Monday, January 23, 2012

more Highlights from Saturday, from Mang, witha a great rainbow photo

Mang had his second solo flight Saturday, and  Yuichi Takagi had his first day as NCSA tow pilot:

<Saturday was my second solo flight.  I was all set to go on runway 30 but then checking the AWOS the winds were from 250 and I made the call not to launch.  Our great ground crew (thanks Jerry et al!) pushed 81C and me over to 23 and I was much happier launching off 23.

Yuichi towed me out near the reservoir and it was clear that there was some convective action because every now and then the tow plane would surge up or down almost a full tow plane wingspan.

I released at 4,000' a little south of Vaqueros Reservoir.  I saw a line of clouds on the east of the Altamont Pass and figured that would be the best lift.  But fighting a strong headwind I hit the 3,000' limit I'd set for myself without getting to the clouds and decided to turn back to the airport.

There was lift over the windmills west of the airport under clear skies but it was pretty bumpy and seemed unorganized.  I tried to circle but most of my circles would be half lift and half sink.  I was almost holding 2,900' but couldn't quite stay there.  I would do a few upwind legs as I could see I was being blown east at a pretty good clip (you can see what my circles looked like on OLC

I tried going upwind to see if there was anything different and hit an area of 6-8 knots down.  Hmmm, does that mean it's going up somewhere?  I didn't have a lot of altitude to try penetrating upwind so after some more circling attempts headed back to the airport entering the 45 at a quite comfy 1,500' and bleeding off the extra altitude with airbrakes.

Next time I'd be tempted to tow a little farther/higher to be able to sample the area I thought would be the best lift with some margin to make it back.

Oh and before takeoff Dmitri sagely asked me if I really wanted to take an unsecured water bottle with me. I elected not to and was glad when I hit a bump that would have sent it flying (under the pedals or somewhere equally dumb no doubt).  Would be nice to have a cargo pocket up front in FB.

Here's a rainbow from the ground.  Turned into a great day!

  - mang

Highlights for Saturday January 21st, from Buzz and Boyang

Saturday was a day for rapidly changing conditions and the tail end of a
strong frontal system pushing through the Bay Area. Forecast were for
high winds with possible wave and then there was plenty of instability
with lots of moisture and some rain. The beginning of the day was very
wet with low cloud bases then drying with strong winds. My first flight
was working underneath the clouds with Rachel where we were able to
explore the strongest lift under the darkest areas. Then it was chasing
wisp in later flights to climbing up the upwind side of the clouds at
the end of the day with Boyang in wave to 7k, well above the cloud bases.

The winds were very fickle starting nearly down 30, later swinging to
23. Surface winds were mostly westerly and the upper winds were from
the north. Looking at the wind generators and comparing that with what
the clouds were saying showed there was a 90 degree shear well below the
clouds bases around 4k. This was critical to understand to work the wave.

All and all a pretty good day with a mixed bag of flying conditions,
thermal, convergence, and wave. Several visiting pilots from Montreal
were happy there was good flying conditions.

I was a bit late getting to the banquet, my excuse was being stuck. Not
in traffic but in wave!!!

See the attached pictures to help tell the story. Boyang was in the
front seat getting his first wave experience!! He climbed from 4.5k to
7k flying the upwind side of the clouds as if they were a mountain with
ridge lift

Thanks to Jerry and everyone else for making the day work so well.


- Boyang wrote:

<Here's my take on the wave.

I arrived at the airport around noon. It was raining quite heavily in
the fields around Byron, and I was prepared to spend the day picking
Buzz's brains in the clubhouse. However, the rain dried to a drizzle
near the airport, and I saw glider operations in full swing.

The clouds looked promising, and good soaring days are often preceded by
rainy days. We had plenty of rain this past week, so...why aren't the
cross country regulars flying today?

Flying FB, I took off on runway 23 with Buzz in the backseat and asked
for a tow towards the reservoir. A string of clouds stretched from Mount
Diablo to the mountains west of Byron, and we begin investigating west
of the reservoir. At first, we were below the cloud base. By flying
figure eights in front (North) of the clouds, we picked up altitude, and
soon, we were above the cloud base. Clouds were forming, moving, and
disappearing at a steady rate, and that wisp a few figure eights ago
could have changed to nothing or something big. New clouds generally
provided the best lift, but unfortunately, we didn't get high enough to
fly to Mount Diablo.

Also, I saw a glory while looking down at the clouds. It's a beauty.>

Thursday, January 19, 2012


On Christmas Eve, Chandler Lougee decided to have her FIRST SOLO
All her instructors reported that she was ready weeks before.

If you see the pictures of the Santa Lougee family, you will
understand why Chandler chose this date! It took a while to collect all
the appropriate Santa Family Outfits.

Chandler wrote this about her solo:

"I currently have 20.3 hours. As for the solo, you're right, I will
remember that for the rest of my life. It was an amazing feeling,
looking behind me and realizing that there was nobody looking over my
shoulder, telling where and how to fly. And I just started enjoying the
view and having fun flying. It was awesome!!
I will be coming to the annual meeting, I'll see you then"

Larry sent photos of Chandler about to take off on her solo flight, with
a send-off by instructor Larry. Tow Pilot is Paul McDonald.

Chandler's Parents Lance and Barbara were present of course.
Barbara is a professorial photographer well known to NCSA members -
Attached are three photos of the Event taken by Barbara.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

More from Mang about his first solo - Jan 14,2012

It had been a long final stretch to my first glider solo. Having been
a power pilot back in Canada (through the Royal Canadian Air Cadets,
eh) my stick and rudders skills just needed some waking up and of
course it took some work to get used to how much rudder you need
(especially with the Grob 103) with those almost impossibly long wings
stretching out beside you. I reached the point where I was ready to
solo - then it was just a matter of getting the right combination of
pilot, aircraft and environment. Oh and let's not forget that other
factor - paperwork!

I called the Oakland FSDO to make an appointment to get my FAA student
pilot certificate. The woman who answered was quite nice and said
they'd give me a call back to make an appointment. I also learned
that I could transfer my Canadian Private Pilot Aeroplane License to a
full FAA Airplane License. I can explain the requirements as I
understand them but the upshot was that getting an FAA Class 3 medical
was required. So off I went to Dr Denbo in SF (I got a next day
appointment) and got a combined Class 3 Medical / Student Pilot
Certificate. I'd recommend this route if you plan to do hypoxia
training or go power later.

With Student Pilot Certificate in hand I was ready to go! I got out
to the field and I was up next for instruction when the winch stopped
working. Some puttering around and we found a problem or two and it
was no go. Bummer. Next week I came out to the field and I was ready
to go! Except it was an epic wave day and much better for riding wave
than going first solo. I'd be bummed except Larry and I flew a 1.9
hour flight topping out at 14,000 feet!

The next week I was a little slow on the draw and the instruction
lineup filled up. I'd been planning to fly Sunday but it was looking
like another wave day. Saturday was 81C's annual and I wanted to come
out to get a deep peek into the inner workings of our (not always so)
trusty steed. The air Saturday was completely dead. Gosh, it would
great to go solo. While we were putting the wings back on 81C someone
came by and said "the last student didn't show up, anybody want to
fly?" Can you say, YES?!

Up I went with John Randazzo. Since we weren't doing patterns (on
account of that rope trailing behind 16Y) it was a high tow to 3,500'
over Brushy Peak. We boxed the wake and did the standard maneuvers on
the way back. Back we came into the pattern for a simple landing with
windsock completely limp.

We got out of the plane and John said "OK, you want to go fly it?"
Can you say, YES?!

John tied back the straps in the back seat and quickly verified with
me that I'd done rope breaks, etc (indeed I had and I believe every
instructor in the club had said at one point "I think you're ready").
The tow pilot asked me where I wanted to go and I said "let's just do
that again". Keep it simple.

Sitting on the runway doing my pre-flight checks for the third time
the thought was just "OK, here we go!" Up we went! The air was
perfectly smooth (not moving at all) and it was easy to stay behind
the towplane. Near Brushy Peak I got off tow at 3,500'. I headed
back towards the airport and did some basic maneuvers. I did a
straight ahead stall and noted the reduced stall speed with one less
body in the plane. Some steep turns, slips and turning stalls. A 360
or two to enjoy the view! Then back to Byron to get set up for the
pattern. I crossed the Byron highway at about 2,000 feet. Plenty of
time to get ready for the landing. I got a call requesting I take the
second turnoff, closer to the tie-downs since this was the last

I made my calls to the empty pattern. On the 45 I used some spoilers
to get to pattern altitude. With the windsock still limp I aimed for
the first turnoff. Touchdown with about half spoilers, not a 10/10
but not too far off! Test the brakes. Keep it rolling, watch the
wings and energy. Get a little right of the centerline. Make the
turnoff and..... stop!

I hopped out, a big grin on my face! And there wasn't anyone there!
I'll take it as a vote of confidence that no one was nervously
watching my landing and were instead closing shop at the end of the
day. Ramy came over with a cart and gave me a congratulations. All
in all my first glider solo was "by the numbers" with no surprises.
I'll take that! Can't wait to get up again! Thanks to all the
instructors and the whole club for keeping our operations going!
(photos courtesy Ramy)
- mang

Monday, January 16, 2012

Jan 15,2012, Another Wave Day in Byron - Mang's first solo was yesterday today is his first as FM

Yesterday was another Wave Day in Byron- a West wave. Last week was a
North Wave- Ramy's made a video from his wave flight last Saturday: It is also on our Web site.

Here is MANG's report of January 15- his first day as Field Manager:

Ramy called for Sunday to be a wave day and he was right! There was
quite the lineup of gliders eagerly waiting for the towplane at the
start of operations. Once we started it was solid tows until everyone
was up. Winds were mostly 210 varying from a relatively mild
11-17knots in lulls all the way to 25 gusting 31 when we decided to
end towing around 15:40. It wasn't an early end to the day though
since people were really staying up and there was an exciting finish
with three gliders all returning for landing at the same time just
before sunset. The CAP cadets had some great flights (with Major Bob)
and all of them got to fly.

The tow rope seems to be holding up OK but it was challenging
operating off 23 since it required someone to be at the turnoff to
coil up the rope after the tow plane would pull off. Luckily we had
some eager cadets with their supervising officers. Jerry cut himself
on the pinky while handling the rope during hookup (he wasn't quite
sure how, might have been on the rope/rings or possibly the tow
plane). I'll be glad when the winch is fixed and we can minimize
handling of the rope.

We had 11 tows and 2 self-launches. That makes 13 different pilots in
the front seat (each flight was a long one!) + instructors that got to
play in the wave

It was my first time as FM and it was a bit challenging with the big
lineup to start the day and the big finish at the end where three
gliders touched down literally within a few minutes of each other. At
one point there were 3 gliders that needed to be cleared off the
runway/taxiways and it was a bit of a scramble. Duh.... if it's a
great lift day there will be a big rush just before sunset. Next time
I'll have more people on hand. Randy the airport guy helped pull EP
out of the grass midfield where we he was guarding his glider against
the wind while we cleared the other two gliders. I chatted with him
while driving him back to his truck and he didn't seem put out by it.

Congrats to Terence who took the 1-26 to 14,000 feet! He rather
politely called down a few times to see if anyone was waiting for it
and we called back "nope, go have fun!"

No new squawks. The large handheld club radio was transmitting weakly
when we tried it. AFAIK there is only one club radio that is working
well and with no radio operational in FB I'd recommend bringing your
own handheld if you have one when flying that ship.
Mang had his FIRST SOLO the day before - see his solo take-off photo

SHANNON wrote about his 300km flight: "As Mang said, today was a nice
west wind wave day. When I launched around noon, there was wave lift
directly over the airport at maybe 2,000'and above.Can't get much better
than that. The most consistent and reliable lift seemed to be over Los
Vaqueros reservoir, and I was able to climb a little over 12,000 feet
there about 3 times.Otherwise, conditions were fairly dynamic and on
several occasions, we'd see wave markers (rotor clouds or high linear
clouds) but not find any usable lift nearby.

I explored as far north as Mt. Diablo and as far south as San
Antonio Valley. The RASP predicted an area of lift around Rel1 and
Rel2, and it did in fact seem to be there, though not much stronger than
anywhere else. Overall, it was a fun day to explore, and I managed a
little over 300km. Click on the link to see Shannon's flight path.
We did have a little excitement at the end of the day, with 3 gliders
landing on runway 23 in 25 knot winds (gusting to 31), but with a little
radio communication, we were able to coordinate the use of the runway
and get down safely. I got some help from the airport guy to get the
glider through the grass and onto the taxiway. No worries,
Mang,compared to landing out at a deserted airport and having to push
the glider around solo, it's nice to have any help at all. :-)

RAMY summarizes the day: Indeed we got wave today! Interestingly the
wind at altitude wasn't any stronger than on the ground, as a result the
wave only went to around 14K. The highest we got was 14.6K. Buzz,
Shannon and myself went south to Mt Oso area and I also went north to
Vacaville ridge. Ramy's flight is on OLC. The wave was easily accessible
from a local tow right over the airport.Descending through the rotor and
landing in strong gusty wind was interesting.

Special thanks to John Randazzo for lending me his O2 bottle. Also
thanks to all who helped me with my glider today and with my FM duties
yesterday which was much needed due to to my injured elbow."

This was SHAMIM's first solo day in wave. Shamim wrote
"I had planned to take a high tow and work on turns etc.
At the flight line everyone was heading off to the wave, but
I didn't think I'd know what to do with one if it were
handed to me on a plate... I decided to stick to my plan.

I released at 3k over the airport and found myself in 2 kt up,
perfectly smooth. Then I remembered Dmitry had radioed down that he
was in wave at 3.5 directly over the airport. I guess this wave _was_
being handed to me on a plate!

After that it was just figuring out how far it went and trying to stay
in the strongest bits, around 3kt. I had noticed another glider
further upwind, and it seemed to be climbing faster. I pointed the
nose into the wind and increased speed. And just like all the books
say, first there was lots of sink, then much better lift. And these
bands of lift had rotor clouds under and behind them, just like the
pictures in the books!

All too soon it was time to descend. I found the sink between the lift
bands (again, just like the books) and rode it down with boards out.
There was a large (rotor?) cloud over the pattern entry point that I
stayed well clear of but still found myself climbing with full spoilers.
Lower down it was the roughest air I've flown in, everything below 3k
seemed brutal. Shamim's favorite Glider Books:
" I think it would have to be the Hertenstein one, "Ridge, Wave, &
Convergence Lift".Also the FAA book. I will never forget that flight, it
felt like the books had come to life."

It was 1.7 hours on the clock, 11k highest (8k post-release gain!).
Best of all it felt like a big playground up there to explore. I could
get used to this!"
DMITRY sends his wondrous photo sequence of the day's sky:

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bay Tour - the sequel

Less than a year after my first Bay Tour, which was almost entirely  between 2-4000 feet and below the  the floor of class bravo, I repeated the trip, this time way above the 10,000 feet ceiling of class bravo, between 15-18,000 feet. What a spectacular view!
Took off on Saturday January 7 shortly after 11AM and released couple of miles west of Los Vaqueros towers over the red roofs in 1-2 knot wave, which got stronger further up, then moved to the Diablo wave and topped just below 18,000 feet nearly 2 hours after I launched. The wind was mostly from the north 40-50knots. Before the flight  I decided that if I can get to near 18K I'll try to repeat my Bay Tour flight, this time way above class bravo instead of below. I calculated that as long as if I can stay above 15,000 feet I can continue safely above class bravo, otherwise I should be able to escape to the side without risking dropping into the airspace below. So once I got to just under 18K near Mt Diablo, I headed west, working multiple wavelets making sure I stay well above the ceiling. I found the next wave over the Oakland Hills, then crossed over the Bay Bridge to Downtown San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge where I found the next wave downwind of the Marin Headlands, which got stronger as I got closer to Mt Tamalpais and Stinson Beach. The best wave was over the Pacific, and I continued over the water to Point Reyes where the wave petered out,  then turned around and flew back to the Mt Tamalpais wave. Once back to near 18K I went downwind south along the San Francisco coast to Half Moon Bay and La Honda where I encountered strong wave again downwind of the Santa Cruz mountains. It was now after 4PM, with less than an hour left to fly over 40 miles cross wind back to Byron, so I turned east over Mountain view across the bay to Mission peak where I found strong wave again, but no much time left to enjoy it, so pushed the nose down to near VNE, did one last detour to the Diablo Range (Release 1 waypoint) to burn altitude, and back to land at Byron 3 minutes before sunset. Total distance was 322km, almost entirely within glide of Byron! I got below glide back to Byron only once near Point Reyes...

16,000 feet over Downtown San Francisco

San Francisco

15,000 feet over Point Reyes

Point Reyes

17900 feet over the Pacific

The Golden Gate Bridge from near 18,000 feet

Over Mountain View on final glide to Byron