in The Buzzard. Here are three suggestions for articles that can be written in three paragraphs or less.

The Web-Pointer

A decent web-pointer article can be written in a paragraph: a URL to the page, and a few sentences on what's there and why it is interesting.

The Book Review

This will require a bit more description than the Web-Pointer, since the reader can't just click over and examine the page himself. There should be a brief summary of what the book has to say, and an evaluation of whether it succeeds in doing so. Still, three paragraphs should be enough for a brief treatment.

The Anecdote

Something happened--probably to you. What happened, and where? What did you do? Did it work, and why? No fuss, no mess; three paragraphs.

[Is it true the editor is a mad fan of the inimitable Michelle Flaherty, and views with particular favor any anecdote that begins with the words "This one time, at..."? -- Yes, indeed it is, and he is quite fond of words like "inimitable", too.]

Mark Violet Earns His B Badge

Congratulations to Mark Violet, who completed the requirements for the SSA B badge today.

The Buzzard Is Back

The Buzzard, our newsletter, was last published in November, 2002. It has now returned in this form, updated for the new millennium. [Did he really write "for the new millennium?" -- Yes, indeed he did.]

The Buzzard is not a replacement for NCSoar, our mailing list. NCSoar will remain as a forum for open discussion. By contrast, what appears in The Buzzard will be a bit more formal, and a bit more polished. Expect to see announcements about events and accomplishments, and carefully written articles about topics relevant to our club.

If you have something to submit to The Buzzard, send it to the editor by email; the email link is in the sidebar, on the right. Straightforward announcements will generally be posted promptly; expect a few rounds of revision for longer articles.