With a conference in April taking me to Orlando, I'm going to stay a few extra days to visit friends and fly at the famous Seminole Lake Gliderport in Clearmont.
On Tuesday the 13th, I'll fly in their Grob 103 for an area checkout with an instructor and then probably take it up solo for a bit. The conference runs the 14th-16th. Then I have their DG-300 scheduled for Saturday and hope to maybe try some dual X-C in either the DG-505 or their DG-1000.
It should be a fun time. And April in central Florida is supposed to have pretty good lift. :-)
I finally got around to calling West Valley to find an instructor I can start flying with on the weekdays. They handed me off to a guy to chat with. After a bit he asked if I was nearby. Since it's only 10-15 minutes away, I headed over.
We talked a bit about my goals and experience and then agreed to fly together next week. Since I don't know what I'd like to train it, we'll probably do a flight or two in each of: Cessna 172, Citabria, and Piper Archer.
I'm looking forward to it. :-)
Hmm, soaring at Lone Pine looks like a lot of fun too.
As the result of a few rec.aviation.soaring posts, I wandered over to see what's up with Southern California Soaring and found some cool stuff.
Specifically, their Sofari (soaring safari) program is interesting--more details here. I like the idea of getting a group together to go fly at various locations around California and Nevada. You can read their past Sofari reports for feeling of what they've done in the past. Of course, they have some photos on-line too.
I'll file this under "things to do after I buy a glider" I think.
Today was interesting. Lance and I got down to Hollister around 11am and each grabbed a Pegasus. I didn't have one reserved and needed to have mine (9JH) back to the field at 1pm for its reservation. So I launched first (just after noon) and headed toward the Three Sisters.
I got off tow around 6,200 feet and scouted the area around the microwave towers. It was very calm until I got down to 5,000 feet. Then I noticed an area of zero sink. It seemed to follow the power lines along the northwest end of the valley, so I flew the power lines several times very slowly (48 knots or so) and lost no altitude. At the south end of the valley I found a little pocket of 2 knot lift. I couldn't quite stay in it but I could get enough to give me a 1 knot climb on average. So I hung out there for a while before I left to go explore.
That was a mistake. There was no other lift that I could find, so I headed back in the zero sink and arrived at my lift pocket around 4,600 feet. By that time Lance was headed my way. I told him what I'd found and he explored the area a bit too.
After a while, he wasn't finding much and had already come down to my altitude, so he came my way and continued south along the power lines. He found bits of lift and eventually got higher than I was. However, I happened to glance at my watch and noticed that the glider was due back in 8 minutes!
So I put the nose down to fly toward Lance for a minute before heading back to the field. Not finding much, I flew the south ridge at about 75 knots, skimmed the peak, and flew back to the airport. I still arrived at 3,000 feet and needed to burn off that altitude. So I flew some 90 knot circles near the airport (apparently a few folks noticed that!) to get down to land.
Lance was only 20 minutes behind me.
After a ton of gliders launched, I headed back to the staging area and noticed Mike getting ready in the Grob. I went over to lend a hand with his launch and he offered me the back seat. How could I resist?
We launched and flew toward the same area. We didn't find much, but then Mike figured he knew a good place. The trouble was that it was all surrounded by 6-8 knot sink, so we didn't stay up very long.
Then, at the end of the day, after we'd packed the Grob up for the night, Jonathon appeared and decided to take the Grob up. He offered the back seat, so I went up again. We managed to find bits of lift and zero sink in the foothills, so we stayed up for about 45 minutes. Not bad at all for a 4pm winter flight.
I think Lance went up in the Fox while I was in the back of the Grob. At least neither of us were bored!
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. :-)
The Fox glider that I mentioned earlier has arrived in Hollister. Its maiden flight was yesterday (Friday) but it spent quite a bit of time in the air today as well.
I took advantage of the nice day to snap some pictures of the Fox while Lance and Drew got ready to go for a ride.
I hope to get a chance to go for a ride in the next week or two. It should be fun.
While putting gliders away this evening, I commented to Harry that it's the collection of gliders at Hollister is really quite amazing. We have a Duo Discus, DG-1000, the first four DG-300s, and now the Fox--all at our gliderport.
Flying isn't something you learn how to do and then stop learning. Getting a license was just the second of many, many milestones. The first was my first solo flight. If I don't keep pushing myself, I'll stagnate, get bored, and not feel the sense of accomplishment that fuels a lot of my interest and enjoyment.
Getting a commercial license involves learned more about the FAA rules and regulations, and knowing them in more detail. It also means learning to fly more precisely. The flight test standards are more strict for a commercial license than they are for a private license. By getting g a commercial license, I'll be pushing myself to do more and do better.
Yes, I'll be able to fly rides for money and that sort of thing, but I don't expect to do that much (if at all). It really depends on whether or not HGC would need me to do fly for them. There are a fair number of pilots with commercial licenses who fly rides already.
The one the next stepping stones, a much bigger one in my mind, is becoming a flight instructor. But that's a ways off and I'll write about it more later.
In the meantime, I'm going to start working on my power license and my bronze badge. I hope to begin flying cross country this year. More milestones, both in gliders and in power.
So, Scott... I hope this answers your question.