Darryl called me last night to see if I still had an open seat in the DG-1000. I was planning to go in search of the wave (just like last Sunday). I had an open seat, so we agreed to meet at 10am to get going. The forecast has the highest wind speeds at roughly 1pm coming from about 350 or so.
We managed to launch almost right at 11am. The scene wasn't pretty. Winds on the ground were lighter than I expected and not as northerly as I'd hoped. Unsure what to try, we towed toward the east hills and tried to feel things out. There was clearly lift and sink around. We saw 2 knots up on tow and also saw the vario pegged at times.
I released at 5,400 with the vario pegged, did an immediate right turn into 4-6 knots of lift. Wheee! We spent the next 45 minutes or so in a small area just past the east ridge, taking 1-3 knots of lift higher and higher.
The lift topped out at 7,500 so we expored a bit and contacted lift again a bit farther to the west. I managed to zero in on that small band of lift, so we played in it and took turns flying. But eventually we realized that the net result was close to zero sink--each time we got out of the lift, we ended up losing as much altitude as we had gained. Ugh.
Just a bit before we headed in Steve had released nearby in his glider (OU). As we headed in to land, I wondered how he'd do.
Back on the ground, we hit the restroom, chatted with a few folks, and decided to switch seats to head up again. Since this would be Darryl's second flight in the DG-1000, we decided to swap seats. We were just going to do a short flight or two, but I called up Steve to see where he was--8,000 feet and climbing.
With that we knew we had to go catch him, so we tried to do just that.
When we released near the microwave towers, I called Steve on the radio again. He said he was over 9,000 feet, so we knew we had our work cut out for us. We searched and searched near the Three Sisters and Henrietta but couldn't find more than scraps of lift.
We heard the other guys over by Casa de Fruita and Pacheco Peak, so we headed that way and found the ride to be quite easy--a fair bit of lift here and there. We then worked the area around Casa de Fruita and Pacheco Peak for at least another hour or so. We never got higher than 5,400 feet, but had some fun playing in the light lift.
Toward the end of the flight, Joel found us over Frazier Lake and got to watch us loop the DG-1000 three times. Then we tagged along after him, flew up close to JH, and headed home.
So far we've had two wave Sundays in a row... And the season is really just starting!
This is the message I just sent to the hgcgroup mailing list.
Given the brisk northerly wind, thanks to the low pressure system to the south, we got lucky.
We launched just after 11am and released around 5,100 feet a bit south east of Christiansen in light lift. Miguel provided some good GPS navigation and excellent instincts. We spent the next hour or so exploring a small band of lift that took us up to 9,400 feet.
The lift was between 0.5 and 2 knots most of the time. We found 3 knots now and then, and briefly saw 4 a few times. So we had to be patient.
From there we pushed into the wind, crossing the first and second ridges. We pushed thru a lot of sink hoping to find good lift on the other side, but found mostly turbulent air. So we crossed back toward Three Sisters where we were joined by Brett and a student in 87R. We flew around each other for a bit, climbing here and there.
Miguel snapped a few pictures of them while we played. We managed to chat with a glider flying out of Crazy Creek as well. They had wave too.
Eventually we got bored of that and headed back to where the good lift had been. We arrived fairly low--4,500 feet or so and found little scraps. Upon landing a bit later, we found that the wind had shifted direction a bit and decreased in speed.
We were up just under 3 hours. Not bad for a quiet Sunday at the gliderport.
Today I flew with Brett in the DG-1000. In an effort to kill two birds with one stone, I put him in the front seat so that my flights could finally earn me a back seat checkout (which I'd been meaning to do for about six months now).
We took a 5,800 foot tow the first time to practice spins. First, he asked me to do a few stalls just to see which wing drops. Each time we came fairly close to spinning. Then, after I was comfortable with that, we did the real thing. First a spin to the left for two full rotations. Then a spin to the right with two rotations. My recovery was a little sloppy on the first one. I was going 100 knots when I pulled out. I managed to recover the second one at a much more respectable 80 knots.
From there I tried slipping the glider a bit to see how it behaves. And, to my surprise, you really can't slip it with full rudder. The DG's massive rudder overpowers your efforts and the glider will start to pivot in the rudder direction until the tail stalls. Then the nose drops until the tail begins to fly again. It's quite odd but not a big deal once you know about it.
I wanted to do a slip to landing, but the fire tankers were using runway 31 heavily, so I did a normal landing on runway 24. It'd been a while since I landed the 1000 from the back seat so I was a little bit off on my flare height, but not too much.
Our second flight was just a 1,400 foot tow so that I could fly a full slip to landing on runway 31. I thought it'd be harder than it was, but the DG-1000 behaves pretty well once you've got a moderate forward slip going. Plus, all the practice in the Grob seemed to carry right over to this ship.
Our final flight was just going to be another pattern, but I had felt some bumps earlier, so we headed into the hills to look for lift. We got off tow near Santa Ana peak at 4,200 feet and found some lift. From there we spent the next 45 minutes wandering about the hills and finding enough lift to stay aloft and even climb a few hundred feet at times. The lift was strong but the lift areas were quite small. The high clouds prevented the ground from really heating up, I guess.
When it was time to landed, we decided to use 24 so that it'd be easier to park the glider where it belongs. Brett wanted me to practice a steep approach--no spoilers until we're on final. However, on base he opened the spoilers and said "your spoilers are stuck open this much." So I adjusted the pattern and landed just fine.
All in all, it was a fun day. Spin training always made me a bit apprehensive, but it was just fun this time. I look forward to trying it again someday when there's a bit too much altitude to burn off slowly and the CG is just right.
From here, there really isn't much more flying practice I need. I do need to spend some time studying for the written test. And I'll probably fly a couple of simulated check rides with a different instructor (probably Drew--he grades toughest) before doing the Real Thing.
I headed down to Hollister around 12:30 today with a 3-5pm reservation in the Grob. I drove through a lot of rain to get there and was convinced the airport was going to be rained out. But while I was still 10 minutes out, Lance called to tell me the DG-1000 was now free (he had just finished) for the rest of the day. Did I want it?
I convinced Darren to ride in the back seat and we got ready to fly. The rain was getting closer and did get the airport wet for a few minutes. We took off when it stopped at 2pm and I asked to tow plane to take us toward Fremont Peak (as Darren and I had discussed on the ground). By crossing back over the airport at about 2,500 feet we hit a good thermal. The vario was above 8 knots for at least 5 seconds, so I pulled the release.
It had been quite a while since I released that low in lift at Hollister, but given the abundant clouds I figured we stood a good chance of staying up for a while.
As luck would have it, we spent the next hour hopping among several of the nearby clouds but never got terribly high--maybe 3,200 feet or so. And then at one point we found ourselves at 1,700 feet near the intersection. I was just about to move my hand to the gear handle when the vario got all excited. We climbed out of that hole and flew for another hour before landing.
The highest we got was about 4,200 over downtown Hollister. From there we tried to run over to Fremont Peak but chickened out after not finding much lift and ended up playing around west of the airport--then south and east. We had some fun drifting into the east hills while getting to the cloud base again.
All in all it was a fun day considering how crappy it looked at home. I expected I'd be up for an hour if I got lucky. A two hour flight was more than either of us expected. But it was what I was hoping for. :-)
Most of the fun in today's flying was learning to land on tow. The idea is to simulate a double release failure where neither the glider nor the tow plane can disconnect from the rope.
Alan was our tow pilot, which is good, because he's probably the only tow pilot at Hollister who has done this before. The three of us discussed what we were going to do on the ground before going up to give it a go. The plan was this:
Upon reaching pattern altitude, the glider would give the "can't release" signal. Then the tow plane would do the same. The glider would then go to the low tow position and the tow plane would take us into the landing pattern and begin a gradual descent. The glider pilot would have to use spoilers to keep slack out of the line, just like when we'd practiced descent on tow before. Over the runway, the glider would fly just off the ground until the tow plane touches down. Then the glider lands and the two aircraft slow to a stop.
Brett flew the first one since he hadn't done this in a while. I got to observe. The approach to the runway was very similar to a no spoiler landing--and I've seen a lot of that recently. After touch down, Alan hit the gas and we traded control of the glider. Then it was my turn.
The second flight was mostly uneventful. At 1,400 feet, I gave Alan the signal and he returned the favor. As I was moving to low tow he began his descent which caused some slack in the rope and surprised me. But I pooped the spoilers and took care of that easily enough. Then all I had to do was follow him all the way to the ground. It was weird not really having to think about the pattern other than "can I make it if the rope breaks here?"
After we both landed, Alan hit the gas and we went up again. The third flight was just like the second except that we stopped on the runway this before flying again. We got off at 2,500 feet so I could work on cross controlled stalls a bit before heading back in. I tried a precision landing on 24 and was close to landing on the threshold.
We took a short break and flew two more times. Both were pattern tows to work on landings. The first was a slip to landing on runway 31 (with a right pattern) while the second was a precision landing on 24. However, on the last flight we hadn't really planned anything. I got off tow at 1,200 feet and asked Brett what he wanted me to do. He thought for a few seconds and then popped the spoilers open about 1/3 of the way, saying "your spoilers are jammed like this. Do what you need to do to land." So I did. He gave me spoiler control not too far from the runway.
All in all it was a fun session. I'm finally starting to feel comfortable in my forward slips. Flying that right pattern helped, since it's easier to slip the Grob that way.
This morning, after re-taping the wings on the Grob, we had five flights. Two "high" tows (~3000), two pattern tows, and a simulated rope break. I practiced:
- Slips to landing (no spoilers)
- Stalls with brakes open
- Precision landing
- Turns to a point
- Steering turns to a point (tow pilot didn't get it though)
- Boxing the wake
The slips are getting better but not quite there yet. Ground track control is harder than I thought it'd be in a full forward slip in the Grob 103.
More of this to come. It sounds like we'll do some spin training in the DG-100 at some point too. That'll be fun. Maybe I can sneak a loop in too. ;-)
In related news, I had to buy a new log book. The old one is now full. I have 275 flights and about 175 hours total. Not bad for about two years, I guess.