March 29, 2003
ASK-21 Training

I headed down to Hollister today to work on my ASK-21 training. My goal was to get at signed off to fly it in time for this Thursday when I'll take Ray for a few flights. Jim is back in the hospital, so I got to fly with Drew.

We chatted a bit about my ASK-21 experience before heading out. I explained that I had a few hours in the glider and that my high stuff was already did. What I really needed was work on the low stuff. I knew that landing the 21 is a bit different, and I figured that I'd need some practice. With that, we pulled out to runway 24 to start flying.

He reminded me to call our my rope break procedures during takeoff. Of course that's always a good idea when flying with an instructor. (When flying with non-pilots, it's probably gonna freak out your passenger(s).)

Little did I know he had given me an important hint.

On our first flight, Drew popped the release at roughly 600 feet. I was a little surprised (I usually have a sixth sense about premature releases when flying with Jim, at least) but did what I had been trained to do. I flew the glider back into the pattern for a landing on runway 24.

Drew could tell I was a little surprised and criticized a few things I had done. Most importantly, I made a misleading radio call. Instead of calling a mid-field crosswind entry for runway 24, I called a crosswind entry for runway 24. I forgot to say mid-field. That means anyone in the pattern to land on 31 would have been looking for a glider that wasn't there.

I was rather annoyed with myself, because I knew that. I've done this before without any problems. Grr.

For our second flight, we launched from runway 24 again. I called my rope break procedures again. At roughly 1,000 feet, Drew popped the release again. Damn. I wasn't expecting that. I looked at where we were and realized I could fly a mostly normal pattern for runway 24, so I proceeded to do that. Except that I hadn't factored our altitude quite right. We ended up high on downwind, so I flew a longer downwind leg. That put us farther from the runway that we should have been, so I didn't need the spoilers on final until we were pretty close to the runway.

Drew and I talked a bit about what I had done wrong this time. I should have flown the angles. I hadn't followed my training on using angles to size my pattern instead of using altitude. There are a few things I could have done to correct it. I probably should have cracked the spoilers on downwind and burned off a few hundred feet. That would have solved the problem nicely.

So far, the only good news was that my landings were fine. I guess the back seat flying in the 2-32 last weekend helped me get a better handle on the proper flight attitude to use when touching down. So far I'd landed right on--close to the prescribed two-point landing (tail and main wheel).

For the third flight, I finally got it through my skull. I expected a rope break. When we were about 25 feet above the runway on takeoff, I called out "we still have runway left" to let him know that I'd land straight ahead if he pulled the release. And just as I said it, I realized that he was going to pull it. That sixth sense kicked in, I guess. I put my left hand on the spoilers and a second later, the rope popped out.

I popped the spoilers to get us down, but I pulled 'em a bit too far. I recovered from that and landed just fine. Drew asked me to just let it roll to the end of the runway and to keep "flying" it there. No problem.

His only complaint this time was my technique for opening the spoilers. He showed me an easier way and I got it. It made more sense than what I was doing. He also said that I was doing fine and didn't appear to have developed any of the bad habits that new pilots often do. That was reassuring, because I was feeling rather beat up at this point.

Of course, his job is to tell me what I'm doing wrong so that I can learn from him and fly better. But it seemed like I was getting too much wrong.

For our fourth flight, we launched from runway 6 (downwind on 24, if you prefer). At roughly 300 feet AGL, just as we were discussing the great selection of fields to land in, he popped the release again.

This time, I was fine. I made a radio call, turned us base to final, opened the spoilers gently, and landed just fine. Once we landed, Drew said something like "now you're getting it."

At this point, we had done just about every possible rope break scenario, so I figured we might actually have a normal fifth flight.

We did. We flew to 2,000 feet and released. Drew suggested that I attempt to find lift and then land when the time was right. I was largely unsuccessful at finding anything, but my pattern and landing were fine.

Back on the ground, Drew told me that I was okay to fly the ASK-21 on my own now. After the first 4 flights, I was confident in my ability to get back on the ground safely. He made the relevant entries in my log book and I took a break for a few minutes.

I chatted a bit with Dave (who I neglected to mention), the SGI visitor from Canada who happens to be a recently licensed glider pilot. He's in the San Jose area, and decided to find the local glider operation and hang out. I found that he'd signed up for an acro ride in the ASK-21.

A few minutes later, Mike and I went for a ride in the 21. Mike wanted to fly and likes flying from the back seat, so I was his human ballast in the front seat. We flew toward Fremont Peak and wandered around a bit. There wasn't much lift to be found, but it was a nice day. Rather clear. I commented that I should have brought my camera up. Doh!

By day's end, I had been up six times. Four of 'em were rope breaks. I was signed off to fly the 21. Mission accomplished. :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 08:58 PM
March 22, 2003
From the Back

I headed down to Hollister today with a 11:30am glider reservation. I hoped to go fly around a bit and just celebrate the fact that I now have a license. The weather in the South Bay sucked but things looked a bit better south. At least, they were supposed to be better. So I headed down around 10:15am.

The closer I got, the clearer the skies got. Once I was out from under the low (1,500 feet) overcast, I got to see the Sun and realized that it might shape up to be a pretty good day.

Part way there, it occurred to me that if there were any instructors free, I might try to get one to sit in the front seat while I worked on flying from the back seat. I figured I'd need a few days of that to get checked out, so why not start soon?

After I arrived and found a glider to use, I began the preflight only to find out that someone else needed it for a ride. Doh! There was another 2-32 on the ground, but it's one that I've never seen fly. I asked around and nobody knew if it was flyable. I had to find Drew to find out.

Drew was up with a student in 64E, so I hung out for a while, waiting for them to come down. I was hoping to either steal their ride (assuming they were done with it) or find out that the mystery glider was flyable.

It turned that the mystery glider was not flyable and they had several more flights planned. So I decided to hang out and see what developed. Surely one of the 2-32s would be back. The others (87R and 7531) were up for rides. I took some time to eat my lunch.

Eventually, Gus brought 7531 back from a Monterey Bay ride and I asked if he was done with it. He was, so I commandeered it for my solo flights. I ran into Drew again just before I was ready to launch. I asked if he had any instructors free that I could have in the front seat (hoping he might be). Instead, he suggested Russell or Gus. It turns out that Gus was free--with a minor schedule adjustment. His next ride was at 2pm, so that gave us a little over an hour to work on my back seat checkout.

Part One

First things first, I had to install the control stick and the airbrake handle in the rear seat. Having never done that before, it took a few minutes. Once that was done, we took off into the increasing wind, planning to take a 3,000 foot tow so I'd have time to get used to flying from the back set before needing to land.

The tow was interesting. The view from the back is rather different. With someone sitting in front, I don't get a very good view of the tow plane. But being closer to the wings, it's easier to notice when I'm flying level or not. And having more of the nose in front of me makes it a bit odd too.

Once off tow, I tried some medium turns and then a few steep ones. It turns out that flying from the back set isn't bad at all. (Landing proved to be a bit more challenging--as expected.) Having all that extra nose to look down makes speed control a lot easier. I more readily notice small attitude changes.

Once we got down low, the pattern looked a bit busy, so Gus suggested that we land on runway 31. That meant having a 5-10 knot crosswind. I needed more crosswind practice anyway, but hadn't planned on getting it in the back seat.

I liked the idea of landing on 31 anyway. Being over a mile long, I figured that having all that length might make things easier on my first back seat landing.

My first landing from the back set was... uhm... interesting. It wasn't bad. I had the controls the whole time. But it wasn't the most pretty sight you're likely to see.

We flew two more and I got a bit better each time. Since I needed the practice, we kept landing with the crosswind on 31. After that, Gus went to fly his ride. Drew mentioned that if I wanted to stick around, he'd fly with me later in the day. Since I wasn't in a hurry, I agreed.

Part Two

After I hung around for an hour or so, Drew told me that Russell was available to fly with me for a bit in 64E. We flew four flights off runway 24 and landed on 24 each time. Having a headwind made it quite a bit easier to land, but I was having trouble with my flare. Each time, I managed to flare a bit too high. I was working to develop a good feel for how high it looks from the back seat, but I wasn't quite getting it.

On one fight we had a mishap with the radio and my not paying close enough attention to the pattern. A Mustang was landing in front of us (to my surprise) and another glider was coming right in behind us. Oops. Lesson learned. Pay more attention when it gets crowded. The funny thing is that I've been in crowded patterns before and have never had a problem. What was different this time is that someone was with me. I had a distraction inside the cockpit--and I was distracted.

On one of the other flights, I thought I was getting better about my flare, but I managed to land the tail first. Doh!

The other two were pretty good. I was making minor adjustments and getting closer to what I needed to do. But I wasn't quite there yet.

Part Three

Russell was ready to fly with someone else, so I got the chance to do three more pattern flights. My first one was a little sloppy. Came in a bit too high and didn't adjust my glide very well. I flared a bit too late on landing. I guess I was over-compensating. But the second and third landings were pretty good. In fact, the third one was good enough that Gus didn't have to say a word and I knew it was good when we touched down. I hadn't flared too early or too late.

That was enough to convince Gus that I probably know what I'm doing from the back seat now. When signing my log book, he put a "back seat checkout -- OK for SGS 2-32" entry next to my last flight.

So... If I want to take a passenger up on a flight, s/he has the option of sitting in the front or back now.

Not bad for a day's flying.

Next up: getting checked out to fly the ASK-21 solo and/or from the back seat. And sending in my BASA application.

Posted by jzawodn at 10:18 PM
March 20, 2003
The Big Day

My flight test was scheduled for 9am this morning. But last night I got a call from Drew asking if I'd be able to push that back. The weather forecast didn't look promising--rain and low clouds. So we pushed back until 1pm. I was glad to do it. It gave me an extra 3-4 hours of study time.


I spent the rest of the night brushing up all the seemingly endless facts, figures, rules, regulations, charts, checklists, and random stuff that I'm supposed to know. I tried to focus on what I expected the examiner to ask, but didn't want to skew my studying too much.

I got up this morning at 6:30am to finish studying and grab all the necessary weather info before heading down to Hollister. At 9:00am I was re-reviewing all applicable sections of FAR part 91. When 10:15am rolled around, I hopped over to the National Weather Service's Aviation Weather site to get the necessary info. I then called to talk with a weather briefer and updated my cross-country plan. The clouds over the Santa Clara Valley (and south to Hollister) were likely to be at 4,000 feet. Those over the hills near Los Banos (my destination airport) were likely at 6,000.

I drove to Hollister, arriving at roughly 12:15. I noticed that the clouds looked a bit lower than expected but there were large blue holes, so the flights ought to be good. But the cross-country plan wouldn't work because of the low clouds over the mountain.

I met up with Drew to get started. After he unlocked the supply shed, I asked if the nose wheel on glider 64E was fixed. He forgot but called Haven to come take care of it. In the meantime, I checked out the maintenance records for the glider so that I'd be able to show Dave (the FAA examiner) when the last 100-hour inspection had been performed, as well as the last annual inspection.

Then I inspected the tow rope, put a battery in the glider, and was just about to start my pre-flight when I saw someone walking over. I introduced myself and found that it was Dave. He was 30 minutes early. I had planned to re-review a few more things before he arrived, but that went out the window.

I told him I needed a good 10-15 minutes to do my pre-flight and that I'd come grab him to help with the positive control check.

I did a careful pre-flight inspection and Dave wandered over just about the time I needed him. We did the positive control check. Haven began working on the nose wheel while Dave and I walked back to the classroom to do the necessary paperwork and then he'd start with the oral test.

The Oral Test

Rather than simply quiz me, we had a conversation. He started by asking me about the weather and how it might affect us today. We talked about the 10-15 knot headwind and how it ruled out a downwind landing after a simulated rope break. (I made a mental note that he'd probably pull the rope around 400-600 AGL and expect me to land on 31.)

He then asked about my cross-country planning and the weather. We looked at the X-C profile I had done. I then suggested looking at the sectional chart to see the landmarks. He said that we should look at the sectional but for other reasons. He then asked me to find a particular airport and tell him everything I could based on what the sectional said. No problem. He then asked about glider towing in class C airspace. We then talked a bit about oxygen use.

After a bit more chatting, he said "Okay, let's go fly."

I was surprised. We hadn't been talking more than 10 minutes. 15 if you include the paperwork. I expected it to go quite a bit longer than that. He never even asked to see the weight & balance I prepared. (I asked him later and he just wanted to know that I had done it.)

The Flight Test

After a fit with the radio (I had to switch batteries), we pulled the glider out to runway 24 and prepared for launch. Dave didn't want a seatbelt briefing. He hopped in and strapped himself in. I adjusted things up front and went thru my checklist. Haven hooked us up and I had the canopy closed in short order. I explained my emergency plans in case of a rope break. I made one last scan for traffic and asked him if he saw anyone. No traffic.

Haven helped us launch. The first few hundred feet were normal. I called out my landing sites and as we climbed. I really expected him to pull the rope around 600 feet, but we just kept going. After we hit 1,000 feet, he told me to drop down to low tow when I was comfortable. Unfortunately, it was getting really bumpy. Lots of thermals.

Before we launched, I had explained that I flew mostly in the AM and had very limited thermaling experience. It showed. We got bumped around a bit and I was sloppy. But not too sloppy.

I got us down to low tow and flew half a box. He asked me to stop after I was half done. I then asked the tow plane for a 180 degree turn to avoid some clouds. After a couple more turns (and bumps), Dave asked me to tell the tow pilot to level off at 3,000 feet. We did. He then told me to release.

We could have gone much higher, so I wasn't sure what Dave was thinking. Maybe he wanted to do multiple flights?

He asked for a full forward stall. No problem. I cleared the air and performed the stall. Next was a full turning stall with a recovery in the turn. No problem.

I was expecting him to ask for slow flight and some precision turns. Instead, he said "let's see how you thermal." I chuckled, knowing that it'd probably suck, and headed toward some cumulus clouds. I found lift several times but couldn't quite center it. I kept ending up in sink.

After a few minutes of that, I noticed that our altitude was approaching 2,000 feet and we were a good 4 miles from my patter entry point. And I was on the opposite side of the airport. Not wanting to cross over the field (there were other folks taking off). I told him that my plan was to fly the long way around and fly a slightly abbreviated pattern. We were low but not low enough to worry yet.

While flying over what's normally the downwind and base legs for runway 31, I found lift. I slowed down and just flew through it. That got us a good mile or two closer with minimal altitude lost. Roughly 1 mile from my entry point, we were at 1,500 feet and I was just about to make start my landing checklist, and enter the pattern. But we hit some strong lift, so I turned and caught some of it. After one circle, I continued on into the pattern.

The wind felt like it was blowing 20 knots or so. I angled toward runway 31 and flew roughly parallel to it on my crosswind leg. Turning downwind, I announced my position and we really picked up ground speed. Before I knew it, I was making a base or almost base-to-final turn. Once on final and flying into the wind, I popped the airbrakes a bit to get us on a reasonable glide slope.

As we got closer, I made some adjustments to get us centered and aimed for the right spot. Dave hadn't said anything for the last 4-5 minutes, so I was wondering what he was thinking. I was wondering if he'd seen something he didn't like. Or maybe he'd just ask me for a second flight to get the maneuvers that we hadn't done on this flight.

Crossing the fence, our position was good--a bit off center. I centered us and adjusted our decent a bit. We touched down right on target! I've never made a zone landing that well before. As soon as he touched the ground, I was about to engage the wheelbrake so we'd stop in the designated area. Dave said, "let it roll... let's just take it back to the parking area. It's clear that you'd have stopped in time." That confused me a bit. If he wanted to park the glider, that means no more flights. I assumed I had done something wrong and had failed the test. But I had no idea what it was.

Once we stopped, I opened the canopy and he said, "it's too windy for a rope break with downwind landing today, so let's just call this your checkride." That took a few seconds to sink it.

I had passed!!!

We pulled the glider over to the tie-down area. He told me that he'd go inside to start the paperwork while I tied it up. Haven came over to congratulate me. He said something like, "Dave usually knows in the first few minutes whether he's going to pass you or not."


I went back to the classroom. He had just finished with my temporary airman certificate. He asked me to look it over and confirm that he'd copied the information correctly. He had.

We then talked for a few minutes about my (non-)thermaling and how the wind made the landing easier.

That was it. Game over. He left. I packed up, paid my bill, and headed home very happy.

Posted by jzawodn at 05:52 PM
March 19, 2003
VFR Airspace

More studying for the oral test... I always get the cloud clearances mixed up for the various air space. So I'm going to jot them here in the hopes that it'll help me to remember when the examiner asks.

Class A

Doesn't apply. No VFR flights are allowed in class A.

Class B

3 mile visibility and remain clear of clouds.

Class C

3 mile visibility and remain 500 below, 1000 above, and 2000 horizontal from clouds.

Class D

3 mile visibility and remain 500 below, 1000 above, and 2000 horizontal from clouds. (Same as class C)

Class E

Below 10,000 MSL: 3 mile visibility and remain 500 below, 1000 above, and 2000 horizontal from clouds. (Same as class C)

Above 10,000 MSL: 5 mile visibility 1000 above, 1000 below, and 1 mile horizontal from clouds.

Class G - Daytime

0 - 1,200 AGL: 1 mile visibility and clear of clouds.

1,200 AGL - 10,000 MSL: 1 mile visibility and 500 below, 1000 above, 2000 horizontal from clouds.

10,000 MSL - 14,500 MSL: 5 mile visibility, 1000 below, 1000 above, and 1 mile horizontal. (Same as class E.)

Exceptions in FAR 91.155(b) for things like National Wildlife Areas, etc..

Class G - Night

0 - 1,200 AGL: 3 mile visibility and 500 below, 1000 above, 2000 horizontal from clouds.

1,200 AGL - 10,000 MSL: 3 mile visibility and 500 below, 1000 above, 2000 horizontal from clouds.

Posted by jzawodn at 05:23 PM
March 16, 2003
Flying in the Rain

I didn't intend to fly in the rain, but that's what happened.

The weather forecasts were all wrong this weekend. It turned out nothing like what I expected. I drove down to the airport today, expecting the rain to finish around 9:30 or so. That'd give me an hour to get my remaining ground stuff done and then fly with Jim for an hour.

I arrived to find low clouds and no rain. So I began to preflight 64E only to be told that the front tire was flat (I hadn't gotten that far on the preflight checklist). So we took 87R instead.

The goal for our flight was to finish the few things that I didn't get done on yesterday's test checkride because of all the cloud dodging I had to do. The rain was off to the west and heading our way, but it looked like we had an hour or so before it arrived.

I wanted to tow to 3,500 feet, but as we got to 3,000 I noticed the clouds getting a bit too close for comfort, so I released about 20 seconds later. Jim had me practice a few stalls, slow flight turns, and then a 360 degree precision turn (45 degree bank). He wanted a 720, but we didn't have the altitude for that.

About 5 minutes after release, we hit the rain. There's a first time for everything, so today was my first glider flight in the rain.

I got us into the pattern for runway 24 and hit the landing zone just fine. The landing was a little rough due to a last second adjustment to avoid landing too soon, but it worked.

Back on the ground, Jim said "that was good... we're done." Meaning that my checkride was fine. Meaning that he doesn't need to fly with me anymore. Meaning that once we get a bit more ground work done, I can take the FAA practical test.

Wow. It's still a little hard to believe, but it's sinking in.

We then finished up some cross country planning and weather information. Then we spent some time doing paperwork. I filled out my flight test form while Jim signed off my log book. I had a problem with my flight time number and spent an hour or so with a calculator trying to find the mistake in my log book. Eventually, I did. (It's like balancing a checkbook. I hate that. I need to automate it.)

I hung out for a bit to get Jim's final signature. While there, I helped him launch with Patrick in the rain a few times and talked with Mike about his checkride experience from last June.

Posted by jzawodn at 07:52 PM
March 15, 2003
Into the Zone

I had five flights today with Jim. I drove down to the airport expecting to do more ground training because the weather was pretty shitty sounding. But when I arrived, he was preflighting a glider. So we flew.

The first flight was a test checkride in preparation for my practical test. It went better than the last one a couple weeks back. There were a lot of clouds and I didn't do a very good job of staying away from them on tow. I also let us get too far from the airport, so rather than releasing at 5,000 feet, I turned us back toward the airport until we climbed to 6,000 feet.

Once off tow, Jim asked me to perform slow flight, stalls, and a spin. Strangely, my first spin attempt failed. But I got it spinning normally on the second try. Luckily that's not a flight test requirement. The only thing I really messed up was a bit of speed control (not bad, just not up to Jim's standards) and one of my forward stalls. I inadvertently tried to use the aileron to pick up a dropped wing rather than the rudder. Oops. Damned instincts.

When we got low enough, I got us into the pattern to land on runway 24. I was really focused on hitting the landing zone this time but I managed to get us on the ground about 10-15 feet too soon. Doh!

On our second flight, we went to 2,200 feet hoping to go higher. But the clouds were in the way, so I gut it short. I got to practice a few simple things and it was time to land again. This time I nailed the zone! :-)

That was the first time I ever hit a zone landing with Jim in the back seat.

We then decided to do three more short flights so I could practice a couple more landings. The next two were uneventful. I landing on target and stopped within the allotted distance just fine.

For my last flight of the day, just as we crossed over the 100 foot hill and I said, "we're over the hill, we could turn around and go back" (in the event of a rope break), Jim pulled the release. So I made a 45 degree left 180, got us back over the runway, and landed. No problem.

Posted by jzawodn at 02:39 PM
March 13, 2003
More Ground Training

The weather was crappy, so instead of a test checkride, Jim and I worked on some of my remaining ground training. I wasn't planning to do book work and hadn't yet studied, so it was a bit rought at times.

We started with weather services. I needed a lot of help there.

After weather, we moved on to aircraft maintenace records.

The rest of the time was spent on sectional charts (I did okay on that) and quizzing me on FAR parts 1, 43, 61, 71, and 91. We also spent time on NTSB part 830 (accident reporting).

I still have lots to read and re-read, but this is the home stretch. It's starting to feel real.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:54 PM
March 11, 2003
Lots of random stuff to study

There's a lot of random stuff I need to learn for my upcoming practical test--mostly for the oral test. So I'm going to force myself to study and learn it by blogging some of it.

I need to know the phonetic alphabet. So I'll type it out here. Or as much as I can without looking up what I don't know.

  • Alpha
  • Bravo
  • Charlie
  • Delta
  • Echo
  • Foxtrot
  • Gulf
  • Hotel
  • India
  • Juliet
  • Kilo
  • Lima
  • Mike
  • November
  • Oscar
  • Papa
  • Quebec
  • Romeo
  • Sierra
  • Tango
  • Uniform
  • Victor
  • Whiskey
  • X-ray
  • Yankee
  • Zulu

Okay, I missed a few and had to look 'em up: India, Mike, Oscar, Quebec, and Uniform.

If I do this about 10 more times, I should be set. But I won't bore others with that exercise. :-)

Posted by jzawodn at 08:44 PM
March 08, 2003
100th Flight

I had another two-hour ground session with Jim this morning to go over more of my required training. We talked a lot about ridge soaring, medical factors, oxygen usage, and so on. It became apparent how much I need to read up on the stuff I've had no experience with.

After our ground sessions, I had glider 64E reserved for some flying time. I checked the schedule and found that it wasn't very busy, so I planned to get a few short flights in so that I could practice landings.

Before I went up, I chatted with Jim about what we had left to do. He figured we have 4 hours more of ground training (2 more sessions) and then one session of flying, during which we'll fly another test checkride. After that, I'll be able to fly with an FAA examiner for my real checkride. (Gulp.)

I got on the schedule for a flying session next Thursday morning and then two ground sessions next weekend. Just for fun I tossed in one more solo flight session on Sunday. It can't hurt to get a little more practice in, right?

It's hard to believe that I could be flying for my license in a couple weeks. Yikes.

Anyway, on to my flights today.

I took a 3,700 foot tow for my first flight, so I could practice a few turns and get a feel for the glider. I always like to have a few extra minutes on my first flight. While circling around 3,000 feet 4 miles northeast of the airport, I head a Citabria make a few radio calls in the pattern and land. The voice on the radio sounded familiar. Then I remembered that my friend John was taking a 3-day intensive tail-dragger training course. I wasn't sure it was him, but I figured there was a good chance they decided to fly down to Hollister for a change of scenery. I head him take off and then enter the pattern again a few minutes later. This time I got on the radio and asked, "Citabria on crosswind, is that John?" It was.

Anyway, they flew several more landings and takeoffs. Meanwhile, I practiced some 360 degree turns and then headed back to land. There was no lift to be found. Well, almost no lift. As luck would have it, the smooth air became rather bumpy in the pattern. I hit zero sink and then 1-2 knot lift on downwind in the pattern. Murphy is funny that way.

For my landings, I had planned to flare over the 31 numbers and touch down abeam the "H" in HOLLISTER along the runway. Much to my surprise, I did (mostly). My first landing was a little rough, but really not bad. Much better than usual for me.

Once back on the ground, I entered the flight into my log book only to realize that was my 100th glider flight! It's hard to imagine that I've done this (in one form or another) 100 times already.

My next two flights were to 2,300 and 2,100 feet. That gave me just enough altitude to fly around for a few minutes before getting into the pattern. My next two landings weren't as good. I came in a bit low on one and a bit high on the other, but in both cases I was able to adjust and land just about on target. I had to float a bit on the low one and really jump on the brakes for the high one. But it worked. Apparently, when I really concentrate on my landings, they're not as hard as I thought.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:53 PM
March 07, 2003
FAA Written Test: Passed

I arrived at the West Valley Flying Club in Palo Alto around 12:40pm for my written test. After a bit of setup and inspecting my stuff, the test got started right around 1:00pm.

In the first 10-20 minutes, I answered about 40 of the 60 questions had was 100% sure I had them correct. I then took a bit longer to do the next 16 questions (some of which I marked so I could go back and double-check them). Then there were about 4 that took me 30 minutes or so. All told, I was there for about 50 minutes.

Final score: 97% (missed 2 out of 60)

I tied my score from ~7 years ago when I took it in college.

Posted by jzawodn at 02:30 PM
March 02, 2003
Ground school and more landing practice

Another day of amazing weather. Nice temperatures, unstable air, and cumulus could popping all around--except of the student training area of course, so I couldn't partake in the fun.

Anyway, Jim and I spent two hours covering some of the ground review material before I can take the practical test. We spent a lot of time on the glider manual, aerodynamics, and glider assembly and transport. While discussing assembly, we wandered down to the area where all the privately owned glider trailers are parked to see if anyone needed help with assembly. Hands-on learning is the best kind.

Minutes later, I met Hugo and his beautiful DG-800 motor glider. He and Jim talked about the assembly a bit and then I got to help put the wings on. I was surprised by how light they were and how easily they attached. (Automatic control hookups sure are nice.)

After our ground schooling, I took glider 64E up for three flights below 3,000 feet so that I could practice my landings a bit more. Strangely, my first one was the best of the day. The next two weren't so good. I had a minor mishap with a dying radio battery on the first flight, so it was good thing I had my new handheld with me.

I left the gliderport early, before the best soaring of the day. But I had accomplished my goals. The rest of my spare time between now and Friday the 7th will be spent reviewing for the FAA written test that I'm taking on Friday afternoon.

Posted by jzawodn at 03:41 PM