Today started out well. We (Lance, Joyce, me) arrived early. I planned to get checked out to fly BASA's famous 1-34 ("Orange Crush") now that it's back in service. Lance was set to fly acro with Russell in a 21, and Joyce had an afternoon lesson with Jim.
While getting acquainted with the 1-34, Lance came over for a peek and we noticed a few guys getting their private gliders out of the trailers. He said, "hey, that's Dr. Jack!" so we headed over to chat with him.
If you've not met him, Dr. Jack's a pretty cool, laid back guy. We chatted for a bit about the local soring, his DG-400 motorglider, and the BLIPMAP (of course!).
It was pretty cool to meet a soaring celebrity before the day got moving. And, hey if Dr. Jack is coming out to fly it must be a good day, right? :-)
After chatting with several folks about the 1-34 and going over everything with Jim, decided to get a burger before flying. It was then that I noticed we were surrounded by cumulus. You saw 'em along the east hills, down south toward Panoche, and even out by Fremont Peak. What a good looking summer day!
It was around this time that Lance convinced me to ride along in the back seat of 63JJ for a quick flight to the 2nd ridge to see if we could find anything. So I postponed my inaugural 1-34 flight and we launched a bit after 1:30pm.
Earlier I had noticed clouds cycling (appearing, growing, and vanishing) every 20 minutes or so over the hills. So there was sure to be some lift.
The plan was for Lance to fly the first 2,500 feet or so and then I'd fly for a bit to get used to the 21 back seat, having never flown it from the back yet. Well, the tow was very bumpy. There was strong thermals all around and they were higher than normal. No sign of the sea breeze yet. We did find some sink just past the first ridge, so we just stayed on tow (so as not repeat the mistake I made a few weeks ago).
Lance flew the whole tow to 6,000 while I snapped pictures. We released over the 2nd ridge and found lift quickly. Clouds marked lift well but there was really lift all over. We also spotted a couple other gliders in the area. Joyce and Jim were in 87R and Brett arrived in JH. We took turns either flying or watching for traffic. Gaggle flying is easier with two sets of eyes in the cockpit.
Several times the three of us ended up thermalling together before one of us would venture out. We followed Brett a few times, though he easily out climbed us. But I got some good pictures of 87R from above.
After playing under the clouds for a while, we decided to head down the valley. We were surprised to find a path that provided lift nearly the whole way. If I recall, it was 2-3 knots most of the time. So we flew the length of the valley a few times. We also experimented with flying straight under the larger clouds a few time. At one time I had us in 4-6 knot lift while flying straight at 60 knots! Good lift indeed!
We spent most of our flight above 6,000 feet. The cloud bases seemed to shift a few times. Sometimes they were at 6,500 or so. Other times they were a bit lower. Or max altitude was 6,300.
We heard the guys that flew south (Dr. Jack, Ramy, others) getting decent lift past Panoche. Some talked of going to Avenal and/or Black Mountain. Hopefully we'll hear more about their flights.
One thing I learned is that speed control while thermalling is much easier from the back seat of the ASK-21 than from the front.
At roughly 3:00pm it got a lot harder to find good lift. Later on, we'd find that the sea breeze had finally begun blowing. The clouds all vanished and the lift was weak and spotty. We flew around 5,000 for a bit and could have done that for a while, I suspect. But the glider was due back, so we headed back to the airport. There was a lot of sink over the foothills again, but once we hit the flat land near the airport there was a surprising amount of lift to be had--and it was higher than normal for a typical Summer day in Hollister.
Our total flight time was 1.7 hours.
I had a nice headwind on takeoff (good, since I towed behind the Citabria). I had the stick a bit forward too long and a brief scrape of the skid told me what to do. I was in the air in no time, given how much lighter the 1-34 is than anything I'd previously flown.
The first couple thousand feet where challenging. The air was still quite bumpy and I had to get a feel for flying the ship for the first time. Over-ruddering, under-ruddering, rolling too much, etc. I got some unplanned slack line practice. Once we got over 3,000 feet things smoothed out quite a bit. I was able to stay behind Alan without trying.
I released at 4,200 and practiced turns, slow flight, speed control, and so on. Even though I was told before the flight, I was surprised at how little control force I needed to pitch the glider. And I was surprised by how little pitch I needed to increase or decrease my speed by 5-10 mph.
Once I got low enough to enter the pattern, I performed my checklist and got downwind for 24. I played a bit with the air brakes since I had some altitude to burn. I found that you need more forward stick to make up for the speed lost.
I turned final at 600 AGL and didn't need more than 1/3 brakes with the strong headwind. My touch down was good (I'm told) but it was too far from the turnoff. I didn't have nearly enough energy to roll all the way there (light ship, strong headwind), so I turned off the runway after I knew I could clear the lights. Luckily, there was more than enough help to push to the turnoff and park the glider. Thanks guys!
The 1-34 seems like fun ship to fly. As many told me, it's like a smaller, lighter 2-32. After another 2-3 flights I suspect I'll be a lot more comfortable in it. Having the first flight done though, I at least know what the expect on takeoff and tow. That's what I was most worried about. And I know to land farther down the runway next time!
See Also: The day's pictures.
Posted by jzawodn at August 23, 2003 10:02 PM