Since Tuesday was a bust, I headed back to the Seminole Lake Gliderport on Saturday morning with plans to get a checkout early and then take their DG-300 up for some local soaring.
I arrived a bit after 9:30 and met my instructor shortly after. Izumi (not sure on the spelling) was to fly with me in one of their Grob 103s for some local checkout flights.
After doing my pre-flight (the Grob was really showing its age and the fact that it's a club ship and trainer), we pulled out on the runway and prepared to launch. Their Pawnee had us in the air in no time and before long I was wondering how I would ever navigate the area without the aid of my handheld GPS.
After flying through numerous strong thermals (at 10:00am!!!), we released at 3,000 feet and I found our first thermal of the day a few moments later. Meanwhile, Izumi worked on orienting me to the area. He pointed out three landmarks that, it turned out, were quite sufficient for helping me find the airport later in the day. There was a decent sized aqua colored lake, a sand "factory", and the nearby highway.
I spent most of the next hour jumping from cloud to cloud to find the various thermals that kept us in the air. We chatted a bit about my flying experience and his. It turns out that he used to work out at Crazy Creek in northern California, so he was well aware of the conditions in Hollister and Truckee.
As it approached 11:00am, he told me to head back to the airport and show him a landing. I sped up and trying to find some sink to circle in. But after 5 minutes of that and loosing no more than 400 feet, I opted for the only sure way to get down: the spoilers.
Before long, I was down to pattern altitude (1,000) at the IP and headed in. I had to use spoilers through the entire pattern to counteract the lift we kept encountering.
I turned base at about 600 feet and final at 400. We landed near the main hangar and let the ship roll off just by the house. No problem. I asked how many more flights we wanted to do, expecting at least one more for pattern and landing or mayb e a rope break. But one was good enough, so we headed back to the office.
There I got a sign-off in my log book and worked on studying the DG-300 manual as well as the local sectional chart. Folks back at the office seemed amused by our hour long checkout flight. I guess 20-30 minutes is more common, but I just wasn't in a hurry to come down with such abundant lift. I'm really not used to releasing at 3,000 near the airport and staying up for an hour without trying very hard!
DG-300 Pre-Flight Activities
Around noon, I helped Ingrid move the DG-300 out of the hangar so that I could get comfortable with it. I tried out the parachute they had and spent some time getting comfortable in the cockpit. Since I had a handheld radio, we pulled the weak battery out so it could charge while I flew. That meant having no electronic variometer, I wasn't terribly worried about that. There were clouds everywhere, so finding the lift wasn't going to be rocket surgery.
After a bit, we pulled it down the launch area where Knut could give me a cockpit checkout. In doing so, we discovered something wrong with the tire on the main landing gear. It was slightly off the rim in one spot and rubbing another part of the gear. We showed Knut and he decided we should take it back to the Hangar so he could try to fix it.
We did. He jacked it up, let the air out, and made some adjustments. The problem seemed to be solved, but he expected that it'd happen again. He then went over the details of this particular ship with me and the other guy who was to fly after me. Neither of us had flown a DG-300 before and I had never flown a glider that used a CG hook rather than a nose hook. He advise me to launch with full forward trim and only let the glider fly with it was going fast enough and ready to fly.
I launched a bit after 1:00pm and again towed to 3,000 feet, hitting several thermals along the way. 2,000 would have been quite sufficient. My takeoff was a bit shaky. At one point, I started to get out of position and was just about to release the line when the glider lifted off the ground. So I drifted back into position behind the towplane and all was well. Mostly.
Off tow, I pulled up the gear, trimmed the elevator, and worked on getting comfortable with how it flew. The parallelogram control sick felt a lot like the one in my 304C, and the trim worked like that in BASA's DG-1000.
Once comfortable, I worked on finding a thermal. I took my first lift to about 4,500 feet, jumped to a nearby cloud, and had fun for the next 2.25 hours. I never went far from the airport, but I had a blast. The highest I got was 6,000 (cloud base) and the lowest I ever got was about 3,800. Lift was quite abundant and quite strong in a few spots (8-10 knots at time, but 4-5 was far more common).
When it was [past] time to return to the field, I again had to resort to using the spoilers to get myself down. I entered the pattern at 1,100 feet over the IP and landed reasonably well considering the turbulence and crosswind I had to contend with. I came up about 300 feet short of where I planned to stop, but it turned out to be perfect for the next guy. I turned over the ship, snapped a few pictures, helped tow it back to the line, paid my bills, and headed back to the hotel.
All in all, I had an excellent day of soaring. Between the two flights, I logged nearly 3.5 hours and never had to worry about finding lift very much. The DG-300 was a fun ship to fly with no real surprises. Like other DG ships, the cockpit was quite comfortable--especially the headrest. I hope to back it back to Seminole Lake someday. The people are fantastic, the flying is quite affordable, and the conditions (at least in the springtime) couldn't be better.
Posted by jzawodn at April 19, 2004 08:49 AM