After a couple weeks off for sickness and the Thanksgiving Holiday, it was time to head back to Hollister. Today's goal was to take my two remaining discovery flights and try to get a better handle on controlling the glider during tow.
Once again, Jeffrey showed up bright and early, and we headed down to Hollister. We managed to arrive before anyone else and had to hang out for a few minutes for Jim to show up and unlock the gate. Jeffrey was scheduled for a 8:30am - 10:30 lesson. I was scheduled for a flight at 9:00am and 10:00am.
He and Jim worked on cleaning off the 2-32 they'd fly while I worked on one of the other 2-32's and went through a pre-flight check. My non-instructor (he's not licensed to instruct, just fly passengers) and I eventually got to head up after Jeffrey and Jim got in the air. (Things were delayed a bit because the tow pilot was late getting to the airport.)
After we hit 1,000 feet, I took the controls to try my hand at tow. And, much to my surprise, I didn't need any help. I managed to keep the glider under control and mostly in-line behind the tow plane during the climb from 1,000 to 6,000 feet. We released not far from Fremont Peak (which is ~3,500 feet high) and the glider was mine to go where I wanted (within reason).
While it was quite hazy on the ground, it was very clear above 1,700 feet. I wish I had my camera with me. We had a great view of the Monterey Bay to the west and the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the east--that's right, I saw the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra all the way across the Central Valley. It was beautiful.
I turned toward Fremont Peak to get a better look at the various communications towers up there. After going over the peak I flew around the local reservoir a bit and found that the bumps of turbulence we noticed during tow were actually pockets of lift. So I spent much of the time during the flight trying to map out the lift between the little mountain ridges and valleys.
After we descended through 4,000 feet, it was time to head back toward the airport. We got near the airport and I flew to the south a bit just to see what downtown Hollister looks like. Then we noticed it was time to enter the pattern and land--but we were a bit low. So I got to fly a very short pattern. There really wasn't much of a base leg, and the downwind was quite short.
We landed and I was feeling very proud of myself for doing so well on the tow. I was getting a lot of my old confidence back. After a quick... uhm, pit stop, I was ready to go up again!
For the second flight, we again took off to the west and headed toward Monterey. This time, the tow plane just kept going toward the west. Not being comfortable with how far we managed to get from the airport, I got to try my hand at steering turns--signaling the tow pilot that I'd like to turn by flying off to the side and holding position until he took notice. It was challenging. I was using full right rudder to hold position and still found myself drifting back into a normal tow position. So right about the time I kicked in a bit of aileron, the tow plane go the idea and turned left--while I was headed right. Oops. Luckily, I was able to correct and follow him without much hassle.
We released at 6,000 feet again and I did a better job of diving for the release. The only mistake I made was being a bit to the left of the tow plane on release. I risked running into the tow rope as I made my right turn after release.
Once the tow plane was clear, I headed back toward Fremont Peak again in search of more lift. It was weak but I found it. We never gained any altitude as a result, but I managed to get us into very low sink conditions (break-even a few times). It was fun. I was just flying where I wanted to, checking out the scenery, and having a lot of fun.
After chasing lift near the reservoir, I headed south of the airport and then to the east a bit to check out a private landing strip. This time around, I entered the pattern a bit high and flew a long, full pattern. The landing was a bit tricky, because I had the controls up until the last 10 feet of altitude. I came very close to asking, "Uhm, am *I* supposed to land this thing?!" But since I wasn't flying with an instructor, the last-minute confusion was understandable.
My second flight was a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to going up again in a week or so. Maybe I'll get to try flying on takeoff...
Posted by jzawodn at December 05, 2002 10:20 PM