When I got out of the shower this morning, I was disappointed to find that it was raining outside. So I called down to Hollister to find out what the weather was like. Jim told me it looked flyable, so I headed down.

Along the way I noticed that the weather steadily improved as I approached Hollister. Once I got there, Jim and I spent a long time discussing spins and spiral dives. Most of the discussion was centered around spins. That was my first clue to what Jim had planned for me.

After discussing spins for quite a while, we prepared a glider 87R and then did something I've never done before: inspected parachutes. We probably spent 10 minutes or so discussing parachute usage and what to look for when inspecting one.

Before long, we pushed the glider out to the runway, put our parachutes on, and prepared for takeoff. The tow was uneventful and the air was relatively smooth. We aimed for some clouds that indicated wave lift but had difficulty finding anything sustainable. We flew around and above more clouds than I had ever been near in a glider. That alone was fun. We got off tow at 7,500 feet MSL near a mess of clouds and in weak lift.

I spent a few minutes circling, avoiding clouds, and watching the tow plane descend far enough to get back under the clouds and above the hills. Flying in circles allowed us to clear the air of any traffic near or below us. Once the tow plane was safely out of the way, Jim took the controls and demonstrated a spin.

The spin surprised me in many ways. The forces weren't dramatic, as I read. But I was impressed at what a stable maneuver it was. It was easy for me to count the revolutions. We spun four times before recovering.

After taking the controls back, I cleared the air and performed my first spin. It was interesting. My recovery was a bit slow. We hit 100mph pulling out of the dive, but it wasn't too bad. We spun four times.

My second spin was better. Again, I was able to count the revolutions. We spun three times before Jim asked me to recover. The second recovery was better. We only hit 90mph coming out of the dive. There was a very small cloud below us when the spin began, but it was above us when the recovery began. :-)

Jim wanted me to perform one more spin. So I dodged a few clouds and entered a spin to the right (the first two were left entry spins). He surprised me when he said "recover" after only one revolution. I recovered and we headed away from the hills. We were significantly lower (roughly 3,000 feet) at that point, so it was the smart thing to do.

Once out of the hills we had some altitude to play with, so Jim decided to demonstrate a maneuver we hadn't discussed. He rolled the glider into a steep 80 degree banked left turn. He kicked in a little extra left rudder and then pulled the stick all the way back. It was a spin entry from stalling steep turn. I didn't know what to expect, but I was very surprised by the maneuver. It was a dramatic demonstration of a less conventional spin entry.

Once we recovered from that Jim asked me to get us home. So I headed back toward the airport. There was a plane taking off, so I circled outside the pattern for a few hundred feet. Jim asked me to perform a no air-brake landing, so we entered the pattern a bit low (as we should have).

I made the necessary radio calls and flew a mostly normal pattern. I held off a bit on turning final. Once I did, I put the glider in a full forward slip and found out how much less effective the slip was compared to using air-brakes. I held the slip all the way until touchdown, making minor course corrections to stay on the centerline. Jim tells me I did a very good landing without air brakes. I was a little easier than I expected. The only difficult part was making the minor adjustments while holding the slip.

Back on the ground, we went over the flight a bit, did the necessary log book work, and so on. Then Jim presented me the the necessary forms to get a student pilot certificate. I guess I'm close enough to soloing that I need that little piece of paper.

We agreed to meet again next week to do ground preparation work. I have a lot of reading the FARs to get ready for next week. He also gave me a copy of the Hollister Gliding Club's Pre-Solo Test. Once I take (and pass) the test, complete some ground work, and make one more high altitude flight (spiral dive and unusual attitudes), I'll be ready to solo.

Wow. Spins were more fun and less stressful than I expected. And I'll be soloing soon. That should be a blast.

Posted by jzawodn at January 09, 2003 10:01 PM

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