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:
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.
On Monday (Labor Day), I had my longest duration flight to date. Thisi is my condensed flight report.
Flying out of Air Sailing in Nevada, I launched fourth and released at 6,800 feet MSL (or 2,500 AGL). I thought I had a good thermal at the south end of the Dog Skins. Instead I spent the next hour or so struggling to get above 7,000 feet. At one point I was down to 6,200 feet and ready to head in for a possible re-light when I found a bit of lift over the Moon Rocks.
I eventually got above 7,000 feet which enabled me to climb the low end of the Dog Skins and find my next thermal. It took me to 8,000 so I headed a bit more north and found another that took me above 9,000. I did this once more and found myself close to 14,000 feet. Figuring that going north was working well for me, I headed to 7990.
I arrived with lots of altitude, found a little thermal, and then headed toward the cloud street forming just east of Frenchman's Lake (a bit north of Adam's peak). However, there was a lot of sink near the ridge and I got a bit low for comfort and retreated back to 7990.
Arriving there, I noticed the abundance of excellent cloud streets to to the south and decided to head over to Stead by way of the Dog Skins. I climbed on the way to Stead, breaking 15,000 feet.
From Stead I continued to Peevine (?), Vedri, and eventually made it to Mt. Rose where I found a nice thermal to play in. From there I decided to follow the clouds over to Pond Peak. There I hit cloud base (again) and decided to tag Silver Springs. So I flew past Tiger, hit Silver Springs, and headed back toward Pond.
Back over Pond Peak, I got to over 16,000 feet and decided to burn off some altitude by flying 80+ knots across Pyramid Lake and Anahoe (?) Island. Sadly, I couldn't reach my camera to capture the beautiful views. But I did get to chat with a nice woman working the Reno Approach frequency.
Finally, I realized how long I'd been up in the air and how late it was, so I pulled the spoilers and headed in to land. For the first time I landed on runway 35 and even had a bit of a crosswind.
I'd post a flight trace, but my Windows notebook's hard disk died the evening before my flight, so the data is still trapped in my GPS. :-(
Okay, I've neglected this flying site for far too long, so it's time to get back on the ball.
I've been toying with the idea of working on my Commercial Glider rating for a while now. Last Thursday I began the process. I hadn't intended to, but the soaring forecast took a turn for the worse. So instead of flying the Duo Discus with Brett, I suggested that we start working on my commercial stuff.
I flew the Grob 103 from the rear seat since I've been doing that a lot lately anyway. We worked on several things:
I had fun working on the slips and the tow stuff. Descending on tow was really interesting. It took a close eye on the tow plane and minor spoiler adjustments to keep the rope tight. That's really a warm up act for ultimately landing on tow. We'll try that sometime in the not too distant future I suspect.
My plan is to continue the lessons and practice every Thursday before work (9-11am) until I'm ready. That's partly how I did my original training two years ago.
It's either that or a BFR. But to me a BFR just says "I can still fly and remember some of the stuff I learned getting my private" while getting a new rating say "I'm still learning new things and trying to challenge myself."