When I looked out the window this morning and saw a clear blue sky with the hint of cumulus clouds forming in the distance, I called HGC to reserve a glider (Grob 36L) and headed to the gliderport.
On the drive down I realized that it was shaping up to be a really good day if the conditions were similar in Hollister. They weren't bad but could have been better. There were lots of active clouds near Fremont Peak.
As I was preflighting the Grob, Miguel asked if I was going solo or had a passenger. Clearly he was looking for a ship to fly in, so I offered him the front seat. That gave me a good chance to practice my back seat flying in the Grob a bit more. I hadn't flow the Grob in a while, so I had to re-adjust to the rudder pedals and 36L's poorly compensated variometer.
We launched around 12:30 and towed to the southwest. We released at 6,200 a bit south of the peak, heading toward the clouds. We spent the next hour struggling in scattered lift under and between the clouds. Wolf, in the 1-34, had way out-climbed us and Harry Fox wasn't far behind. We didn't do quite as well but did stay up.
When we got down to about 3,300 feet we headed back to land. I flew my best Grob back seat landing to date. And, get this... there was even a cross wind.
That reminds me, I should really get another flight or two with an instructor and get the back seat checkout done.
A bit later, Miguel offered me a deal I couldn't refuse. He wanted to take the Grob back up and the DG-1000 was free for the rest of the day. I gladly let him have the Grob.
Not wanting to waste the extra seat, I offered Mike Payne the rear seat. I added another tail weight (we had 3 in total) and we launched at roughly 2:30, heading back toward Fremont Peak. Unfortunately, the sink was stronger and the lift was weakening and harder to find.
We tooled around a bit and eventually found one small area of strong lift. It was too small to circle in, but I managed to "thermal" in and out of it, gaining roughly 100 feet on each turn. The core of it was at least 6 knots. Once I figured out the trick, it was easy--until the cloud shadow killed the lift from the rocks under us!
We flew back over downtown a bit, hoping to find some heat off the buildings but didn't. So we entered on a 45 for left traffic on 24 and were back on the ground about 45 minutes after launching. Not bad considering how late in the day it was. Plus, my landing was really good. Mike seemed impressed. I feel like I've really got the hang of the DG-1000. :-)
Posted by jzawodn at January 03, 2004 09:54 PM