May 12, 2003
Grob Flying

I headed down to Hollister with Lance early on Sunday (yesterday). Saturday had been a truly excellent soaring day, so we had high hopes for today as well. However, on the way down we noticed that no clouds had formed yet. We figured it might be one of those late starting days. My flight reservation for the Grob was from 12:30 - 2:00pm so I wasn't too worried.

We got down, got tow numbers, and started shuffling some gliders around. Lance took 64E but we found the tailwheel was bad and needed to be replaced. So Drew dug up the necessary tools and spare wheel and we set about pulling the old one off and installing the new one.

Once we got Lance's ship ready, Mike had begun preflight checks on the ASK-21. By the time 11:15am had rolled around the guy who had the morning slot for the Grob hadn't arrived, so I took the glider. While doing my preflight, I checked the aircraft log book only to find that it hadn't been in the air since I flew it on Thursday. That really shocked me. Friday and Saturday were amazing days for soaring. If I had even thought there was a chance that the Grob would have been on the ground that long, I'd have reserved it and flown.

Oh, well. Next time I'll call.

Flight #1

Before long, I was pushed out to runway 24 and hoping to find some low lift so I could try for my "B" badge. I took a 2,500 foot tow and released thinking I knew where some lift was. But I didn't. So I ended up back on the ground roughly 12 minutes later with people giving me funny looks -- "Back already?"


Flight #2

I took a break and looked around a bit, trying to decide what to try next. I noticed some clouds forming over Fremont Peak, so I decided that flight #2 should be an attempt to stay aloft out there. Jim seemed to agree that the lift would be better there. The clouds over the east hills just weren't consistent looking.

The tow out to the peak wasn't bad. I finally felt really comfortable flying the Grob. When I arrived at roughly 5,000 feet, I was at the cloud base already, so I released and snuck under the clouds looking for lift. I found sink. Lots of 4-6kt sink and some very spotty and small patches of 2kt lift.

After loosing about 1,200 feet of altitude, I decided to head back closer to the airport. I nosed down to L/D speed and flew several miles closer to the field. I was flying roughly 60kts but the GPS told me I was going over 80mph, so I had a decent tail wind. And my computed glide ratio was hovering around 26:1.

I took a quick detour over a bit of the city to see if there was any lift. None. So I headed to the east side of the airport, hoping that the dark plowed fields would be working. I found a bit of 2kt lift and was able to gain maybe 300 feet before falling out of it. Grr. After a few more minutes, I headed in to land.

As usual, I found great lift in the pattern. Consistent 4-6kt lift for at least 30-45 seconds on downwind to base. That had me high on final, so I ended up using full spoilers almost the whole way down from there.

Back on the ground, I confirmed that nobody else was finding anything either. Only Russell, flying the Duo Discus, had any luck. He had been in the air over two hours and showed no sign of coming down.

Flight #3

I took a break, had some lunch and waited to see if someone else would show up to claim the Grob. 2:00pm came and went and I still had the glider, so Lance and I headed back up around 2:30. Since there wasn't much good lift, we decided to take advantage of the cloudless sky. We took a high tow (5,500 feet) toward Monterey Bay.

We found no lift out there, but we also found no sink either. It was a smooth ride of 200fpm down. I took a few pictures and so did Lance. He got to try flying the Grob from the back seat and found it to be quite easy.

Wrap up

Having flown another 1.5 hours in the Grob, I'm feeling a lot more comfortable in it. I suspect that with a few more flights it won't be any harder than flying the ASK-21 (in which I've logged 12-15 flights).

I also used my GPS to try logging each of my flights. Now I need to learn the software well enough to post images of my flight paths.

Hopefully the soaring conditions will be better next weekend. I really wanted to get that "B" badge. Oh, well. It was a fun day.

Posted by jzawodn at 02:52 PM
May 08, 2003
Grob G 103 Checkout

I headed down to Hollister this morning to fly with Jim in the hopes of getting signed off to fly BASA's Grob G 103. The weather was a little chaotic (changing ever 10 minutes) but it was good enough.

I spent about 25 minutes on my pre-flight checks. Jim and I chatted about my previous Grob experience and then headed up. We had a 5-10kt headwind coming almost straight down runway 24.

The first flight was short. We had hoped that the blue hole we saw earlier would still be open, but the clouds got in the way. I got off tow at 1,700 feet as we were getting close to clouds. We flew around a bit and I then tried thermaling. It was hit and miss. I was still getting the feel for the Grob again and kept slowing down in my turns. I caught a bit of lift. Jim pointed me at some clouds near a small rain storm and suggested that we might find lift there. But we were getting low--maybe 1,500 feet. I headed there but only found 6kt sink on the way, so getting low I turned back toward the airport. It was farther away than I expected. We had no altitude for a pattern, so I lined up with the runway and flew a straight-in final. The landing wasn't bad. I didn't get the tail down as far as I should have. It's hard to unlearn all that 2-32 training.

For our second flight, we headed out toward Monterey Bay and hoped to find a nice blue area into which we could climb. We did. We towed to 4,200 feet. Once off tow, we worked on stalls, incipient spins, and slips. We tried a bit more thermaling near the airport but didn't get too lucky. This time I had enough altitude for a mid-field pattern entry for 24.

For our third and final fight, we again headed toward the water and found a blue spot. On tow, Jim ran me thru a bunch of slack rope tests. The first few were rough but I got the hang of it again. That was a relief after my last attempt with Drew a few weeks ago. Once off tow, we did a few more incipient spins and slips. Jim then let me fly where I waned for a bit. He asked me to plan on an entry on the 45 for runway 24 and a no-spoiler landing. (Well, a no-spoiler pattern. I could use 'em near the ground.) I ended up flying a sloppy pattern because it was a bit more difficult than I expected to get the Grob in a good slip and hold it there. We ended up high when turning base to final, so Jim helped me work it into a really good slip. The next thing I knew, we were low off the end of the runway. When I came out of the slip, I didn't get the speed up right away, so Jim dove us down low to pick up speed and avoid any sink. Then we snuck over the fence and landed on 24.

Once back on the ground, we talked about the last pattern and landing. We discussed how I needed to slip better sooner and to make sure that I used left slips in a left pattern. Then Jim asked if I was comfortable flying the Grob. I explained that I still have to spend more brain power thinking about what I'm doing when I fly it, but yes, I am comfortable flying it.

We took care of the necessary paperwork (log book and BASA check sheet), then I parked and tied down the glider with the help of Kyle (the newest tow pilot). When I got home, I called Stan (the BASA flight committee chair) to let him know. My plan is to fly it again on Sunday--either solo or with another pilot in the back.

Posted by jzawodn at 04:23 PM
May 06, 2003
Grob G 103 Speeds

I'm trying to memorize the speeds I should know when flying a Grob G 103. Yeah, most of them are color coded on the altimeter, but I figure that I really ought to know them.

NameSpeed (kts)
Max Aerotow92
Red Line135
Loop Entry97
Min. Sink46
Best L/D57

The front and back seat weight limits are both 242 lbs.

Posted by jzawodn at 09:36 PM
May 05, 2003
World-Record 3000km Glider Flight

As listed on the the IGC's news page:

Klaus Ohlmann (Germany) and his co-pilot Karl Rabeder (Austria) have claimed a fantastic world record in the subclass DO (open class glider) for a flight in the waves of the Andes on January 1, 2003: 3008.8 km over a free distance round 3 turn points.

All I can say is "holy crap!" That's too cool.

Posted by jzawodn at 05:53 PM
May 04, 2003
Grob Checkout Attempt Coming

Whlie at the airport today, I booked some time with Jim to hopefully complete my checkout in BASA's Grob 103 "15Mike". I have something like five flights in it already but some were a bit low and brief. And two of them were poorly exectued slack line tests. Very poorly.

I've since thought a lot more about slack line and am ready to try again. Hopefully all goes well.

I do need to study the flight manual a bit more and commit some of the critical speeds to memory.

Anyway, Thursday is the day. I'm hoping the weather will be decent. But it's a bit too soon to tell now.

Posted by jzawodn at 11:45 PM
Thermaling Basics

Today I didn't fly but I did head down to Hollister for a 1.25 hour class. Russell Holtz taught a class of 10 about Thermaling Basics. He covered the four basic skills that every good glider pilot needs to thermal successfully.

  1. Identifying and using thermal markers
  2. Selecting clouds for best lift
  3. Gaggle flying
  4. Working lift to maximize climb rate

The bulk of the time was spent on the last item. We went thru many examples to show how the simple thermaling algorithm presented in the SSA books actually works. And it does.

While little of the material was new, I enjoyed having it all in one does. Russell and Hugo (a DG-800 pilot who was in the class) dispensed some good tips and wisdom along the way.

Posted by jzawodn at 11:36 PM